Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Community Shared Agriculture - Week 3

It's been so wonderful so far and we are only in week 3.  The weather has been fantastic for growing all sorts of delicious greens, tomatoes, sweet onions, herbs, and berries.  We've had just enough rain in NJ that everything is growing nice and easy and early.  It's making for fantastic boxes for this year's CSA.  We were blessed with another jar of honey from the farm this week, along with more berries, asparagus, onions, tomatoes, red and yellow beets, lots of greens (bib, leaf, spinach, escarole, collards, and argugala), along with carrots, and a basil plant.

With all of last week's delicious produce, my family ate some wonderful healthy foods.  I will share some of those yummy recipes with you at the end of this post.  One of the things I enjoy about the CSA is all the helpful tips for saving produce for future use that the farmer shares with the members of the CSA.  This week is no exception.  This week I learned that one of the best ways, besides pickling, to put up beets for future eating is to scrub, steam, or roast the beets.  Peel them, and cut them into uniform pieces, and then freeze them.  I use my foodsaver to freeze my produce as it lasts longer in the freezer that way, but if you don't own a food saver appliance, just be sure to get out as much air from the freezer bag as possible prior to freezing.  Saving your beets this way allows them to be used in later recipes or salads without them going bad or to waste for not using them timely.  It also helps lock in the nutrients of these delicious vegetables.

I hope you are enjoying all of the produce of the current season.  Remember to eat local as often as possible to help lower your carbon footprint.  

Asparagus and Mushroom Salad

  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley and chives 1 cup arugula
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (to taste)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced or pureed
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ounce slivered Parmesan

Steam the asparagus for three to five minutes, depending on how thick the stalks are. It should be tender but still have some bite. Rinse with cold water, and drain for a minute on a kitchen towel. Cut into 1-inch lengths. Place in a salad bowl, and toss with the mushrooms, herbs and arugula.
Whisk together the lemon juice, salt and pepper, garlic and olive oil. Toss with the asparagus mixture and the slivered Parmesan, and serve. 

Tuscan Bean and Wilted Arugula Salad (see side note)

  • 3/4 cup dried white kidney beans
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 5 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 6 cups trimmed baby arugula 3/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

Sort and wash beans; place in a large bowl. Cover with water to 2 inches above beans; cover and let stand 8 hours or overnight. Drain beans. Place beans in a large saucepan. Cover with water to 3 inches above beans; add bay leaf. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 1 hour and 15 minutes or until tender. Drain beans; discard bay leaf. Place beans in a large bowl; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Let stand 5 minutes. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil; toss gently to coat.
Heat 4 teaspoons of oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; sauté 45 seconds or just until garlic begins to gently brown. Remove from heat; stir in juice. Place arugula in a large bowl; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add warm bean mixture, garlic
mixture, and onion; toss gently to combine. 

**note**  my family did not enjoy this recipe.  My children were not fans of argula or the white beans.  I think that if you enjoy this type of green and beans you will definitely enjoy this recipe, but for us this is not a keeper.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

Macerated Strawberries in Honey, Vanilla and Orange Liqueur

  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced 2- 3 T local honey
  • 2 T. orange liqueur
  • 1⁄2 t. vanilla extract

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour, until a syrup forms. 
**note**  I served this one over freshly baked angel food cake, but it would be equally delicious over frozen ice cream or yogurt, or pound cake.  You also don't need to bake your own, store bought works equally wonderful with this.  You can also serve with some fresh whipped cream for added decadence.

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