Wednesday, June 20, 2018

June 21, 2018 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Celtuce

Cooking With This Week’s Box: 

This Week’s Summary of Recipes and the Vegetables They Utilize:

Celtuce:  Fried Rice with Chicken & Celtuce (see below) and Pickled Celtuce Salad with Ginger and Sesame (see below)

Purple or Green Scallions:  Fried Rice with Chicken & Celtuce (see below); Pickled Celtuce Salad with Ginger and Sesame (see below); Skillet Strata with Bacon, Cheddar, and GreensCreamy Zucchini-Cumin Dip

Sugar Snap Peas:  Fried Rice with Chicken & Celtuce (see below); Quinoa Salad with Sugar Snap Peas and Mint

Cucumbers:  Creamy Cucumber Salad

Red Butterhead Lettuce:  Simple Butter Lettuce Salad

Celtuce growing in our fields.
This week we get to experiment with a new vegetable!  Celtuce is not very well-known in this country, so it’s hard to find recipes to use it. The key is to just keep it simple so you don’t cover up its unique flavor.  As I was thinking about the best ways to use it, I couldn’t help but think of fried rice, thus I created this simple recipe for Fried Rice with Chicken & Celtuce (see below).  This is a simple way to prepare this week’s celtuce along with the sugar snap peas.  If you’d prefer to eat the celtuce raw, try the recipe for the Pickled Celtuce Salad with Ginger and Sesame (see below).  It’s delicious eaten alongside a simple piece of grilled or pan fried fish or chicken.

With the remaining sugar snap peas, consider making this Quinoa Salad with Sugar Snap Peas and Mint.  It’s light, refreshing and simple to make.  It also travels well, so it’s a good candidate to take to work with you.  As long as we’re on the topic of fresh, simple salads, we should talk about making a Creamy Cucumber Salad.  This salad becomes a staple dish every year during cucumber season.  If you don’t have fresh dill, you can substitute parsley, basil or any other fresh herb from your garden.  This salad makes a delicious dinner alongside a simple grilled hamburger.  If you’re grilling burgers this week, be sure to top them off with a few of the red butterhead lettuce leaves in this week’s box. 

Use the remainder of the red butterhead lettuce to make this Simple Butter Lettuce Salad.  It features a simple vinaigrette made with apple cider vinegar, honey and olive oil.  The lettuce is dressed with this simple vinaigrette and then the salad is garnished with salty olives, shaved manchego cheese and crispy panko bread crumbs.  This salad will make a simple dinner when served with Pasta with Garlic Scape Pesto.  You could add some grilled chicken to the pasta as well if you are looking for a little extra protein.

Simple Butter Lettuce Salad
Photo by The Modern Proper
Last week this recipe for Pan-Fried Turnips with Thyme and Breadcrumbs popped into my inbox.  This recipe doesn’t call for the greens, but you could easily wilt the greens down and serve these crispy turnips on top. 

It’s that time of year when we need to get creative with finding ways to use and enjoy zucchini.  For starters, I am going to make Heidi Swanson’s recipe for “My Special Zucchini Bread”.  We featured this recipe in one of our 2014 newsletter.  This zucchini bread recipe includes crystallized ginger, poppy seeds and lemon zest which makes it a little different than traditional zucchini bread recipes.  If you have some zucchini remaining, try the Creamy Zucchini-Cumin Dip recipe that we featured in the same newsletter.  It makes a delicious snack served with chips or crackers. 

Rainbow chard is packed full of nutrients and sometimes my body craves the thick, dark green leaves and colorful stems.  This week I’m going to make this recipe for Skillet Strata with Bacon, Cheddar, andGreens.  This recipe was created by Alexandra Stafford and is featured in a short video on  This is a great dish to serve for a weekend brunch or enjoy it for dinner throughout the week. 

Strawberries with Sour Cream and Dark Muscovado Sugar
Picture by food52.
I saved the sweetest part of the box for last.   One of my favorite ways to enjoy fresh strawberries is simply topped with some really delicious fresh cream.  There’s an article at featuring 5 New Ways to Serve Strawberries and Cream which features a few creative variations on this simple concept.

I hope you enjoy experimenting with the celtuce this week.  Please let us know what you think about it and how you decide to use it!  See you next week!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Celtuce 

Celtuce after trimmed in the field.
This week we’re excited to share a new vegetable with you.  We enjoy growing and learning about new vegetables and this year we decided to challenge ourselves as well as our members with celtuce.  Celtuce is thought to have originated in southern China and is also known as “Lettuce Stem.”  While it is relatively well-known in China, you seldom see it in the United States but it can be found in some Asian grocery stores.  Botanically, it is a member of the lettuce family.  The plant grows similarly to lettuce and the leaves resemble lettuce leaves.  While you can eat the leaves, the main feature of this plant is the long, thick stem.  The lower leaves are usually trimmed away as they can sometimes become bitter as the plant matures.  The upper leaves are usually left intact and are tender and generally less bitter if at all.  Once the leaves are trimmed away, the thick, white stem is revealed.  Celtuce is referred to as who sun in Chinese, but the term “celtuce” is the American name given to this vegetable when it was introduced to this continent by the Burpee Seed Company.  It was named such because of its stalk like resemblance to celery coupled with its lettuce-like qualities.  I actually think the stem on celtuce bears more resemblance to broccoli and personally, I would’ve named this vegetable Broctuce

Peeling celtuce.
Peeled celtuce vs unpeeled celtuce.
Celtuce may be eaten raw or cooked.  It has a unique flavor that is really unlike any other vegetable.  As much as I dislike using the term “nutty” to describe a vegetable, that really is the first word that comes to mind when I think about the flavor.  It also has a kind of smoky like characteristic to its flavor profile and if you smell the base of the stem, you’ll find it has a unique scent.  When you are preparing celtuce, the first step is to trim away the tender leaves on the top of the stem.  Save these and use them raw in a salad or, if you find them to be bitter, blanch them in boiling water to remove the bitterness and then eat them.  Peel away the outer skin on the stem and you’ll find a light green, transluscent vegetable inside.  It’s crispy and juicy when eaten raw or cooked.  It may be julienned or sliced thinly and eaten in a fresh, raw salad.  In China it’s often pickled.  You can also saute it or stir-fry it.  It is also sometimes used in soups, steamed or gently braised.  As I was experimenting with cooking celtuce, I started by just simply sautéing it in butter.  I melted some butter in a pan and sautéed some baby white turnips along with garlic scapes and minced scallions.  Once the turnips were tender and nearly finished cooking, I added thinly sliced celtuce stem to the pan and cooked it just a few more minutes. With just a little added salt and pepper, this turned out to be a delicious dish!  If you’re looking for something simple and fast to make for dinner, this is the way to go!

If you are looking on the internet for recipes using celtuce, you likely won’t find much.  Last Sunday we had the opportunity to talk with two guests who are from China and had experience eating and preparing celtuce.  They indicated that celtuce is generally eaten in very simple preparations without a lot of extra ingredients added in so as to preserve the innate flavor of the vegetable.  It does pair well with other spring vegetables such as the baby white turnips, sugar snap peas, greens, scallions and garlic scapes.  Store celtuce in the refrigerated, wrapped loosely in plastic or a damp towel.  I hope you enjoy experimenting with this new vegetable.  I’m still learning about celtuce and am interested in seeing how other members choose to use it, so please send us your ideas and feedback.  Have fun!

Pickled Celtuce Salad with Ginger 

Yield:  3-4 cups

2 Tbsp rice vinegar

1 Tbsp finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 Tbsp sunflower oil
2 celtuce stalks, peeled and julienned
2 scallions, thinly sliced (green tops included)
2 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro
½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
Finely ground black pepper, to taste
1 ½ tsp toasted white or black sesame seeds

  1.  Put vinegar and crystallized ginger in a small bowl and set aside for a few minutes to soften the ginger.  Stir in the sunflower oil and set aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine celtuce, scallions, cilantro and ½ tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Pour the ginger vinaigrette over the vegetable mixture and stir well to combine.  Add the toasted sesame seeds and stir again.  Let the salad rest for a minimum of 15-20 minutes or overnight.  This will allow the flavors to come together.  
  3. Taste the salad and adjust the seasoning to your liking by adding more salt, pepper and/or vinegar as needed.  Serve this salad either at room temperature or refrigerated.

Recipe created by Chef Andrea Yoder, Harmony Valley Farm

Fried Rice with Chicken & Celtuce 

Yield: 4-6 servings 

4-5 Tbsp vegetable oil, divided 
4 eggs, beaten 
¼ tsp salt, plus more to taste 
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 garlic scapes, finely chopped 
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced 
3 scallions, thinly sliced (including green tops)
1 cup sugar snap peas cut into ½-inch pieces
2 celtuce stems, peeled, quartered and cut into ¼ inch slices 
4 cups cooked rice 
4 Tbsp soy sauce 
Freshly ground white and/or black pepper
Toasted sesame oil, for serving.

  1. First, heat a small to medium skillet over medium heat and add 1 tsp of oil. When the pan and oil are hot, add the beaten eggs and ¼ tsp salt. Scramble the eggs until they are cooked through, yet soft. Remove from the heat and set aside. 
  2. In a large skillet or wok, heat 2 Tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Cut the chicken breasts into thin, bite-sized strips.  Once the oil is hot, add the chicken pieces and cook until golden brown.  Stir to turn the chicken pieces over and brown the other side.   
  3. Next, add the garlic scapes, ginger and scallions. Stir the mixture to prevent the ginger and garlic from getting too brown while you continue to stir-fry for 1-2 minutes or until the scallions are soft and the ginger is fragrant.  Next, add the celtuce, sugar snap peas, and pepper.  Continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. 
  4. Add 2 more Tbsp of oil to the pan and tip the pan to distribute the oil evenly. Next, add the rice and continue to move the rice so it is evenly distributed in the pan. Continue to stir-fry the mixture until the rice is thoroughly heated, 3-5 minutes. 
  5. Next, add 4 Tbsp of soy sauce. Reduce the heat to low and cook for a few more minutes. Adjust the seasoning with more soy sauce if you like and additional salt if needed. Stir in the scrambled eggs and serve hot with a drizzle of toasted sesame oil if desired.

Recipe by Chef Andrea Yoder, Harmony Valley Farm

Strawberry Day 2018!

By Farmer Richard

We plan for working around the weather every day, and party days are no different!  This past Sunday we hosted our annual Strawberry Day event and it was a hot one!  We had planned for about 200 people, but the forecast for a hot day with the possibility of thunderstorms must’ve deterred our visitors.  We did have about 100 people in attendance with just two brave families camping.  Were we disappointed?  No!  We enjoyed the smaller numbers which allowed us to have more personal contact with those in attendance.  We had a great crowd of interested members and some of them brought extended family and friends as well.  We had a great day! Thankfully the weather cooperated.  Hot?  Yes, but we had a nice breeze, traveled on covered wagons, parked in the shade and drank lots of ice water.  Our campers enjoyed their night in the valley.  Did the choir of frogs keep them awake?  No, they had the best night’s sleep they’d had in weeks!

Headed through the fields on the wagon tour!
After enjoying a delicious potluck picnic lunch, everyone found their place on the wagons and we started off down the road for the field tour.  Given the heat, we decided to stay close to the home farm and had intended to cut the field tour a little short.  Even though we only traveled from one end of our home farm to the other, we still had a lengthy field tour as everyone was interested in learning about the crops along the way, stopped to harvest some for themselves and asked great questions!  At our first stop we harvested celtuce, a new crop in this week’s box that originated in China.  We were thankful that Christopher, a member from Madison, brought his parents with him to the party and they are from China!  We considered them to be our guest “experts” about celtuce and they shared some of their uses for preparing it.  We really appreciated their contributions and one young CSA member even had a chance to practice speaking Mandarin Chinese with them!  While we were hanging out in the celtuce field, some members wandered into the adjacent field to pick baby dill, arugula, turnips, radishes, cilantro and some baby lettuce while learning more about which crops we plant every week as well as some of the opportunities and challenges associated with growing these vegetables.

Richard explaining what we look for in ripe garlic.
We jumped back onto the wagon and continued on to the far end of the garlic field.  We had to stop and dig a few garlic just to see how they were doing.  Garlic harvest will be happening within the next month, so we learned how to read the signs of the plant to make the decision about when to harvest.  We also learned a little bit about how we irrigate the garlic crop from our lead irrigation crew member, Vicente.  As we left the garlic field and headed to the other end of the farm, we got a good look at the second planting of tomatillos and tomatoes.  They look really nice and will be ready for staking and tying very soon!

On our way to the strawberry field we made a brief stop in the zucchini and cucumber field.  We are just starting to pick these crops, but we had to stop and see how many full-sized fruit we could find.  The cucumbers are a solid mass of beautiful vines.  I asked for only a few volunteers to help me and Vicente find some cucumbers and zucchini to cut.  Our helpers did a good job, but couldn’t resist harvesting a few themselves!  Their squeals of excitement when finding the hidden jewels was a joy to hear.  As we pulled away from the field, most of the people on my wagon were eating a juicy, cooling cucumber.  That’s one way to beat the heat!

Stawberry fields filled with guests!
Our final stop along the tour was the strawberry field.  In less than one hour we had collectively picked quite a lot of beautiful ripe berries.  A few committed pickers stayed late to pick more.  Lisa, Carol and Paul were on a mission to pick their annual quota of strawberries and collectively walked out of the field with 50# of berries altogether!  Overall we estimate that we picked about 235 pounds of strawberries.  Of course we can’t weigh the berries that we ate in the field, so this is just an estimate.

We were all happy to enjoy a bowl of cold strawberry ice cream when we returned to the packing shed.  While the day was hot, we were grateful that the thunderstorms held off until later in the evening after everyone was well on their way home.  We had a great day and personally, I really appreciated the opportunity to connect with this group of cool CSA members and families of all ages.  Hearing people say “Thanks, we had a great time!” as they left was music to my ears.  A visit to the farm can be a very special thing.  If you weren’t able to join us for Strawberry Day, we hope you’ll consider coming to our Harvest Party in the fall.  In the meantime, enjoy the strawberries in your CSA boxes!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Celebrating & Growing Strawberries at Harmony Valley Farm

By Farmer Richard

Immature Strawberries
Strawberry Day is upon us and we hope you are making plans to visit our valley to celebrate this year’s strawberry harvest.  We are only in our first week of strawberry picking, which is about 10-14 days behind our “normal” strawberry season due to the cold, wet spring.  This year’s strawberries are looking good, and taste great!  In most years our Strawberry Day is near the end of the season whereas this year we’re just beginning the season.  Before we go any further, I want to mention a few important things for this year’s Strawberry Day event.  Normally we don’t worry too much if the kids (or adults) crawl, roll or run through the patch.  They are having a great time and we’re usually done picking most of the berries so there isn’t too much harm that can be done.  This year, we need to limit the amount of frolicking through the field.  We are proud of this beautiful field and really need to make sure we treat the plants gently and tread lightly so we don’t damage the plants or the immature berries that we want to preserve for picking over the next few weeks.  We’ll limit the traffic to our early varieties including Earliglow and our new early variety called Galletta.  These two early varieties will be in full production.  Some of our mid-season varieties are starting to produce some beautiful berries, but we need to try to stay out of this section of the field so we can continue to have abundant berries for two more weeks! 

This year's strawberry field--streamers to deter the birds!
As you prepare for your trip to the farm this weekend, please remember to pack your ballet shoes (tutu not required) so you can walk gracefully through the field like a ballet dancer and watch where you step! While I understand many members really enjoy participating in the “Heaviest Berry Contest,” we will not be able to host this activity this year.  Many of the big berries that are going to be tempting to pick will be in the part of the field that will not be open for picking.  The competition can get pretty intense some years and we often have excited participants leap off the wagon so they can run through the field in search of the winning berry.  Remember, ballet dancers don’t run.  While they do leap, we ask that you only do maneuvers such as these if you are professionally trained to do so.  Aside from the professional ballet dancers in attendance, we should all consider ourselves amateurs and limit our activity to gentle walking.  Please, do not run through the field this year!  If you do feel a sudden burst of joy coupled with the desire to run, feel free to do laps around the perimeter of the field.  Thank you in advance for your attention to these details.  If we all work together and treat the field with respect, we’ll be able to maximize our harvests this year and preserve the field for another great year in 2019!

Strawberry plants right after planting last spring.
While there won’t be a quiz about strawberry production when you come for Strawberry Day, we thought it might be interesting for our members to understand a little more about how we produce our strawberries.  We use a matted bed system of strawberry production.  This means we plant bare root dormant strawberry plants in early spring.  We space them about 12-16 inches apart.  The field we’ll be picking from this year is actually in its second year of growth, but this is our first year picking from it.  We planted the field last year, spring 2017.  The first year we do not harvest fruit.  The plants will produce blossoms, but we snip them off to shunt the energy in the plant towards producing runners for daughter plants instead of producing fruit.  Generally the amount of fruit a first-year plant would produce is not that great, thus it is more productive to forego the fruit for the sake of encouraging the plant to grow and spread.  The main strawberry plant will send off new growth called runners.  These runners will produce daughter plants that will set their roots into the soil thus propagating our strawberry crop.

Covering strawberries to protect from frost.
Over the course of the first year, we focus on controlling weeds with mechanical cultivation and hand weeding and make sure the plants have adequate water and nutrients to support their growth, health and development.  We bury drip tape under the beds before we plant so we can easily and efficiently provide water as well as nutrients when needed through these water lines. In the fall, the plants will start to produce the embryos or buds in the crown or base of the plant for the following year.  We then cover the plants heavily with straw mulch to protect this new growth from freezing and thawing over the course of the winter.  In the spring, the plants are uncovered and the mulch fills in between the plants to help choke out any weeds and to provide a clean bed for the strawberries.  The mulch isn’t removed too soon though or the plants will start blossoming and are at greater risk of being damaged by frost.  We also cover the field with large row covers, basically a huge blanket to keep the strawberries warm and protected on nights when we anticipate freezing temperatures. 

We select the varieties based on their ripening season, flavor, color, disease resistance and production potential.  Flavor is one of our most important characteristics and we typically only choose varieties that are rated as having “Excellent” flavor by Nourse Farms, the farm that produces our strawberry plants.  Genetics plays a very big role in flavor, which is why we’ve learned to trust Nourse Farms and their expert recommendations.  Every year we evaluate the plants and the characteristics of their fruit to decide which varieties we like best and want to plant again.  In California and Florida, two major strawberry producing states, the varieties they plant are “ever-bearing.”  These varieties have longer ripening seasons and have been bred to be a firmer berry with a longer shelf life to hold up to shipping.  While these strawberries often look pretty, their flavor is no comparison to any local berry you will get in early summer.  The berries we plant are “June-bearing.”  While our season is shorter in comparison, we select varieties that ripen at different times so we can extend our season as long as we can.  We have some early berries (Earliglow and our new Galetta), some mid-season, and some late ripening varieties.

After the harvest is done, we will renovate the field.  This means we will destroy some of the plants to promote more runners and daughter plant production for the next year.  We only harvest off our field for 2 years before it is destroyed and we start a new field in a different location. Why do we do this when the field is still producing?  Well, we like to keep our patch as clean as we can and free from perennial weeds.  The older the patch, the greater the chance that weed seeds such as dandelion and thistle will make their way into the patch.  This is also a means of controlling any leaf disease we may see on a variety.  A young, clean patch will usually have greater production and yields.

The best way to eat a strawberry is while standing in the patch with the sun overhead and a gentle breeze blowing across your face. While I hope you have the chance to do this, the second best option is to eat locally grown berries in season.  Sliced berries are a great topper for a bowl of cereal, ice cream, pancakes, waffles, or added to a spinach salad.  You can also preserve them to eat later in the year in the form of frozen berries, strawberry jam or syrup.  Other popular ways to enjoy strawberries include strawberry shortcake, pie, or chocolate covered berries! 

The weather looks good for this weekend’s festivities.  We have lots of other crops to show you and there may be an opportunity to pick some crops including onions and zucchini!  Of course we’ll have plenty of nice strawberries, delicious strawberry ice cream, and lots of good company as well! 

Our cabins are spoken for, but we still have lots of room in our two campgrounds if you’d like to turn your farm visit into a weekend adventure. 

We hope you enjoy your strawberries this season and we look forward to seeing you at Strawberry Day!

June 14, 2018 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Garlic Scapes

Cooking With This Week’s Box: 

This Week’s Summary of Recipes & The Vegetables They Utilize:

French Breakfast Radishes:  Dal with Radish Raita

Cilantro:  Thai Coconut Soup with Spinach and Garlic Scapes (See Below)

Garlic Scapes:  Thai Coconut Soup with Spinach and Garlic Scapes (See Below); Garlic Scape herb spread (See Below); Spicy Ginger Pork Noodles with Bok Choi

Spinach:  Thai Coconut Soup with Spinach and Garlic Scapes (See Below); Dal with Radish Raita

Hon Tsai Tai OR Bok ChoiSpicy Ginger Pork Noodles with Bok Choi

This week I’d like to start off by welcoming the Peak Season CSA Vegetable Share members!  And just in time for the peak season...strawberries!  We’re really excited to be kicking off strawberry season this week and want to remind you that this weekend is our annual Strawberry Day event at the farm.  The strawberry ice cream is scheduled to arrive on Thursday and Richard’s planning the tour route.  We hope you’ll plan on joining us!

This is a busy week, so I’m really looking for quick, easy dishes to prepare.  That’s how this Thai Coconut Soup with Spinach & Garlic Scapes (see below) evolved.  I haven’t made cream of spinach soup…well, ever.  For some reason it sounded good to me this week, but I didn’t have extra cream and I wanted to avoid that overcooked spinach flavor.  I ended up going with a Thai coconut soup concept, but I blended fresh, raw garlic scapes and spinach into the flavorful coconut milk broth.  This soup is easy and fast to make as well as being flavorful and filling.  Garnish it with scallion greens and some of the fresh cilantro in this week’s box and your set. 

Spicy Ginger Pork Noodles with Bok Choi
Several years ago we featured a recipe for Spicy Ginger Pork Noodles with Bok Choi.  This is the perfect week to make this recipe using hon tsai tai which is an acceptable substitute for the bok choi.  You’ll make use of some of the garlic scapes, scallions and cilantro in this recipe.  This will make a simple dinner and leftovers are equally as good! 

Another blast from the past recipe that crossed my mind this week was my White Turnip Salad with Miso Ginger Vinaigrette.  This is a refreshing, light salad that rounds out a simple meal when served with a piece of grilled salmon or chicken.  This salad makes use of both the greens and the turnips and is garnished with almonds for a little extra crunch.

This is definitely a week to enjoy salads and here is a recipe that was made for this week’s box contents.  This Boston Lettuce Avocado Salad with Lime Dressing will make good use of the head lettuce in this week’s box along with the avocadoes and limes from the fruit box!  It also includes cilantro…which just happens to be in this week’s vegetable box as well!  This salad will make a nice light lunch along with some crackers and sliced French Breakfast Radishes. 

Strawberry Rhubarb Gin Ricky
Photo from Family Style Food
So what are you going to do with the delicious strawberries in this week’s box, and the next few weeks to come?  Well, this week I’d recommend using some of them to make a Strawberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette.  This light, sweet dressing will go very nicely on a salad made with either red oak or Boston lettuce.  Garnish your salad with some crumbled feta and maybe a few croutons.  This would actually be a nice salad to eat with a sandwich, so perhaps you’ll try this recipe for a Strawberry Balsamic Grilled Cheese!  Strawberry season doesn’t last long, so you’ll want to eat them while you can!  I never considered putting fresh strawberries on a sandwich, but this sounds delicious.  The cheese this recipe calls for is similar to medium to sharp cheddar.  I think this would be delicious with gouda or a smoked cheddar as well.  While we’re talking strawberries, I want to share this cocktail with you as well.  If you have any rhubarb left from last week’s box, consider pairing it with some of the strawberries this week to make Strawberry Rhubarb Gin Rickey cocktails to celebrate Father’s Day!

Some boxes this week will include baby arugula and others will have saute mix.  If you receive the baby arugula, consider this recipe for Grilled Chicken with Arugula & Warm Chickpeas which will make a delicious, simple dinner.  Eat it on the patio with some good crusty bread slathered with Garlic Scape Herb Butter (See below).

If you are looking for another way to put this week’s radishes to use, consider making this Dal recipe with Radish Raita.  The radishes add a little zing to the yogurt which is served as a condiment for the dal.  This recipe also calls for a generous portion of cooking greens.  This is your opportunity to utilize any greens that may be lurking in your refrigerator.  Radish or turnip tops, spinach or saute mix, or hon tsai tai would all be appropriate to include in this dish. 

Greens & Grains Breakfast Scramble, Photo from epicurios
Well, we’ve almost reached the bottom of another CSA box.  We’ve covered lunch and dinners for the week with quite a few dishes ranging from noodles to grilled cheese to soup.  Lets not forget to eat well for breakfast too.  If you receive saute mix in your box this week instead of arugula, use it to make this simple Greens & Grains Breakfast Scramble.  The other delicious, simple vegetable dish I’ve enjoyed for breakfast this week is this recipe for Summer Squash with Basil Butter.  Use the zucchini in this week’s box along with basil from your own herb garden!  This makes a great vegetable to serve for brunch with eggs, bacon and toast.  If you have any left, turn it into a breakfast quesadilla the next day with some Monterey Jack to hold the quesadilla filling together.

Before I close out this week’s Cooking With The Box article, I just want to invite any new peak season members to join our Facebook Group.  This is a great forum to converse with other CSA members, share your recipes, ask questions and create a great connection with others in this HVF community of eaters.  Have a great week and we look forward to seeing you at Strawberry Day!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Garlic Scapes 

Garlic scape emerging from the hardneck garlic plant.

Garlic is a staple item in our kitchens, but bulbs of garlic to use in the form of cloves are hard to come by this time of the season.  It’s too early for fresh bulbs of garlic and if you have any garlic remaining from last fall, it is likely sprouting by now.  Even with a staple ingredient like garlic, we can continue to eat seasonally and locally when we are willing to consider garlic in its other forms.  For the past several weeks we’ve enjoyed green garlic.  Green garlic is best when it’s young and tender, but as it continues to grow the base starts to become a bulb and the layers of the plant become tough and less than desirable to eat. That’s just the way the garlic grows.  Just as we outgrow green garlic, garlic scapes start to form and we take the next step in our seasonal garlic journey.

Garlic scapes are the long, skinny, green vegetable with a lot of curl that you’ll find in this
week’s box.  Up until the early 90’s we used to remove scapes from the garlic plant and throw them on the ground!  What were we thinking?!  We were the first farm in the Midwest to start harvesting the scapes for use as a vegetable, thanks to one of our customers from Korea who asked us to save the garlic scapes for her so she could make pickles.  We thought this was odd (remember we used to throw them on the ground), but saved some for her anyway. She was gracious enough to share a jar of pickled scapes with us and that was our introduction to how delicious they are to eat!

Pickled Garlic Scapes
Garlic scapes are a curly shoot that forms on a hardneck garlic plant and grows up from the center of the plant in June.  All of our varieties of garlic are hardneck garlic.  This type of garlic produces scapes as part of nature’s plan for the plant to propagate itself in the soil.  Right now we want the garlic plant to focus its energy into producing a nice bulb of garlic, so we remove the scape from the plant.  Nearly the entire scape is edible and is best when harvested young and tender.  You may need to trim off the skinny end near the little bulb as it is tough sometimes.  Garlic scapes are very tender and do not need to be peeled…Easy!  Scapes have a bright, mild garlic flavor.  They can be used in any recipe that calls for garlic cloves, just chop them up and add them as you would clove garlic.  They can be grilled or roasted, pickled, fermented, and make an awesome pesto such as this  Cilantro & Garlic Scape Pesto recipe Dani Lind from Rooted Spoon Culinary shared with us back in 2015.  Check out our recipe archive for other delicious recipes utilizing garlic scapes including Pickled Garlic Scapes and Tempura Garlic Scapes.  Store your scapes in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them.  They’ll store for 2-3 weeks.  

Thai Coconut Soup with Spinach & Garlic Scapes 

By Chef Andrea

Yield:  2 quarts 

4 cups chicken stock

1 can coconut milk (15-16 oz can)
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
2 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp maple syrup
¼ tsp red chili flakes
½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp lime juice
8 oz baby spinach
3-4 garlic scapes, cut into 1 inch pieces
Zest of one lime
Cilantro, chopped, to garnish

  1. Put the chicken stock and coconut milk in a medium sized sauce pan along with the minced ginger, fish sauce, soy sauce, maple syrup, chili flakes, ½ tsp salt and black pepper.  Bring the liquid to a simmer over medium to medium high heat.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, uncovered, to infuse the flavors.  
  2. After 10 minutes, remove the coconut milk mixture from heat.  The next step is to puree the soup in a blender.  If you have a large blender container, you may be able to puree the whole batch of soup at one time.  Otherwise you may need to blend the soup in two batches.  First put about half of the spinach and the garlic scapes into the blender.  Pour the hot coconut milk mixture over the spinach and add the lime juice.  Secure the lid on the container and turn the blender on, starting on low speed and gradually increasing.  If you are blending everything in one batch, stop, remove the lid and add the remainder of the spinach.  If blending in two batches, blend the first batch until the spinach is chopped finely, but there is still a little texture to the mixture.  Pour the soup into a bowl and then repeat the process with the remaining spinach.
  3. Once the soup is blended, stir in the lime zest and taste it.  Adjust the seasoning to your liking with more salt, pepper and lime juice as needed.
  4. Serve the soup hot with chopped cilantro as a garnish.

Garlic Scape Herb Butter 

Photo from Dishing up the Dirt
Yield:  1 cup butter

1 cup (2 sticks) good-quality unsalted butter, softened
1 garlic scape, minced
2 ½ Tbsp minced parsley
2 ½ Tbsp minced dill
½ tsp fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp sea salt

  1. Using a hand mixer or a small food processor, beat together the softened butter, garlic scape, herbs, lemon juice, and salt until well combined.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

This super-simple recipe was borrowed from Andrea Bemis’s book, Dishing Up the Dirt.  She serves this butter as a spread for a fresh vegetable platter.  This spread would be delicious on a radish sandwich, spread it on toast, use it for your morning eggs, or use it to cook other vegetable in such as sautéed spinach or sautéed baby white turnips with their greens.