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.

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.

Week 3: May 15, 2013

In this week’s box:

15board

Emily’s notes:

More delicious strawberries are headed your way this week! Here’s a simple recipe I found in a brochure put out by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for strawberry butter. This butter is great for muffins, bagels, pancakes, biscuits and fresh homemade bread.

Strawberry Butter

2 cups fresh strawberries

1 stick butter, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

Place everything in a mixing bowl and blend until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate in an air-tight container.

There are a lot of greens in this week’s box, but don’t think that needs to mean that all your meals should look the same. The lettuce is obviously going to make a lot of great salads and sandwich toppers, but don’t limit its uses in your kitchen. Ditch the carbs and save money on bread by making lettuce wraps. Fillings could include your favorite chicken salad, hummus, taco meat, burrito fillings, etc. I have my eye on this slow cooker carne asada and these Thai beef lettuce wraps (which would also use some of your onions)…decisions, decisions!

If you’re feeling really adventurous, use some of your eggs in this recipe for Vietnamese pancakes. This is kind of a savory cross between an omelet and a crepe that is served lettuce-wrap style at Spotsylvania’s Pho Saigon restaurant. This would probably be especially good with Bok Choy. (I also just noticed that the June/July issue of “Fine Cooking” magazine – on newsstands now,photo-6has a beautiful spread on Korean barbecue that suggests serving the various chicken, beef, rice and vegetable dishes with red or green leaf lettuce leaves in wrap form. This spread also includes recipes for a number of other items you’ll find in your CSA box over the course of the season, including radishes and cucumbers.)

A classic use of Romaine lettuce is Caesar salad. Lucky for you, you also have farm-fresh eggs to add to the dressing. Here is Julia Child’s take on Caesar salad, a labor of love. For a little bit easier take on this classic, here is Tyler Florence’s version.

You’ve seen Swiss chard before, and I’d love to hear how you enjoyed it (e-mail me here). Last year, I made this chard, sausage and white bean soup several times, and it’s definitely a winner. But I also love chard for egg dishes like frittatas and quiches. If you’ve never made your own pie crust for quiche, you are missing a treat. It’s so much tastier than those store-bought crusts, more like a biscuit than a cardboard crust. I’m not going to say it’s any lower in fat, but it lacks the preservatives and (if you use all butter) the trans fats found in many commercial crusts. Here is a recipe for Swiss chard and onion quiche that I made during the first week of Snead’s CSA pickup. It looks long, but I swear, it is not that difficult.

IMG_1359Swiss Chard and Onion Quiche

for the crust:

2 cups all-purpose flour (I often substitute 1/2 cup of this with white whole-wheat flour. It makes me feel better about the butter.)

1 teaspoon salt

2 sticks cold unsalted butter, diced

1/2 cup ice water

for the filling:

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 spring onions, white and green parts chopped

1 bunch Swiss chard

6 eggs

1/4 cup milk, cream, half-and-half or plain yogurt

salt and pepper to taste (and any herbs, such as chives, thyme or parsley, that you happen to have)

2 oz goat cheese

make the crust:

This can be done ahead of time, as this dough will freeze well for several months.

Place the flour, salt and butter in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until butter is broken up a little smaller than pea-sized pieces. With the machine on, pour the ice water into the feed tube. Allow machine to run until dough just begins to ball up in the bowl.

Dump this very loose dough onto a well-floured work surface. Knead it lightly, and gather it into one big ball. Cut this ball in half, shape each half into a disc and wrap them separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least two hours, or up to 2 days, or freeze for several months.

When you’re ready to make quiche, remove dough from refrigerator about 15 to 20 minutes before you want to work with it. Roll it out on a floured surface until it’s big enough to fit your pie dish (I use a standard Pyrex dish). Allow extra to hang over the sides, and tuck it under so it fits the dish, then use your fingers to make ridges. Or just forget about all that, cut off the extra, sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar, give it a twist or roll and bake it up into makeshift pastries in the oven with the pie (These will cook faster than the quiche.).

make the filling:

Separate the green chard leaves from the colored stalks. Tear the leaves into 1 to 2-inch chunks and set aside. Finely chop the stalks.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and chard stalks and saute until translucent. Add chard greens and a couple small pinches of salt. Saute until the greens cook down.

While this mixture cooks, mix eggs with milk, salt and pepper to taste and chopped herbs, if using. Whisk well until mixture is of uniform color.

Spoon greens mixture into prepared pie crust. Pour egg mixture over this, taking care to spread it around the pie dish. Top with crumbled goat cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes, or until quiche is solid. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before cutting.

A quick note: The same great vegetables you’re enjoying in your CSA box are also being used in many local restaurants. Kybecca’s take on Snead’s asparagus was recently featured by a Northern Virginia Magazine food blogger. Find the post here.