Tuesday, October 19, 2010

CSA Share Week 21

Caption: Weather extremes have stunted the farm’s broccoli crop, placing thousands of plants a few weeks behind schedule. Beautiful plants stand vibrant but with no edible buds in sight.

This week you’re seeing some fall favorites: parsnips and spinach. And we’ve tried to include as much that’s fresh from the field (versus storage crops) while we still have it. A sharp freeze any day now could kill off most of what still stands in our fields.

There are a few classic fall crops that we regret we just aren’t getting right now. Namely, broccoli. And cauliflower. And Brussels sprouts.

Their absence pains us as these are vegetables that we’ve been craving along with many CSA members and that we’ve put a lot of work into having this fall. All of these crops were planted in abundance and right on time late in the summer. Theoretically, they should be at their prime right now. But as soon as they were planted we hit the last of this summer’s extreme hot and dry spells. Two weeks’ worth. None of these crops thrive under such conditions. So they sat there dormant in the fields. The stretches of rain we’ve had haven’t helped either. Ten days without sun isn’t exactly an ideal growing scenario. So we’ve thousands of lusciously green leafy broccoli plants, cauliflower plants and Brussels sprouts without any “buds” to speak of. If we got some nice, consistent weather, maybe they’d bud up in a few weeks. But, basically, they’re well behind schedule, and there’s a good chance they’ll freeze before they come to fruition.

So, we work with what we have. Much to enjoy, just not everything we’d hoped, planned and planted for.

1 bunch parsnips
½ pound spinach
14 ounces yellow wax beans
1 bunch fresh, baby onions (green tops edible)
6 ounces mesclun mix (for salad or for quickly wilting in olive oil)
1 bunch parsley
1 bunch Easter egg radish
1 head “freckles” Romaine lettuce (see note)
1 bunch dinosaur or Tuscan kale (or 3/4# sugar snap peas if not in your share 2 weeks ago)


Freckles Romaine:
The reddish-brown “freckles” on this week’s head lettuce aren’t a sign of disease or frost damage. The speckles are intended with this variety of Romaine lettuce. In a salad, we think they look festive. And for a Romaine, we love how tender this variety of lettuce can be.

Tip: If you have dill left over from last week, chop and blend with some sour cream, lemon zest and lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil for a zesty dressing for the spinach (if eaten raw). Or drizzle over a salad of sliced radish and parsley leaves.

PARSNIPS are a classic in stews, but they are also terrific roasted on their own. We often make this recipe developed by a friend, Amy Albert, for Fine Cooking magazine.
RECIPE: Crisp Roasted Parsnip Sticks We eat them like fries, sprinkled with a little malt vinegar.

or, add a little local maple sweetness with the following roasted parsnip recipe:

From Free Bird Farm

1 bunch parsnips, cut on a diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 ½ tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Heat oven to 400°F. Toss the parsnips with the olive oil and a large pinch of Kosher salt in a bowl. Sprinkle with a large pinch of Kosher salt. Spread parsnips in single layer on rimmed baking sheet.

Roast parsnips 20 minutes. Turn and roast until browned and soft, 15 to 25 minutes longer. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and push the parsnips together into a loose pile with a metal spatula. Drizzle the parsnips with the maple syrup and dot with the butter. Toss to evenly coat with the syrup and butter. Transfer to a plate, sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

At the farm, we had this for dinner last night, along with some gently crisped shallot slices and narrow strips of bell pepper (from last week's share) sauteed in olive oil. Great with some short-grain brown rice.

Quick Sautéed Spinach with Garlic Chips
From Free Bird Farm

4 peeled cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ pound spinach, washed and spun dry in a salad spinner
Kosher salt and freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste

Heat half of the olive oil a heavy, large skillet (we recommend cast iron) over medium heat. Add the garlic slices in a single layer and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

Add the remaining oil and increase the heat to medium high. Add the spinach and cook, tossing frequently with a pair of tongs, until just wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with lemon juice and Kosher salt to taste. Serve immediately with the crisp garlic “chips” sprinkled on top.

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