Sunday, July 26, 2015

CSA offerings: week 9

The bird life on the farm is absolutely teeming right now. My pitiful bird identification skills leave me at a loss much of the time, but in addition to the usual crows and pigeons, I have seen kestrels, red tailed hawks, turkey vultures, barn swallows, and California quail in recent weeks. Last week, an entire family of quail was running around in one of my cabbage beds, which is covered by floating row cover. I could see their shadows darting back and forth and hear their alarmed cheeping until I opened up one edge of the fabric and let them out.

Basil is now in full swing, but another much lesser-known spice is also in abundance. Green coriander seeds are the fresh seed pods of cilantro. Allowed to dry down, they will become the coriander that you buy in the spice section of a grocery store. While still green, though, they have an intriguing flavor all their own: like cilantro, but more fruity and floral. You can keep them in a jar in your fridge for several weeks or freeze them for much longer. I've used them in the winter in place of cilantro to make salsa, and it worked great.

Sweet onions are also making their first appearance in your share lineup. This variety is called Ailsa Craig, and it's an heirloom named for a small, uninhabited island off the west coast of Scotland. They can get very large; one seed company boasts that 5 lbs is not uncommon! I can't imagine what anyone would need a 5 lb onion for, so maybe it's just fine that the weeds kept these specimens to a more manageable size.

We're in a bit of a midsummer greens slump for the moment, though we still have an exciting mix of lettuce heads. I'd been counting on having kale and chard to offer you all summer, but the cucumber beetles have put a big hole (or many small ones) in those plans. I'm hoping after a week of regrowth I might be able to offer small kale bunches again next week. Fingers crossed!

Finally, don't miss Delinda's recipe this week for Red Curry Quinoa Salad with Sautéed Basil Shrimp. It makes use of half the items on your share list! If you're not a shellfish eater, I imagine chicken or tofu could be substituted with tasty results.

Red Curry Quinoa Salad with Sautéed Basil Shrimp
Serves 4

(recipe from shareholder Delinda Free)

For the salad:
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
½ tsp salt
2 small or 1 large cucumber, diced into large chunks
2 small or 1 medium carrot, diced small
½ red bell pepper, diced small
½ small red onion, sliced thin
¼ cup parsley, minced
¼ cup basil, julienned or minced coarsely
1/2 can coconut milk
1 clove garlic
1 ½ tablespoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
2 tablespoons red curry paste
2 tablespoons fish sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse quinoa in cold water and strain. Bring quinoa and fresh water to a boil and immediately turn down to low. Let simmer until water is taken up, about 15-20 minutes. Cool in refrigerator ½ hour, or overnight. Add cucumber, carrot, red pepper, onion, parsley, and basil. In a small bowl, whisk coconut milk, lime juice, garlic, ginger, coconut sugar, curry paste, fish sauce, salt and pepper. Pour over quinoa and toss to mix.

For the shrimp:
1 ½ lbs. medium shrimp, peeled and rinsed
1 ½ tablespoons salt
1 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 small onion or shallot, minced
2 tablespoons basil, julienned or minced coarsely
Optional: Pinch of cayenne or red chili flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

Soak peeled shrimp in an ice water bath with salt for about 1 hour. This gives you time to make the quinoa salad. When quinoa salad is done, rinse the soaked shrimp in a strainer. Heat the oil in a skillet and add the garlic and onion. Cook until soft, then add the shrimp, basil, and lime juice. Cook only until shrimp is opaque, about 3-4 minutes. Do not overcook the shrimp or it will become chewy. Season with cayenne, salt, and pepper. Pour shrimp and cooking juices on top of quinoa salad, and either arrange on top, or toss to mix. Garnish with basil. This is delicious served warm or chilled atop a bed of lettuce.

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