CSA 2015 – Week 11

Next CSA Pickups: August 25 & 27
 

Hakurei turnips (aka Japanese salad turnips)

Hakurei turnips (aka Japanese salad turnips)


In your share this week:

  • Kale/Collards/Chard
  • Hakurei Turnips
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Herbs
  • Garlic
  • Shallots
  • Squash
  • Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Tomatoes

 

Have you tried the beautiful Hakurei turnips yet? I was very surprised by their sweet, mild flavor when I had them for the first time. We primarily ate them in salads at first, but have since learned how wonderful they are cooked, either with or without the greens. Hakurei turnips, or Japanese salad turnips, are part of the Brassica family, along with broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, mustard greens, kale, cabbage, kohlrabi, and other turnips. They are full of wonderful nutrients: the roots are high in vitamin C and rich in dietary fiber, and the beautiful greens are an excellent source of vitamins A, B6, C, E, K, fiber, calcium and iron, among many others. As with other root vegetables, you should remove the greens ASAP, and store them separate from the roots in your crisper. The leaves stay fresh only a couple of days, while the roots can last weeks if properly stored in the fridge. See below for a great frittata recipe, using both the turnips and the greens.
 
My kids could not believe that I had written anything about tomatoes and not included our most favorite summertime pasta dish, pasta alla cecca. This is absolutely our go-to preparation when tomatoes and basil are fresh. We actually eat it all year long, but nothing beats seasonal ingredients. As with most traditional recipes, every household has its own take on this dish—in fact, even the different members of my family of origin make it differently!—but it’s practically impossible to mess up, and should be adjusted to your family’s preferences and tastes. I give you the basics here, and hope that you will make it your own.
 
TOMATOESBARNSTILLSHOT basil
 
Pasta alla cecca (loosely translated “blind woman’s pasta”, pronounced “CHECK-ah”)
I usually make this with at least 2 pounds of pasta, but it is very easily adapted for the number of servings you desire. These amounts are approximate:
2 lbs pasta of your choice (any shape is wonderful, from spaghetti to orzo; shells are our favorite)
1 lb mozzarella (but you can easily use 1 lb of cheese for each 1 lb of pasta)
2-3 large tomatoes or 4-6 medium tomatoes
a large bunch of fresh basil
salt to taste
2-3 cloves garlic (optional)
olive oil

Cook pasta according to package directions. When you put the water to boil on the stove, begin to prepare the other ingredients. Chop the mozzarella and tomatoes into similar-size pieces, about 1/2 inch cubes, and place in a large serving bowl. Chop basil and add to the bowl. Lightly season with salt, and drizzle with good quality olive oil (this is not the place to skimp on the olive oil). Toss to combine. When the pasta is al dente, drain and pour directly from the strainer into the serving bowl, on top of the cheese and tomatoes. Toss very well to combine and distribute all of the ingredients. Add more olive oil if needed. If desired, sauté some minced garlic in olive oil and add to the bowl just after the pasta is added, again tossing well to combine.

 
Grilled Mediterranean Chicken Vegetable Kabobs
Recipe adapted from bettycrocker.com

A friend shared this recipe with me; apparently, it’s all over Pinterest, but I’ve traced the origins back to Betty Crocker. It’s simple, healthful, and delicious, and makes great use of our fresh produce!

Rosemary-Lemon Marinade
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
4 (or more) cloves garlic, finely chopped

Chicken and Vegetables
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces (we use boneless thighs)
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium zucchini or yellow summer squash, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium red onion, cut into wedges
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (1 oz)

In a shallow bowl or resealable plastic bag, mix all marinade ingredients. Add chicken, stirring to coat with marinade. Cover dish or seal bag; refrigerate, stirring occasionally, at least 30 minutes but no longer than 6 hours.
Heat coals or gas grill for direct heat. Remove chicken from marinade; reserve marinade. Thread chicken, bell pepper, zucchini and onion alternately on each of four 15-inch metal skewers, leaving about 1/4-inch space between each piece. Brush vegetables with marinade. Cover and grill kabobs over medium heat 10 to 15 minutes, turning and brushing frequently with marinade, until chicken is no longer pink in center. Discard any remaining marinade. Sprinkle feta cheese over kabobs.

Alternatively, you can prepare the kabobs first, and set the completed skewers on a long, shallow platter. Pour some of the marinade over the kabobs, cover and refrigerate, and rotate the skewers a couple of times to distribute the marinade. Then grill and continue to brush with marinade, as noted in the above preparation.

 
Potage Crécy
Recipe adapted from Twelve Months of Monastery Soups by Victor-Antoine D’Avila Latourrette.

Even though we don’t have carrots in this week’s share, I had to post this recipe from our pal Brother Victor-Antoine, who writes, “According to an old tradition dating back to the 14th century, loyal Britons should eat carrot soup or “potage de Crécy” on the anniversary (August 26, 1346) of the battle of Crécy, a legendary victory of the English over the French in the Hundred Years’ War.”

10 carrots
1 potato
1 onion
8 cups water (or vegetable stock)
1 cube vegetable bouillon (if stock is not used)
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp heavy cream (optional)
1 Tbsp chopped parsley

Slice the carrots, potato, and onion, and place into a large soup pot. Add the water, bouillon, tomato paste, butter, and sugar. Stir well and cook slowly, covered, over low heat for about an hour. When the soup is done, pour it through a strainer, gently rubbing the vegetables through it. (Or blend in a blender.) Reheat the soup. Add salt, pepper, and heavy cream (if using), and stir thoroughly. Serve the soup immediately, garnishing the top with parsley.

 
Kale and Turnip Frittata
Recipe adapted from Early Morning Farm CSA

2 large turnips shredded
1/2 bunch of greens like kale, mustard greens, or arugula sliced into shreds
8 fresh local eggs
1/4 cup whole milk, cream, or 1/2 & 1/2
1/2 cup (large handful) shredded white cheddar or other mild cheese
2 minced cloves garlic
1/2 minced onion
2-3 Tbsp butter

Prepare the turnips: Preheat the oven to 425. Start by shredding two turnips with a box grater or food processor with a shredding blade. These turnips have a lot of moisture so the first step is cooking them down. I started with 2 tablespoons of butter. (you could use less) Melt the butter over medium heat. Add half a minced onion, the shredded turnips, about a 1/2 tsp sea salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Mix evenly then use a spatula to flatten, cook for two minutes, turn over, and flatten again. Repeat this 2-3 times until there is a lot of water surrounding the turnips. Carefully pour the water off. Flatten the mixture one last time and cook until it starts to brown, 3-4 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Prepare the greens: Wash leaves thoroughly. Remove stems, roll into a tight bundle, and slice finely into shreds. In the same pan the turnips were in add a dash of olive oil or butter and briefly sauté the garlic over medium heat, then add the kale. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then cover 3-5 minutes until the kale starts to break down. Remove from pan.

While the kale is cooking: Beat the 8 eggs with the 1/4 cup of milk. Add a sprinkle of salt + pepper (this flavors the whole dish and table-side salting should not be necessary).

Cook the frittata: Add a smidge more butter to the pan (about 1/2 tablespoon), melt over medium heat. Add the egg mixture and cook, stirring briefly, until beginning to set, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Spoon the turnip mixture evenly over the eggs. Top with kale, then the cheese. Bake at 425 degrees until egg is set, about 15 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes, cut into wedges and serve.

 

Weekly CSA Blog produced by Chris Marmora Palmer

 

CSA 2015 – Week 10

Next CSA Pickups: August 18 & 20
 

OK, be honest: How many of you actually made it home from the farm last week with any tomatoes left?

sungoldtomatoes

In your share this week:

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Summer Squash
  • Kale/Collards/Chard
  • Onions
  • Herbs

 
FIRSTTOMATOESSTILL
 
There is much excitement and rejoicing around the farm, now that the beautiful tomatoes are ready! As with many of the vegetables from the farm, my family often cannot resist just giving a quick rinse and enjoying the produce practically straight from the bag. This will certainly be true with tomatoes, as it was last week with the, er, 10 or so sungold tomatoes that made it home with me from the farm! Should you have any left to save for later, here are some things to keep in mind about tomatoes:

Picked tomatoes do best at room temperature, 55-80 degrees. To keep them as fresh and great-tasting as possible, they should be stored on your counter, stem side down and out of direct sunlight. The refrigerator is not the tomato’s friend; the colder temperature toughens the skin and dampens (some even say ruins!) the beautiful, fresh flavor. If it’s a real heat wave like we’re expecting this week and you feel you must refrigerate the tomatoes to prevent spoilage, bring them back to room temperature before serving. (Or, just eat them more quickly!) Down the road, if you’d like to preserve your tomatoes for later use, check out this link for three simple ways to preserve garden tomatoes.

I know that many people feel strongly about peeling and seeding tomatoes before cooking, but I confess that I never, ever do this. Perhaps it’s because at this time of year, I really don’t cook tomatoes long enough for this to be an issue. Even so, I honestly don’t mind the skin and seeds. However, if you’re interested, there are several fairly simple techniques you can use. Check out this link and this one for simple instructions and pictures on a variety of methods.

Growing up, when the tomatoes were ripe in my Mom’s garden, it was time for my Dad’s fabulous triple-decker tomato sandwiches. I was mystified by this decadent treat for many years, and I remember being very surprised when I realized it was simply sliced tomato sprinkled with salt and drizzled with olive oil, layered on slices of delicious, crusty Italian bread. The. Best. I highly recommend you try it!

Whatever preparations you choose, I hope you will enjoy these amazing tomatoes at the peak of freshness.
 

Rice Salad Caprese
Recipe adapted from Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen

Here’s a fun take on the wonderful Caprese salad, combining the traditional tomato, mozzarella and basil with rice. The author also suggests adding shredded grilled chicken and arugula, among other variations. Divine!

2 cups rice
2 large or 3 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks (about 3 cups)
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (1 generous cup)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup shredded fresh basil leaves

Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large saucepan. Cook rice according to package instructions for al dente, tender but firm. Drain the rice and spread it out on a clean baking pan or tray to cool. When the rice is cool and feels dry, toss it in a bowl with the tomatoes, mozzarella, salt, and pepper. In a separate small bowl, whisk the oil and lemon juice together, and pour over the salad. Toss gently until all the rice is coated and the ingredients are mixed well. Let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes to an hour. Just before serving, toss in the shredded basil, check the seasoning and adjust to taste.

 
eggplant PEPPERSSTILLVARIETIES
 
Tortellini with Eggplant, Tomatoes and Peppers
Recipe adapted from Real Simple.

I make this with meat tortellini, just to pacify my carnivores.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large or 3 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 pound tortellini (cheese or meat, fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant, bell peppers, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, and cook 4 to 5 minutes more. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the broth and tortellini. Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until the tortellini are cooked through and most of the broth is absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in the parsley and ¼ cup of the Parmesan. Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup of Parmesan.

 

Halibut with Grilled Eggplant Salad
Recipe adapted from Real Simple

2 Tbsp canola oil, plus more for the grill
2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 medium eggplant (about 1 pound), cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
4 6-ounce pieces skinless halibut or other white fish
kosher salt and black pepper
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro

Heat grill to medium-high. In a small bowl, combine the oil and 1 tablespoon soy sauce. Brush the eggplant and fish with this mixture and season with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Oil grill.* Grill the eggplant and fish until the eggplant is tender and slightly charred and the fish is opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes per side for both. In a second small bowl, combine the vinegar, ginger, jalapeño, cilantro, and remaining soy sauce. Drizzle over the fish and eggplant before serving.

*Here’s a great tip to oil your grill: Use an onion! Slice an onion in half, stab it with a long BBQ fork, dip in oil and rub over the grates. This trick gets the job done, and you will end up using less oil.

 
POTATOESSTILL
 
Colorful Potato Salad
Recipe adapted from Melissa’s Great Book of Produce by Cathy Thomas.

This is a fun way to use the different types and colors of potato in your share, as well as a variety of the fresh herbs.

4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 cup dry white wine
2 medium cloves garlic
1-1/2 lbs potatoes, different colors
1 Tbsp kosher salt, plus more for dressing
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp whole grain mustard
2 tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 stalks celery, trimmed, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp minced parsley
2 green onions, both white and green parts, thinly sliced

Place thyme, rosemary, white wine, and garlic in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Cut potatoes into 1-inch cubes, leaving skin intact. Add to the pan. Add cold water to cover by 1 inch. Add salt. Bring to boil on high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and boil gently until the potatoes are tender, about 10-12 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the dressing. In a large bowl, combine the vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil, little by little. Drain the potatoes and discard the herbs. Gently toss the warm potatoes with enough dressing to coat them evenly. Add the celery and toss, then allow to cool. Add the parsley and green onions, and gently toss again. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Best served at room temperature.

 

Weekly CSA Blog produced by Chris Marmora Palmer

 

CSA 2015 – Week 9

Next CSA Pickups: August 11 & 13
 

Did you try the adorable “Minnesota Midget” cantaloupe last week? We did, and they were so juicy, sweet, and delicious that they were devoured right away.

minnesota midget melon minnesota midget melon_3

In your share this week:

  • Kale/Collards
  • Carrots
  • Squash
  • Cucumbers
  • Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Onions

carrotsstillfarm
 
We’re beginning to see carrots in our shares, and a wide variety of them at that. These young carrots are so fresh and sweet, often the best way to enjoy them is to just scrub and eat them raw! Check out this article for information about different color carrots. Carrots generally keep very well, but the closer to harvest that you eat them, the sweeter they will be. If you won’t get to them right away, simply remove the tops and store in the fridge for about 2 weeks.

Did you know? It is believed that carrots were first cultivated in the Middle East in the 900s. They are said to have come to Europe in the 1100s from the East and Northern Africa through Spain. In Europe, “Charlemagne cultivated carrots in his garden, but the vegetable—always yellow at that time—was not very popular, until the Dutch cultivated an orange carrot in the seventeenth century.” (Vegetable Harvest, by Patricia Wells)

CSAzucchini2plantphoto
I read today that August 8 is “National Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day”. Of course, none of our esteemed CSA members would ever dream of doing such a thing… but just in case the impulse starts to come over you, here are a couple of different preparations for you to try, to gird yourself against the temptation:

Baked Zucchini Chips
Recipe adapted from aspicyperspective.com

4 large zucchini
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt
Dried Italian seasoning (basil, oregano, garlic, rosemary, sage, etc.)
Grated parmesan cheese

Trim the ends from the zucchini, and slice evenly and thinly, about 1/8 inch thick. (Using a mandolin helps keep the slices consistent.) Lay the zucchini slices on paper towels in a single layer. Cover with more paper towels and set a baking sheet on top of the zucchini slices. Press down on the baking sheet, applying slight pressure, to help squeeze out some of the moisture. Preheat the oven to 235 degrees F. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper. Brush the parchment paper lightly with olive oil. Lay the zucchini slices in a single layer on the parchment paper. Fit as many on each baking sheet as possible (the slices will shrink as they cook). Then lightly brush the top of the zucchini with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and any seasonings you are using. Bake for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, until crisp and golden. Remove the crisp chips and place any damp chips back in the oven for a few more minutes. Allow the zucchini chips to cool on the paper towels to absorb any extra oil. Store in an airtight container.

For variety, try using seasoned salt instead of the Italian flavors, or paprika and cumin. Or, make up your own seasoning combination to suit your family’s tastes.

 
Healthy Zucchini Soft “Taco” Shells
Recipe from whiteonricecouple.com

I received this recipe from a friend. I have not tried these yet, but they sound awesome!

4 cups (950ml) zucchini, coarsely grated
1 large egg
1/2 cup (120ml) grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup (60ml) bread crumbs
1/2 tsp freshly grated black pepper
1/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground cumin

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Remove as much moisture as you can from the zucchini. Add zucchini to large bowl and mix in remainder of the taco shell ingredients (egg, parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, black pepper, salt, garlic powder, and cumin). Cover baking sheets with parchment paper or oven proof baking mat. Scoop about ¼ cup of mixture and press down on baking pan into a thin circle, about 5” wide. Repeat for remainder of mixture. Bake shells for about 25 minutes, or until the shells look “crisp” and brown around the edges. We like to bake the shells a little longer for a more charred texture and flavor. Just be careful to not bake too long or else the shells dry out and are hard to peel off. After zucchini soft taco shells are cool, gently peel them off the parchment paper.

 

Neopolitan Zucchini Soup
Recipe adapted from Twelve Months of Monastery Soups by Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette

Brother Victor-Antoine delivers another hit with this recipe!

7 small zucchini, finely sliced
3 Tbsp butter
6 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
3 eggs
4 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
bunch of parsley and basil, finely chopped
croutons (optional)

Place finely sliced zucchini in a good-sized soup pot. Add the butter and cook slowly over low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the water, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Continue cooking until the zucchini are tender (about 20 minutes). Cover the pot. Beat the eggs in a large bowl, add the cheese, chopped parsley and basil, and mix it all thoroughly. Add the mixture to the soup and stir. Allow it to cook for another 4-5 minutes maximum. Serve hot, adding some croutons on top as garnish, if desired.

 
Beet, Fennel, and Carrot Salad
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living

This is a great and colorful preparation to enjoy three wonderful fresh ingredients from your CSA share.

1 fennel bulb, trimmed
5 medium carrots
2 large beets, trimmed and peeled

For the Vinaigrette
2 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 shallot, halved and very thinly sliced
Coarse salt
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Make the salad: Quarter fennel bulb lengthwise, and cut out core. Very thinly slice fennel lengthwise into strips using a mandoline or sharp knife. Cover with a damp paper towel in a glass dish. Grate carrots, then beets, on the large holes of a box grater. Arrange side by side with fennel. Keep covered with damp paper towel, and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Make the vinaigrette: Toast fennel seeds in a small skillet over medium-high heat, shaking skillet occasionally, until fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute. Transfer to a small bowl, and add orange juice, vinegar, lemon juice, shallot, and 1 teaspoon salt. Gradually whisk in oil.
Toss fennel, beets, and carrots with vinaigrette in a large bowl. Serve immediately.

 

Weekly CSA Blog produced by Chris Marmora Palmer

 

CSA 2015 – Week 8

Next CSA Pickups: August 4 & 6

peppers

 
In your share this week:

  • Melons
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Squash
  • Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Leeks
  • Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Herbs
  • Pearl Drop Onions
  • Chard/Lettuce (tentative)

 
How about that gorgeous pepper display last week! We will see many varieties of pepper in our weekly shares, from mild to hot. Peppers are part of the Capsicum family, and the degree of hotness depends on how much capsaicin is contained within the pepper. When you pick up your share, take note of the posted signs for each pepper variety, which will give you an idea of their intensity and the preparations for which they are best suited. If you’re experimenting with the hotter varieties, good for you! Just be aware that the seeds and internal white membranes are where most of the capsaicin resides. Removing these parts from the pepper can greatly reduce the amount of heat. **BE CAREFUL** when handling hot peppers – wear gloves and do not touch your eyes or face. Capsaicin is the active ingredient in pepper spray, so take care not to have any inadvertent accidents!

Because it was my son’s birthday this week, he requested a simple pepper salad we make often. We simply seed and chop the peppers into a serving bowl, season with coarse salt, minced fresh garlic, and oregano, then cover with olive oil and toss. It’s excellent to dip in, or spooned onto your favorite bread or sandwich. This time, he chose mainly mild peppers, all but one, which adds an excellent kick to the salad when you least expect it. Which varieties did you choose?

 
Roasted Bell Peppers and Eggplant Dip
Recipe adapted from tusconcsa.org

Here’s another interesting dip or spread to try; again, many of the ingredients are in your share.

2-3 bell peppers
1 large or 2-3 small eggplant
1 medium onion
3 garlic cloves
2 tsp ground cumin
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp tomato puree
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut eggplant, onions and bell peppers in cubes. Add to a large bowl with oil, garlic and cumin, and toss until well coated with oil. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for about 45 minutes, or until tender and browned, tossing once for even roasting. (If you are using already-roasted bell peppers, omit them at this stage and add them at the next stage.) Let cool. Add vegetables to a food processor with tomato puree, and salt and pepper to taste, and blend to obtain a slightly chunky puree.

 
Red Pepper and Zucchini Salad
Recipe adapted from The Victory Garden Cookbook by Marian Morash.

This is a great way to combine two of our most copious CSA ingredients. Enjoy!

2 lbs sweet peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
2-3 lbs zucchini or summer squash
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic (I use more)
1/3 cup wine vinegar
1-2 tsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Wash and trim the zucchini. Quarter lengthwise and then cut into 1-inch pieces. Salt* and drain the zucchini, and pat dry. Heat the vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Toss with the vegetables, and marinate in the refrigerator at least 6 hours. Serve cold tossed with the sesame seeds, if using.

*To salt zucchini: Place zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with kosher salt. Let sit over a bowl or in the sink for 15-30 minutes, to draw out extra moisture. Drain and pat dry, then proceed with the recipe.

 
potatoes summer squash_2

Veggie Meatballs
Recipe adapted from Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking by Lidia Bastianich

If you’re feeding suspicious carnivores like I am, the trick is to ease into the all-veggie preparation. Start by serving these in your family’s favorite tomato sauce, side by side with your regular meatballs. Or, include some ground turkey or ground beef in the mixture with the zucchini and potatoes, and then you can gradually reduce the amount of meat each time you offer it.

4 medium-small potatoes (about 1 1/4 lbs)
3 medium zucchini or summer squash (about 1 1/4 lbs)
2 large eggs, beaten
Zest of 1 lemon, grated
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup chopped scallion
10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and spray a foil-lined baking sheet with cooking spray. In a medium saucepan, cover the potatoes in water and boil until tender. Drain, cool until easy to handle, peel, then pass through a potato ricer into a large bowl, or grate using the smallest holes on an upright grater. While the potato continues to cool, shred the zucchini into a kitchen towel and wring out the extra moisture over the sink. Add the zucchini, eggs, lemon zest, breadcrumbs, grated cheese, scallions, basil, and salt to the potatoes, and mix well. Form the mixture into balls or patties, and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Bake at 375 for about 25 minutes, until browned and cooked through. Sprinkle with salt to taste before serving.

Alternatively, these can be pan-fried. Add a small swirl of olive oil to a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, and cook the veggie balls/patties in batches until browned, about 3 minutes per side. Add more oil to the pan as needed. Drain on paper towels and season with salt before serving.

 
Cucumber Melon Salad with Mint
Adapted from Martha Rose Shulman on nytimes.com

4 cups mixed diced watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe
2 cups diced cucumber, seeded if there are seeds
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon lemon or lime zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 ounce feta cheese, crumbled
¼ to ½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper or mild chili powder (to taste), or 1 serrano chile, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Toss, and serve immediately.

 

Weekly CSA Blog produced by Chris Marmora Palmer

 

CSA 2015 – Week 7

EGGPLANTALLVARIETIES

Next CSA Pickups: July 28 & 30

 
In your share this week:

  • Cucumbers
  • Squash
  • Leeks
  • Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Herbs
  • Swiss Chard
  • Potatoes
  • Pearl Drop Onions

 
As we move into eggplant season, here are some things to keep in mind. Once picked, eggplant’s optimal storage temperature is 50 degrees, so it should not be stored in the refrigerator unless it is extremely hot out. After just a day or 2 in the fridge, eggplant will start to get brown spots and become bitter, so if we have another heat wave and you must refrigerate your eggplant, wrap it well and keep it in your vegetable drawer. Either way, plan to use eggplant within a couple of days for optimal taste, freshness and nutritional value. The flesh of the eggplant will begin to oxidize quickly when cut, so if you’re not cooking them immediately, you can sprinkle the cut pieces with a little lemon juice to ward off the oxidation. The skin of the eggplant is full of fiber, magnesium, potassium and antioxidants, so leave it on whenever possible.

In your CSA share, you will see several different varieties. You’ll recognize the traditional globe eggplant, with its smooth, dark purple or black skin, which is great cut into big slices for grilling, and also roasted, baked or stuffed. The long, slender eggplants are different Asian varieties, which are generally very tender and just wonderful in a simple stir-fry. And of course, we have the fairytale eggplant:

fairytale eggplant

Just as I did with the pattypan squash, at first I dismissed these adorable fairytale eggplant as simply too cute to eat. When I finally got up the nerve to cook them, I simply halved them lengthwise and sautéed them in olive oil with garlic slices. And yes, as you may have guessed by now, my go-to trial recipe for basically any vegetable is to sauté it in olive oil and garlic! Well, it didn’t fail me with these little cuties, and they are so delicious and buttery in texture that they never seem to make it to the dinner table; everyone just “picks” while the rest of the meal is being prepared. One other thing to note, as we saw with those stunning purple string beans, the gorgeous coloring on the fairytale eggplant will fade (and may even disappear) with cooking.

 
Here’s a nice variation prepared on the grill:

Grilled Fairy Tale Eggplant with Rosemary Garlic Oil
Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking

1 lb. fairy tale eggplant, halved lengthwise, stems intact
Kosher salt
1/4 cup olive oil; more for brushing
2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper

Prepare a medium-high (400°F to 475°F) gas or charcoal grill fire. Lightly season the cut halves of the eggplant with salt and let sit while the grill is heating. In a 1-quart saucepan, cook the oil and garlic over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the rosemary, and set aside. Brush the eggplant halves all over with some of the oil mixture. Place them on the grill grate, cut side down. Grill, covered, until grill marks appear, 1 to 5 minutes. Using tongs, carefully flip the eggplant and grill, covered, until completely tender, 1 to 3 minutes more. Arrange cut side up on a serving platter. Whisk the lemon juice into the remaining oil mixture and drizzle over the eggplant. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, and serve.

 

Eggplant Caviar
Recipe adapted from Real Simple

Try this as an appetizer at your next party, as an alternative to hummus or sour cream-based dip.

1 large eggplant (about 1 1⁄2 pounds)
1/2 small onion, finely chopped (1⁄4 cup)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus more for serving
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp mayonnaise or Greek yogurt (optional)
1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper, or to taste
Pumpernickel bread and cut up vegetables, for serving

Heat oven to 400° F. Using a fork, prick the eggplant all over. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast until very tender, 50 to 60 minutes. When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, halve it lengthwise and scrape out the flesh, discarding the skin. Finely chop the flesh and transfer it to a large bowl. Add the onion, garlic, parsley, oil, vinegar, mayonnaise (if using), salt, and pepper and mix to combine. Sprinkle with additional parsley and serve with the bread and vegetables, if desired. Makes 1-1/2 cups.

 

Ratatouille – Two ways to prepare a classic
Recipe adapted from Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters

The main recipe gives a straightforward and delicious way to prepare this classic dish, but the Note below gives the more traditional approach. It may take longer to prepare each vegetable separately, but combining everything just before serving is most traditional. Both are excellent, and just about all of the ingredients are fresh as can be, in your CSA share!

1 large eggplant, or several small
Salt
3 onions, peeled
3 red bell peppers
4 summer squash
5 tomatoes
6-12 cloves garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
Hot pepper flakes (optional)
1 large bunch basil (about 1/2 pound)

Cut the eggplant into 1/2-inch cubes. Salt it liberally and leave it to drain in a colander for 30-60 minutes. Press down on the eggplant or squeeze gently to extract excess moisture, and pat dry. (Note: In this recipe, the salting step is not done to remove bitterness, as is sometimes done with more mature eggplant; rather it is used here to help the eggplant absorb less oil in the cooking process.)

Meanwhile, peel and cut up the onions, and cut up the peppers, squash, and tomatoes, keeping them all separate. Everything should be cut into pieces about the same size as the cubed eggplant. Smash and peel the garlic and chop it coarsely. In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat some of the olive oil and gently fry the eggplant until golden. Drain and reserve. Add more olive oil to the pot, and over medium-low heat start sautéing the onions. When they are soft and translucent, add the garlic, optional hot pepper flakes, and a bouquet garni consisting of the bunch of basil wrapped tightly with string, reserving a handful of the basil leaves for a garnish. Stir for a minute, toss in the peppers, and cook for a few minutes; next add the squash and cook a few minutes more, and then add the tomatoes. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Finally add the eggplant, and cook 15-25 minutes more, until everything is soft and the flavors have melded together. Remove the bouquet of basil, pressing on it to extract all of its flavors, and adjust the seasoning with freshly chopped basil leaves, salt and a bit of fresh extra virgin olive oil and finely chopped garlic, if needed. Serve warm or cold. The dish tastes even better the next day. Serves 8.

Note: Another method of making ratatouille is to fully cook all the vegetables separately, and to combine them with the tomatoes, herbs and seasonings just before serving. This makes for a very beautiful dish; the vegetables don’t break down, and the shape and color of each remain intact.

 

Photo: Simply Recipes

Photo: Simply Recipes

Cucumber Lime Mint Agua Fresca
Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes

This cool and refreshing drink is doubly wonderful: it is refreshing and soothing on a hot summer night, and also helps use up your cucumber bounty!

1 lb of cucumbers (about 2 good sized cucumbers), ends trimmed, but peel still on, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup lime juice from fresh limes (from about 1 pound of limes, or 5 to 10 limes, depending on how juicy they are)
1 1/4 cup packed (spearmint) mint leaves (about a large handful), woody stems removed
1/2 cup sugar
Approximately 1 1/4 cup of water

Put ingredients in blender, add enough water to fill 3/4 of blender. Hold the lid on the blender and purée until smooth. Place a fine mesh sieve over a bowl and pour the purée through it, pressing against the sieve with a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid out as possible. Fill a large pitcher halfway with ice cubes. Add the juice. Serve with sprigs of mint and slices of lime. Makes about 1 quart.

 

Weekly CSA Blog produced by Chris Marmora Palmer

 

CSA 2015 – Week 6

Next CSA Pickups: July 21 & 23

20150702_142436
 
In your share this week:

  • Cucumbers
  • Squash
  • Peppers or Eggplant
  • Bok Choy
  • Scallions
  • Pearl Drop Onions
  • Beets
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Green & Purple Beans

 
What did you think of those amazing purple beans in last week’s share? As you can see, the Thursday CSA crowd was definitely drawn toward the purple:

green beans & purple beans

We tried some for the first time this week too, and learned a lot about them. My son exclaimed in delight after his first bite of a rinsed purple bean, when he saw that the interior was in fact green! They were gobbled up before we could cook them, but it was just as well, since I learned that they turn green when cooked. Alas, their gorgeous purple color is only skin deep, but their flavor and texture are still divine. Check out this interesting article for more information about pigment. This article states that you can prevent or lessen the color change of any purple vegetable by soaking it in either vinegar or lemon juice before cooking, which increases its acidity.

These beans are very similar in taste and texture to their green cousins, and can be used interchangeably. String beans are a good source of vitamins C & K, fiber, and protein, and are most nutritious when raw. To preserve their color in your recipes, while also maximizing their nutritional punch, either use them raw, or sauté or blanch them quickly. To blanch beans (and most any other vegetable, really): prepare a large bowl of ice water and set it aside. Bring a large pot of water to boiling, and drop the beans into the boiling water, for just 2 minutes or so. Drain them, then plunge them into the ice water (a.k.a. “shock” them) to stop the cooking.

 
Colorful Bean Salad
This method is a combination of various recipes and salad tastings… It is a very flexible preparation, and measurements are approximate, so go ahead and adjust it to suit your family’s tastes. Made the night before, it’s a wonderful potluck salad to take to your next BBQ.

Salad:
1/2 pound purple beans
1/2 pound green beans
1/4 cup garbanzo beans
1/4 cup onion (try using some of the beautiful onions and scallions in your CSA share!)
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved (chopped red or orange pepper also goes well)

Dressing (measurements are approximate):
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup vinegar (Balsamic or red wine vinegar work really well)
3 gloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press, finely minced, or crushed in a mortar and pestle
1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Trim the ends off the string beans and cut into 1-inch pieces, on the diagonal. Chop the onion very fine. Toss the beans, garbanzos, and onion in a mixing bowl. For the dressing, whisk all of the ingredients together until emulsified. Pour over the beans, and mix well to combine all of the ingredients. Refrigerate in an air-tight container at least overnight, so that the flavors can blend and the dressing soaks into the beans.

 

cukesphotobarn
Sesame Cucumber Salad
Recipe from thekitchn.com

A cool and refreshing addition to any summer meal, easily adapted to your tastes.

3 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 tsp tamari (soy sauce)
1 1/2 tsp citrus juice (lemon, lime or orange)
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 to 1-1/2 lbs. cucumber, ends discarded, peeled if desired, and sliced as thin as possible
2 Tbsp total chopped herbs (basil, cilantro and/or chives)
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Combine first four ingredients in a small bowl or cup and whisk until emulsified. In a mixing bowl, toss dressing with cucumbers, herbs and sesame seeds. Transfer to a serving bowl, or plate.

 

squash6

I came across this method in one of my new favorite books, The Victory Garden Cookbook by Marian Morash. It’s a great way to use the different squash from our shares, and the preparation is quite versatile. I include some of her notes and ideas at the end of the recipe. Check out the last bullet, which gives ideas for combining the sautéed squash with many of the greens we get through our CSA. Enjoy!

Sautéed Grated Squash
Recipe from The Victory Garden Cookbook by Marian Morash

2 1/2 lb summer squash (any combination)
Salt
4 Tbsp butter
Freshly ground pepper

Wash and dry the squash. Trim the ends. Grate on the largest holes of a grater or in a food processor. Salt, and let drain in a colander for 30 minutes. If you wish, rinse to remove the salt. Firmly, but gently, squeeze the moisture from the squash. Heat the butter in a sauté pan and cook the squash for 3-5 minutes until tender, stirring to coat with butter. Season with pepper and salt, taking into consideration the salt already on the squash. Serves 3-4.

  • Sauté whole peeled garlic for 30 seconds, then add the squash.
  • Sprinkle with freshly chopped herbs, such as basil, dill or mint.
  • Combine grated yellow and zucchini squashes; add grated red pepper for color, if you like.
  • Sauté finely chopped onions, shallots, or scallions in butter until wilted, then add squash.
  • Sauté the grated squash for 2 minutes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and add 1 cup of heavy cream. Cook gently until the cream reduces and coats the squash. Vary the flavorings with herbs such as rosemary and tarragon – or spices such as curry.
  • Combine squash with more assertively flavored vegetables, such as greens. Use equal amounts squash and blanched, chopped spinach, kale, broccoli de rabe, turnip or mustard greens, or Swiss chard leaves. If the other vegetables are young and tender, you need only to julienne or chop them finely before sautéing until wilted and free from moisture. Then sauté with squash. Blanch older, larger vegetables first, squeeze them dry, and sauté before adding to the squash.
  •  

    BEETS

    Roasted Beet and Beet Greens Salad with Apples and Goat Cheese
    Recipe from Lidia’s Italy

    This is a wonderful way to use both the beets and beet tops to create a beautiful and delicious salad.

    10-12 small yellow and red beets, with greens attached
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    1/3 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
    freshly ground black pepper to taste
    1 medium tart, crisp apple, such as Granny Smith
    4 ounces or so slightly aged goat cheese

    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Slice the greens off, leaving a tiny bit of stem on top of the beets, then scrub the beets and poke each of them with a fork a few times. Put them all in a shallow baking dish, uncovered, with 1/8 inch water covering the bottom. Roast the beets–the water will actually steam them a bit first–until they are shriveled, dark, and caramelized outside, and tender all the way through (when poked with a knife)–45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, depending on size. Let them cool completely.

    Meanwhile, rinse the beet greens well, trimming off the tough parts of the stems, and cut the softer stem pieces from the leaves. Bring a big pan of water to a boil, then drop in the stems and cook for about 10 minutes; now add the greens. Cook for 20 minutes more, or until the stems are quite soft. Drain in a sieve; sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt over the hot greens, and let them cool.

    Peel the cooled beets, removing all the skin, the stem base, and the root tip, exposing the gleaming flesh. Cut in wedges, and place in a big mixing bowl. Cut the greens (both leaves and stems) into 2-inch lengths, and toss with the beet wedges.

    Whisk together the oil and vinegar, with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and some grinds of pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the beets, and toss to combine. Core and slice the apple into thin matchsticks. Arrange the dressed beets on a serving platter or portion them on salad plates; fold in the apple pieces, then crumble goat cheese on top just before serving.

     

    Weekly CSA Blog produced by Chris Marmora Palmer

     

    CSA 2015 – Week 5

    Next CSA Pickups: July 14 & 16

    pickling cucumbers
     
    In your share this week:

    • Squash
    • Cucumbers
    • Broccoli
    • Beets
    • Spring Onions
    • Scallions
    • Kale
    • Chard
    • Basil or Dill
    • Green Beans

    (Updated list 7/13/15)
     

    Around this time each July, we host our annual family reunion. We rush around, especially this week, trying to get everything ready to receive what we now loving refer to as “the invasion” of our nearest and dearest. It’s a time of frenzy and laughter, stress and delight, bedlam and joy. Life is like that, isn’t it?

    I thought I’d share a couple of the recipes we’ll be preparing, as they all make great use of our current CSA bounty. Enjoy!
     

    cabbage

    Classic Deli Coleslaw
    Recipe adapted from instructions by my dear and talented eldest brother, Paul Marmora

    Since the size of each cabbage can vary so widely, these measurements are approximate. In particular, add the mayo little by little, as you may need more or less depending on the size of the cabbage.

    1 medium head of cabbage
    2-3 Tbsp lemon juice
    1-2 cups mayo **
    1/2 tsp salt
    1-1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

    Cut the cabbage in half, then half again, so you have four quarters. Cut the core out of each quarter, then slice very thin, about 1/8 of an inch. Once sliced, cut that quarter in half crosswise. Place sliced cabbage in a large bowl, and toss with the remaining ingredients. Stir and toss and toss and toss. (It’s easiest to do this with your hands.) You want to distribute all of the flavors very well. Taste and add additional salt and/or pepper, to taste. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour or more, to further blend the flavors.
    **Add the mayo a little at a time. You may need more or less. Start with a cup and go from there, adjusting the consistency to your preference. The cabbage should be well coated, but neither dry nor soupy.

     
    red cabbage slaw
    Red Cabbage Slaw with Lime Dressing
    Adapted from the Beantown Baker

    A wonderful, “cleanse-friendly” alternative to heavier slaws, this salad is always a big hit. Best made the night before, as it is delicious served cold after having chilled for several hours.

    1 head red cabbage, cored
    8 oz carrots, peeled and shredded
    1 large bunch cilantro or parsley, leaves roughly chopped
    3 limes, juiced (about 1/3 cup)
    2/3 cup neutral oil, such as peanut or safflower (I still use olive oil)
    1-2 tsp sugar or honey
    Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

    Shred the cabbage finely, using a sharp knife, a mandolin or in your food processor. In a very large bowl, toss together the shredded cabbage with the shredded carrots and chopped cilantro or parsley. Whisk the lime juice and oil together in a bowl, and whisk in the sugar or honey. Toss with the slaw, and season generously with salt and pepper. Taste, and add additional seasoning as needed. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour, to blend the flavors well. Serve cold, tossing well just before serving.

     

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    We make lots and lots of pickles for our reunion, and they’re always a big hit. My husband, who is a true pickle lover, has developed a variety of delicious recipes for different types of pickles over the years, and this is probably everyone’s favorite. Note that I’m sharing this photo just so you get an idea of the sheer scope of our pickle-making chaos – the recipe below is for a much smaller quantity (1 quart), but can easily be multiplied.

    Scott’s Famous Sour Garlic Dill Pickles
    Recipe complements of Scott Palmer. Shared with permission!

    Plan ahead – for maximum flavor, these pickles need to be made 3-4 days ahead of time.

    For 1 quart jar:

    3-5 pickling cucumbers (Kirby)
    2-1/2 tsp kosher salt
    4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
    3/4 tsp pickling spice
    1 stalk dill
    1/16 tsp alum
    1/4 cup white vinegar

    Wash the cucumbers well and pack cucumbers halfway into jar. Pour all remaining ingredients directly into the jar. Finish packing the cucumbers into the jar, and fill the jar to the top with cold water. Carefully seal the jar and invert the jar several times to dissolve ingredients. Let stand at room temperature at least 24 hours (longer for more sour, up to 48 hours) and then refrigerate. Ready to eat after two days in the fridge.

     

    zucchini bread
    Zucchini Bread
    Recipe adapted from my friend Leslie Fulton, complements of her friend Zenona

    This bread is delicious and sweet, but not too sweet. Walnuts are divine.

    3 eggs, beaten
    2 cups sugar
    1 cup canola oil
    2 tsp vanilla

    3 cups flour
    1 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp salt
    3 tsp cinnamon (I used a little less)

    2 cups shredded zucchini
    1 cup raisins
    1/2 cup chopped nuts

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 loaf pans or spray with cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in zucchini, raisins, and nuts. Divide batter evenly between the 2 loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes (or till done).

     

    Weekly CSA Blog produced by Chris Marmora Palmer

     

    CSA 2015 – Week 4

    Next CSA Pickups: July 7 & 9

    I was delighted at the beautiful display and variety of squash in last week’s share!

    summer squash_4

    **See below for the basic recipe for a fantastic Green Smoothie, courtesy of the Synergy3. Check out their website for more information about their summer cleanse, which begins Monday, July 13!**
    In your share this week:

    • Squash
    • Cucumbers
    • Broccoli
    • Cabbage
    • Lettuce
    • Kale
    • Chard
    • Basil
    • Spring Onions
    • Bok choy/Mizuna

     

    I chuckled recently when I read somewhere that summer squash can be summed up in two categories: zucchini, and everything else. These beauties are actually fruits, and part of the cucurbit family of gourds, along with cucumbers, pumpkins, watermelons and cantaloupe. They are low in cholesterol and high in antioxidants, and they’re rich sources of dietary fiber, vitamins C, A, K and B6, folate, magnesium, potassium and manganese. Most of the nutritional value is stored in the skin, so don’t peel them before cooking. Summer squash should be stored unwashed in your fridge crisper, either in a plastic bag or an airtight container, and used within about 5 days. Don’t wash or trim them until just before you’re going to use them.

    In our CSA shares, we can expect to see varieties of zucchini, different summer squash (both crookneck and straight), and pattypan or scallop squash, from all across the color spectrum, pale yellow to dark green. And all of them can be used interchangeably in your recipes! Unlike their winter cousins, summer squash are picked while relatively immature, so the skin, flesh and seeds are all edible and tender. All are wonderful raw, in salads or crudite, and if cooking, a quick steam or sauté is often all you need. Just be aware that the older and bigger they get, the tougher the skin and seeds will be, so at that stage you may prefer them baked, stuffed, cooked in your favorite hearty soups or stews, or shredded for breads and other recipes.

    I remember being completely intimidated by pattypan squash last year. They looked like the little decorative gourds you get at Thanksgiving, and much too cute to eat. I didn’t realize their many uses, and that they too are interchangeable with the other summer squash varieties.

    pattypanphoto

    I love the idea of simply slicing them horizontally, brushing with some olive oil and your favorite herbs (basil, garlic, dill, oregano, parsley, sage, whatever you like), and grilling till tender. I’m definitely trying that this week! Sue at Hilltop Hanover does something similar, but in the oven:

    Easy Gluten-Free Scallopini (Sunburst) Squash
    Shared by Sue Hubbard, Volunteer Coordinator at Hilltop Hanover Farm

    Slice squash in half width-wise to look like saucers… dot with butter and fresh chopped oregano, sprinkle with fresh grated Parmesan cheese, and bake at 350 till soft and top is browning.

    Yum! Here’s another great idea for you to try:

    Buttery pattypan squash with basil
    Adapted from foodrenegade.com

    This recipe immediately caught my attention because of the lovely and dramatic slices of the pattypan squash. It’s a simple and delicious preparation, which can easily be adapted to your family’s tastes.

    5-6 pattypan squash
    1/4 cup melted butter
    1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
    kosher salt, to taste

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slide the pattypan squash into 1/4 inch slides. Layer the squash slices at the bottom of a 2-quart baking dish, and lightly drizzle with melted butter. Sprinkle with some of the freshly chopped basil, and lightly sprinkle with salt. Continue forming these layers of pattypan squash, butter, basil and salt, until you’ve used all your squash and basil. Cover the dish with foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, until the squash is tender. Delicious served hot, room temperature or, at our house, for snacking right out of the fridge!

     

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    We found this monster in the CSA “seconds” bin one day last year, and my son fell in love. He insisted we simply HAD to take it home and stuff it! It was very large and mature, so it took a lot of cooking time. We stopped at Turco’s on the way home from the farm, and I bought some bulk turkey sausage for the filling and a couple of the sausage “spirals” of the same flavor, so I could serve those separately on the side and not overly traumatize the non-zucchini lovers in our household. It actually was a big hit and really delicious. This is more or less what we did.

    Turkey-stuffed Zucchini

    1 lb. bulk turkey sausage
    4 medium or 2 large zucchini or summer squash, trimmed and sliced lengthwise (“the long way”)
    2-3 Tbsp olive oil
    1 onion, chopped
    1 large egg, beaten
    1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (more if you like)
    1/2 cup bread crumbs, plus more to sprinkle on top
    Fresh basil (or other herbs of your preference), chopped
    Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
    Cooking spray

    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking dish (large enough to hold all the zucchini you’re preparing) with cooking spray. In a large skillet, brown the turkey. Drain, and set the turkey aside in a large mixing bowl. Meanwhile, hollow out the zucchini halves with a spoon or melon baller, if you have one. Scoop out the zucchini pulp, leaving about 1/2 an inch around each edge. Chop the pulp well. (We just did this on our cutting board, but you could certainly toss it into your food processor, and process until the pulp is chopped to your liking.) Place the zucchini, cut side up, in the prepared baking dish, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Next, heat the olive oil in the same skillet you used to brown the turkey, over medium-high heat. Combine the chopped pulp with the chopped onion, and sauté together in the olive oil until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the cooked vegetables to the browned turkey in the mixing bowl, and stir well to combine. Stir in the egg; mix well. Add the grated cheese, breadcrumbs and chopped herbs; mix again. (Note: You want the stuffing to bind well together, not too liquid, not too dry. If it seems overly dry after you add the cheese and breadcrumbs, add another beaten egg.) Spoon the stuffing into the hollowed out zucchini shells, mounding it a bit. Sprinkle the tops with breadcrumbs, then spray with cooking spray (or drizzle with olive oil), and bake until the zucchini shells are fork tender, about 45 minutes. If desired, broil for 1-2 minutes at the end, to brown the tops.

     

    Zucchini Salad with Tuna
    Adapted from Lidia Bastianich

    I have loved this since I first saw it prepared on “Lidia’s Italy”. I hope you’ll enjoy it too!

    1/4 tsp kosher salt, plus more for the pot
    1 lb. medium zucchini or summer squash, all about the same size
    Juice of 1 lemon
    1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
    1/3 cup drained tiny capers in brine (optional – I didn’t use these)
    3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    Two 5-oz cans Italian tuna in oil, drained (can use regular tuna)

    Drop the whole zucchini into a pot of boiling salted water. Simmer until the zucchini is tender but not mushy, about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on size. Drain, let cool slightly, then cut into 1/2-inch rounds. Place the sliced zucchini in a large serving bowl. Toss the zucchini with lemon juice, salt, red pepper flakes and capers (if using). Drizzle with olive oil, crumble in the tuna, and toss again. This salad can be served while the zucchini is still warm, at room temperature, or cold.

     

    Chilled Zucchini and Avocado Soup
    Adapted from Farmer John’s Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables

    4 small or 2 medium zucchini or other summer squash, coarsely chopped
    2 avocados, peeled, pits removed, coarsely chopped
    3 medium scallions, coarsely chopped
    2 cloves garlic, peeled, halved (or more, to taste)
    1/2 tsp chili powder
    1/2 tsp coriander seeds, crushed (in mortar and pestle, or just with the back of a spoon)
    1 cup plain yogurt
    salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
    1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)

    Put the zucchini or squash, avocado, scallions, garlic, chili powder and coriander seeds into a food processor and process until smoothly combined. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl, and stir in the yogurt. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with cilantro, if using.
    ***

    Synergy3
    The Synergy3 Cleanse is a fantastic local program, geared to help clear out the toxins in our systems, beginning in the gut. It is a WHOLE FOODS CLEANSE, where you eat real food you can prepare yourself and also eat with your family. I personally have done this cleanse 3 times since April of last year, and have had amazing results. It just makes me feel like my body is working at its optimal level. Because I had such success combining the CSA and cleanse last year, I wanted to share this resource with you.

    Their next cleanse begins this coming Monday, July 13. Summer is a great time to cleanse, because of all of the wonderful produce that is readily available (especially if you’re in a CSA!). If you’ve ever considered trying a cleanse, I encourage you to take a look at their website and learn more about the program. You will receive all the support you need to be successful, from these 3 amazing and professional women.

    Now, I know I just got through telling you this is a whole foods cleanse, and here I am giving you a smoothie recipe! I asked permission to share it here because this is a really excellent way to use a lot of the CSA bounty, and the smoothies are just packed with nutrition. This is the basic procedure; feel free to tweak it to your tastes and needs.

    Basic Smoothie
    Shared complements of The Synergy3 Cleanse – www.thesynergy3.com

    It may take some time to get acclimated to smoothies, so you can experiment. In the beginning, add more fruit and then slowly wean to less.

    Greens:
    Baby spinach and Swiss chard are easiest to tolerate. Also use kale, collard greens, parsley, mustard greens, dandelion, romaine lettuce, bok choy, beet greens, edible weeds, etc.
    Fruit:
    Pineapple, mango, strawberry, peaches, nectarines, very ripe bananas, blueberry, raspberry, lemon and rind, apple, etc.
    Additional items:
    Avocado, chia seeds, ground flax seed*, bee pollen, spirulina, beets, ginger, etc.

    Fill a high powered blender about 2/3 with greens. Fill the remaining 1/3 with fruit. If you’re a beginner, start with 1/2 and 1/2. Add 2 cups of water and any additional items. Blend thoroughly. Taste and add more fruit if necessary. Add blueberries to change the color if you are trying to get children to drink a smoothie.

    Smoothies will keep several days in the refrigerator but the nutrients are most dense right after making.

    Notes:
    1. Let your bananas ripen. Peel and chop, then freeze. A very ripe banana will hide the taste of your greens.
    2. Fruit and greens can be frozen and used in smoothies, so they will never go bad in your house.
    3. *Buy whole flax and grind small amounts in a coffee bean grinder. Keep refrigerated. Ground flax goes rancid very quickly.
    4. Soak chia seeds so that they don’t stick to the blender. Use 1/3 cup chia to 2 cups of water. Shake and refrigerate. Scoop a few spoons into your blender.

     

    Weekly CSA Blog produced by Chris Marmora Palmer

     

    CSA 2015 – Week 3

    Next CSA Pickups: June 30 & July 2

    lettuce_close
    In your share this week:

    • Squash
    • Basil
    • Chard
    • Lettuce
    • Kale
    • Broccoli
    • Cabbage
    • Garlic Scapes
    • Scallions

     

    Someone asked me the other day if I ever get “salad fatigue”. What?! We were talking about the CSA and the types of veggies we get each week. As I gleefully described a typical share, I guess I said the word “lettuce” one too many times for her liking, and that’s what prompted this harsh question. I should start by saying that since we are a family of 6, all that lettuce doesn’t really last too long around here. But the way to keep it interesting is to, well, keep it interesting! Salad greens are basically a blank slate, ready to be combined with your favorite flavors, textures and other fruits and veggies to form a delicious creation tailored perfectly to your family’s tastes.

    The best way to wash and prep your salad greens is to fill a large bowl with cold water in your sink, separate the greens from the core, and swish them in the water until all the dirt and grit are rinsed off. You will likely have to do this a couple of times. Dry them thoroughly, either in a salad spinner, or by rolling them in a clean kitchen towel or a few layers of paper towels. Make sure they are dry before you store them, because wet greens spoil more quickly. Once dry, store them loosely in a plastic bag, with a dry paper towel or kitchen towel. Unwashed greens can just be put in the fridge in a plastic bag until you’re ready to use them.

    Growing up, my family made wine every year. In addition to producing delicious table wine, the process also yielded amazing vinegars. We were spoiled with salads of just-picked greens from my Mom’s garden, dressed simply with olive oil, homemade vinegar, salt and pepper, and that’s probably still my favorite. That said, I’m not sure I’ve ever tasted a dressing I didn’t enjoy. Sometimes, the same exact salad tastes completely new when served with a different dressing. A basic rule of thumb to try is 2-3 parts oil to 1-2 parts acid, like vinegar, citrus, etc. (unless you ask my husband, who prefers 10x the vinegar on his salads and might omit the oil altogether!) Here are some ideas and variations to try. Mix up enough for one meal, or a larger batch to enjoy all week:

    To make a basic vinaigrette, whisk together 3 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp vinegar of your choice, then season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add minced garlic, oregano, basil and maybe a pinch of red pepper flakes for a little Italian flair (or just add some Italian seasoning). If you are a mustard lover like me, try whisking 1-2 tsp or more of prepared spicy brown or Dijon mustard into the basic vinaigrette. If you prefer it milder, also add an equivalent amount of honey to balance out the flavor. To make a creamy dressing, add a couple of tablespoons of plain yogurt, mayo or sour cream to the basic vinaigrette. The combinations are endless!

    Classic French Vinaigrette: Finely grate one garlic clove and whisk with 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar and 2 tsp Dijon mustard. Gradually whisk in 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil until emulsified. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Adapted from Bon Appétit.

    Two-Minute Creamy Salad Dressing: Whisk together 1 tsp Dijon or other grainy mustard, 1 1/2 Tbsp mayo or plain yogurt, a pinch of salt, a pinch of sugar, and freshly ground pepper, to taste. When well combined, add 1 Tbsp champagne vinegar and whisk until the dressing is smooth. Adapted from thekitchn.com.

    Honey-Lemon Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest, 1 Tbsp honey and 1/2 tsp chopped thyme. Slowly whisk in 1/4 cup of olive oil and season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Adapted from Food & Wine.

    If you’re using greens that are more pungent or peppery, try using a sweeter dressing like these:

    Ginger Vinaigrette: Mix together 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar and 1 Tbsp finely grated fresh ginger, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Whisk in 1/4 cup vegetable oil and season the dressing with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Adapted from Food & Wine.

    Sweet Maple and Balsamic Vinegar Dressing
    Adapted from Farmer John’s Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables

    1 cup extra virgin olive oil
    3 Tbsp maple syrup
    2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
    2 Tbsp finely sliced fresh basil
    1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
    1 tsp dry mustard
    1 clove garlic, minced
    Salt and pepper to taste

    In a large jar, combine all the ingredients. Tighten the lid and shake very well to combine everything. If you don’t have a suitable jar, simply whisk all the ingredients in a large bowl. Makes about 1 cup. The dressing can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. This is also a great with steamed or grilled vegetables.

     

    A simple salad starts with greens and dressing, and you just build from there. In addition to the standard salad bar fare of assorted chopped raw veggies, try adding things like avocado, beets (steamed, roasted, or grated raw), chopped hard boiled eggs, tuna, sardines, orange or grapefruit slices, berries, nuts, seeds, you name it! What combinations does your family enjoy?

     

    kaleCSAbarn

    Bill’s Fresh Kale Salad

    Adapted from a recipe created by my dear cousin-in-law, Bill Kehrli.

    Bill brought this salad to our family reunion last year, after a particularly good kale harvest. Everyone raved about the salad all day, and no fewer than 5 people asked for the recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

    4 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
    2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
    2 Tbsp honey
    2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    1/2 tsp salt or less
    2 bunches kale (cut out ribs and thinly slice crosswise)
    4 Tbsp golden raisins
    Shaved Parmesan cheese (crumbled feta or blue cheese, or other cheese of your preference)
    Toasted pine nuts, almonds, or any nut you prefer

    Whisk the vinegars, honey, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix vinaigrette with kale and raisins, and let the salad marinate. The vinaigrette will soften the greens. Before serving, top with shaved Parmesan (or other cheese) and the toasted pine nuts. It’s very versatile so experiment with raisins, dried cherries or whatever you have.

     
    BROCCOLISTALKSTILL
    We also hope to have our first broccoli of the season this week’s share. Store the broccoli loosely wrapped in an open bag in the fridge (broccoli needs to breathe). Wait to clean the broccoli until just before you’re going to use it. Farmer John’s Cookbook advises soaking the broccoli, head down, in cold, salted water (1 tsp salt to 8 cups water), for 5 minutes. This will clean out the dirt and any insect friends that may have tagged along. In keeping with this week’s salad theme, I wanted to share this recipe from that same book:

    Broccoli with Asian-Style Dressing
    Adapated from Farmer John’s Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables

    1 medium head broccoli
    1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
    3 Tbsp peanut oil
    2 Tbsp soy sauce
    1 tsp grated fresh ginger
    1/2 tsp minced garlic
    1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
    1/2 tsp hot chili oil (optional)

    Separate the broccoli florets from the stalk, then break into smaller florets. Cut the stalk into 1-inch lengths and then into matchstick-size strips. If the outer skin of the stalk is very tough, simply peel the stalk with a vegetable peeler or paring knife before you cut it into strips. Place the broccoli in a steamer basket over a couple of inches of boiling water, and steam for about 5 minutes until fork-tender. Meanwhile, in your serving bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. When the broccoli is ready, pour into the serving bowl and mix thoroughly to combine with the dressing.

     

    Weekly CSA Blog produced by Chris Marmora Palmer

     

    CSA 2015 – Week 1

    First CSA Pickups: June 16 & 18

    CSA 2015 week 1

    In your share this week:

    • Kale
    • Chard
    • Lettuce
    • Mizuna
    • Arugula
    • Radishes
    • Scallions
    • Bok Choy

     

    Welcome to the 2015 CSA at Hilltop Hanover Farm! I am delighted to have this opportunity to connect with you through this weekly blog. I am a busy mom of 4 hungry teenage boys, and like so many of us these days, I am always looking for ways to incorporate more veg into my family’s diet. My goal is to move our family closer and closer to a plant-based diet, where more often than not, the meal is built around the veggies, and the protein is the complement not the star. This is a simple yet lofty goal for our household, but I am determined. I firmly believe that every time we choose something good for us instead of a less-healthful alternative, even something small, that counts and should be celebrated!

    Participating in the Hilltop Hanover CSA last year was a huge step forward for our family. It gave us weekly opportunities to be creative and connect with the freshest, most delicious vegetables. I know it can seem intimidating some weeks, but I encourage you to think about your commitment to participate in the CSA just like any other committed relationship. There will surely be lots of joy, excitement and warm fuzzy feelings, especially at the beginning. As the weeks pass, perhaps some confusion may follow, and maybe a feeling of “How in the world did I get here?” or “What was I thinking?” But if that happens, just like in any relationship worth its salt, take a moment to remember why you wanted to make this commitment in the first place. What drew you to the CSA? When you picture your best possible connection to the CSA experience, what does that look like in your mind’s eye? Hold on to that image, embrace the chaos and those copious and mysterious greens, and remember that with veggies as in life, it’s all about the love.

    As we take this journey together, I want to extend a most sincere invitation to all of you to help make this a community of learners, where we all help each other get the most out of the CSA experience. Please feel free to share recipes, strategies, meal solutions, creative ideas, challenges, whatever you like, and I will post what I can in the blog. Send them to me at quijotelangserv@gmail.com. And so, away we go!
    ~ Chris Marmora Palmer

     

    For our first week, I want to share 2 important CSA basics to help us all deal with the wonderful and sometimes intimidating abundance of produce: Planning & Prepping.

    Planning ahead is key. Each week, the farmers will provide a list of what they expect to be in your share that week. I will usually post this the weekend before your CSA pickup, so you will have an idea of what to expect. Then, plan ahead, beginning with the night of your pickup. For example, in the early weeks, we can expect plenty of leafy greens and root vegetables. Think ahead to the coming Tuesdays or Thursdays, when you know you will have the freshest greens you can get without growing them yourself. Then, make them the star of that night’s dinner!

    Prep and store your vegetables right away. This may seem impossible or impractical for a busy weeknight, but trust me – this is one of the major ways you can make the most of your CSA share. You can do this! Avoid the temptation to just shove everything in the fridge and call out for pizza. As soon as you get home from the farm, wash and dry all leafy greens, and store them in your crisper. I sit a large bowl of water in my sink and swish the greens in the water to loosen any remaining dirt or grit (kids love this part). Let the water settle a little then remove and dry the greens before storing.

    beetsstill radishesfarm

    Many of the glorious root vegetables like beets and radishes will come with the greens still attached – yum! Remove the greens from the roots before you store them, to prevent them from continuing to draw moisture from the vegetables. Prep those greens just like you would any other, and store them separately from the roots. For maximum nutritional benefit, plan to eat these yummy greens within a few days.

     

    My go-to starting point for tender greens is to simply sauté them. The basic method is this:

    Wash greens thoroughly. For greens like chard with tougher (but still delicious) stems, separate leaves from stems, and chop them into 2 separate piles of bite size pieces. (For the tops of radishes, beets, turnips, etc., I just chop the leaves and stems together.) Heat 1-2 Tbsp olive oil in your pan over medium-high heat. The pan should be large enough to hold the raw greens, which will cook down to a fraction of their size in minutes. Add some garlic and any other spices you choose. Once the garlic is fragrant, add the stems and cook for 2-3 minutes, until stems are nearly fork-tender. Add the greens and cover the pot. Cook for 1 minute, then remove the cover to stir and distribute the heat and oil a bit. Replace the cover and cook for 2-3 minutes more, until greens are wilted and softened. Season with salt and olive oil to taste.

    Voilá, a nutritious and delicious addition to just about any dish: pasta, rice, quinoa, soups, stews, omelets, or served up as a simple side.

     

    Easy Corn Bread with Chard
    Adapted from a recipe shared by Chef Maria Reina of Bella Cucina Maria at the Kid’s Cooking Workshop at Hilltop Hanover Farm, June 2014.

    CHARDSTILLWEEK1

    Here’s a perfect example of how you can easily incorporate these delicious sautéed greens into dishes your family already loves. Last year, my son took a Kid’s Cooking Workshop right here at Hilltop Hanover Farm, with the wonderful Chef Maria Reina of Bella Cucina Maria. The kids got to harvest their own food, and then cooked it up in several delicious ways. My son’s favorite was the Easy Corn Bread with Chard. He came right home with the recipe and insisted we make it the following week when we picked up our CSA share. This is what we did:

    1 cup all purpose flour
    1 cup corn meal
    1 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp fine sea salt
    2 Tbsp sugar

    4 Tbsp butter
    2 eggs
    1 cup milk

    4-5 cups chard (or any mixed greens of your choice), chopped and lightly sautéed

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9×9 or 9×13 cake pan with a little vegetable oil, or spray with cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients, and whisk to combine everything well. Melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl. Add the milk to the melted butter, then the eggs, and whisk to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula. Spread the sautéed greens in the prepared pan. Pour the batter over the greens in the pan, and with a fork gently pull the greens up into the batter. The batter will fall though the wilted greens, and give a nice speckled look to the finished corn bread. Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes, until set. It is ready when a toothpick inserted into the bread comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan.

     

    Orzo with Baby Bok Choy
    Adapted from Kathleen Purvis, food editor of The Charlotte Observer.

    babybokchoy

    I was at a bit of a loss about bok choy, but this recipe helped us incorporate it into our meals. I first served this dish with chicken I had marinated in some Asian flavors. The next time I chopped up the chicken, sautéed it in the garlic and ginger before adding the bok choy, and this became a simple one-pot meal.

    A thumb-sized chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
    1- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and cut into thin slices
    2-4 small heads of bok choy
    1 cup uncooked orzo
    2 Tbsp olive oil
    2 tsp toasted sesame oil
    1 Tbsp soy sauce

    Trim the base of the bok choy. Cut the stems into bite-size pieces and cut the leaves into strips. Keep them in separate piles. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook 11 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 5 minutes, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, nonstick skillet. Add the ginger and cook for 1 minute, then add the bok choy stems and the sesame oil. Cook, stirring regularly, for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and then the bok choy leaves and soy sauce. Cook, stirring regularly, until just tender. Drain the orzo and add to the skillet. Cook 1-2 minutes longer, tossing frequently to blend all the flavors. Makes 4 servings.

     

    Weekly CSA Blog produced by Chris Marmora Palmer