Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Growing & Using Herbs!

 By Andrea Yoder

Fresh herbs bring a fragrant vitality to your kitchen, may be used medicinally, and add beauty to your landscape or patio.  Back in our early days of CSA, we used to include more herbs in the CSA shares.  We wanted to give members fresh herbs to cook with, however we heard frequently from members that they were not using all of the herbs in a bunch before they went bad.  We brought this issue up at a meeting with our members and one member suggested we send the herbs as plants that they can plant themselves.  What a great idea and an even better way to accomplish the overall goal of making fresh herbs available for CSA members to incorporate in their meals!  When you need a fresh herb, you simply cut it from your plant—it doesn’t get any fresher than that!  

Every year in mid-late May we deliver these special culinary herb packs that we start in our greenhouse.  You can plant these herbs in a garden space or in pots to keep on your patio, porch or kitchen windowsill 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.  While we usually don’t see frost after the 15th of May, it is still possible that we could see some chilly nights over the next few weeks.  While most of the contents of these herb packs can tolerate a little frost, there are a few herbs including basil and chervil that will be damaged by the frost.  If you see a cold night coming, we recommend you either bring your plants inside (if in pots) or cover them with a sheet or other protective covering to protect them from frost or low temperatures.

If you need help identifying the herbs in your pack, please refer to this diagram as well as the pictures that follow. 


Oregano
There are four perennial herbs in your pack:  Oregano, Sage, Thyme and Rosemary.  Oregano, sage and thyme are more cold hardy and have a pretty good chance of surviving our cold winters.  So, consider where you’d like to establish these herbs in your garden as they will likely come back year after year.  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 we cut off all the old wood from our sage plant to make room for the new growth.  Thyme is a bit smaller and only needs about 1 square foot of space.  While rosemary is a perennial herb, it is not quite as cold hardy.  To ensure it survives into the next year, it is best to bring it indoors in the fall.  If you have planted it in the ground, you can dig it up and put it in a pot to keep inside over the winter.  

Italian Basil
The remaining plants in your pack are annuals and include Italian Basil, Chervil, Italian Parsley and Curly Parsley.  Annuals will only produce for this season and will not survive the winter outdoors.  Italian basil and chervil need to be cut back regularly to delay flower and seed formation so they continue to produce usable leaves.  If you see even the earliest sign of flowering in either of these plants, cut them back to keep them vegetative.  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.  There is more information about that to follow.  When harvesting your herbs, use a sharp knife or scissors so you can make a clean cut.

Chervil
Fresh herbs should be cut as close to using them as possible and with a sharp knife, so you don’t bruise the leaves.  The flavor and aroma from herbs come from the oils in the herb and will lessen over time once they are cut.  This is also why you usually add fresh herbs to a dish at the end of cooking or shortly before serving.  In contrast, dried herbs need more time to develop the flavors that have been preserved in the process of drying.  Dried herbs are added earlier in the cooking process to give them time to develop and come together with the other ingredients in the dish. Many times, recipes will direct you to strip the leaves from the stems of fresh herbs.  If the stem is tough or more like a stick, you will want to do this.  However, some herb stems are tender, flavorful, juicy and totally usable!  I often chop both the leaf and the stem when I’m using fresh thyme, parsley, chervil and sometimes young basil stems.  Sage, rosemary and oregano stems are sometimes a bit more coarse and not usable.

Sage
The herbs in our garden herb pack are intended to be used primarily as culinary herbs, adding flavor and vitality to the foods you are enjoying at your meals.  I do want to mention though, that herbs also have nutrients and compounds in them that impart health benefits and may be used medicinally.  For instance, the Latin name for common sage means “healing plant.”  Over the course of history sage has been used medicinally in many applications including as a central nervous system tonic and a circulatory stimulant.   There is an ancient proverb that says, “How can a man die who has sage in his garden?”  Several years ago, Jean Schneider, a longtime friend of our farm and an herbalist, shared some ideas for medicinal uses of some of the herbs in our herb packs.  You can read her full article on our blog where she shared how to make sage honey.  This is a great way to preserve sage at the end of the season and a nice thing to have in your pantry to use throughout the winter to enhance your health.  

German Winter Thyme
Thyme is another example of an herb that is used for both its culinary applications, but also imparts health benefits to our bodies.  The same essential oils contained in the plant that give it its signature aroma and flavor are also responsible for its medicinal benefits including being antiseptic and antispasmodic.  It can help to soothe congestion and calm tense muscles and nerves.  In Jean’s article on our blog, you’ll also find information about how you can make thyme tea.

Rosemary has an interesting history as it relates to health benefits.  Back in ancient Greece, philosophers and students wore rosemary garlands on their heads to stimulate the brain and improve their memory.  Rosemary contains a compound called borneol that is thought to increase blood flow and generally stimulate the circulatory system thereby increasing blood flow to the heart and brain.  If this is true, it makes sense that one may have better brain function with enhanced blood flow and oxygenation to the brain!  

Rosemary
These are just a few examples of the health benefits we can take advantage of by including culinary herbs in our diets, but also using them outside the scope of cooking and eating as medicinal plants that can enhance our health.  With that in mind, lets talk more about how we can incorporate culinary herbs into our meals on a regular basis!

Herbs are a great way to add flavor to your food and can really elevate a dish or recipe to the next level by enhancing other flavors it may accompany.  Most of the time we think of herbs as something we add in small portions to give just a little extra flavor or add background flavor.  An example of this is when you add herbs to the pot when making stock, broth or braised dishes.  In these preparations, herbs are often put in as whole stems or bundles.  They are used to impart flavor and then removed before using or serving.  Other times herbs are used as a garnish, added just before serving with the purpose of complementing the dish.  Examples of this include adding a little fresh parsley to a bowl of chicken soup or a plate of pasta or perhaps you add a little fresh basil to a pizza after it comes out of the oven.  Beyond these small, complementary applications, I would also encourage you to think of herbs as vegetables.   For example, add coarsely chopped herbs to vegetable and grain salads in larger quantities where they are one of the main ingredients.  Vietnamese cuisine is a great example of food where herbs are used in greater quantities more like a vegetable.  Another good example of this type of application is Tabbouleh, a Lebanese salad, which is a combination of bulgur, tomatoes and lots of fresh parsley and mint. 

Italian Parsley
There are some classic preparations from around the world that are characterized by their use of herbs.  When your plants are really producing and you have a lot of fresh herbs available, consider using them more as a main ingredient in some of these preparations.  Pesto is a great example of this and is traditionally made with fresh basil, although you can make pesto out of nearly anything green and leafy!  Gremolata is an Italian condiment made from fresh parsley, lemon and garlic.  It is traditionally served with osso bucco, an Italian dish of braised veal shank, but can also be served with lamb, beef, chicken or bean dishes.  Chermoula is a Morroccan herb condiment made with fresh herbs including parsley and cilantro.  It is often served with fish and seafood dishes.  Chimichurri is another parsley based condiment originating in Argentina.  It also includes garlic and parsley as the main ingredients, but also often includes fresh oregano, red pepper flakes and red wine vinegar.  Salsa Verde is another fresh herb sauce, different from the salsa verde made from tomatillos.  The herbal version of Salsa Verde is a simple herb sauce, similar in some ways to a coarse pesto.  It’s often made with parsley, but you could make it with any fresh herbs.  

Curly Parsley
If you do have more herbs than you can use fresh, cut them back and preserve them.  Some herbs, such as basil and parsley, can be pureed with a little oil and frozen in ice cube trays or muffin tins.  Other herbs such as parsley, sage, oregano, thyme and savory are good as dried herbs.  After you harvest them, give them a quick rinse and then dry them in a low-heat oven or in a food dehydrator.  The other option is to bundle the herbs in small bundles and hang them in a dry place with good air flow and let them air dry. If you do this, make sure the herbs are more on the dry side when you bundle them and don’t put too many stems in a bundle, or they may mold or take longer to dry.  Once your herbs are dried, strip them off the stem and put them in a glass jar with a lid.

Cooking flavorful food does not have to be complicated or time-consuming, and neither does raising your own herb garden!  Anyone, of any level of culinary or gardening skill, can learn to feed themselves healthy delicious food if they approach cooking and basic gardening with an open mind and a willingness to learn.  You do have to invest a little time and effort, but it doesn’t have to be terribly complicated and it’s definitely nothing to be afraid of!  In her book The Homemade Kitchen, Alana Chernila says “Fresh herbs will take whatever you create in the kitchen and make it better.”

We hope you enjoy growing your own herbs and find interesting and delicious ways to make use of them throughout the year.  They really are a simple way to brighten up your landscape as well as your meals and the benefits they offer go beyond the flavor.  

May 19, 2022 - This Week's Box Contents Featuring Sorrel

 



Cooking With This Week's Box


Overwintered Spinach  or Mini Green Romaine Head Lettuce:  

Blossoming Chives:  

Watercress:  

Nettles:  
Read our previous blog post from 2018 for important information about how to handle and prepare nettles
Frosty Sorrel and Banana Smoothie
Raw Chocolate Cupcakes with Nettle Frosting 

Asparagus:  

Sorrel:  
Sorrel & Hazelnut Pesto (See Below)
Potato Salad with Sorrel Dressing (See Below)

Rhubarb:  

Green Garlic:  

Sorrel Hummus

Welcome to the third week of CSA boxes!  We have another tasty, spring box coming your way!  This week we’re featuring sorrel, another one of our early spring perennial crops.  This is a unique green that may be used in a wide variety of ways, ranging from soup to salad, pesto, drinks and more.  I included my top three recipes from our archives including Sorrel HummusSorrel-Lime Cooler and Frosty Sorrel and Banana Smoothie.  I also included two new recipes for you to consider trying.  The first of these recipes is Sorrel & Hazelnut Pesto (See Below).  This is a super easy recipe to make and can help you get dinner on the table super quick!  Use this pesto to dress up a plate of pasta or spread it on sandwiches, wraps, etc.  The second recipe is for Potato Salad with Sorrel Dressing (See Below).


This is our final week for nettles, which I think is a sad fact.  If you have not been brave enough to cook with nettles, I hope you’ll do so this week.  They have so much nutrition and depth of flavor, it would be a shame to not try them!  I just found this link to 40+ Stinging Nettle Recipes.  This blog has a lot of great ideas for how to creatively use nettles including this recipe Savory Nettle Scones!

What are you going to do with all of this week’s asparagus?!  I’ve never heard anyone complain of getting too much asparagus, so I’m trusting it won’t go to waste!  I included two unique recipes for Asparagus and Chicken Stir-Fry and Asparagus Panzanella.  You can start with these, or just keep it simple and sauté it with butter!

Whatever you end up creating this week, I hope you have fun and enjoy making and eating your creations!  We have really been enjoying the posts everyone has been making in our private Facebook Group!  It is clear from some of the posts that you have been enjoying cooking out of the box again!

Thank you and we’ll see you next week!

---Chef Andrea 

Vegetable Feature: Sorrel

by Andrea Yoder

Eating with the seasons can be an exciting, yet sometimes challenging adventure in the spring.  For many people, some early spring vegetables may be less familiar and come with a bit of a learning curve.  Most of the early spring vegetables are perennial plants that are either wild harvested, such as ramps and nettles, or are crops we planted in a previous year that start poking through on their own early in the spring.  Some of these vegetables include sorrel, chives, rhubarb and asparagus.  They play an important role in nourishing our bodies and have unique nutritive properties that help us transition from winter into a new season.  If you are not familiar with these vegetables, they might be a little intimidating at first.  However, don’t let a vegetable intimidate you, just dive in and start learning how to enjoy something new!  Don’t worry, we’ll help guide you along the way! 

This week we are featuring sorrel, a unique perennial plant that is amongst the first greens of the season.  Sorrel leaves have a pointy, arrow shape and are thick in texture and bright green in color.  You’ll recognize sorrel by its tart and citrus-like flavor if you nibble on a raw leaf.  It has a bright flavor that will call your taste buds to attention.  It is a very nutritious green that contains antioxidants as well as vitamin C, fiber, iron, magnesium and zinc.

Sorrel may be used in a wide variety of preparations and may be eaten either raw or cooked.   Raw sorrel can brighten any salad and is excellent when blended into cold sauces, vinaigrettes, dressings, dips or smoothies.  Because of its bold, tart, invigorating flavor, it is often treated more like an herb when used raw and will give the end product a bright, cheery green color.  When cooked, sorrel behaves in a very interesting way.  First, its color changes from bright green to a drab olive green almost immediately.  Don’t worry, this happens to everyone and it’s just the way it is with sorrel!  The other unusual thing about sorrel is how it “melts” when added to hot liquids.  The leaves will almost immediately change color and start to soften.  The longer it’s cooked, the more the leaves break apart and you can stir it into a coarse sauce.  This is one of the reasons it’s often used in soups and sauces. 

Spiced Lentils with Nettles & Sorrel Yogurt

The acidity of sorrel makes it a natural companion to rich foods such as cream, butter, sour cream, yogurt, buttermilk, duck, and fatty fish (salmon & mackerel).  Additionally, it pairs well with more “earthy” foods such as lentils, rice, buckwheat, mushrooms and potatoes.  As with many other spring vegetables, it pairs well with eggs and is often used in quiche, scrambled eggs, custard etc.  Don’t be afraid to think “outside of the box” and explore some other interesting ways to use sorrel such as in desserts including sorbet, ice cream and panna cotta or beverages including smoothies and cocktails!  Sorrel also pairs well with citrus fruits and berries.

We have featured a wide variety of sorrel recipes in past newsletters, and I encourage you to look at the searchable recipe database on our website. I have a few favorites that I mention every year because they are easy, delicious and have been well-received by other members over the year.  Sorrel Hummus, Sorrel-Lime Cooler and my Frosty Sorrel & Banana Smoothie rank as my top three.

If you’re looking for a vegetarian main dish, this recipe for Spiced Lentils with Nettles & Sorrel Yogurt Sauce is excellent.  There is also a recipe for Spring Greens Soup that uses not only sorrel but four other vegetables from this week’s box!

We hope your spring is off to a good start and you are enjoying these early boxes.  Don’t forget we have an awesome Facebook Group available to all CSA members.  This is another great resource to find recipe suggestions and talk to other members about vegetables!  



Potato Salad with Sorrel Dressing

Yield:  6-8 servings

Sorrel Sauce with Yogurt:
Photo from lemonthymeandginger.com
2 cups cleaned sorrel leaves
½ cup plain yogurt
1 clove garlic (substitute 1 green garlic)
Fresh chives, finely chopped, about 1 Tbsp
Salt, to taste

Potato Salad:
2 pounds potatoes
1-2 Tbsp vinegar
3 hard boiled eggs
4 large, cleaned sorrel leaves
2 ribs celery, medium dice
½ cup mayonnaise
2-3 Tbsp Sorrel Sauce with Yogurt 
1 tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Minced chives, to garnish

  1. First, prepare the Sorrel Sauce with Yogurt.  Trim off the stem of each sorrel leaf.  Give the sorrel leaves a rough chop and add them to a food processor.  Cut the garlic or green garlic into smaller pieces and add to the food processor along with the yogurt.  Process until the sorrel and yogurt is a smooth puree.  Transfer the sorrel sauce into a small bowl and stir in the minced chives.  Cover the sauce and refrigerate until needed.  The sauce will keep for a few days in the refrigerator.
  2. Next, make the sorrel dressing for the potato salad.  In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, 1-2 Tbsp of the Sorrel Sauce with Yogurt, and Dijon mustard.  Taste the dressing and add additional salt, up to ½ tsp, according to your tastes.  Cover and refrigerate until needed.
  3. Prepare the potatoes by cutting into evenly sized pieces between ½-1 inch in size.  Whether or not you peel the potatoes is your preference.  Either way is fine for this recipe.  
  4. Put the potatoes into a pot and fill with cold water until an inch above the top of the potatoes.  Add a pinch of salt to the water.  Place the pot with the potatoes on a burner and turn it on to high to reach a boil.  When the potatoes are beginning to boil, turn the heat down to medium and put a lid on the pot.  Cook the potatoes until they are tender when pierced with a fork.   Do not overcook the potatoes or they will fall apart.  Drain the potatoes and place in a large mixing bowl.  Sprinkle the potatoes with 1 Tbsp vinegar and a pinch of salt, and gently stir to mix.  Let the potatoes cool.
  5. De-rib and cut off the stems of the sorrel leaves.  Stack the leaves and tightly roll them up and cut across to finely chiffonade the leaves.  Put in a bowl with the cooled potatoes.
  6. Chop the celery ribs into a medium dice and rough chop the hard boiled eggs.  Add both to the cooled potatoes and gently mix all the ingredients together.  Add the sorrel dressing and gently mix together until all the ingredients are evenly incorporated.  Taste and correct seasoning.  Transfer the potato salad to a serving dish garnish with minced chives. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Recipe borrowed from lemonthymeandginger.com



Sorrel and Hazelnut Pesto

Photo from sabrinacurrie.com
Yield:  6 servings

½ cup hazelnuts
1 tsp salt
1 clove garlic
2 cups sorrel leaves
½ cup olive oil
1 tsp lemon zest
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

  1. In a food processor (or with mortar and pestle), process the hazelnuts and salt until the nuts are very finely ground.  Add the garlic and process again until it is uniform with the nuts.
  2. Add the sorrel, about ½ cup at a time until it is finely ground.
  3. Add the oil slowly, continuing to stir or process as you pour it in.
  4. Stir in the lemon zest and grated Parmesan cheese.  Season to taste with salt.  Add extra oil if you want a looser sauce
  5. Serve with hot pasta, on crostini or as a condiment on white beans, grilled fish or chicken.
Recipe borrowed from sabrinacurrie.com

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

May 12, 2022 - This Week's Box Contents Featuring Black Spanish Radishes

 


Cooking With This Week's Box

Nettles in the field
Nettles:  

Black Spanish Radishes:  
Black Radish & Apple Slaw with Honey Vinaigrette (See Below)
Barbecue Seasoned Roasted Roots & Tubers (See Below)

Wild Ramps:  
Photo of Creamy Garlic Butter Pasta
with Spinach from diethood.com
Ramped Up Mac & Cheese 

Overwintered Spinach:  


Overwintered Parsnips:  

Overwintered Sunchokes:  


Photo of Mushroom, Parmesan Watercress 
Omelet from marthastewart.com
Chives:  

Red Potatoes:  

Watercress:  

Welcome to week 2 of our CSA season!  It’s finally getting warm and the trees are finally starting to get their leaves.  Our valley is vibrantly colored in shades of green and it’s so nice to have green vegetables back on our plates as well!  This week we wild-harvested some peppery watercress for your box.  If you’re not sure what to do with this pungent green, you might find a recipe or some inspiration with this article 23 Watercress Recipes We’re Just Wild About.  

We also wild-harvested nettles for your box!  Yes, these are stinging nettles, but if you just follow the guidelines that we provided for you in a previous blog post,  you’ll be just fine and you can enjoy the nettles this week.  They are packed with nutrients and flavor, so don’t pass them by.  I’ve included some of my favorite past recipes in this week’s list of suggestions.

Now on to this week’s featured vegetable, which is not green but rather black!  Black Spanish Radishes are another nutrient-packed vegetable that we enjoy in the fall, winter and spring.  If you are not familiar with this vegetable, take a moment to read more about it in this week’s vegetable feature article.  I’ve also included two tasty recipes for you that are simple to make.

Looking ahead to next week, we’re really hoping we’ll have enough asparagus to include in your boxes.  Our first harvest this week only yielded 8# (you have to start somewhere!).  We also have a nice crop of mini romaine lettuces that we hope will be ready in the next 1-2 weeks.  Sorrel is sizing up nicely and before long we’ll have fresh radishes!

Have a great week of cooking and I’ll see you back here next week!

Chef Andrea 

Vegetable Feature: Black Spanish Radishes

Black Spanish Radishes are an intriguing root vegetable with some unique attributes.  For starters, they are one of the very few vegetables that are supposed to be black!  They have a charcoal black skin which is a stark contrast to the snow white flesh inside.  They are classified as a winter storage radish and may be stored for months.  We actually harvested these last fall and have been holding them in our cooler for nearly  seven months!  Because of their long storage potential, they are used more by people in colder climates such as northern Europe where they are an important winter food.  

Black Spanish Radishes are in the Brassicas family, a class of vegetables known to have a wealth of beneficial nutrients.  Black Spanish Radishes are unique in that they have the highest levels of a phytonutrient called glucosinolate.  This nutrient plays an important role in supporting the liver in its role in detoxifying the body of toxins.  If you are interested in more of the science about how this phytonutrient works in our bodies, there is an interesting article at www.wholisticmatters.com/Spanish-black-radish-whats-old-is-new-again.

Black Spanish Radishes may be eaten either raw or cooked.  When eaten raw, they have a stronger flavor with a peppery bite that is similar to horseradish.  They can be added to fresh vegetable or grain salads, sliced thinly and added to sandwiches, or eaten raw with creamy dips.  I find the flavor and eating experience to be more enjoyable if they are sliced thinly so the flavor is not too overwhelming in one bite.  These radishes are also delicious when fermented or made into kim chi.  If you do not care for a strong radish flavor, you may enjoy Black Spanish Radishes more when cooked, which helps to mellow out their flavor.  They may be roasted, added to soups & stews, stir-fried or sautéed.  There are a lot of beneficial nutrients in the skin, so I recommend leaving the skin on.

Store Black Spanish Radishes in the refrigerator in a plastic bag or wrapped in a towel to keep them firm until you are ready to use them.  They will store for quite awhile, but we encourage you to use these within the next 3-4 weeks for best results. 


Barbecue Seasoned Roasted Roots & Tubers

Yield:  4 servings

Barbecue Spice Blend
¼ cup chili powder
1 ½ Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ Tbsp brown sugar
1 ½ Tbsp coarse salt
1 Tbsp paprika
½ tsp smoked chipotle powder or smoked paprika

Vegetables
2 cups diced Black Spanish Radish
1 cup diced sunchokes
3 cups diced potatoes
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup minced chives
Salt, to taste 

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Prepare the spice mixture.  Combine all of the spices in a bowl and stir to combine.  You will have about ¾ of a cup of the mixture, which is more than you will use for this recipe.  Store extra spice mixture in a tightly closed jar.  Use it with other roasted vegetable blends or use it to season meat such as beef steaks, pork chops, pork roasts, etc.
  3. Dice the radishes, sunchokes and potatoes.  You may choose the size of the dice.  I like a medium dice that is a nice balance of a moderate cooking time along with the right amount of surface area to hold the seasonings.  The important thing is to cut all the vegetables in a similar size.  You may choose any ratio of vegetables as long as you have about 6 cups in total.
  4. Place the diced vegetables in a large mixing bowl and drizzle with 3 Tbsp of oil.  Toss to lightly coat all the vegetables.  Sprinkle with about 3-4 tsp of the spice mixture and toss to combine.
  5. Spread the vegetables in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in the oven.
  6. Roast for 35-45 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and slightly crispy on the outside.  You will need to stir the vegetables about half way through the cooking time.
  7. Remove from the oven and taste one vegetable.  If desired, sprinkle with additional salt and the chives.  Stir to combine and allow the chives to wilt down a bit on the hot pan.  Serve immediately.

Recipe by Chef Andrea Yoder, Harmony Valley Farm


Black Spanish Radish & Apple Slaw with Honey Vinaigrette

Yield:  6 servings

1 large Black Spanish Radish (about ¾ lb.), finely julienned
2 Tbsp honey, plus more to taste
2 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ cup apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
½ cup olive or sunflower oil
1 medium apple, finely julienned
¾ cup minced chives
Salt, 1 tsp plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste 

  1. Scrub the exterior of the Black Spanish Radish first, then cut in half and cut each half into finely julienned pieces.  Place the radish in a medium mixing bowl and sprinkle with 1 tsp salt.  Stir to combine and set aside.
  2. Next, make the vinaigrette.  In a small bowl, combine the honey, Dijon mustard and vinegar.  Using a whisk, stir to combine.  While continuing to whisk the mixture, drizzle in the oil.  Once fully combined, add freshly ground black pepper, stir and set aside.
  3. Cut the apple and put it in a small bowl.  Drizzle some of the dressing over the apples, just enough to lightly cover all of the pieces when lightly stirred.  This will prevent the apple from browning.
  4. Add the apples and chives to the black radishes.  Drizzle with just enough of the vinaigrette to lightly coat the vegetables.  You will have extra vinaigrette, so do not put it all on the radish mixture!  (See Note Below)
  5. Allow the slaw to marinate for about 10 minutes before serving.  Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking by adding additional salt, black pepper and/or a drizzle of additional honey.

Note:  This recipe was written to intentionally make more vinaigrette than you need.  The reason for this is that this honey vinaigrette is a nice, simple one to keep in your refrigerator.  Spring is a time of the year when we enjoy a lot of different salad greens, so having a simple vinaigrette on hand will allow you to make a quick salad when you may be short on time.  The other way you may choose to use the extra vinaigrette is to make a more substantial salad by tossing the vinaigrette with spinach and then topping it off with this Black Spanish Radish & Apple Slaw.

Recipe by Chef Andrea Yoder, Harmony Valley Farm


Wednesday, May 4, 2022

May 5, 2022 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Horseradish Whips and Sunchokes!

 


Cooking With This Week's Box

by Andrea Yoder

Ramp Pesto
Wild Ramps:   
Egg Noodles in Ramp Horseradish Cream 
(See Below)


Overwintered Sunchokes: 

Photo from: www.seasonedbysilvie.com
Sunchoke, Potato and Horseradish Soup (See Below)
Spiced Sunchokes with Masala 
25 Ways to Use Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchokes) 

 Chives: 

Red Potatoes: 

Horseradish Root: 

Prepared Horseradish 
Sunchoke, Potato and Horseradish Soup (See Below)
Egg Noodles in Ramp Horseradish Cream (See Below)
Parsnip Latkes with Apple Chutney and Horseradish Yogurt

Welcome to the 2022 CSA Season!

This is our weekly Cooking With the Box portion of our blog.  Each week you can come here to find inspiration, recipes and ideas for ways to put every item in your box to use!  I try to include a mix of new suggestions as well as reminders of recipes we’ve published over the years in our newsletters.  Within our membership we have a mix of members who may be joining us for the first year or are relatively new along with seasoned members who have been with us for a decade….or more!  Hopefully there will be something for everyone along the way. 

Of course, I also want to remind you that we have a private Facebook Group for our CSA members.  This is a great place to share recipes you have tried with other members, ask questions, and interact with our community of like-minded eaters!

I hope you enjoy this journey through the seasons. Get ready, we’re going to have a lot of great meals this year!

 Chef Andrea 


Vegetable Feature: Horseradish Whips and Sunchokes

by Andrea Yoder

One of the exciting parts of participating in CSA is learning to eat with the seasons.  In our northern climate, spring can be a challenging time to grow vegetables.  Over the years Richard has learned how to work with Mother Nature to figure out how we can eat locally and seasonally during these sometimes challenging times of the year.  In the spring we turn to perennial crops like the chives in this week’s box along with asparagus, nettles and sorrel which we hope to include in the next few weeks.  We also employ strategies of overwintering vegetables in the field that are then available for harvest early in the spring.  This includes root vegetables such as the sunchokes and parsnips in this week’s box along with our crop of overwintered spinach.  The other way we work along with Mother Nature is by foraging wild vegetables.  Every spring we look forward to harvesting wild ramps from our wooded hillsides.  We also hope to harvest watercress which grows in our spring-fed creeks.  So while some of the vegetables in this week’s box may be unfamiliar to you, we hope you will embrace this opportunity to partner with Mother Nature in this season.

Every week throughout the season we’ll feature a vegetable in your box.  This is your opportunity to learn more about vegetables you may be less familiar with, but we also use these articles to share information specific to this year’s crop as well as offer suggestions for ways you might prepare them.  So, hopefully there will be helpful information for everyone from our newest members to our seasoned veterans! 

This week we’re going to focus on the Horseradish Whips and Sunchokes.  These crops are unique because they can both be stored for long periods of time in refrigerated storage, but they also can be overwintered in the field.  Here’s how this works.  We plant both of these crops from our own seed stock that we harvest in the fall.  As we do our fall harvest we carefully select pieces to replant for the next year’s crop.  Nearly one year later we harvest a portion of that crop to put into cold storage so we can wash and pack it for CSA boxes and wholesale orders throughout the winter.  We also leave a portion of the crop in the field and return the following spring to harvest in March or April.  This is one way we can work with Mother Nature to have food available throughout the winter, but also to have fresh things to harvest very early in the spring!

Horseradish whips are the thin pieces of roots that grow off the main root.  You will likely never see whips being sold in a grocery store, which is quite a shame as they are very usable product!  In fact, I prefer them because I can use a small portion at a time if I want to, but also because they don’t need to be peeled.  Horseradish is a bold, pungent vegetable, so you do need to take care when working with it.  The powerful plant compounds in horseradish that give it its peppery flavor have the ability to attack cancer cells and boost our immune systems, but they also can sting your eyes as you’re working with it!  Thus, the less you have to handle it, the better.  To get the most value out of horseradish, you do want to capture its pungency.  To do this you need to either incorporate it into recipes, dishes, etc. in its fresh form, or you can make what is called “prepared horseradish.”  To make prepared horseradish you simply need to grate or finely chop the horseradish.  You can do this by hand if you like, but when you are using the whips I think it is easiest to just chop them into 1-inch pieces and blend them in a blender or food processor.  Once the horseradish is finely chopped you can put it in a jar and fill the jar with vinegar to fully cover the horseradish.  The vinegar helps to stabilize the compounds which will otherwise volatilize into the air and your horseradish will lose its flavor.  You can store prepared horseradish in the refrigerator for quite awhile and just use it in small quantities as you need it.  Horseradish is a great accompaniment for roasted meat, especially beef.  It also goes well with a lot of vegetables including beets, potatoes and sunchokes.  We like to grate fresh horseradish into our soup bowls before we fill them with hot soup.  The flavor of the horseradish will infuse into the soup and the flavor is excellent as its at its peak.  This is a good technique to use when serving hearty beef or vegetable stews, split pea soup or other hearty bean soups.  In its raw form, it will store for quite awhile in the refrigerator, so don’t feel like you need to use it all within the next week or two.  It will store for a month or more.

Now on to sunchokes.  Sunchokes are an indigenous vegetable to North America and one that the native peoples that inhabited our lands before us included in their diets.  Sunchokes are also called Jerusalem artichokes, earth apples and sunroots.  They have a nutty flavor and may be eaten raw or cooked.  When people ask me what you do with a sunchoke my answer is always “You can do anything with a sunchoke that you can do with a potato, plus you can eat it raw!”  Sunchokes have a higher moisture content than most potatoes, which gives them a crunchy, juicy texture more similar to a water chestnut or jicama when eaten raw.  They are excellent when roasted as they get crispy on the outside and are fluffy on the inside.  They are also delicious incorporated into soups, stews and pan-fried.

Sunchoke Field

Now, we do need to discuss one important piece of information about sunchokes.  They contain a non-digestible fiber called inulin.  Inulin is found in other fruits and vegetables including asparagus, onions and bananas, however sunchokes have higher amounts than other foods.  Inulin is an important prebiotic nutrient.  It is an important food source for beneficial probiotic bacteria in our bodies, specifically in our large intestines.  There are many benefits that stem from the synergistic effects of consuming prebiotics including improved nutrient absorption, enhanced immunity, better digestion and overall improved health and well-being.  Unfortunately, the good bacteria produce gas as a byproduct when they feed on the inulin.  As the host in which this is taking place, this means you may develop symptoms of gas and bloating when you eat them.  So, my suggestion is to eat them in moderation as your symptoms will likely be dose-dependent, although some people don’t have any symptoms!  If this is your first time trying them, just have a small portion and see what happens.  I personally only eat about a ¼ cup serving at a time and feel just fine.  When choosing how to use sunchokes, I like to use them along with other vegetables or in preparations where I’ll be eating them more as a condiment than as a main ingredient.  For example, if you are making sunchoke soup, use a small portion of sunchokes along with potatoes.  Several years ago I developed a recipe for Chile & Lime Sunchoke Salsa which is used as a condiment and eaten in smaller quantities.




Egg Noodles in Ramp Horseradish Cream

Yield:  4 Servings
Photo from: www.diaryofamadhausfrau.com

1-12 oz package of egg noodles

3 Tbsp butter

6 ramps, cleaned, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces

1 small onion (or additional ramp bulbs), diced

1 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1 cup vegetable broth

¾ cup heavy cream

3 Tbsp prepared horseradish, drained

1-2 tsp lemon juice

Pinch of sugar

Chives, minced for garnishing

  1. Cook the egg noodles according to the ingredients on the package.  Drain and place back in the pot, cover with a lid to keep warm.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the ramps (bulbs and leaves) and onions and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are transparent and the ramps have softened. 
  4. Sprinkle the flour evenly over the mixture and stir to combine. 
  5. Add the cream and the vegetable broth to the skillet.  Bring to a boil.  Turn down the heat to low and let the mixture simmer until it thickens.
  6. Stir in the horseradish a tablespoon at a time.  Add a teaspoon or 2 of the lemon juice and the pinch of sugar.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
  7. Place the noodles in a bowl and pour the sauce over them.  Toss to combine, then garnish with chopped chives and serve.

Recipe sourced from diaryofamadhausfrau.com.

Sunchoke, Potato and Horseradish Soup

Yield:  4 Servings
Photo from: www.neantog.com

1 pound sunchokes

4 Tbsp olive oil 

1 onion, finely chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tsp sea salt and a pinch of black pepper

2 cups vegetable stock

1 medium potato, diced

1 Tbsp freshly grated horseradish

2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives

4 Tbsp cream

Spinach pesto, or any other pesto you have available, optional

  1. Heat the oven to 375°F.  Cut the sunchokes into large chunks and drizzle with about 2 Tbsp oil.  Toss to combine and spread them out on a baking sheet.  Bake for 30-40 minutes until tender.  Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, add 1-2 Tbsp olive oil to a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onions and sauté for 4 minutes, then add the garlic and cook an additional minute.  Add the stock and potato, bring to a boil, then simmer for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  3. When the sunchokes are cooled slightly, transfer to a food processor or blender.  Add some of the cooked potatoes and a little of the vegetable stock and process until smooth.  If you want a perfectly smooth soup, blend all of the portion of soup that was cooked with the potatoes in the saucepan.  If you prefer a more coarse, rustic soup, just puree enough to blend the sunchokes.
  4. Return the processed mixture to the saucepan and heat gently.  Stir in the freshly grated horseradish and season with salt and black pepper.  Simmer for a few minutes before tasting and adjust the seasoning to your preference.
  5.  Ladle the soup into bowls and top each with a tablespoon of cream.  Drizzle each bowl with pesto if you are using it and garnish with fresh chives.

Recipe sourced from www.neantog.com.