CSA Delivery: June 19, 2014

For me, Thursday nights from late spring through nearly the rest of the year are like Christmas – even on a cloudy dreary Thursday like today. It’s the day I go pick up my family’s new box of fresh produce delivered from HighCross Farm.

This week’s delivery was a bit lighter than last week. Wisconsin is getting nailed with rain this week, so getting into the fields to transplant seedlings and harvest some of the crops has been difficult. …That’s not a terrible problem to have, as it was only a few years ago we in the middle of a drought.

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In today’s large share:
Large Share:
Lettuce – 2 varieties: Red Butterhead and a Green Summercrisp
Spinach – another 1 pound bag of the most gigantic tender leaves you’ve ever seen
Rainbow Swiss Chard – 2 big leaves – gotta try a 
Turnip Greens – harvested a few weeks ago
Garlic Chives – a generous bunch, and thankfully so. I love this stuff. 
Oregano – Trust me when I say, you will NEVER see or smell oregano like this at the supermarket.

With the size of those AWESOME Chard leaves, I’m going have to try this Swiss Chard Wraps recipe by Stephanie Eusebi.

Remember last week when I didn’t receive my chives? I contacted the farmer about not receiving those chives, and in this week’s share….there they were. I nice big freshly cut bunch. I even received a nice little gift of fresh sage, including the fresh fragrant sage blossoms.

Here are some pics from this week’s share:

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Check out his Oregano. The leaves are HUGE and amazingly fragrant.
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Here’s a close up of the velvety tender red butterhead lettuce. So awesome. 
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And check out this sage. Again, you won’t find this in any supermarket —
and you definitely won’t get the blossoms.
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So no. This share certainly wasn’t as big as last week’s. But I’m cool with that.
1) It’s still technically still spring, so the heavy fall harvest items are barely showing fruit.
2) It was a wildly wet week
3) We still had a LOT of produce left over from last week, so we gave it to a neighbor. We try not to waste overage, but even if it has to go to compost pile or feed it to the rabbits out back.

Here is a quick note about last week’s produce; It was still as crisp and velvety as when we received it, so it was easy to give it away. Two big keys to keeping your produce fresh.
1) The produce wasn’t shipped in from 2,000 miles away – it was local. So it already had at LEAST one week of freshness on that strip mined stuff from California.
2) The greens were stored in big ziploc freezer bags, kept partially open, and in the coldest part of the fridge – not the freezer. We learned this from our CSA. If you join a CSA, they will (or should) teach you how to store your produce.

So. What did I make last night from our CSA pull? 

After picking up our box around 6 PM, then spending a little time photographing it, then washing it, and bagging it, I don’t have a lot of time for cooking before it’s time to put our two year old to bed, so I keep things especially stoopid easy. This Thursday was another pasta dinner. This time we used a Giovanni Rana Pasta. Jonas loves picking the cheese out of the center – kinda like he’s eating an Oreo. LOL

Sautéed spinach and cherry tomatoes over spinach ricotta ravioli.

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Ingredients:
• Ravioli Spinaci e Ricotta – Metro Market
• Fresh Spinach (torn into big pieces) – HighCross Farm CSA
• Fresh Garlic Chives (minced) – HighCross Farm CSA
• Organic Cherry Tomatoes (quartered) – Metro Market
• Olive Oil
• Fresh Ground Black Pepper
• Kosher Flake Salt
• Grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Method:
Bring a pot of water to a boil, and heat some olive oil in a 10″ skillet over medium heat. I used a #8 cast iron Griswold skillet – which is about 10″. Again, I don’t like things overly salty, so I did’t add salt to the water, since the pasta is already full pre-seasoned. …no sense in over doing it.

Gently sauté the spinach in olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Use more spinach than you think, as it wilts down quite a bit. Season with a pinch of salt and fresh ground black pepper as it steams itself, and be careful not to over-cook. It only takes a few minutes, so get your fresh pasta going too.

While the spinach is cooking, cook the pasta per the instruction on the package. Even if the pasta is frozen, it only takes about 4 minutes – so it also cooks very quickly. If you time it well, both the pasta and spinach will be done about the same time. Drain pasta when it’s done cooking.

Plate the pasta, top with cooked spinach and quartered cherry tomatoes, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with the minced garlic chives, more fresh ground black pepper and grated Pecorino Romano cheese. Serve hot.

So simple. So quick. So good.

A couple of notes:
Not everything we eat is from our CSA – we definitely need to buy other items – in this case the pasta and the tomatoes – and this is where a good grocery store like the Metro Market in Milwaukee comes in handy – your CSA and a good grocery store should support your nutritional needs harmoniously. 

If you don’t have fresh organic spinach from a CSA or farmer’s market, buy a bunch from your local grocery. If they don’t have a fresh bunch, you can usually get a plastic container of organic baby spinach. Yes, that’ll work – but use it up quickly. 

If you are a member of a CSA, and you didn’t receive spinach, you can use whatever firm dark greens they have (but not lettuce). Try Arugula, Chard, Bok Choy, Mizuna, Turnip Greens, Beet Greens, etc. 

If you don’t have garlic chives, use regular chives, parsley, oregano, or some other fresh herb. No biggie – make it your own. The cool thing about a CSA is, no two weeks are exactly alike, so usually you’re dinners are going to have a little variety by default. 

You can also add browned chicken or italian sausage if you’re a carnivore. 

Thanks for reading – and please leave a comment.

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