CSA Week 6

In your share week 6:

Carrots
Salad Mix
Cucumber
Cilantro
Basil
Cherry Tomato
Green Beans

Full shares only:

Radish
Cabbage
Sugar Snap Peas
Zucchini

August is here, which means peak production for the next several weeks! Most of you will be happy to see that cherry tomatoes are here in abundance; we are finally getting enough for everyone to get a pint this week. We grow two kinds: Sungold (orange) and Supersweet 100 (Red). Both are sweet and tangy and super delicious. If you can avoid eating the whole pint in one sitting, they are great on pasta, in salads, or in just about anything. Store tomatoes at room temperature; they don’t do well in the fridge. Slicers are coming soon!

Carrots are back for everyone today. I know these are a favorite and most of you would like to get them every week, but they have been absolutely getting destroyed by weeds this year. The carrot beds are all infested with crabgrass, a new to us weed which has proven extremely difficult to manage. It is hard to kill, grows quickly, sets copious seeds, and has generally been an impossible situation this year. Carrots are slow to germinate and grow slowly, making them poor competitors for weeds on their own. We have spent dozens of hours weeding them, but within a few weeks of a clean bed they are a complete sea of crab grass again. We’re doing our best, but this just isn’t going to be an abundant carrot year. This is part of the CSA: as a member, you share the bounty and share the risk!

Another oddly unproductive crop this year is the zucchini. The plants are large and healthy but not producing much fruit. While zucchini has a reputation for being overly abundant, we have found that it is hit or miss in our cool climate. I think that this year’s extended spring rains and cool weather affected the fruiting patterns, and I’ve been waiting for it to pull through but it just isn’t stepping up. We did get enough for full shares today, and hopefully with some continued warm weather we’ll see larger harvests coming in soon. We grow green, yellow, and striped zucchini; all 3 taste the same and can be used interchangeably.

Fortunately, we have lots of other great things to share with you. The cucumbers continue to pump out the fruit, and those tomatoes are really looking strong. The salad mix is looking great; I’m especially loving the new light green oak leaf lettuce in there, a new to us variety called Panisse. The basil is abundant and we’re getting larger and larger picks on the green beans. The peas are starting to decline, but hopefully we’ll get a couple more picks for your shares.

We included both cilantro and basil today, because they both looked too good not to! I know this can be a lot of herbs for some people, especially if you usually use them sparingly. I love to use herbs like any other vegetable, I typically throw a half or whole bunch into anything I’m making. Cilantro or basil both make great pesto, or I like to make green salad dressings. I add fresh herbs to my eggs in the morning, or make tabouleh-like salads with quinoa or couscous. Herbs are incredibly nutritious and have lots of health benefits. Basil is anti-inflammatory, cilantro has the ability to chelate heavy metals from your body. All the herbs are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. I have heard them called “wild plants in disguise” because of their nutritional qualities. If you haven’t yet embraced them in your kitchen, try one of the recipes below!


Savory Herb Salad Dressing

I always have some variation of this in my fridge.  This one is inspired by the flavors of chimichurri.  I make my salad dressing in a quart mason jar with an immersion blender, but you could also do it with a whisk or in a food processor.  If mixing by hand, chop the herbs finely!  I like this dressing on a salad with sharp cheese, pecans, and fresh or thawed blueberries.

Put in a wide mouth quart sized mason jar:

1/4 c olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
3 cloves garlic, peeled
Juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 bunch parsley, roughly chopped
1/4 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
1 green chili, seeded, or 1/2 tsp powdered green chili (optional)

Blend with the immersion blender until smooth and emulsified.  Stores for a couple of weeks in the fridge.

Variations:
Pesto dressing: Replace the parsley and cilantro with 1/2 bunch of basil and replace the green chili with 2 Tbsp grated parmesan
Sage Caesar: Omit the chili, replace the parsley and cilantro with sage.  Add 2 Tbsp grated parmesan and a few anchovies.
Cilantro dressing: Replace the parsley with cilantro and replace half the lemon juice with lime.


Quinoa and Carrot Tabbouleh Salad

From Food52, August 2013.  Given this week’s share, I’d leave out the bell pepper and jalapeno and add some chopped cucumber.

1 1/2 cups red or white quinoa (I used half and half)

Salt

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

3 green onions, white and green parts thinly sliced

1 large carrot, peeled, finely grated

1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely diced

1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

  1. Place quinoa, 2 1/2 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until water is absorbed and the grains release their germ, about 20 minutes. Transfer quinoa to a large bowl. Add the olive oil and stir to coat. Cool to room temperature.
  2. Stir all of the remaining ingredients except the fresh herbs into the quinoa. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if desired. (The tabbouleh may be prepared in advance to this point. Cover and refrigerate for up to 6 hours). Before serving, fold in the fresh herbs. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

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