Notes from the Farm
We have been concentrating on weeding and mulching. Unlike many farms we weed enough only to let the crops get a head start, and then allow “weeds” to come back. We started looking at weeds in a new light several years ago when we noticed that many crops do better when they have the protection of other plants around them, instead of bare soil. The weeds, or non-crop plants offer a buffer from wind, hail and scorching sun. It also creates more biodiversity in the fields, from the microorganisms living in the soil, to beneficial insects, toads, snakes, birds and mammals. We are thinking of our farm more like an ecosystem, each living organisms has a part and influences every other part. It has taken time for us to get over our idea of a “picture perfect” farm. Each year is a work in progress. We strive to learn more about soil health, in truth the health of our planet.
This Week’s Veggie Feast
Napa Cabbage, Red Russian Kale, Spinach, Green Onions, Basil
New this Week
Kale, at the beginning of the season, is still very tender, making it suitable raw or used in a gently massaged kale salad. The kale is sliced thinly and sprinkled with kosher salt and allowed to sit for 10-20 minutes before tossing with remaining ingredients. Check out recipes at www.saveur.com or search for ‘massaged kale salad’. I know it sounds funny but massaging the kale with salt makes for a great salad.
Kale greens pair well with olive oil, parmesan cheese, garlic, potatoes, legumes, pasta, and eggs.
Spinach is a very versatile green that can be eaten raw, or cooked.
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.
Italian basil is a tender herb commonly associated with Mediterranean dishes, but in fact is used in cuisines worldwide.
Kale Salad with Pecorino and Walnuts
Source: adapted from SmittenKitchen
1/2 cup (105 grams or 3 3/4 ounces) walnut halves or pieces
1/4 cup (45 grams or 1 1/2 ounces) golden raisins
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup panko (15 grams or 1/2 ounce) or slightly coarse homemade breadcrumbs (from a thin slice of hearty bread)
1 tiny clove garlic, minced or pressed
Coarse or kosher salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch kale washed and patted dry
2 ounces (55 grams) pecorino cheese, grated or ground in a food processor, which makes it delightfully rubbly (1/2 cup total)
Juice of half a lemon
Freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes, to taste
Prepare walnuts: Heat oven to 350. Toast walnuts on a baking sheet for 10 minutes, tossing once. Let cool and coarsely chop.
Prepare raisins: In a small saucepan over low heat, simmer white wine vinegar, water and raisins for 5 minutes, until plump and soft. Set aside in liquid.
Prepare crumbs: Toast bread crumbs, garlic and 2 teaspoons of the olive oil in a skillet together with a pinch of salt until golden. Set aside.
Prepare kale: Trim heavy stems off kale and remove ribs. I always find removing the ribs annoying with a knife, because the leaves want to roll in on the knife and make it hard to get a clean cut. Instead, I’ve taken to tearing the ribs off with my fingers, which is much easier for me. Stack sections of leaves and roll them into a tube, then cut them into very thin ribbons crosswise.
Assemble salad: Put kale in a large bowl. Add pecorino, walnuts and raisins (leaving any leftover vinegar mixture in dish), remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and lemon juice and toss until all the kale ribbons are coated. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt, pepper and some of the reserved vinegar mixture from the raisins, if needed. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving, if you can, as it helps the ingredients come together. Just before serving, toss with breadcrumbs and, if needed, a final 1 teaspoon drizzle of olive oil.
Easy Spinach Salad with Apples, Walnuts, and Feta
Source: adapted from The Kitchn
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Spinach (about 5 packed cups)
- 1 large tart apple, such as Granny Smith or Honeycrisp, cored and thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
- 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
Add the spinach and toss gently to coat in the vinaigrette. Add the apple, feta, and walnuts and toss gently again to combine. Serve immediately.