I can't believe it's week 7 already! Time always seems to escape me during the summer months. Our recent shares have brought with them glimpses of summer's peak bounty: cucumbers, green beans, the first summer squashes.
A few ideas to share
SALAD DRESSING: Last weekend we made dinner for family visiting from out of town. As a person who never buys salad dressing (because it's 1) expensive, 2) easy to make, and 3) single purpose in a way that oil and vinegar are not), I was on a quest for crowd-pleasing dressings that I could whisk up from things I had in the pantry. My everyday dressing is usually some form of a vinaigrette, lately a vaguely Greek dressing with lemon juice, a splash of red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic, and dried oregano. But, one of our guests really loves the red dressings: Catalina and French. Until this weekend, I'd always thought of French dressing as that sticky, corn syrupy mess you find in the bottles at the grocer. So, rather than leave a bottle of that stuff to languish on my fridge door for the better part of an eon or so, I poked around for a from-scratch recipe that would satisfy everyone involved. Lo and behold, I found Martha Stewart's recipe for French dressing. Omitting the sugar and instead subbing in sweeter apple cider vinegar for a good part of the red wine vinegar, I whisked my way into one of my favorite dressings for the summer. The texture is silky and thick as it should be without being syrupy and the flavor is not all that unlike a good Bloody Mary mix. Tossed over a simple salad of lettuce and carrot, it's a really nice dressing.
ICE CREAM: It's been a fairly cool summer so far, but as temperatures creep up into the low 90s, I've been thinking more about one of my favorite summer treats: homemade ice creams. Although a CSA blog might be one of the last places you'd expect to see a post about ice cream, many of the items in this week's share and in future shares are shockingly good additions to the dessert menu. As I was flipping through my go-to ice cream recipe book, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer, I stumbled upon quite a few inventive recipes calling for produce from this week's share: celery ice cream with candied ginger & rum-plumped golden raisins, sweet basil & honeyed pine nut ice cream (I found a slightly altered version online here), and cucumber, honeydew, & cayenne frozen yogurt. With her focus on seasonal, responsible ingredients, Bauer has a lot to offer the CSA ice cream maker. I'm looking ahead to recipes for beet ice cream with mascarpone, orange zest, & poppy seeds, roasted pumpkin & five spice ice cream, and sweet potato ice cream with torched marshmallows (although that one seems like a bit of a fire hazard....).
Redventure celery So, if celery ice cream isn't quite your thing, I can see that. This heirloom celery has much thinner stalks and far more leaves that you typically find on the trimmed thick-stalked grocery store variety. It also has a much stronger and more complex flavor that equips it to stand as the central flavor in a dish. With the celery from one of our earlier shares, I made a pasta dish with mushrooms and celery in a light vermouth butter sauce. The celery was an outstanding addition. I also think this sleek celery would be fantastic adorning a Bloody Mary or glass of tomato juice.
Turnips with greens Just when I thought I'd run out of new ideas for turnips, I turned up this article on Food52, Five Recipes to Cook with Turnips. These recipes are perfect for the mild harukei turnips we receive in our shares.
Zucchini Last year Cook's Illustrated published a grilling issue that has changed the way we use our grill. One simple piece of advice they offer is to slice zucchini and other long, thin produce into planks rather than rounds, that way they don't fall through the grill. It also makes fewer pieces to flip over during the cooking process. Aside from grilled zucchini, I'm also a fan of raw zucchini salads. Mine typically consist of shaved zucchini, lemon, olive oil, fresh herbs, and a few pieces of shaved Parmesan. Other tasty add-ins include pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, sliced apples or pears, or julienned veggies like carrots, kohlrabi, or beets. This week's basil would be a great addition as well!
Purple Peacock or broccoli Purple peacock is a visually stunning broccoli kale hybrid. Although it's delicious cooked, be prepared for it to lose its enticing purple hue. (It cooks to a dark green not unlike broccoli or kale; still appetizing, but not as unique as the purple). Left raw, however, it adds a pop of unusual color to a salad or slaw. Sliced super thin, I could see it adding heft to a coleslaw; it's dark purple-green would be a great contrast to the soft green of early season cabbages!
Kohlrabi Recipes for kohlrabi range from hot preparations like this mashed cauliflower and kohlrabi to raw version like this kohlrabi and green apple noodle salad (I'm sure a vegetable peeler would work just fine in place of a spiralizer) or this kohlrabi and apple salad with caraway. I like the idea of adding a very savory spice like caraway to the sweet-tart apple and green kohlrabi flavors.
Cabbage Our cabbage from the farm has been tender and sweet so far this year. Although I usually like roast cabbage as a side for dinner, we've been eating ours raw. We shredded it on tacos the other day and for this weekend, I'm thinking about coleslaw. I usually pound up some garlic and salt to make a paste, then whisk that with 1 part lemon and 3 parts olive oil to make a dressing for the shredded cabbage. Sometimes I toss in a hot pepper from the share or our garden and sometimes I'll add a carrot or two. Cilantro is another great ingredient to a non-mayo coleslaw. The ingredient list for this spicy no-mayo coleslaw is a bit lengthy, but I suspect it's worth it if you're headed to the store anyway.
Cucumbers Blended up with an avocado and some yogurt, cucumbers could be the star of your dinner tonight in a chilled cucumber-avocado soup! Or, eat them sliced and sprinkled with a pinch of salt like we have this week!
Bright Lights chard I like savory tarts for a light summertime dinner. They're nice because they require only a few inexpensive ingredients, yet add protein and grain to whatever CSA veggie you choose as the star. This Provençal zucchini and Swiss chard tart would be a great use for both the chard and the zucchini in this week's share. I like to make a couple crusts at a time when I have the time; they freeze well and make the next meal that much easier. As soon as it cools off a bit, I'll be trying this chard soup with herbs and feta.
Red rumple lettuce This week's lettuce would be a lovely base for a salad with the French dressing I mentioned above. If that's not quite your style, I like to shake up the salad regimen by adding whole herbs to the lettuce mix, like this week's basil. Grilled, steamed, and roasted veggies also make hearty additions to a quick weeknight salad.
Kentucky Wonder pole beans & Provider bush beans: This weekend, I steamed a large pot of green beans, enough for about 8-10 servings, and held the leftovers in the fridge for easy vegetable sides throughout the week. Tossed with a couple tablespoons of homemade vinaigrette, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and a bit of Parmesan cheese, these beans were a satisfying snack in between meals and a side to other dinner items. French cuisine involves lots of vegetables eaten chilled or at room temperature with a light vinaigrette and I think these beans would fit right in.