In this week’s box:
Total retail value of this box: $58.50
Total value of goods received so far this season: $332.50
Summer is really starting to show up in this week’s box. Summer squash and cucumbers meet up with early spring favorites like snow peas, radishes and strawberries.
This week brings a wealth of snow peas, edible-pod peas that are especially common in stir-fries. No matter how you cook them, though, whether steaming, boiling or stir-frying, you only need to cook them for about 3 minutes, until bright green. Here is a recipe shared a few years back by New York Times food writer Mark Bittman for a very simple snow pea preparation. It is credited to Peter Chang, who recently opened a restaurant in Fredericksburg’s Central Park.
Here are a few other ideas for snow peas:
– I like this recipe for a sesame-dressed snow pea salad. However, I think you could get away without the green onions (I don’t usually like to buy vegetables outside my CSA share if I can help it.). I also think you could make this without blanching the snow peas. For something different, try cutting them lengthwise into thin strips instead of on the diagonal.
– This recipe for Zucchini and Snow-Pea Salad will use two items from this week’s box.
– Last year, I made a pesto pasta dish with snow peas and zucchini that I really enjoyed. I didn’t write down a formal recipe, but here are my notes on how it came together:
I sauteed some pancetta (or bacon), then added sliced zucchini to that pan with all the delicious fat that had rendered. As my pasta neared the end of its hot bath (in a separate pot of water), I dunked the snow peas in for a little more than a minute. I used a metal-mesh sieve to do this so that I could easily retrieve them. I dumped them straight into the bacon-and-zucchini saute, then added the drained pasta a minute or so later. While the mixture was hot, I stirred in some feta and parmesan cheese, plus the kohlrabi pesto I’d tucked away the week before (I would use between a half cup and a cup of pesto, depending on how much pasta and vegetables you are cooking. It can be any kind of pesto, store-bought or homemade.)
– And here is a simple lemon-scented saute I made to serve with steak last year:
I dunked them in boiling water for about two minutes, drained them, and then, while they were still steaming, I dumped them all into a bowl with a pat of butter, a clove of minced garlic and some lemon zest. I tossed, then topped the whole thing off with salt and a squeeze more of lemon juice. Even my toddler ate these.
With this quantity of peas, I’ll bring up the possibility of freezing them. I will say from experience that freezing vegetables can be a bit of a trial-and-error process. I followed directions for freezing green beans very closely last year, only to end up with waterlogged beans. The general process for a vegetable like snow peas is as follows:
– Plunge peas into boiling water for 2 minutes (or steam them for the same amount of time).
– Remove from hot water into ice water for 2 minutes to stop the cooking.
– Drain and dry on paper towels. Dry them quickly, because you want to freeze them as soon after cooking as possible.
– Place directly into freezer bags, or lay the peas on a cookie sheet to freeze individually, and then place the frozen peas into bags (This method will ensure your peas don’t stick together quite as much.)
I would recommend doing this with a small amount of the peas and using them soon to see if it works for you. This discussion on the Gardenweb forum highlights how the process of blanching and freezing can take some fine-tuning.
Summer squash are extremely versatile vegetables, and zucchini and yellow squash can usually be used interchangeably in any recipes that call for them. Last year, one of my favorite uses of squash was this recipe for summer squash and portobello lasagna. Something about browning the squash before layering it in the casserole really made this flavorful.
With farm-fresh eggs, you also can’t beat a good Southern squash casserole. Here’s a recipe I used last year, though everyone likes theirs a little different:
Southern Squash Casserole
adapted from AllRecipes.com
4 cups sliced yellow squash (or zucchini)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
one sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cups milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Saute squash and onion in a hot skillet with some olive oil. You want to get it hot enough to brown them a little bit to bring out flavor. After a few minutes, add about 3/4 cups water and cover. Cook for 5 minutes, until squash is tender. Drain and place mixture in a large bowl to cool.
In another bowl, mix the cracker crumbs and shredded cheese. Stir half of this mixture into the cooled squash mixture. In a small bowl, mix the eggs, milk, white pepper, cayenne and mustard powder. Add the egg mixture to the squash. Stir in the melted butter and salt.
Spread mixture in a 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cracker crumbs.
Bake about 25 minutes, until set.
A lot of people make jokes about turnips, but they can be quite tasty. You can often use them in the same way you would use potatoes, with the added bonus that turnips have fewer calories. Here are a few ideas I’m eyeing for this week:
If you’re looking for new takes on familiar vegetables, remember that sometimes you can reinvent things just by chopping them differently. With this week’s box, I would consider chopping sugar snap peas, cucumbers and radishes all into similar-sized small pieces and mixing them together in a bowl. Dress with salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon juice and maybe some feta cheese, and you’ve got a cold salad that would also be good mixed with a cold cooked grain or small pasta.
Enjoy this beautiful box and all its variety! I’ll try to check back in later on this week with some more ideas.