Wednesday, May 20, 2020

May 21, 2020 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Greens!

Cooking With This Week's Box

Overwintered Spinach: Easy Crustless Spinach & Feta Pie (see below); Evergreen Salad in Sunflower Thyme Marinade

Chives: Easy Crustless Spinach & Feta Pie (see below); Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Arugula & Citrus (see below); Chive and Cheese Breadsticks; Radishes with Chive Butter

Green Garlic: Easy Crustless Spinach & Feta Pie (see below); Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Arugula & Citrus (see below)

Asparagus: Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Arugula & Citrus (see below); Cheesy Garlic Roasted Asparagus; Canal House Shaved Asparagus & Arugula Salad

Baby Arugula: Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Arugula & Citrus (see below); Evergreen Salad in Sunflower Thyme Marinade

Saute Mix: Easy Crustless Spinach & Feta Pie (see below); Evergreen Salad in Sunflower Thyme Marinade

Welcome back for our third week of “Cooking With the Box!”  I hope you’re enjoying delicious meals and having fun with these spring vegetables.  Based on the activity in our private Facebook group, it looks like things are happening in your kitchens!  If you haven’t yet joined our Facebook group, I’d really encourage you to do so.  There has already been a lot of great interaction amongst members, including some first-year members who are tackling & conquering nettles, ramps and other unfamiliar foods they’ve never prepared before!  I also have to say I’m very proud of one of our CSA kiddos who made gluten-free parsnip, lemon & poppyseed muffins!  One of the reasons we love growing for CSA is because it gives members a chance to not only prepare their own healthy meals, but also because it gives families a chance to cook together.  I loved cooking with my mom when I was a kid and have a lot of great memories of laughing with her while we prepared meals and baked.  So, I’m challenging you this week to involve all members of the household in helping to cook through this week’s box!

This week’s box is filled with beautiful leafy greens!  This is the season for greens and they all look so fresh and beautiful!  In this week’s vegetable feature we aren’t featuring any one vegetable, but rather are talking about “greens” in general terms as they can be used interchangeably in recipes.  One of our featured recipes this week is for Easy Crustless Spinach & Feta Pie (see below).  This recipe was shared in our Facebook group several times, so I figured it must be a good one!  It uses up to a pound of greens!  While the original recipe calls for spinach, you can use a mix of spinach along with saute mix, arugula and/or radish tops if you like.  The second recipe is for Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Arugula & Citrus (see below).  This is a nutrient packed salad that may be eaten at room temperature or cold.  It features not only asparagus and arugula, but also green garlic and chives.  It’s dressed with a light citrus vinaigrette to bring it all together.

Chicken Taco Lettuce Wraps
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We also have a cute little head of Little Gem lettuce in the box this week.  You can use it as a salad item and combine it with other greens in the box such as the baby arugula and/or saute mix.  I have been looking forward to these little heads because I like to use the leaves as wrappers for chicken or egg salad, black bean “tacos” and other fillings such as this recipe for Chicken Taco Lettuce Wraps.  We’ll likely be sending more of these little head lettuces next week, so if you have extra filling leftover save it to eat next week!

I was looking back at some of our archived recipes and came across this one for Evergreen Salad in Sunflower Thyme Marinade.  This is a tasty salad that would actually be good made with this week’s Spinach, Saute Mix and/or Little Gem Lettuce.

If you’re joining us for the first time this week, I want to refer you to our blog post last week where we featured Sorrel.  We featured several recipes including a Strawberry-Orange Sorrel Smoothie that I’ve made several times over the past week!  I also made a batch of my favorite Sorrel Hummus, but this week I want to make Poached Fish in Sorrel Coconut Sauce.  There are only 4-6 ounces of sorrel in this week’s box, so I’ll halve the recipe and make it for 2 people.

Roasted Radishes with Chive Butter
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The radishes in this week’s box are so beautiful!  We’ve included two different varieties including the standard red radishes everyone is familiar with and Diana radishes.  The Diana radishes are the purple and white ones.  Radishes grown at this time of year are generally more well-balanced in flavor.  I seldom get past dipping them in salt and butter and popping them in my mouth.  If you want to actually use them in a recipe I highly recommend this Dal with Radish Raita.  This dish makes a great vegetarian main dinner dish.  Of course I would be slacking on my job if I let you get away without eating your radish tops too!  Check out this recipe for Radish Top Pasta with Chickpeas and Parsley.  Are you one of those individuals who doesn’t care for radishes, regardless of the season?  If so, consider eating them cooked!  This is a tasty looking recipe for Roasted Radishes with Chive Butter.  When you cook radishes, the sharpness in the flavor mellows and radishes are actually very tender, mild and often slightly sweet.

Canal House Shaved Asparagus & Arugula Salad
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What are you going to do with the bunch of precious asparagus!  This recipe for Cheesy Garlic Roasted Asparagus looks pretty delicious!  Another good suggestion is to make this Canal House Shaved Asparagus & Arugula Salad, especially since we have both arugula and asparagus in the box this week.  This was posted on by one of my favorite bloggers, Alexandra Stafford.  She actually took this quick and easy salad and turned it into a meal by spreading it out on a pre-baked flatbread/tortilla or other flat bread like item.

Last but not least, it’s time to make Chive and Cheese Breadsticks!  This recipe offers a shortcut of using frozen bread dough, which helps to cut back on prep time.  These would make a delicious accompaniment to a big, fresh salad!

I hope you have a great week and make sure you “Eat Your Greens!”  Next week we’re hoping to harvest sweet little baby white turnips along with some overwintered onions.  We’ll also likely harvest our first crop of spring-planted spinach and maybe even some salad mix!  Have a great week!---Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Look at All These Greens!

By Chef Andrea

“Food is the most intimate connection we have with our Earth, as we literally become the food that we eat…..It is not a coincidence that certain foods give us what we need during specific times of the year:  high-water-content foods in summer, such as crispy cucumbers and tomatoes cool us down;  sweetly rich, starchy, calorie-dense foods like pumpkins and beets to fuel us through the winter.  By taking our cues from nature we align ourselves with the rhythms of the Earth, and consequently our bodies’ needs, meanwhile sensually tuning in to the exquisite yet fleeting deliciousness of each cycle.”—Sarah Britton from My New Roots.

This is the time of the year when leafy greens are abundant and make up a large portion of a seasonal Midwestern diet.  As we come out of winter, you may find your body craving green vegetables.  Thankfully, nature’s design provides us with nutrient rich greens bursting with vitality to bring us out of our winter dormancy.  Some greens, such as nettles and sorrel, are perennial or wild crops that just come up in the spring on their own.  Then there’s the overwintered spinach that was planted last fall, spent the winter under a cover in the field, and now we’re harvesting the new growth this spring.  These crops help us get a jump start on the season providing fresh vegetables ahead of other crops that we have to plant and wait for in the spring.  However, some crops such as the baby arugula, saute greens and mini heads of lettuce in this week’s box grow to harvestable size in just 4-6 weeks.  These crops are also more cold hardy and thrive in cooler temperatures.  All of these greens are an important part of our spring diet both because they are available but also because they have valuable vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that benefit our bodies in many ways, especially in the spring!

Saute Mix
So this week we’re not going to talk about a specific vegetable, but rather a more generalized approach to embracing this class of vegetables we’re going to simply refer to as “greens.”  For starters, lets embrace the fact that greens are nature’s fast foods! They are tender enough to eat raw, but may also be lightly steamed or sautéed.  Either way, they can become a meal in a very short period of minutes!  Toss the greens with a light vinaigrette and you have the base for a salad.  It could be just a simple salad of greens and vinaigrette or you can add anything you want to turn it into more of a substantial salad that could serve as your entire meal.  Raw or cooked vegetables such as asparagus, radishes, carrots, etc along with dried or fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, croutons, hard-boiled eggs, grilled beef, shredded chicken, fish or cooked beans.  The combinations of ways you can build a salad are limitless and the greens serve as the base upon which to build your masterpiece!

Wilting Amaranth Greens in saute pan
Cooked greens can be very simple or may be incorporated into a wide variety of other dishes and preparations.  You don’t really need a recipe to cook greens.  Basically, put them in a pan with either a little bit of oil and/or a little liquid.  The liquid could be a little bit of water, fruit juice, wine, broth, cream or milk, or even just a splash of soy sauce.  You just need to create some steam with heat and liquid.  Put a lid on the pan for a minute or two just until the greens wilt down.  Once wilted, take the lid off and you’re done.  Eat them on their own or incorporate them into a wide variety of things including quesadillas, grain dishes, pasta, eggs, casseroles, smoothies, soups—so many options.  The other thing about cooking greens is that they go from a big fluffy pile that looks like a lot, maybe even too much for you to ever eat your way through, to a pile that will fit in the palm of your hand once they are cooked.  You’ll go from saying “What am I going to do with all these greens” to “Where did all my greens go?  As I’ve said so many times before, don’t be intimated by a vegetable, especially a bountiful pile of leafy greens!

Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Arugula & Citrus

Yield:  4 servings as a light meal or more as a side

2 cups water
2 Tbsp olive oil
½ cup green garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 cup quinoa
12 ounces asparagus, woody ends trimmed, sliced into 1-inch lengths
Finely grated zest of ½ large orange 
½ cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped
1 cup finely chopped chives
1 cup roughly chopped baby arugula
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Citrus Dressing
Juice of ½ large orange  
Juice of 1 lemon 
2 tsp honey or maple syrup
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Begin by boiling about 2 cups of water in a kettle.  Heat remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil in a saucepan, add green garlic and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly until translucent.  Add sesame seeds and quinoa and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring often until lightly toasted.  Add 1 ½ cups boiling water, reduce to a gentle simmer, cover pan, and cook for 10-12 minutes until all the water has been absorbed and quinoa is tender.  Remove from heat.  Leaving the lid on, set aside to steam for another 5 minutes before fluffing up with a fork.  Cool to room temperature.  
  2. Meanwhile, blanch asparagus in a saucepan of salted boiling water for 1-2 mintues or until just tender.  Drain and refresh in cold water.
  3. To make the citrus dressing, simmer orange and lemon juice in a small saucepan until reduced by half.  Remove from the heat, add honey or maple syrup, then pour in olive oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly to form a lovely emulsified dressing.  Taste and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. 
  4. Transfer quinoa to a large bowl and stir in orange zest, almonds, chives, asparagus, arugula, feta cheese and the dressing.  Toss well and adjust seasoning if needed. 
Recipe adapted from Emma Galloway’s book, My Darling Lemon Thyme.

Easy Crust-less Spinach and Feta Pie

Yield:  4-6 servings

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1 pound fresh spinach and/or other leafy greens (10 oz frozen spinach or greens)
½ cup chopped green onions, chives or green garlic
2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
½ cup crumbled feta
2 Tbsp grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
⅔ cup milk
1 tsp olive oil
2 large eggs, beaten
½ tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Lightly grease a pie pan with oil.
  3. If using fresh spinach and/or greens, you need to cook them first.  Heat a medium size pan over medium heat.  Add a few tablespoons of water and the greens.  Cover the pan and simmer for a few minutes or until the greens are wilted.  Put the greens in a colander and rinse with cold water.  Once cooled, squeeze the excess water out of the greens and roughly chop them with a knife.
  4. Mix the spinach and/or other greens along with the green onion, dill, parsley, and feta cheese.  Spoon the mixture into the pie dish.  
  5. Bake for 28-33 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let the pie stand for at least 5 minutes before serving.
This recipe was adapted from and was shared by a member in our private Facebook group this year as well as in previous years.  I figured a recipe that makes a return appearance in the group is worth sharing with others!  It’s also a great recipe for using a large quantity of greens.  Don’t be afraid to mix and match whatever leafy greens you have available.

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