Tuesday, August 23, 2011

CSA Share Week 12

Mark your calendar: Free Bird Farm is hosting an Open House for CSA members on Sunday, Sept. 18 from 10 to 3 p.m. Tour the farm, see where your produce is being grown, meet your farmers and get a chance to hang out with some engaging people (other CSA members, that is!). Everyone is invited to bring a dish to share for lunch. Last year's potluck was a real hit. Be sure to bring a water bottle and sun protection too.

As for this week: we're happy to report our hens are back into the swing of things and laying enough eggs for all of our CSA members. We are still short on eggs as a whole—not having enough to bring to the farmers’ markets we attend. But there are now enough eggs that we don’t need to supplement with free-range eggs from a neighboring Amish farm.

Otherwise, we’re just plugging along here—grateful when there’s a break in the humidity and when a new crop pops up.

This week’s arugula is beautiful and tasty—bright and peppery and not riddled with holes. We managed not to put any tears in it as the hundred or so yards of cover was laid down and anchored with shoveled soil along the edges. If there is a miniscule tear in the cloth, the beetles will find their way under and start their gluttonous munching. The itsy insects merely create cosmetic damage—and you’ll never see a flea beetle on a washed leaf, but it is still much more rewarding to bring in a crop that isn’t riddled with bitty holes .

5 ½ ounces arugula
¾ pound French string beans
4 tomatoes
3 cucumbers
1 bunch parsley
1 bunch carrots
2 red bell peppers
2 heads garlic
2 zucchini

For those who are receiving the green French string beans this week, these beans requires removing the strings that run on each side of these flat, long beans. Snap off the stem end and the string on at least one side will readily pull off. If you miss a string, you’ll know it when you bite into it, and can easily just pull it off then. These are a dense-skinned bean—best eaten cooked to tenderize the bean.
This recipe from Ina Garten for String Beans with Garlic is simple and tasty.

No matter which style or color bean is in your share, both are great in Maryellen's recipe for Green Bean Salad with Tomatoes, Arugula & Basil Dressing.

1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
2 strips lemon zest about 3 inches long and 1/2 inch wide, white pith removed
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
¾ lb. French string beans, strings along edges removed
¾ pound cups arugula, rinsed and spun dry
1 ½ cups chopped tomatoes
1-1/2 cups (10 oz.) 1-inch-diameter fresh mozzarella balls (ciliegine), halved
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice; more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

Fill an 8-quart stockpot three-quarters full of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Put the basil and lemon zest in a metal sieve, immerse it in the boiling water, and blanch for 5 seconds. Remove, tapping the sieve over the sink to shake off excess water. Turn off the burner but leave the water in the pot with the cover on.

Roughly chop the lemon zest. Put the basil and lemon zest in a blender and pulse a few times. With the blender running, pour the olive oil through the lid’s fill hole and purée until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender as needed. Transfer to a small bowl or liquid measuring cup and cover. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the salad.

Return the water to a boil over high heat. Add 2 Tbs. salt and the beans. Cook until the beans are crisp-tender or fully tender, depending on your preference, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Spread the beans on a large rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate to cool completely. If making more than an hour ahead, cover and refrigerate.

In a large bowl, combine the cooled beans with the arugula, tomatoes, and mozzarella. Toss with the basil oil and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper and more lemon juice.

Make Ahead TipsYou can cook the beans up to a day ahead, just spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet, cover, and refrigerate. The basil dressing can also be made a day ahead. Wait to combine the beans and dressing until just before serving.

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