Monday, July 26, 2010
There’s something triumphant about seeing the season’s first mature eggplant-- glossy, rich, vibrant—dangling purple under a canopy of large felt-like, green leaves. We’re glad to see this crop looking healthy and abundant. A nod must go to Ken and our 5-year-daughter Alis who spent many an evening hand picking Colorado potato beetles and their larvae from the plants’ leaves, so that these predatory insects didn’t decimate the crop. (As mentioned in a previous note: having planted our potato crop about ¼ mile away from our main veggie field, the beetles chose to hammer in on the eggplant this year instead.) Sometimes Ken & Alis would squish the yellow and black striped beetles between their fingers or pinch the red-orange grubs until they popped like berries. Other times they’d collect the beetles in a coffee cup, so Alis could proudly bring her found treasure back to the house to show everyone before incinerating in our wood-burning furnace.
It’s the end of July, and we’re moving plants, such as Brussels sprouts and collards, out of the greenhouse and into the fields. In the past week we also planted a 2nd crop of tomato plants, hoping to stretch the tomato season, which we’re now just beginning. These late plants will hopefully yield through September, and, if we're lucky, into October.
We'd like to encourage everyone to use their veggies for snacks in addition to using for dinner. We were chomping on the purple carrots this morning while packing up members’ shares. The yellow wax beans, too, make a great snack. Last night we wanted to test the cooking time on the “lower-fat” roasting method for eggplant (recipe in this week’s newsletter) and couldn’t help but graze off the cooled roasting pan every time we passed by. One of our beloved farmers’ market supporters swears by a steady diet of swiss chard smoothies, which we’re tempted to try. In case anyone is choking at the thought, he says adding banana and avocado are key. (Owning a deluxe blender, like a VitaMix, is essential for "juicing" greens too. We're not purists. We like sweets. But we never regret when we grab something like a carrot for a snack instead.
IN THIS WEEK'S SHARE:
1 large eggplant
1 bunch purple carrots
1 bunch beets
1 head of Romaine lettuce
6 ounces spicy baby greens (see note)
1 large, sweet onion
12 ounces yellow wax beans
1 bunch Swiss chard
Grilling eggplant is simple and delicious. Serve it as a side as is or topped with any of the following individually or in combination: crumbled feta or goat cheese, chopped olives, toasted pine nuts, minced garlic and/or a fresh herb, such as parsley, basil, mint or oregano. Or add it to a pasta dish or layered in lasagna.
1 large eggplant
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil; more as needed
Prepare a medium-high charcoal or gas grill fire. Trim the ends off the eggplant and cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Just before grilling, brush both sides of the eggplant slices with olive oil and season with salt. Grill (covered on a gas grill; uncovered on a charcoal grill) until golden-brown grill marks form, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the eggplant and grill until tender and well marked on the second sides, 3 to 4 minutes more. The interior should be soft and grayish in color.
Spaghetti with (Lower-Fat) Eggplant and Basil
Adapted from How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman (Macmillan, 1998)
Eggplant soaks up a startling amount of olive oil, especially if you sauté it in a skillet. Roasting does turn the flesh a tasty golden brown without requiring quite so much oil.
1 Italian globe eggplant, stem end trimmed
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups canned (drained) plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
¼ cup shredded fresh basil leaves
1 pound spaghetti, linguine, or other long pasta
Preheat the oven to 450° F. Cut the eggplant into ½-inch cubes/chunks. Once the oven is heated, pile the eggplant in a roasting pan or heavy-duty baking sheet, drizzle with 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and toss. Cook on the middle or lower-middle rack, until the eggplant cubes have turned golden brown, after about 10 minutes. Flip a metal spatula over so its underside faces up, and push the spatula’s edge through the eggplant to turn it over. Continue to roast until golden brown on 2 sides and tender, about 5 to 7 minutes more.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil.
As the pot of water is heating, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to a 12-inch skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until just fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until they break up and the mixture becomes saucy, 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt. Add the roasted eggplant and ¼ cup shredded basil leaves (or a tablespoon of pesto—especially if you’d made some from this season’s past shares and stored in the freezer). Taste and add more salt, if needed.
Cook the spaghetti in the boiling water until al dente—tender but firm, not mushy. Drain.
Add the spaghetti to the pan of sauce. Using tongs, toss to gently coat the noodles with the sauce. Serve.
This week’s baby greens are spicy a mix of arugula, baby mustard and baby Asian greens. Use them to make a salad, wilt with a warm dressing or briefly in a pan of hot oil with minced garlic, or stuff in a crusty sandwich with grilled eggplant and a soft, melty cheese, like Taleggio, with a slice from this week’s mild onion and a drizzling of balsamic vinegar.
Store this week’s large, white onion in the refrigerator. It’s mild in flavor. Slice and eat raw in salads or sandwiches or cook gently in a fry pan with butter and/or oil as it caramelizes nicely.
Posted by Free Bird Farm at 6:36 PM
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
We wouldn’t be surprised if members have seen an occasional ladybug, cabbage looper (light green “caterpillars” that cling to the undersides of broccoli), or other insect amidst the produce at distribution. But frogs ?! Gulp.
Somehow a frog snuck into one of the farm’s produce totes and made it on the truck to New York City. (Sounds like the beginning of a classic children’s adventure story.) Fortunately, a CSA member was kind enough to set it free in a nearby park. One of our CSA organizers in the city wrote, “I love it! Does it get any more “farm fresh” than that.” We should hope not. A wild rabbit would have a harder time snuggling into a bin of lettuce without notice (though we wouldn’t mind one less rabbit around here). Our neighbor once had a chicken ride on the axle of his truck into town…
We wish the frog well!
Other farm happenings:
We just wrapped up our garlic harvest. This is usually a big feat to squeeze in with everything else we never have enough time to do. But this year’s field crew works like World Cup champions in the (veggie) field--incredibly team spirited. One day they got an early start at 6 a.m.—without our even asking. The harvest was wrapped in less than a week (versus the usual 10 to 14 days). Hooray.
We’re anxiously waiting to see our tomato crop ripen. A grower friend who is all about his tomatoes assures us that his crop seems to be taking its time too. So it could be a few more weeks before we’re really picking tomatoes. Other classic summer crops, like eggplant and peppers, should be arriving within the next few weeks too.
Feedback. One of our original CSA members from up in the Adirondacks recently wrote: “I just made a big pot of veggie and split pea soup with our leftover CSA veggies. The kids even asked for seconds! I froze some onion greens and for dinner I am making roasted beets with candied ginger and brook trout that my husband and kids caught yesterday. I needed a day like today! It feels so good to cook with fresh veggies and ingredients on hand.”
We love this kind of correspondence. It’s great to hear how members are using their produce.
We’d like to hear from you too: Use the farm's e-mail address to share with us what you’ve been doing with the items in your share. It doesn’t need to be in recipe form, and it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. A simple idea is great; the simpler the better. Something we can then share with everyone else. We can all benefit from others’ inspirations/creations.
Or send us a question! We’d love to include a Q&A section to the weekly blog (or, if your CSA group has its own newsletter, to that too).
IN THIS WEEK'S SHARE:
1 bunch carrots
1 Napa cabbage
¾ lb. (12 oz.) green beans
2 jalapeño peppers
1 bunch curly-leaf kale
1 head cauliflower
2 lbs. summer squash (mix of green zucchini, golden zucchini and/or crookneck summer squash)
1 bunch fresh red onions
QUINOA WITH LEMON AND ZUCCHINI
Toss with peeled, cooked shrimp to make a complete meal.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium zucchini, sliced into ¼-inch thick half moons
3 tablespoons finely diced red onion
1 1/4 cups quinoa, rinsed for 1 minute under running water
2 1/2 cups water
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup thinly sliced red onion or green onion tops
Finely chopped parsley (optional)
Crumbled feta (optional)
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini in a single layer. Season with salt and cook, flipping once the zucchini is golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle in the onion, stir with a spatula to blend, and remove from the heat. In a large saucepan, add the quinoa, water and a large pinch of Kosher salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, covered, until quinoa is tender but still chewy and a white spiral-like germ appears around each grain, about 15 minutes.
Add the quinoa to the zucchini, zest, lemon juice, onion tops and parsley (if using) and toss. Serve warm or room temperature, topped with feta cheese and a wedge of lemon if you like.
Per serving (about 6oz/184g-wt.): 170 calories (45 from fat), 5g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 5mg cholesterol, 570mg sodium, 25g total carbohydrate (3g dietary fiber, 1g sugar), 6g protein
Adapted from the Whole Foods’ web site
WILTED NAPA CABBAGE WITH PEANUTS AND STICKY RICE
This is a riff off of a recipe for sticky rice pancakes published in “Simple to Spectacular” by Jean-Gorges Vongerichten and Mark Bittman (Broadway Books, 2000). The salty-tart sauce might be a little unexpected but works particularly nicely with the cabbage.
1 ½ cups sticky or sweet rice
4 cups thinly sliced Napa cabbage
¼ cup thinly sliced red onion or fresh green onion tops
Minced jalapeño (to your liking)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons peanut or other neutral oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime
¼ cup chopped peanuts
Soak the rice in water to cover for at least 1 hour or, preferably, overnight. Bring a pot of water to boil (use a wok or pasta pot). Drain the soaked rice in a mesh colander and set the colander over the pot of boiling water (the rice should not be immersed in the water). Cover and steam for about 8 minutes, until all traces of chalkiness are gone and the rice is fully tender.
In a small saucepan, combine the butter, soy sauce, and lime juice. Turn the heat to low to melt the butter. Season with pepper. Set aside.
In a wok or large fry pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the cabbage and onion and cook, tossing frequently with tongs, until just wilted. Serve the cabbage mixture draped over the rice. Spoon some of sauce over the cabbage, sprinkle with the peanuts and serve.
If you wish to make the rice into crunchy pancakes: toss it while still hot with 1 tablespoon butter, some salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir in 1 lightly beaten egg, 2 minced scallions, and 2 tablespoons minced cilantro. Gently shape into 4 large or 8 small cakes. In a large fry pan heat 2 tablespoons of peanut or other mild oil over medium-high heat. Cook the cakes in the hot oil until lightly browned on both sides, a total of 4 to 6 minutes.
CHOCOLATE-NUT ZUCCHINI BREAD
Macerating the grated zucchini—tossing it with sugar and
leaving it to sit—helps draw out excess moisture to avoid
the soggy, dense texture that typically plagues zucchini
4 oz. (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter; more for the pan
9 ½ oz. (2 cups plus 2 Tbs.) all-purpose flour; more for the
¾ lb. zucchini (about 3 small), stem ends trimmed
¾ cup plus 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
1/3 cup strongly brewed coffee, cold or at room temperature
1/3 cup low-fat plain yogurt or buttermilk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 oz. finely chopped bittersweet chocolate (1/3 cup)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (1 oz.)
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. table salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the
oven to 375°F. Butter a 8 ½ x 4 1/2-inch metal loaf pan and
dust with flour; tapping out any excess.
Using the large grating disk on a food processor, pass
the zucchini vertically through the feed tube to grate. (If
the zucchini is too wide to fit, slice in half lengthwise.)
Discard any remaining ungrated portions wedged on top
of the disc. Transfer the grated zucchini to a colander or
sieve set over a bowl. Sprinkle 1 Tbs. of the sugar over the
grated zucchini and toss to distribute. Sprinkle another
1 Tbs. sugar over the zucchini and toss again. Set aside
for 20 minutes.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low
heat. Pour the butter into a medium bowl and let cool
slightly, 5 to 10 minutes. Whisk the remaining 3/4 cup
sugar, coffee, yogurt or buttermilk, and eggs into the
In a large bowl, combine the flour, chocolate, walnuts,
baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
Squeeze the zucchini by the fistful to thoroughly wring
out excess liquid. Add the zucchini to the wet ingredients
and stir to combine. Pour over the flour mixture, and using
a large wooden spoon, stir until just blended.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, spreading
it evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake until a toothpick
inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let
cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the edges with
a knife and release the bread, turning upright onto the
rack until completely cooled.
Recipe by Maryellen Driscoll, Free Bird Farm
Napa cabbage has a more delicate flavor and tender texture than green or red cabbage, which makes it popular for use in cole slaw. We like it, too, in stir fries.
Purple carrots. If you can believe it, carrots were originally purple. We’ve been growing a particular purple variety of carrot, called Purple Haze, for a number of years now. It actually outsells orange carrots at one farmers’ market we attend, because our customers have come to know and love this variety well.
The carrots—purple or orange—are terrific as a fresh snack, but we also love to roast them as it concentrates their sweet flavor. Before roasting, wash the carrots but don’t bother peeling. Toss with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast in a 425° F oven on a baking sheet with raised edges until they feel tender when skewered with a fork, 25 to 30 minutes. About halfway through cooking, do shake the baking pan back and forth so that the golden undersides of the carrots roll to face upwards.
Quick weeknight pasta with cauliflower … Cauliflower is an easy veggie to add to a quick weeknight pasta. Cut into small florets and sauté or roast until golden brown and tender. Stir in some minced garlic at the end of cooking, and then toss with white, kidney or aduki beans, chopped capers, a pinch of red pepper flakes and a pasta of choice (set aside a little pasta cooking water to add as needed; it helps moisten and bring everything together). If you eat meat, sausage or crisped prosciutto is a nice addition. Serve with grated parmigiano.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Soon after the terrific downpour we finally got on Sunday afternoon, this rainbow (in pic) appeared over the farmstead that sits across the street from us. It was the perfect conclusion to how we were all feeling—people and plants, alike. What a relief to get some drenching rain and a break from last week’s torrid heat. During the heat spell, we put as much irrigation (water) on things as we could. For the most part, everything in our fields held in there and has since rebounded. (And our hard-working staff is still standing too; we arranged days and afternoons off during the worst of it so no one overdid it or risked getting sick.) It was pretty critical that it rained when it did, as the plants were stressed. And hopefully we’ll continue to get some rain. (The rainbow was actually more spectacular than in the photo—a double rainbow no less. But by the time the camera and kids were feteched, it had begun to fade.)
We just got our issue of Fine Cooking magazine in the mail today, and, lo and behold, there’s a feature on zucchini written by Maryellen. Perfect timing. Kind of lost track of that article’s publication since most of the recipes were developed last summer, when the ingredients were in season and the weather right for the magazine to take outdoor photos. We’re not allowed to reprint the recipes in this newsletter this year (copyright agreement stuff), but do look for this issue at your local grocer’s or bookstore. A flip through it might tempt you enough to grab it off the shelf. There’s a recipe for tri-color zucchini ribbon salad with mint and olive vinaigrette, grilled zucchini with chive oil, and sautéed zucchini with za’atar and crispy chickpeas. There’s also a “hand pie” feature (not by Maryellen) we’re drooling over. Sweet and spicy fried peach pies(?!) and blackberry-apple turnovers we’ll surely try when blackberries come into season in late August at the berry farm in our neighborhood.
We’re starting to make plans for our Open House on Sunday, Sept. 12. We chose September for our Open House because there’s still plenty of your produce to see growing in the fields but the heat has mellowed and there’s something beautifully still about the air. Apples are coming into season, our barn is wafting with the smell of thousands of bulbs of cured garlic, … and besides, July is pure craziness here (we’re in overdrive) and August is when the fly population peaks, and we can’t begin to tell you how annoying they can be—especially if there’s a big picnic taking place. We’d love to have you come spend the day to relax and explore at the farm. We’d love to meet or re-meet you too!
In addition to visiting the farm for the day, here are a number of other places you can go while over this way:
Arkell Art Museum- Late 19th and early 20th century American paintings, public library, art gallery; www.arkellmuseum.org
Bellingers Orchard- U-Pick apple orchard with beautiful vista of the Mohawk Valley, addictive cider donuts made on the premises, www.bellingersorchard.com
Conbeers- small family farm with agri-tourism events in fall (no web site; we’ll provide more before the Open House weekend)
IN THIS WEEK’S SHARE:
1 bunch small turnips (see recipe and tip)
1 bunch carrots (see tip)
12 to 13 ounces green beans
2 pounds zucchini (green or gold) or summer squash
1 bulb of fresh garlic
1 bunch fresh onions or 1 cauliflower
We grow two kinds of zucchini—one is a deep, glossy green and the other a vivid gold color. Both can be used interchangeably in a recipe along with yellow crookneck summer squash and even the patty pans (the squat, dumpling-like yellow summer squash that are in limited supply this week). The crookneck squash tends to have more seeds inside, so you’ll want to slice it in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds before slicing or dicing.
Withering onion tops. You’ll probably notice that the fresh onions you’ve been getting are graduating into a new stage in which the green tops are starting to die back. Some of the green tops are still good; some are wilted or even a bit slimy. If wet or turning slimy, cut any of the latter off before storing the onions in your refrigerator. There’s nothing wrong with the onions; they were just harvested for this week’s share. They are simply preparing to become the topless kind with the papery outer layer that we all know best. We start leaving these onions in the field now until the tops are fully wilted and the onions have developed a dry outer skin. We then pull the onions out of the ground, let them cure briefly in the field, and then spread them inside our barn so that the outer skin layer further dries making the onion suited to storage.
Turnips While the turnips in this week’s share could be roasted or used in a stew, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how delicious these small turnips are in a salad. Trim off the ends and thinly slice into coins, like a radish. They’re well suited to Mediterranean flavors like in this week’s green bean and turnip salad recipe.
Carrots. The carrots in this week’s share are wonderfully aromatic; nothing like the cardboard-flavored carrots you get in your average supermarket. They’re fairly thin and their skin is thin too, so don’t bother peeling and wasting away any of the carrot (or the skin’s excellent nutrients). Just scrub lightly with a clean cloth or your hand under water before use.
Green Bean and Turnip Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette
The following is how we prepared the turnips for their dinner last night—using green beans, turnips and zucchini from this week’s share. One of our farmers' market customers inspired us to try the turnips in a salad; we were lapping our plates by the meal's end. The quantities for the main salad ingredients are approximate (kind of pulled together on the fly), so use your best judgment as to how much you’d like to make. The vinaigrette measurements are specific. If you add too much vinaigrette, no worries. It’ll pool to the bottom of the bowl.
For the vinaigrette:
3 Tbs. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. clover honey
1/4 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted, coarsely ground in a mortar and pestle
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 Tbs. canola oil
For the salad:
5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil (plus more for pita strips)
¾ pound green beans
1 bunch turnips
½ of a zucchini, gold or green, sliced into thin half moons
about 3 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion tops
about 4 tablespoons chopped parsley
¼ cup diced tomato (optional)
1 small whole wheat pita
Fill a stockpot with enough water to comfortably cover the beans. Bring the water to a boil. Add the green beans and a large pinch of Kosher salt and let cook until the beans are bright green and slightly tender, about 3 minutes. Strain the beans in a colander. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl and cover with cold water until the beans are no longer warm. The beans can be made many hours ahead and kept in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
In a small mixing bowl or 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup, combine the vinegar, mustard, honey, and cumin seeds. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to evenly blend. Season with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Set aside.
Slice the pita into strips, about ½-inch wide. On a baking sheet, mound the strips, drizzle with a couple tablespoons of the olive oil and toss to coat. Spread evenly on the baking sheet and then toast under the broiler until golden brown and crispy (most likely just a few minutes, depending on your broiler).
Strain the beans from the cold water and dry out the bowl. Add the beans, turnips, zucchini, onions, parsley and tomato, if using, to the bowl. Add half the vinaigrette. Using tongs, toss and season with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Add more vinaigrette, as needed, and the pita strips. Toss and serve.
Recipe by Maryellen Driscoll, Free Bird Farm
Zucchini Oven Fries with Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce
For the fries:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound medium zucchini, stem ends trimmed
¼ cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
¼ teaspoon table salt
¼ tsp. hot sauce, such as Tabasco
1 ½ cup plain dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
For the sauce:
2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
2 Tbs. sour cream
1 Tbs. milk
1 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbs. minced flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400° F. Pour the olive oil onto a rimmed baking sheet or jelly roll pan, spreading evenly with a pastry brush.
Slice the zucchini into 3” long by 1/3” thick sticks.
In a medium bowl, whisk the milk or buttermilk, eggs, hot sauce and table salt to blend. Set aside.
In an 8”x8” baking pan, combine the bread crumbs and sesame seeds.
Set a cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Dip and coat the zucchini batons in the egg mixture and transfer onto the wire rack. Working in batches, place a handful of the batons in the pan of bread crumbs. Shimmy the pan back and forth to evenly coat.
Transfer the breaded sticks to the baking sheet and continue the breading process until all of the sticks are arranged on the baking sheet. [it might seem crowded, but the sticks will shrink as they cook]
Bake until the breaded zucchini sticks are golden brown on their undersides, about 12 minutes. Using a large metal spatula, turn the sticks and continue to bake until crispy and golden brown all over, about 12 minutes more.
Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate and serve immediately.
To make the sauce:
In a small mixing bowl, whisk the cheese, sour cream, milk and lemon juice until well combined. Depending on the consistency of the cheese you may need to mash some of the cheese with the back of a soup spoon to blend. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Recipe by Maryellen Driscoll, Free Bird Farm
Posted by Free Bird Farm at 4:38 AM
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Do we need to even say it? It’s really, really, really hot. We’re not sure we’ve seen a heat wave quite like this in the 11 years we’ve owned our farm. We’re irrigating as best we can, but the pond project isn’t complete, and our present system cannot distribute water in large sections of field. So we’ll keep disconnecting and reconnecting irrigation lines to keep as much watered as we can until this heat breaks.
Certain crops simply don’t like heat. Lettuce and broccoli are sure casualties. We’re harvesting all of our fennel crop now too; that will otherwise bolt. And we’ve severely trimmed down the basil (thus, this week’s big bunches) so that it won’t go to seed either. In sum, many of the items in this week’s share you aren’t apt to see again soon. Other heat-loving crops we see further into summer, like tomatoes and peppers, melons and cucumbers, aren’t necessarily going to thrive under these conditions either. When it’s this hot, plants become stressed.
Like we said, we’ll do our best with irrigation and hope the intense heat breaks sooner than later.
Meantime, this week’s share has a lot of new items we’re excited about. The anise flavor of the variety of fennel we grow, called Orion, makes the flavor of store-bought fennel seem feeble. See this week’s tips on how to thinly slice fennel (great mixed in with your baby salad greens). There are also ideas on hot-weather options for cauliflower—something we normally love to roast but wouldn’t consider turning on the oven for right now. And while this week’s herbs—basil and parsley—go beautifully with just about every vegetable in this week’s share, they can also be their own stars. It just might be a good week to make pesto and tabbouleh.
IN THIS WEEK’S SHARE*:
1 bulb fennel
1 bunch parsley
1 head cauliflower
6 ½ ounces salad mix
1 large bunch basil
1 bunch radish
1 bag spinach
1 lb. bag of sugar snap peas
*The above list is what local members can expect to receive. Due to a short supply of certain crops, members in the city are receiving a slightly different share than local members. Our summer squash crop is just kicking in and was compromised by mice in the early greenhouse stages; so we didn't have enough for everyone this week. Similarly, our spring pea crop didn't germinate well. So this crop is limited and short-lived. We will have more squash and peas for all as the season progresses. We do our best to make sure what when there are variations that the different items are of comparable worth and overall desirability.
For our CSA members in the city, please refer to the newsletters your CSA group compiles weekly for specifics on your shares and other CSA news specific to your community group.
Sautéed Cauliflower: Cauliflower has an inherently nutty flavor that especially comes through when sautéed (or roasted). To sauté, heat a heavy-bottomed or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil or a heat-friendly oil like canola or safflower oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add the cauliflower (cut into 1-inch florets) so that it fits in the pan in a single layer. If necessary, cook in batches. Lower the heat to medium and let cook until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the cauliflower and loosely cover with a lid so that the cauliflower browns and steam cooks. Continue to cook until golden brown and tender, about 5 more minutes. Suggestions: serve in a pasta dish with beans (kidney, white or garbanzos), roasted red pepper or sun-dried tomatoes, sautéed onion, garlic, and basil or as a side dish with melted butter, chopped parsley and minced capers.
Cauliflower pickles. We're really liking the sound of this cool, crunchy pickled cauliflower recipe (click on "pickled cauliflower" to connect to link). Since carrots and red bell peppers aren’t quite ready at our farm, you can always omit and add a few more cups of cauliflower. If this seems like way more pickles than you’d ever eat, you can halve this recipe.
Quick fix: Radish and parsley salad
Make a simple salad of thinly sliced radish and parsley leaves. Serve with freshly squeezed lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, and a pinch of Kosher or sea salt. If you have any green onion tops left over from last week’s share, thinly slice and add some of those too. Or shave some of this week’s fennel and toss in too.
Fennel- very thinly slicing fennel is the best way to prepare it, especially if serving in a salad. You don’t have to have a super-sharp knife and knife skills to achieve this. A vegetable peeler lets you shave it. Trim the base, quarter lengthwise, cut out the core, and run the peeler lengthwise along each quarter to shave. You can also use a mandoline or hand slicer, if you have one. For a more detailed lesson on how to use any of these tools to thinly slice or shave fennel, go to the Fine Cooking test kitchen’s web site.
Storing herbs- like basil (last week’s tip), store parsley in a cup or jar of water tented with a plastic bag and refrigerated. Parsley will hold up for a number of days; basil usually only lasts 3 to 4 days.