September is the best of summer and fall all at once. This week our CSA provided us with bell peppers, potatoes, celery and yellow beans (both new this week), mesclun, a head of leafy lettuce, tomatoes (regular, heirloom, and orange and purple cherry varieties), and potatoes. For fruit we received peaches plus some new items—pointy dark plums with yellow flesh, small green pears, and delicate apples (maybe honey crisp or similar, I'm not sure).
The celery stalks are thin and dark, a bit stringy but with lots of flavor. Not your pallid "why bother" stereotypical celery. I made a quick side dish with the celery leaves and the yellow beans, simply sautéed in olive oil with sea salt and a drizzle of hot chili oil. (I had made the hot chili oil weeks ago by placing hot red pepper flakes in a small jar with olive oil—I top it up with a little more olive oil when needed.)
But the really yummy dish of the week was papas con tomates—potatoes with tomatoes. Years ago I had a recipe for this roasted dish which used whole dried Mirasol peppers, but I've long since lost the book that counted it among its "new world cuisine" recipes. The original was divine. But since (alas!) I no longer have that recipe—and I'm not ready to crank up the oven for the fall season anyway—I concocted a stovetop skillet version. Not as pretty, perhaps, but fairly quick and definitely tasty. It makes a great side dish for quesadillas or tacos, or pretty much any Mexican or Tex-Mex meal; it's lovely with avocado slices on the side. Add cheese on top and it could be a vegetarian main.
Skillet Potatoes and Tomatoes
1.5 pounds sweet potatoes (about 1 large), cut into 1" pieces
1.5 pounds regular potatoes (I used gold ones and pink ones for variety, but any will do), cut into 1" pieces
2 large tomatoes, cut into 1" pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt to taste
1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
Place regular potatoes in a large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the skillet about 1/2" deep. Cover and cook about 10 minutes, then add the sweet potatoes and cook 5 minutes more. Drain water from skillet and add olive oil; lightly fry potato mixture, 3 to 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, chili powder, and cumin to skillet and cook until potatoes are done and tomatoes have softened. Add cilantro and cook about 1 minute, then serve. This makes a big batch; leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for several days.
Note that sweet potatoes cook faster than regular potatoes. It's fine to cook them at the same time as I did—the sweet potatoes will disintegrate and coat the other potatoes, which integrates the flavors nicely, but cooking the regular potatoes a bit first will help keep the sweet potatoes more intact.
Try this: Reheated leftover potatoes and tomatoes with scrambled eggs wrapped in tortillas make delicious breakfast tacos.