Spring 2013 Week 4 (April 16th) PLUS recipes

Pictures will follow later tonight, but here are the share lists (and a few recipes) for today:

SMALL
kohlrabi
baby turnips
baby rutabaga
collard greens
chard
asparagus
fingerling potatoes
parsnip
onion
spinach
roasted peppers (frozen)

MEDIUM
sorrel (aka lemon spinach)
mixed salad greens
extra chard
extra collards
extra baby turnips
extra baby rutabaga

A note on sorrel: This very “bright” green looks like pointy spinach, but it doesn’t taste like it. It is quite sour, but adds a nice flavor to salads, soups, and pestos. Store as you would spinach, loosely wrapped in a plastic bag with a paper towel added to keep it from wilting. Also see here for recommendations.

Root Veg Mash with caramelized onions
This will use four or five ingredients from the share today. Peel and cube the rutabaga and parsnips, and just cube the potatoes (unless you aren’t a fan of skins). You could add the turnips if you’d like. Boil the roots in salted water until tender enough to mash. In the meantime, saute a sliced onion and some minced garlic until the onions begin to brown. Drain the root cubes and mash with a bit of stock or cream, seasoned with thyme, salt, and pepper. Stir in the onions and serve.

Places to put collards, chard, and spinach
There are a lot of ideas for using up our greens here, from simply boiling them and serving, to sauteeing with garlic and putting over pasta. Sometimes I serve them as a side dish by themselves, but at least half the time I just slip them into other dishes. They pair well with eggs, so put ribbons of them into quiche, omelets, or frittata. I put one whole bunch of collards into a savory bread pudding with sausage this week (think stuffing as a main dish). I put them into soups quite a bit, especially chicken, vegetable, and minestrone style soups. Potato soups are good with crunchier kale and collards.

Garlicky Pasta with Greens

Garlicky Pasta with Greens

Time: As long as it takes to boil pasta water

1 pound pasta of choice
2 bunches of strong greens, tough ribs removed, roughly ripped
several ‘glugs’ of olive oil (a little less than 1/4 cup)
2-3 scape stalks, roughly chopped
6-8 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

Start the pasta water boiling while you rip up the greens and chop the scapes and garlic.  Heat the oil in a smaller skillet, then saute the garlic and scapes until fragrant and starting to brown.  Boil the pasta as usual, and about 3/4 of the way through, toss in the greens.  Strain the pasta and greens, then toss with the garlicky sauce.  Serve.

I made this recipe with the broccoli rabe when we had it last week, but it works with Chinese broccoli, mustard greens, or chard.  You can sub lots of green garlic for the scape/garlic combo as well.  The pasta to greens ratio can be tweaked quite a bit, and the sauce can be stronger or weaker based on how much pasta/green mix you toss it with.

Pesto, generic

Pesto, which most of us know as a saucy mix of basil, garlic, and oil, tossed with pasta, is actually a generic term for things made by pounding.  It is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle, at least in Italy.  It is far easier in a food processor or blender.  Pesto is an incredibly versatile vehicle for using up produce at the height of freshness.  I’ll give you a generic basil recipe with some rough proportions, but it can be adjusted to taste with a free hand and ingredients are limited only by your imagination.  Basically, you need something bright and fresh, something nutty, something salty, and something oily.  (And as a side note, you’re not far off from hummus with this recipe, which also has infinite variations involving beans and seasoning.)

Generic Basil Pesto

3-4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
2 cups washed and dried basil
salt and pepper
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated hard cheese (pecorino romano, parmesan, italic)

Chop the garlic and pine nuts in the food processor.  Add the basil and pulse until a thick paste forms.  Season and add the oil while the food processor runs.  If you are making a dip or spread, add less oil.  If you’re tossing it with pasta, add a little more.  Lastly, stir in the cheese.  This will keep a week in the fridge (longer in the freezer) if you put a thin layer of olive oil on top to seal it in.

Alternatives:
– try cilantro, parsley, sorrel, spinach, or arugula as a partial or full substitute for the basil
– create a red pesto from sun dried tomatoes or roasted red peppers
– try almonds, cashews, walnuts, or beans as substitutes for the pine nuts
– cilantro, garlic, edamame beans, a little ginger, and a little sesame oil to replace some of the olive oil (cheese isn’t necessary for this one)
– cilantro, garlic, chipotle chile, and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) — fantastic in tacos, especially with a little tomatillo included
– scapes (coming soon), green garlic or green onions in place of most of the basil and garlic

The crisper overfloweth

I understand we’ve received three weeks in a row of certain vegetables.  Some of them (maybe collards?) are things with strong smells or unfamiliar flavors.  Others are just coming in volume, week after week.  This passes, as the summer heat causes things to bolt, mature, and wither, and so we just learn to love them in their season — too soon they will be gone.

This week, I’m going to cheat a bit and direct you to a college friend’s farm blog in Virginia.  Lisa of Frog Bottom Farm has a great rundown on collards, and I challenge you to try a couple of her ideas.  I think the turnip greens, and probably the mustard, would substitute well for all but the longest cooking methods.

I’m going to cheat again by directing you to a Mark Bittman article on slaw salads in the New York Times from 2011.  The recipe of interest for what is probably building up in your fridge is the Kohlrabi-Sesame Slaw, but as we head towards summer we should also see Asian radishes, lots of choy-type cabbages, and a few beets that overwintered and are growing again.  A little chopping (OK, a lot) on delivery day and you have a side salad that only improves in flavor all week.

Another item you’re going to be inundated with, if you don’t use several stalks a day with your greens, is young garlic.  They’re basically the garlicky version of green onions — not as strong as garlic, but stronger than scallions.  Use them as a cross between the two, and you’re set for soups, sautees, stir-fries, and sauces.  Add them to your simple skillet greens, your omelets, your asparagus, and your pilafs / fried rices.  Replace the basil in pesto and you can use up a large amount of them all at once, and this can be frozen or keep in the fridge for many weeks.

Lastly, and maybe most importantly, I will repost a favored link on the blanching and freezing of greens (almost everything except lettuce).  Piles of mustard building up?  Spinach you can’t use this week?  They’ll keep in the freezer, and you can add them to soups or serve as pot greens (with ham and potatoes?) later in the summer without any loss of quality.

Have you eaten it all yet?

This week’s share start tomorrow! Have you used up last week’s yet? Don’t worry, neither have I. So, what can we do with all that leftover produce? Some things keep well until more of them show up. Parsnips, collards, radishes, kohlrabi.  Time to get the rest used up!

Here are a few ways I cooked with my share this week:

– Salad greens and microgreens — the first half of the week was a salad a day for lunch. But that one is easy.

– Spinach — I stuck it into soups, omelets, and salads.

– Asparagus — We ate all of it in one meal. Sauteed with bacon and garlic, served with a béchamel sauce (brown a little flour in a stick of butter, then slowly stir in two cups of milk until a thick sauce forms). Not the healthiest meal this week, but tasty!

– Mustard greens and chard — I have eaten easy sauteed or braised greens almost every day this week. Sometimes I use bacon or sausage for flavor, but last night was just greens with ginger and garlic, splashed with lemon juice.

– Kohlrabi — It tastes like a cross between turnips and cabbage, but milder and quite pleasant. Try peeling it, slicing it, and sautéing with a sliced apple in butter (with a pinch of salt). Makes a slightly sweet side to more strongly flavored greens.

– Radishes and turnips — Eaten raw, as snacks with cheese and olives.

– Kale — This kale is crunchy, but it gets tender if you let it rest tossed with some olive oil and salt. Salad for tomorrow lunch.

Greens

Greens — There will be a lot of them for the next month or more.  Below is the recipe that I included in a recent Edible Wasatch article (page 47).

“Any CSA member can be easily overwhelmed by the spring greens.  Spinach, chard, a plethora of choys, lettuce, braising greens, arugula, overwintered kales. The bunches come fast and furious, and for many newcomers, they seem pretty foreign. They can all be handled the same way, with a bit of adjustment on cooking time based on how thick they are, and a simple approach is best to appreciate their fresh flavors.

Braise ’em — Braising greens requires a quick saute in oil followed by a short simmer in a small volume of water, wine, or broth. Wash and shred the greens, toss them in a skillet with hot oil for a minute or two, then add 1/2-1 cup of liquid and reduce heat. Stir occasionally, covered or uncovered, until tender. Serve immediately.

Blanch ’em — Drop the greens briefly (a minute for spinach, three for a sturdier bok choy) into boiling, salted water. Drain, rinse with cold water, and toss with a sauce. Vinegar comple- ments bitter greens. A ground up mix of sesame seeds, sesame oil, and soy sauce compliments spinach and chard. Toasted pine nuts and a splash of balsamic gives it a Mediterranean flare.

Blast ’em — This is my go-to recipe for greens. Start browning a clove or three of garlic (sliced or crushed) and a minced shallot over medium heat in olive oil. Add chopped greens with a pinch of salt and pepper, turn up the heat and stir until al dente. Serve. Less than ten minutes, start to finish.

You’ll find that most spring greens can store for over a week in the crisper if you wrap them in paper towels and then loosely in a plastic bag. If they start to get a little too soft and wilty, throw them in a soup instead.”

And a little tip that didn’t make the article:  stronger or bitter greens can easily be tamed with a bit of oil, salt, and/or acid.  Kale, when rubbed liberally with oil and salt, makes a lovely raw salad (try with garlic, apples, avocado, and dates).  Collards and mustard greens benefit from a splash of vinegar, and even sweet chard improves with a squeeze of lemon.  But if in doubt, make soup.  I added a handful of chard, sliced into ribbons, to a chunky sweet potato soup last night (stems for about five minutes, leaves for the last minute).

Using up the Winter Squash

I found a copy of the original Moosewood Cookbook in a free pile of books a couple of years ago.  Being one of the original vegetarian cookbooks, they have some fantastic recipes to make use of all of our fresh produce.  Here are two adapted recipes for our current winter boxes.  While it isn’t out of copyright yet, I’m going to risk posting them mostly in their original form with a hearty recommendation that books by the author, Mollie Katzen, are well worth purchasing for your shelf.

Arabian Squash-Cheese Casserole

2 hunks of hubbard or banana squash (from the shares)
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 double handful chopped braising greens (kale, chard, spinach, collards)
1 package of roasted peppers (or a chopped bell)
3 T butter or oil
salt, black pepper, and red pepper to taste
2 beaten eggs
1 c buttermilk, yogurt, or soured milk (milk + 1 T lemon juice)
1 c crumbled feta or cotija cheese
1/4 c sunflower seeds or chopped nuts

Seed the squash and roast until tender in the oven @ 375.  Scoop out flesh and mash.  Saute the onion and garlic in the butter (oil) until soft, then add the peppers.  (Already roasted peppers just need to warm up, fresh peppers need to soften a bit.)  Combine eggs, buttermilk, cheese, squash, peppers, and onions, mixing well.  Season to taste, and spread into lightly greased casserole dish.  Top with seeds or nuts and bake at 375, covered for 25 minutes and uncovered for an additional 10.

Gypsy Soup

3-4 T olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups chopped, peeled winter squash
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 cup (or can) diced tomatoes
1 package roasted peppers (or 1 chopped fresh pepper)
1 can chickpeas, or about a pound of leftover roasted lamb, diced
3 cups stock

paprika, turmeric, basil, salt, cinnamon, cayenne, bay leaf, and soy sauce to taste
   (I don’t measure anything, and go entirely by my nose.  Shoot for more paprika and go light on the cinnamon.)

Saute the onions, garlic, celery, and squash in the oil in a dutch oven or soup pot until the onions start to soften.  Season and add stock.  Simmer until the squash starts to soften.  Add the rest of the veg, plus the chickpeas (or lamb).  Simmer until everything else is soft (or as done as you’d like).