Wednesday, July 31, 2019

August 1, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Garlic!

Cooking With This Week's Box

White Spanish Onions: Cheeseburger Onion Rings

Fresh Porcelain and/or Italian Garlic: Triple Garlic Linguine (see below); Portuguese Bread and Garlic Soup with Cilantro (see below); Skillet Zucchini Pesto Pizza; Pasta with Smashed Zucchini CreamGarlic Broccoli Stir-Fry

Green or Purple Beans: Fresh Green Bean Salad

Red Norland or Golden Carola Potatoes: Crispy Potato Tacos

Green Bell Peppers: Portuguese Bread and Garlic Soup with Cilantro (see below); Crispy Potato Tacos

Jalapeno Pepper: Portuguese Bread and Garlic Soup with Cilantro (see below)

Sunorange, Chocolate Sprinkles, or Red Grape Tomatoes: Fresh Green Bean Salad; Crispy Potato Tacos

Cilantro: Portuguese Bread and Garlic Soup with Cilantro (see below); Crispy Potato Tacos

We’re flipping another page on the calendar this week as we welcome in the month of August!  Summer is whizzing by, but August is also an exciting month filled with sweet corn, tomatoes and peppers so who can complain!  This week we’re going to start topping our garlic, sorting out our seed stock and getting it all tucked away safely in the cooler.  So needless to say, garlic is at the forefront of our thoughts which is why I chose it as our featured vegetable!  This week we have two garlic-centric recipes.  The first is for Portuguese Bread and Garlic Soup with Cilantro (see below).  As with many traditional recipes that stand the test of time, this recipe has its roots in peasant food.  This is a very fitting for this week’s box though as it utilizes not only garlic, but also jalapeno and bell peppers as well as cilantro.  It comes together pretty quickly as well, so it’s a good option for a healthy, quick dinner.  The second recipe is Triple Garlic Linguine (see below).  It’s a simple garlic-forward pasta dish, but you could add other things to it such as some diced chicken and/or chard.

Skillet Zucchini Pesto Pizza
photo from
I’ve been having fun finding and trying new recipes using zucchini this summer.  You know I love a good, simple pizza, so this recipe for Skillet Zucchini Pesto Pizza caught my eye.  I also came across this recipe for Pasta with Smashed Zucchini Cream.   Aside from some Parmesan cheese, this pasta dish actually doesn’t have any cream in it.  The creaminess comes from smashing the zucchini and letting all the juices come together to create the sauce.

If you didn’t have a chance to see last week’s featured vegetable article about cucumbers, I’d encourage you to check it out.  If you go to the bottom of the article you’ll find a list of 30 recipes/recipe ideas all featuring cucumbers!  So if you are running out of ways to enjoy cucumbers, let me suggest a few things you may not have tried.  Perhaps these refreshing Cucumber Mint Green Tea Popsicles or this Mojito Cucumber Mint Sorbet will hit the spot!

This week we’re picking both green and purple beans.  Both varieties are more tender than our earlier varieties and thus, better for eating raw.  Growing up, we only ate green beans cooked…rather overcooked, thus I despised green beans.  It wasn’t until my adult years I realized you can eat them raw.  Now that is my preferred way to eat them, which is why this Fresh Green Bean Salad is on the list for this week!  Raw green beans are crunchy and fresh tasting and can become a tasty simple salad with a light vinaigrette mixed with some other summer vegetables like the cucumbers and tomatoes in this recipe!

Smashed White Bean KAle Quesadillas
Photo from
One of our awesome CSA members posted this recipe for Smashed White Bean Kale Quesadillas in our Facebook Group.  It’s a simple recipe, but a good one for a quick, easy, yet filling dinner option.  Really you can use any green in this recipe, one member suggested she was going to use last week’s amaranth greens which made me think of making these with this week’s chard!

I hope you’ve been enjoying the fresh potatoes, I know we have been!  This week I want to try this recipe for Crispy Potato Tacos.  This recipe calls for Russet potatoes, but I think a waxier potato such as the Red Norland or Gold Carola potatoes we’re sending this week would be a better option.  I would also suggest adding some sautéed green bell peppers to the tacos and top it off with quartered grape tomatoes and cilantro from this week’s box.

Looking for something different to do with carrots this week?  How about turning them into this refreshing Tropical Carrot Smoothie!  Many carrot drink recipes call for carrot juice which means you lose the fiber—no good!  This one blends the whole carrots with strawberries, mangos and other frozen fruit.  Perfect!  Or, if you prefer a creamier drink, try this Carrot Cake Smoothie.

Garlic Broccoli Stir-Fry
photo from
Looking for a simple side dish?  Try this recipe for Garlic Broccoli Stir-Fry.  It would actually go well with these Cheeseburger Onion Rings.  I know I always tell you to slice the onions thinly, especially when serving them raw.  This recipe, however, is an exception to that rule.  You make thick slices of onion and then pull the rings apart.  Press ground beef and a piece of cheese inside the onion ring, bread the whole thing and fry it.  You end up with a crispy coated burger wrapped in a slice of onion with gooey melted cheese oozing out the middle!  Ok, it might be a little messy but it sounds kind of fun and these white onions are the perfect onion for this application!

That concludes this week’s cooking chat.  Have a great week and I’ll see you back next week, hopefully with recipes for using edamame and more tomatoes!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Garlic 

By Andrea Yoder

“In all of its many forms and in kitchens around the globe, the lusty and pungent allium garlic is the flavor of comfort.”  This is the opening line in an article entitled “The Glories of Garlic” published in Saveur magazine October 9, 2014.  Garlic is one of the oldest cultivated crops and has made its way around the globe to permeate and enhance the cuisine of cultures all around the world.  In Spain it’s used to make Ajo Blanco, a chilled garlic and almond soup.  In Argentina it’s a key ingredient for making chimichurri, a fresh sauce or condiment consisting of parsley, oregano, garlic and red wine vinegar that is commonly served with grilled meat.  In Chinese cuisine, garlic is an integral part of the base of many dishes along with ginger and scallions.  In France, garlic is used to make aioli, or rather a fancy name for homemade garlic mayonnaise.  These are just a few examples of how important garlic is to our diets, no matter where we come from in this world.  So this week we are featuring this staple ingredient that we strive to include in every CSA box throughout the season, in one form or another!

Garlic is a big deal crop for us, partly because we like the challenge of growing it, but also because we value having it available and we use it in meals throughout the entire year.  We start off the season with green garlic, then move on to garlic scapes, then fresh bulb garlic and finally, dried garlic that can be stored throughout the fall and winter.  We value garlic for its flavor, but also for its health and medicinal value.  It’s antimicrobial, antifungal, antibacterial…..basically, it’s good medicine.  Richard swears by a good raw garlic sandwich to ward off something as simple as the common cold.  Perhaps including garlic in your diet daily is a good dose of prevention and gives your immune system the daily boost it needs to keep you healthy!

Italian Garlic
While we have several different varieties of garlic, we have two main types that are our “workhorse” varieties.  These two varieties are Italian and Porcelain.  At the farmers’ market we are frequently asked “What’s the difference between the two?”  I don’t think the flavor of these two garlic varieties are much different, but perhaps you’ll detect some subtle differences.  The thing that sets these apart in my kitchen is the size of the cloves.  Garlic forms a bulb or head of garlic that contains individual pieces of garlic called cloves.  Italian garlic forms more cloves per head than porcelain, but the cloves are smaller.  Porcelain garlic, on the other hand, has fewer cloves per head but the individual cloves are bigger.  We use a lot of garlic in our household, so I tend to gravitate towards porcelain garlic simply because it means less peeling!  You can tell the difference between the two not only by the size of the cloves, but also by the color of the skin.  Porcelain garlic has pure white skin with just an occasional streak of purple while Italian garlic has more reddish purple coloring.

Porcelain Garlic
Properly dried garlic typically has a long shelf life if stored in the right environment.  We store garlic in a cold, dry cooler at about 34-36°F.  Home refrigerators are usually too humid to properly store garlic, so if you are looking to store garlic for awhile or over the winter in your home, we recommend you store it in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight and a location with good ventilation.  If you ever purchase garlic from us as a produce plus item, we’ll pack it in a mesh bag that can be hung up.  The mesh contains the garlic but allows it to breathe and have better airflow.

In its raw form, the flavor of garlic can be very strong, spicy and even might burn a bit if you eat a big piece!  Some people really like this bold, strong garlic flavor.  Others may find raw garlic too pungent for their palate, so for those individuals I recommend enjoying garlic either sautéed, fried or roasted.  Cooking releases some of the pungent sulfur compounds, mellows the intensity and even sweetens it up a bit.  You can roast a whole head of garlic in the oven until the cloves are soft and golden, then pull the cloves off the head and squeeze the soft, roasted garlic out of the skins.  You can also peel garlic in advance, toss it with oil and roast it in the oven or cover it with oil and slow roast it to make garlic confit.  The benefit of the latter is that you end up with a flavorful garlic oil as well as roasted garlic cloves!

This year’s garlic has been drying in the greenhouse for almost three weeks now and it’s finally ready to start removing the tops and sorting.  We have a big job ahead of us over the next two weeks as we sort out our seed and get everything moved from the greenhouse to the cooler for storage until late December.  This week we encourage you to try some more garlic-forward recipes as we embrace this beautiful vegetable, celebrate its recent harvest and look forward to enjoying garlic throughout the remainder of the season!

Triple Garlic Linguine

Yield: 4-6 servings

photo from
1 head garlic, plus 10 cloves (7 thinly sliced, 3 minced)
1 cup olive oil
½ tsp crushed red chile flakes
12 oz linguine
4 ½ cups chicken stock
½ cup grated parmesan
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp roughly chopped parsley, for garnish
Kosher salt, to taste

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Slice garlic head in half crosswise and set cut side up on a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp oil and 2 Tbsp cold water; wrap into a tight package. Bake until tender, 1–1 ½ hours.
  2. Heat remaining oil and the sliced garlic in a 1-qt. saucepan over medium; cook until garlic is golden, 4–6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer garlic chips to paper towels to drain; set ⅓ cup oil aside. Reserve remaining oil for another use, if you like.
  3. Heat reserved ⅓ cup oil, the minced garlic, and chile flakes in a 14” high-sided skillet over medium. Cook until garlic is soft but not golden, 2–3 minutes. Add pasta and stock; bring to a boil. Cook, using tongs to stir pasta occasionally, until liquid is almost evaporated and pasta is al dente, about 12 minutes. Unwrap roasted garlic and squeeze cloves into pasta. Add parmesan, lemon juice, parsley, and salt; toss to combine. Garnish with reserved garlic chips.
Recipe borrowed from

Portuguese Bread and Garlic Soup with Cilantro (Açorda à Aletejana)

Yield: 6-8 servings

photo from
4 cups roughly chopped cilantro leaves and stems
7 cloves garlic, peeled
1 large green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped
1 serrano or jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup olive oil
½ lb crusty bread (such as a baguette or French bread)
8 cups chicken stock
4 eggs, lightly beaten

  1. Pulse cilantro, garlic, bell pepper, serrano/jalapeño, salt, and pepper in a food processor until roughly chopped. Add oil; purée to a smooth paste. Place ½ cup of paste in a bowl. Add bread and toss to coat; set aside.
  2. Heat remaining paste in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium heat; cook until fragrant, 2–3 minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil. While stirring constantly, slowly drizzle in eggs; cook until eggs are just set, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in bread mixture; serve hot.
Recipe borrowed from

Making it Rain: Irrigation at Harmony Valley Farm

By Gwen Anderson

“Water is the driving force of all nature.”  --Leonardo Da Vinci

This year's irrigation crew: Vicente (left) and Manuel M. (right)
Ever since there have been farms, farmers have been finding ways to get the life-giving force of water to their crops.  The blessing of a nice, gentle rain at just the right time is a great boon, but you can’t be guaranteed anything of that sort in farming, despite your skill and grace at rain dancing.  As farmers, it is our job to care for our crops, to give them what they need at the time they are needing it, and that includes water.  To learn more about how we water our crops, I spent some time talking to Farmer Richard and the leader of the irrigation crew, Vicente.

Here at Harmony Valley Farm, we have two main ways to deliver water from its source to our crop fields: subsurface and overhead.  Subsurface, or drip, as we call it, is when a small hose is buried in the ground under the crop.  This hose, called drip tape or drip line, has tiny holes in it that allows water to be fed directly to the roots of our crops.  The other method, overhead irrigation, is something most people are familiar with: sprinklers.  We have two methods of using sprinklers, either many small ones connected in a line or one very large one we call “the gun,” which slowly pulls itself across the field with water pressure.

Drip line in our squash field.
Richard dug it up a little bit so we could see it in action.
Both types of irrigation have their advantages and disadvantages.  Vicente prefers the drip tape because it is a onetime set up and stays with the crop for the whole season.  When it comes time to water the crops, you just hook up the pump, check for leaks, and let it run.  The main disadvantage to this type of irrigation is that it is not reusable.  Every year, we need to purchase new drip line to replace what we used the year before.  Every spring, we bury the drip lines in the fields where we will plant the crops we use it for, and we have to pull it up at the end of harvest.  If you watched the garlic field tour video we posted to Facebook a few weeks back you saw some of our harvest crew removing the drip tape from the soil as the lifter brought the garlic out of the ground.  Due to the onetime use nature of drip tape, the price to use it to irrigate crops that are planted and harvested once, like radishes and cilantro, would be high.  Instead, we save the drip tape for long season crops, like onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes.

This years onion crop, with cover crops planted to reduce
weeding needs and sequester carbon.
There is also the problem of leaks in the drip line.  If the line isn’t buried deep enough, or if a tractor gets off course even a fraction of an inch, the drip line can get ripped by our cultivating equipment.  While the pump is running, Vicente checks the fields to make sure water is running through the whole drip line.  If there is a spot in the field that isn’t getting water, it takes a little bit of detective work to find where the water stops, sometimes just by digging up portions of the line.  Vicente says it is easier to find the leaks in beds that have plastic mulch on them.  This is because the drip line isn't buried as deep as on a regular bed since we don’t have to use the cultivation equipment on beds with plastic mulch.  When the leaks are found, he cuts the ripped section of the tape out and replaces it with a hard plastic coupler to reconnect the two pieces of the spliced tape before burying the drip line again.  In recent years, we’ve been trying different techniques to alleviate the problem of ripping the drip tape with the cultivators.  Burying the drip tape deeper is one of those measures.  Another trial technique this year has been planting cover crops in the wheel tracks of some of our fields with drip tape in them.  Not only does it mean we don’t have to run the cultivators through those fields as often, but it has the added benefit of more green, living plants sequestering carbon out of the atmosphere.  That is a win all around!

Drip line is buried when the plastic mulch is laid.
The drip tape does allow us to do something we can’t do with sprinklers and the rain gun.  We can fertigate!  Fertigation is when we use the irrigation lines to “spoon feed beneficial nutrients right to the roots of the plant,” as Farmer Richard says.  Unlike other methods of applying fertilizer, with fertigation we aren’t applying it to everything that has access to the top soil, like weeds.  We can also use this method of applying fertilizer when the crops do not need to be watered.  We hook the fertilizer up to the pump, run it through the field with minimal water to facilitate the delivery, and turn the water off when the fertilizer has been administered.  No need to run the pump for 7 or more hours like Vicente would if the field was needing water.

What do we use to fertilize our fields?  I could write a whole article on fertilizer alone, so I’m just going to stick to a few highlights.  Any of the fertilizer we use with fertigation needs to be water soluble, or able to be dissolved in water.  There are two ways to do this: either have the fertilizer already be liquid, or use a water soluble solution.  The main fertilizers we use for fertigation are either liquid fish and seaweed, or a fish powder.  When the crops are starting to put on fruit, we give them extra potassium, the mineral plants use to produce fruit.  We also provide our crops with a vast assortment of beneficial microbials and other micro nutrients that do everything from promote total plant health to deter pests.  

Sprinklers running to sprout radish and cilantro seeds.
Overhead irrigation, or our sprinklers and “rain gun”, is mainly used to germinate seeds and when the crops are small.  This is the type of irrigation we use on our weekly planted crops, like radishes, and crops with small seeds, like carrots.  To use the sprinklers, Vicente and the irrigation crew lay out aluminum pipe in the field that needs to be watered.  These pipes are connected to a pump that has been placed in a water source near the field, either the Bad Axe River, a creek, or the well at our Hammel property.  Once the field has been watered for the appropriate amount of time, the pipes and pump are picked up and either stored or moved to another field to start the process over again.

The rain gun works in much the same way, except the pipes are not laid through the whole field.  Instead, the rain gun follows a thick, sturdy hose that needs to be laid out in the field we want watered.  Vicente uses a tractor to slowly pull the hose through the field, with one of his irrigation crew members ready to radio him when the hose is to the end so it doesn’t break.  Once the hose is laid and the gun is ready to use, the pump is turned on and the gun sprays water over the field, slowly following the hose back to the pump.  As the gun “walks” through the field, it coils the hose back up on a reel so it is nice and tidy for the next time Vicente and his team need to use it.  This particular method of irrigation is only used when the fields are very dry.  Luckily, we haven’t had to use the rain gun this year.

"Rain gun" being used in our kohlrabi field in 2017.
The advantages of overhead irrigation are reusability and portability.  The aluminum pipes are long lasting, thus we can use them season after season.  Since the pipes are also portable, we don’t need to worry about damage from our cultivation equipment.  However, that portability comes with its own challenges as well.  I mentioned earlier that Vicente runs the water pumps for at least 7 hours, and may need to run it for as much as 12 hours if the crop is very dry.  That can make for a long day if the pipes aren’t out first thing in the morning.  As leader of the irrigation team, it is Vicente’s responsibility to turn off the pumps at the appropriate time and to check on them during the watering process.  It is a responsibility he takes seriously.  “Sometimes, when I’m finished for the day, and I’m tired and want to go to bed, I can’t go to bed because I have a pump out there that I need to turn off.  I have to wait until the gun gets to the reel and shut off the pump so things don’t get over watered.”

Over watering isn’t the only reason to stay up and check your pumps, either.  If the pump needs a tractor to run it, you need to make sure it doesn’t develop a mechanical problem, or you risk damaging the tractor.  Also, if a hose comes loose and you don’t have an automatic shut off switch installed, you could be pumping water directly into the ground near the pump instead of through your field.  “I’ve never done it,” Farmer Richard told me, “but I’ve heard stories of if you didn’t get up in the middle of the night and catch it, the next morning you’d have a hole deep enough to fit two school buses in.”

Beautiful peppers from 2012, the fruit of the irrigation
crew's dedication and effort.
During a drought year, like the one we had in 2012, that lack of sleep can really add up.  “You start doing that for about 6 days in a row and it gets old,” Farmer Richard told me.  Vicente and his crew were working around the clock for two months to keep our crops watered and healthy.  “That was terrible,” Vicente admitted, but he was dedicated to ensuring the crops were getting taken care of.  Farmer Andrea recalled one night that year the irrigation team was having trouble getting a water pump started, and Vicente was exhausted.  She had told him to go home, but Vicente said “I can’t go home, I need to get the water going.”  After some reassurance, Vicente took her advice.  “It was a very hard year,” Farmer Andrea stated.  “He was up early shutting off pumps and switching things over, because he had to in order to stay on top of the water needs.”

However, the crops were beautiful.  Farmer Richard admitted to liking drought.  “These excess rains just promote disease like nobody’s business.”  Even Vicente said “we should have another year like that.”  In the end, the beautiful crops are what make all the work worth the effort.  It doesn’t have to be a drought year for the effects of ones efforts to be seen, either.  “When the crop is good, and I know it is producing nice,” Vicente told me, “that is what makes me feel good.”

An irrigation pump (right) connected to a water filter (left)
running water to the drip line in our squash field.
While both types of irrigation have different uses, they do share some of the same challenges.  With either type of irrigation, we use water pumps to get the water to where it needs to be.  Vicente is in charge of all of the equipment, and needs to ensure it is safely put away when not in use.  We do our best to keep an eye on the weather, but sometimes rain catches us off guard.  If it rains a lot and we have left a pump at a site near the river, we just might loose the pump to the water.

Administratively, we need permits from the Department of Natural Resources to pump the water to our fields.  The DNR assesses whether our water usage is going to have a negative impact on other people who also use the waterways in question.  There are strict guidelines the DNR uses to ensure this, and if we are awarded the permit, we are only allowed to pump the amount of water allocated on our permit.  Due to this, we have to report our water usage at the end of the year.  We lease land and use several different water ways, so we have several different permits.  The water usage reports are filed separately for each permit.  Vicente keeps records of where he pumps water, what kind of irrigation he uses, and how long he runs it.  He then calculates the water usage and turns it in to me at the end of the year.  It is my responsibility to enter the information into our records and file the reports with the DNR.

Vicente checking the sensor in the squash field.
No need to turn the water on here!
We’ve gone over the different methods we use to irrigate our crops and some of the challenges inherent to doing so, but how do we know when to do it?  Vicente uses a device called a tensiometer to measure the amount of water that is saturating the soil.  The sensor is buried in the ground at root depth, which for most of our crops is 6 inches, and then marked with a flag so Vicente can find it later when he needs to take a measurement.  He uses a portable sensor reader that he hooks up to the sensor that will display the kPa (kilopascals) reading.  Our tensiometer is set up to read 0 to 200 kPa.  0 kPa means the soil is as full of water as it can be.  Depending on the type of plant, the kPa reading they like to be at is different, so Vicente has a chart with the tensiometer to help him out.  Onions “drink a lot of water,” as Vicente says, so he waters them when the sensor reads 25.  If the sensor reads more than 25, it means he needs to get to work immediately and give the onions a drink.  Celeriac is another crop with a desired kPa level of 25.  Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, are a tropical crop and require a lot less water, 200 kPa according to Vicente’s chart.  Most of our crops land in the 45 kPa range.

Due to the nature of the sensors, we keep them where they are “planted” for the season. We do our best to have a sensor in every field, especially in fields where we have drip lines.  While the tensiometer is an invaluable tool used for irrigation, we sometimes have to just water the plants when they look thirsty.  Vicente keeps a close eye on the crops that don’t have sensors in them, and when they start showing signs that they are in need of a drink, he and his crew set up the irrigation systems.  Richard says that generally, our crops need about an inch of water per week.  “Are they going to die if 8 days go by and they haven’t had an inch [of water]?  No, but they might stop growing.”

2018 Sweet Potato Crop, which Vicente stated he was very
proud of due to the excellent production we had.
Luckily, here in Wisconsin, there isn’t a great need for irrigation like in some of the other arid states.  Mostly, we use irrigation to promote consistent growth in our crops and to germinate seeds.  “We don’t want to baby our crops too much,” Richard stated.  “If you continuously water one or more times a week they tend to have shallow roots, so when it does get dry they are not prepared for it.”  In the end, you see the literal fruits of the irrigation team’s labor in your CSA boxes every week.  Vicente and everyone here on the farm work hard to make sure you get the best tasting, nutritionally dense produce we can offer.  It is a job everyone is proud of.  I think Richard summed it up best when he told me “there is some nervousness around irrigation, but when it works, it is wonderful.  Our crops just grow like crazy.”

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

July 25, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Cucumbers!

Cooking With This Week's Box

Green Scallions or White Spanish Onions: Korean Stir-Fried Cucumbers (see below);  Summer Vietnamese Noodle Salad (see below); Zucchini Enchiladas; Summer Farmer SkilletAloo GobiCreamy Broccoli Cauliflower CasseroleDiner Style Western Omelet

Green and/or Italian Zucchini: Zucchini Enchiladas; Summer Farmer Skillet

Green and/or Silver Slicer Cucumbers: Summer Vietnamese Noodle Salad (see below); Korean Stir-Fried Cucumbers (see below); Kale and Cucumber Salad with Roasted Ginger Dressing

Fresh Italian Garlic: Korean Stir-Fried Cucumbers (see below); Zucchini EnchiladasSummer Farmer SkilletAloo Gobi

Green Top Carrots: Summer Vietnamese Noodle Salad (see below); Summer Farmer SkilletCarrot TopsCarrot Top Hummus

Jalapeno Peppers:  Summer Vietnamese Noodle Salad (see below);  Indian Amaranth Stir-Fry

Since our second crop of cucumbers is starting to produce now, I thought this would be a good week to feature cucumbers!  Wondering what to do with the pile of cucumbers in this week’s box?  Our two feature recipes this week include Summer Vietnamese Noodle Salad (see below) and Korean Stir-Fried Cucumbers (see below).  If you aren’t in the mood for either of these recipes, perhaps you’ll find something to your liking on the list of 30 different recipes/recipe collections (see below) I’ve included with this week’s vegetable feature!   I’ve included recipes for everything from soups and salads to beverages and desserts!

Zucchini Enchiladas
photo from
Once you’ve conquered the pile of cucumbers, it’s time to move on to the pile of zucchini!  I came across this recipe for Zucchini Enchiladas.  This recipe uses long, thin slices of zucchini in place of corn tortillas.  You use them to wrap up a filling, line them up in a pan and cover them with a flavorful enchilada sauce.  What a great idea!

Tis the season for Summer Farmer Skillet!  This is a recipe I featured back in 2017 and it’s a simple way to make a filling main course using a lot of different vegetables including potatoes, carrots, zucchini, onions, garlic, beans and either amaranth or kale.  You can vary the ingredients based on what you have available.  Leftovers also reheat very well for a nice next-day lunch or dinner option.  You can also eat it for breakfast with a fried egg on top!

Looking for something to do with the carrot tops instead of throwing them away?  How about Carrot Top Hummus? Make this on the weekend and keep it handy for a quick snack or light dinner. Eat it with slices of cucumber and carrot sticks, pita or chips.

Creamy Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole
photo from
I haven’t made Aloo Gobi for awhile, but it’s always a delicious dish to make with new potatoes and summer cauliflower.  Aloo Gobi is an Indian curry one-pot meal that is pretty simple to make…and eat!  If you don’t use the cauliflower for aloo gobi, consider making Creamy Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole.  This is a simple recipe that’s sure to be a crowd pleaser!  While we’re talking casseroles, I think this would be a great week to make Cheesy Ham Green Bean Casserole.  This recipe calls for 2 pounds of beans and yields 8 servings.  There is only one pound of beans in the box this week, so you’ll have to cut the recipe in half.

Looking for another main dish dinner recipe?  This Greek Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner with Green Beans & Feta looks like a winner!  It includes not only green beans, but potatoes as well!

Kale and Cucumber Salad with Roasted Ginger Dressing
photo from
If you receive the beautiful amaranth in your box, check out this recipe for Indian Amaranth Stir-Fry featuring amaranth, coconut and garlic.  If you receive the kale, consider making this Kale and Cucumber Salad with Roasted Ginger Dressing.

Last, but not least, if you still have a little onion and bell pepper hanging out at the end of the box, turn them into a Diner Style Western Omelet.  This is one of my favorite ways to use green bell peppers and it reminds me of those Sunday after-church lunches with my family when I was a kid.  We’d often go to The Waffle House or Bob Evans and I’d either get a stack of blueberry pancakes or a western omelet.  Aside from my brother pulling the chair out from me when I went to sit down, those were fun times with good memories!

That’s it for this week.  I’ll see you back again in one short week with more summer vegetables and more delicious recipes!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Cucumbers

By Andrea Yoder

“Why Cucumbers? (Doesn’t everyone know about cucumbers?)”  This is the opening line to the chapter about cucumbers in Elizabeth Schneider’s book, Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini.  Cucumbers and zucchini are kind of staple summer crops, you just have to have them.  The thing about both of these crops that can sometimes be frightening is their ability to produce like crazy in the heat of the summer which leaves us with a pile of cucumbers and the question “What in the world am I going to do with all these cucumbers?!”  Don’t worry, I have some suggestions for you this week!

While we’re only accustomed to seeing several different types of cucumbers in this country, there are many different shapes and colors of cucumbers world-wide.  They are thought to have originated in India or the surrounding area.  They then spread into other Asian countries as well as Europe and then made their way to the Americas where they were introduced to this part of the world by explorers.  Cucumbers, which thrive in warm climates and the heat of summer, are known to be very cooling and help us stay hydrated with their high water content.  This cooling characteristic also makes them a sensible condiment or accompaniment to counter spicy foods such as chiles and curries.  We grow the most familiar “green slicer” cucumbers as well as our favorite variety of cucumbers called silver slicers.  Silver slicers produce a smaller cucumber that has a white to pale yellow skin color with crispy, fruity flesh.  We have grown to prefer this variety because the flavor is more complex, the flesh maintains its crispness, and it doesn’t have any/many of the compounds in cucumbers that can cause burping or gastrointestinal consequences.

In addition to their high moisture content, cucumbers have other important nutritive qualities.  They are also high in vitamin K as well as a host of phytonutrients that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  These nutrients are thought to be beneficial for heart and brain health as well as cancer prevention and perhaps are helpful in managing diabetes.  There’s a reason why cucumbers are often associated with skin treatments as well.  Cucumbers can help decrease swelling, puffiness, skin irritation and soothe a sunburn due to their cooling and anti-inflammatory properties.

Cucumbers pair well with a whole host of ingredients, but some of the most common pairings include herbs such as mint, basil, parsley and dill as well as other vegetables such as onions, tomatoes and garlic.  Cucumbers also pair well with other fruits such as melons, watermelon, limes, lemons, grapefruit and berries.  Of course they also play well with feta cheese, cream, buttermilk, sour cream and yogurt.

Cucumber Sorbet
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There are so many things you can make with cucumbers.  Of course, they are good to eat with just a little sprinkling of salt, but beyond this simple pleasure they are most often used in salads and pickled.  They can also be used in sandwiches, cold and hot soups, desserts such as sorbet and popsicles, refreshing drinks both with and without alcohol, and condiments such as Tzatziki and Raita.  But don’t think cucumbers are only for eating raw.  They can also be cooked!  That’s right, cucumbers can be stir-fried, sautéed, roasted and baked.

I hope you’ll check out the extensive list of 30 recipes/recipe collections that follow.  I hope you enjoy some of your old “go-to” ways of eating cucumbers this summer as well as experimenting with some different ways to use cucumbers!  Lastly, cucumbers are sensitive to cold temperatures and ideally should be stored at 45-50°F.  Thus, we recommend only short-term storage in your refrigerator or just keep them on the counter at room temperature until you use them within a few days.  Have fun and don’t forget to stay cool as a cucumber this summer!

Not Sure What To Do With Cucumbers....Here Are a Few Ideas!


Mexican Cucumber Snack
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Pickles, Salads & Snacks:

Summer Vietnamese Noodle Salad (see below)




Tuna Steaks with Cucumber Relish
photo from
Appetizers and/or Mains:

Cooked Cucumbers:

Korean Stir-Fried Cucumbers (see below)

Desserts & Refreshing Treats:


Summer Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad

Yield:  4 to 6 servings

Photo from
8 ounces thin rice noodles (roughly the width of linguine)
1 ½ cups cabbage, thinly sliced
2-3 medium carrots, shredded or cut into matchsticks
1 large or 2-3 medium cucumbers, halved, seeded, and thinly sliced 
1 cup chopped fresh herbs, preferably a combination of basil, cilantro, and mint
16 ounces cooked tofu, chicken, or shrimp, cut or torn into bite-sized pieces
1 cup roasted, salted peanuts or toasted almonds, coarsely chopped

⅓ cup fish sauce
⅓ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
¼ cup light brown sugar, plus more to taste
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
½ to 1 fresh jalapeño, minced

  1. To prepare the dressing, combine the fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, garlic, and the jalapeño. Whisk well.  Set aside.  (Note: The dressing will store in the refrigerator for 3 days to a week.)
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the rice noodles, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes (or according to package instructions), until tender but not mushy. Immediately drain the noodles into a colander, and rinse them well with cold water to cool them. Shake the colander to drain away excess water.
  3. When the noodles are well-drained, put them in a large bowl along with the vegetables, herbs and tofu or meat.  Spoon dressing over the entire mixture and toss well to combine.  
  4. Serve with chopped peanuts or almonds on top.
Recipe adapted from

Stir-Fried Cucumbers (Oi Bokkeum) "Quick and easy Korean cucumber side dish"

Yield:  4 servings

Photo from
1 pound cucumbers
1 ½ tsp salt
2 tsp vegetable oil
½ tsp minced garlic
1 scallion, finely chopped 
1 tsp sesame oil
½ tsp sesame seeds

  1. Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise slightly diagonally.  If the cucumbers are thin, you can simply cut into thin rounds.
  2. Toss the cucumber slices with one and a half teaspoons of salt to coat evenly.  Let rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Squeeze as much water out from the cucumber slices as possible.  Don’t worry about bruising them.  They will recover when stir-fried.
  4. Heat a pan over high heat.  Add ½ tablespoon of cooking oil.  Quickly stir in the garlic.  Add the cucumbers.  Stir-fry for a minute until the cucumbers are slightly cooked.  Turn off the heat.  Toss well with the scallion, sesame oil, and sesame seeds.
Recipe borrowed from