To all our wonderful CSA Members – and newsletter subscribers, too, I hope you enjoyed the “goody” last week from Great Harvest Bread Company. We actually missed one delivery for the first time ever last week, so we will have Great Harvest again and I’ll be sure to double up that box – Miss Wendy. 🙂 After mentioning one of our newest members last week, the owners of Promina Health, we were excited to share a little information HERE about them on our website. Ian and I are both patients and are really excited that they enjoy the CSA box so much.
The salad mix has changed for a couple of weeks to include a leafier, more standard lettuce type called salanova – our mix pictured below
Later in the season we will see more of this as it grows very well in our hydroponic greens production unit at River Bluffs. We do have microgreens in this week’s box as usual, so you can always give the mix a punch with those brassicas. I didn’t check with Jessicca, but they may even already be in the mix.
Next week, there is going to be a special gift item for your dinner table in the box. We do some barter-work with a farm very close to our River Bluffs location. If you click on this google maps link, you should be able to figure out what farm I mean. If you want to ruin the surprise, you can read an old blogpost our ours about our friends up the street. HA!
Again, if you’re on Facebook, please join our Turner Family Farms CSA Members page on Facebook here. It’s an open group so anyone can join. We would like to create a forum for our Members to share recipes, pictures and any ideas or requests. By 2020, we will be able to migrate a lot of that to our website, but the Facebook group is very useful for now.
This week we have the terrific new salanova salad mix, microgreens, radishes with tops (don’t forget to eat the greens!,) spinach, sweet potatoes, carrots with tops, kale, and rainbow chard. Guess what folks. We are just arriving at what we call the “Frost Date” which means we will be having nice squashes, cucs, and tomatoes very soon!
Radishes with tops – Not everybody loves the tangy heat you get when you bite into a radish, but, everyone should eat the greens. YES! I SAID EAT THE RADISH GREENS! Not only are they a really tasty addition to a wilted salad or to bulk up your spinach, they are chock-full of B6, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, calcium, vitamin A, potassium, and folic acid.
Ok, so radishes and radish greens are nutritious and healthy, right? Well, they are tasty, too. Chef Alexis Fouros told me years ago that the traditional French preparation for a cast-iron pan-seared steak is to deglaze the pan after removing the meat with a radish (with greens) sliced down the middle and used as a garnish. Since then, that’s what I do with radishes, beets, and even carrots. There are myriad great recipes online for radish greens preparation. Here are some of my favorites (with links) below:
Spinach. Spinach, like our rainbow chard below, is an Amaranthaceae or beet family member. We were finally able to harvest some as we had some seeding failures earlier this season. Spinach is a bit colder-hardy than chard, though we should be able to grow it for quite a while using shade cloths and other season extending devices, and we intend to grow heat tolerant substitutes like Red Leaf Vegetable Amaranth and Malabar Spinach over the summer months.
I really like our spinach raw in salads, but it’s also great in a simple, quick saute. Sweat some garlic and olive oil in stock pot or large pan – don’t burn the garlic (yuck!) – and then add in as much spinach as you can. I like to turn over the heap every so often with a large pair of tongs. You can remove it when it looks like canned spinach, or try a very light wilt. You won’t regret it. It tastes great and it’s more nutritious that way. If you want to be more adventurous, check out the 19 excellent spinach recipes at the Saveur website here.
Rainbow chard is a mixture of swiss chards with colored stems. It is in the Amaranthaceae family like beets, spinach, and celosia (the flower) which is also edible. It’s a fascinating crop from a farmer’s perspective because it fits a unique niche in the crop rotation with both cold-hardy and heat tolerant characteristics. In the summer, we add a close cousin, Red Leaf Vegetable Amaranth to our salad mixes and as a summer spinach substitute.
Nutritionally speaking, like spinach, chard is unusual in that it has all three of the main minerals (magnesium, iron, and potassium,) and it is a good source of vitamin K. I think Popeye would have been just as well served with chard. It tastes a bit like spinach too, but it’s prettier on the plate.
For cooking, you can wilt chard just like spinach, or just add chopped leaves to any salad. You can also add it to soups near the end of preparation, and I’ve even seen it in quiche, pasta, and omelettes. I think a simple saute-wilt is my favorite and I found a link here that is very similar to how I prepare it.
Sweet potatoes are from another unique plant family, Convolvulaceae. Basically, they are morning glories with tuberous roots. As far as I know, they are the only plant in that family worth eating, so, they too fit nicely in a crop rotation where a farmer tries to separate plants in the same family through space and time. – I could write a book on the complexities of a proper crop rotation. 🙂 They are usually grown from “slips” grown out of seed sweet potatoes. They are amazingly drought resistant and, though we do irrigate ours, it’s not absolutely necessary.
Nutritionally speaking, the sweet potato is lower on the glycemic index than Irish potatoes and are more nutritious. We haven’t used the young shoots in salads yet, but they are not only edible but tasty. My favorite way to prepare them is to just roast (bake) them and serve them like a baked Irish potato with butter, however, we know the sweet potato lives in both the sweet and savory worlds, so it’s just as useful as a dessert. My friends Betsy and Alexis of Feast for the Gods gave me a terrific but very simple recipe for white or regular sweet potatoes in our blogpost here.
Carrots with tops! Carrots are in the Apiaceae family along with celery, parsnip, dill, fennel, coriander, chervil, cumin and parsley. It’s not the easiest crop to grow as it takes a long time to germinate and we need to create weed free beds in which to plant them, otherwise the weeds take over before the carrots have a chance to get established. Once you get it figured out, growing carrots is very rewarding. We grow several varieties including Napoli, Yellowbunch, Malbec, Purple Haze, Mokum, and Romance.
Culinarily speaking, carrots are good raw (typically sliced thin,) roasted/baked, glazed and sauteed. The tops are a great addition to salads when used judiciously, or in smoothies. I have a couple of really good new recipes to share. The carrot bisque is from Chef Erin at Porches Cafe, and the other is a really cool carrot greens pesto I found online a while back. In the next couple weeks, we are going to be working with Chef Dean Neff on some recipes and I know he’s keen on teaching a really simple root vegetable glazing method, and I’m certain that our carrots will be featured prominently in his vegetable glazes.
Microgreens Most people have heard of microgreens by now. They are the small cotyledon shoots from vegetable, herb, and even flower seeds that are usually harvested before their true leaves form – though some growers allow the true leaves to emerge for a fuller green. Microgreens typically have five times more nutritional value by weight than mature greens, and, as anyone that’s tasted one or two tiny microgreens can attest, they have equally intense flavor. At Turner Family Farms, we grow arugula, broccoli, radishes, kohlrabi, wasabi, chard, basil, collards, amaranth, mustards, beets, salad burnet, and more. Check out our more comprehensive blogpost on this crop here. You may also be interested in our greens unit which is improving all the time with the addition to our TFF team of our hydroponic guru, Randall Shapiro, previously of Sunlight Supply.
For culinary uses, there is a fantastic post here that shows a dozen uses for microgreens with great information a beautiful pictures.
Salanova Salad Mix This is new to the CSA box but something that we have grown for a long time. We use both red and green varieties in rosette heads and frilly-incised heads. This mix gives a variety of colors, shapes and textures. In the warmer months, we like to add amaranths, buckwheat leaves, and even young sweet potato shoots for a TFF signature mix. From time to time, we will also offer these lettuces in full size heads.
Different from our brassica mix, these are true lettuces. My chef buddy, Alexis Fouros, likes to lightly grill lettuces and frisees. I don’t know. I’m pretty adventurous, but with the Salanova mix, I think I’d stick to whatever nice salad dressing you like and go with a traditional salad. I’ll try the grilling/wilting soon and I’ll be your canary in a coal mine on that one. 🙂
Kale The last item in this weeks box is Kale. Ian is harvesting in the morning and I’m not sure if he’s choosing Red Russian or regular Green Kale. I’ll update everybody on Kale in next week’s newsletter. I like to mix it with spinach in a wilted salad, myself. Kale is part of that healthy brassica family. I’ll come up with some unique but simple ways to cook that next week.
Thanks Everyone, and see you tomorrow!