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.

photo 1-3

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

photo 2-4

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!

 

Week 4: May 22, 2013

A note to our members: If you have been receiving the CSA information via e-mail, please be on the lookout (and check your spam folders) for an administrative message that contains a confirmation link that will allow you to keep receiving these messages via a private mailing list. As always, this information will also be broadcast via Facebook, Twitter, and this blog each week. 

In this week’s box:

2 bunches of swiss chard

2 heads green leaf lettuce

4 kohlrabi

2 cucumbers

1/2 dozen eggs

4 garlic scapes

2 lbs asparagus

2 pints sugar snaps

2 quarts strawberries

Emily’s notes:

Garlic scape - Image from Wikipedia

Garlic scape – Image from Wikipedia

This week introduces a new product to the Snead’s Farm CSA–garlic scapes. Scapes are curly stalks that emerge from garlic plants a few months before the bulbs are ready. They need to be cut to allow the plant to concentrate its energy into the garlic bulb. In recent years, they’ve become quite a gourmet sensation.

You can use them as you would regular garlic, though if you are cooking them, be sure to use considerably more, because the flavor is milder, and gets even more so as the scapes cook.

You can also use them like spring onions, chopping them raw into salads, tossing whole scapes on the grill or blending them up into pestos or salad dressings. This post from Serious Eats has a good-looking recipe for garlic scape pesto, along with several other ideas. This post from a garlic farm in Connecticut, also has some good ideas.

Another newcomer to the box this week is kohlrabi. To me, this is the quintessential CSA vegetable–something you might never have picked up at the market on your own, but that can really stretch your home cooking repertoire in tasty ways. Kohlrabi is in the cabbage family. It looks like an alien spaceship, which could be a good attribute if you’re trying to market it to your toddler. Get past it’s odd appearance, though, because with a little creativity, kohlrabi can serve a lot of purposes in your kitchen.

If the leaves are still attached, break them off and cut away the tough stems. The leaves can be eaten raw in salads or blanched or sauteed for other dishes. Last year, I made a kohlrabi pesto from the leaves. With this box, I might combine kohlrabi leaves with the garlic scapes in a big batch of spring-green pesto, which will freeze well until you want to use it in a big pasta dish with juicy summer tomatoes in a few months.

But with those wacky-looking kohlrabi bulbs, the key is in how you cut them. First, you will want to take a paring knife or your vegetable peeler and remove the tough outer layer of these bulbs. After that, here are some ideas:

  • Cut them into chunks that will fit your food processor, use the shredding blade and you’ll have the makings of kohlrabi cole slaw. Here is a full recipe for one version of that dish. Another tasty idea with kohlrabi shreds is to mix them with shredded apple, add a drizzle of lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper for a tangy side salad.
  • Cut them into planks and add them to your favorite stir-fry recipe (see below).
  • Cut them into french-fry sized pieces and make this New York Times recipe for baked kohlrabi home fries.
  • Dice them, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and any other flavors you like, and roast them at 450 degrees for 20 minutes or so. This can be a side dish on its own, or the beginning of another dish, like this kohlrabi curry from Tasty Kitchen.

Another treat coming your way this week is the year’s first sugar snap peas. These are delicious for snacking. If you’ve never eaten these before, you will want to remove the strings by grabbing the pointy cap at the top of the pea and tugging it down the side so that a thin stringy vein comes out. Then you can pop them in your mouth, plunge them into your favorite dip or ready them for any number of recipes. Below I have shared a stir-fry recipe that will use both your kohlrabi and your snap peas.

Snap pea and kohlrabi stir fry

Ingredients

2 bulbs kohlrabi, peeled and cut into thin planks about 2 inches long and half an inch wide

2 pints sugar snap peas, washed and strings removed

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons grated ginger

2 cloves minced garlic

4 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons sesame oil

3 tablespoons sesame seeds

Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add ginger and garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, until you can smell them. Add kohlrabi and snap peas and cook for about 3 minutes.

Add soy sauce, vinegar and sugar. Stir to mix and let liquids cook down a bit. You don’t want to cook so long that the vegetables lose their bright green color.

Remove from heat and drizzle with sesame oil and seeds. Serve alone or over rice.

*The asparagus and the garlic scapes from this week’s box would also work in this recipe. Just chop them into one-inch lengths and sub them in for a quantity of the vegetables here.

Midweek recipe: Asparagus and gnocchi with mushrooms

photo-5Here’s an asparagus dish that we made Wednesday night. We had bought some of the Wegmans brand whole-wheat gnocchi and wanted to try them out. The flavors were nice, but I would say on the gnocchi that they’re a little chewy. Maybe whole-wheat is too much to ask of gnocchi. You could do this with any kind of pasta you like, although the boiling time will be longer with dry pasta, and you will not want to add the asparagus until just a couple minutes before the pasta are done.

1 16-oz package pre-made gnocchi (We used the Wegmans Italian Classics brand.)

1 pound asparagus, washed, tough ends trimmed off and cut into one-inch pieces

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

10 oz. mushrooms (We used a wild mix that started frozen, but you could use any kind you have.)

1 clove garlic

salt and pepper, to taste

juice of one lemon

2 to 3 oz goat cheese (Or feta. Or parmesan. Or just a mix of what you have on-hand.)

Bring a large pot of water to boil. While you’re waiting for the water to boil, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and let them cook down. Allow the water in the mushrooms to extract and then boil off before you add salt and pepper to taste, plus the garlic.

When the water is boiling, add the gnocchi. One minute later, add the asparagus. Two minutes later (or once the gnocchi have floated to the top of the water), dump everything out to drain in a colander in the sink. Without shaking off too much water, add the contents of the colander to the pan with the mushrooms. Stir to mix, then turn off the heat. Add lemon juice and cheese and stir until everything is nicely mixed and coated. Serve immediately.

How are you using your asparagus? E-mail me if you’ve got a recipe to share!

 

Week 2: May 8, 2013

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Emily’s notes:

When I tell folks I’ve brought five pounds of asparagus into my house each Wednesday for the past two weeks, they raise their eyebrows. It sounds like a lot, but those tender green stalks go fast in our house.

We eat most of them grilled. I sprinkle the juice of half a lemon, a good shake of olive oil, salt, pepper and maybe some garlic and crushed red pepper on about a pound of asparagus (washed, and with the ends trimmed). I mix everything together with tongs (or more likely, my hands), then put the seasoned stalks on a grill over medium-high heat (Use tongs here, not your fingers. Trust me on this.) You’ll want to watch them closely. The skinny stalks will cook faster than the fat ones, and I always remove those first, and they usually get eaten before anything hits the table. Turn them over as best you can without losing any through the grill grates, and take them off the grill after five to 10 minutes, or when they reach your preferred level of tenderness or char. To me, it’s hard to beat this preparation, and this is one of my favorite spring treats. (If it’s raining, you could do a similar preparation by just placing the seasoned stalks on a baking sheet and putting them in a 375-degree oven for about 10 minutes. Every time I oven-roast asparagus, I am reminded of how much more I like it on the grill. Add a sprinkle of parmesan before roasting to enhance the flavor.)

But if you want to go beyond grilling and roasting the whole stalks, try this recipe for creamy asparagus soup, from Simply Recipes, a site that I have always had good results with.

For another option, here is a recipe for a hearty grain and asparagus salad that would work great as a make-ahead to pack for work lunches, or for dinners on busy nights. This is a really flexible recipe that will work with many other vegetables, and leaves a lot of room for customization, depending on what’s in your kitchen.

Asparagus and bulgur salad

Asparagus bulgur salad from a previous season. I must have added carrots and red peppers to this one. It's flexible!

Asparagus bulgur salad from a previous season. I must have added carrots and red peppers to this one. It’s flexible!

Ingredients:

1 cup dry bulgur

1 cup boiling water

1 pound of asparagus, washed, ends trimmed and cut into one-inch lengths

2 spring onions (white and green parts), washed, cut in half lengthwise, and then cut cross-wise into one-inch lengths (If you don’t have spring onions, use one medium red onion, cut into wedges and then in half cross-wise.)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

black pepper, to taste

juice of one lemon (and a bit of zest, if you like)

1/2 cup feta cheese (or more if you’re like me and live in constant fear of not having enough cheese)

handful chopped walnuts, toasted

Method:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees while you’re chopping your veggies. Heat the water and pour it over the bulgur, along with a pinch of salt, and some lemon zest, if you like. Let this sit.

Arrange asparagus and onion pieces on a sheet pan. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast 10-12 minutes, until cooked and just starting to brown.

Check on the bulgur. Once it absorbs the water, toss it with the lemon juice. When the veggies are done, and still hot, toss them with the bulgur, along with the oil they cooked in. While the whole thing’s still hot, crumble in the feta. Enjoy hot, or pack up for office or school lunches.

Possible additional add-ins: Toasted walnuts, chickpeas, pesto sauce, cooked meat or fish, hard-boiled eggs, chopped fresh parsley or basil…you name it!

Asparagus season is also strawberry season, and this week’s box brings the first of these ruby jewels! I can’t imagine anyone needs help working their way through a quantity of ripe strawberries. Bake up your favorite pound cake or biscuit recipe, buy some good vanilla ice cream and whipped cream and you’ve got strawberry shortcake. Don’t forget that strawberries can also be great sliced over dinner salads (especially with goat cheese and walnuts).

Here’s a quick idea that would make a great accompaniment to a Mother’s Day brunch tray: Puree ripe strawberries and spoon the mixture into Champagne flutes. Top off with your favorite sparklink wine, and you’ve got fresh strawberry Bellinis. Cheers!

Cucumbers will bring an early dose of summer to our salads this week. We’ll get into more involved cucumber recipes later in the season, but if you’re looking for ideas, try grating cucumber into plain yogurt, along with some lemon juice and cumin for a quick sauce that resembles the Greek Tzatziki sauce. Some chopped chives or cilantro would also be good in here. For a simple sandwich, slice cucumbers thin and layer on toasted bread with cream cheese, salt and pepper. A little lemon zest would also perk this up.

Happy eating. This blog will publish occasional recipes during the week as I work my way through the box at home. See you at the farm!