23 Jul 2011 at 12:38
Cooking, CSA, Grill
Comments Off on CSA Weeks 5-7 :: Diversification
Week 5 Items: Carrots, bunched beets, baby leeks, lettuce, spinach, green curly kale, garlic scapes, escarole, parsley, and peas.
Week 6 Items: Carrots, fennel, lettuce, green scallions, Swiss chard, radishes, salad mix, small head of radicchio, mizuna, green beans and basil
Week 7 Items: Carrots, beets, lettuce, baby leeks, zucchini and summer squash, cucumbers, Swiss chard, radishes, and basil.
If weeks 1-4 were about greens then weeks 5-7 have been about diversity. The greens are still there and in quantity but accompanying them are carrots, full sized beets (with greens), peas, beans, fennel, scallions and baby leeks. At not quite one-third of the way into the season, the variety is amazing.
To be sure there are enough greens to keep my salad habit satiated. Garlic scapes, which became a spring favorite after I discovered them last year at the Farmers Market, are wonderful sliced in eighth inch rounds, rough chopped (to open up their garlicky aroma) and tossed in a salad along with some freshly torn basil. Dressed with a bit of oil and balsamic vinegar, it is my daily lunch. I miss the garlic scapes the other three seasons of the year!
One green that I just can’t love, however, is Swiss chard. While the crisp leaves and stalks draw my eye, the deep earthy taste is not palatable by me. Raw is about the only way I can take the leaves and even those must be mixed in with other greens. Wilted with pasta or rice is a “non-starter” as the deep dirt aromas turn off my appetite. We’ll see if the two dozen or so leaves with stalks blanched and frozen go better in soups.
Baby leeks make great substitutes for scallions/green onions and the carrots are simply the best! They have a slight spiciness to them that is reminiscent of a parsnip. They are in great supply right now but like the scapes I’ll long for them after they stop coming in.
The summer squash along with the fennel and radicchio are great grill buddies. Grilling and greens didn’t seem like compatible partners at first, but radicchio (as with other endive type greens) is simply wonderful tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper and lightly grilled over medium heat. Used as whole head sliced in half or even just a few individual leaves, 2-4 minutes is plenty of time to impart great flavor. Served as a bed for other grilled veggies or tossed into a salad with a red-wine vinaigrette, it instantly became a grilling favorite.
I am taking the storage route for the snap peas, green beans, cucumbers and beets. Blanched and frozen the peas and beans will be great this fall and winter in stir-fries, soups and casseroles. And while I want to experiment with roasting a beet or two, it’s simply too hot outside right now to crank up the oven, hence into the pickling mixture both will go.
Coming out of this first 7 weeks it is pretty clear that my weakest area is greens – other than tossing them in a salad (and now grilling certain types) I really don’t know what to do with them. Growing up my family didn’t eat greens other than in salads. Cooked greens that I ran into (mostly elementary school creamed spinach) were not appetizing. So the hunt is on for resources that explore the culinary possibilites of greens outside of the salad realm. If you happen to know of any, please let me know!