Week 6: June 11, 2014

In this week’s box:

2 heads cabbage

2 heads broccoli

2 bags yellow squash

1 bag zucchini

2 bags string beans

2 pints blueberries

1 dozen eggs

7 pints snow peas

6 pints sugar snap peas

Total retail value of goods in this week’s box: $68

Total retail value of goods distributed so far this year: $417

Emily’s notes:

Welcome to summer! The season itself is still a couple weeks off, but this box has summer written all over it. Enjoy the sugar snaps this week, because this is probably the last we will see of them until next spring. As for snow peas, they’re great in stir-fries. You can find more ideas for snow peas in this post from last year’s CSA blog. I also used snow peas earlier this season in a Thai-style salmon recipe I found in Dinner: A Love Story, one of the few cookbooks I have left in my collection after years of trying to winnow it down. This recipe is versatile, and could use a handful or two of any of the vegetables in this week’s box. For squash, I would probably cut them into matchsticks to use them here. Here’s my very slightly adapted version:

Thai-ish Salmon

recipe from Dinner: A Love Story

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 salmon fillets of just under 1 pound each

1 tablespoon finely minced fresh lemongrass (the white part of the stalk), which you can find in the fresh herbs section at Wegmans and other local stores

1 tablespoon chopped scallions (white and green parts)

2/3 cup light coconut milk

juice of one lime

1.5 teaspoons Thai red curry paste

handful cilantro, chopped

handful basil, chopped

1 good handful snow peas, de-stringed

1 good handful broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil.

Place salmon in skillet flesh-side down and cook 3 or 4 minutes, until browned. Set aside.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Add lemongrass and scallions, stir for 1 minute. Add coconut milk, lime juice and curry paste. Whisk together and let simmer about 3 minutes.

Add salmon back in, skin side down, nestling into the sauce. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Add cilantro, basil, snow peas and broccoli.

Simmer another 7-8 minutes. Serve with jasmine rice, more cilantro, scallions and lime wedges.

For a cozy weekend meal, try pairing stuffed cabbage with green beans cooked with bacon. For stuffed cabbage, I’ve had this recipe from the Barefoot Contessa on my to-do list for a while. As for the green beans, I’d start by chopping some raw bacon into small bits and cooking it in a Dutch oven. Remove the bacon when it’s crisp and then put your prepped green beans in the pot. Give them a quick saute in the hot bacon fat, then add water or chicken stock just to cover. Put the lid on and cook until the green beans are the texture you like them, adding more stock if necessary. Serve with the cooked bacon added back in. I’d go easy on the salt with these, because bacon adds a lot of salt, but some red pepper flakes added in with the beans would be nice.

A couple of quick salad ideas that will use some of these vegetables raw. Use your vegetable peeler to slice long, thin slices of zucchini or yellow squash. Place them in a bowl and douse with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Add some pecorino cheese chunks just before serving. Similarly, finely chop green beans, snow peas or sugar snap peas to give them a different texture. Toss with the same ingredients as above and serve nice and cold.

 

 

Week 4: May 28, 2014

In this week’s box:

6 pints sugar snap peas

2 pints blueberries

2 bunches white turnips

2 heads Romaine lettuce

2 bunches onions

Total retail value of goods in this week’s box: $41

Total value of goods distributed this year: $304

Emily’s notes:

Emmett Snead says the blueberries in this week’s box are almost perfectly ripened, and very sweet. They come to us from AgriBerry, a Hanover County farm whose CSA program also distributes Snead’s Farm produce.

Welcome to sugar snap pea season! We had to wait a few weeks longer than in years past to enjoy these beauties this year because of a cooler, wetter spring, but the wait was well worth it. Teach your kids to pull the string off the peas by pulling from the stem-like attachment at the top and down along the shorter length of the pea. Then pack these up in school lunches for a healthy, crunchy alternative to potato chips. To serve at the dinner table, saute for no longer than 3 minutes with butter, salt and pepper. Place in a serving bowl and toss with lemon juice and lemon zest for a tasty side dish.

White turnips are sweeter than other varieties, and Snead reports that farmer Miles Hastings says these turnips are so sweet the ants want to eat them right out of the ground. Last year, I found that my kids enjoyed these turnip pancakes (especially if served with raspberry jam or another sweet condiment). Boiled and mashed along with potatoes (white or sweet), turnips add complexity and nutrition to plain old mashed potatoes.

If you’re looking for a new way to serve Romaine lettuce, throw it on the grill! Try this recipe from Simply Recipes for Grilled Romaine Lettuce, and you’ll never look at salad the same!

 

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 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 5: May 29, 2013

529board

Emily’s notes:

Last week, CSA members received garlic scapes, the flower stalk portion of the garlic plant. Today, you’re receiving the rest of the plant–two of them. Think of this as the garlic version of the green onions you’ve received earlier this CSA season. Every piece of this plant is edible, from the green tops to the young garlic bulbs. Green garlic is generally milder than mature garlic, and you can use it in any recipe where you’d normally use regular garlic. For a very detailed overview of how to store, cut and cook with this vegetable, see this helpful post on the website Food52.

Sugar snap peas are in full force this week. I like to substitute raw snap peas for chips in my lunches and snacks when I have so many of them in my house, but they also cook up into a variety of tasty side dishes. One basic technique is to blanch the trimmed snap peas by plunging them into boiling water for about  a minute, then throwing them directly into a big bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. You can actually do this a day ahead of time and store the prepped peas in the fridge. When you’re ready to make dinner, saute the peas in some butter over medium heat just until warmed through, and add some salt, pepper and lemon zest as they cook. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice before serving.

When you get your beets home, be sure to separate the greens from the roots before storing them. Beets will keep for much longer this way. The greens can be used in any recipe that calls for Swiss chard, kale or other hearty greens. It’s like getting two vegetables in one. The roots can be used raw, grated into salads. I plan to roast mine using the technique below. Once roasted, beets will keep for a week in the fridge. Once you’ve roasted your beets, they are a lot easier to toss into salads throughout the week. Toss them with salt and pepper, vinaigrette and goat cheese for a chic salad that’s shown up on a lot of restaurant menus lately. They would also be great tossed with feta cheese, lemon juice, olive oil and quinoa or any other grain of your choice. To take advantage of the intense color of beets, try this recipe for summer borscht, a cold soup that will dazzle your table with its hot-pink color. I’m working on a slightly unorthodox use of beets that should appeal to the vegetable-phobic in your house. Check back laster this week to see how it turns out.

Roasted beets

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Trim beets of greens and scrub well. Wrap each beet loosely in aluminum foil.

Place beets on a rimmed baking sheet or dish to catch the red juices. Roast for 45 to 60 minutes. Beets are done when a fork goes in without resistance.

Allow beets to cool until you can handle them, then rub the outer skin off with your fingers or with a paper towel. If it doesn’t come off easily, the beets aren’t cooked enough. Store cooked and peeled beets in the refrigerator.

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.