CSA 2018 – Week 3: Eating the Sun—A Solanaceous Solstice

Late June organic vegetable box

CSA Newsletter – Week 3


Eating the Sun—A Solanaceous Solstice

Howdy folks,

It’s already the last week of June and we’ve finally got long hot days to show for it. Last week we shifted officially from spring to summer on the solstice, a shift that can be seen embodied all around the farm. We are all starting our work days earlier and ending later, building physical and mental muscles to deal with the exponential growth of our crops and the labor needed to bring them from farm to table. The packing shed is once again filling up with our familiar yellow crates of ripe, red tomatoes. Tomatoes have only been trickling into markets a flat or two at a time so far, but they are now beginning to explode into full production. You can expect these sweet red fruits in your box in just a couple of weeks!

Peppers, a solanaceous cousin of tomatoes, are also on their way in. This week the first green bell peppers were just harvested, and jalapenos are not far behind. Solanaceae is the plant family that includes tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and potatoes. It is no coincidence that the Latin root sol is present in both Solanaceae and solstice. Solanaceous plants are known for being high-heat crops that need a lot of sun for their fruits to ripen. The solstices are the two times of year when the sun reaches either its highest or lowest point in the sky, marked by the longest and shortest days of the season. Either way, these words revolve around the sun just as we do.

Summer in the Pacific Northwest is quite the celebration of fruits brought to us by the sun. In tropical places there are fruits maturing at all times of the year, but here in Oregon, we have but three precious months to enjoy the fruits that capture the power of the sun in sweet and spicy vegetable form.

Table of Box Contents

  • Beet Greens w/ Mini Beets—Early summer beet thinnings are tiny and tender, and greens are delicate and velvety like spinach.
  • MintThis familiar herb is of course delicious in sun teas and cocktails (mojitos, anyone?). Mint is also an excellent addition to salads, as are all fresh herbs.
  • Baby White Onions—These little morsels are packed with sugars and a buttery, mellow onion flavor. They are excellent roasted over the flame and then drizzled with oil and salt and eaten whole.
  • ZucchiniMy personal favorite spring vegetable, zucchini is incredibly versatile. The trick with it is to not let it turn to mush. Whether you’re grilling, stir-frying, or baking, wait to salt until you’re done with the cooking process. Salt tends to break cell walls, draw water out, and turn things to mush.
  • Sweet Slice CucumbersThese cucumbers may have thicker and more rumply skins, however their flavor is by far the sweetest out of the other cucumbers that we grow. Thinly slice into salads to avoid the skin’s texture, or peel if desired. If you have a mandolin or a spiralizer, thinly slice long strips of cukes and season with toasted sesame oil, vinegar, and salt for a delicious fresh salad.
  • Colorado Rose Potatoes—Red on the outside, white on the inside, less waxy, great for mashing or for potato salads. I love them roasted w/ parsley & lemon.
  • CarrotsIf you’re looking for new, exciting things to do with carrots, add them into salad described above in the cucumber section, or roast/steam them and puree with caramelized onion and garlic as a soup.
  • Romaine Lettuce—This lettuce has the thickest, crispest leaves, perfect for a Caesar salad on a hot day. If you’ve never made a Caesar salad at home before, it is much easier than you might think! https://food52.com/recipes/26367-caesar-salad
  • Bulb OnionsThese dried yellow onions are quite sweet with a slight acidic punch.

Recipes

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Black Kale and Roasted Beet Salad

Adapted from the Portland Farmers Market Cookbook by Ellen Jackson, p.193. 

The recipe provides the below measurements, however I highly recommend just putting a few dashes of oil and vinegar and salt to your taste.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch beets, greens attached
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 bunch black kale
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.

  2. Trim the beet greens, pick out the nice-looking leaves, wash, and set them aside. Your beets are small and will roast up wonderfully whole. I like to keep the root tails on, as they become crispy in contrast with the butter sweet rootlet that they’re attached to. Put the beets in a small roasting pan and toss them with 1 tablespoon (a splash) of the oil and a generous pinch of salt. Add about 2 tablespoons (another splash) of water to the pan, or enough to just cover the bottom. Tightly cover the pan with aluminum foil and roast the beets until they are tender when pierced with a fork, about 20-25 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot with several inches of generously salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. If desired, trim and discard the stems from the reserved beet greens, though I leave them in, and then roughly chop the leaves. Stir the chopped kale and beet greens into the boiling water and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 3 minutes. 

  4. In a small sauté pan over medium heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. When the oil shimmers, add the garlic and sauté until it is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, add the vinegar, and gently swirl the pan to combine it with the oil.

  5. Pour the dressing over the beets, toss to coat them, and ad the beets to the greens. Toss again and season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Serve the salad at room temperature slightly chilled.

Suggested Alterations

  1. Since you don’t have kale in your box this week, you could use lettuce instead and add it in raw rather than blanching it with the beet greens.

  2. Roast carrots with beets and add into salad. Roasted roots can be a great replacement for croutons.

  3. Add in mint, other herbs, thinly sliced raw onion, top with sunflower seeds or sesame seeds, yum!

 

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Will's Seasonal Smoothies

Will first became acquainted with GTF as a CSA member himself, and now he is our CSA manager. Throughout his time eating GTF veggies, one of his favorite things to do with greens is to make smoothies and juices. Every day the smoothie is different depending on what we have at the farm, and every day I come into work I look forward to tasting the new combination. This recipe is for the smoothie he happened to make this Monday, which was so delicious and thirst-quenching, however he changes it up all the time and never uses exact measurements. Shake it up, try it out, and experiment what ratios you like best.

Author word of mouth from your CSA manager, Will

Ingredients

  • 1/4 - 1/3 bunch kale or chard or beet greens (thicker green)
  • 1/4-1/3 head romaine lettuce (any lettuce)
  • mint, ginger, or other herb
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1/2-1 1/2 cups mango & pineapple (any fruit; Will often uses frozen fruit, though fresh market fruit would be great as well)
  • water up to the max

Instructions

  1. If you desire a totally smooth texture without pulp, and you happen to have a juicer and are willing to clean all those little parts (you can see where my bias lies), then go ahead and juice all of your ingredients together easy peasy. Will and I are both more into making simple smoothies in blenders as there is less clean up and we don’t mind a little pulp, so the following instructions are for a blender.

  2. Dump your fruit into the blender first. 

  3. Slice your cucumber into small chunks and dump on top of the fruit

  4. Rip a few leaves off of your kale, lettuce, and herb, and shove into blender whole.

  5. Fill the blender up to the max line with water, cap it, and blend until smooth.

  6. Will doesn’t add any sugar, and the smoothies come out lightly sweet and perfect, I think. Refrigerate before drinking for most refreshing experience.