Wednesday, July 1, 2020

July 2, 2020 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Green Top Beets!

Cooking With This Week's Box


Purple & Green Scallions: Skillet ScallionsScallion Pancakes
Red Batavia Head Lettuce: Cobb Salad
Snow or Sugar Snap Peas OR Strawberries: Gingered Stir-Fry with Shrimp and Peas
Green Top Red Beets: Beet Recipe Collection from DishingUptheDirt.com; Roasted Beet Frittata (see below); Beet & Goat Cheese Quesadillas with Yogurt & Lime (see below);  Caramelized Fennel & Beet Pizza

Welcome to the month of July!  We’ve reached the halfway mark for 2020—how is this possible!  Summer vegetables are coming on fast!  The peppers and tomatoes have set on blossoms.  The tomatillo plants are already loaded with little lantern-like tomatillo husks and we may be able to start picking them within a few weeks!  But before I get ahead of myself, lets get back to this week’s box and our featured vegetable—BEETS!  This week I will again refer you to Andrea Bemis’s collection of beet recipes on DishingUptheDirt.com.  Andrea has over 60 recipes with beets and this week we’re featuring two of them.  Andrea and I share the same love of beet greens, so many of her recipes make use of the top and the bottom of the beet!  Her Roasted Beet Frittata (see below) is on the menu for Sunday brunch and her Beet & Goat Cheese Quesadillas with Yogurt & Lime (see below) will make for a light lunch of dinner.
Caramelized Fennel & Beet Pizza
Beets and fennel usually come in together in early summer and that’s a good thing because they pair nicely together in recipes!  Fennel can be an intimidating vegetable for some individuals, so to get started I am going to refer you to the Fennel Vegetable Feature Article I wrote last summer.  You’ll learn which part of the plant you can eat (there’s more than just the bulb) and I included 25 recipes for you to choose from including some tasty things like Lemony Fennel Cupcakes!  You can also find tasty recipes on our website that we’ve featured in past newsletters.  Two of the most well-received recipes have been Caramelized Fennel & Beet Pizza and Pasta with Golden Fennel.  These two recipes have even been accepted by people who didn’t care for fennel but decided to give it a try......and now they’re converts to the “I eat fennel” club.  Lastly, I came across this recipe for Shaved Fennel, Dill & Cucumber Salad and have it on the menu to serve with grilled halibut later this week.  It’s the perfect summer salad, light and refreshing!
Homemade Gingerale with Cucumber, photo from food52.com

This week the cucumbers are kicking in and I’ve already made my first batch of Creamy Cucumber Salad!  Cucumbers are nature’s thirst quencher, so don’t be afraid to use them in refreshing drinks this summer.  I came across this recipe for Homemade Gingerale with Cucumber or try this Creamy Pineapple Cucumber Smoothie!

In our world, cucumbers and zucchini go together as they are planted and harvested at the same time, so before we move on we’ll cover zucchini.  If you missed last week’s Vegetable Feature Article about zucchini, you should check it out.  I compiled a list of 20 recipes using zucchini, but what I really want to do is grow that list to 100 recipes!  So, please send your favorite zucchini recipes my way and we’ll see if we can collectively grow that list!  In the meantime, here are a few ideas for how to utilize this week’s zucchini.  Check out this Zucchini Pizza Casserole, surely the kids will like this one!  They might also like this Cheesy, Garlic Zucchini Rice.
Scallion Pancakes
Photo by Kelli Foster for thekitchn.com
Last week I watched one of Food52.com’s “Genius” recipe videos for Skillet Scallions.  This recipe caught my attention because it only has 2 ingredients!  I made these earlier this week and they are not only super-simple to make, but they taste so good and made a great accompaniment to the steak I served with it.  The scallions are cooked by a combination of sautéing in butter and steaming.  They turn out very silky, slightly sweet and tender.  You really should try them!  The other recipe I want to use while we’re in the height of scallions is Scallion Pancakes.  I’ve never made this Chinese item, but I want to learn more about Chinese food, ingredients and cooking so I might as well give them a try!

We call it Sweetheart Cabbage, but I recently learned some people refer to this pointy head cabbage as Cone Cabbage.  This cabbage shines at its best in raw salads such as this Chopped Thai Chicken Salad that was suggested by a member in our Facebook Group.  I was also reminded of my own recipe for Summer Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad that also uses this cabbage.  Both of these salads are great options for a light dinner or lunch item that you can put on the table in very little time.

This is our final week for garlic scapes and then we’ll transition to fresh garlic.  If you haven’t yet made a batch of Garlic Scape & Cilantro Pesto, I’d encourage you to do so.  I made a batch last week and we’ve been enjoying it on burgers, scrambled into eggs, on toast with a little wedge of cheese, etc.  The flavor is good the first day and even better the second!
Cobb Salad, photo by Joe Lingemen for thekitchn.com
We’re nearing the bottom of the box, but we do still have a few more items to cover!  We’ve been waiting with anticipation to harvest these beautiful heads of Red Batavia lettuce for you!  This is one of our favorite head lettuce varieties and it’s the perfect, crunchy, refreshing lettuce to layer up on burgers and sandwiches.  The leaves are also thick enough and large enough to use them a as a wrap around whatever filling you’d like to put inside!  This variety would also be a good choice for making a Cobb Salad.  While this is a recipe built on traditions, I’d encourage you to create your own version of this salad utilizing the vegetables you do have available!

I’m not sure why I saved collard greens towards the end when in fact they were on the top of your box?!  The collard field looks so nice right now that we couldn’t help but send these your way while everything looks so nice.  Use them in traditional preparations such as the traditional Collard Greens with Bacon or use them to make Collard Greens Spring Rolls.

Lastly, I’d like to say a few words about strawberries and peas.  This week marks the official end of strawberry picking for HVF.  Now that we aren’t having strawberries to tend to, we’re spending our time picking peas!  I admit, I seldom ever do more than just eat these, pod and all, but I just might try this recipe for Gingered Stir-Fry with Shrimp and Peas!

Ok, that’s it, we’ve conquered another box!  I hope you all have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend!

Chef Andrea


Vegetable Feature: Green Top Beets


By Chef Andrea


Beets are a crop we have available starting in mid to late June with availability extending through December and sometimes even into January and February with storage beets.  There are some beet varieties better suited to harvest for storage and others that are intended to be harvested with the green tops still attached.  The green tops are not only a sign of freshness, they are also another vegetable that is intended to be eaten and are packed with flavor and nutrients!  This is another one of those “2-for-1” vegetables where you eat the entire plant!

Most people are familiar with the traditional red beets, but did you know there are different colors of beets?  We grow three different colors including the traditional red beet as well as chioggia beets (candy striped inside) and golden beets.  In general, all beets, regardless of color, taste like beets.  Red beets have more of that traditional earthy beet flavor whereas chioggia and golden beets are generally more mild in flavor.  Golden and Chioggia beets are typically as sweet or sweeter than the red beets.  Individuals who think they don’t care for beets generally like and will eat golden beets.  If this is you, I hope you’ll give them a try.

Shaved Fennel & Beet Greens Salad
I mentioned earlier that both the beet root as well as the green tops are edible.  Beets are actually in the same family with chard and you’ll notice beet greens resemble chard in both their appearance as well as the texture of the stems and leaves.  Beet greens may be eaten raw or cooked and are a comparable substitute in any recipe that calls for Swiss chard.  They are also a delicious and nutritious addition to smoothies and could be substituted for other greens, such as spinach, chard or kale in a smoothie or green drink.

Beet roots are usually cooked, but may be eaten raw.  Thinly sliced or grated beets are a nice addition to salads and slaws.  As for cooking, beets are generally either boiled or steamed on the stove top or roasted in the oven.  The cooking time will vary depending upon the size of the beet.  The general recommendation is to cook beets with their skins on and the root tail intact.  For red beets in particular, this minimizes the leaching of the water-soluble color compounds from the beet.  Once the beets are cooked, cool them so you can handle them and the peel should be easy to remove.  You know a beet is fully cooked when the beet easily slides off a skewer, fork or cake tester stuck into the middle of the beet.

Balsamic Glazed Beets & Greens
Red beets do contain a water-soluble nutrient called anthocyanin.  This is an antioxidant that also gives red beets their color.  It will stain your hands (temporarily) and the color will bleed onto other ingredients if you’re using them in a salad, soup, or otherwise.  Golden beets and chioggia beets don’t lose their color or bleed color onto other ingredients.  If you are looking to preserve the beautiful candy-striped interior of a chioggia beet, it is best to roast them.  


Once cooked, beets may be used in salads or just simply reheated with a pat of butter and some salt.  You can also blend beets into hummus or other dips.  Beets pair well with a lot of other ingredients including vegetables such as fennel, celery, carrots, red onions, shallots, arugula and other salad greens as well as other root vegetables.  They also go well with fruits including apples, oranges, lemons, pears, avocadoes and pomegranates.  Additionally, beets pair nicely with goat cheese, feta cheese, blue cheese, butter, nuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds to name just a few ingredients.

It is best to store beets in the refrigerator.  When you get beets with the green tops still on, remove the tops and store them separately in a plastic bag.  Try to use them within 5-7 days.  Store the beets in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer.  They will last longer than the greens.

If you’re interested in learning more about the history and nutritional benefits of having beets in your diet, check out www.justbeetit.com which is entirely dedicated to beets!  I’ve also included a list below of several recipes using beets that we have featured in previous newsletters and are available in our recipe archives on our website.  Enjoy!



Beet & Goat Cheese Quesadillas with Lime & Yogurt


photo from dishingupthedirt.com
Yield:  2 servings

2-3 medium to large beets, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 bunch of beet greens or swiss chard (about 3-4 cups worth of greens)
Olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup goat cheese
¼ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
Salt & black pepper, to taste
4 whole wheat tortillas
¼ cup Greek-style plain yogurt or sour cream
Juice from 1 lime
½ cup chopped parsley

1.  Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil.  Add beets and cook until fork tender.  About 10 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

2.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add a little olive oil.  Add onions and saute for about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and stir in beet greens.  Turn heat to low and cook until greens are slightly wilted.  remove from the pan and set them aside.

3.  In a food processor or blender, combine the cooked beets with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.  Blend until smooth. 

4.  Spread the beet mixture on two of the tortillas, then divide the sauteed beet greens between the two tortillas and top each one with half the cheese.  Place second tortilla on top.

5.  Return the skillet you cooked the beet greens in to the stove over medium to medium high heat.  Cook for aabout 3-5 minutes per side or until the tortilla is lightly browned.  Flip them over and cook on the other side for another 3-5 minutes or until lightly browned.

6.  Cut each quesadilla into quarters and serve with a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream, a squeeze of lemon and chopped parsley.

Recipe from Andrea Bemis's collection featured on her website/blog, www.dishingupthedirt.com.


Roasted Beet Frittata


photo from dishingupthedirt.com
Yield:  4-6 servings

4 medium sized beets with their greens
1 small red or yellow onion, chopped
Olive oil, as needed
1 pound ground pork sausage
1 ½ tsp dried sage
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
Hefty pinch of salt
6 large eggs
½ cup milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 ounces goat cheese
Flaky sea salt, as needed

1.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Separate the beets from their greens and wash both well to remove any dirt.  Cut the beet roots into 1/4-inch thick wedges (peeling is optional) and roughly chop the greens.  Toss the beets and onion with a little olive oil to coat and place them on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and give them a good toss.  Roast in the oven until tender, about 25 minutes, tossing the veggies halfway through cooking.  Remove them from the oven and set aside.  Turn the oven temperature up to broil and move the rack so that it's 5 inches below the heat.

2.  In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Set aside.

3.  In a large bowl, combine the ground pork with the sage, pepper flakes, nutmeg and a hefty pinch of salt.  Use your hands to mix well.

4.  Heat a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Add a little olive oil to the pan, and then the pork.  cook, using a wooden spoon to break up the meat a bit, until the pork is no longer pink and cooked through.  Add the cooked beets and chopped beet greens to the pork and give the mixture a good stir.  Add the egg mixture and cook the frittata, lifting up the cooked eggs around the edges with a rubber spatula to let the under cooked eggs flow underneath, 2-3 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook, giving the pan a shake now and again until the eggs are mostly set, but the center is still slightly jiggly, 5-7 minutes more.

5.  Dollop the top of the frittata with the goat cheese and sprinkle with a little flaky sea salt.  Place the pan under the broiler until the frittata is set and golden brown.  About 2-3 minutes.

Recipe from Andrea Bemis’s collection featured on her website/blog, www.dishingupthedirt.com.

Reflections of a South Dakota Farm Boy….Lifting the Veil of Ignorance On Racism

By Richard de Wilde
Richard's high school senior year photo...
before he became a hippie!
I grew up in a remote South Dakota community that was all white, immigrant family descendants.  There was no racism evident to me at the time, but then why would there be when everyone around me looked the same.  There were, however, plenty of “judgments” made by my father.  For example, “if you work hard and work smart, anyone can succeed in America.   If people are poor, it is because they are lazy.”  Also, in retrospect I wonder about the “Indians” from the Sisseton Reservation?  My father had a contact there and would make the one hour drive to the reservation on Monday to pick-up four or five guys to pick rock on our farm.  They stayed at our farm for the week and slept in the barn.  I am sure my mother fed them and Dad would return them to the “Res” on Friday or Saturday.  He would always tell us they would not be available to work again for at least a week, “until they drank up their week’s pay!”  I didn’t think much about it at the time, but in retrospect I understand my father’s attitude towards these people was such that they were a lesser group of people compared to us.  Prejudice?  Racism?  Only later, after I spent some time with a group of Native Americans in the Badlands of South Dakota during college, did I realize these “Indians” were wonderful people and I shared their love and connection with nature and “Mother Earth.”
I didn’t come face-to-face with full blown racism and discrimination until I spent the summer between my junior and senior year in college working in a coal mine in Bluefield, on the border of West Virginia and Virginia.  I was studying mining engineering and that summer I was assigned to a small electrical crew at the mine.  We traveled the underground passageways through the mines on a low electric “scooter” powered by a pole riding on an electric cable near the ceiling.  As I was the youngest and newest man on the crew, I was designated “Pole Man.”  The spring-loaded pole would frequently bounce off the wire and hit the ceiling.  As “Pole Man,” I would quickly and gracefully put the pole back on the electric wire in a matter of seconds.  One day I was in the scooter with several other guys including our crew leader and a black co-worker everyone called “Boots.”  Our scooter pole jumped off the cable and we were stalled.  Tiny flakes of shale started raining down on us.  In a matter of just a few seconds I saw Boots jump out of the scooter and run back in the direction we had come from.  I looked at the crew leader as he jammed his hand down putting the scooter on full throttle while looking at me with a look in his eyes that immediately told me I needed to get the pole back on the wire.  I did, and with the lightening speed and pride of a Midwest farm boy.  The scooter shot forward as the pole connected and just behind us a foot thick slab of shale roof fell onto the tracks we had just vacated.  Boots was on the other side of the roof fall, safe from the falling debris and thankfully, no one was hurt that day.  The next day we returned to this spot to clear the debris from the tracks.  My brother, Dennis, was also a mining engineering student and was working in the same mine that summer.  The white foreman looked at us, and with an air of contempt in his voice, said “What do you kids want?  Blood?”  This was the same time in history as the Kent State protests against the Vietnam War when protesters had just been shot by National Guard troops.  I had started to grow a beard and my hair was probably one inch over my ears.  The foreman looked at me and thought I was one of the “hippies” protesting the war.  When questioned about my appearance, I told them it was a college senior tradition.  This foreman informed me that he thought I might be OK, “but if he thought I was one of those X!#*!X damn hippies, I just might have myself an ‘accident’ and would not leave the mine alive.”  He went on to explain that there was a new young engineer on the mine staff and it was clear he despised this young, inexperienced “kid” telling him what to do.  Periodically the engineer would go down in the mine in an elevator to inspect the tunnels, etc.  During the winter ice sometimes formed at the top of the elevator shaft.  The foreman described his plan to cause a chunk of ice to fall on the elevator, which it was clear to me could be a fatal accident.  Well, this was quite a shocking revelation for this Midwest farm boy!  I had no idea a difference of opinions and points of view could cut so deep as to motivate someone to harm another person, let alone to create an “accident” that could cause fatal harm to another human.  I had never seen such hate before!
On my last day of work for that summer, I was sent to the bottom of the mine to shovel wet coal that had fallen off the conveyor belt.  My sole companion on that job was Boots.  We shoveled wet coal for a time and then Boots suggested we take a break.  We sat down and turned our headlamps off.  It was so dark that even two hours later you could not see your hand in front of your face!  Boots explained to me that this clean-up job was only done once per year and it was the worst job in the mine.  He was there because he was a black man who sometimes “spoke up.”  He told me I was there because I was suspected of being a hippie.  You know, if he hadn’t told me that I don’t think I ever would have realized that either of us were the subject of discrimination.  We spent the rest of that shift sitting and talking, becoming friends.  Boots pointed out that of all the black miners at the mine, not one held any position of leadership as a foreman.  I hadn’t thought about it, but it was true.  Boots also told me he felt very bad about the earlier “roof fall” event when he had seen the shale flakes, knew it was a sign that meant a roof fall was coming, and chose to save his own life knowing I did not know what was coming.  My quick action on the pole saved the scooter, my life and the lives of others with me that day, but it could’ve also been a fatal accident that may have killed us.  Boots felt really bad about what happened. 
In the ensuing hours sitting in total darkness, I came to feel that this was the first “older man” that I could totally respect.  The way he talked about his family, his children made me wish I could have had a warm, loving father like him.  Before I left to go back to school, Boots invited me to visit his family.  So I drove my ’55 Chevy Coup to his little town near Tazewell, Virginia.  I was greeted by a dozen barefoot children who obviously knew I was coming and they took me to Boots’ house, or maybe you would call it a shack.  It wasn’t much, but everyone was super warm and friendly and then the truth was told that I was the first “white boy” anyone could remember ever visiting their town.  Hmm, a separate town for blacks only?
While living in West Virginia that summer, my experiences in the mine were not the only life changing events that I experienced.  One night that summer my brother Dennis and I went to a disco club.  We were standing outside the entrance when three college-aged women approached.  Two of the women were white, one was black.  Dennis and I thought all three were attractive and seemed intelligent, so we couldn’t understand why they were denied entry and told it was because they didn’t have a “membership card.”  No one had asked us for a membership card when we entered.  I watched this happen and didn’t understand what was going on, so I approached the women as they were walking away and asked them what just happened.  They explained that they knew they would be denied entry because their friend was black!  What?!  Dennis and I decided to forego the disco club and hung out with these three girls instead.  We became friends over the course of the summer and never chose to return to “the private club.”  Dennis later married one of the girls, Carol Sue.  Needless to say, after that summer both of us declined good paying jobs in the underground coal industry.  I took a job with the Bureau of Mines at Fort Snelling, Minnesota and befriended the only black man on the staff there.  However, my tenure there was brief and I was soon looking for “more meaningful work.” 
I moved to a farm in Eagan, Minnesota and volunteered at the neighboring Dakota County Developmental Learning Center, a school for “special” children.  I came to learn that these children were in fact very special.  What these children lacked in intellect was more than made up for in their extreme loving nature.  The staff at that school were equally loving.  The school day was hard work, but fun and after the children left for the day, the staff stayed on to socialize and party!  This was a work environment like none I had ever known!  This was also the first time I had ever met gay people, who at that time were often considered outcasts.  As I got to know the staff members, some of which were gay, I realized they were all wonderful, accepting human beings.  Yet another stereo type to throw out the window! 
Ronnie, one of Richard's foster kids, playing in the bean field.
After working in special education for several years, including working with autistic children, I turned to farming with teenagers in foster care.  After multiple frustrations with the system returning them to abusive homes, when “my boys” turned 18 they were on their own, I left social work and turned to farming full-time. 
As a vegetable farmer in need of much manual labor, I have experienced a wide variety of people over the course of my career. High school and college kids on summer break do not work well for our longer season, so we have utilized Vernon County jail inmates on Huber program (day time work release), Laotian Hmong, workers from Mexico, both local year round residents and H2A visa seasonal workers.  This has given me a unique chance to experience several cultures, work with many individual personalities, and get to know many wonderful human beings.
An early crew picture from Richard's first farm,
Blue Gentian Farm in St. Paul, MN.
I feel blessed to have been exposed to a variety of people that have changed my narrow “Midwest farm Boy” perspective to a more worldwide view.  That is all human beings, worldwide, rich or poor, any color of skin, have certain unalienable rights such as being given basic respect as human beings, the right to healthy food, clean water, shelter, freedom from abuse, economic security, medical care and a safe environment free from chemical contaminants, corporate greed and monopolies.  The hatred, the racism, greed and militarism that has caused so much harm worldwide needs to be “reined in,” voted out.  Ok, it’s true I was and still am a “peace & love” hippie and proud of it!
We need a huge change in focus and redistribution of resources.  I still believe that if we all work together we can still save our planet, our human race and all the divine life that we depend on.  This pandemic and the events of this year have brought many long standing issues to the forefront.  Lets not just wish to get back to normal, but work to create stable, sustainable local food systems and just economies and communities.  This is a huge, but achievable, task if we all take the time to examine our own prejudices and misconceptions of others.  Change can happen when we do our best to show kindness and respect to our fellow human beings.  It is contagious and good things happen.  We change the world.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

June 25, 2020 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Zucchini!

Cooking With This Week's Box


Cilantro: Pasta with Roasted Zucchini & Cilantro Pesto (see below); Life-Changing Crispy Baked Fish Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Slaw
Green or Italian Zucchini: Pasta with Roasted Zucchini & Cilantro Pesto (see below); Zucchini Butter (see below); A Summer Screaming Zucchini Schmear and 10 Ways It Will Save Your Weeknight Meals
Baby zucchini still with the blossom attached!
It’s official, summer is here and what better way to mark the onset of this season than the arrival of zucchini!  Summer isn’t summer without zucchini which just might be one of the most versatile vegetables we grow!  Zucchini will be with us for quite awhile, we hope, so we’ll be finding creative uses over it in the upcoming weeks.  To kick off the season, I have two recipes to share this week.  The first is for Pasta with Roasted Zucchini & Cilantro Pesto (see below).  When I read this recipe, the flavor combinations and concepts confused me a little bit but also intrigued me.  Italian pasta with a pesto concept—that makes sense.  But the pesto made with cilantro and pumpkin seeds flavored with cumin and topped with cojita cheese—that didn’t seem to go with the Italian flavors theme.  You know what, this is fusion food and it works!  This turned out to be a quite tasty pasta dish.  I added some ground pork to it, but it would be good with or without.  The garnish of the cheese and toasted pumpkin seeds is a nice finishing touch and leftovers are good hot or cold!
The second recipe is for Zucchini Butter (see below).  Now, this isn’t butter in the sense of dairy butter, but rather more along the lines of “butter” as in a spread.  The beauty of this recipe is that it is a great way to utilize larger quantities of zucchini.  The other beauty of zucchini butter is that there are so many different ways to use it!  Spread it on toast or sandwiches, use it on pizza, put it on crackers with a piece of cheese…..etc.  Check out this Food52.com blog article, A Summer Screaming Zucchini Schmear and 10Ways It Will Save Your Weeknight Meals, that is all about this “genius” recipe and how you can put it to use for quick, flavorful meals!
Life-Changing Crispy Baked Fish Tacos with Cilantro Lime Slaw
This week we’re finishing up the rest of the kohlrabi and starting to harvest salad cabbage!  Salad cabbage differs from storage cabbage.  It is more tender and slightly sweet which makes it fitting for use in raw salads, slaws, etc.  It is still tasty cooked as well, but I generally use it raw.  This week I have to make these Life-Changing Crispy Baked Fish Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Slaw.  We featured this recipe in a previous newsletter and if you are into fish tacos at all, it just might change your life when it comes to homemade fish tacos.
Boston Lettuce Salad with Buttermilk, Green Onion and Maple Dressing
photo from food52.com
We’re thankful to still have lettuce available, and while we have other vegetables available to use for salads, it’s still nice to enjoy a traditional lettuce salad.  This recipe for Boston Lettuce Salad with Buttermilk, Green Onion and Maple Dressing reminds me of the way my grandma used to prepare fresh lettuce from her garden.  This is a super simple method that will really let the tender, buttery lettuce leaves shine.  Ok, so the other thing we used to make a lot at home in the summer when we had fresh lettuce from the garden was cheese and lettuce sandwiches.  Back then we used processed cheese food slices—don’t judge, I didn’t know any better.  I’d encourage you to use real cheese, good bread and the spread of your choosing—I usually just use a good quality mayonnaise.  Slather it up with the spread, slap a piece or two of cheese on the bread and pile the fresh lettuce leaves as high as you can!  There’s the recipe, but if you need something a bit more formal or would like a visual, check out this YouTube video on how to make a Cheese and Lettuce Sandwich.  Even if you don’t need a tutorial or a recipe, you should check out this video.  It’s pretty funny!
Burger Lettuce Wraps with Special Sauce
photo from thegirlonbloor.com
I’ve been into grilling lately, mostly because it’s quick and easy and it’s so nice to be outside in the evening.  While we’ve been enjoying fresh lettuce on our burgers, you could also use the lettuce to make a Bunless Burger or a Cheeseburger Lettuce Wrap—whatever you want to call it.  Basically substitute the bread for layers of lettuce leaves wrapped around your burger!  There are many different versions, but I like this recipe for Burger Lettuce Wraps with Special Sauce.  My go-to summer salad to serve with burgers, ribs, etc is this recipe for The Simplest Cabbage Slaw.  It is seriously simple and turns out every time!
While you have the grill fired up, you might as well make the Garlic Scape Beef Satay with Garlic Scape Satay Sauce recipe featured in last week’s newsletter.  It’s quite tasty and would be good served with this Crunchy Bacon and Broccoli Salad with Creamy Orange Dressing.  If you’re looking for more ideas for what you can do with garlic scapes, check out this HuffPost article entitled Recipes that make the most of Garlic Scapes”.  They offer some tasty, creative suggestions!
20-Minute Teriyaki Chicken and Broccoli
photo from tablefortwoblog.com
Another option for using your broccoli is this
20-Minute Teriyaki Chicken and Broccoli.  Serve it with steamed rice for a quick, yet satisfying, easy weeknight meal.  I am still a bit obsessed with putting vegetables in macaroni and cheese ever since I made mac and cheese with ramps and nettles earlier this year.  Mac and cheese with turnips and turnip greens was last week’s creation and this week it could be Macaroni and Cheese with Broccoli!

The kale this week is so beautiful and there are many options for what you can do with it.  On Sunday evenings when we do our weekly field scouting tour it’s kind of fun to take along Baked Kale Chips!  Yes, you might get some green flecks in your teeth….who cares?!  The other recipe I want to make again is this Spicy Kale & Coconut Fried Rice that I tried for the first time last year.  It’s pretty tasty as are these Lemon Kale Muffins that I made last year as well.  Yes, kale in muffins—odd, but I tried them out on our farmers’ market crew last year and they (the muffins that is) all disappeared!
Rhubarb Almond Baked Oatmeal
Ok, we’re rolling into the home stretch and just have one more item remaining in this week’s box.  It’s our last week for rhubarb.  I was searching our recipe archives looking for another recipe and I’m glad I stumbled across this recipe we featured in a previous year for Rhubarb Almond Baked Oatmeal.  This is a great recipe to make in advance and then warm up in the morning for a quick, hot breakfast.  I also noticed several members in our Facebook Group are making tasty rhubarb beverages!  If you want to join this crowd, check out this recipe for Rhubarb Syrup.  This recipe is the base for making adult beverages such as Rhubarb Daiquiris, but you can also use it to make a non-alcoholic fizzy soda type drink.
We did it!  We made our way to the bottom of another glorious box of produce.  Before I sign off for the week, I want to thank the member who posted a link in our Facebook Group to this Vegetable Orchestra!!  Check it out—they’re making music by using all kinds of different vegetables!  I know we have some musical talent in our membership.  Wouldn’t it be cool if we had a Harmony Valley Farm Vegetable Orchestra!?  You provide the talent and I’ll provide the vegetables!  I’m serious.
Ok, Chef Andrea signing off for this week.  Enjoy your week of cooking and I’ll see you next time!—Chef Andrea


Vegetable Feature: Zucchini


By Chef Andrea

Zucchini may just be the most versatile and prolific vegetable we grow!  We have two plantings and typically harvest three times a week from mid-June through August and sometimes into September.  Sometimes we have a little gap in between plantings one and two, but settle in folks…we’re in it for the long haul!

We grow two main types of zucchini including the traditional green zucchini and an Italian variety that is lighter green in color and has ribs and stripes on the skin.  Both varieties may be used interchangeably in any recipe calling for zucchini or summer squash.  There is a difference in the varieties though and we encourage you to take a moment to notice the differences throughout the season.  Italian zucchini has a more pronounced flavor and the texture is more firm making it a good option for grilling and other preparations where you need the zucchini to hold its shape.  Zucchini in general is a very mild-flavored vegetable which is part of why it is so versatile.  It pairs well with so many different flavors and is easily adaptable to combinations with other vegetables throughout the entire summer.  Zucchini is most often cooked, but it can be eaten raw as well.  I’ll offer a few suggestions below for how to use raw zucchini.

Zucchini Relish
photo from cravesomethinghealthy.com
The other nice thing about zucchini is there are ways to preserve it so you can enjoy it throughout the year.  One of the easiest things to do is grate or shred raw zucchini, squeeze out the excess moisture and then put the zucchini in a freezer bag and pop it in the freezer.  When I do this I try to portion it into a quantity that is appropriate for making My Special Zucchini Bread or pancake recipes.  When you thaw it, you’ll need to squeeze out the excess moisture, but then it’s ready to use in baked goods, soups, smoothies, stir-fry, etc.  You can also preserve zucchini by making Zucchini Butter (see below), one of this week’s featured recipes.  Once you make a batch you can use it fresh or portion it into containers to freeze.  Zucchini Pickles or Zucchini Relish are other good ways to preserve zucchini.

Zucchini can be sautéed, roasted, grilled and stir-fried.  It may be used to make snack foods, casseroles and gratins, incorporated into lasagna and meatballs, dips, enchiladas, tacos, egg dishes, smoothies, desserts and more.  One day I want to compile a list of 100 ways to use zucchini.  I’m going to start with 20 recipes this week and maybe you can help me uncover 80 more ways/recipes to use zucchini over the course of this season!  Before we get to the list I just want to mention a few things about storage and use.  First of all, zucchini has pretty tender skin so rarely needs to be peeled.  Sometimes larger zucchini may need to be peeled, use your own judgement.  Zucchini is a warm weather vegetable and is best stored at temperatures between 45-55°F.  We have a dedicated cooler for that temperature range, but realize you may not have the perfect storage temperature situation in your home.  So, my recommendation is to keep your zucchini at room temperature and use them within a few days of receiving them.  If you put them in the refrigerator they’ll likely suffer chill injury which will compromise their quality and shorten shelf life.

Ok, lets move on to the list of 20 Different Recipes to use Zucchini!  Have fun and be sure to share your own recipes in our Facebook Group so we can build our list of 100 recipes this year!

20 Different Recipes Using Zucchini!

Pasta with Roasted Zucchini & Cilantro Pesto


Yield:  6 servings

1 ½ pounds zucchini
1 Tbsp plus ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt & Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
12 oz short, twisty shaped pasta
1 pound ground pork (optional)
½ cup white wine (use if you use the pork)
2 garlic scapes
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp lime zest
⅔ cup toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas), divided
2¼ cups tightly packed cilantro leaves and stems
3 Tbsp lime juice
¾ tsp crushed red chile flakes (or to taste)
¾ cup crumbled cojita or feta cheese, divided


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Cut zucchini into ½ inch cubes.  You should have about 4 cups of cubed zucchini.  Put zucchini in a medium mixing bowl and drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil.  Season with salt and black pepper and stir to combine and evenly coat the zucchini with oil.  Add a little more oil if needed.  


  2. Roast zucchini for 25-35 minutes or until tender and lightly golden brown.  You’ll need to stir the zucchini about half way through the roasting time.  Once the zucchini is roasted, remove from the oven and hold in a warm place.


  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add pasta;  cook until al dente, about 10-12 minutes.  Reserve ½ cup pasta water, then drain.  Set the cooked pasta aside.


  4. If you are using pork, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Brown the ground pork until nearly cooked through.  Add the white wine and simmer until it has reduced by ¾ volume.  Remove from heat and set aside until you’re ready to finish the dish.


  5. Meanwhile, make the pesto.  Cut the garlic scapes into 1-2 inch pieces and place in a blender or food processor.  Blend briefly to coarsely chop the garlic scapes.  Add ¾ cup olive oil, cumin, lime zest, 1 tsp salt, and ½ cup pepitas.  Blend until smooth.  Add the cilantro and process just until smooth, about 15 seconds.  Pour into a bowl and stir in lime juice, chile flakes, and ½ cup of the cojita or feta cheese.


  6. Once all the components are prepared, put the pan with the pork in it back on the stove over medium heat.  If you are not using pork, just put a large saute pan on the stove over medium heat.  Add the zucchini, pasta and cilantro pesto along with a little bit of the pasta cooking liquid.  Stir to combine and fully heat the pasta.  Add additional pasta water as needed for the desired consistency.


  7. Taste and adjust the seasoning with additional salt, pepper or lime juice as needed.


  8. To serve, portion the pasta into bowls.  Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and toasted pumpkin seeds/pepita.
Recipe adapted from www.sunset.com


Zucchini Butter


photo by James Ransom for food52.com
Yield:  about 2 cups

2 pounds zucchini
¼ cup olive oil or butter
½-¾ cup minced shallots, garlic cloves, scapes or any combination of onions and garlic
Salt and pepper, to taste



  1. Coarsely grate the zucchini.  Let it drain in a colander for 3 to 4 minutes or until you are ready to begin cooking.  To hasten cooking time, squeeze the water out of the zucchini by wringing it in a clean cloth towel.  



  2. In a deep skillet, heat the olive oil/butter.  Saute the onion/garlic briefly.  Add the zucchini and toss.  Cook and stir over medium to medium-high heat until the zucchini reaches a spreadable consistency, about 15 minutes.  If the bottom starts to brown, turn the flame down!  (And scrape those delicious bits into the butter for added flavor—you can splash in a little water to help deglaze the pan.)  The zucchini will slowly caramelize into a nice vegetable jam.  



  3. Enjoy on toast, or as a side dish all summer long!
Recipe adapted slightly from Jennie Cook’s recipe featured as a “Genius Recipe” on Food52.com.