Busy Days and Brassica Bliss
Welcome to the second week of CSA, folks!
We hope that you enjoyed your first week of veggies. Things are really ramping up here at the farm. June is an impossible time where it seems that everything needs to happen all at once, when there is so much to do and summer hasn’t even officially begun yet. There are spring crops to be harvested, summer crops to be weeded, fall crops to be planted, and winter crops to be seeded. It seems like there’s no way to get it all done in time, and sometimes you don’t, but somehow it all ends up working out, as your box of produce goes to show.
There are many exciting additions to your box this week including kohlrabi, basil, fresh garlic, and Lacinato kale, also known as black kale. Garlic and basil are as valuable as gold, powerfully fragrant and medicinal—there isn’t much of anything I wouldn’t put garlic or basil on. It’s also interesting to notice that in this box there are three different brassica cousins—kohlrabi, radishes, and kale—that emphasize three different parts of the plant.
Once upon a time there was an ancestral brassica—not quite a cabbage, or a kale, or a radish, but some leafy looking thing with a sulfurous flavor. Over many years of traditional breeding and selecting the best plants, humans brought the vegetables into existence that we are familiar with today. There is only so much energy in a plant that can be allocated. For radishes, the majority of the energy is allocated to the root. For kale, the energy goes to the leaves. And for the strange alien creature that is kohlrabi, the energy gets prioritized to create an enlarged and sweetened stem. Kohlrabi actually sits right on top of the soil as it grows, almost as if it were sitting on the ground peacefully with its legs crossed as it soaks up the sun.
Table of Box Contents
- Purple Kohlrabi—Remove skin with a knife or peeler. You can add thin slices or grated kohlrabi to salads or cut spears to dip into hummus. Kohlrabi is also a great addition to coleslaws.
- Basil—Excellent sliced thinly on top of pretty much every dish. I cut the bottom half inch of stems off and place in a glass of water on the counter to store.
- Fresh Garlic—For garlic lovers, this is the best time of year to eat! Normally, by the time we see garlic it’s dried and thus takes a long time to peel. Fresh garlic has yet to mature all the way and is therefore slightly milder but it can be chopped through with ease without having to peel each clove. There is a hard stem in the center of the bulb that needs to be removed, but other than that you can slice right through like butter. Little tip—add garlic into the pan later in the cooking process to preserve flavor.
- Radishes—The hotter it gets outside the hotter our radishes get. Their incredibly crisp texture and spicy flavor are great additions to salads or slaws.
- Lacinato Kale— Remove stems, slice leaves thinly and sauté lightly with fresh garlic and onion. Top with fried eggs for a quick, delicious, and hearty breakfast.
- Katrina Cucumbers—Excellent thinly sliced into long thin strips with a mandolin or spiralizer
- Colorado Rose Potatoes—Red on the outside, white on the inside, less waxy, great for mashing or for potato salads
- Carrots—Carrots are one of the first fresh digs of spring that we all look forward to, a marker of the season’s new start.
- Spring Lettuce—This week you have large, lush heads of green leaf lettuce. The large leaves are perfect for wraps or sliced can yield many salads.
- Bulb Onions—These onions are quite sweet with a slight acidic punch.
A Note About Recipes…
To me, recipes are first and foremost meant to be broken! I see recipes as a great way to get inspiration for the type of dish you’d like to make with what you have. There’s no need to fret about exact measurements, or if you are missing an ingredient and have to substitute something else, or if you don’t follow the directions exactly. This is your life, your vegetables, your pantry, your body—do as you please! Cooking and eating meals with friends and family are a big part of what it means to be human. It doesn’t matter if you just chop everything up into a big salad or stir-fry and season with salt and pepper, it’ll still be delicious. Sometimes simple is best.
Grilled Radishes with Dates, Apples, and Radish Tops
“When you cook a radish, it loses much of its spicy heat and becomes quite friendly. The cooked radishes also develop a texture similar to the apples in this dish. Some grated extra-sharp cheddar would also be nice in this dish.”
- 1 bunch radishes (with their tops if they're fresh)
- olive oil
- salt & pepper
- dried chile flakes
- red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 4 oz pitted dates, cut into small bits
- 1 apple, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
- 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup basil leaves, lightly packed
- 1/2 cup almonds, roughly chopped (toasted is great)
If you’re using the greens, cut them from the bunch of radishes and wash well in cool water, as you would salad greens. Dry in salad spinner or let air dry a few minutes.
Heat a slick of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, and when it’s hot, add the greens. Toss with tongs until the greens are slightly wilted. Season with salt, black pepper, and a few chile flakes and cook for another few seconds, until the greens are tender.
When the greens are cool enough to handle (but still warm), roughly chop them, then pile them into a bowl. Douse with a couple teaspoons of vinegar and toss to blend. Taste and adjust the salt, pepper, chile flakes, and vinegar. When the flavors are bright and balanced, toss with a small glug of olive oil. Set aside.
Prepare a charcoal grill if you can, heat a gas grill to high, or heat the oven to 450°F.
Scrub the radishes. Grill or roast the whole radishes—with no oil—until they are slightly soft when you squeeze them, 12-15 minutes depending on their size (slightly longer if you’re roasting them). Turn them a few times during grilling. Let the radishes cool, then cut them in half.
Toss the halved radishes in a large bowl with the dates, apple, onion, marinated radish tops, and parsley. Add ¼ cup vinegar, 1 tsp salt, lots of twists of pepper, and ½ teaspoon chile flakes and toss again. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Add ¼ cup olive oil and the almonds, toss again, taste again, and make any final adjustments to the seasoning.
Spicy Cucumber Salad
Adapted from Maangchi’s Real Korean Cooking, p.135
For more information and step-by-step photos, click this link https://www.maangchi.com/recipe/oi-muchim
“Try this instead of your usual salad when you’re looking for something cool, crisp, and spicy. The dish should be assembled just before serving; if you have to prepare it ahead of time, keep the cucumber and seasoning sauce separate from each other and mix them together at the last minute. Also, it’s best to make only what you need for one meal; leftovers will never be as good as the just-made.”
- 2-3 cucumbers
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 scallion, chopped
- 1/4 cup onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp Korean hot pepper flakes
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
Cut the cucumber lengthwise in half. Cut diagonally into thin slices.
Put the cucumbers in a bowl, add all the remaining ingredients, and mix well with a wooden spoon or your hands. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately.
We’d love to see what you’re doing with your CSA box! Tag us on social media @gatheringtogetherfarm!