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Welcome to Week 7. It is another beautiful week on the farm. We are weeding, planting and enjoying the increasing bounty of summer. The boys are loving zucchini season and have been helping harvest and competing in speed, number and size of squash they can find. We have been turning our attention to innovative ideas about how we can encourage and help young farmers, how to plan for our retirement (we know we are 35), and how we want to incorporate our kids as they get older. We are in our tenth season and it feels wonderful to begin to think about these things after many years of just trying to make the farm work on very basic levels. In less philosophical news carrots are back. Remember to use and enjoy carrot tops. We had a phone call several weeks ago from a wonderful CSA member who was waiting for carrot tops for her summer pesto – see the recipes and ideas below - the pesto is a staple in many of our CSA members’ homes. Beans and Zucchini are here and we have begun to harvest a few full sized tomatoes from the hoophouses and about 20 cherry tomatoes from the fields. We hope to bring you tomatoes and cucumbers next week or the week after! In family news, Ted turned five yesterday (the 15th) and we spent lots of time remembering how Kat picked a bushel of beans the day he was born, how the day of his birth was the first and only time we did not pack CSA boxes ourselves, and how wet 2010 was in the summer.
Have a delicious week- Kat, Tony, Riley, Ted and Maple
In Your Box
Salad mix- baby lettuce greens.
Arrow Head or Savoy (curly) Cabbage
Garlic scapes- the top sprouts of garlic, use all of them, just like garlic in any dish.
Carrots with their tops- make sure to see recipe and ideas for carrot tops.
Zucchini/Summer Squash- See the backside for a guide and lots of recipes and ideas for the weeks to come.
Fennel – use both the bulb and fronds. See recipes for ideas an storage.
Next Week’s Best Guess: broccoli, fresh onions, lettuce heads, zucchini, snap beans, rainbow chard, new potatoes
Fennel 101- Fennel is in the same family as carrots, celery, and dill. It is a fragrant vegetable that is also used as an herb to flavor bean dishes, salads and fish. The best way to store fennel is to detach the bulb and fronds. The bulb is much more mild and can roasted, shaved into other salads and slaws, or chopped and used to stuff fish. Fennel goes well with citrus as well. The fronds and stems are best used finely chopped and in smaller amounts as they have an anise like flavor which some people find strong. Roast alongside chicken or add to coleslaw. We like to add fronds to other dishes that normally feature dill or celery for a new twist like potato or egg salad. For a fennel egg salad combine 6 hard boiled eggs, 1/3 cup chopped fennel stalk, 3 tbs fennel leaves, 2-4 tbs chopped onion or 1 tsp chopped garlic, 4 tbs mayo, 1.5 tsp white wine vinegar, 2 tsp mustard and salt and pepper to taste.
Cooking with Carrot tops- When you get your carrots you should detach the bottoms and tops for storage but don’t throw out those tops. They are wonderful roughly chopped (take out tough stems) and used like dill or fennel in smaller amounts, used whole with other vegetable scraps to make a broth, and probably best known as a pesto ingredient. You can follow the greens pesto dish from week 5 using carrot tops or this simple recipe. Combine 2 cups carrot tops (stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped) with ½ cup olive or sunflower oil, 3 tbs pine or walnuts, ½ cup greens or fresh herbs (think kale, basil, chard…), 1 garlic clove or scape, and ¼ cup parmesan cheese. Pulse in food processor. This can top pasta, can be frozen in ice cube trays in then put into freezer bags for winter, or used on roasted or grilled veggies like zucchini, fennel, carrots.
Quick Meal Cabbage with Ham and Sesame Seeds
2 tbs. olive oil, 2tsp minced scapes, ½ tps red pepper flakes, ½ cup ham, 6 cups shredded cabbage, ½ chicken or veggie stock, salt pepper, lemon juice, toasted sesame seeds. Heat oil garlic and pepper flakes in skillet. Add Ham sauté one minute, Add cabbage. Stir in stock, cover simmer until most of the stock is absorbed (5-10 minutes) add salt pepper and lemon juice, Garnish with sesame seeds. Makes 4 servings.
Summer Squash 101
For a video background check out Tony talking Zucchini on Channel 7 (wsaw.com) search “farm to fork.”
Q: What is the difference between summer squash and zucchini?
A: Zucchini are one type of summer squash but increasingly there are new zucchini on the market including ones that are bright yellow, stripped, two tone, skinny and long or short and fat. All types of summer squash can be used interchangeably in recipes since there are only very small flavor differences.
Q: What is the best size summer squash to eat?
A: We tend to prefer the small to medium sized ones for every day cooking because they tend to be firmer and have less of a seed cavity. That said, bigger summer squash of all types are perfect for grating into bread and for stuffing and roasting.
Varieties- We will feature a picture on our facebook page this week and link it to the newsletter. Please note all of these are for eating and are not gourds. Zucchini- we grow two dark green varieties, a classic nutty heirloom called costa romaensco which is a duller white and light green and has a very nutty flavor, A new stripped variety Dario which is long shiny and stripped green and white, and a bright yellow zucchini called Goldy. We grow a classic straight neck pale yellow summer squash, a spaceship looking patty pan squash, and a Lebanese type called Alexandria which is pale yellow and shorter and fatter than a normal zucchini (it is prized for its flavor).
Cooking methods: summer squash can be roasted, grilled, steamed, sautéed, boiled, stuffed, breaded and fried, grated and added to salads or slaws raw, cut into thin ribbons to use in place of pasta and much more.
Sauted- The simplest way to prepare it is to cook in butter or olive oil with garlic (or garlic scapes) and salt and pepper and a bit of lemon juice.
Grill it- cut small squash is half and larger ones into strips. Rub with olive oil, herbs of your choice, and coarse salt and pepper and place on grill turning once after one side is browned (3-5 minutes depending on grill temperature). Serve hot or cool and use in a cold salad. You can grill a whole bunch and use it throughout the week in other dishes such as omelets, marinated or pasta salads etc.
Pasta ribbons- a trend in summer squash/zucchini eating is to use it in place of pasta. You can slice it long and thin and use in place of lasagna noodles (make sure to cook uncovered as it will give off juice), or can use a regular vegetable peeler to make noodle like strips. Peel off several from one side, then turn the zucchini and peel off more. Continue to turn and peel away ribbons until you get to the seeds at the core of the zucchini. Discard the core. You can also do this on a mandolin, adjusted to a very thin slice. These can then be cooked in boiling salted water for 2 minutes (not more) and served with your favorite sauce or pesto. You can also sauté them in olive oil without boiling to cook but make sure not to overcook.
Stuffed Zucchini are well suited to stuffing with other vegetables, rice, meat and cheese. Mixing one part rice with one part vegetables including grated carrots, tomatoes, onions, broccoli and/or fennel and a bit of sauce is a great stuffing. Top with cheese if desired (we like classic mozzarella or feta) and bake at 350 for 40 minutes. For smaller squash cook for less time. If using meat, prebrown it with the vegetables and rice then stuff.
Marinated Salads- zucchini can be roasted, grated or cut into small ribbons (as done for pasta substitute) and then marinated raw – This simple recipe from the NY times is a good intro. You can use lime juice and chili powder to change the flavor or a bit of curry in place of fresh herbs. 1 pound medium or small zucchini, preferably a mix of green and yellow, Salt to taste, 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 garlic clove, crushed or 1 garlic scape finely chopped, 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, mint, chives, dill or a combination. 1. Slice the squash as thinly as you can. Sprinkle with salt, preferably kosher salt, and let sit for 15 to 30 minutes. Rinse and drain on paper towels. 2. Mix together the lemon juice, garlic and olive oil. Toss with the zucchini. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for four to six hours. 3. Remove from the refrigerator, and remove the garlic clove. Add the fresh herbs, and toss together. Taste, adjust seasoning, serve.
Pretending Zucchini is Apple in desserts- We know it sounds insane but just last summer Ted, our then 4 year old, cried when he found out he was eating a zucchini pie not an apple pie exclaiming “then how does it taste so yummy”. Honestly if you like apple desserts and need to use up some zucchini this is a great option. You can use most any apple pie recipe but zucchini should be boiled fast 2 minutes in cubes, then tossed with lemon juice and some corn starch – adding sugars etc as you would in an apple pie.