Sunday, July 5, 2015

CSA offerings: week 6

Last Thursday I tried to take some time-lapse photographs of my winter squash plants to see if I could actually show them growing. Unfortunately, the jury's still out because my iPod battery didn't last long enough. I plan to try again when it's fully charged. Meanwhile, the squash vines continue their relentless march outward into the neighboring beds like some kind of imperialist army. Compare this shot to the one I took a week ago:

I hope you're enjoying the first fruits of summer from your share. This week, we're adding add one more: cucumbers! I'm growing two slicing varieties this year, an old favorite of mine called Diva, and a new one called Silver Slicer. The sweet, smooth-skinned Diva is a bit slower to mature, but Silver Slicer is producing strong already. It looks like a classic cucumber, except for its pale yellow skin. I'd love to hear what you think! 

Salad turnips are around for one more week (possibly two) and then they'll be on hiatus for a while, as they don't stay as wonderfully sweet in the summer heat. They've been a popular item, though, so I'm adding one last planting for the fall. In the meantime, shareholder Delinda Free sent us a fabulous-sounding recipe that involves caramelizing the turnips and serving them on a salad with a creamy herb dressing. Make sure to check it out at the bottom of the post!

Beets are here! This week it's Chioggia beets, which are one of my favorites. They're a cross between a red beet and the white sugar beet,  resulting in its distinctive pink and white striped flesh and a very sweet flavor. They come with tops too, so if you haven't done it yet, you still have a chance to make Delinda's delicious beet green recipe.
lovely Chioggia beets
If you're looking for a new way to use summer squash, shareholder Eowyn Rieke sent my way this recipe for marinated zucchini salad from the New York Times cooking website. I haven't tried it yet, but it sounds like a great dish to make on those nights we've been having all too many of lately, when it really is too hot to cook. That NYT cooking website is also a great recipe resource in general, with a searchable database of 16,970 recipes and counting. You can even download an app for your smartphone if that's your thing. Shareholder Melissa Chan also turned me on to this great compilation of recipes created by Mariquita Farm in California. Thank you both for your great suggestions!

Finally, I am really excited about my latest acquisition for the farm and wanted to show you:
This is my new farm cart, custom-built for me by Ian Kaye, who is a coworker of another farmer here at Headwaters. In addition to being sturdy and attractive, it has several useful features: the tires are set exactly 4 feet apart, so I can use it to mark out my beds (which are 4 feet wide), and the notches you can see at the top of the cart hold a removable dowel which can act as a spool to roll or unroll drip tape, floating row cover, etc. Here it is this morning, on its first harvesting adventure:

Caramelized Baby Turnip Salad with Dill Chèvre Dressing
from shareholder Delinda Free

For this dish, it's important to use white balsamic, to keep the beautiful golden color of the caramelized turnips. Feta can be substituted for chèvre, and other herbs can be substituted for dill in the dressing to taste. Experiment!

For the caramelized turnips:
1 bunch baby turnips
2 Tablespoons clarified butter (ghee) or olive oil
Fresh ground pepper

For the dressing:
1/4 cup mayonnaise 
2 ounces chèvre
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic
1/8 cup fresh dill (about 1 handful of sprigs)
1/8 cup parsley
Salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste

For the salad:
1 small head lettuce
1 cucumber
2 tomatoes
Optional: 1/4 cup pine nuts
Sprigs of fresh dill to garnish

Wash the turnips, cut off the greens and save for another use. Stem the turnips, cut in half lengthwise, and slice into half-circles about 1/4" thick. Heat a heavy skillet on medium and add ghee or oil. Add enough turnips to cover the bottom of pan. Depending on the size of pan, you may have to do 2 or 3 batches. Turn heat to low-medium and sauté, turning often with tongs and being careful not to burn. When they turn an even golden color (about 8-10 minutes), remove to a plate, season with salt and pepper, and refrigerate until cool. This should give you time to prepare the salad and dressing.

In a high-speed blender, add all the dressing ingredients and blend on high for about 30 seconds. Adjust seasoning and blend again if necessary. This dressing would also be wonderful with basil instead of dill.

Wash and dry lettuce. Peel and slice cucumber into thin rounds. Slice tomatoes into rounds. For each serving of salad, arrange three leaves of lettuce overlapping on the plate. Arrange 1/4 of the cucumber, and 1/2 of the tomato rounds. Top with a large spoonful of caramelized turnips. Drizzle with dressing and garnish with pine nuts and a sprig of dill.

Serves 4

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