Dear CSA members,
Brrr! I’m writing this on Monday morning and the sun is just beginning to lift the chill from the air. The cloud-cover that moved in during the early morning hours may have saved us from our first light frost of the season. When John came in this morning from cutting Swiss Chard to warm his numb fingers against a bowl of oatmeal, he said that the leaves on the top of the pole bean trellis felt as if they’d just barely been touched by frost. But now the sun is out, the plants are happy, and the forecast looks good for the rest of the week. We’re happy about that!
I guess I should qualify my previous statement by saying that the cool-season plants are happy. Heat-lovers like tomatoes and peppers not so much. Late blight finally arrived in our field this past week, infecting even our tomato varieties that are supposed to have resistance to this particular disease. We’ve selected the best fruits that remain to put into your share boxes, however, we can’t guarantee that some of them aren’t going to develop late blight symptoms on your kitchen counters. We recommend washing your tomatoes thoroughly and eating them soon. Refrigerating may keep them a bit longer.
I’m excited about the greens we have for you this week. The Swiss chard is so sweet and tender right now that I almost can’t get enough of it. Remember that you’ll want to keep your bunches of greens like chard and kale in a plastic bag or other container that will keep them moist and crisp in the refrigerator. I love chard simply steamed with a little butter or coconut oil melted into it. You can also sauté it until it’s just wilted (but still bright green) in olive oil or sesame oil and drizzle just a touch of tamari into the pan at the end of cooking. The stems are good too and add a nice contrasting crunch to the softness of the leaves. Place them in your pan or steamer basket a few minutes before you add the leaves. Let them cook until just tender, then add your leaves and cook until done.
If you feel like making your greens into more of a main dish, you could try a quiche. Here’s my all-time favorite quiche recipe, which I found on epicurious.com. It calls for spinach, but you can substitute chard for pretty much any spinach recipe. This is good with kale too.
Spinach, Red Pepper, and Feta Quiche
Ingredients: 1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour; 1 tablespoon olive oil; 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter; 2 cups packed fresh spinach leaves; 1 tablespoon cold vegetable shortening; 2 large eggs; 1 1/2 tablespoons ice water plus additional if necessary; 1/3 cup heavy cream or milk; 1/3 cup sliced sweet pepper; 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
Preheat oven to 425°F. In a bowl with a pastry blender or in a small food processor blend together flour, butter, shortening, and a pinch salt until mixture resembles meal. Add water and toss until incorporated, adding additional water if necessary to form a dough. Pat dough onto bottom and one half inch up sides of a 7 1/2-inch tart pan with removable fluted rim or a 9-inch pie plate and bake shell in bottom third of oven until set and pale golden, about 7 minutes.
While shell is baking, in a large skillet sauté pepper in oil over moderately high heat, stirring, 1 minute. Add spinach and sauté, stirring, until wilted and tender, about 1 minute. Remove skillet from heat and season spinach mixture with salt and pepper. In a small bowl whisk together eggs and cream. Sprinkle feta over bottom of shell and arrange spinach mixture on top. Pour cream mixture over spinach and bake quiche on a baking sheet in middle of oven 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350°F. and bake until set, about 10 minutes.
This makes a very thin quiche—the filling will only come about halfway up your pie shell. I like a thicker quiche, so I usually increase the amount of vegetable filling that I use and I add more cheese, an extra egg, and a little more cream. Sometimes I add a sprinkling of dried tomato pieces into the vegetable mixture as well.
The other bunch of greens this week contains a mixture of kales. We’ve planted a variety of heirloom kales this fall to see which ones we might like to grow more of in the future. So far, my favorite has been the large, tender, flat leaves of the Madeley. Let us know what you think about these new kales!
Here’s another filling egg dish that makes good use of the jalapeno and Anaheim peppers in your shares. It makes a satisfying brunch dish or a warming supper on a cool evening.
Mollie Katzen’s Green Chile-Tortilla Scramble
Ingredients: 2 corn tortillas; 1/4 teaspoon salt; 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil; 2 teaspoons minced garlic; 1 heaping cup minced onion; 6 large eggs; 1 cup minced green chiles (or any kind of spicy pepper); 1/2 teaspoon pure ground chile powder; 1 cup cooked pinto beans (optional)
Optional Toppings: Cherry tomatoes (cut in half), Grated cheese, Sour cream, Guacamole, Salsa
Cut the tortillas into small, thin strips about 1/2 inch wide with a knife or scissors, and set aside. Place a 10-inch skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. After several minutes, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, wait about 10 seconds, then swirl to coat the pan. Turn the heat up to medium-high, add the onions, and sauté for 5 minutes. Stir in the chiles, chile powder, and salt, and sauté for another 5 minutes, keeping the heat at medium-high.
Add a little more olive oil (about 1 1/2 teaspoons), plus the garlic and tortilla strips. Cook and stir over medium-high heat for another 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are very tender and the tortillas turn a deep golden brown. Gently stir in the beans, if desired. Keep the pan hot.
Break the eggs into a bowl and beat until smooth. Pour them into the hot pan, and scramble them into the vegetable-tortilla mixture. This will go quite quickly. Remove the pan from the heat when the eggs are mostly set but still moist. (They will continue cooking from their own heat, and you want to prevent them from becoming dry.) Serve hot, topped with cherry tomatoes, a light sprinkling of grated cheese, and/or additional toppings of your choice.
This is supposed to make 6 servings. I omitted the pinto beans and cut all the other ingredients back to 1/3 of what the recipe calls for and it made just enough for a hearty breakfast for one. I used stale blue corn chips instead of a tortilla and added some diced golden zucchini along with the chips. I think you could add whatever vegetable you had on hand that you needed to use up. One seeded and de-veined jalapeno added just about the right amount of heat for a single-size portion.
Stay warm everyone! And enjoy this beautiful season. Amy