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

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