Week 4: May 28, 2014

In this week’s box:

6 pints sugar snap peas

2 pints blueberries

2 bunches white turnips

2 heads Romaine lettuce

2 bunches onions

Total retail value of goods in this week’s box: $41

Total value of goods distributed this year: $304

Emily’s notes:

Emmett Snead says the blueberries in this week’s box are almost perfectly ripened, and very sweet. They come to us from AgriBerry, a Hanover County farm whose CSA program also distributes Snead’s Farm produce.

Welcome to sugar snap pea season! We had to wait a few weeks longer than in years past to enjoy these beauties this year because of a cooler, wetter spring, but the wait was well worth it. Teach your kids to pull the string off the peas by pulling from the stem-like attachment at the top and down along the shorter length of the pea. Then pack these up in school lunches for a healthy, crunchy alternative to potato chips. To serve at the dinner table, saute for no longer than 3 minutes with butter, salt and pepper. Place in a serving bowl and toss with lemon juice and lemon zest for a tasty side dish.

White turnips are sweeter than other varieties, and Snead reports that farmer Miles Hastings says these turnips are so sweet the ants want to eat them right out of the ground. Last year, I found that my kids enjoyed these turnip pancakes (especially if served with raspberry jam or another sweet condiment). Boiled and mashed along with potatoes (white or sweet), turnips add complexity and nutrition to plain old mashed potatoes.

If you’re looking for a new way to serve Romaine lettuce, throw it on the grill! Try this recipe from Simply Recipes for Grilled Romaine Lettuce, and you’ll never look at salad the same!

 

Week 3: May 21, 2014

In this week’s box:

10 pounds asparagus

2 quarts strawberries

1 bunch dill

1 bunch cilantro

2 heads purple kohlrabi with green tops

2 heads red leaf lettuce

2 bunches spring onions

4 pounds pick-your-own strawberries from Braehead Farm, to be picked at any time during strawberry season, which will last another 2 to 3 weeks

*Braehead Farm is located in the city of Fredericksburg. In addition to its pick-your-own berries, it offers a play area for kids, party rental space and other activities. When you visit the farm, check in at the market and identify yourself as a Snead’s CSA member. You will be given a special bucket sized to hold 4 pounds of strawberries. Buckets will be weighed, and you will be responsible for paying for any overages.

Emily’s notes:

Pickling is a popular treatment for kohlrabi. To take advantage of the fresh dill in this week’s box, try this recipe.

Don’t throw away the greens atop your kohlrabi. It’s like getting two vegetables in one. I have used kohlrabi greens interchangeably with other hearty cooking greens. This week, I recommend subbing them into a soup I made during the first week of the CSA using asparagus and Swiss chard.

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Asparagus, kohlrabi and quinoa soup

1 tablespoon butter

3 green onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

greens from two kohlrabi bulbs, coarsely chopped

1 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/4 cup dry quinoa

4 cups water or stock

1/2 teaspon salt

pinch cayenne pepper

1/4 cup white wine

Heat butter over medium-high heat, and cook garlic and onion until tender. Add spices and quinoa and stir. Add broth. After 15 minutes, add kohlrabi greens. After 3 more minutes, add asparagus and wine. Cook 3 minutes, then puree. Do this in batches in a regular blender or in the pot with an immersion blender. Leftovers can be frozen, or just make a batch to freeze for an easy meal later!

 

 

 

 

Week 2: May 14, 2014

In this week’s box:

10 pounds asparagus

2 quarts strawberries

4 bunches Romaine lettuce

2 heads green leaf lettuce

2 heads butter crunch lettuce

spring2014

Photo courtesy The Doctor Yum Project

Looking for creative ways to get your kids to eat all the vegetables you’re bringing home? The local expert on kid-friendly healthy cooking is Nimali Fernando, also known as “Doctor Yum.” Fernando recently used Snead’s asparagus in a cooking class at her new teaching kitchen in Spotsylvania. If you’re interested in cooking classes for your preschool or school-age child, click here for information on future Doctor Yum classes.

Here’s the recipe Fernando and her young students made in their recent class.

Pasta with Asparagus and Spring Onions

Recipe by Nimali Fernando, MD, MPH

INGREDIENTS

one bunch spring onions (or 3 leeks), cut into one inch slices green parts reserved
1 lb asparagus, tough ends snapped off and reserved
2 cups frozen baby peas
4 garlic cloves minced or pressed
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
2 tablespoons mint leaves, minced
2 tablespoons fresh chives minced
½ tsp. lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons olive oil
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
1 lb. pasta (campanelle, penne, or Barilotti, or whole wheat shells)
1 cup dry white wine
½ cup grated parmesan plus extra for serving
salt and pepper

Coarsely chop tough asparagus ends and place in a medium sized pot with green parts of leeks or spring onions, 1 cup peas, vegetable broth and water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. While this is cooking, combine chives, lemon zest and mint in a small bowl and set aside. Take asparagus spears and cut into ½ inch pieces.

After broth has cooked, strain veggies off, discarding them, and measure broth. Add a bit of water to equal 5 cups of broth. Place back into pot and maintain at a low simmer. In a Dutch oven heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Cook light parts of onions or leeks for 2 minutes with a pinch of salt, and then cook asparagus for 4 more minutes, or until softened. Add garlic and pepper flakes and cook until soft and fragrant. Add peas and cook one more minute. Remove these veggies and wipe the pot out, setting them aside. Heat 4 tablespoons oil until shimmering and add uncooked pasta, stirring until almost brown. Add wine and cook about 2 minutes until wine is absorbed. Add hot vegetable broth and continue cooking at a boil. Stir frequently until pasta is al dente and most of the broth is absorbed, about 8-10 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in lemon juice, parmesan, veggies and half of the herb mixtures. Serve with remaining herbs and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Here are a few quick ideas for serving asparagus:

  • Boil spears for 3 minutes, then plunge into ice water for 3 minutes. Drain and keep cooked spears in the refrigerator for an easy alternative to potato chips at lunch. They’re fine plain, but also pair nicely with Tzatziki sauce or your favorite dressing.
  • Make a “Snead’s Asparagus Burger” by topping a grilled hamburger or cheeseburger with grilled asparagus.
  • Lay a few cooked asparagus spears alongside your hot dog or sausage in a bun to add a little nutrition to the indulgence.

The cooks of Sunken Well Tavern will present some creative ways to serve asparagus at the Snead’s Farm Asparagus Festival, May 24 – 26. Entrance is $10 per car each day between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. In addition to Sunken Well and asparagus, there will be Appalachian Kettle Corn, hayrides, Snead’s Asparagus Burgers and everything else you expect to see at Snead’s Farm.

As for all that lettuce, remember that Romaine and butter crunch are particularly good for making lettuce wraps. Just take your favorite stir-fried meat, taco meat, meatball or meatloaf recipe and replace pasta, taco shells or rice by wrapping the meat up in a big lettuce leaf and eating with your hands. This can be another good way to get kids interested in the green stuff.

Asparagus and chard calzone

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My approach to CSA cooking is usually to try to use as few non-CSA ingredients as possible, since that helps you get the most bang for your buck from your CSA share. I don’t want to have to spend a lot of money on exotic ingredients to make fancy recipes on Epicurious or Pinterest, so I usually modify them to use what I have.

I wrote last year about how homemade pizza can be a CSA member’s best friend. You can find my go-to easy weeknight pizza dough recipe here. Tonight, I used half of that recipe to make this calzone, which I told my 3-year-old daughter, is just a pizza turned inside-out. You could use any store-bought pizza dough or your own favorite recipe to do this.

There is no need to be too exact with this. If you have sausage or mushrooms around, they would be great in here. You just don’t want to increase the total quantity of filling too drastically, so cut down on other ingredients before adding new ones. I would also recommend dividing your dough in half (or into parts small enough to make individual calzones) to make these neater and more hand-held. If you do this, divide your dough when you take it out of the fridge, because then each little piece will have time to come to room temperature and rise on its own. I made one big calzone, which came out fine, but I would have liked a little more crust on my piece.

Asparagus and Swiss Chard calzone

Ingredients:

1/2 recipe weeknight pizza dough (or enough of any other dough for a 12″ pizza)

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing the crust

2 green onions, green and white parts chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/2 bunch Swiss chard, torn into pieces, stems separated from leaves and chopped finely, leaves chopped coarseley

1/2 pound asparagus, chopped into thin discs

3/4 cup ricotta cheese

3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

2 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herbs (I like the frozen pizza mix from Penzey’s)

 

Make your dough or take pre-made dough out of the refrigerator in the morning, and let it sit at room temperature on a floured cutting board covered by a clean kitchen towel all day. Divide dough into desired number of pieces when you take it out and let each piece rest separately.

Heat oil over medium-high heat and cook onions and garlic with crushed red pepper until translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add chard stems and cook another few minutes, then add chard leaves and cook until wilted. Allow this mixture to sit until it’s cool enough to handle. Gently squeeze as much liquid out of the chard as you can and place it in a bowl with the asparagus, cheeses, salt, pepper and herbs. Mix until well-blended.

When ready to make the calzones, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray. Gently shape your dough pieces into circles about half a centimeter thick. It’s best to do this on your floured cutting board. Then place each piece of dough so that half of it lies on the cookie sheet and half flops off (or whatever arrangement you need to fit them all one one sheet, keeping in mind that the finished product will be folded in half). Lightly drizzle each dough round with olive oil (I find this makes for a crisper crust.).

Divide the cheese mixture among your dough rounds. Brush the border of each dough round with water, fold the empty half over and pinch to seal. Using a sharp knife, cut 2-3 holes in the top of each calzone. Brush each one with olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes, or until crust begins to brown and center is bubbly.

Allow to cool 3 to 5 minutes. Serve with a good marinara on the side.

 

Week 1: May 7, 2014

In this week’s box:

2 Snead’s Farm T-shirts

2 jars of Snead’s Farm Raspberry jam

2 bunches of swiss chard

1 head of romaine lettuce

1 head of butter crunch lettuce

2 quarts of strawberries

10 pounds of asparagus

2 bunches of onions

 

Welcome back, folks! Everyone in my house is so excited that it’s CSA season once again. If you’re new to Snead’s, look for posts to this blog every week on Tuesday or Wednesday with a list of what’s in the box and a few recipes and notes on using or storing your produce. I will also try to make some posts during the week as we cook through the box in my house. Because this blog is in its second year, there’s a whole season’s worth of archives that you can turn to for kitchen inspiration. Just use the tags on the right side of your screen to select the vegetable you’re interested in, and you should be able to find posts from last year.

This year, I have asked some of the local restaurants who serve Snead’s Farm produce to share some of their favorite recipes with us. You’ll see a contribution from La Petite Auberge below. I’d also love to hear from you: If you have found a great recipe that uses some of what comes in the CSA box that you’d like to share with the group, e-mail me.

If you head to La Petite Auberge in downtown Fredericksburg right now you will find this Asparagus Vinaigrette on the menu. La Petite was kind enough to share the recipe.

Chilled Snead’s Asparagus Vinaigrette-Serves 4

Recipe courtesy La Petite Auberge

2 lb medium asparagus

Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

1 cup tomato concasse for garnish (about 5 Roma tomatoes)

1 recipe of vinaigrette as follows

Chervil or Italian parsley for garnish

Vinaigrette- yield 32oz.

5 oz sherry vinegar

3 oz lemon juice

2 egg yolks

1 shallot, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

12oz extra virgin olive oil

12 oz vegetable oil

½ oz minced chervil

½ oz minced fresh tarragon

For the vinaigrette:

Combine the vinegar, lemon juice, shallot, garlic, mustard, yolks,  salt/pepper and gradually whisk in the oils. Stir in the chervil and tarragon and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Store in the fridge until needed. When ready to use, whisk the vinaigrette as it will separate.

Line up the asparagus spears, tips facing the same direction and trim the tough ends so that all the spears are of equal length. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil and prepare an ice bath. Score the tomatoes and blanch in the boiling water for 15 seconds. Place the tomatoes in the ice bath to stop the cooking. Remove and peel them, then cut the flesh into thin strips. Discard the seeds. Dice the tomatoes and reserve. Place the asparagus in the boiling water and blanch for 4-6 minutes, or until tender. Transfer to the ice bath. When chilled, remove and drain on paper towels.

To plate, arrange the asparagus on 4 separate plates with the tips in the same direction. Spoon the vinaigrette around the asparagus. Spoon some of the tomato around the plates and garnish with the chervil. Sprinkle with some kosher salt and some freshly ground black pepper.

Also in this week’s box, you’ll find chard, one of my favorite hearty greens. Tonight, I’m working on a chard and asparagus calzone that I hope to post here shortly. I also have hopes for a blended soup using the chard and asparagus in this week’s box. As I test these recipes I will share them with you.

In the meantime, in celebration of this week’s bounty of asparagus, I thought I’d offer some words from local-foods pioneer Alice Waters, in her book, “The Art of Simple Food,” about four simple ways to prepare asparagus:

“To boil asparagus, snap the ends off and peel. Cook the asparagus uncovered in a large pot of salted boiling water until just tender, about 3.5 minutes (less for the skinnier ones). Drain and serve hot or at room temperature (to cool, spread them out on a towel).

To steam asparagus, put peeled asparagus in a steamer over boiling water for about 3 minutes or until just tender.

For grilled asparagus, brush cooked boiled asparagus lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over a bed of medium-hot coals, turning often, until warmed through and a little browned from the grill.

To roast asparagus, place uncooked peeled spears in one layer on a baking pan with sides. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roll spears back and forth to coat them with oil and salt. Roast in a 400-degree oven until tender, about 9 to 11 minutes. Turn the spears once, halfway through the cooking.”

How are you using your box? I’d love to hear from you!