Wednesday, May 22, 2019

May 23, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Hon Tsai Tai!


Cooking With This Week's Box



Chives: Hon Tsai Tai & Shiitake Potstickers with Sesame Honey Dipping Sauce (see below); Roasted Radish and Herbed Ricotta Omelet; Sunchoke Chive Soup




Green Garlic: Hon Tsai Tai & Shiitake Potstickers with Sesame Honey Dipping Sauce (see below);  Spring Salad with Green Garlic Dressing

Hon Tsai Tai:  Hon Tsai Tai & Shiitake Potstickers with Sesame Honey Dipping Sauce (see below);  No Bacon Pasta Carbonara Loaded with Greens

Don’t be intimidated by the length of the featured recipe in this week’s newsletter.  The recipe is for Hon Tsai Tai & Shiitake Potstickers with Sesame Honey Dipping Sauce (see below).  This week’s recipe will take a little time to assemble, but potstickers are both fun to make AND eat!  If you recruit a friend or two or make it a family event you’ll have them made in no time.  So what’s the story on potstickers? 

Hon Tsai Tai & Shiitake Potstickers 
Potstickers are a type of Chinese dumpling.  The story, as told by Andrea Nyugen on her blog, is that potstickers date back to somewhere between 960-1280 AD.  A Chinese chef was steaming dumplings in a wok, got distracted and let the pan go dry.  The dumplings stuck to the bottom of the wok—uh oh, what to do?  Well, they must not have been burned and he must’ve been in a pinch because he served them to the guests who actually really liked them!  Thus, these little dumplings became known as potstickers because they stick to the bottom of the pan.  So a potsticker is different from other Asian dumplings in that they are first fried in a thin layer of oil to get a crispy bottom, then they are steamed to cook the rest of the dumpling, then fried again at the very end to ensure a crispy bottom and a soft top with the filling thoroughly cooked.  They are often made with ground pork or other ground meat, but I wrote this recipe with a vegetable only filling.  If you like, you can add ground meat to the vegetable mixture.  Potstickers are best served warm right out of the pan.  They can also be frozen, so if you aren’t going to eat all the potstickers this recipe makes, freeze some of the dumplings on a parchment lined cookie sheet before they are cooked.  Once they are frozen you can take them off the cookie sheet and put them in a bag in the freezer.  I haven’t tried this myself, but from what I’ve read you want to pull them right out of the freezer and put them directly into a hot pan to start cooking them.  If you thaw them first the wrapper will get soggy and might tear.

If you’ve never shaped potstickers before, here are a few videos that will be helpful and show you how to do this.  Try this one OR this one.  I hope you’ll consider making these and even more, I hope you have some fun doing it! 

Shaved Asparagus and Whipped Ricotta Pizza
Photo from HowSweetEats.com
Ok, moving on to the other things in the box.  I always love a good pizza and thought this recipe for Shaved Asparagus and Whipped Ricotta Pizza looked pretty delicious.  Serve this with a baby arugula or spinach salad dressed with this simple Balsamic Vinaigrette.  The acidity of the vinaigrette will be a nice balance to the rich cheese and prosciutto on the pizza. 

It’s a radish kind of week!  If you are a radish lover this is the week for you.  If you are still learning to appreciate radishes, perhaps you might like them better roasted?  Roasting helps to mellow the radishy-ness of radishes and even brings out a hint of sweetness. Try this recipe for Roasted Radishes with Brown Butter & Lemon.  This is a pretty simple preparation.  If you prefer something a bit more rich try this recipe for Pan Roasted Radishes in Bacon Cream Sauce.  This is the recipe Richard prefers.  You could serve this as a side dish or turn it into a main entrĂ©e by tossing the radishes with cooked pasta.  I also found this recipe for Roasted Radish and Herbed Ricotta Omelet.  This recipe calls for fresh herbs in the ricotta cheese, so I’d recommend using a generous addition of the chives in this week’s box.  Chives and radishes are a great combo.

Don’t forget the radish tops!  They make up more than half of the vegetable and so often they just get thrown away!  One thing you could use them in is this recipe for No Bacon Pasta Carbonara Loaded with Greens.   This is a great recipe to make use of any greens that might be hanging out without a purpose in your refrigerator.  Radish or turnip tops, spinach, saute mix, hon tsai tai, nettles….what do you have? 

Chili & Lime Sunchoke Salsa on top of seared salmon
If you’re looking for a light lunch option, that’s also pretty quick to make, consider using the salad mix to make a Spring Salad with Green Garlic Dressing.  This recipe calls for baby spinach, but salad mix will work too.  The greens are dressed with a simple green garlic dressing and the salad is topped off with cooked bulger, sunflower seeds and hard-boiled eggs.  You could also serve this salad alongside Sunchoke Chive Soup.  The two will make a great spring dinner on a cool evening.  You could also use the sunchokes to make Chili & Lime Sunchoke Salsa.  I like to eat this on top of seared salmon or as a topper for tacos.  I also like to just add a spoonful to a bowl or rice or a simple green salad. 

That brings us to the end of another week’s box.  We’re hoping our little romaine head lettuces are ready for next week.  I have a few lettuce wrap recipes I’m looking forward to trying.  We are also planning to send baby white turnips, another spring favorite.  And for one more little beacon of hope to leave you with….we’ll likely be picking strawberries in just 3-4 short weeks!  Enjoy this week’s box!

Vegetable Feature: Hon Tsai Tai

Hon tsai tai (pronounced hon-sigh-tie) holds an important place in our spring vegetable line-up.  It matures more quickly than other spring-planted greens and is very tasty when grown in cool spring weather.  It is in a group of plants referred to as “flowering brassicas.”  While it is related to such vegetables as mustard greens and bok choi, what sets it apart is that it has beautiful purple stems that produce a sweet, delicate, edible yellow flower.  While other vegetables in the brassica family also produce flowers, they do so towards the end of their life cycle and at that point there are often undesirable flavor changes in the edible portion of the plant.  Hon tsai tai is unique in that it produces the flower early in its life when all the parts of the plant still taste good.

Hon tsai tai has a mild mustard flavor that is very well-balanced this time of the year.  The entire plant is edible and may be eaten raw or cooked.  The thin purple stems are more tender when the plant is young.  While still flavorful, they may become more coarse as the plant matures, so should be cut very finely at this stage.  Hon tsai tai is delicious in stir-fries or lightly steamed, but also makes a stunning and flavorful addition to raw salads.  A common preparation in Chinese cuisine is to quickly stir-fry hon tsai tai with garlic, onions, and ginger, then add oyster sauce.  This would also be a tasty green to use in spring rolls, pot stickers or fried rice.  This vegetable is also a good addition to broth-based soups such as miso soup or could be a nice addition to a ramen bowl.  
If you do a search for recipes using hon tsai tai, you likely won’t find much.  Your best bet is to check out our recipe archive on our website for past recipes we’ve featured in previous newsletters.  You can also use hon tsai tai interchangeably in recipes calling for bok choi or mustard greens. Store hon tsai tai loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator until ready for use.  

Hon Tsai Tai & Shiitake Potstickers with Sesame Honey Dipping Sauce

Yield:  30-40 potstickers

2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
½ cup minced green garlic
8 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced thinly and chopped
3 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce or tamari
1 tsp ground coriander
1 bunch hon tsai tai, leaves and stems finely chopped
¼ cup minced fresh chives
2 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
Salt and black pepper, to taste
36-40 dumpling wrappers (see note below)
Dipping Sauce:
¼ cup finely minced chives
⅓ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp Korean chili paste or chili sauce
2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce or tamari
1 Tbsp honey 

  1. Heat 2 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  When the oil shimmers, add the ginger and green garlic.  Saute for 1 minute.  Add the mushrooms and continue to saute until they are softened.  
  2. Add soy sauce and coriander.  Stir to combine.  Add hon tsai tai and season with a small amount of salt and black pepper.  Cover the pan and steam for about 1 minute or until the greens have wilted down.  Reduce the heat to medium.  Stir in the chives and sesame seeds.  Cook until nearly all the liquid has evaporated.
  3. Remove from heat and taste a bit of the mixture.  Season to your liking with additional salt, pepper or soy sauce.  Set aside to cool while you make the dipping sauce.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients except for the chives.  At the very end, stir in the chives.  Set aside at room temperature until ready to serve.
  5. Now it’s time to assemble the potstickers.  If you are using eggroll wrappers, make sure your potsticker wrappers are cut and ready to use.  Lay the wrappers out on a work surface, 3-4 at a time.  Leave the remaining wrappers covered with a towel or plastic wrap to keep them from drying out.  Put about 1 tablespoon of filling on each wrapper.  Brush water around the edge of each wrapper with your finger.  Fold the wrapper in half to create a half moon shape.  Using your fingers, pinch the edges to seal them.  The water will act like the glue to hold the two sides together.  You want to have enough filling in the wrapper so the dumpling is full, but not too much or it will pop open.  Once the edges are sealed, you can pleat the top by folding the edges over on themselves (there are videos online that demonstrate how to do this) and pinching the pleats to secure them.   Place the formed dumplings on a platter and continue to form the remainder of the dumplings.
  6. Once the dumplings are formed, heat a large skillet (or two if you want to cook them all at the same time) over medium-high heat.  Add about 1 tablespoon of oil, or enough to just lightly coat the bottom of the pan.  When the oil shimmers, add the potstickers to the pan.  You want to leave a little space in between each, don’t overcrowd the pan.  Once they are in the pan, let them cook for about 3 minutes or until the bottoms are light golden brown. 
  7. Next, you need to steam the dumplings to finish cooking them.  To do this you will need to add ¼ cup water to the pan, but do so carefully and immediately cover the pan with a lid.  Continue to cook, covered for about 3 minutes to steam the dumplings.
  8. Remove the lid and reduce the heat just a bit.  Continue to cook until all the liquid has evaporated.  This will help crisp up the bottoms of the potstickers.  Be careful not to get them too crispy though! Serve hot with the dipping sauce.

Recipe adapted by Chef Andrea from an original recipe featured at www.halfbakedharvest.com

Note about dumpling wrappers:  Dumpling wrappers are thin sheets of dough typically round and about 3 inches in diameter.  You can make them (there are lots of recipes on the internet) or buy them premade.  They are typically found in the refrigerated section near tofu, tempeh, kim chi and sometimes tortillas.  If you are not able to find round dumpling wrappers, you can use egg roll wrappers which are made from a similar dough.  Egg roll wrappers are rectangular, so you need to cut them into rounds using a biscuit or cookie cutter, a round glass, etc.  I used egg roll wrappers when I made these and was able to use a 2½ to 3 inch cutter to get two round pieces from each egg roll sheet.  

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food….Meet Farmer Richard de Wilde

By Gwen Anderson

I’ve worked with Richard for over a year, and seen him nearly every day.  I’ve always found it fascinating to talk with him; his enthusiasm and passion are contagious, he is a wealth of knowledge, and has a patience in teaching that I admire.  When Andrea asked me to write this article, I was more than happy to do so.  It was a chance to hear more interesting stories about the man straight from the source.  Many of our long time members may know Richard already, but there may be many of you who don’t know him so well.  After all, I see him all the time and I still found out a lot during our “interview” that I can share with you! 

Richard's Senior Photo
Richard grew up making hay and milking cows on a farm on the plains of South Dakota.  His father had a herd of 100 Black Angus beef, and for a few years they had some pigs and sheep as well.  Before his feet could reach the pedals on the one ton Chevy truck they used to haul oats, Richard was helping his father farm.  He would also help his grandparents’ garden, and loved to spend time in the kitchen with his mother making banana bread.

When he went off to college at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Richard thought “I want to work with my head, not my hands.”  He had an advisor who suggested he go into hard rock mining due to his love of nature.  The advisor told Richard he could have a “good, professional, high paying job and still be out in nature.”  After graduation, he got a job at Fort Snelling with the Corps of Mining Engineers, but not even a year had gone by before his thoughts began to wander. He would sit at his desk, his mind drawn to memories of beautiful fields of blue flax blossoms swaying in the wind.  It didn’t take long for the thought “I want to farm” to form in Richard’s mind, so he left the mining engineers, rented half an acre of land south of the Twin Cities and got back to doing what he loved.

Blue Gentian Farm, where Richard farmed with in the early years.
Once the farm was rented, Richard took the time to get to know his neighbors, one of which was a school for special needs children.  Richard has a soft spot for well-behaved children, so when he wasn’t farming, he would volunteer at the school. As he got to know the children better, he realized he had found a second calling.  Richard began studying and earned a master’s degree in Special Education with a focus on autism from Mankato State.  Upon graduation, he worked in special education in the St Paul public school system.  Later, he found meaningful work in being a foster parent for teenage boys who needed extra care and attention by running a specially licensed therapeutic foster home on the farm.

Being an organic farmer was never a question for Richard.  His Grandpa Nick was a dedicated organic farmer and had helped shape Richard’s opinions on the matter.  When agro chemicals came out after World War II, Grandpa Nick refused to use them, and suffered being called old fashioned and unwilling to change with the times because of it.  Richard always had a love for nature and all things wild, and Grandpa Nick’s success without using chemicals as well as Rachel Carlson’s book A Silent Spring cemented Richard’s desire to not use them himself.  “When I read about agro chemicals, I decided I didn’t want anything to do with them.”

Richard cultivating broccoli with his horses,
King and Prince.
Richard was one of the pioneers of organic farming.  He was a trail blazer for integrating cover crops, making compost, and attracting beneficial insects, birds and bats well before there were any large scale conversations happening about such things.  There was no such thing as organic certification when he started his farm, he just wanted to do what was right for the soil and nature.  So he experimented, learned what worked and what didn’t, and taught what he had learned to other farmers.  Richard sold his vegetables to the new co-ops in the Twin Cities where people went to buy healthy, organic vegetables.

In his early days, Richard had a chance to meet the Dakota County extension agent who told him “You can have an organic garden, but if you are talking about making a living farming, you can’t do it organically.”  The conversation spurred Richard to prove him wrong; he was going to do the right thing and he was going to make a living doing it.  (Fast-forward 20 years, that same County extension agent had changed his tune and met up with Richard again at a MOSES conference to say “You’ve been right all along: it turns out you can make a living farming organically!”)

By the mid-1980’s, suburbia was encroaching on Richard’s farm south of the Twin Cities to the point where it was time to move on.  When he left the fields he’d been farming for 12 years, he knew where he wanted to go: the Driftless Region.  Richard had been there several times before, and he loved the rolling hills and valleys, the waterways, and overall natural beauty the area had to offer.  The soil was rich and healthy, and the hills made a beautiful backdrop for the fields he worked.  After all, seeing a well-cared for field thriving in a natural surround is one of Richard’s favorite things about being a farmer.

Adrian (left) and Ari (right), The Melon Boys
Richard spent the first few years at Harmony Valley Farm building up soil health, structures, and business relationships.  He was still selling his produce in the Twin Cities and found a new market in Madison at the Dane County Farmers’ Market.  In 1989, Richard’s son, Ari, was born and soon became part of the daily farming operation.  Ari and his step-brother, Adrian, grew melons and sold them at the Farmers’ Market, becoming known as the “Melon Boys.”  As business grew, Richard began expanding the farm by leasing more nearby land and converting it to organic status.

When Richard and then partner Linda Halley added Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to their farming model in 1993, they did so out of a desire to have a direct connection with more people than they could reach at the Farmers’ Market.  CSA birthed on farm events like Strawberry Day, which allowed Richard to meet the families he was growing food for face to face.  Being able to watch the children from those first CSA families grow into smart, healthy adults makes farming worthwhile for him.  Many of those children are now graduating from college, starting their own families and joining CSA’s of their own!

Nowadays, Richard sees himself as a support for the great crew he has to help with the farm.  He gives information and direction when needed to a crew who want to do the best job they can.  Harmony Valley Farm is a mature farm, with all the systems and infrastructure in place, no longer looking to expand.  With growth a thing of the past, Richard is now focused on making the farm better.  “I believe if you aren’t making improvements, you are going downhill,” Richard said.  “We aren’t looking for more, but better; always better.”  He is also selecting and training the next generation of Harmony Valley Farm farmers

Richard helping the crew harvest winter squash
“There is a great deal of joy in seeing things work, when things go smoothly,” Richard said about his farm and crew.  He gets great satisfaction out of a job well done.  “How many people, for their life’s work, get to have a job where you are outside in nature, watching things grow, you grow a lot of healthy food for a huge amount of appreciative people, and everything works?  Yes—I’ve worked too hard for most of my life, but I feel fortunate to be where we are today.”

So who is Richard de Wilde?  He is a man of perseverance and innovation.  He is a visionary who is not afraid to take on challenges to bring his dreams to fruition.  In his own words, he is a hippie rebel with an “I’ll show you” attitude.  In my opinion, he’s a darn good boss and a great storyteller.  I encourage you not to take my word for it though; come to the farm and talk to him yourself.  You’ll be richer for the experience.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

May 16, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Rhubarb and Sorrel!


Cooking With This Week's Box


Spinach: Greek-Inspired Sorrel-Spinach Soup (see below); Sausage, Egg and Cheese Casserole with Spinach

Overwintered Parsnips: Parsnip Hash Browns

Chives: Greek-Inspired Sorrel-Spinach Soup (see below); Nettle & Wild Onion Rice Balls



Rhubarb: Rhubarb-Almond Baked Oatmeal (see below)

Sorrel: Frosty Sorrel-Banana Smoothies; Greek-Inspired Sorrel-Spinach Soup (see below)



For those of you who are joining us for your first week of deliveries…welcome to the weekly 2019 Cooking With the Box!  The box is already packed with some fun and delicious ingredients and we’re only in the second week of the season!  Meet me here each week and I’ll walk you through the contents of each box, offering recipe and serving suggestions for every item!  Along the way I hope you’ll find some recipes that fit your style or perhaps a bit of inspiration to make something else.  Either way, don’t forget to have fun, enjoy eating well and NEVER BE INTIMIDATED BY A VEGETABLE!

Frosty Sorrel-Banana Smoothie
I always like to start with our featured vegetables, which means we’re going to kick off this week’s cooking with Rhubarb and Sorrel. As much as possible, I try to incorporate vegetables into breakfast.  One of this week’s featured recipes is for Rhubarb-Almond Baked Oatmeal (see below), which is a delicious start to any day.  You can prep this recipe the night before and bake it off in the morning which will fill your house with sweet, spicy aromas that are sure to get everyone up and going for the day!  We like to eat this with a drizzle of maple cream and a few slices of salty bacon.  You can also incorporate sorrel into your morning with this Frosty Sorrel-Banana Smoothie.  This is a recipe I developed several years ago and I just can’t get enough of these when sorrel is available in the spring. 

If you don’t use your sorrel for a smoothie, you could use it to make the other featured recipe this week for Greek-Inspired Sorrel-Spinach Soup (see below).  This is based on the traditional Greek soup called Avgolemono which is a simple chicken soup flavored with lemon and thickened with eggs which enrich the soup and make it velvety smooth.  You can make this recipe in 15-20 minutes at most and it’s a great way to incorporate greens into your day.  You can just make the basic soup or you can add orzo or rice as well as shredded chicken if you like.  Serve this with a slice of rustic bread or a green salad and dinner is done.  In fact, you could make some Ramp Butter to slather on that bread or you could make these Buttermilk Ramp Biscuits.  If you have any biscuits remaining, heat them up in the morning to make some breakfast sandwiches including scrambled eggs with chopped chives. 

Radish Top Aioli, photo from food52.com
If you’re making the ramp butter, don’t be afraid to double the recipe and use the entire bunch of ramps.  It freezes really well and is nice to tuck away for a nice winter treat.  It is also really delicious spread on the pretty little French Breakfast radishes!  I typically eat the first radishes of the season with nothing more than salt and butter, ramp butter is just a bonus.  Don’t forget about the radish tops—they’re part of the vegetable and may be eaten as well!  I like to spread butter on the leaves and then wrap them around the radish for a quick little snack.  You could also try this recipe for Radish Top Aioli.  Spread the aioli on bread and add the sliced radishes for a quick open-faced sandwich or, as the French call it, a tartine.

Nettle & Wild Onion Rice Balls
Photo from GatherVictoria.com
I’m really excited to try this recipe for Nettle & Wild Onion Rice Balls.  The “wild onion” called for in this recipe may be ramp leaves or chives.  You do have to plan ahead to get all the components ready including blanching the nettles and preparing the rice.  For this recipe you’ll need to use a short grain rice or sushi rice which is stickier than long grain rice.  These can be served at room temperature with a little soy sauce.  I’m going to serve them with a fresh salad made from this week’s saute mix tossed with this Toasted Sesame Asian Salad Dressing.

What are we going to do with the pound of asparagus in this week’s box?  I typically don’t get past simply steaming or roasting asparagus, but I also really like asparagus with mushrooms.  Thus, this recipe for Chicken, Asparagus and Wild Mushroom Stir-Fry caught my eye.  This has more of a French feel to me than an Asian feel which I associate more with the term “stir-fry,” but who can go wrong with mushrooms, asparagus, cream and white wine or dry vermouth to make a light cream sauce!?  Serve this over cooked egg noodles with a bit of chopped chives as a garnish.

Sausage, Egg and Cheese Casserole with Spinach
Photo from AlexandraCooks.com
Most weeks need to include some sort of quantity egg dish, at least in my world.  This week I’m going to try this simple recipe for Sausage, Egg and Cheese Casserole with Spinach.  You can use whatever greens you have remaining which could be spinach, saute mix, nettles or even your radish tops! Serve this breakfast casserole with Parsnip Hash Browns and you’ll have yourself one delicious meal.

We’ve reached the bottom of this week’s box.  Next week we have our eye on a unique spring green, Hon Tsai Tai.  Don’t worry, I’ll coach you on how to pronounce it next week!  It looks like our first crop of salad mix may be ready next week as well and we have some pretty little mini romaine lettuces that may make it within the next two weeks.  Have a great week of cooking and I’ll see you back here next week!

Featuring Sorrel & Rhubarb...the Unsuspected Vegetable Cousins from the Buckwheat Family

This week we have another double vegetable feature, which is very fitting since the two vegetables are in the same botanical family!  We’re talking about RHUBARB & SORREL.  Rhubarb?  I thought rhubarb was a fruit, not a vegetable.  Lets talk, starting with rhubarb first.

Yes, RHUBARB is a vegetable, although it is most often used like a fruit.  Rhubarb is a perennial crop and it takes several years to build up the energy reserves in the rhizome.  Thus, we don’t harvest rhubarb until, at the very earliest, the third year.  We remove the leaves in the field because they should not be consumed or eaten.

Rhubarb is thought to have originated in Asia, specifically the areas of western China, Tibet, Mongolia and Siberia.  Thus, it’s easy to understand it is well adapted to cold climates.  Before it became a food crop, it was actually used for medicinal purposes.  It was the early 1900’s before it really gained much momentum as a food crop, at least in Europe and the United States.  

Grandma Yoder's Rhubarb Custard Pie
Rhubarb has a distinct, unique flavor that is quite good.   It may be eaten raw or cooked, however it’s pretty tart and it is most often cooked first.  Over the years it became known in some areas as “The Pie Plant” because it is most often used in pies.  While the sweetness of baked goods helps to counter balance the tartness of rhubarb, this vegetable can also be used in savory preparations.  Instead of masking the characteristic tartness of rhubarb with sugar, why not use those innate qualities to your advantage?!  It can be used to create a flavorful braising liquid or sauce to serve with pork, duck, chicken thighs or other fatty meats.  The flavor of rhubarb can stand up to bolder spices such as curry powder, cardamom, peppercorns, cinnamon and ginger, thus rhubarb chutney can make a nice accompaniment to Indian curry dishes or serve it with grilled or roasted meats.  Rhubarb compote or chutney is also delicious served simply as a snack with cream cheese and crackers!  Rhubarb can also be used as a stir-fry vegetable, added towards the end of cooking so it just starts to soften, but still holds its shape.

Whether sweet or savory, there are so many things you can do with rhubarb.  If you can’t decide what to make now and need some time to think it over, you can easily preserve rhubarb by freezing it.  Just wash the stalks, cut them into bite-sized pieces and put them in a freezer bag to pop in the freezer.  Perhaps you’ll come up with just the right use for it sometime during the winter!

Ok, moving on to SORREL.  Sorrel is a leafy green that is bright lime colored with pinkish stems.  Just like rhubarb, it is characterized by its tartness.  It has a bright citrusy flavor and may be eaten both raw and cooked.  In its raw form, it makes a nice addition to salads or some of our other spring favorites including Sorrel Hummus, Sorrel-Lime Cooler and Frosty Sorrel-Banana Smoothies! Thinly sliced sorrel is also a nice addition to spring tacos or use it as a garnish for lentils or beans in lieu of a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.

Sorrel is also commonly used in soups and sauces.  It is an interesting green that literally melts when you put it in hot liquid.  It gives soup a velvety texture and creates smooth sauces. You’ll also notice the color will quickly go from bright green to olive green when you cook it.  Don’t worry, you didn’t do anything wrong, that’s just what it does.  Sorrel pairs well with cream, eggs, chicken, fish, mushrooms, asparagus, spinach and other spring greens.  It is also a nice balance to more neutral foods such as dried beans and potatoes.

There you have it, two unique spring vegetables with a long list of possibilities of delicious outcomes!

Greek-Inspired Sorrel-Spinach Soup

Yield:  4 servings

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 bu sorrel, roughly chopped (approx. 4 cups)
3 oz baby spinach (approx. 4 cups)
½ cup finely chopped chives (for garnish) AND 1 cup roughly chopped chives
1 tsp salt, plus to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 eggs
3 Tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup uncooked orzo or ¾ cup cooked rice (optional)
½- ¾ cup shredded cooked chicken (optional)

  1. Place chicken or vegetable broth, sorrel, spinach and the 1 cup of roughly chopped chives in a blender along with 1 tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper.  If your blender pitcher is too small to contain all the greens, just add part of the greens at first, run the blender for a few seconds and then add the remainder.  Blend until all the broth is smooth and all the greens are well blended.
  2. Pour the mixture into a large saucepan and bring it to a gentle simmer over medium to medium-low heat.  If there is a froth on the top of the soup, use a large spoon to skim some of it off.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until they’re well blended and a pale yellow.  Whisk in the lemon juice, one tablespoon at a time.
  4. Once the greens broth is warm, add the orzo or rice.  Simmer just until the orzo is al dente or the rice is heated through.  Reduce the heat to low.  
  5. Next you will need to carefully temper the eggs.  To do this, ladle about ½ cup of the warm broth into the egg mixture and whisk to combine.  Continue to do this 4 or 5 more times.  The purpose of doing this is to slowly warm up the egg mixture without curdling the eggs.  Be patient and don’t skip this step.
  6. Once you’ve tempered the eggs, add the egg mixture into the warm broth and whisk well to combine.  Gently simmer the soup for another 1 to 2 minutes, whisking periodically.  The soup should thicken slightly and lightly coat the back of a spoon.  Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking by adding more salt, pepper or lemon juice if needed.
  7. Serve hot and garnish with the finely chopped chives.
This soup is based on the classic Greek soup called Avgolmemono.  It is a simple chicken soup that is thickened with eggs and flavored with lemon juice.  It yields a silky, slightly thickened broth and often has orzo pasta or rice added to it.  This soup only takes 15-20 minutes to make from start to finish and while it’s very simple, it’s also rich enough to be filling. If you have leftovers, take care to reheat them gently over medium-low heat so you don’t curdle the egg.

Recipe by Chef Andrea Yoder

Rhubarb-Almond Baked Oatmeal



Yield:  6 servings


⅔ cup chopped almonds, toasted
2 cups old-fashioned oats
2 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp baking powder

¾ tsp sea salt
1 ¾ cup whole milk or nut milk
½ cup maple syrup
2 large eggs
1 ½ tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups rhubarb, small dice

Maple Cream (optional):
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 ½ Tbsp maple syrup
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Butter a 9-inch baking dish or individual ramekins.  You may also use a 9 ½ x 11-inch baking dish, the pieces will just be thinner.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the oats, almonds, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking powder and salt.  Stir well to combine.
  3. In a smaller mixing bowl, combine the milk, maple syrup, eggs, butter and vanilla.  Whisk until well blended.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and mix well.  Fold in the rhubarb.  
  5. Pour the batter into the baking dish or ramekins.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is nice and golden.
      
  6. While the oatmeal is baking, combine sour cream or yogurt with maple syrup and set aside.
  7. When the oatmeal is finished baking, remove from oven and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
  8. Serve warm topped with maple cream if you like.  You could also serve it with a drizzle of melted butter or a drizzle of heavy cream or milk if you prefer.
NOTES FROM CHEF ANDREA:  You can assemble this recipe a day ahead and hold it in the refrigerator overnight.  In the morning, remove the baking dish from the refrigerator and let it warm up a bit while you preheat the oven.  If you have any leftovers, they reheat very well in a toaster oven or oven.  I have not tried reheating it in a microwave.

Recipe adapted by Chef Andrea from a recipe for Honey & Nut Baked Oatmeal originally published at dishingupthedirt.com.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

May 9, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Stinging Nettles and Wild Ramps!


Cooking With This Week's Box

Wild Ramps: Ramp Pesto (See Below); Quiche with Ramps, Mushrooms & BrieNettle & Mushroom Pizza with Ramp Cream









Nettles: Nettle Chips (See Below);  Easy & Tasty Nettle Tea; Nettle & Mushroom Pizza with Ramp Cream


Quiche with Ramps, Mushrooms & Brie
(photo from thegourmetgourmand.com)
It’s time to get into the rhythm of “cooking out of the box!”  After a long winter, it feels good to have fresh greens and new vegetables coming in from the field.  Lets dive in with this week’s box contents.  With Mother’s Day coming up this weekend, I think we should treat our Moms (or yourself if you are the Mom) to a special Mother’s Day Brunch.  This Quiche with Ramps, Mushrooms & Brie served with Alice Water’s Warm Spinach Salad will make a lovely meal.  For a little added bonus, make a batch of these Parsnip, Lemon & Poppy Seed Muffins with Lemon Drizzle.

Nettle & Mushroom Pizza with Ramp Cream
We have two bunches of ramps this week, so even after making the quiche, there should still be enough to make a batch of Ramp Pesto (see below).  This is great to have in the refrigerator to make a quick pasta dinner.  Just boil some fettuccine and toss it with a few spoonfuls of ramp pesto.  Done!  Of course we could also use that second bunch to make this absolutely delicious Nettle & Mushroom Pizza with Ramp Cream!  This is one of my favorite spring recipes that was actually prompted by several members.  If you don’t use your nettles to make this pizza, you could always try this week’s featured vegetable for Nettle Chips (See Below).  This is a great way to eat your greens and these make a great afternoon or weekend snack when you just need something crispy and salty, but very simple.  If you’re really short on time this week, the easiest thing of all to make with nettles is Easy & Tasty Nettle Tea.  In the midst of a busy week this might be a good way to support your body and keep you well.

Green Garlic Soup
(photo from loveandoliveoil.com)
The nights are still a little chilly which makes me want to eat soup, such as this Green Garlic Soup.  This recipe makes 8-10 servings and calls for more green garlic than is in this week’s box.  I’d recommend cutting the recipe in half and using the entire bunch of green garlic supplemented with some chives.  If you aren’t into soup this week, use the green garlic to make this Green Garlic Toast.  This toast will go great with scrambled eggs (perhaps with some ramp pesto mixed in) for a light dinner or a hearty breakfast. 

If you have some chives remaining, use them to make Almond-Chive Salmon for dinner served with Creamed Spinach & Parsnips.  If you have any salmon left, mix it with mayonnaise to make a little salmon salad to take for lunch the next day.

This recipe for Carrot Tart with Ricotta & Herbs is a little bit more complicated, but it’s a lovely dish and would make a nice brunch item or eat it as a light dinner.  Of course, those sweet carrots might also be great used to make these Carrot Cake Pancakes.  This is a sure way to get children of all ages to eat their vegetables! 

We have a great week of meals ahead of us with all these options.  As we look ahead to next week, we are crossing our fingers that we’ll be able to deliver ramps again as well as more chives, nettles and green garlic.  We should also have some asparagus and red radishes to add to the box!  So, if you find more recipes you want to try, save them until next week!  Have a great week of cooking and I’ll see you back here next week!

This Week's Featured Vegetables:  Stinging Nettles & Wild Ramps--The Wild Things!



Spring has a beautiful way of nourishing us and giving us just what we need, even when we don’t know we need it!  The first of our double-vegetable feature this week is Stinging Nettles.  We wild harvest them on our farm, but also plant them in the field.  They need to be handled carefully, especially before they are washed and cooked.  They have little fibers on the stems that contain several different compounds including formic acid, which will give you a “stinging” sensation if you touch them with your bare skin.  “Why are you giving me a vegetable that will sting me?!  Are you trying to kill me?!”  No, quite the contrary!



Nettles are very nutrient dense and we consider them to be a “Wisconsin Super Food.”  They help our bodies wake up after a long, cold wet winter and help us purify our blood and cleanse our bodies.  They have anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine properties.  They are high in protein as well as carotenoids, chlorophyll, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium, selenium and vitamins B, C, D and K.  Wow—that’s a lot of nutritional goodness in one plant!  Nettles give us that jump start we need in the spring and, they also taste great!  Cooking destroys the stingers so you can then safely handle them with bare hands.  We recommend cooking them before eating.  They have a rich flavor similar to spinach, but even better!  So no, we are not trying to harm you.  Rather, our intention is to give you something delicious and nourishing.

Use the bag as a "glove" when handling nettles.
Here are some recommendations for handling them.  First, many of these stingers are removed with vigorous washing, which we’ve already done for you.  Even though we’ve washed them, I would still recommend you handle them carefully and avoid touching with bare hands prior to cooking.  Some people are more sensitive to their sting than others, which is why we’ve also put them in a plastic bag to make it easier to get them home without touching them.  You can use the bag as your “glove” to hold the bottom of the bunch while you carefully remove the twist tie.  We do recommend you wash them in a sink of water after you’ve removed the twist tie.  While you are washing them, bring a big pot of water to a boil.  Transfer the nettles from the sink to the boiling water using a pair of tongs.  Boil them for 2-3 minutes and then transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool them.  Now you can handle them with your bare hands.

Some of the lower portion of the stems may be tough, so only use the leaves and tender upper stem portions.   You can pluck or cut these off the main stem after they are cooked.  Alternatively, you can hold each stem (with your gloved/bagged hand) and use a pair of scissors to snip the tender leaves off the main stem before you cook them.  Checkout this blog post we did on May 10, 2018 which demonstrates these processes and includes pictures.

Nettle leaves are perishable, so it is best to cook them shortly after you receive them.  It is better to store them in their cooked form for a few days until ready for use.  The cooking water makes a beautiful tea, so don’t discard it.  You can drink the tea either hot or cold and mixed with honey and lemon.  The water can also be used to cook pasta, rice, etc.  Nettles are often used to make soup, but you can also use them in pesto, or risotto and pasta dishes.  Nettles may be substituted for spinach in any recipe calling for cooked spinach.  They pair well with eggs, dairy, mushrooms, asparagus and other spring greens.


The second part of our feature is Wild Ramps!  Ramps are are one of the first green things to pop up in the spring.  They have a very short season lasting, at most, 4-5 weeks.  They have a unique flavor that is kind of oniony-garlicky, but honestly the best way to describe it is simply rampy.  They resemble a green onion, except they have tender, delicate lily-like leaves.  Ramps grow in the woods and, while they can be replanted to establish new patches, it takes a very long time for them to multiply and spread.  Many, us included, are concerned about the sustainability of ramps.  Because they take so long to multiply and replenish, it’s important to be mindful when harvesting them.  Ramps grow in clumps and we’re careful to only take about half the clump while leaving the other half undisturbed.  If you’d like to learn more about our harvest practices, please read our blog post from April 20, 2017.

Ramps may be eaten raw or cooked.  When raw they can be quite pungent, but the flavor mellows with cooking.  You can eat both leaves and the lower bulb.  Just trim away the roots.  Some popular ways to use ramps include risotto and pasta dishes.  Ramps also pair well with eggs in scrambles, frittatas and quiche.  Ramp pesto is another great way to use this vegetable and it’s our featured ramp recipe this week.  Ramps pair well with cream, cheese, bacon and other spring vegetables including mushrooms, asparagus, nettles and spinach.

The leaves on ramps are the most perishable part and should be used within a few days.  To store ramps, wrap the bunch in a damp paper or linen towel and keep them in the refrigerator.
 
If you’re looking for more recipe and use ideas for these two spring treats, check out the recipe archive on our website.  We hope you enjoy these spring treasures!

Nettle Chips

Yield:  2 cups

1 bunch nettles
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp soy sauce or coconut aminos
Salt, to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
  2. Wash the nettles in a sink of cold water.  Using gloves or a bag over your hand, take the nettle stems out of the water and place them on a towel.  Gently pat them dry. 
  3. Using a scissors, trim the tender leaves and upper stem off the main stem.  Put all of the trimmed leaves into a mixing bowl.
  4. Drizzle the leaves with oil and soy sauce or coconut aminos.  Using a tongs, toss the leaves to thoroughly coat them with the oil and soy sauce mixture.
  5. Spread the leaves on a non-stick baking sheet (or use parchment paper).  If you use low-sodium soy sauce or coconut aminos, you’ll want to season the nettles lightly with a sprinkling of salt.  If you use full sodium soy sauce, you may not need additional salt.  
  6. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until crisp.  You will need to turn them once about halfway through baking.  Try to separate the leaves as best you can so they bake more evenly.
  7. Remove from the oven and cool.  Taste one and add additional salt if needed.  They are best eaten immediately. 

Note:  If you have leftovers, crush the chips and use them as a topping to sprinkle on top of salads, eggs or buttered toast.

Recipe by Chef Andrea

Ramp Pesto

Yield:  1-1 ½ cups

1 bunch ramps, cleaned
½ cup toasted almonds or pine nuts
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (or other hard cheese)
3-5 tsp fresh lemon juice
Salt and black pepper, to taste

  1. Cut the leaves off the ramps.  Roughly chop the leaves and set them aside.
  2. Put the ramp bulbs and nuts in the bowl of a food processor and coarsely chop them.
  3. Add  the cheese, ¼ tsp salt, black pepper, 3 tsp lemon juice and the ramp leaves.  Continue to process the contents while slowly pouring in the olive oil.  
  4. Taste the pesto and adjust the seasoning with more salt, pepper and lemon juice to brighten it up.
  5. Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator.  It’s best to pour a little extra olive oil over the top of the jar to preserve the color of the pesto.
Note:  If you do not have a food processor, you can also make pesto in a blender.  Of course people used to make pesto before the invention of electronic appliances, so you could also just use a knife and finely chop all the ingredients.

Ramp Pesto Serving Suggestions: 
  • Toss a few spoonfuls with hot pasta
  • Stir into scrambled eggs
  • Use ramp pesto as the base for a delicious homemade pizza topped with mushrooms, bacon, prosciutto, mozzarella, etc.
  • Spread on toast or a bagel with fresh ricotta or cream cheese
  • Stir a spoonful into mayonnaise and use it as a sandwich spread or dipping sauce
  • Baste grilled or roasted chicken with pesto
  • Serve with seared salmon
Recipe by Chef Andrea