A new season is upon us

Here we are, getting ready to start our third full week of the CSA season…and I am just now writing our “welcome” blog. Gives you an idea of how nuts it has been this year! The weather has been full of extremes: a cooler and way drier than normal spring…moving into summer with days of extreme heat and drenching rains.vibrant rhubarb

Because of the cool dry spring, many early season crops were a little late getting in the ground…BUT, this also allowed us to get many of our summer crops planted much earlier. There is always a flip side in farming…

One of my goals with this blog is to present ideas on how to use your share. It does neither of us any good if you pick up a crate of vegetables each week, just to have them slowly rot away in your fridge. We take the utmost care to make sure we harvest early in the day, and get the produce into the cooler as quickly as possible, to make sure that it stays as fresh and tasty as possible. Once you get your share home, here are a few tips to help you store your veggies correctly. Now that you have everything stored correctly, what do you do with it???

Eating seasonally can take some getting used to. When people picture joining a CSA, they often have visions of cucumbers, melons, tomatoes and peppers dancing in their heads. not necessarily kohlrabi and turnips. BUT, all of the above make their appearance later in the summer–July at least, so, we grow what does well in season until we get to “the good stuff.” Another goal of mine is to get our members to see all of the produce as good stuff! Just because you have never heard of it doesn’t mean it isn’t good!

If you find yourself stumped for ideas, check out the word cloud on the right hand side of the page. Click on whatever vegetable interests you and you will see all the blog posts written on that topic.  Other social media sites are full of ideas: Facebook and Pinterest are great places to see what is happening with food.green onions

One of my favorite food blogs, and where I often go for inspiration is Alexandra’s Kitchen. She is a devoted CSA fan and has many wonderful, delicious ideas to get you going. As the mom of two young kids, her recipes are pretty easy to follow and don’t tend to involve any overly complicated kitchen sorcery.

Some of the recipes I have shared lately are Rhubarb Glazed Shrimp and Roasted Rhubarb and Asparagus Pasta Salad.

Without a doubt, one category of produce that continues to mystify and overwhelm people is GREENS. Particularly Asian greens: bok choy, Chinese cabbage, Yukina Savoy, Asian Salad Greens. These are pretty abundant in the spring and fall. They are so good for you, and so tasty once you figure out what to do with them!

Most of the time, a simple saute or braise can be used on many of our greens. They cook way down, so what seemed like a lot, becomes much more manageable. Fritters and slaws are a great way to handle many veggies as well. Fresh bok choy and apple slaw makes a great cool side dish–perfect for a hot day.

 

How to use your share

 

Typically, Farmer Karen and I (Kate) are the ones to write the blog posts. However, we thought you might appreciate a different point of view from time to time. So, introducing Kris, one of our new Work Share Members this year!

SFC_kohlrabi_labeled

 

As a fairly new CSA member, I sometimes find myself overwhelmed and perplexed by some of the produce I receive in my share, as I’m sure many new members do. However, this is not an issue as long as you push yourself to be (and stay) creative! A recommendation for everybody: Try each of your share items RAW, at least once (like kohlrabi–it is delicious)! You may be pleasantly surprised and discover your new favorite vegetable! This also helps you get an idea for the taste, and more easily allows you to imagine it in some of your more familiar recipes…

SFC_garlic_scapes_labeledWhich brings me to another recommendation: Add your new produce to your old dishes! Your macaroni and cheese recipe that’s been in the family for decades may benefit with a little added kale mixed in! Throw some sauteed green onions or garlic scapes in there to give it a more savory flavor.  Don’t confine yourself to one recipe per dish—slowly add and/or omit ingredients, tweak ratios, taste test, and bulk up your cookbook! This process is very inventive and fun, and you typically get a very tasty end result!
OK, so worst case scenario, you hate a dish you created…what now? Well, this is a learning experience! Get back up and try again! Or totally scrap that dish and try something completely new. Just remember: CSA shares are for your health and happiness, don’t be afraid to use what has been given to you!
And one more (obvious) recommendation for you: Search the net!  The internet is the best tool SFC_beets_labeledfor finding new recipes and preparation ideas for unfamiliar produce. Websites like Pinterest, Yummly, and AllRecipes are top notch resources. All you need is the name of the vegetable or fruit you want to use, plug that into the search bar, and get ready to be bombarded with mouth watering recipes! You will be shocked by the clever things people can do with food! Who knew you could make DELICIOUS red velvet cupcakes using beets? (we also have a recipe on our site that we made last year–either way, give it a shot. They are delicious!) Or homemade ketchup with rhubarb? Possibilities are endless, as long as you are open to trying new things and experimenting!
So, from one seasonal eater to another, I urge you to be curious and brave with your food!
Eat, drink, and be merry!
—Kris

Spring Recipes

not sure what to do with pea tendrils, broccoli raab or rhubarb? Here are a few recipes to start the season. Scroll to the bottom for printable versions.



Sautéed Pea Tendrils

Pea TendrilsPea tendrils have a fresh, delicate flavor—not much needs to be done to them. In fact, they are delicious raw too!

  • 1 bunch of pea tendrils—trim any tough ends
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2–4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • A sprinkle of sea salt
  • Chili flakes, if you like heat (optional)

Rinse and chop the pea tendrils. Add olive oil and garlic to a cold skillet. Heat over medium heat until garlic is fragrant (but not brown!). Remove garlic clove from the pan and save for later (optional).

Add the chopped tendrils and sauté for about 30 seconds. Cover and cook just until wilted 2–5 minutes, depending on their thickness—don’t overdo it—you want them barely wilted, but still flavorful and crunchy!

Serve with a tiny sprinkle of sea salt and/or chili flakes if you want a little bit of heat. You also can chop the garlic and add it back in if you’d like.

 Pea Tendril Pesto

This intensely flavored, neon green pesto recipe is inspired by one that appeared in the New York Times. Add up to a half-cup of additional fresh herbs such as chives, mint, arugula and parsley. Like most pestos, all amounts are approximate, so adjust according to your own taste. Recipe by Edible Portland

Try this pesto on a piece of toast with a sliced hard boiled egg; added to boiled potatoes with chopped green onions; or thinned with pasta water and tossed with wide-cut fresh noodles.

  • ½ cup walnuts, raw or toasted
  • 3 cups pea shoots, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan Reggiano
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1/3 to ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1. To toast the walnuts, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread walnuts on baking sheet and roast until golden, about 10 minutes. Check by letting them cool and then breaking a walnut in half. The inside should be golden all the way through. (Optional. Tastes good with walnuts just out of the bag too).

2. In a food processor or blender, combine walnuts, pea shoots, Parmesan and garlic. Pulse until roughly chopped. Add salt to taste. With motor running, slowly drizzle in olive oil. Blend until well-combined and you reach your desired thickness. Scrape pesto into a bowl and use immediately, or store in a jar with a thick covering of olive oil and use within three days. You can also freeze in ice cube trays.

Makes 2 to 2 ½ cups

Pasta with Garlicky Broccoli Rabe

Garlicky Broccoli Rabe from Smitten Kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.smittenkitchen.com

  • 1 lb pasta, whatever shape you like (but chunky ones will match up better with the rabe)
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, heavy stems removed, remaining stems and leaves cut into 1- to 2-inch sections (roughly the same size as the pasta you are using)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and minced or pressed
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more or less to taste
  • About 1 heaping teaspoon Kosher salt (or more to taste)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and five minutes before its cooking time is up, add the broccoli rabe. It will seem like too much for the water, but with a stir or two, the rabe should wilt and cook alongside the pasta. Drain rabe and pasta together and pour into serving bowl.

In a small pot (or reuse the one you just emptied), heat the olive oil with the garlic, pepper flakes and Kosher salt over moderate heat, stirring frequently for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the garlic becomes lightly golden. Pour mixture over pasta and toss to evenly coat. Shower with freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese and eat at once.

 Spinach Salad with Strawberries & Basil

Adapted from Rachel Ray

  • 1 shallot
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 ½ cups small strawberries
  • 2 – 3 cups fresh spinach leaves
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves
  • 4 – 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Crumbled goat cheese (optional)

Chop the shallot and put it in a small bowl. Add the vinegar, sugar and lemon juice and set aside. Meanwhile, hull the strawberries and cut them in half. Transfer to a serving bowl along with the spinach and basil.

Whisk the extra virgin olive oil into the vinegar mixture and season with salt and pepper. Toss the salad with the dressing and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with goat cheese if desired.

Vanilla Rhubarb Jam

rhubarb jam

www.AlexandrasKitchen.com

  • about a pound of rhubarb*, to yield about 3 1/2 to 4 cups once chopped
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean

*If you start with a pound of rhubarb, by the time you trim the ends, you will have (shockingly) less than a pound of rhubarb, which will yield closer to 3 cups of chopped rhubarb. If you start with more like a pound and a half or a pound and a quarter of rhubarb, the yield once chopped will be closer to 4 cups. I have made the jam both ways and prefer it on the less sweet side — 1lb. 6 oz of rhubarb untrimmed left me with 4 cups of chopped rhubarb. You can always add more sugar about halfway through the cooking process if you find the jam to be too tart, but I doubt you will.

1. Wash rhubarb. Trim ends. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Place rhubarb in a saucepan with sugar. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the caviar with a paring knife. Place caviar and remaining pod in pan with rhubarb and sugar. Cover pan, place over medium heat and cook until the mixture is bubbling and the rhubarb has released a significant amount of its juices, about 5 to 10 minutes.

2. Uncover the pan, give the mixture a stir, and continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is thick and jam-like in consistency, another 10 or 15 minutes. Stir frequently and use a spatula or spoon to breakdown any big pieces of rhubarb. Remove from heat and let cool. Transfer to a jar and store in the fridge for at least a week.

Rhubarb Bars

rhubarb-crumb-bars

From “One United Harvest.”
Because of rhubarb’s tart flavor, these taste just like lemon bars.

  • Crust:
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 8 T powdered sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • Filling:
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2¼ cups sugar
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups diced fresh rhubarb

For the crust, stir together flour and sugar. Cut into butter. Pat this mixture in a greased 9 x 13” pan and bake at 350 degrees for 10 – 15 min, until set, but not brown. Set aside.

Beat together eggs, sugar and flour. Stir in rhubarb. Pour this mixture over the hot crust and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, or until set.