CSA 2011 – Week 9: If I Had a CSA Box I Would…

I’ve decided to take this week to tell you how I would use all of the produce in a CSA box.
Candy Onions: I would caramelize them like the recipe on the back and then combine them with the sautéed green beans.
Beans: see recipe on back.

Potatoes: Boil them and mash them with butter and cream. You could also chop them into 2– inch pieces, toss in olive oil, salt, garlic and herbs. Roast them at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Try boiling them whole, let them cool and then grate them to make potato pan-cakes or pan-fried hash browns.

Green Pepper: My favorite way to eat these is grilled or roasted whole until the outside gets slightly charred. You can then peel the pepper or not and add it to a sandwich with arugula-basil pesto, lettuce and tomato.

Squash: Summer squash is wonderful chopped in half, coated with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and then grilled. Another way of preparing it is to chop it into thin strips and toss it in olive oil and salt and roast it at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or until cooked thoroughly. I also hear that you can grate it raw and freeze it for later zucchini breads. Another CSA member told me she likes to chop the squash and layer it in a casserole dish with cheese and other veggies and bake it!

Cucumber: I like cucumbers raw dipped in hummus or salad dressings of some sort. The salad dressing on the back would be a perfect cucumber dip.

Arugula: Arugula is a tasty salad green. You can eat it raw with dressing (see recipe on back). Another great way to use the Arugula is in pesto with basil. I usually split the basil and arugula half and half so that you get to taste both equally. Their flavors complement each other well. This pesto goes nicely on a sandwich, as a dip or even as the base for a pesto pasta of some sort. I tend to like arugula slightly wilted as well because it cuts the spicy bitter edge that it tends to have. Try it wilted on top of pizza.

Romaine Lettuce: I really enjoy the grilled Caesar salad that I put a recipe for a few weeks ago. Romaine is a great crispy lettuce with a nice mild flavor. It goes well on sandwiches, or as salad. A woman I work with just suggested making lettuce rolls with the large leaves. You could stuff these with some tomato, pesto, and cucumbers. If you’re a meat eater, add some bacon! Mushrooms and cheese might go nicely as well.

Carrots: I enjoy these carrots as they are, raw! I know some CSA members who cut them up into carrot sticks for the week. Try them grated raw with raisins, oil and vinegar.

Basil: I am a huge pesto fan personally, but there are many ways to use basil. In fact, basil is a great addition to an Asian stir fry of squash, green beans, and carrots with soy sauce, sesame oil and seeds, some chili flakes and served over rice. Also, try making a tomato salad, or use in the salad dressing recipe.

Blueberries: Eat them raw, make a smoothie, or add them to pancakes!

Tomatoes: Eat them raw on salad. Combine with pesto. You could even try them stuffed with cheese and herbs and baked at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

What’s in the box?

…I suppose you just found out. 🙂

 

Recipes:

Simply Green Beans
1 lb green beans
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 Tablespoons Parsley or herbs chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt

First take both ends off of the beans simply by snapping and put beans into a bowl. Blanch beans quickly in salted boiling water for about 1-2 minutes. Heat olive oil in a pan and add beans and garlic. Add herbs last and season to taste. For extra flavor add butter at the very end. To spice it up, add some chili flakes.

Candy Onion Compote
2 candy onions, peeled and sliced thinly
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

Cook the onions in butter and olive oil on low heat for 30 minutes or more. Onions will turn a light brown color and develop a caramel taste. Use this as a topping for most savory dishes. Variations: Add thinly chopped carrots and/or summer squash or green pepper for more variety.

Arugula and Romaine Salad with Roasted Tomato Dressing
Dressing:
1 large tomato or a few small tomatoes
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup basil leaves, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt

Chop the tomato into 3-4 larger pieces, and roast in the oven at 400 degrees for about 30-45 minutes or until somewhat dried out, but not dark. Place tomatoes in a blender or food processor. On low speed, add garlic and vinegar. Drizzle in olive oil, add the basil last and salt to taste.

Use this dressing on top of washed and chopped Arugula and Romaine together. The
romaine will balance out the spice of the Arugula and the sweetness of the dressing will compliment the two. Add the other tomato chopped on top, the cucumber or even blanched green beans.

CSA 2011 – Week 8: Crop Rotation and Irrigation 101

Last week’s discussion with John was so interesting that I decided to follow Joelene Jebbia, our Irrigation manager, around for an hour to learn more about what she does. She began similarly to John, socket wrench in hand out to fix a spigot in the circle garden’s irrigation riser. I spent most of this time just watching what she was doing, and gazing at the amazing array of tools she has in her truck. Once she changed the spigot, we headed out to a greenhouse thatrecently had a fall crop of potatoes planted in it. Joelene was setting up the drip irrigation in it since the seedlings had started to pop out of the ground. As she was busy doing her thing, I got to pick her brain about how she decides what gets planted where and how intensive irrigating all 50 acres really is.

She explained to me that she keeps a record of everything that we plant each year, how much of it, and when it is planted. This aids her in the winter when she plans out where everything is going to go. For next season, for example, it is good to know where brassicas (kale, cabbage, broccoli, etc.) were planted so that we do not plant onions in those places because they seem to do poorly in an area where brassicas once were. It is also important to not plant the same crop into the same ground consecutively. For example, if you plant arugula in one area, and the last of the planting got flea beetles, as it often does, and then you plant more arugula into that same soil, then that new crop will not thrive because there are already existing flea beetles in the soil that will eat it before it gets a chance to thrive.

As Joelene pulled the drip lines down the rows of potatoes, she elaborated that she also takes into consideration the micro-climates of each field. For example, how much sun the field gets, and what time of day it gets sun, compared to how much sun the potential crop likes. Thinking about whether the field is on high or low ground, therefore if it will be wet or just moist early in the season, is another huge factor.

Joelene explained that every year her plans get thrown off a little just by the weather patterns. For example, this year she planned to plant our onion crop just west of the compost piles, but when it was time to plant, the ground was way too wet to plant into. So, she shifted the plan slightly and it will work out. When deciding where everything gets planted, she also thinks about ease of watering, her other main task at the farm. She has to make sure that she will be able to access all of the crops with either overhead or drip irrigation and make it logistically workable for her.

Irrigation takes up a lot of her time year round, and most intensively this time of year. We grow crops in 31 different hoop houses that need to be watered on top of our outdoor crops. For the outdoor crop irrigation, Joelene and Sarah will start laying pipes down in April and continue through June until all the fields are set. Of course, there are a lot of repairs on pumps, drip lines, and pipes that go along with this.

This time of year is the busiest for keeping up with all of the watering, and outdoor watering will usually continue well into October depending on the season. The variability of the weather patterns plays a huge role in all of this, and working with mother nature seems to be your best bet. The potato house was all set up for watering, 2 of 4 that would get done today. After she placed her tools back in their locations, she drove to the tractor where she would begin her next task.

What’s in the box?

1.5 lb Potatoes (Rose Gold) – Steam, roast, or mash. These are versatile.
Carrots, bunched – They are great raw, on salad, slaw or stir fried.
1 bunch Walla Walla onions – Chop the onions and eat raw on salads or soups. Try them grilled! The top green part goes well with eggs, cheese, stir fries or pasta.
1 bunch chard– steam, or sauté these greens, much like spinach but not quite as tender.
1 purple pepper– It is wonderful grilled, sautéed, roasted, or raw.
Assorted Summer squash – Try them sautéed, grilled, in a soup or stir fried. Try hollowing out and stuffing the round ones with a grain mixture, goes well with cheese, meat, mushrooms, then bake or grill them for 15-20 minutes.
1 cucumber – Eat raw, on salad, or marinate them.
1 radicchio– They are wonderful grilled and topped with balsamic vinegar.
1 bunch cilantro– Make salsa with the tomatoes! Eat with cucumbers or squash.
Romaine lettuce – Make a salad, or add to sandwiches.
2 tomatoes – Chop raw on salad, sandwiches, or make salsa with cilantro and onions.
1 pint blueberries – I would be surprised if these made it home!

Stuffed Squash
4-5 assorted summer squash
3-4 small-medium Walla Walla onions, chopped
3/4 cup nuts, (almonds work best) ground
1 cup cooked brown rice, quinoa, or bread crumbs
3/4 cup grated cheese, (your choice, Swiss, cheddar or parmesan work well)
2 eggs
2 cloves finely minced garlic
Salt and pepper

For Zucchini, cut ends off and cut them in half long ways and scoop out the inside and set aside. For the rounded squash (patty pans or 8-ball) cut the first inch top off and scoop the inside out. Sauté the onions in olive oil, chop the squash flesh and squeeze any water out. Add this to the onions and cook a little longer. Beat the eggs and add to the nuts, rice (or grain of some sort), cheese, garlic, pinch of salt If the mixture is too runny add more of the grain. Stuff the squash with the mixture and bake in a slightly oiled pan at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Variation: add other spices if you would like, cilantro would go nicely, or even add some chopped tomato or chard.

Radicchio Salad
1 head of radicchio finely shredded
2 oranges, peeled and divided into sections
3 baby onions, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Dressing:
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Pinch of salt
Touch of sugar or honey

Place onions on an oiled cookie sheet and brush with olive oil. Bake at 300 degrees for several hours, until onions are dried out and brown. Mix radicchio with dressing and top with orange wedges and onion slices.
Variations: Add cucumber, grated carrots or peppers to this salad. Also, chop your head of lettuce and mix it in with the radicchio for a larger size salad for more people.