Thursday, August 20, 2009

Week 12

In this week’s share:
3 tomatoes
1 large, round Italian eggplant
1 cucumber
1 bag of salad mix
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
¼ pound arugula
1 walla walla sweet onion
1 bunch of parsley
1 bunch of carrots
1 ½ pounds Italian heirloom fresh shell beans (see tips below for cooking and storing)
1 head of broccoli
1 bunch of leeks

We have a CSA member who periodically e-mails us with descriptions of some of the dinners she puts together through the week using her share. It’s inspiring to read about the healthy dinners she is serving to her family of four. And it’s rewarding to see how her CSA share has inspired her to make the most of what comes from the farm. She tells us that this is something she especially enjoys about the CSA: it forces her out of cooking the same thing over and over again.

On the farm, we too can fall into the trap of cooking the same thing over and over again (especially when everyone is working such long hours this time of year). So we glean a lot from talking to (or e-mailing with) CSA members and farmers’ market customers, some of whom are truly accomplished cooks (domestic and professional). This can be especially useful with less obvious ingredients like the colorful Italian heirloom fresh shell beans in this week’s share, pictured above.

We’ve heard from a number of people that they use them for succotash. One farmers market customer planned to use them to make minestrone soup. One chef—confit. We use the beans as many ways as we can think of, as we love their creamy texture and nutty flavor. They’re great in a pasta dish.

Using ingredients from this week’s share, here is one suggestion for using the beans:

Penne with Caramelized Walla Walla Onions, Fresh Shell Beans and Tomato.
We’ll try to flesh out a specific recipe for the future, but, in short, caramelize sliced onion in extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat until deeply golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Set aside. Dice tomato and sauté briefly in a few tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil over medium-high heat adding minced garlic towards the end. Toss the penne with the tomatoes, onion, and beans—adding a little more olive oil if needed. Season to taste with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and serve with shaved parmigiano reggiano. Some capers would be nice too. Or, even better, stir in some pesto if you have any made from the basil you’ve been getting in the past weeks’ shares.
(For more detailed instructions on how to caramelize the onions, see this recipe for Caramelized Onion Cheeseburgers. You might be tempted to try this recipe too. It calls for both the Walla Wallas and arugula in this week's share.)

The beans would also be great on a grilled pizza with (from this week’s share): arugula, caramelized onion and goat cheese.

Or freeze them. Cook, following instructions below, and freeze in zipper-lock freezer-grade bags to use in soups or stews this winter.

How to Cook Fresh Shell Beans
Shell the beans, discarding the pods. (If you have kids, recruit their help with shelling.)
Cover the colorfully mottled beans in chicken broth or water with a handful of added aromatics—such as (from your share) some leeks, carrot, parsley stems (save the leaves and just add the flavorful stems), and a bay leaf. Either keep the aromatics in large enough pieces that you can easily fish out or bundle in cheesecloth. Bring the water or broth to a boil, and then reduce to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally, until tender (30 to 45 minutes; taste to check for doneness). Sadly, the beans will lose their color and mottling as they cook. Drain in a colander.

No comments: