Notes from the Farm
Many of the vegetables that we’re harvesting in the early fall will last for months if stored properly. Click on the links highlighted below for full storage instructions for each item. This week’s share includes potatoes, squash and garlic in addition to a few more perishable items. Enjoy!
This Week’s CSA
Carnival squash, a variety of Acorn squash, is another winter squash that stores well in a cool, dry spot. This acorn-shaped squash has smooth skin splashed with a mix of cream, yellow, orange, and green colors. The pale orange flesh is semi-dry, firm, and very mild in flavor. Cooking will help bring out more flavors and improve the sweetness. To help improve the sweetness, put some butter, freshly chopped rosemary, and maple syrup in each cavity of a cut and cleaned squash before roasting to perfection. Roasted carnival squash makes a great side dish that can be topped with your favorite compound butter.
Keep in a cool, dry place for best results. If you notice any bulbs starting to soften, use them first. Purée fresh garlic, canned garbanzo beans, tahini, olive oil and lemon juice to make quick and easy hummus dip. Healthy Sauté steamed spinach, garlic, and fresh lemon juice.
Add garlic to sauces and soups, or purée roasted garlic, cooked potatoes and olive oil together to make delicious garlic mashed potatoes.
Although Italian plums are most often designated for drying to prune state, they are well suited for fresh eating, using as a dessert ingredient, processing into jam and preserve form and simply adding to sweet and savory salads. Complimentary sweet flavors include vanilla, nutmeg, tropical fruits, chocolate, butter and cream. Savory pairings include mild fresh cheeses such as chevre and ricotta, herbs such as arugula, citrus, chiles, fennel and basil, bacon, lamb and grilled seafood such as shrimp and scallops. To store fresh Italian plums, refrigerate ripe fruit for up to one week. To store prunes, keep in an airtight container in cool, dry storage.
Kale greens pair well with olive oil, parmesan cheese, garlic, potatoes, legumes, pasta, and eggs. To store, wrap kale in a damp towel or in a plastic bag and refrigerate, preferably in crisper drawer, for up to 1 week. To freeze, wash, separate from stem, and blanch leaves for 2 minutes. Rinse in cold water to stop the cooking, drain, and pack into airtight containers such as zip-lock freezer bags.
The edible part of a leek is the white part plus an inch or so of pale green. Smaller leeks are more tender, making them perfect for grilling or braising, while larger leeks are perfect for soup and gratins. Due to how leeks are grown, they often have lots of dirt between the leaves so they need to be washed well. Cut off the greens an inch above the white part and slice off the roots, leaving a thin piece attached so that the leaves remained joined at the base. Halve the leeks lengthwise down the middle to the root end. Rinse well under running water while you fan the leaves to make sure you are getting dirt stuck between leaves. Cut leaves can also be rinsed after cutting. If using in a soup, leeks do not caramelize well so they are best lightly cooked. In addition to the classic Vichyssoise and Cock-a-Leekie soups, leeks go well with potatoes, fennel, celery, capers, parmesan, goat cheese and olives.
To keep fresh parsley in the refrigerator for several weeks, wash the entire bunch in warm water, shake off all excess moisture, wrap in paper towel and seal in a plastic bag.
The leaves can be minced and used fresh to brighten the flavor of sauces and soups. The stems can be saved and used for adding to stocks or flavoring soup base. If the stem is tender it can be minced and added to your dish.
Fresh potatoes are baked, boiled, or fried and used in a staggering range of recipes: mashed potatoes, potato pancakes, potato dumplings, twice-baked potatoes, potato soup, potato salad and potatoes au gratin, to name a few. Store potatoes in a cool, well-ventilated place, out of the light. Perforated plastic or paper bags offer the best environment for extending shelf-life. Don’t wash before storing.
The trick to storing salad greens is to place them in a container (or plastic bag) with a paper towel in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. You can wash and spin dry the salad mix first for easy use. Change the paper towel regularly if needed.
In addition to traditional salads, greens can be roasted, used as a topping for pizza, or added to green smoothies!
Dumpling squash can be difficult to peel and are most often baked or roasted with their skin on. Halve and stuff cavities with meats, cheeses, grains or other vegetables. Add roasted or baked slices to warm, green salads. Dumpling squash pair well with nuts, strong cheeses and dried fruits. Puree cooked flesh and add to steamed rice buns, soups, or combine with mashed potatoes. Dumpling squash are a hard winter variety and keep well at room temperature for weeks.
For pastry dough
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 sticks (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
4 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 3/4 lb small plums (preferably prune plums), halved and pitted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Accompaniment: crème frâiche or lightly sweetened sour cream
Special equipment: 2 (9-inch) tart pans with removable bottoms
Combine flour, butter, sugar, salt, and zest in a food processor and pulse until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with remainder in small (roughly pea-size) lumps. Add yolks and process just until incorporated and mixture begins to clump.
Turn mixture out onto a work surface and divide into 4 portions. Smear each portion once with heel of your hand in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather together 2 portions of dough and form into a ball; make another ball with other 2 portions.
Pat out each ball of dough with floured fingertips into a tart pan, in an even 1/4-inch layer on bottom and up sides (about 1/8 inch above rim). Chill 30 minutes, or until firm.
Make filling while shells chill:
Stir together sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl. Add plums and lemon juice and toss to coat. Let stand, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes, or until juicy.
Assemble and bake tarts:
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Arrange plum halves, skin sides down, in tart shells, overlapping in a rosette pattern (see photo, opposite). Halve any remaining plums lengthwise and randomly tuck in between plum halves in tarts. Pour all juices from bowl over plums.
Bake tarts in middle of oven 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 375°F. Cover tarts loosely with foil and bake until plums are tender and juices are bubbling and slightly thickened, 40 to 50 minutes more. Brush warm juices in tart over plums. (Juices will continue to thicken as tarts cool.) Cool tarts completely in pans on a rack.
• Tart shells can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.
•Plums may stand, coated with sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice and chilled, covered, 1 day. Stir well before proceeding.
Stuffed Sweet Dumpling Squash with Bacon and Cheese
1/2 red onion, 1 cup diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 red, orange or yellow bell pepper, diced
garlic olive oil
3 ounces cooked bacon, chopped
a few ounces cheddar cheese
Sweet Dumpling Squash
Pre-heat oven to 350 F with the rack in the middle. Pierce squash several times with a sharp knife. Bake for about 40-50 minutes until soft. Remove from oven and cool a bit. Slice off the tops and scoop out the seeds. Set aside. Keep the oven at 350 F.
Sauté onion over medium high heat with garlic olive oil until soft. Add zucchini and bell pepper. Season with some garlic salt, smoked paprika and black pepper. Cook until everything is soft and slightly browned. Add a cup of the cooked quinoa and bacon pieces. Combine well.
Coat the inside and tops of the squash with some garlic oil. Scoop some of the quinoa mixture into the squash. Top with cheese
Place filled squash back in the oven in a casserole dish. Bake 15 minutes uncovered. Finish by melting the cheese under a low broil until it is slightly browned.
Source: Family Fresh Cooking