Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A Box Deconstructed- 5/18/2017

Cooking with This Week’s Box!

The asparagus kicked into high gear with the warm temperatures we had over the weekend, so this week’s box has a nice sized bunch!  Lets start off with a recipe that just popped into my inbox this week from the Dishing Up The Dirt blog.  Andrea Bemis shared a very seasonal recipe for Herb Roasted Chicken with Asparagus and Green Garlic. This recipe will take about 40-50 minutes to prepare, but your entire dinner will be done in one pan and most of the time is just waiting for the chicken to cook!

Credit: Andrea Bemis
This is the last week for our overwintered spinach and I’ve had enchiladas on my mind.  I like this recipe for Spinach Enchiladas with Lentils featured at  This recipe is written for 2 servings of enchiladas, however the sauce part of this recipe is enough to make 4 servings.  While you’re making a mess, you might as well double the enchilada part and use all the sauce!  There are several variations at the end of the recipe, so adapt it to your liking!

Credit: Naturally Ella
The pea vine in this week’s box brings a refreshing new flavor to the table.  I am going to use it to make the Pea Vine & Green Onion Pasta Salad with Ginger and Lemon featured in this week’s vegetable newsletter.  Serve it at room temperature with a piece of seared salmon for dinner and then enjoy any leftovers as a cold salad for lunch the next day with any leftover protein mixed in!

The Charred Scallion Butter recipe in this week’s newsletter is super-easy to make and can be used in multiple ways throughout the week. This is part of a feature on Bon Appetit that features 32 recipes using scallions….all applicable to the Egyptian Walking onions in this week’s box. This recipe calls for two bunches of onions, but can easily be cut in half if you’re using one of your bunches for another recipe. Spread this butter on your morning bagel or toast and dip it into the soft yolk of an over easy egg. Spread it on crusty French bread and top it with a few stalks of roasted or grilled asparagus and some freshly chopped chives for a quick dinner or lunch option.  Still have a little left? Use it to saute some fresh mushrooms and then toss in some cooked fettuccine. Garnish with a little shredded cheese and you have a quick dinner option to enjoy with a crispy lettuce salad.

Lettuce!! Aren’t the head lettuces in this box beautiful! These tender heads of lettuce don’t need much beyond a simple vinaigrette….such as Jamie Oliver’s Honey and Lemon Juice Dressing.   Add some freshly chopped chives and chive blossoms and you have a simple, yet tasty salad. The lettuce leaves in these mini heads are also great to use as a wrap.  Fill them with your favorite filling or turn them into a taco!


Last but not least, this is probably our last week for chives and I can’t believe I almost forgot to remind Richard to make a batch of Chive Parmesan Popcorn!! Kick back for movie night or invite some friends over for popcorn on the patio.  

Have a delicious week! —Chef Andrea

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.” 
― Laurie Colwin

Charred Scallion Butter
Yield:  1 cup

2 bunches scallions or green onions, trimmed, halved crosswise
2 tsp finely grated lime zest
1 tsp fresh lime juice
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1.       Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat until smoking hot. Add scallions and cook, turning occasionally, until evenly blackened, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool; coarsely chop.
2.       Mix scallions, lime zest and lime juice into butter in a medium bowl until evenly blended;  season with salt and pepper

Credit: Bon Appetit
Note:  Butter can be made 2 weeks ahead.  Cover and chill.

Recipe by Alison Roman as featured at 

Pea Vine & Green Onion Pasta Salad 
with Ginger & Lemon
Yield:  6-8 servings

12 oz pasta (macaroni, fusilli, penne or other small pasta)
5 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 Tbsp honey
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 bunch green onions
5 Tbsp peanut oil or sunflower oil
1-2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
Juice and zest of 1-2 lemons (approximately 4 Tbsp juice)
1-2 Tbsp fresh mint, thinly sliced
1 cup finely chopped pea vine
Salt & black pepper, to taste

  1. Cook pasta in a pot of salted, boiling water until al dente.  Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water. Place pasta in a large mixing bowl.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, combine the apple cider vinegar, ginger, honey and a pinch of red pepper flakes in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium   heat. Simmer for just 1-2 minutes, stirring to ensure the honey is dissolved. Remove     from heat and pour over the drained pasta. Stir to combine.
  3. Remove the root end from the green onions and cut apart the green tops from the white base of the onion. Finely chop the white portion and thinly slice the green tops. 
  4.  Add the peanut oil, sesame oil, lemon juice & zest, mint, green onions and pea vine to the bowl with the pasta. Stir well to combine. Season with salt and pepper and set aside for about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to develop before serving. This salad may also be made in advance and refrigerated overnight. Before serving, adjust the seasoning to your liking by adding more lemon juice, salt and/or black pepper. Serve either cold or at room temperature.
    Recipe by Chef Andrea Yoder, Harmony Valley Farm.

Thyme Flies When You’re Having Fun!

We have neglected the truth that a good farmer is a craftsman of the highest order, a kind of artist."
― Wendell Berry

Thyme Flies When You’re Having Fun! Herb Packs Are Back!
By Farmer Richard

Back in our early days of CSA, we used to include more herbs in the CSA shares.  We invested time and money to grow a wide variety, spent time harvesting & bunching them, and then heard frequently from members that they were not using all of the herbs in a bunch before they went bad.  As we looked at our cost of production, we quickly realized some of these herbs were not a sustainable venture.  We brought this issue up with our members at a core group meeting.  Dear, sweet Marilyn, a long time CSA member, offered us an excellent solution to this problem.  Give us the herb plants and we can grow and harvest our own herbs as we need them!  What a great idea!  Ever since then, we’ve made herb packs a standard part of our vegetable shares. 

This week we’re delivering herb packs to your sites. They have filled up their little cells in the pack and are ready to be planted, so put on your gardening gloves and have some fun!  You can plant your herbs in a garden space or in pots to keep on your patio, porch or kitchen window sill if you’re limited on space.  Choose good, loose garden soil mixed with lots of compost (up to 1” mixed into the soil if you’re planting into a garden space).  The plants will do best in well-drained soil with full sun.  If you don’t have a space with full sun exposure, partial sun will be OK too.  If you have rabbits or other little herb-loving critters in your yard, you might need to fence your herbs to protect them. 

There are four perennial herbs in your pack:  Oregano, Sage, Thyme and Savory.  These herbs can survive the winter and will consistently come back year after year, so consider where you’d like to establish these herbs in your garden.  Sage and oregano will get quite large, so it is best to give them about 2 square feet of space in the area you plant them in.  Each year I cut off all the old wood from my sage plant to make room for the new growth.  Thyme and savory are a bit smaller and only need about 1 square foot of space. 

The remaining plants in your pack are annuals and include Italian Basil, Chervil, Italian Parsley and Curly Parsley (although the parsley plants in my garden survived the winter last year).  Italian basil and chervil need to be cut back regularly to delay flower and seed formation.  Parsley will continue to produce throughout the season, so don’t be afraid to cut these plants back too.  If you can’t use your herbs as fast as they are growing, cut the extra herbs anyway and preserve them for use later.  Dry them in a low-heat oven or in a food dehydrator and put them to use in the winter.  Later in the season, we’ll be writing a follow-up article about different ways you might preserve your herbs before the last hard frost of the season sets in.  Watch for that information in the fall!

I hope you can find a good place to plant your herbs so you may enjoy them throughout the CSA season this year.  If you need help identifying your plants, refer to the picture (in order):  

                                             Chervil               Thyme                Savory
             Oregano              Sage                   Italian Parsley
             Basil                   Basil                   Curly Parsley    
Green Onions & Pea Vine: A Peasful Pair!
By:  Laurel Blomquist & Andrea Yoder

     Onions are a staple of American cuisine for their ability to create layers of flavor in dishes. We strive to include at least one member of the allium or onion family in every CSA box. In the spring, we start with overwintered Egyptian walking onions and potato onions. Later, we move on to spring scallions and green top cipollini onions. Next, sweet onions arrive just before the red and yellow storage onions, which we can utilize all winter.

     The name of this week’s onion variety, Egyptian walking onion, is a bit mysterious. It is commonly known that ancient Egyptians were among the first to cultivate onions, so perhaps the name honors this heritage. The ‘walking’ part of their name takes an active imagination. Most onions, when left in the field, will produce flowers and eventually seeds from which you can plant new onions. These, however, will produce mini-onions, or sets, at the top of the plant. This top-set is so heavy that the plant slowly falls to the ground. Wherever the set lands, a new plant will begin. The process will infinitely repeat itself if given the space, hence over time, it appears as if the onion is indeed walking down the field!

     At this point, I’m sure you’re scratching your head, so I’ll prepare you for next week’s onion variety, potato onions. You may know them by their other name, multiplier onions. Both names imply the same thing: planting one set or bulb in the ground will produce around five onions if given time to multiply. If you know anything about planting potatoes, it’s that we don’t plant potato seeds. Instead, we plant a piece of potato, which sprouts and produces a plant that yields a group of potatoes. Potato onions got their name because they behave in the same way.

     The rest of our onions, including spring scallions, are planted and grown from seed. They are the first thing we plant in the greenhouse every February. Can you believe it takes that many months to produce onions from seed in Wisconsin?

     One bunch of potato onion, Egyptian onion, or scallion equals roughly four ounces, and yields ½ cup when chopped. Their milder flavor means you can use them in raw or cooked applications. Enjoy the first onions of spring!

     Pea Vine is actually an immature pea plant that is harvested before the vine starts to develop blossoms. It has a mild, sweet pea flavor and may be eaten raw or lightly cooked.  While the tendrils and leaves are tender, the main stem can sometimes get tough depending on how mature the plant is at harvest. This week’s pea vine is very young and most of the stem is still tender. Next week’s pea vine may be a bit more mature and you may find some of the lower stem is a bit more coarse. If you find this to be the case, pick the tender leaves, tendrils and thin stems off the main stem. I must admit that I don’t like to spend a lot of time sorting through a bunch of pea vine and I prefer to use as much of the bunch as I there is a lot of flavor in the stem! Thus, when the pea vine is more mature and some of the stems are a bit more coarse, I tend to use pea vine in ways that allow me to blend it in a blender or food processor to make things such as pea vine pesto or pea vine cream cheese (both recipes may be found on our website). 

     The other way I like to use pea vine is in sauces, soups or broth. I generally chop the pea vine into smaller pieces and add it to hot broth or a sauce base. Let the pea vine simmer briefly to extract the flavor, but don’t overcook it or you’ll lose the bright pea flavor. Once you’ve infused the flavor of the pea vine into the sauce or broth, you can strain it out to remove it. If you’d like to extract just a little more flavor, blend the mixture before straining it. Enjoy!


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Box Deconstructed- 5/11/2017

A Box Deconstructed- 5/11/2017

Cooking with This Week’s Box…

This is our second week of deliveries, but if this is your first delivery of the season…Welcome! I’m glad you’ll be cooking with us this year and want to remind you we’re here to help you.  Remember to read your newsletter and “What’s In the Box” email that accompany each delivery.  This is where you’ll find important information about your box contents, recipes, etc.  This year we’re trying some new things in the newsletter, including this section which is intended to provide you with some ideas about what you might make with your box contents and, when possible, we’ll also provide you with a link to that recipe. 

This week’s box has a lot of GREEN!  Lets roll up our sleeves and get cooking!  Last week our featured vegetable of the week was nettles.  A CSA member in our Facebook group shared a recipe for Pizza with Garlic Cream and Nettles that is a spring favorite for her family.   This recipe will probably use about half of your nettle bunch (although you can put as many on your pizza as you’d like!), so you could use the remainder to make a quart of nettle tea or turn it into a small batch of nettle pesto.  If you are short on time this week and the pizza idea is a bit too much, consider just making the Nettle Pesto recipe we featured on our blog last week.  Nettle pesto is easy to make and versatile, so you might find it handy to have in your refrigerator.  Spread it on toast with cream cheese, stir it into scrambled eggs, add a dollop to a piece of seared salmon, or toss it into pasta for a super quick dinner. 

The spinach in this week’s box is possibly the last of our overwintered spinach, and I hope you’ll take a moment to notice how sweet it is this week!  Use one bunch to make the Green Pancakes recipe featured in this week’s newsletter and below.  Serve these pancakes as a side dish alongside a seared pork chop with sautéed asparagus and mushrooms to create a tasty dinner. If you have any pancakes left, heat them up in the morning for a quick breakfast item!  The second bunch of spinach will make a delicious salad dressed with the Creamy Green Garlic & Feta Dressing recipe featured in this week’s blog.  Add some cooked chicken, tuna or beef to the salad along with olives, croutons and grilled asparagus for an entrée salad.  Use the extra dressing as a dip for crackers, chips, bread or put a dollop on top of your Green Pancakes!

You’ll be using the green garlic in several recipes this week.  If you run short on green garlic, substitute some Egyptian Walking Onions.  Reserve a few onions to use in an Asparagus Stir-Fry, such as this one featured on Heidi Swanson’s blog.  While you’re at Heidi’s blog, check out her recipe for Baked Quinoa Patties.  Her recipe calls for chives and dill, but I substituted extra chives for the dill this week and they were delicious.  If you have a little bit of extra spinach remaining, substitute that for the kale.  These little patties are good for any meal of the day and are easy to take with you if you need something quick and easy to grab on the go.  Lastly, enjoy a few refreshing beverages with this week’s bunch of sorrel.  Use part of the bunch to make Frosty Banana and Sorrel Smoothies  (I can’t get enough of these!) and use the remainder to make a batch of Sorrel-Lime Cooler!  Sit back, relax and sip on one of these refreshing drinks as you soak up the green in these early spring boxes!  
 ---Chef Andrea 

“There are five elements: earth, air, fire, water and garlic.”  

Green Pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp plus ¼ tsp salt
4 large eggs, 2 whole and 2 separated
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup minced green garlic, lower white portion
¼ cup thinly sliced green garlic tops
2 Tbsp dry white wine
½ cup milk
5 cups (5 oz) spinach, finely chopped
Olive oil, for cooking

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt and form a well in the center.   Add 2 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks and stir to mix with part of the flour from the mound.  (Put the egg whites in the refrigerator until you are ready for that step.)  Sprinkle with pepper.  Add the garlic bulb and tops, wine, and then pour the milk in a slow stream, whisking as you go. Whisk until all the flour is incorporated and the mixture is creamy and mostly lump-free. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight. 
  2. When ready to cook the pancakes, remove the bowl from the fridge and fold in the spinach.
  3. In a clean bowl, beat the 2 egg whites with ¼ tsp salt with an electric mixer or a whisk until they form stiff peaks.  Fold them into the batter with a spatula, working in a circular, up-and-down motion to avoid deflating the egg whites.
  4. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Ladle about ¼ cup of the batter into the hot skillet, without flattening.  Repeat to form as many pancakes as will comfortably fit in the skillet, probably no more than 4.
  5. Cook until the edges are set and the pancakes are golden underneath, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook until the other side is set and golden, 3 to 4 minutes.  Transfer them to a sheet tray (with a rack if available) and hold them in the oven set at the lowest heat setting while you finish cooking the pancakes.  Grease the skillet again, and repeat with the remaining batter.  You should have enough to make 10-12 pancakes.  
  6. Serve hot.  You may choose to add a dollop of sour cream or pesto on top, however they are also good just on their own!  If you have any leftover pancakes, they reheat well in a toaster or toaster oven.  Spread a layer of cream cheese on the reheated pancakes and enjoy them as a snack or for breakfast! 

This recipe was adapted from Clotilde Dusoulier’s book, The French Market Cookbook.  Her original recipe called for garlic cloves and Swiss chard, thus you can see this recipe may be adapted to the season!  Clotilde also has a blog,, where she writes about seasonal foods and shares simple, approachable recipes.   

Creamy Green Garlic & Feta Dressing 

Yield 1½ cups

1 cup plain yogurt
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
 cup green garlic (tops and bottoms), finely chopped
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
⅓ cup feta cheese, crumbled
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine yogurt, mustard, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, green garlic, 1 tsp salt and black pepper.  Stir well to incorporate all the ingredients.
  2. Fold in the feta cheese.  Refrigerate for 1-2 hours or overnight to allow the flavors to come together.  Taste before using and season to your liking with additional salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Serving Suggestions:  This dressing is most appropriate for dressing more sturdy “salad greens” such as spinach and romaine lettuce.  Toss the greens of your choosing with just enough dressing to lightly coat the leaves, then garnish with any other ingredients you might choose.  A few additional ingredient suggestions that pair well with this dressing include olives, croutons, toasted almonds or sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, and grilled asparagus.  If you have extra dressing, use it as a dip for chips or vegetables or as a topping for a baked potato.

Recipe by Chef Andrea Yoder, Harmony Valley Farm

Beauty in the Branches

“Farming is a Profession of Hope” 
― Brian Brett

Beauty in the Branches
By Farmers Richard and Andrea

   You may be wondering why we offer bunches of decorative curly willow and pussy willow every spring with the first two CSA deliveries.  Didn’t I sign up for a vegetable CSA?  Yes, our focus is on growing vegetables, but the willows are an important part of creating biodiversity on our farm thereby adding health and vitality to our vegetable production.  

   One winter back in the early nineties, it was cold and windy with little to no snow cover.  We had had some fields with late fall crops in them and there wasn’t enough time to plant and establish a cover crop after the vegetables were harvested.  Richard remembers seeing precious soil blowing off the fields that winter, so he decided to put in a hedgerow to provide a windbreak and prevent further erosion.  Curly willow and pussy willow varieties were chosen because they also would provide a saleable decorative product.  Little did we know we’d discover much more value from having these plants as part of our ecosystem.  Not only do they add beauty to our landscape and provide a windbreak, they also serve as habitat for birds, beneficial insects and creatures that are an important part of managing pest insects and pollinating our fruit and vegetables crops

Organic systems require more complicated production techniques than simply spraying chemical fertilizers and pesticides.  However, if you let nature do its thing, you don’t really have to do much except let the intricate natural system unfold.  Our willow hedgerows provide a permanent area that serves both as a refuge as well as a habitat.  When you set aside an area as a permanent “refuge,” you provide a place for critters to go when you work the field.  If we can keep them “on the sidelines,” they’ll be ready to move back into the fields after we’ve worked the ground.  We want creatures, such as ground beetles, in our fields because they eat weed seeds and other predatory pests.  The other benefit with having undisturbed ground in the hedgerow is that it provides a place for other creatures to live.  Some, such as goldfinches, may prefer to make nests in the branches.  Many beneficial bees and wasps are often ground dwellers, so they need undisturbed ground to nest in and raise their young. 

Every spring the pussy willow catkins (little fuzzy soft things everyone likes to touch) are buzzing with bees and wasps.  The pussy willows provide these critters with a source of nourishment early in the spring before other spring flowers are in bloom.  Bees are important pollinators for crops such as strawberries, watermelons, melons and squash.  We like to see the wasps because they help to control pest insects by attacking the larval or immature stages of whiteflies, moths, leaf beetles, cabbageworms, slugs and other pest insects that might cause problems with the crops in our fields. 

There’s another cool thing happening with the wasps in the willow. The willow produces a protein-rich sap from its branches.  There is a black aphid that likes to feed on the sap.  The black aphid isn’t a pest in our fields and confines itself to the willow branches.  This aphid consumes the protein in the sap, and exudes a sugary “honeydew” from its back.  Beneficial wasps love to feed on the honeydew on the backs of the aphids.  These predatory wasps help us to control our cabbageworm populations.  They can be seen carrying cabbageworms out of the fields to feed to their young larvae.  Small parasitic wasps also control the worms by injecting their eggs into the cabbageworms.  The cabbageworm then is host to the young wasp larvae that feed on the body of the cabbageworm after they hatch. 

In the winter, after all the leaves have fallen off the branches, we go to the wintry wonderland of our fields and trim the curly and pussy willow trees.  We need to keep them trimmed back so we can maintain our field roads that run alongside the hedgerows.  We also trim them to keep them thinned so there is room for new growth.  We carry out the branches we’ve cut off the trees and bring them into the packing shed, making giant piles in our coolers.  Over the winter our packing shed crew bundles them into the beautiful decorative bunches.  We are careful to take enough to maintain the space and the tree, but also make sure we leave enough branches to ensure it is a welcoming place for birds, bees, wasps and other critters to return to in the spring.  Some years we may have a lot and other years may be more limited.  While we enjoy their beauty in our homes, we have to remember they have to first serve their purpose in the field.

Curly willow and pussy willow branches are a very low-maintenance decoration to enjoy in your home or office.  Display the stems in a vase or container of your choosing.  They don’t require water and can last for years!!  You may add them to a vase of flowers with water for a short time, but they may sprout and produce roots.  If that happens, find a place to plant it in your yard and see what creatures take up residence in your space!


Let's Not Mince Words: Garlic Is Grrreat!
By:  Lisa Garvalia

   Green garlic is young, immature garlic which is harvested before the bulb forms. It looks similar to a green onion or scallion. It has a white bulb and green, flat leaves.  The flavor is more mild than that of green onions or scallions, and it has a pleasant garlic scent. The entire plant may be eaten, from the bulb to the green leaves. Green garlic should be stored in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel in your crisper drawer and should be used up within 5-7 days.
   When we harvest mature garlic in July, we put it in the greenhouse to dry. Once dried, we carefully sort the garlic and set aside the bulbs with the largest cloves and no signs of disease.  This is our seed stock for the next crop.  When it’s time to plant garlic in October, we crack the bulbs and separate the individual cloves.  If there are any smaller cloves on a bulb, we set those aside and this is what we plant for green garlic.  We also save small bulbs of garlic and give them a purpose by using them for green garlic seed as well.  The cloves for green garlic are planted just 2 inches apart, in contrast to 6-8 inch spacing for regular garlic that we want to grow to a full-sized bulb.
   Green garlic may be used in many of the same ways regular garlic or green onions are used, either fresh or cooked. Green garlic has a stronger flavor when raw, but mellows a bit with cooking. To use the green garlic, cut off the roots and give it a quick washing. Chopped green garlic tastes great in risotto, adding the chopped greens at the end of cooking. Green garlic can be added fresh to salads, again don’t forget to add the greens. It is also a great addition to soups, or sautéed with mushrooms and onions to eat with grilled beef or chicken. Drizzle a little olive oil on asparagus and whole green garlic stalks, add a little salt and freshly ground pepper and grill. Green garlic also makes a wonderful tasting aioli to add to your favorite sandwich. Green garlic is one of the many spring treats we get to enjoy after a long winter!!


CSA: It's Not Just for Veggies Anymore!

It's not too late to sign up as we do still have shares available!

Yes, we have our hearty Vegetable shares that people have loved for over 20 years. But we also have Organic Fruit, Meat & Coffee shares available, so don't delay! Bring in a friend and you'll receive a referral coupon for each new member who lists you on their sign-up form.

We still have room at all of our CSA sites in all delivery locations  including the Twin Cities, MNMadison, WI; and our local area including Viroqua, La Crosse & Onalaska, WI.

See our Sign-Up Form for share options and pricing.

We look forward to being your CSA farm for the 2017 season!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A Box Deconstructed- 5/4/2017

Left to Right, Top to Bottom: Nettles, Spinach, Sorrel, Ramps, Chives, Asparagus.
*Choice Item: Mixed Willow Bunch

Cooking with This Week’s Box…..

Welcome to the first CSA box of the season!  I’m glad you’ll be cooking with us this year and want to remind you we’re here to help you.  Remember to read your newsletter and “What’s In the Box” email that accompany each delivery.  This is where you’ll find important information about your box contents, recipes, etc.  This year we’re trying some new things in the newsletter, including this section which is intended to provide you with some ideas about what you might make with your box contents and, when possible, we’ll also provide you with a link to that recipe. 

To start off your week of cooking, I recommend making the recipe for Curried Nettle Stew with Chickpeas &Chicken featured in this week’s newsletter, served with Jasmine rice and a piece of warm pita bread.  Take one half of the bunch of sorrel to make Frosty Banana and Sorrel Smoothies for a quick breakfast.  This recipe was featured in our farmers’ market newsletter last week along with an article all about sorrel and a recipe for Armenian Cold Yogurt and Sorrel Soup.     Use the second half of the sorrel to make this soup, which also contains spinach and chives.  Since this soup is eaten cold, it’s an easy recipe to prepare in advance for a quick lunch or dinner option.  Serve it with a hard-boiled egg and a piece of toast slathered with Ramp Butter.  Ramp butter is very easy to make and the recipe may be found on our website.  It stores very well in the freezer, so eat some of it this week and put the remainder in a jar and pop it in the freezer to enjoy later in the year.  While chopping the chives for the sorrel soup, go ahead and chop a little extra.  Fold them into 8 oz of softened cream cheese with a few grinds of black pepper.  Now you have a spread for your morning bagel or put it on a wrap with a handful of spinach for a quick lunch.  What are you going to do with all the spinach this week?!  How about the Spring Spinach Chop Salad with Creamy Buttermilk RampDressing, featured in our newsletter in 2013.  Add a piece of grilled salmon and a few spears of grilled asparagus and serve it for dinner.  Any leftover salad ingredients and dressing will become lunch for the next day.    There should still be about half a bunch of ramps remaining, which is just enough to add to risotto.  Just use a basic recipe for risotto, but add chopped ramp bulbs and leaves in the final stages of cooking along with a handful of asparagus cut into bite-sized pieces.  Finish the risotto with some Parmesan cheese and you’re set!  Finally, with the little bit of remaining spinach, asparagus or any other vegetable bits still lingering, finish off the week with a frittata.  You can find a basic recipe for Spring Greens with Parmesan and Pancetta at Food52 (Spring Greens with Parmesan and Pancetta Frittata).  Happy Cooking!
---Chef Andrea 

May 2017—Nettle Cooking Tips & Recipes

A few cooking tips for nettles:

  What does the cooking term “blanch” mean?
Blanching is a cooking process where a food, usually a vegetable, is cooked briefly in boiling water, then removed and immediately placed into iced water or placed under cold running water to stop the cooking process.  In the case of nettles, blanching is important to remove the sting from the nettles so they are easier to work with.
  How much nettle is in one bunch?
1 bunch Harmony Valley Farm nettles weighs approximately 7-8 ounces with the stem and leaves
1 HVF bunch of nettle yields 5-6 cups lightly packed raw leaves
1 HVF bunch of blanched nettle yields 1 cup tightly packed or 1 ½ cups loosely packed nettle leaves 

Easy and Tasty Nettle Tea

1 quart canning jar
1 cup loosely packed, fresh nettle leaves
Hot water
Apple juice or honey, to taste

1.      Put nettle leaves into a quart canning jar and pour hot water over them.  Let set for 4 hours or overnight (for a long infusion). 
2.      Strain leaves out, sweeten, if desired, with apple juice or honey to taste.  Store tea in the refrigerator.  Drink one cup per day, either cold or warmed up.  Use within 3 days.

Recipe courtesy of Jean Schneider

Nettle Pesto

Yield:  Approximately 1 cup

Leaves and smaller stems from one bunch nettles, blanched (See note below)
2 to 5 cloves garlic
½ cup nuts (walnut or pine nuts are my favorites)
¾ cup Parmesan (or gruyere) cheese, shredded
2 Tbsp lemon juice
½ -1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt, to taste

1.      Make sure you have squeezed out the extra liquid from the blanched nettles, then put the garlic cloves, nuts, nettles, cheese, lemon juice and a pinch of salt in the food processor.  Pulse a few times to break everything down. 
2.      Slowly add olive oil with the food processor running until desired consistency is reached.  Adjust seasoning by adding more salt and/or lemon juice to your liking.

Serving & Use Suggestions:  Eat with crackers or tossed with fresh pasta, add it to your scrambled eggs or spread a layer on your sandwich.  It is best used fresh, as it will oxidize (turn brown on the top).   The brown doesn’t hurt anything it just doesn’t look good!  Stir it up and it is fine to eat. If you must store it, put it in the smallest container possible and add a coating of olive oil on top to keep it from turning brown.  You can freeze it or keep it in the refrigerator. 

Recipe courtesy of Jean Schneider

HVF Note:  You will need approximately 5-6 cups of loosely packed fresh nettle leaves for this recipe, which is about one bunch.  The recipe calls for using blanched nettles, but you may choose to make this recipe using raw nettles.  While most people eat nettles cooked, you can eat them raw as well.  Some individuals may be more sensitive to this experience than others, so if you have any hesitancy I’d recommend just blanching the nettles.  I (Andrea) was a little skeptical about eating raw nettles.  I made this recipe with both blanched nettles and raw nettles and found both variations to be very good.  Raw nettles have a little different flavor than a cooked nettle, but both flavors are acceptable.  Richard and I enjoyed eating the raw nettle pesto.  Richard did not notice any ill-effects from doing so.  I had a slight irritation in my mouth, but I am often sensitive to things like this and the sensation was in no way anything more than a minor irritation that subsided within less than an hour.  You can choose your method for yourself!

Curried Nettle Stew with Chickpeas & Chicken

Yield:  4-6 servings

1 Tbsp coconut oil or sunflower oil
4 pieces chicken legs and/or thighs, skin removed
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 Tbsp curry powder
3 cups chicken broth or stock
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 bunch nettles, blanched
3 Tbsp raisins
Salt, to taste
3-4 cups cooked rice for serving (Jasmine is my favorite)

1.      Heat oil in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat.  When the oil shimmers, add the chicken pieces.  Brown on one side for several minutes, then turn and brown the other side. Once the chicken pieces are nicely browned, set them to one side of the pan.
2.      Add the mustard seeds and curry powder.  Stir the spices into the oil and cook for a minute or so until they are fragrant.  Add the chicken broth and chickpeas. 
3.      Bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat just a little bit and cover.  You do not want the stew to boil, just gently simmer.  Adjust the heat accordingly.  Simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked through.  Remove the cover and take the pieces of chicken out of the pan.  Set them aside to cool.  Once cool enough to handle, pull the meat off the bones and cut into bite-sized pieces.  Set aside.
4.      While the chicken is cooking, prepare the nettles.  Remove the leaves and small stems from the main stem.  Discard the main stem and roughly chop the remaining leaves and small stems.  When you remove the chicken from the pan, it is time to add the nettles and the raisins to the broth.  Return the stew to a gentle simmer and partially cover the pan.  Simmer for about 12 minutes, then add the chicken back to the pan.  Simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
5.      Remove the pan from the heat and taste a bit of the stew.  Season to your liking with more salt.  Serve the stew with hot rice. 

Recipe by Chef Andrea Yoder