Dear CSA members,
Another week of temperatures in the 60s and 70s and no frost! I’m not sure whether to feel grateful or a little creeped out by this beautiful, unseasonable weather. In any case, it’s made our daily lives a lot easier as we’re doing our final harvests and putting the gardens “to bed” for the winter. This coming week we’ll be seeding our final fall cover crops in the beds we’ve cleared of summer vegetable plants and also planting garlic to be harvested next summer.
Next week we’ll be busy getting the place spruced up for the harvest party! We’re looking forward to seeing many of you and to celebrating another successful growing season. Please remember that we’ll be collecting tubs next week at our regular vegetable pick-up times and places, so please bring your tubs back to us then or make other arrangements to get them to us. Even though we won’t be packing a share tub for you next week, we will bring whatever veggies we have to share with you. If you could bring your own box or bag to take them home in, that would be great!
I know that many of you will celebrate the return of pac choi in your shares this week! If you need some inspiration for what to do with them, here’s a recipe from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home:
Gingered Greens and Tofu
Ingredients: 2 cakes tofu (about 1 ½ pounds); ¼ cup peanut or vegetable oil; 2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger root; 6 cups coarsely shredded pac choi, kale, Chinese cabbage, or Swiss chard, packed; 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice; 2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro; Pinch of cayenne or splash of chili oil. Optional: toasted cashews or peanuts
Tofu marinade ingredients: ½ cup soy sauce; ¼ cup rice vinegar; ½ cup dry sherry; 3 Tbsp brown sugar
In a small saucepan, bring the marinade ingredients to a boil Simmer for 1 minute and remove from heat. Cut the blocks of tofu into ½-inch slices, then cut the slices into 1-inch squares. Place the squares in a single layer in a nonreactive heatproof pan. Pour the marinade over the tofu squares, sprinkle on 2 tablespoons of the oil, and set aside for about 5 minutes.
Preheat the broiler. Prepare the remaining ingredients and have them at hand before beginning to stir-fry. Broil the tofu for 7 to 8 minutes, until lightly browned; then turn it over with a spatula and brown the other side. While the tofu broils, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok or large skillet. Stir in the ginger, add the greens, and stir constantly on high heat until the greens wilt. When the greens are just tender, add the lime juice, cilantro, and cayenne or chili oil, and remove from the heat. When the tofu is browned, gently toss it with the marinade and the cooked greens, and reheat if necessary. Top with toasted nuts if you like, and serve immediately.
Butternut squash have a creamy, dense flesh. I usually cut mine in half, clean out the seed cavities and then roast them cut-side down on a greased baking tray. When they’re soft, I scoop out the flesh and mash it in a bowl with butter or coconut oil and whatever herbs or spices sound good to me at the moment. I often use ginger root or curry powder to spice up my butternut squash, but savory herbs such as thyme or sage are good too, as are cinnamon and nutmeg.
You can cook squash on your stovetop as well. Here’s a recipe from marthastewart.com for simple stovetop squash:
Butternut Squash with Brown Butter
Ingredients: 2 tablespoons unsalted butter; 1 butternut squash (about 1 3/4 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch cubes; 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth; 1/4 cup water; 1 tablespoon dark-brown sugar
Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown. Add squash; sauté, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and tender when pierced with a fork, about 16 minutes. Add chicken broth, the water, and brown sugar; cook until liquid has evaporated and squash is nicely caramelized, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper. Serve.
Because it’s so rich and creamy, butternut squash makes a great soup. There are infinite variations on butternut soup: sweet, spicy, creamy, chunky, dairy or non-dairy, etc. I’ve made butternut soup by simply adding milk or broth to my cooked, mashed squash and pureeing it until it reached the consistency I wanted. I haven’t tried this version of squash soup from Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express, but it sounds really good to me. Adjust the amount of broth or water you add based on how thick you’d like your soup.
Curried Coconut-Butternut Squash Soup
Ingredients: 2 cups chopped squash; 1 tsp cumin; 2-3 Tbsp vegetable oil; ½ tsp cinnamon; 1 onion, diced; 1 tsp curry powder (adjust to taste); 1 cup coconut milk; 4-5 cups chicken broth or water (adjust to preference); Fresh cilantro
Cook two cups of chopped squash in a few tablespoons of vegetable oil, along with a diced onion, a teaspoon of cumin, a half teaspoon of cinnamon, and a teaspoon of curry powder (or more to taste). Cook the vegetables and spices until the onion is soft, about three minutes. Add five cups of chicken broth or water and a cup of coconut milk; bring to a boil and cook for about six minutes or until the squash is tender and easily pierced with a knife. Serve the soup topped with fresh cilantro and crusty bread or a scoop of rice.
Have a wonderful week, everyone! Amy
Weekend addendum: I made the curried butternut soup mid-week and it turned out great! I didn’t have coconut milk on hand, so I used a little half and half instead to make it creamy. I also added some sauteed red peppers and Swiss chard, just because I had them and it sounded good. It was!