CSA Newsletter – Week 4
Celebrating Diversity through Food
Summer is the season of diversity for food in the Pacific Northwest. The familiar watermelon slices, iceberg lettuce salads, and potato salads are classic and consistently delicious summer picnic treats, yes, but there is also such a fuller range of flavors and textures to be enjoyed in this world when one travels outside what they are used to.
Salads are a great way to easily incorporate a diversity of flavors and textures into your food life without having to experiment with complicated recipes. A salad can simply be a bunch of raw veggies chopped up into a bowl and tossed with dressing, either store-bought or home-made. You can throw just about anything in, including cheese, nuts, and cooked meats. Salads allow the cacophony of flavors and textures present to be enjoyed as individual elements in harmony, rather than blending everything together to taste more or less the same as can occur in a soup or sauté. Diversity is about standing out, not about blending in.
As you enjoy your meals this season, remember the diversity present on your plate and in this world. Your sweet, tangy tomatoes and colorful, creamy potatoes developed in the microclimates of the Andean mountains in South America before ever making their way to Italy. Your crisp cucumbers originated in India before becoming mainstream in American salad bars. The common carrot that many Americans know only as prepackaged, rounded nubs started out its life in the soils of Iran and Afghanistan. The all-powerful garlic had its start in Central Asia before taking over the world’s palate. The foods that we think of as typically American are indebted to countless cultures and hard-working hands that cared for these plants throughout history. Each meal connects us to our fellow man across the globe and across time. As Wendell Berry so eloquently put it,
“Eaters, that is, must understand that eating takes place inescapably in the world, that it is inescapably an agricultural act, and that how we eat determines, to a considerable extent, how the world is used.”
Table of Box Contents
- Siletz Tomatoes—These are my favorite tomatoes that we grow! Many a customer across the sample table at the farmers’ market have converted to the way of the tomato over these beauts. For an early tomato, these fruits are particularly sweet and flavorful.
- Basil—Our basil is in its prime; it’s the perfect time to be putting it on literally everything!
- Boysenberries—We grow two types of boysenberries. The fuzzy variety is a traditional boysenberry, whereas the sleek variety is a variety called Newberry. Both are super sweet with an accompanying tartness that makes for a great zing.
- Purple Kohlrabi—Peel, slice thinly, enjoy raw.
- Garlic—Our fresh spring garlic from earlier in the season is now starting to dry. Flavor is intensifying throughout the drying process, and the large cloves make for easy peeling and chopping.
- Zucchini—excellent grilled whole!
- White Russian Kale
- Sweet Slice Cucumbers—These cucumbers’ 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.
- Huckleberry Gold Potatoes
- Carrots—If 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.
- Green Oak Lettuce—buttery & oak-shaped
- Semi-Sweet Onion—These dried yellow onions are quite sweet with a slight acidic punch.
Whipped Basil-Garlic-Feta Dip
Adapted from https://domesticsuperhero.com/whipped-basil-feta-dip/
- 8 oz feta crumbles or block feta
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup basil leaves, tightly packed
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp lemon juice, or cider vinegar, or wine
- salt & pepper to taste
- raw veggies for dipping: kohlrabi, cukes, carrots
If using a block of feta, first place it in the food processor and pulse to crumble. Next add the cream cheese, basil, and garlic and process on high for 1 minute or until creamy and smooth.
Add lemon juice, salt and pepper and combine for a few more seconds until nice and smooth.
Remove from processor bowl and place in an air-tight container in the fridge. Refrigerate at least 1 hour, but the longer the better (overnight if possible before a party). The dip is best at room temperature, so remove from fridge a bit before serving.
Serve with raw vegetable slices, baguette slices, crackers, pretzels, or whatever you prefer- Enjoy!
From our sample table at the PSU Farmers’ Market. The flavor combination of balsamic vinegar, basil, boysenberries is AMAZING.
- 1/2-1 head green oak lettuce, roughly chopped
- 1/3-1/2 bunch basil, thinly sliced
- 1 pint boysenberries, halved
- 1 cucumber, sliced into wedges
- 1 zucchini, sliced into wedges
- 1 carrot, thinly sliced
- 1 tomato, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1/4 onion, thinly sliced
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/5 onion, minced
- balsamic vinegar & olive oil
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 raw egg (optional)
- Optional-yet-super-tasty additions: any cheese, cubed or crumbled; nuts: walnuts, hazelnuts, seeds; herbs
Mince your onion and garlic and put into small bowl with vinegar, oil, salt & pepper.
Chop all of your vegetables for your salad and throw into a large bowl, except the berries and tomatoes. Once done chopping mix everything together.
If you want to make your dressing a little creamier, whip an egg up well and whip it into the dressing.
Pour your dressing over the salad and toss to incorporate. Add more salt, vinegar, and oil to taste.
Add in the berries and tomatoes at the end as they will become mush if stirred much. Enjoy!
The Kale Salad that Started it All
Tip from Joshua McFadden—
“A trick to ensure tender kale without long cooking: Freeze the kale raw (and trimmed) for a few hours; freezing will break down the fibers. Cook it straight from the freezer.”
- 1 bunch kale, thick ribs cut out
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup parmesan/Romano cheese, finely grated
- olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/8 tsp dried chili flakes
- salt & pepper
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
Stack several kale leaves on top of one another and roll them up into a tight cylinder. With a sharp knife, slice crosswise into very thin, about 1/16th inch ribbons (this is called chiffonade). Pile the kale into a bowl.
Put the chopped garlic on a cutting board and mince it even more until you have a paste (you can sort of smash and scrape the garlic with the side of the knife as well). Transfer the garlic to a small bowl, add ¼ cup parmesan, a healthy glug of olive oil, the lemon juice, chile flakes, ¼ teaspoon salt, and plenty of twists of black pepper, and whisk to combine.
Pour the dressing over the kale and toss well to thoroughly combine (you can use your clean hands for this, to be efficient). Taste and adjust with more lemon, salt, chili flakes, or black pepper. Let the salad sit for about 5 minutes so the kale softens slightly. Top with the breadcrumbs, shower with more cheese, and drizzle with more oil.