Wednesday, May 25, 2022

May 26, 2022 - This Week's Box Contents Featuring Greens


Cooking With This Week's Box

Welcome to week 4 of our CSA season and the last week of May!  The month of May has been interesting, to say the least.  In one month we’ve had temperatures in the 90’s and just this last week we woke up to frost in the valley!  Despite an unusual spring and the uncertainty of the weather, Mother Nature still delivers and we continue to have food  on our tables.  This week we’re not featuring one particular vegetable, but rather a category of vegetables that we’re loosely calling “greens.”  As I mention in this week’s vegetable feature article  (See below), we have long been advocates for “eating your greens every day!”  The good news is, greens are nature’s fast foods.  They are quick and easy to cook and versatile in their use.  This week’s featured recipe is for Marilyn’s Stir-fry Sauce (See below).  Marilyn is a longtime CSA member and shared this recipe with me several years ago.  It’s a great sauce that can be made in advance so you can make a quick stir-fry on the fly using any seasonal greens or vegetables you have available.  It’s called creative cooking, following your instinct and using what you have available to you at that moment.   So get creative with your vegetable combinations and use up some of those greens in this week’s box!

Following along with our theme of “Eat Your Greens…Every Day,”  I also included recipe suggestions for using radish tops as well as the unique hon tsai tai.  There are many ways you can eat and enjoy radish tops, but I like this recipe for Radish top Pasta with Chickpeas and Parsley.  While Hon Tsai Tai and Shiitake Potstickers do take a little time to assemble, but they are fun to make and very tasty! 

In addition to a lot of green-centric recipes this week, I’ve also included a recipe for Rhubarb Cheesecake and Sparkling Rhubarb Lemonade as well as Cheesy Baked Asparagus with Gruyere Cheese, Garlic & Bacon and Sheet Pan 30-Minute Sticky Apricot Chicken and Asparagus.   These spring vegetables won’t be around for very long, so enjoy them while they are in season!

Looking ahead to next week, we’re hoping our first crop of Baby White Salad Turnips will be ready.  We’re also hoping to start harvesting cilantro soon, along with more head lettuce from the field. Before I close out this week, I want to thank everyone who has been participating in our private Facebook Group.  There have been some awesome suggestions, shares and interaction since the start of deliveries.  It’s really fun to see what everyone is cooking up!  If you aren’t part of our group yet, we encourage you to join so you don’t miss out on the fun!

Have a good week—


Vegetable Feature: Eat Your Greens. . . Every Day!

by Andrea Yoder

Hon Tsai Tai
For those of you who have been with us over the years, you know that spring is the time for green leafy vegetables (hereafter referred to as “greens”).  Five of the nine vegetables in this week’s box fall into this category of greens.  They include baby arugula, sauté mix, mini head lettuce, hon tsai tai and radish tops.  Root vegetables that are harvested with their green tops are bonus vegetables!  We have long been advocates for regularly including greens in our diets.  We know they are packed with valuable nutrients that keep us healthy and contribute to our overall wellness, but they have other attributes that are worth mentioning as well.  For starters, there are so many different kinds of greens in the world and many of them grow in our climate.  Greens such as this week’s hon tsai tai are important to our seasonal lineup of vegetables because they thrive at a certain time or in certain growing conditions.  Hon Tsai Tai thrives during the cool of the spring and grows quickly thereby providing us with something to eat while we wait for some of the other vegetables to grow and mature.  Amaranth is another example of a green selected for a specific time slot.  It grows in the heat of the summer when other greens are stressed by the heat and are a challenge to grow.  In addition to nutrition, variety and seasonality, greens are also delicious and many of them are quick cooking which is why I like to call them “Nature’s fast food!”  Read on and I’ll explain.

Head Lettuce starting in the tunnel Greenhouse
Many people are intimidated by greens and think they are time consuming or hard to cook.  My job this week is to help you move past intimidation, because no one should ever be intimidated by a vegetable!  For starters, there are some basic cooking principles that can help you figure out the best way to prepare and use your greens.  The first question might be “Do I eat this raw or cooked?”  We’ll usually tell you in the newsletter, but you can often determine this for yourself.  Take a little piece of a leaf and eat it.  If it feels tough, chewy or fibrous, it probably should be cooked.  If you find the green to be strong flavored or bitter, cooking will help to mellow the flavor.  If the green you are eating is tender, and well-balanced in flavor it is most likely appropriate for eating raw, but may also be cooked.  Most greens can be used interchangeably with others of similar texture.  For example, if you have a recipe that calls for chard, you could substitute beet greens.  If you have a recipe for cooked spinach, you can likely substitute other tender greens such as hon tsai tai, nettles or amaranth.
Lacinato Kale 
The cooking technique you choose is most often determined by the nature of the green, its flavors and texture.  Appropriate ways to cook more tender greens include wilting, sautéing, and stir-frying.  Wilting greens is very easy and employs the moisture that is clinging to the greens after washing them.  Simply add moist greens to a hot pan, add a splash of liquid and cover the pan to produce some steam.  It won’t take long for the greens to wilt down.  You can also wilt greens just by adding them to a hot soup, broth or sauce.  Sautéed greens are a good stand-by method for true “fast food.”  Start with a little bit of oil in a sauté pan over medium heat.  Add base ingredients of your choosing (onions, garlic, mushrooms, etc.) and cook for just a few minutes until they are tender.  Add your greens and any other ingredients you may choose to flavor them (soy sauce, miso, ginger, etc.).  Sauté just until the greens have wilted down and you’re done!  Cooking techniques such as those described above may take as little as 3-5 minutes or up to 10 minutes to complete.  Don’t walk too far away from the pan while they are cooking or you risk overcooking them!

Red Radishes in the field, don't
forget to eat the green tops too!
Hardier greens such as kale and collards will require a little more prep and cooking time.  You can eat these greens raw and they actually make delicious salads.  The key to a delicious kale salad is to cut the kale into small, bite-sized pieces and allow enough time to “marinate” the kale leaves.  Dressing the salad in advance allows the vinegar and oil in the dressing to break down the kale leaves and softens them without cooking them.  If you are cooking them, you’ll want to make sure you use some source of moisture—added water, broth, stock, tomato juice, etc and allow time for the greens to soften.  
As we wrap up this discussion I want to circle back to my comment that greens are “Nature’s Fast Food.”  While some greens such as collards and kale do require a little longer cooking time, most greens can be turned into a meal pretty quickly as they are quick cooking and/or may simply be eaten raw.  I use this attribute to my advantage when I need to put a healthy meal on the table quickly, which is most days!  In less than 10 minutes I can sauté greens and serve them with a fried egg on top or mix them into scrambled eggs, hot rice or pasta, hot beans or soups.  I can also use greens to make a quick stir-fry.  In the time it takes to cook rice, I can stir-fry greens and other seasonal vegetables along with protein such as beef or chicken.  Add a quick sauce such as the recipe featured in this week’s newsletter and you can sit down to a nutritious meal in little time.  

For greens that may be eaten raw, the key to quick preparation is to invest a little time in advance to make sure the greens are washed, cleaned and ready to go.  I also like to keep a simple vinaigrette or salad dressing in the refrigerator.  If I have clean greens and a vinaigrette, I can create a salad very quickly.  In fact, it can become a main dish by adding protein such as cooked chicken, beef, tofu, nuts or seeds.  

We hope you enjoy incorporating more greens into your daily meals and hopefully these tips have helped you see how to use them to your advantage, both so you don’t miss out on their valuable nutrients, but also for the ways they can help make your meal prep quick and painless so you can eat well in the midst of a busy life. 

Marilyn's Stir Fry Sauce

Serves  8-10

This is an all-purpose stir-fry sauce which goes well with a vegetarian meal as well as with chicken, pork, shrimp or beef.  It keeps well in the refrigerator in a tightly closed jar, which is why the proportions in this recipe allow enough for two meals.

This sauce is added after the vegetables and meats are stir-fried.  The final mixture is then brought back just to a boil before serving.

All the ingredients can be purchased at a good grocery store.  The toasted sesame oil is needed for flavor, and can be reduced (but not omitted) to lower the fat content.  The minimal alcohol involved is used to bring out flavors prior to its evaporation.  

2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil 
2 tsp minced fresh garlic
2 tsp minced fresh ginger root
2 cups (14.5 oz can) chicken or vegetable stock
3 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp rice wine or cooking sherry (dry cocktail sherry)
  1. In a small saucepan, heat sesame oil.  Add garlic and ginger and stir fry for 15-30 seconds over medium heat to bring out the flavor.  Add chicken stock, soy sauce, brown sugar and lemon juice.  Bring just to a boil, stirring all the time.  
  2. In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the rice wine, then whisk this into the sauce.  Heat until the sauce thickens and reaches a full boil.  Continue to stir the sauce as it thickens.  Simmer just below boiling for 30 seconds.  Remove from heat and set aside.  
  3. Any portion of sauce that you are not using right away should be cooled and then poured into a quart jar.  Store it in the refrigerator until needed.  

This recipe was shared by Marilyn Chohaney, long time CSA member and friend of the farm!  It may be used to make your own custom stir-fries utilizing any combination of seasonal vegetables available throughout the year.  During this time of year you can make some tasty stir-fries using green garlic, scallions, asparagus, radishes, greens, baby white turnips, etc.  In the summer you may use peppers, zucchini, white onions, chard, fresh garlic and broccoli.  As you can see, there is no recipe with exact quantities and ingredients.  This is a loose concept that you can vary and play with throughout the season.  You may choose to make a vegetable only stir-fry, or you can add protein of your choosing.  Garnish your stir-fry with toasted cashews or almonds, sesame seeds, or even fresh cilantro.  

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