Wednesday, October 9, 2019

October 10, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Escarole!

Cooking With This Week's Box

Italian Garlic: White Bean & Escarole Pizza (see below); Italian Wedding Soup (See below)

Cauliflower or Broccoli Romanesco: Hot Bacon VinaigretteCauliflower Pizza Bake 

Broccoli or Broccoli Romanesco: Hot Bacon VinaigretteParmesan Roasted Broccoli

Orange Carrots: Italian Wedding Soup (see below); Carrot,Feta and Almond Salad

Purple Majesty Potatoes: Breakfast Potato Nachos

Yellow Onions: White Bean & Escarole Pizza (see below); Italian Wedding Soup (see below); Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblano and Caramelized Onion

Escarole: White Bean & Escarole Pizza (see below); Italian Wedding Soup (see below)

Our nights are getting colder and warm hats have become part of my daily attire again.  We haven’t had a frost yet, but we may see one before the end of the week.  These cool nights are great for sweetening crops, such as the escarole in this week’s box.  This is an interesting vegetable that is delicious both raw and cooked, however I think it’s at its best when cooked.  A traditional, simple way to cook escarole is to saute it in plenty of olive oil along with lots of garlic and red pepper flakes.  The Italian way is to cook it until it’s very soft, silky and tender. While this makes a delicious side dish on its own, you can also take this base preparation and put it on a pizza.  One of this week’s recipes is for a White Bean & Escarole Pizza (see below).  In this recipe you use a flavorful white bean puree as a base to spread on the crust and then top it off with the cooked escarole and parmesan cheese.  Of course, you can add meat if you like.  The second recipe featuring escarole this week is for Italian Wedding Soup (see below).  This is a classic way to use escarole and it’s a super simple soup.  Get the kids to help you form the meatballs and the rest will come together quickly.  The escarole will become silky and soft when cooked in the broth and is a nice complement to the fattiness of the pork.

Honey Lime Jalapeno Vinaigrette
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Sadly, we’re nearly finished picking peppers and if we do get a frost this weekend that will officially mark the end of pepper season.  This week we’ve packed three more little jalapenos, which could be used to make this Honey Lime Jalapeno Vinaigrette.  Use it as a salad dressing or as a marinade for fish or chicken.

While we’re talking salad dressing, I want to share this recipe for Hot Bacon Vinaigrette.  You can use this vinaigrette to make a wilted spinach or chard salad, but it can also be tossed with roasted cauliflower/Romanesco, mini sweet peppers or potatoes right after you take them out of the oven.

Back in August we featured this recipe for Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblano and Caramelized Onion.  We received a lot of positive comments about this recipe.  If you didn’t have a chance to try it, consider making it this week using the last of our poblano peppers along with spinach or chard and turnip greens.  You could also use the poblano peppers to make the Squash and Poblano Quesadilla with Pickled Jalapenos and Chipotle Crema that was featured in a September newsletter.

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Fall is the time of year when brassicas such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc really thrive.  You don’t have to do anything fancy with them and sometimes the simplest recipes are the best.  Try this Parmesan Roasted Broccoli.  You can make this with broccoli and/or Romanesco.  As for the cauliflower this week, last week I found this recipe for Cauliflower Pizza Bake.  This is basically a combination of roasted cauliflower with pizza toppings!  I have a feeling this recipe might become a family favorite!

This week’s purple majesty potatoes are a great variety to use in this recipe for Breakfast Potato Nachos.  This is a recipe we featured in a previous newsletter.  In this recipe the potatoes are sliced and baked to make a chip that takes the place of a traditional nacho corn chip.  Top off the potatoes with beans, sour cream, jalapenos, and all the traditional nacho toppings!

While carrots can make their way into many dishes as a base flavoring ingredient, you can really make them shine when they are the main ingredient, such as in this recipe for Carrot, Feta and Almond Salad.  I love carrot salads because they are super easy, but also tasty and convenient to make.

Here we are at the bottom of another CSA box.  Wish us luck as we continue to dance around the weather and try to get root crops harvested in between the rains!  Even though we’re approaching the end of our season, we still have more delicious vegetables for you including Brussels sprouts, Black Futsu squash, tat soi and more!  Have a good week—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Escarole

By Chef Andrea

This week’s featured vegetable is escarole.  Many people mistake escarole for a head of green leaf lettuce.  While they do look very similar, they have some differences.  For starters, escarole is in the chicory family and is considered to be a bitter green.  Escarole is a frost tolerant green, which is why we plant them as a late season crop.  Cool temperatures result in a more balanced flavor in this vegetable.  If you eat a little bit of the leaf when raw, you will notice it has a mild bitterness.  While escarole may be eaten raw, I think this vegetable shines at its best when cooked.  When you cook escarole, the green wilts down into a smooth, silky green and the flavor mellows out  so it is more balanced, slightly sweet and less bitter.  The center leaves are sometimes light green or slightly yellow and the outer leaves are more broad and a bit more thick when compared to leaf lettuce.  If you are going to use escarole raw, I recommend using the center leaves for raw preparations as they are often more tender.

Escarole is a popular green in Italian cuisine.  There’s a classic preparation for escarole that some Italian cooks call Scarola Affogata, which means “smothered escarole.”  In this dish, garlic is sautéed in olive oil until golden, then chopped escarole, salt, red pepper flakes and seasoning are added to the pan.  The greens are cooked until they are soft and tender.  This is then served as side dish, or you can use the greens for another purpose, such as on top of a pizza as we’ve done in this week’s recipe, White Bean and Escarole Pizza.

Escarole is also often used in winter soups along with white beans and other vegetables.  This week one of our featured recipes is for a classic Italian Wedding Soup.  This soup actually has nothing to do with weddings.  It has its origins as a peasant soup made to make use of meat scraps, stale bread and basic vegetables all cooked in a flavorful broth.  One thing that makes this soup unique and kind of fun is that it includes mini meatballs which are traditionally made with pork, but you could also use ground chicken or turkey if you prefer. 

Escarole pairs well with other fall vegetables and fruits such as apples, pears, persimmons, lemons, oranges, garlic, onions, beets, potatoes and butternut squash.  It is also often included in dishes with white beans and lentils.  Additionally, it pairs well with hazelnuts and walnuts as well as butter, prosciutto, bacon, cheese (including blue cheese, Parmesan, and gruyere). 

Store escarole in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until ready to use.  You will need to wash the leaves well in the same way you would wash head lettuce.  The heads we’re delivering this week weigh on average between 0.75-1.0 pounds each.

Italian Wedding Soup

Yield:  8 servings


1 small onion, finely chopped
⅓ cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 large egg
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp salt
1 slice fresh white bread, crust trimmed, bread torn into small pieces
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound ground pork
Freshly ground black pepper


12 cups chicken broth
2 cups carrots, small dice
1 pound escarole, coarsely chopped
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. To make the meatballs:  Stir the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl to blend.  Stir in the cheese, pork and pepper.  Using 1 ½ tsp for each, shape the meat mixture into 1-inch diameter meatballs.  Place on a baking sheet and bake in a 350°F oven until lightly browned.  
  2. To make the soup:  Bring the broth to a boil in a large pot over medium high heat.  Add the meatballs, carrots and escarole and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through and the escarole is tender, about 8-12 minutes.  
  3. Whisk the eggs and cheese in a medium bowl to blend.  Stir the soup in a circular motion.  Gradually drizzle the egg mixture into the moving broth, stirring gently with a fork to form thin strands of egg, about 1 minute.  Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.  Finish soup with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis’s recipe found at

White Bean & Escarole Pizza

Yield:  4 servings

Bean Puree:
2-3 cloves garlic
2 cups cooked cannellini beans
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tsp dried parsley
½ tsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp lemon juice


1 ½ Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
½ of a large head of escarole (8 oz)
1-2 pinches red pepper flakes
1 ½ tsp red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Pizza Dough, enough to make a 12-14 inch crust
Olive oil, additional as needed for the crust and finishing
2-3 oz pepperoni or salami (optional)
3 oz shredded Parmesan cheese

  1. While you make the toppings for the pizza, preheat the oven to 400°F.  
  2. First make the bean puree.  Place garlic cloves in a food processor and blend until the garlic is finely chopped.  Add the beans, olive oil, salt, pepper, parsley, oregano and lemon juice.  Blend until the beans are smooth and all the ingredients are well combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Set aside for 5-10 minutes to let the flavors develop, then taste the beans and adjust the seasoning to your liking by adding salt, pepper, vinegar and/or lemon juice as needed.  The consistency of the beans should be smooth and spreadable. Thin with a few tablespoons of water or a little more olive oil if needed.
  3. Next, prepare the escarole.  Heat 1 ½ Tbsp olive oil in a medium sautè pan over medium heat.  When the oil shimmers, add the onions and garlic.  Sautè until the vegetables are softened, then add the escarole.  Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle in the red pepper flakes.  Stir to combine and continue to stir periodically as the escarole wilts down.  Once the escarole is wilted, add the red wine vinegar and continue to cook until nearly all the liquid is reduced. Adjust the seasoning to your liking.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Shape the dough and place it on a preheated pizza stone or pizza pan.  Brush the crust with olive oil and bake for 10 minutes.  
  5. Remove the par-baked crust from the oven.  Spread the bean puree evenly on the crust.  Depending on the size of your pizza, you may not need all of the bean puree.  Save any unused portion and use it elsewhere.  If you are using pepperoni or salami, lay it out on top of the bean puree.  Evenly distribute the escarole on top of the crust.  Top off the pizza by spreading shredded Parmesan over the whole pizza.
  6. Return the pizza to the oven and bake it an additional 15-20 minutes or until the crust and cheese are golden brown.
  7. Cut into 8 pieces and serve hot.

Recipe by Chef Andrea, Harmony Valley Farm.

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