Dear CSA members,
Good planting weather has arrived at last! We’ve been taking advantage of the sunshine and dry weather to tuck the seedlings that filled our hoophouse last weekend into the ground, working up until dusk and sometimes beyond. Three quarters of our tomato plants are now in, as well as all of our cucumbers, most of our peppers, most of our summer squash, and all of the eggplant. We even managed to get some sweet corn seeds in the ground, thanks to my Dad’s help. As I write this Monday morning while John and Diane finish packing share boxes, I can’t help looking out the window and smiling at how much those tender seedlings are enjoying today’s gentle rain.
We hope you enjoy your first cutting of salad mix. This mix is a variety of different lettuces selected by High Mowing Organic Seeds, which we plant close together and cut at a baby leaf size. Then we rinse and spin dry the leaves before putting them into bags for your share boxes. As with all of our produce, we try very hard to remove any little critters (slugs, bugs, spiders, etc.) that might want to hitch a ride into your shares. Because we use only organic pesticides sparingly in order to protect the beneficial insects that help control pests naturally, there are lots of these guys running around the garden patch and they are very good at hiding from predatory eyes. Please forgive us if we miss one or two! You may also at times see places where an insect may have taken a bite out of one of your vegetables. We are constantly balancing our desire to give you beautiful vegetables with our commitment to not adding toxic substances to your air, water, and produce. Please let us know if you receive produce at any point during the year that is of unacceptable quality, either due to insect damage or any other issue. Your feedback will help us as we work to get you great organic produce.
The other bagged leaf in your shares this week is arugula. It’s a spicy green with a pungent smell that reminds Diane of old socks, but it’s one of my favorites. I like to put it on sandwiches or chop it up and mix it into my salads. Here’s an arugula salad inspired by Martha Stewart (http://www.marthastewart.com/344355/arugula-salad-with-strawberries):
Arugula With Strawberries
Ingredients: 1/2 pint strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and quartered; 1/4 teaspoon pepper; 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar; 2 bunches arugula, washed, dried, and trimmed; 2 tablespoons olive oil; 1/2 cup toasted pecan halves; 1/4 teaspoon salt. Optional: sliced or crumbled smoked goat cheese
In a large bowl, toss strawberries with 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar; let sit 5 to 10 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining tablespoon balsamic vinegar with the olive oil and salt and pepper. To the strawberries, add vinaigrette, arugula, and toasted pecan halves. Toss to combine, and serve.
You can also use arugula in pasta dishes. Here’s a simple one from adapted from a recipe by Molly Katzen:
Ten-Minute Pasta Dinner
Ingredients: ¾ lb pasta, any shape; finely chopped fresh arugula; 1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil; red pepper flakes; 1 Tbsp minced garlic; 1/3 cup grated pecorino or parmesan cheese (or more to taste)
Cook and drain pasta according to directions. Drizzle with olive oil, then toss with garlic and chopped arugula. Sprinkle with cheese and red pepper flakes to taste. Serve hot.
And if you’re feeling ambitious, here’s one that’s a little more involved (http://www.molliekatzen.com/recipes/recipe.php?recipe=pasta_arugula):
Pasta with Arugula, Caramelized Onions, and Toasted Nuts
Ingredients: 3 tablespoons olive oil; 3/4 pound pasta (a short, shapely variety, like penne or fusilli); 1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter; 1 medium bunch arugula, stems trimmed and leaves chopped; 4 to 6 large onions (about 6 to 8 cups); 1 cup pine nuts or walnuts, lightly toasted; 1/2 teaspoon salt; grated parmesan cheese; 1/2 to 1 cup white wine or vegetable broth; freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or sauté pan and melt in the butter. Add the onions to the pan, and sauté over medium heat for about 15 minutes. Add salt, lower the heat, and continue to cook for at least another 10 minutes or until caramelized. When the onions are done to your liking, add the wine or broth, turn the heat back up to medium and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes. The liquid will largely get absorbed/evaporate. At this point the sauce can be set aside until you are ready to cook the pasta. When you are ready to cook the pasta, put up the pasta water and return the sauce to the heat. While the pasta cooks, and after the onions are hot again, add the arugula to the onions and stir it in. Let it cook in the onions for only about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the cooked pasta and add it to the sauce. Stir briefly in the pan before serving. Serve hot or warm, topped with parmesan and nuts and (optional) a drizzle of reduced balsamic vinegar.
I’ve discovered a new way to eat radishes. I usually like to eat them in salads or topped with a salty goat cheese like feta. This week I topped a radish slice with a chunk of feta cheese and then a piece of dried fig. Fabulous!
The weird-looking roundish vegetable in your boxes this week is kohlrabi. I think that it tastes somewhat similar to a broccoli stem. You can eat it raw or cooked, but you first need to peel off the tough outer skin. Here’s one of John’s recipes for kohlrabi salad, followed by a braised kohlrabi recipe from Jane Brody’s Good Food Book:
John’s Asian Kohlrabi Salad
Salad ingredients: julienned (thinly sliced) carrots; kohlrabi; scallions (or other type of onion)
Dressing: minced garlic and ginger; olive oil; balsamic vinegar; dijon or brown mustard or mustard powder; tamari or soy sauce; a few drops toasted sesame oil
Place vegetables in a bowl. Mix dressing ingredients together in a different bowl, varying the quantities depending on your tastes. Pour over vegetables, stir everything, and chill for an hour before eating.
Jane Brody’s Braised Kohlrabi
Ingredients: 1 Tbsp butter; chicken or vegetable broth; peeled and julienned kohlrabi; freshly ground pepper
Heat butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat and sauté kohlrabi strips, stirring often, until they are slightly golden (about 5 minutes). Add broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until just tender. Uncover the pan and increase heat to high for another 5 minutes or so to evaporate the rest of the liquid.
Have a wonderful week!! -Amy
Week 2 Thursday morning update:
Well, I began Monday’s newsletter celebrating the past week’s good planting weather. And for the most part, it has been a good week. The little plants loved the light rain on Sunday and Monday, but not so much last night’s storm. Though it wasn’t as severe here as in other places, we did have some flooding in our lower field and will be doing damage assessment later this Thursday afternoon.