CSA June 26, 2013

Notes from the Farm:

Since week one, we have focused on lettuce;  seeding, planting the delicate seedlings, and harvesting.  You will notice an abundance of it in your CSA box, so we hope you have some good salad dressing on hand!

One of the more frequent questions we are asked in the early summer is if we’ve got everything planted.  This is a loaded question, like asking parents of small children if they are getting a lot of sleep.  Planting is a continuous process throughout the summer.  Of course, the first week of June is when many people feel it is finally safe to  plant their frost sensitive vegetables – tomatoes, basil, and squashes, for example – so this is a busy time of year for gardeners and farmers alike.  For crops that take all summer to produce, it is good to get them in early. But there are other vegetables that can be planted later in the season, and even successively, to harvest more than one yield.  Lettuce is a great example: When the weather gets hot, lettuce tends to get bitter as it ages, making it unpalatable for most people.  This necessitates continuous plantings to get mild, crisp lettuce. And almost everyone loves a good salad in the heat of the summer!  So we should be through planting sometime in August.  Enjoy your salad!

This Week’s CSA

This week’s share includes kale, swiss chard, rutabaga greens, head lettuce, garlic scapes, and green onions.  For fresh herbs this week, you will find both spearmint and oregano.

Storage Notes

As you might expect, all of the items this week will do fine in plastic bags stored in the veggie crisper of your refrigerator.

Usage Notes

In case any of you had questions about the garlic scapes, the entire scape is edible, but there can be a tough section at the base of the yellowish-white blossom that can use more cooking time.  The green stems are most commonly cut into small pieces and cooked.  Garlic scapes are mild in flavor so you can add extra when substituting for garlic cloves.  Scapes are a great addition to breakfast scrambles and stir fries.

Except for the head lettuce, all the greens this week are perfect for sautéing.  The head lettuce is great for salads.  Although not of the buttercrunch variety, the recipe for wedge salad with buttered croutons, would work well for this week’s lettuce.  I realize some of you may feel overwhelmed by the amount of greens this time of year, but fortunately, when cooked, greens really shrink in size.  One hefty bunch of cooked greens should serve 4 people.  The three varieties of greens this week will be great mixed together.  Most greens need to be stemmed before cooking, as the stems are too tough to eat.  The exception is swiss chard.  These rainbow-colored stems have a similar texture to celery and can be used as such.  The light green, gently-lobed rutabaga greens can be treated like a mild mustard green.  Added to a stir fry, cooked greens, or cooked with bacon, these greens will bring a nice mild bite to the dish.  For additional ideas on how to use these great spring time greens, please visit  the website (by clicking on the links highlighted in this post).

Using green onions is fairly straightforward since the only inedible part is the very root end, which needs to be sliced off.  The white base can be cooked or added raw to salads, while the green tops are used as a raw garnish.

Recipe

Red Bean Gumbo with Greens

Serves 4-6

Courtesy of Deborah Madison Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

While this recipe is delicious on its own, feel free to add some bacon, smoked pork hocks or and Andouille type sausage.

2-3 bunches greens, including kale, mustard style greens, collards, stems removed and discarded

salt and pepper

1/3 cup safflower oil or butter

6 tablespoons all purpose flour

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1 1/2 teaspoons thyme

1 1/2 teaspoons oregano

1 tablespoon paprika

2 bay leaves

3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3/4 teaspoon freshly milled pepper

2 large onions, medium diced

2 large bell pepper, medium diced

3 celery ribs, chopped

5 large garlic cloves, minced or put through a press

3 cups cooked red kidney beans or 2 15-ounce cans, drained and rinsed

Cook the greens in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 8-10 minutes.  Scoop out greens, reserving water.  Coarsely chop greens and set aside.

Meanwhile, make the roux.  In a large heavy stock pot heat the oil/butter over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour, reduce the heat to low, and stir constantly with a flat wooden spoon, until the roux is a dark reddish brown color, about 15 minutes.  (A very dark roux is what gives gumbo its distinctive rich taste, so take the time on this step.)  Stir in the seasonings and then add the veggies.  Cook for 10 minutes, then stir in the garlic, 2 teaspoons salt, and 7 cups of reserved cooking liquid.  While occasionally stirring, bring mix to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add the beans and greens, cooking for 15 minutes more.

At this point, start tasting the beans, adding salt, pepper, hot sauce, and apple cider vinegar to balance the flavors and heat for your tastebuds.  Serve with cooked rice or cornbread.

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