Week #4, June 8 2017


A beet and carrot field in the evening sun.  

Steve is committed to better weed control this spring.  Weeding tends to get neglected during the spring hustle to get crops in the ground.  This year, we’ve got new cultivating tools, more employees with tractor cultivation experience, and a stronger commitment to putting the weeding first on the schedule.  If left to the end of the day, it doesn’t get done.  We’ve even got a new Dutch harrow on the way to the farm.  We’ve had mixed experiences importing machinery from Europe so let’s all keep our fingers crossed here are no hitches.  

Beginning last year, we stopped growing spring lettuce for our wholesale customers (Willy Street, Outpost, Basics, etc) in hopes the change would free up more time to get our spring crops established.  We plant most of your CSA vegetables during the months of May and June, so it’s a very important period.  Blink and you can lose a field to weeds.  The change did not go as planned last year.  Steve was still recovering from a bike accident the previous fall.  His energy was low and he didn’t keep the farm organized and running on a schedule.  He’s much improved this spring and our whole farm is functioning better.  The result is pretty fields like in the photo.  Beth

Veggie List and Veggie Notes (week#4, June 8/9, 2017)

Napa cabbage
Spinach, 1st big bunch
Spinach, 2nd big bunch
Asparagus, about 1 lb
Red Romaine lettuce (some sites get red bibb)
White salad turnips, 1 bunch
Radishes, 1 bunch
Red scallions, 1 bunch

Next week’s box will probably contain strawberries, asparagus, spinach, lettuce, scallions, garlic scapes and more.

Napa cabbage (large, pale green cabbage with crinkled leaves) – This week’s napa average 2.75 lb in size.  This is an interesting vegetable, useful for both fresh, raw salads and for cooking.  Napa’s most famous use is fermented kimchi.  I like to prepare a fresh, unfermented kimchi.  Same seasonings, but it’s ready to eat right away.  You will be amazed at how much shredded napa cabbage shrinks when prepared this way.  See here for an example, but cut the salt in half: Grilled Flank Steak with Kimchi-style Coleslaw.
Storage:  Napa stores very well.  Cut off wedges as needed and keep the rest covered and refrigerated, and it will keep for several weeks.  Peel off the outer layer and it will be ready to use.  Here are a few preparation ideas from the ‘Asparagus to Zucchini’ cookbook.
– Chop raw napa into green salads.
– Substitute napa in traditional coleslaw.
– Chinese cabbage cooks quickly.  Steam 3-5 minutes, or until leaves are wilted down but remain slightly crisp.
– Substitute napa cabbage for common cabbage in recipes, but reduce the cooking time by 2 minutes.
– Napa cabbage is the main ingredient in egg rolls.  Try making an egg roll mixture to eat as a cooked side dish instead of preparing time-consuming egg rolls.

Spinach – That’s not a typo; you will receive two bunches of spinach this week.  We are sharing lots this week while it is lush and abundant.  Total combined weight for the 2 bunches will be about 2 lb.  This is a good week to try cooked recipes, as spinach shrinks substantially when cooked.  
To freeze;  Frozen spinach is so useful – add to lasagne, casseroles, quiches, soups.  Spinach needs blanching before freezing.  Wash well, chop coarsely, and place in a large pot with 1 inch of water in the bottom.  Steam until the color changes, stirring a few times.  Turn off heat, return cover to the pot, wait a few minutes and stir again.  The residual heat will finish the cooking.  The spinach should be completely collapsed.  Cool, then pack into containers.  Choose a container sized to the amount you will want to thaw later.

Asparagus – Some of you will get very short asparagus this week.  The asparagus field needs weeding midway through the harvest season.  We pick the field very short, then mow down the weeds.  It’s a quick fix that lets us keep picking for another week or so.  Once the weeds get too tall we can’t find the asparagus spears.  We’ll do a more thorough weeding once the harvests are finished.

Salad radishesUses: Traditionally, radishes are sliced thinly and added to salads.  If you dislike radish spiciness, slice and toss with salt in a bowl.  Let sit for 10 minutes, then rinse.  Radish sandwiches on buttered bread are surprisingly good.  I first enjoyed them as part of an appetizer platter at the Coopers Tavern.  This recipe uses too much butter but you’ll get the idea.  All you need are good quality radishes, good quality bread and good quality butter.  Don’t forget the salt.
Storage: To store, cover and refrigerate.  To maximize the life of your radishes, remove and discard the greens.

Red scallions – Steve tried this variety just because they are pretty.  Use like normal scallions.  We don’t know yet if the color will change with cooking but we’ll find out soon with a batch of scallion biscuits.  That’s a spring favorite in our household.

RECIPES

See the RECIPE LOG for recipes from previous weeks.  There are dishes for asparagus, spinach, lettuce, scallions, turnips, and radishes that might be useful with this week’s produce.

Local Thyme Recipes

Comforting Classics
Turkey or Hummus and Radish Wraps with Spinach Pesto
Seared Sesame Asparagus
Chinese Cabbage Salad with Radish and Crispy Ramen Noodles
Marcella’s Slow Cooker Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Outside the Box Recipes
Chicken Valdostana Over Braised Lentils
Grilled Pizza with Fig, Asparagus and Scallions
Warm Napa Cabbage Slaw with Dill
Chinese Tofu or Chicken and Cabbage Noodle Soup

Quick and Easy Meal
Salmon with Shaved Asparagus and Radish Salad

Recipes from Lauren

CRUNCHY NAPA CABBAGE & PEANUT RICE BOWL
Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine
Now this, this dish serves a crowd. It’s a great vegan, gluten-free (if you use the tamari instead of the soy sauce) dish to bring to a party or to make on a Sunday to have in your fridge for lunches all week long. Napa cabbage and peanut sauce is one of my absolute favorite combinations. I hope you enjoy!

Takes 1 hour
Serves 8-12 (even more if eaten as a side dish only)

4-1/2 cups water
2 cups brown rice
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 head Napa cabbage, cleaned and thinly sliced (I slice the white stem and green leafy portion together)
1 bunch radish, greens removed, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 bunch turnips, greens removed, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 bunch scallions, sliced (you can use all of the scallion, whites, pale green and dark green portions)
Roasted peanuts, chopped, optional

Warm Peanut Sauce:
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
Juice from 1 lime (or 2 tablespoons lime juice)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
1/4 cup water

  1. Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan on the stove top over high heat. Once boiling, add rice and salt and reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 50 minutes (or less, depending on your type of rice; read the package directions).
  2. While the rice cooks, prepare your veggies. In a (seriously really) large bowl, toss napa cabbage, radishes, turnips, and scallions together. Add a pinch or two of sauce and toss veggies so evenly distributed. Set aside.
  3. When the rice has about 10 minutes left to cook, begin the sauce. Combine peanut butter, coconut milk, brown sugar, soy sauce or tamari, lime juice, fish sauce and red pepper flakes in a large saucepan. Whisk together until smooth. Place on stove and turn heat to medium. Add a pinch of salt and water. Whisk until smooth and hot. You will want the dressing to be warm to wilt the greens.
  4. Serve in a bowl with the ratio of about a 1/2 cup of rice and 2 cups of veggies. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of peanut sauce over the greens and toss gently to coat. Add peanuts if you like. (I didn’t use them but could see how they’d add a great crunch).

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SHAVED ASPARAGUS & SPINACH CAESAR SALAD
If you have never before shaved asparagus you are in for a real treat. The thin ribbons can be tossed into things like pasta or quiches. I also love it on pizza ala Smitten Kitchen. But I especially love shaved asparagus raw. It has a wonderful texture and adds a lot to simple salads. With the red romaine, this salad will be a vibrant and beautiful dish to serve alongside any meal.

Please note for this recipe, you will be making Caesar dressing from scratch. If that’s not your thing and the word emulsify scares you, feel free to buy a high quality Caesar (it will likely be in the refrigerator section of your grocery store) and use that instead. If you plan to make the dressing, but are freaked out by raw egg yolk, you can substitute 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise instead.  Lauren.
Beth’s note. We don’t eat raw eggs in our house.  Use bottled dressing, or Lauren’s mayo substitute, or buy pasteurized eggs at the grocery store.  If you hunt around online, you can find food scientist Harold McGee’s method to pasteurize egg yolks in the microwave.

Takes 30 minutes
Serves 4-6

1 pound asparagus
1 pound spinach, chopped
1 head red romaine, roughly chopped
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
4 cups croutons, store-bought or made from scratch

Caesar Dressing:
Juice of 1 lemon (or 2-3 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (or 2 teaspoons minced green garlic if you have some leftover)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 large egg yolks
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  1. Shave your asparagus! You will do this with a standard vegetable peeler. It works best for me when I lay the asparagus close to the edge of the counter. One hand holds the crown of the asparagus to keep it from moving and the other holds the peeler shaving off ribbons until about half of the asparagus is gone. Then I flip over the asparagus and continue until the peeler can’t go any further. You will have uneven pieces but that’s totally fine. Feel free to snap any larger pieces in half. This process is a little tedious so once you get the hang of it, you can do two or three pieces of asparagus at a time to speed things up.
  2. Toss the asparagus into a bowl with the lettuce and spinach.
  3. Now prepare you dressing. Whisk two tablespoons of lemon juice and garlic together in a large bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes. Add Worcestershire, salt and egg yolks into lemon mixture. Slowly whisk in each batch of oil until well-incorporated. Start slow, drop by drop, then start adding more at a time, consistently whisking throughout the additions. You are looking to emulsify the dressing (this means the oil and vinegar will no longer be separate and the mixture will become thick, creamy and glossy as you whisk). Add the Parmesan cheese and pepper, whisking again to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings by adding more salt, pepper or lemon juice.
  4. Toss the asparagus and greens with the dressing. Or, if you don’t plan to eat it all tonight, toss just as much of the veggies with dressings as you plan to eat. Top with a dusting of Parmesan and the croutons. Feel free to add chicken breast or an egg to make it a complete meal.

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