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!