CSA Week 13

In your share week 13:

Yellow Finn Potatoes
Red Romaine Lettuce
Tomato or Cherry Tomato
Sweet Peppers
Jalapeno peppers

Full Shares Only:

Today is the fall equinox, when the day and night are of equal length. On the forecast tonight and the rest of the week is our first significant rainfall of the season. Between the shortening days, rain, and cooler temps, you’ll start to see your shares transition away from summer veggies. These will be your last cucumbers, and it could be the last basil. Zucchini is going downhill, and our tomato picks are shrinking. It’s always bittersweet to say goodbye to the summer fruits; for us they mark an easing of our work but we will miss the sweet juicy sunny days!

Fortunately, we have new veggies coming in to take their place. Today we have the first fennel of the season. Fennel has a refreshing, sweet anise flavor and can be used just about anywhere you’d use celery. I think of it as an aromatic vegetable, and it’s a great addition to soups, stuffings, and braises or roasted with potatoes and other veggies. It’s also lovely raw, especially shaved on a salad, added to coleslaw, or made into a salad with orange and cinnamon. The best part is the white bulb at the bottom, the stalks have good flavor but can be tough. The leaves add color and contrast to a salad, but don’t have a lot of flavor in themselves. Keep it in the fridge in a bag.

These will be the only shallots of the year. We got a bad start with them and they were very inconsistent in production. For some of you, they have the greens attached, others have loose uncured bulbs. Both should be kept in the fridge.

Shallots are a particular favorite of mine. Our shallots are 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.  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.

Potatoes are back, we took a few weeks off to try to stretch the harvest through the fall. Today’s are yellow finn, which are our storage variety. They are similar to yukon gold, with golden flesh and a delicious flavor. Over the last couple of weeks we dug all the remaining potatoes out of the ground and got them into storage in the garage. We had more than I expected, so we should have plenty for the rest of the fall!

Full shares have the first beets of the year. Beets have always been inconsistent for us, so this year I cut back to just one rotation in the fall. True to form, some sections have produced massive roots while others have remained about 4″ tall. We hope to have them for half shares in the next week or two. Our beets don’t need peeling as the skins are very tender. You can eat them raw, roasted, boiled, or grilled. Beet greens are a real winner, too; they are extra nutritious with a fruity, earthy flavor. Cook them like kale or spinach, sauteed, steamed, or in soup. Store beets in a bag in the fridge, if you won’t use them right away remove the tops and store them separately.

Note that this is the final week for the Neskowin Farmers Market.  It’s been a great market season and we’ll be sad to leave, but it’s time.  We’ll continue to be open on Saturdays at the farm from 10 to 1 through Thanksgiving. The CSA continues through October, as does the farm stand at the hospital (Thursdays 11-2).

One Pan Spicy Meatballs With Lentils and Fennel

In this one-pan meal, you get spicy meatballs, savory lentils and sweet fennel that are all perked up with vinegar and parsley. For the speediest meatballs, use uncased bulk Italian sausage, which comes fully seasoned. From New York Times Cooking.

  • 1 fennel bulb, cored, cut into 1/2-inch wedges through the root, plus 1/4 cup fresh fennel fronds
  • 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  •  Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 ½ pounds bulk hot Italian sausage
  • 1 egg
  • 4 c chicken stock
  • 2 c brown lentils
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig
  • 1 Tbsp sherry vinegar, white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup fresh parsley leaves
  1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. In a 9-by-13-inch baking pan or baking dish, gently toss the fennel wedges with the olive oil to coat and season with salt and pepper. Roast until golden brown underneath, about 10 minutes. (Fennel will not be tender at this point.)
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, use your hands or a spoon to mix the sausage with the egg until combined. Roll the mixture into 12 (1 1/2-inch) meatballs.
  3. Add the chicken stock, lentils, garlic and rosemary to the roasted fennel. Stir to combine, then season with 3/4 teaspoon salt. Place the meatballs in the lentil mixture, drizzle the meatballs with olive oil, then roast until the meatballs are browned on top and lentils are tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
  4. Transfer the meatballs to a plate. Discard the rosemary sprig, then stir in the vinegar, parsley leaves and fennel fronds (reserve a few fronds for garnishing, if desired). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the lentils and any braising liquid onto shallow bowls and top with the meatballs. Garnish with additional parsley leaves and fennel fronds, if desired.

Orange, Beet, and Fennel Salad

This colorful, oil free salad comes from Vegetable Heaven by Mollie Katzen.  Fresh fennel combines very will with orange, and the beets add a little more body.  Serves 4 to 6.

Preheat the oven to 375.  Trim the leaves from:

            1 bunch beets

Place them in a baking dish and cover with foil.  Bake until they are soft enough to be pierced easily with a fork, about 1 hour.  Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, peel:

4 oranges

Section them into a medium size bowl. 

When the beets are cool enough to handle, cut them in half and then into half moon shaped slices.  Add them to the oranges, along with:

            ¼ c raspberry vinegar

            ½ tsp salt

            1 to 2 tsp minced garlic

            1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced

Stir gently until well combined, then cover tightly and refrigerate until serving time.  Garnish with a few chopped fennel tops.

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