So summer is officially here. Well, not calendorically (snigglet), but because our first summer share CSA box was delivered last night. OH! The giddiness I’ll be feeling every Thursday over the next 20 weeks. And that takes us (my family) right up until October 30. …Wow! We’re going to get a Halloween share. LOL
One thing to keep in mind if you’re pondering about joining a CSA, the early summer boxes, at least in the upper midwest, are generally kinda light. As the summer wears on, and you get into the fall harvest season, the boxes get much heavier when you start adding eggplant, onions, potatoes, cabbage, and OH! that amazing winter squash.
In today’s Large Share CSA box:
Lettuce – 3 varieties: Red Oak Leaf, Green Butterhead and Romaine
Arugula with blossoms (spicy salad green)
Red Russian Kale
Rainbow Swiss Chard – small bag
Carrots from winter storage
Several Red Radishes
Fresh Herb -Lovage – Has a strong celery flavor
In the back there are a few potted herbs I bought from my CSA: two pineapple sage plants and four Italian parsley plants – all potted in the same organic potting mix they use on the farm in their hoop house.
First impressions: The lettuce is HUGE! and velvety. Around here, in the Milwaukee area, I never see lettuce heads this big in the grocery store. The Spinach leaves are the biggest I’ve ever seen. The carrots we get in stores around here simply don’t taste like this — and these are winter storage carrots. The radishes are so vibrant, and the green tops are excellent in salads. I didn’t receive chives – more on this later.
Then there’s Lovage. This is possibly my all-time favorite herb. I have to write a separate blog post or even dedicate an article to this phenomenal culinary herb we never hear about in the US.
The one thing I’ve learned about vegetables and herbs through our CSA, there is barely a part of the plant you don’t eat. You really don’t waste anything, and the radishes and lovage are a good example. With radishes, many people would throw away the leaves – me included a few years ago. The lovage? People would probably ignore the stems – but there is some seriously intense flavor in those stems. I mince them up like stalks of celery. Speaking of celery, how many people eat celery leaves? Um! Do it! They’re fabulous – even as a simple garnish in soup.
One thing I didn’t show in this post are my online store purchased items – the farm fresh eggs grown right on our CSA farm. Again, the store bought eggs, not even the organic cage free eggs, have anything on these. So fresh, so delicious. My two year old LOVES these eggs.
Here are some more pics from this week’s share:
Wanna wax nostalgia? Eat one of these carrots. If you grew up in a home with a vegetable garden, and you grew carrots, and you used to pull them out of the ground, rinsed them off and took a bite without even peeling the carrot…. do you remember that sweet fresh flavor? It’s hard to imagine after all of these years until you’ve had that taste again. …and that’s right here. The first bite of my CSA carrots from last year spun me back to my childhood. It’s a flavor you just can’t get from any carrots (fresh or bagged) from the grocery store.
Have you ever eaten arugula blossoms? Me neither, and I can’t wait. Apparently they taste like…..wait for it…..arugula. Surprise! Surprise! Last year must not have been a good growing season for arugula at our CSA, as I barely remember getting any – and certainly not entire plants like this, blossoms and all. We did receive a full plant in one of our springs share boxes, but I never got around to noshing on the blossoms. I won’t miss it this time.
So onto those missing chives. Is it a big deal? No, it isn’t. When you get home, take everything out of the box, take inventory on what you received, compare it to the list that was being delivered. If it’s all there, you’re good to go. If something is missing, shoot the farmer an email and let them know an item is missing from your box. They want to know if there are mistakes, or an item wasn’t of good quality. They likely won’t be able to deliver the missing item that week, but they typically add it to the next week’s box. If that item is unavailable for the next delivery, they may offer a substitute.
So. What did I make last night from our CSA pull?
• Pasta – cooked and leftover from the fridge (we had enough leftover pasta for three people).
• Asparagus – Harmony Valley Farm via Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks
• Green Garlic (stems minced) – Harmony Valley Farm via Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks
• Arugula (roughly chopped) – Harmony Valley Farm via Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks
• Carrots (sliced) – Highcross Farm – my CSA
• Lovage stems (minced) – Highcross Farm – my CSA
• Olive Oil
• Shaved Parmesan Cheese
• Sea Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
I used an old 1890’s Griswold Erie #8 cast iron skillet – my favorite stovetop cooking vessel. This well seasoned thing is slicker than any teflon pan from Calphalon. And the heat retention and distribution is ridiculous. Low heat in this old CI is practically medium heat on an aluminum pan – so I have to chose my words carefully. …I’ll have to do a post about my small collection of cast iron.
Sauté carrots, green garlic and lovage in olive oil over medium heat for a 3-4 minutes. Season with a pinch of sea salt and ground black pepper.
Add cooked pasta and asparagus, drizzle with more olive oil, season with a little more salt and pepper, and cook until warm. I let the pasta get browned here and there. …and this is where using leftover cooked pasta from the fridge works best – it’s not all starchy and doesn’t stick to the bottom of the skillet. Give it a taste and re-season to taste. I don’t like my food overly salty, so I’m wildly conservative when it comes to salt. But black pepper? Get outta here. LOL
When everything is good and hot and plate up the pasta on a small salad plate or in a bowl, sprinkle with the arugula, shaved parmesan, drizzle with a little more olive oil. You can even add pinch of salt to the top of the plating.
A couple of notes:
I could have used the arugula from our Highcross Farm CSA delivery, but we had some from Fresh Picks that needed to be used up. Feel free to substitute any fresh Allium: onion, garlic, chives, green onions, leeks, whatever. I used what was available in the fridge. If you don’t like arugula, try spinach, mizuna, or some other green. You can do whatever you want.
As the season goes on, you’ll be seeing more and more veggies used from my CSA or my home garden, as I have a LOT of herbs and tomato plants growing, and less and less from third party sources – except maybe Pinehold Gardens. I hit their farmer stand every Saturday morning I have available.
Thanks for reading, and I welcome comments,