Wednesday, July 3, 2013

CSA Harvest Week 8: Beets, Carrots, Lettuce Mix- Oh my!

You’ll find a nice big bag of premium salad mix in your box today. This planting of lettuce was a bit of a gamble. Usually it is too hot to harvest good tasting lettuce, but this planting is delicious.  The salad mix blend is called Saladnova, and it is a fine blend of lofty, crunchy, and buttery types of lettuce.  You will notice that the lettuce is a bit wet.  (You guessed it- the weather) Please spin the lettuce in a salad spinner and put back into its bag…or…place a couple of pieces of paper towels in the back to help absorb the moisture.  Store the bag tied shut and eat within this week.

Juggling and Gambling
We’re going to attempt to grow early fall lettuce (harvest early September). You won’t get to eat it for 65-75 days from now. That seems like a lot of days, but lettuce is one of the quickest growing crops.  Most crops take 90-120 days.
The lettuce may not succeed either.  It will have challenges.  It will take us about 6 or 7 hours of work to pamper the lettuce along throughout the following months. Why am I telling you this? This special lettuce is unusual in that there even a remote possibility of germination in the beginning of July! The lettuce will take all of July and August to grow before it is ready to eat.  Before that this lettuce will have to overcome several challenges to survive to harvest during those months.  It needs cool soil temperatures to germinate (sprout), plenty of water (difficult to do in most hot summers), and temperatures below 87 degrees.
So even though we are struggling with the heat loving summer crops with all of the cool rainstorms, we have an opportunity to try to grow and reap a special crop for you !

Farm Fresh Harvest

Saladnova lettuce mix-  Special summer crop
Beets- Beautiful Beets! This is our best crop of beets ever. You’ll get more bunches in the weeks to follow. Once you get a planting of beets growing strong, it is a beautiful sight to behold.  Their magenta stems and burgundy leaves march in straight rows right down the bed. (Pictures don’t do the sight justice.) Beets can be a love ‘em or hate ‘em crop.  But try my Orange Marinated Beet Salad recipe below.  It’s tasty!
Carrots- Mmmm. These gems are very tasty raw.  If you are going to cook them, cook them lightly.  These aren’t your grocery store carrots. Our carrots are not storage carrots- they are fresh eating carrots.  Check out the Roasted Carrot Stick Snack Recipe below.
Summer squash and Zucchini- We are still waiting on a younger planting of squash and zucchini to come into production.  Enjoy the moderate amount of fruit- once the plants start producing they go all out!
Cucumbers- The smell of summer! They are really cranking out some tasty fruit. It is a beautiful patch of plants.  Cucumbers come in all shapes and sizes.  We grow little mini cucumbers, large crisp American slicers, and delicate slender European cucumbers. Note: Critters are eating the younger cucumber plants that should produce in August. We are trying to outsmart and scare them away.
Scallions- Scallions are a spring or green onion.  Eat the white stalk and the green leaves! They add a sweet, mild onion flavor to any dish! Great raw or substitute a few scallions for a big onion in cooking.
Red Russian Kale- Try this kale sautéed with the green onions. Sautee some zucchini or squash separately (I’d add some chopped green onion tops in the last 30 of cooking to the squash as well).  The two vegetables dishes complement each other quite well on the same plate.

Remember, you can look at past articles from the CSA blog for recipes from previous newsletters.

Orange-Beet Salad
From Better Homes and Gardens annual Recipes 2001
Marie’s notes: I used olive oil instead of walnut oil and plain chevre instead of feta cheese. I also omitted the orange peel (the peel of conventional citrus have a high concentration of pesticides) and used 1 extra tablespoon of orange juice.
Tip: Roll the plain goat chevre or feta cheese in a black pepper and thyme mixture (coat the cheese in herbs)  to keep the red juice of the beets from staining the cheese.  I let the beets marinate overnight in the dressing, drained the beets, and then topped the beets with the walnuts and cheese on the dinner plates.   It was delicious!

3 medium beets (about 9 oz)
3 Tbsp. walnut oil or salad oil
1 tsp. shredded orange peel
2 Tbsp. orange juice
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar or white vinegar
2 Tbsp. broken walnuts toasted
3 Tbsp crumbled feta cheese
¼ coarsely ground pepper
1.      Wash beets well. Cut off and discard root tails and all except 1 inch of stems.  Do not peel.  Cook, covered in lightly salted boiling water for 40 to 50 minutes or until just tender. Drain.  Let cool until easy to handle.
2.     Slip skins off beets under running water.  Carefully slice each beet into 1/4 inch thick slices, removing and discarding remaining stem ends.
3.     Meanwhile, for dressing, in a screw-top jar combine walnut oil or salad oil, orange peel, orange juice, and vinegar.  Cover and shake well.
4.     In a medium mixing bowl gently toss the beet slices with the dressing. Cover, and chill to marinade for 2 to 24 hours. 
5.     To serve, let mixture come to room temperature. Gently stir walnuts into beets. Sprinkle with feta cheese and pepper. Makes 4 servings.

Roasted Carrot Stick Snack
Best when served hot out of the oven, these healthful substitutes for French fries are loaded with vitamin A.
6 medium carrots (1 lb.)
2 to 3 tsp olive oil
2 Tbsp. snipped fresh or dried dillweed or basil
Coarse sea salt or salt

1. Preheat oven to 475F.  Peel carrots.  Cut carrots into strips about 3 inches long and ½ inch wide.
2.  In a large bowl combine olive oil and snipped dillweed or basil.  Add carrots; toss to coat.
3.  In a 15x10x1 inch baking pan spread carrots in a single layer.  Roast, uncovered, about 10 minutes or until carrots are just tender, stirring once.  Sprinkle with coarse salt.  Makes 6 side dish or snack servings. 

Cucumber yogurt salad
            Wash cucumbers well.  Finely slice, dice, or grate cucumber.  Mix with plain yogurt (greek style yogurts are particularly good for this recipe).  Add as much yogurt as you prefer.  This salad can range from being almost purely cucumbers with a yogurt dressing to a bowl of yogurt with some cucumbers in it.  Salt to taste. 

Add fresh flavor. Try adding dill, crushed garlic, diced spring onion, parsley, or another of your favorite herbs. 

Creamy Cucumber Soup
From EatingWell:  May/June 2007
There's no reason to only use cucumbers raw—they are wonderful sautéed then pureed with avocado for a silken-textured soup that's good warm or cold.
4 servings, about 1 cup each | Active Time: 35 minutes | Total Time: 35 minutes
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 cups peeled, seeded and thinly sliced cucumbers, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth, or reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt
1.     Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 1 to 4 minutes. Add lemon juice and cook for 1 minute. Add 3 3/4 cups cucumber slices, broth, salt, pepper and cayenne; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and cook at a gentle simmer until the cucumbers are soft, 6 to 8 minutes.
2.     Transfer the soup to a blender. Add avocado and parsley; blend on low speed until smooth. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids.) Pour into a serving bowl and stir in yogurt. Chop the remaining 1/4 cup cucumber slices. Serve the soup warm or refrigerate and serve it chilled. Just before serving, garnish with the chopped cucumber and more chopped parsley, if desired.
Per serving : 173 Calories; 12 g Fat; 2 g Sat; 8 g Mono; 2 mg Cholesterol; 15 g Carbohydrates; 4 g Protein; 5 g Fiber; 494 mg Sodium; 544 mg Potassium
1 Carbohydrate Serving
Exchanges: 1 vegetable, 2 fat
Tips & Notes
  • Make Ahead Tip: Refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Cold Cucumber Soup
·         3  medium seedless cucumbers, peeled and chopped
·         3/4  cup(s) thinly sliced green onions
·         1  tablespoon(s) lemon juice
·         1  teaspoon(s) lemon zest
·         1  teaspoon(s) sea salt
·         1/2  teaspoon(s) freshly ground pepper
·         1 1/2 cup(s) vegetable broth
·         1/2  cup(s) sour cream
  1. Place cucumbers, green onions, lemon juice, lemon zest, sea salt, pepper, and vegetable broth in a blender or food processor and puree.
  2. Stir in sour cream and chill until very cold, about 1 hour.
  3. Serve topped with additional chopped cucumber, green onion, and lemon zest.

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