In your share week 9:
Cucumber (Some sites only)
Tomato and/or Cherry Tomato
Full Shares Only:
This is an extra summery share, with, unusually, no greens. All of our fruits are finally producing in quantity, and we’ve been getting huge picks of tomatoes, zucchini, and beans several times a week. On that note, we are offering bulk basil and green beans that can be delivered with your CSA share or picked up at the market in the next couple of weeks. Basil is $15 per pound with a 1 pound minimum order. Green beans are $4 per pound for orders over 5 pounds ($4.50 lb if you want less). If you want to freeze pesto or beans or make pickled beans, send me an email with how much you want and when/where you want to pick it up. I’ll respond to confirm.
New today are onions and fennel. While all of you are familiar with onions, you may not have seen them sold like this before. Our onions have mostly failed to grow this year after a rough start in the cold wet spring. We are cutting our losses and cleaning out the ones that just aren’t going to make bulbs, so that’s mostly what’s in your share today. They may be small, but they are delicious and can be used in place of a bulb onion in any recipe. The greens are delicious too, and I chop them up right along with the bulbs. I’d say your bunch is equivalent to 2 medium onions if you are substituting. You can also grill or roast them whole, with or without the tops. Most folks have a standard yellow type onion, but some have little white cippolinis or red onions. All are delicious!
Normally we include lots of onions in your share throughout the summer, but this year’s crop has been mostly a failure. They are one of the first things to be sown and planted, as they are sensitive to day length and need as much time as possible to size up and cure properly. This year, though, nearly all of our early plantings were weak or failed to grow completely. Even though this spring’s challenging weather seems like a distant memory, farming is a long-term endeavor and we are still feeling the ramifications of all that rain and cold.
The other new item for everyone is fennel. 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.
Full shares have a gorgeous eggplant, one of my absolute favorite vegetables. These were a surprise, as our eggplant were limping along for most of the summer. We fertilized them a few weeks ago, and on a field walk last week I noticed that they had taken off and were covered in fruit! I love eggplant’s 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 always eat the skin. To prepare them, cut off the stem end and either slice them into slabs or 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.
Quinoa Salad with Apples, Pears, Fennel, and Walnuts
From The One Dish Vegetarian by Mia Robbins, this hearty salad can stand alone as a meal or be served as a side. I particularly like fennel raw, and it pairs very well with fruit as in this dish.
In a saucepan, bring 4 c water to a boil. Add 2 c quinoa, turn the heat to low, and simmer until the grains become translucent, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine:
2 apples, cored, diced, and sprinkled with lemon juice
2 ripe pears, cored, diced, and sprinkled with lemon juice
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and diced
½ c dried currants
2 shallots, finely minced
In a separate bowl, whisk together:
½ c fresh orange juice
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
Zest of 1 orange
Zest of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
Mix quinoa together with fruit mixture, then pour dressing over the top. Mix well to combine. Sprinkle with ½ toasted walnuts and serve.
Polenta “Pizza” With Cherry Tomatoes And Roasted Garlic
This was a favorite dish for group meals when I worked at Horton Road Organics. The polenta and/or toppings can be made ahead, and the whole thing is very filling. Here I suggest cherry tomatoes and roasted garlic, but any combination of toppings is excellent: sautéed kale, chanterelles, winter squash, pesto, broccoli, and anything else you can think of.
In a saucepan, bring 6 c water to a rolling boil. Add 1 ½ c dry polenta and ½ tsp salt. Whisk for a minute or two, until the polenta stays suspended when you stop whisking. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook for a full hour, stirring occasionally. Mix in:
2 Tbsp olive oil
½ c grated cheese, such as parmesan or cheddar
Spread the polenta mixture in a lightly oiled 9 x 13 baking dish and let cool to room temperature. Polenta will become firm.
Meanwhile, place 1 or 2 heads worth of garlic cloves, unpeeled, in a cast iron or baking sheet. Bake in the oven or toaster oven at 350 for 12 to 15 minutes, or until cloves are soft. Allow to cool, then peel.
Halve or quarter 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, then spread these and the garlic over the polenta. Sprinkle with ½ c grated mozzarella cheese. Bake the casserole in a 350 oven for about 20 minutes, then remove and serve.