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!

 

 

 

 

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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 9: June 26, 2013

In this week’s box:

3 pounds of green beans

1/2 dozen eggs

3 pounds of potatoes

2 bunches of green onions

2 bunches of beets

2 bunches of swiss chard

14 ears of bicolor corn(white and yellow on the same cob)

1 head of broccoli

1/2 pint of raspberries

1 pint of blackberries

1 bag of tomatoes

Retail value of this week’s box: $46

Total retail value of goods distributed so far this season: $472

Emily’s notes:

vegOn a recent trip to the library, I stumbled upon a cookbook that I think would make a great reference in any CSA member’s kitchen. It’s called, “Eat More Vegetables” by Tricia Cornell, and was published in 2012. Cornell, who lives in Minnesota, is a longtime CSA member. She writes about how the weekly box of produce was overwhelming for her for the first few years of membership, and she even dreaded CSA pickup days at times because of the volume that came into her kitchen. But over the years she developed rhythms and devised dishes that made it all a lot more manageable and enjoyable for her entire family. There are some really creative recipes in here that look like a lot of fun. I think I might have to make an exception to my self-imposed ban on buying new cookbooks to add this one to the home library.

When I picked up this book, I was thinking about beets, which also appear in this week’s box. Cornell’s recipe for Beet and Goat Cheese Tart looked intriguing to me. I’m going to be entertaining guests this week, so I might give it a try. Here it is:

Beet and Goat Cheese Tart

Serves 8 as an appetizer

1 pound beets

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1 egg

6 ounces goat cheese

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

olive oil

1 to 2 tablespoons honey (optional)

1 teaspoon dried sumac (This is a Middle-Eastern spice that Cornell says is optional, but adds a nice tartness.)

Wrap beets in foil and roast at 400 degrees until a knife slides easily all the way through (This took about an hour with the beets we got last week.). You want beets on the softer rather than firmer side for this recipe. Leave the oven on. Peel the beets under running water as soon as they are cool enough to handle. Slice them 1/4 inch thick.

Mix yogurt, egg and goat cheese. Place pastry on lightly floured or parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush very lightly with olive oil. Cover pastry with overlapping disks of beets, leaving about 1 inch around the edges. Spoon goat cheese mixture over the top, still leaving the edges clear. Drizzle with honey (I am thinking balsamic vinegar might be a good alternative here.) and bake 35 to 40 minutes, until edges are puffed and golden brown. Cool completely, then slice into 2-inch squares and serve.

If you’re looking for more beet ideas, the beet salad described in this post on the blog “Dinner: A Love Story” looks nice to me. I also might have to make this beet hummus that has been on my to-do list for years, but never seems to get made before I use my beets for something else. Like cake.

With onions, green beans and potatoes in this week’s box, you’re all set up to make a classic Southern side, green beans and new potatoes. This recipe from the blog Deep South Dish gives a good guide. I can smell the bacon now.

On a busy night, I sometimes like to roast my green beans. They don’t get as soggy, and the flavors of what you dress them in intensify a bit. The last time we got green beans, I roasted them after tossing them with a mix of sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar and brown sugar, with a sprinkling of sesame seeds. This recipe for parmesan roasted green beans from the blog Skinny Taste looks like something I’ll have to try with this batch.

And the first corn of the season is here! Last year I discovered that the best way to get corn on the table quickly on a weeknight was to toss it in the microwave, husk and all, and cook for about 3 minutes per ear (exact time will vary based on your microwave’s power). Remove it with a potholder (It’s hot!) and hack off the end that was attached to the stalk. Then you should be able to shake the cooked ear of corn straight onto your plate without having to deal with those pesky silks. It’s not quite as good as roasting corn in an oven (also with husks on) or grilling it, but it’s pretty good for a quick weeknight technique, which is what I need most of the time these days.

You could combine fresh corn taken off the cob with chopped tomates and onions from this week’s box for a quick fresh salsa. Toss the mixture with a little olive oil, lemon or lime juice, salt, pepper and cilantro (if you like it). Dice some of the potatoes and serve them hash-brown style, and scramble a few of the eggs. Spoon your salsa over the potatoes and eggs and you have a really tasty dinner completely from your CSA box!

You can click the “Swiss Chard” tag at right to see all the recipes we’ve linked to for chard so far this year. I am thinking of using my pizza dough recipe to make a chard calzone this week. I’ll share the recipe if it turns out!

This far into the season, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this blog. Are the recipes useful? Do they fit your lifestyle? Are there vegetables that you need more ideas for? Please e-mail me here with your comments (I will specify that I am asking for comments about the blog itself. Questions about CSA pickup should be directed to the Sneads.)

Week 7: June 12, 2013

In this week’s box:

1/2 dozen eggs

2 pints sugar snap peas

2 quarts strawberries

1 bulb fennel

2 bunches Swiss chard

2 bunches of spring onions

1 bunch of dill

1 bunch of basil

3 pounds of string beans

1.5 pounds of red potatoes

1.5 pounds of white potatoes

1/2 pint of raspberries

1 head of Chinese cabbage

Emily’s notes:

Have you ever cooked fish in parchment, or en papillote, as the French say? This week’s box contains a lot of ingredients that would be well-suited to this easy and healthful cooking method.

Here is an easy step-by-step tutorial with pictures from Cooking Light on how to prep and fold the parchment packets, and below is a rough recipe for how to make the most of this week’s box in such a dish.

Fish and vegetables en papillote

4 salmon fillets (or other fish of choice)

Any combination of the following, depending on your preference:

3/4 pounds green beans, rinsed and trimmed

1/2 pound small red potatoes, sliced about 1/8 inch thick

1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced

10 fresh basil leaves and/or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

one lemon, sliced

4 teaspoons capers, rinsed and drained

salt and pepper to taste

4 teaspoons olive oil

drizzle of white wine (optional)

To ensure your vegetables cook all the way, you might want to blanch them first (fennel and potatoes 2 minutes, green beans one minute) in boiling water, then shock them in ice water to stop the cooking. While they’re in their ice bath, arrange each fish fillet on one of your prepared parchment “heart” halves and sprinkle with salt and pepper. (If using potatoes, you might want to put the potatoes down first as a bed.)

Next, layer fennel, green beans, then capers, herbs and a lemon slice or two for each packet. Drizzle each package with olive oil and white wine, if using, before sealing.

Place packets on a sheet pan and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Serve immediately. Maybe saute some Swiss chard with a chopped spring onion to eat as a side dish.

When I see potatoes and dill, I immediately think of this potato salad recipe from the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. I’ve made it too many times to count, it’s always a winner. Even though I think red onions add a great heat to this salad, you could definitely use the spring onions in this week’s box instead.

Speaking of Ina, she also wrote this recipe for Potato-Fennel gratin that would also be good with this week’s box. I am confident you could get away with using just one fennel bulb here, and the spring onions you’re getting this week instead of a yellow onion, as the recipe calls for (I usually use my spring onions in the same manner I would use mature onions, so it’s one less thing I have to buy during CSA season.).

If you’re looking for a new way to use Swiss chard, give this recipe for Swiss Chard Spanakopita a go. I did something similar with beet greens last year. It worked well as a freeze-ahead meal, also.

With Chinese cabbage, a recipe that has always been a hit in our house is this one for a salad that includes ramen noodles and a cider vinegar dressing. This is excellent for pot lucks.

It’s a real treat to have strawberries and raspberries in the same box. Celebrate by buying some premium vanilla ice cream and spooning on the fruit!

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!