CSA Week 12

In Your Share:

Beets or Beans
Green Onion
Zucchini and/or cucumber
Cilantro and/or Basil
Chard or Komatsuna

Full Shares Only:

Tomato or Eggplant

We’re at the point in the season where there aren’t a whole lot of new items, just lots of familiar old friends.  We’ve still got a nice selection of fall veggies coming up, including peppers, brussels sprouts, leeks, cabbages, pumpkins, and more, but for now we get to enjoy the summer bounty for a little longer.  Cucumbers ebbed a bit last week but are back on strong this week, the zucchini are pumping out new fruits, and the green onions, carrots, and potatoes just keep on giving.  By the end of September the days will be getting shorter and we’ll see several crops check out for the season, but for now we are still at peak production!

Also around this time of year, people start asking about the end of the season.  As a reminder, the main season CSA runs until October 21.  The Gleneden Beach Market ends September 15, and the Neskowin Farmers Market ends October 1.  Our farm stand will continue until Thanksgiving.

The one new item for everyone today is a beautiful shallot.  These are much much bigger than what you usually see in stores, but they are shallots nonetheless.  Most shallots are grown from overwintered bulbs (like garlic), but these are grown from seed with our onions.  Seed grown shallots get much larger, but still have tons of flavor and store extremely well.  If you’re not familiar with shallots, they are similar to onions but more savory and flavorful, and less sweet.  You can use them in place of onions in many recipes and can usually use less than the recipe calls for.  Some people describe their flavor as a cross between onions and garlic, but I just think they have a wonderful flavor all their own.  Yours are probably fine to store on the counter, unless you have one that has all of the papery skin peeled off (in which case keep it in a bag in the fridge).

It’s also been a while since we included fennel.  This is a beautiful rotation, and the bulbs are all very tender, sweet, and fresh.  Remember that fennel can be used raw in salads, roasted with potatoes, or added to soups and stuffings.  Think of it like an anise-flavored celery.  The white bulb is the best part, and it gets tougher as you cut up the stalks.  The leaves are edible but I find they don’t have much flavor.  They do add a nice touch of color and texture to a salad or roast, though!

About half of you have rainbow chard as your green today.  Chard is in the same family as spinach and beets (unlike kale, which is in the same family as broccoli).  As such, it has a fruity flavor similar to beet greens and is also high in oxalic acid.  This is why raw chard can leave you with a funny feeling on your teeth, especially if you are sensitive to the oxalic acid.  I tend to prefer my chard cooked, and I love the crunchy texture and bright colors of the stems in a dish.  You can combine your chard and beet greens together if you like, they cook very similarly.  They are both good sauteed, steamed, in soup, or baked into a casserole or gratin.  They are also high in iron as well as lots of other vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Some full shares have eggplant today.  Our eggplants are looking healthy but haven’t been producing a lot of fruit, but I think we should be able to get it to most of you over the next couple of weeks.  Eggplant is one of my absolute favorite vegetables, I love its succulent texture.  I tend to like it roasted or grilled and eaten on top of or beside just about anything, but it’s also lovely in stir fries and curries or turned into baba ganouj.  Ours are the long slender Japanese type, and I like to eat the skin.  To prepare them, cut off the stem end and either slice them lengthwise or cut them into chunks.  Eggplant absorb quite a bit of oil in cooking, so some people like to salt them and let them sit for 15 or 20 minutes to cut down on that.  Store eggplant in a bag in the fridge, though they’ll be all right on the counter for a day or two.

Chard with Orange and Shallots

Here’s a new take on chard from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything.   He says: A perfect winter dish, this warm salad has vibrant color and tangy sweet-sour flavor. The skin of the orange or tangerine becomes almost candied and provides a nice chew, but if you’d rather not eat it, simply peel before chopping.

Other vegetables you can use: any chard, bok choy, kale, or any cabbage. For the citrus, use kumquats (quartered) if available.

1 pound chard, washed and trimmed

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 shallots, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons sugar

1 small orange or tangerine, seeded and coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Cut the stems out of the chard leaves. Cut the leaves into wide ribbons and slice the stems (on the diagonal if you like); keep the leaves and stems separate.

2. Put the oil in a large skillet with a lid over medium heat. Add the shallots and sugar and cook for a minute, then stir in the orange or tangerine bits and reduce the heat to low. Cook, stirring frequently, until everything is caramelized, about 10 minutes. Stir in the vinegar.

3. Return the heat to medium and stir in the chard stems. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften a bit, just a minute or two. Add the chard ribbons, cover, and turn off the heat. Let the chard steam for 2 or 3 minutes, then stir and re-cover the pan for another couple of minutes. Sprinkle with salt and lots of pepper and serve immediately or within an hour or two at room temperature.


Roasted Beet and Fennel Salad

From Food and Wine Magazine, by Andrew Goetz and Matthew Malin.

4 beets, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch wedges (1 1/2 pounds)

2 thyme sprigs

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 large fennel bulb with fronds—bulb cut into 1/2-inch wedges, 1 tablespoon chopped fronds

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a medium baking dish, toss the beets with the thyme, the water and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and cook for about 40 minutes, or until tender. Let cool slightly. Discard the thyme.

In a small baking dish, drizzle the fennel wedges with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes longer, or until tender and lightly browned.

Pour the beet juices into a bowl and whisk in the vinegar. Add the beets, fennel wedges and fronds and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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