Growing the good stuff in Athens, GA since 2006

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

CSA Pickups -- Week 1 -- Kale

Roots Farm CSA Week 1: May 3 & 6

This Week:
-Sweet Charlie & Chandler Strawberries
-Sweet Onions (“Vidalia-type Yellow Granex)

-Swiss Chard or Kale
-Braising Mix
-Broccoli Raab
-Hakurei Turnips, Easter Egg Radishes, French Breakfast Radishes
-Lettuce -- Red or Green Heads
-Summer Squash: Zephyr, Yellow Zucchini

On the Farm . . .
Wow--it’s Summer CSA time. The grass is getting tall, but the breezes are still nice and the temperatures remain below 90 degrees generally--it’s a great time to be out. The fields are full of lettuces, greens, and root veggies to be harvested and there are rows and rows of summer goodies on the way--baby plants of corn, okra, summer squash, cucumbers, melons, pole beans. We’re beginning to trellis tomatoes that are two feet tall in the hoop houses, and our first round of pepper and eggplant seedlings are ready to be transplanted. Now is the time when the weekly schedule looks something like this: direct seed, transplant, irrigate, weed, trellis, harvest, distribute, repeat. Busy times. Welcome to summer.

And welcome to the newsletter. Each week, we craft up one of these puppies for you to peruse at your leisure online. They’ll usually be posed by Tuesday night of each week and generally include: a list of what is being harvested for the CSA baskets this week (all of which may or may not appear in your baskets depending on the share size you chose), farm news, announcements, events, and recipes for a featured veggie of the week. We’ve got a whole backlog of recipes from 5 years worth of newsletters online via our website, arranged alphabetically by veggie. Dive in and explore a new way to cook.

Speaking of cooking, if you’re not familiar with CSA-style eating, here are some tips: when you get your veggies for the week, consult a CSA cookbook (we’ve got some for sale), recipes online, or the index of your other favorite cookbooks for ideas on how to utilize what you’ve got at hand. Most greens can be substituted for one another in recipes, and roots like radishes and turnips are easily interchangeable. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Taste it raw, grate it, steam it, sautee it, boil it, bake it, roast it, grill it. There’s most likely a recipe out there for every vegetable in every manifestation -- appetizer, beverage, soup, salad, main course, and dessert. If you’ve got questions, please ask and we’ll help direct you in the right direction, Get ready to expand your horizons with what’s in season, because here it comes :).

May Weekend Workday -- Saturday, May 14
Yep, we’re at it again--another weekend workday full of on-farm fun. Mark your calendars now and come join us on Saturday, May 14 from 9am-noon. We’ll be preparing beds, direct seeding, transplanting, mulching, trellising, weeding, and who knows what all more. It should be a beautiful day out and we’d love to have you come join us and get your hands dirty growing the food that’s gracing your table. It’s a great way to connect and really get to see and experience where your food is coming from. Plus us farmers aren’t too shabby for company, either. So come join us! As always, following the all the work there’ll be a farm fresh BRUNCH to eat . . .

Veggies in Your Basket . . .
This week, some neat produce is appearing for you: we’ve got broccoli raab as well as tatsoi coming out. What are they? Broccoli raab is much like broccoli, but with small florets and more greens. Cook the greens like you would broccoli greens or kale and use the florets like broccoli. The stems are also edible until the lowest point where they get woody (but can still be peeled even then!). Tatsoi is like bok choi, an Asian green. It’s great in stir-fries (like my lunch today) and can be substituted for most greens, especially Asian greens. I’ve heard of folks making kimchee with it with some success, and I’m tempted to experiment. You’ll be getting A LOT of greens this week, which is usual for this time in the season. Never fear--greens cook down quite a bit quantity-wise. I’ve got some recipes to help you out below.

The veggie in the spotlight this week is one of the ones cultivated earliest by us homo sapiens. Widely popular in ancient Rome, Scotland, and Ireland, it remains a European staple. Compare it to collards for us Southern folks and you’ll get the idea. Nutritionally, kale (as well as most leafy greens) are powerhouses full of vitamins A and C, some B vitemins, and the mineral calcium to name a few. Believe it or not, there’s also some protein in there. Cool, huh? So eat your greens. Now this is a statement coming from a girl who was never much into eating her greens, despite familial encouragement. But these days I’ve found ways of preparing them that make them more palatable for me.

Storage: Wrap your kale in a damp towel and store it in the hydrator drawer of the fridge for up to one week. Air is your enemy when it comes to leafy greens and if you let it invade, you’ll be left with a limp pile of unappetizing stuff. I always keep mine in a CLOSED plastic bag. The towel is a good idea, though, since you want some moisture, but not sogginess for optimal storage. If your greens do get wilty, just soak them in cold water for a while to revive them--it works wonders. Eat them sooner for greatest nutrition and flavor. Usage: Many. There’s the classic, which I enjoy: boil them for 10-15 minutes and eat them with salt and pepper and hot pepper vinegar or hot sauce. There’s also steaming, sauteeing, adding to stir fries, to soups, and to salads. Slightly more unconventional are ideas like massaged chard/kale, which is a delicious raw dish and kale chips--a baked delight that will make them absolutely disappear. There is the Simple Greens Soup, which I made last week that was delightful, and much, much more! Click here for more kale recipes.

Kale Chips
1 bunch kale (de-stemmed)
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet or pan with a light layer of olive oil. Place kale leaves in a single layer on the pan and drizzle with a little more oil. Bake for 12 minutes. Salt to taste and enjoy! Makes 2-3 servings. Jane tells us these are as good as potato chips. I've had them and I'd have to agree that they're pretty yummy. As well as an easy way to use up a bunch of greens in a pinch. Yum!

Sesame Kale Salad
1 lb fresh kale (or other greens)
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp honey (or other sweetner)
dash of black or ground red pepper

Separate kale leaves from stems. Chop stems and greens. Steam stems a couple of minutes, then add the greens and steam until just tender. Drain; let kale cool enough to handle it. Squeeze out as much water as possible. Place in serving bowl. Mix the remaining ingredients in another bowl; add to greens. Mix, chill, and serve. Makes 4-6 servings.

OR you can take this recipe and go RAW -- just omit the stems, cut the leaves into bite-size pieces, and put all the ingredients in a container with a tight fitting lid--then SHAKE the container every way you can for 3-4 minutes and refrigerate it for a couple of hours, then serve. It’s delicious--I know from experience.

Kale & Potato Tarragon Salad
2 lbs small potatoes, scrubbed
7 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 bunch kale, large stems removed, leaves chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp vinegar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4— 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
salt & pepper to taste

Steam or boil potatoes until fork-tender. Drain, cut into large bite-size pieces, place in large bowl, and cover to keep warm. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a wide skillet over medium heat. Add onions; saute until translucent. Add kale and garlic; cook until kale is tender, about 5 minutes more (you can cover pan to help wilt kale). Combine vinegar, lemon juice, 1/4 tsp tarragon, remaining 6 Tbsp olive oil, and salt and pepper. Add kale mixture to potatoes and pour dressing over everything. (It’s important to toss the dressing while the mixture is hot, to soak in the flavors.) Add more salt, pepper, or tarragon if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 6 servings. From the From Asparagus to Zucchini cookbook.

Bean & Kale Minestra
1/2 lb kale (~4 cups chopped)
4 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 Tbsp olive oil
6 cups cooked cannellini beans or cranberry beans
4-5 cups vegetable stock or water
2 heaping Tbsp tomato paste
6 fresh sage leaves (1/2 tsp dried)
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely ground cornmeal (optional)
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Remove the stems from the kale and coarsely chop the leaves. Soak the leaves in a bowl of cold water while you prepare the soup. In a soup pot, saute the garlic in the olive oil for just half a minute. Add about half of the cooked beans and part of the water or stock to the pot. Puree the rest of the beans and stock in a blender or food processor along with the tomato paste and sage. Stir the pureed beans into the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drain the kale. Mix into the soup and simmer for at least half an hour, until tender. Mix the cornmeal with the lemon juice and enough water to make one cup. Pour this paste slowly into the simmering soup while stirring constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Simmer the soup for another 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Use a heat diffuser, if necessary, to prevent scorching. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust the seasonings. Serve the soup immediately, topped with freshly grated Parmesan. Makes 6-8 servings. From the Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant cookbook.

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