Dear CSA members,
It’s Monday morning and the weather is just peachy-keen. We’ve got a light cloud-cover, a soft warm breeze, and sunlight slipping through the cloud-cracks. I did not feel one smidge of envy for the commuter traffic heading past my house this morning toward the expressway while I was in the arugula patch with my feet in the dirt!
It’s been great to have a couple of warmer nights this past week. I feel like the slicing tomatoes are finally starting to develop their full flavors in the extra heat. But though the temperatures have warmed, the season is certainly turning toward autumn. Katydids and cicadas are in full orchestral mode and blackbirds, ducks, and geese are flocking up for the big migration. For our parts, we continue planting crops that should thrive in the cooler temperatures to come—kale, broccoli, chard, among others. Our winter squashes are hanging in there, but barely, in patches down by the lake, so we want to make sure we’ve got plenty of other crops coming along for the next two months. A big shout-out to Elijah for his help this past week in clearing and prepping beds and getting transplants in the ground. Thank you!!
Ever since I came in from cutting the aforementioned arugula, I’ve been dreaming about a big arugula salad for lunch. The sharply flavored summer arugula in your shares this week is called ‘Astro’. I like it paired with other boldly flavored foods like sharp cheeses and rich oils. Grilled cheese with chopped arugula and thinly sliced tomato—yes please! You can also make arugula pesto by replacing part or all of the basil with arugula leaves.
Here’s a new arugula recipe that I tried yesterday that also uses the snap beans from your shares. I adapted it from smittenkitchen.com, who’d adapted it from a Martha Stewart recipe:
Arugula and Green Bean Salad
Ingredients: 1 ounce walnuts (about 1/3 cup); 1 teaspoon coarse salt or to taste; 6 oz snap beans; Freshly ground pepper; 2 tablespoons white wine or other mild vinegar; 2 tablespoons walnut oil (I used toasted sesame oil); 2 tablespoons plain yogurt; 3 ounces arugula; 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Preheat oven to 375°. Place walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven until fragrant, about 8 minutes. Let cool slightly, then coarsely chop and set aside. Or toast walnuts in a pan on your stovetop on medium-low heat, stirring or shaking the pan every few minutes so they don’t burn. While your walnuts are toasting, prepare an ice-water bath for your beans; set aside. Steam beans until just tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to ice-water bath to stop the cooking. Drain. Whisk together vinegar, yogurt, mustard and 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste—I didn’t use this much) in a small bowl; season with pepper. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified. Arrange arugula and beans on a platter or in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with toasted walnuts; toss to coat.
Here’s one of my favorite simple, light summer pasta dishes which uses arugula and cherry tomatoes:
Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Arugula
Ingredients: 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved if small, quartered if large; 1-2 garlic cloves, minced; Salt to taste; 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (optional); 1 cup arugula leaves, coarsely chopped; 1 tablespoon slivered or chopped fresh basil; 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil; 3/4 pound interestingly shaped pasta such as fusille, farfalle, orecchiette, or Israeli couscous; 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan or other Italian cheese (more to taste)
Combine the cherry tomatoes, garlic, salt, balsamic vinegar, arugula, basil, and olive oil in a wide bowl. Let sit for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add a generous amount of salt and the pasta. Cook al dente, until the pasta is firm to the bite. Drain, toss with the tomato mixture, sprinkle on the cheese, and serve.
Okay, enough with the arugula. Let’s talk about beans. You’ve got a lot of them this week! If you aren’t able to eat them all and have a little extra freezer space, they’re super easy to freeze. Just snap off stem ends, wash, and plunge into boiling water for three minutes. (No longer! You don’t want to cook them, just blanch them lightly.) Then plunge them immediately into a sink or pot-full of ice water to stop the cooking. When cooled through, dry them, stuff into freezer bags, and pop into the freezer. In the winter, you can take them out, put them frozen into your pot or steamer basket, cook lightly to thaw them out, and you’ll have memories of summer at your fingertips. I like to eat them as finger food in the wintertime, drenched in coconut oil and sprinkled with salt. Okay, I like to eat them that way in the summertime too!
John has promised to make this snap bean recipe for us just as soon as I buy more tamari:
Marinated Asian Beans
Ingredients: Fresh snap beans (about ½ lb); 2 Tbsp good quality vinegar (or juice of 1 lime or 1 lemon); 1-2 cloves garlic; 1 tsp toasted sesame oil; ½ inch piece gingerroot; 1 tsp tamari or soy sauce; ¼ cup olive oil. Optional: chipotle or cayenne powder, minced jalapeno, peanut butter . . .
Wash and remove stem ends from beans. You can snap them into smaller lengths or leave them long, either will work. Steam or lightly boil beans until tender but still slightly crisp. While beans are steaming, mince garlic and finely grate ginger. Place these in a small mixing bowl. Add tamari; olive oil; vinegar or lime or lemon juice; and toasted sesame oil. Mix together.
Pour marinade over hot beans, toss to coat, then refrigerate for at least an hour. If you have time, you might want to toss them around a couple of times as they are marinating just to make sure they’re all getting evenly covered. Toss again before serving and enjoy! If you wanted a spicy sauce you could add a little cayenne or chipotle powder to the marinade or a minced jalapeno. You can do a peanut sauce variation on this too. Put a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter in a small bowl and add a small quantity of very hot or boiling water. Stir to soften, then whisk your softened peanut butter into the marinade before adding to the beans. John says that he determines the quantities of all of the ingredients in this recipe by “feel,” so “feel” free to adjust them according to your preferences and intuitions.
Have a wonderful week, everyone! Amy