HARVEST GUIDE - WEEK 3 - JUNE 13, 2013
Welcome to week three! Time is certainly flying, and we have some great vegetables and herbs in store for you this week. In addition to more head lettuce, you’ll find the following items in your CSA bag:
Broccoli is in the cabbage family, and the part of the plant we usually eat is actually a large flowering head. The word broccoli itself is Italian--the plural of broccolo, and it is often considered one of the healthiest, most nutrient-dense vegetables per bite that you can eat. One single spear of broccoli has half of your daily recommended value of Vitamin C, not to mention quite a bit of Vitamin A, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, fiber, folate, and iron. Broccoli also acts as a natural detox, and when it is steamed it does a great job of lowering cholesterol levels. This super food can be prepared in a variety of ways, but the first harvest of broccoli is so tasty and full of flavor that I’d recommend a simple approach. A traditional broccoli salad consists of raw broccoli combined with raisins, sunflower seeds, and sometimes cheddar cheese. Mix together two parts Greek yogurt to one part balsamic vinegar for an easy dressing. You can also steam broccoli for 4-6 minutes for an easy side dish. Never over steam your vegetables; it takes away from their nutritional content. You know your broccoli is done when the color is bright green and whole spears still hold their shape when lifted with a fork.
Garlic scapes are the curly flower stems of the garlic plant, sometimes referred to as spring garlic. Most people don’t realize that every part of the garlic plant is edible, so you’ll be able to impress your friends if you use garlic scapes the next time you entertain. Once the scapes are harvested, the garlic plant is able to focus all its energy on the creation of a bulb, so before you know it you’ll find this more familiar part of the garlic plant in your CSA bags. Something to look forward to in upcoming weeks! And garlic isn’t just in aromatic staple in Italian dishes; it comes with serious health benefits too. Not only is garlic a natural antibiotic, it also has been reported to lower the risk of many cardiovascular diseases. So help out your heart and make the White Bean and Garlic Scapes Dip, as seen below, or follow this link for more garlic scape recipes from the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/29/garlic-scape-recipes_n_1637590.html
WHITE BEAN AND GARLIC SCAPES DIP
1/3 Cup Sliced Garlic Scapes
1 TB Fresh Lemon Juice
Sea Salt and Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
1 Can (15oz) Cannellini Beans, Rinsed and Drained
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Put the garlic scapes, lemon juice, and salt and pepper in a food processor. Run it until the garlic scapes are finely chopped. Add the beans until you get a thick puree. With processor on, add olive oil through the feed tube. Add just a bit of water until you get a smooth dip consistency. Serve with fresh broccoli or pita chips!
The variety of chard we’ve grown for you is called “Bright Lights” (which is actually a mixture of several varieties of chard), and it certainly lives up to its name. We’ve been admiring the beautiful reds, pinks, oranges, and yellows of the stalks for weeks, and we think you’ll find this nutritious green as delicious as it is beautiful. Chard is actually a type of beet (notice the similarity between chard and beet greens) that has been bred to produce thick, tasty leaves. For those of you who are vegetarians, chard is one of the better plant sources of iron you can find. And as with other dark leafy greens, chard is a good source of calcium. It can be eaten raw, but is also great sautéed or stir-fried. Sauté the chard with a little bit of olive oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper for a quick dish or try the Mediterranean Braised Chard recipe below if you’re looking for something a little more fancy:
MEDITERRANEAN BRAISED CHARD
2 bunches Swiss chard, washed, thoroughly dried, and stem ends trimmed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup small-dice white onion
4 anchovy fillets, rinsed and finely chopped
2 tablespoons golden raisins
2 teaspoons capers, rinsed
2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup whole pitted kalamata olives, finely chopped
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
Slice the chard stems from the leaves. Coarsely chop the stems and set aside; cut the leaves crosswise into 1-inch-wide strips and set aside.
Heat the oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat until shimmering, about 3 minutes. Add the onion, anchovies, and raisins and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened, about 4 minutes.
Add the capers and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the garlic is fragrant and lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add the reserved chard stems and cook until they start to brown, about 2 minutes.
Add the chard leaves and cook, stirring the leaves with tongs, until they’re wilted, about 5 minutes. Stir in the olives, pine nuts, and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.
Cilantro seems to be one of those herbs that people either love or hate. Maybe it’s an acquired taste, but I certainly love it. In fact, it’s my favorite herb. So if you don’t care for cilantro, feel free to return it in your bag next week. (I’m just kidding--I really have no use for your wilted, week-old herbs. They’ll just end up in the compost. I appreciate the thought though, and I will refer you to an interesting article in the New York Time titled “Cilantro Haters, It’s Not Your Fault: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/14/dining/14curious.html?_r=0). Anyway, sometimes called Chinese parsley, cilantro is common in Oriental and Mexican dishes, frequently found in guacamole and salsa recipes. It’s used in holistic medicine as a way to cleanse your body of heavy metals. Cilantro also protects against Salmonella, reduces menstrual cramping, prevents nausea, and is a great anti-inflammatory. The following recipe is an interesting variation on pesto. Or you can add more liquid to the recipe and use it as a salad dressing for your head lettuce.
1 (16oz) package pasta
1 bunch fresh cilantro
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 TB white wine vinegar
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
salt to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, and return water to a boil. Cook pasta for 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente; drain well.
In an electric food processor or blender, blend cilantro, garlic, vinegar, Parmesan cheese, cayenne pepper, nuts, and salt. Add 1/4 cup of the olive oil, and blend the pesto. Add more olive oil until the pesto reaches your desired consistency.
Pour pesto in a small saucepan and warm over low heat, stirring constantly, until pesto begins to simmer. Pour over cooked pasta and toss. Makes 8 servings.