Week 7: June 18, 2014

In this week’s box:

3 half-pints raspberries

2 pints blueberries

1 dozen eggs

1 kohlrabi with tops

1 bag zucchini

2 bags yellow squash

2 bags pickling cucumbers (small cucumbers)

1 bag slicing cucumbers (larger cucumbers)

2 bunches beets with tops

4 half-pints pick-your-own raspberries 9 a.m. to noon only, for CSA members only

Total retail value of goods in this week’s box: $58

Total retail value of goods distributed so far this year: $475

Emily’s notes:

If you want to make pickles, but are watching your sodium intake, here is a recipe from Eating Well magazine that I made a couple of CSA seasons ago. It makes a nice crisp pickle with a sweet-salty flavor.

Quick Pickles

1.25 pounds pickling cucumbers, trimmed and cut into quarter-inch slices

1.5 teaspoons salt

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1 cup white vinegar

1 cup light brown sugar

1 cup slivered onion

2 cloves garlic, slivered

1 teaspoon dill seed

1 teaspoon mustard seed

Place cucmber slices in a colander set in the sink. Sprinkle with salt and stir to combine. Let stand 20 minutes. Rinse, drain and transfer to a large heatproof bowl.

Meanwhile, combine apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, brown sugar, onion, garlic, dill and mustard seed in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Pour the hot liquid over the cucumbers; stir to combine. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes to bring to room temperature. Refrigerated leftovers keep for up to 10 days.

Back when we had kohlrabi earlier in the season, a CSA member submitted the following recipe for a shaved kohlrabi salad. Originally from Epicurious, this recipe has been adapted to reflect this week’s quantity. However, I encourage you to adapt it further to fit what is in your pantry (i.e., don’t go looking for white wine vinegar if you already have apple cider or even red wine vinegar). Similarly, you could throw in some thinly sliced summer squash to make better use of what you have this week.

Shaved kohlrabi salad

1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted for about 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven and coarsely chopped

1 kohlrabi, peeled and thinly sliced on a mandoline

1 tart apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced on a mandoline

1/4 teaspoon lemon zest (remember to zest the lemon before you slice it to juice)

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 tablespoon white wine or white balsamic vinegar

kosher salt, to taste

1/4 cup torn mint leaves

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1 oz.  shaved pecorino or parmesan cheese (about 1/8 cup)

Toss the kohlrabi, apple, lemon zest, juice and vinegar in a large bowl to combine. Add mint and toss again gently.

In a small bowl, combine hazlenuts, oil and salt and stir to combine.

Place kohlrabi mixture on plates and top with hazlenut mixture, cheese and more mint, if desired.

Don’t forget that you can bake with shredded yellow squash in the same way you would bake with zucchini. Last week I made this recipe for squash and blueberry bread that turned out very nicely. The coconut oil added a nice nutty sweetness and good moisture.

 

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Week 6: June 5, 2013

In this week’s box:

sneadsboard

Total retail value of this box: $58.50

Total value of goods received so far this season: $332.50

Emily’s notes:

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

serves 8

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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.

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.