Wobbly Cart CSA Box #11 8-30-11
In this week’s box:
Fingerling Potato Chard Glacier Cherry Tomato Sweet Corn
Cipollini Onion Romanian Red Garlic Lemon Cucumber Broccoli
Sweet Onion Summer Squash Slicing Cucumber
Lettuce Green Beans Cilantro
Carrots Mustard Greens Artichoke
Welcome to week 11!
It’s a very cool and cloudy morning and I’ve got a nice big cup of coffee, and a few minutes to write a CSA letter. School starts here in Rochester this week, so it will be a busy time of transition for my family and two little girls age 6 and 4. The older will be starting 1st grade, and the younger preschool. Once they get settled into the school routine I might just have a bit more time to get things done around the place. Believe me the project list is about a mile long! I’m also having a hard time believing that summer is over in that sense. Though it’s not yet over for the vegetables I’m hoping!!!! I’m looking forward to taking this box home as we have many exciting new veggies for you this week.
First on the list is Cipollini Onion. This petite Italian onion has a unique saucer shape, thin pale yellow skin and a translucent white flesh. It is succulent, firm, semi-sweet, and can have a pungent aroma and bite. These Cipollini’s are uncured, so they won’t store as well. They will need to be stored in the refrigerator, wrapped loosely in plastic until you use them up. In cooking, Cipollini onions are best for caramelizing and slow roasting, as their assertive flavor and higher sugar content can stand up to the stronger flavors associated with these cooking methods. Indeed, it brings out their best qualities. They are often glazed with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, butter and brown sugar and roasted or sautéed until tender.
The next item for discussion are the Mustard Greens. This variety is another of the “Wild Garden” types from plant breeder Frank Morton of Gathering Together Farm. Joe grew these on the new a Wobbly Cart fields just up the road. It’s exciting to see harvests come in so soon! Mustard Greens are the leaves of the Mustard plant, Brassica Juncea. They originate the Himalayan region of India and have been cultivated and consumed for 5,000 years or more. The greens and seeds (ground seeds with vinegar they make the condiment mustard) of this plant form a notable part of many cuisines around the world including Indian, Chinese, and South American. Mustards also form an important part of African American cuisine dating back to the times of slavery. Health-wise, mustards are among the nutritional powerhouses important in our diets. They are extremely high in Vitamin K, Beta-carotene, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Folate, Fiber, Manganese, Calcium and many more! They are known for their properties of antioxidant activity, detoxification and cancer prevention. Mustard Greens are great cooked in sauté’s, stir-fries, cooked into a dal, or added to salads for a spicy punch.
The small tomato is an open-pollinated heirloom called “Glacier” originating from Sweden. Any tomato that can ripen in Sweden is bound to be okay here! It is considered an “ultra-early” type and produces an abundance of “saladette” sized tomatoes in the shortest of growing seasons. I think the Glaciers have a good, sweet flavor for an early type, and they are great for eating out of hand, in salads, and grilled whole on skewers. They have been a reliable producer for us during our last few cooler than normal summers. Some boxes may get a Paul Robeson Heirloom tomato. This is a “black” tomato with robust, earthy, and balanced sweet to acid flavor. It has won many awards including best in show at the Carmel TomatoFest.
We will also be including an Artichoke with your box. I started these plants this year as a crop that is perennial, delicious, and not susceptible to browsing by deer. They surprised me by producing a modest fall crop. These artichokes are small, but delicious. They make a beautiful and tasty appetizer by trimming off a few of the tougher outer leaves, boiling them for 30 minutes, or until tender, but not falling apart. Remove them from the pot and cool until you can handle it. Then peel off the leaves one by one and dip into melted butter (with lemon if you like) and scrape the bottom of the petal through your teeth to get the tender part. When you get to the center trim off the furry stuff on top of the heart and enjoy that part too. An artichoke is really the flower bud of a thistle family plant with Mediterranean origins. It is known to have one of the highest antioxidant capacities of all vegetables, acts as an aid to digestion, increases liver function, and raises the HDL/LDL ratio thus reducing the risk of coronary artery disease.
The Sweet Corn is a “sweet” last minute addition to this weeks box! We were surprised to find enough ready for harvest this morning. This open-pollinated variety is called “Double Standard” and is delicious, not in the sickeningly sweet manner of the “sugary enhanced” hybrids most of America is used to. I find it to have genuine corn flavor nice on its own cut off the cobs and added to pasta salads, salsas
Last but not least I would like to introduce the “Lemon Cucumber”. Dating back to the 1890’s this heirloom cucumber is said to have originated in Russia. These baseball-sized lemon-colored cucumbers have a sweet flavor and tender texture. They are excellent for eating whole, salads and quick pickling. You can’t find these in grocery stores; they are mostly a farmer’s market and CSA specialty!
Roasted Tomatoes and Cipollini: Preheat oven to 375. Boil a small pot of water and blanche 1 lb whole cipollini for 10 seconds, then plunge them into cold water. Use paring knife to make a small slit in each, and slide them out of their skins and outer layer. Spread peeled onions and 1 lb glacier tomatoes in a roasting pan. Drizzle with ¼ cup olive oil and a few good pinches of coarse salt. Toss everything together until well coated and roast in oven for 45 minutes, reaching in every 15 minutes with a spatula to roll the tomatoes and onions around to ensure all sides get blistered. Just before you take the tomatoes and onions out, place 4 1-inch thick slices of country or ciabatta bread on the oven rack and let them toast lightly. You can rub the toasts with a halved garlic clove, if you like, while still hot. Use tongs to arrange the toast in one layer on a serving platter. Dump 1½ cups cooked white beans over the bread. You can also use 1 15 oz can of white beans rinsed and drained. Scrape the entire contents of the tomato- and -onion roasting pan, still hot, over the beans. Do not skimp on the juices that have collected, all of them – don’t leave any in the pan. Sprinkle the dish with a few slivered basil leaves and eat at once. Serves 4 as a small dish, 2 as a main. (From smittenkitchen.com)
Simple Mustard Greens: Thinly slice ½ cup onions. In a large sauté pan, sauté onions in 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat until the onions begin to brown and caramelize, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add 2 cloves minced garlic and cook a minute more, until fragrant. Add 1 lb mustard greens, washed and torn into pieces, 2 to 3 tbsp chicken or veg broth, and cook until the greens are just barely wilted. Toss with ¼ tsp dark sesame oil. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4. ( From simplyrecipes.com)
Udon with Broccoli and Ginger: Remove the stalks from 1 bunch of broccoli. Cut the florets into small pieces ands steam until tender-crisp, about 2 to 3 minutes. Refresh under cold running water and drain. Set aside. Cook 8 oz whole wheat udon noodles until tender but still chewy, 8 to 12 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to halt the cooking process. Drain thoroughly. Immediately place the noodles in a bowl or storage container and toss with ¼ cup of the peanut sauce. Add the broccoli. Toss in more dressing if needed. (The noodles and broccoli should be generously coated with dressing.) Taste and sprinkle with Tamari and tasted sesame oil, if desired. Garnish with roasted peanuts and chopped scallions. Serve at room temperature. For the Sauce: Blend in a blender: ½ cup peanut butter, 2 ½ tbsp freshly grated ginger, 2 large cloves of roasted garlic, 1/3 cup water, 2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce, 1 tsp brown rice vinegar, 1 tsp maple syrup and a dash of cayenne pepper (optional). Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
Summer Harvest Pasta Salad for a Crowd: Cook 1 lb spiral pasta until tender. Drain and run under cold water to halt the cooking process. Drain again and set into a large serving bowl. Steam 1 ½ lbs small zucchini until tender-crisp about 3 to 5 minutes. (The zucchini retains its flavor if it’s steamed whole.) When it’s cool enough to handle, halve the zucchini and cut into ¼ inch slices. Toss the squash, 3 cups cooked corn kernels, 2 cups sliced tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, 1 ½ cups minced fresh basil, ¼ cup minced fresh chives, 1 cup quartered mushrooms, and ½ cup pitted kalamata olives into the pasta. With a whisk and a bowl, or in a food processor prepare the dressing by combining ½ cup olive oil, 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 small cloves of roasted garlic, peeled and smashed, 1 tsbp Dijon mustard, and 1 tsp sea salt or to taste. Just before serving, pour the dressing over the pasta salad and toss well. Add lemon juice, if needed, to perk up the flavors. Serve at room temperature. Garnish with grated carrot.
Cucumber Salad: Thinly slice 4 large cucumbers, 1 medium sweet onion and place in a serving bowl. In a medium saucepan add 1-cup rice vinegar, ½ cup sugar, ½ cup water, bring to a boil and pour over the cucumbers and onions. Add ½ cup minced cilantro or fresh dill, cover and refrigerate until cold. Allow to marinate for at least one hour.
Red chard and Rice: heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a saucepot over medium heat. Add 4 slices bacon, finely chopped. Cook 2 minutes. Add 2 cloves garlic and stir 1 minute. Add 1 small bunch red chard, stemmed and chopped, season with a little nutmeg, salt, freshly ground black pepper, and paprika. When the chard is wilted add 1 cup white rice and stir 1 minute more. Add 1 ¾ cups chicken stock or water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover the pot. Cook 15 to 18 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Fluff with a fork and serve. ( from Rachael Ray, The Food Network.)