To all our wonderful CSA Members, past, present, and future. This blogpost’s featured image is a picture from my delivery route. Somebody spilled about a mile of paint down Morris Landing Road in Holly Ridge. I see a lot of unusual things on delivery day because I cover a lot of ground, but honestly, I thought that paint was never going to run out.
Pictured below is a culinary experiment I tried last night – Purple KN-Bravo radishes, baby beets, and purple fingerling potatoes roasted in a little chicken fat fond left from roasted chicken thighs.. If you’re a vegetarian, it’s great with just olive oil, salt and pepper. The trick is to stage the roasting timing by adding beets first, then the potatoes and radishes ten minutes later. What should we call it? “Purple Passion Potatoes?” I’d be interested to see if one of our member/amateur chefs, you know who you are, can make a potatoes salad from this. Now that would be interesting.
By the way, if you haven’t seen this blogpost yet, you might get a laugh out of seeing your favorite fat farmer in the news. The only produce we don’t grow on the Turner Family Farms-River Bluffs location is sweet corn. Our awesome neighbor out there, Jerry Dempsey, has a dedicated rig for planting sweet corn and he helps us with that among many other things. As I write this, I’m looking out the window at what could be some rain coming. That will keep our sweet corn on schedule. Unfortunately, it’s the one and only crop we grow that’s not irrigated.
ONCE AGAIN IF YOU MISSED THE POST LAST WEEK – Remove the carrot tops when you get them. The tops prove that the carrots are very fresh, and they make a great addition to salads and pestos, but they do re-uptake moisture and even nutrients from the carrot roots, themselves, so just cut them off and set them aside for that pesto, smoothie, or salad.
Back to this week’s box. There’s some re-hashing below on recipes for the produce, but I’ve been gathering some suggestions from our Members, some of whom are exceptional cooks, and I’ll be adding in their recipes very soon. In fact, we are thinking about making a TFF CSA Members Cookbook. More on that over the next few months.
Yellow Squash – This Southern mainstay has a long run in the field during the summer and we plant several successions during that time. It is in the Cucurbitaceae family along with many, many of it’s cousins – see Zucchini below.
Culinarily speaking, it’s an outstanding complement to any dish and is more nutritious and healthful than people realize. There’s a great article here on the health benefits.
Yellow squash is easily cut into rounds and sauteed with thin sliced carrots and zucchini. But, as with the zucchini below, I’m waiting to hear what our members make with it. It’s one of those things that everyone has an interesting story about how their grandmother prepared it!
KN Bravo Daikon 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! Remember THIS RANT? Not only are they a really tasty addition to a wilted salad or to bulk up your rainbow chard, they are chock-full of B6, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, calcium, vitamin A, potassium, and folic acid.
I think what I would do with these is slice these right down the middle, tops and all, so you have a flat side with half the greens attached. These can be sauteed quickly or even grilled. If I were to grill them, I’d put some foil down flat on the grill and lay the greens, still attached, on top of the foil while the roots get the flame. I’m going to try that soon. Pics to follow for sure. 🙂
Fingerling Potatoes and Yukon Gold – All potatoes are in the nightshade, or Solenacaea family. They are closely related to tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. In fact, if you let potatoes go to flower-fruit, you will see tiny tomato looking fruit. Don’t eat them; they are toxic. By the way, “Irish” potatoes like these are completely unrelated to Sweet potatoes which are a type of morning glory – of all things.
We were not able to harvest enough of each type of potato so some boxes got purple and some got the yukon gold. Both are exceptional and potatoes that just came out of the ground are just terrific as some of the sugars in them have not turned to starch yet.. Personally, I like to roast my potatoes like I did above in the potato.radish, beet roast. I typically do this at or near 400° to be sure to get a little carmelization. I use small ones whole and I cut the larger ones into similarly sized pieces so they all cook evenly. Honestly, olive oil, salt and pepper is all you need. If you got one type of potato but think you prefer the other, don’t worry. You’ll be seeing all types of Irish potatoes in the weeks to come!
Beets with Tops – The tops on our beets are suffering from the unusual dry heat, but if you select the best leaves, they can be used along with the radish greens in a wilted salad or sauteed greens. Beet greens alone are so good – nutty and flavorful. Some folks may have gotten golden beets as there were a few bunches. We will be doing mixed beets in the next couple weeks so nobody misses out. They are all really good.
I’m leaving the Beet Roots information from last week for good measure.
Beet Roots are one of the new “Superfoods.” “Superfoods” is a new word for what grandma and granddaddy ate out of the garden. Go figure.
From a grower’s perspective, beets are in the same family, Amaranthaceae, as spinach and swiss chard. They are a joy to see grow in the field and their leaves are a fantastic addition to salads, especially the baby greens.
For cooking, I typically dice them and roast them with other root vegetables or alone. Just keep in mind that everything they are mixed with tends to also end up red. Bon Appetit has some nice ideas here, and, in the near future, I’ll do some personal research on unique but easy ways to prepare them. I’m thinking they’ll be right alongside those KN-Bravo radishes on the grill. 🙂
Zucchini – Or if you grew up in the region, “green squash.” Zucchini is in the large Cucurbitaceae family which includes both summer and winter squashes, pumpkins, and all melons. Like the Brassicas, it’s such a large crop family that it can be difficult to fit into a proper crop rotation.
Culinarily speaking, well, it’s a mainstay of so many side dishes. Sauteed zucchini mixed with yellow squash and onions or thinly sliced carrots could once be found on the side of every restaurant dish from TGIFridays to Appleby’s and even upscale places. There’s a reason, though. It’s good, and it’s an easy way to prepare it.
One different idea is to broil or grill halves or quarters of zucchini sliced longitudinally and just seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper.
I know I’m going to get many new ideas from our CSA members on this, so be sure to send me your own zucchini preparations.
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, Hercules 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.
Kale. Another terrific Brassica well-known throughout the South, though, like it’s collard cousin, it grows very well in Northern climes, too. Farmer’s often say “hail to the kale” during the winter because it’s so cold-hardy, and heavy frosts only improve their flavor.
Our kale is terrific sauteed (wilted) in a big pan or stock pot with just olive oil, salt and pepper, but there are some terrific ideas HERE on the Food & Wine website. We have CSA Members doing everything from simple sautees to making kale chips! It’s an amazingly versatile green.
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, 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. 🙂
See how we wash the greens in our video below.
Thanks Everyone! Don’t forget to come visit us at the Farmer’s Market at Poplar Grove every Wednesday from 8am to 1 pm. CSA Members get extra goodies when we see them. 🙂