Our newsletter from June 8:
Dear CSA members,
We’ve sure had some nice transplanting weather this week! John and I worked fast and furiously to try to get as much as possible planted before Sunday’s predicted “heavy rain,” which turned out not to be so heavy after all. I think we’ll need to water everything in the next day or so if more rain doesn’t materialize. But, we got a lot of things in the ground: tomatoes, broccoli, cucumbers, more lettuces & salad mix, tomatillos, and popcorn.
We’re excited to have strawberries for you this week. They aren’t doing as well as I’d hoped—I think we lost some berries to the frost we had awhile back and we’ve got some rot moving through the patch as well. Probably we should have made our rows narrower when we renovated them this year for better air flow. We will do that next year!
This particular strawberry variety is called Earliglow and I think it is one of the most flavorful out there. You won’t see it in grocery stores, though, because its delicate texture and thin skin won’t stand up to any kind of rough handling. Your berries are highly perishable and at their peak right now, so I recommend that you throw self-restraint to the wind and enjoy them right away.
The bagged greens in your shares this week is a type of arugula called “Sylvetta.” This is the first time I’ve grown this particular variety and I like it quite a bit. If you aren’t familiar with arugula, I’ll warn you that it has a bit of a bite! You can add it to salads for a little zip or make a salad of it all on its own. It goes well with other richly-flavored foods, like strawberries. This is what I plan to have for dinner tonight:
Strawberry Arugula Salad
Ingredients: strawberries, arugula, shaved or crumbled goat cheese, toasted pecans or other nuts, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt & pepper
Tear or cut arugula and strawberries into desired-sized pieces. Arrange arugula in a salad bowl and top with strawberries, goat cheese, and nuts. In a small bowl, whisk together a tablespoon balsamic vinegar with 2-3 tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle over your salad, toss, and serve.
I also really like arugula on sandwiches and wraps instead of lettuce. The other day I made goat cheese sandwiches with avocado, homemade mayonnaise, and arugula. Yum!
Arugula also makes a great substitute for basil in pesto. Just replace the basil in your favorite pesto recipe with arugula. If you don’t have a pesto recipe, start with the one below, but then add more or less of anything you’d like. I made this earlier today but added some lemon juice to brighten the flavor a bit .
Ingredients: 2 cups fresh arugula leaves, chopped; 1/8 cup toasted walnuts or pine nuts, pulverized; 2 garlic cloves, minced or mashed; 1/4 cup olive oil; 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan, asiago, or romano cheese; Salt, to taste
The easiest way to make pesto is in a blender or food processor. Blend your arugula leaves with the cheese, nuts, garlic, and salt, adding enough oil so that everything forms a smooth paste. Taste and add more of anything that you desire more of. If you’re planning to use your pesto as a sandwich or pizza spread, you may want to leave it fairly thick. If you’re planning to use it as a pasta sauce, you might want to add more olive oil so that it becomes more sauce-like than spread-like. If you don’t use your pesto immediately, the surface will turn brown in the refrigerator. You can prevent this by pouring a thin layer of olive oil across the surface of the pesto to seal out air.
I’m especially thrilled to have Hakurei salad turnips to offer you this year, since during the past two Springs our turnip crop has succumbed to cabbage root maggots. This year we’ve tried covering the turnips with an insect-barrier fabric to keep the cabbage root maggot fly from laying its eggs near the plants. Perhaps that’s working, since we’ve got some lovely, maggot-free turnips for you this week! The Hakurei are so juicy and crisp that I like to just snack on them raw or cut them up into salads. The leaves are edible too—you can steam them or sauté them with a little butter if you like.
You can probably tell that we eat a lot of raw salads this time of year, based on the recipes in this newsletter. You might not think it, but another vegetable that I really like as a salad is pac choi. The leaves provide the greens, the stem provides the crunch—it’s a complete salad in one plant. When I’m in a hurry, I just take a pac choi, chop it up, drizzle it with olive oil and vinegar, sprinkle it with salt and pepper, and there’s my lunch. If I want to get fancy, I might grate a little parmesan on top.
But of course, pac choi is great cooked too. You can stir-fry it with other vegetables and proteins or simply sauté it as a side dish. It’s nice with garlic and ginger, as in this recipe from the FairShare CSA Coalition’s From Asparagus to Zucchini:
Sesame Soy Braised Bok Choy
Ingredients: 1 head bok choy [or pac choi]; 2 Tbsp peanut oil; 1 Tbsp grated ginger; 1 Tbsp minced garlic; ½ cup chicken stock; 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil; 2 Tbsp soy sauce; 2 tsp rice vinegar; 1 tsp sugar; salt and pepper; 2 Tbsp sesame seeds
Trim the root end off the bok choy head. Slice the leafy portions of the plants from the stalks. Cut both the leaves and the stalks into large matchstick-size pieces (“julienne”), keeping the two piles separate. Heat large skillet or wok for until the surface looks hazy, 2-4 minutes. Add peanut oil and swirl it to coat the pan. Add bok choy stems; stir-fry about 5 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and stir-fry briefly. Add bok choy greens, stock, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and salt and pepper. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until bok choy is tender and glazed with sauce, about 5-8 minutes. Remove cover, sprinkle with sesame seeds, increase heat to medium-high and cook until excess liquid evaporates, 2-3 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Enjoy! Amy & John