CSA June 4, 2012

Well, it is time for the weekly CSA notes to start. It feels so good to have fresh greens and spring herbs to brighten our meals! I had the opportunity to stop in at the farm on Sunday to see some of the new growing structures, newly planted veggies, and taste some of the greens. Things are looking great and I’m excited about the veggies everyone will be receiving this season. The share this week includes some swiss chard that looked amazing in the hoop house and a lettuce mix composed of spinach, arugula and tatsoi. Folks should also see some fresh cilantro, marjoram, and shallots.

Storage and Usage Notes:

Swiss Chard: Keep refrigerated and stored in a plastic bag. Best if used within a few days. Chard stems and leaves can be treated as two separate vegetables. The stems can be treated like celery and generally need to be cooked longer. Leaves can be versatile; doing well as a quick sauté, added to soups, savory tarts or braised. Using a knife or your hands, remove the leaf from the stem and cut separately.

Cilantro: The fresh leaves of the coriander plant, cilantro pairs well with Asian, Indian and Mexican cuisine. Cut the ends off the bunch of cilantro and store upright in a glass with a small amount of water. Covered loosely with a plastic bag and stored in the refrigerator, cilantro will last for several days.

Marjoram: Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Marjoram is often associated with oregano but it is sweeter and lacks the resinous flavor of oregano. It can be substituted for basil in most recipes (about two-thirds as much) since it pairs well with similar foods.

Shallots: Smaller than onions, shallots will have a mild and more delicate onion flavor that makes them great for vinaigrettes. Fortunately, they take well to cooking and are a foundation of many Asian cuisines and sauces. Keep stored in a cool, dry place.


Shallot Dressing

½ cup safflower or canola oil

½ cup seasoned rice wine vinegar

2-3 Tablespoons soy sauce or tamari

A liberal dose of freshly ground pepper

A very large handful of finely chopped shallots.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. If not using seasoned rice wine vinegar, add both salt and sugar to taste. The dressing is best made to day before. Store in the refrigerator and then bring up to room temperature before dousing a good salad of fresh garden greens and homemade croutons.

Wilted Spinach Salad

This recipe comes from the well known Greens Cookbook by Deborah Madison and Edward Espe Brown. Although it calls for spinach, feel free to use a variety of hardy greens, including the mix from this weeks’ share. The greens are tossed with very hot oil, which cooks it slightly. As the feta and olives are both salty, no additional salt is needed. The Greek flavors in this salad would go well with grilled lamb or salmon.

1 small red onion, quartered and thinly sliced

3 to 4 slices baguette per person

6 tablespoons olive oil

8-12 Kalamata olives, pitted

1 pound bunch spinach

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon mint leaves, finely chopped

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

6 ounces feta cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cover the sliced onion with cold water and refrigerate until needed. Brush the bread with some of the olive oil and toast in the oven until it is crisp and lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Pit the olives if needed and cut in half.

Remove any large spinach stems (or not, as you prefer). Cut large leaves into half or thirds, small leaves can be left whole. Wash greens and spin dry.

When you are ready to make the salad, drain the onions. Put the spinach in a large metal bowl and toss it with the onions, garlic, mint, olives, and vinegar. Break up the cheese and crumble it over the spinach. Heat the rest of the olive oil until it is very hot but just short of smoking. Immediately pour it over the salad, turning the leaves with a pair of metal tongs so that hot oil coats and wilts as many leaves as possible. Taste the greens and season with more vinegar if needed. Serve salad with croutons.

Braised Chard with Cilantro

This recipe is from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. Don’t be scared by the long cooking time…sometimes a slow braise deepens the flavor of vegetables more so than a quick sauté. The chard cooks down, so this side dish is meant to add flavor with a few spoonfuls. The complex flavors will go nicely with lentils, rice, or any grilled meats.

2 large bunches chard, about 2 pounds, leaves sliced into 1 inch ribbons.

1 ½ cups of the chard stems, trimmed and diced

1 onion, finely diced

½ cup chopped cilantro

1/3 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon paprika

1 garlic clove, minced

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Place all ingredients in a wide, heavy-bottomed pot with a few pinches of salt. Add ¼ cup water, cover tightly, and cook over low heat for 45 minutes. Check two or three times to make sure there is enough moisture. If anything is sticking, add a few tablespoons water. When done, taste for salt and season with pepper. The chard should be silky and very fragrant.