Hooray for Variety!

As you saw in my sneak preview, we got quite the variety today in our CSA share. It’s great to get farther into the summer and the growing season. When I went to pick up the share yesterday, the first thing I noticed was garlic scapes (!) in the swap box (!!!!) and I knew they would be mine! The only question was what I would give up to have them. I decided on Romaine lettuce since I have the hardest time taking down salad greens.

So, we got two bunches of scapes (!!) and a large bunch of fresh green onions.

That is one BIG fennel bulb and fronds!

Summer squash season has begun! We got zucchini, kousa squash, and pickling cucumbers.

We got another lovely bunch of beets!

That is some seriously rainbow rainbow chard!

Final tally: 2 bunches of garlic scapes, one giant fennel bulb w/ fronds, one bunch of rainbow chard, 4 beets w/ greens, one zucchini, 2 pickling cucumbers, 3 kousa squash, one bunch of fresh green onions, a bag of peas, and a partridge in a pear tree. (Okay, we didn’t get that last one…)

Looking forward to it cooling off a bit so I can do some more fun cooking!



Joining Forces…

I hope you are having a lovely holiday weekend! Currently, I’m sitting on the porch at my parents’ house in Maine enjoying the breeze and a view of the ocean after a morning of kayaking and laying out in the sun. Ahh, I am loving this whole summer vacation thing!

My mom and dad are getting a CSA share up here as well, and last night we combined our hauls to create a delicious and simple dinner. We both had good portions of rainbow chard and garlic scapes, so we decided to use all of them for dinner. My parents have not been thrilled with their CSA, because of the limited variety and the distance they have to go to pick it up, but one huge bonus was the incredible quantity of garlic scapes they got. They had 1/2 a pound in their last share!! Some of the scapes were about 3 feet long:

I added mine to the pile and we had quite the garlic scape bounty!

Speaking of abundant produce, check out the size of this chard!

Now that is a large leaf! The rainbow chard from my CSA was significantly larger and more colorful than that of my parents due to the difference in growing seasons. We are about 2-3 weeks ahead of them down in Boston. I was struck by how lovely and striped the stalks were.

Isn’t that striking? I chopped up the chard and tossed it all in to a large, high-walled skillet with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sauteed it until it was tender. As noted before, the greens cook down an amazing amount, so the four of us were able to eat all this chard in one sitting!

While the chard was cooking down, I gave the bounty of scapes a rough chop and tossed them into a cast-iron skillet with 1/2 tablespoon of butter. They smelled delicious while cooking!

When we had gone to the store earlier, we also picked up some local steaks from Pineland Farms to toss on the grill. While the scapes and chard were cooking, my dad grilled up the steaks. Once everything was ready, we had a delightful, veggie-ful meal out on the porch.

What a satisfying meal! Featured in the foreground are my signature Dark & Stormies, my all time favorite summer cocktail (Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, Barritt’s Ginger Beer, and a wedge of fresh lime).

Happy Independence Day weekend!


Some Red With My Green!

This week, we are seeing a touch more color in our CSA share! That’s how you know that summer is getting into full swing here in the Northeast. I am going out of town for the holiday weekend tomorrow, but will be back with lots of catching up next week. Who knows, I might even post a bit from the road!

Today, when I picked up our share, I utilized a nifty feature of Farmer Dave’s CSA share that I hadn’t before: the swap box. Even though the shares come prepackaged, each week there is a box where you can swap things out of your share for something different. Since I still haven’t managed to use the Chinese cabbage or tatsoi (though I’m planning to tomorrow), I swapped out this week’s bok choy with an extra bag of spinach. I’m more used to cooking with spinach and it is so incredibly delicious at this time of year!

Here’s what our box looked like after the swap:

We got two bags of spinach, a head of Romaine lettuce, a bag of peas, and…

…radishes, more garlic scapes (!), and…

…a cippolini onion and rainbow chard.

I have some fun cooking in my future. I hope you have a wonderful long weekend!


House Warming Experiments

Yesterday, my dear friends were moving into their new apartment and I wanted to bring over a special treat. I was taking the train up to see them, so I needed it to be easy to transport. After my cousin sent me the link to Smitten Kitchen’s pea pesto, I spent a long time perusing her wonderful blog. If you haven’t read it before, check it out! I was especially intrigued by her post on homemade ricotta (or ricotta-inspired soft cheese). I decided to try it out and also make a version of the pea pesto.

When it comes to the cheese, it was remarkably easy! And the end result was delicious. I highly recommend it. Because I used Smitten Kitchen’s recipe verbatim, I’m just going to post my pictures. Check out her blog for the details. NB: The fresher the milk you can find, the better the cheese will end up.

I used my Le Crueset because you should use a non-reactive pot. I was concerned about using non-stick so this was my best alternative. After heating the milk and cream to 190 degrees, I added the 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, let the cheese sit for 5 minutes and poured the whole shebang through cheesecloth.

This is what it looked like when it first went into the cheese cloth. After this, all you do is wait! Let the cheese drain for about 2 hours. As it drains, it hardens and the curds become more visible. After 1 hour, you could already see a big difference:

After an hour, the cheese has reduced a bit, though there is still a lot of whey mixed in with the curds. By the time it was done draining, it had reduced to about a cup and a half of curds. The lemon gave it a nice fresh, summery taste. After I go to the gym a few more times, I am definitely making this cheese again!

When I first saw the pea pesto recipe, I knew it was something I wanted to try. In our CSA share this week, we got another small bag of delicious looking peas. I shelled them and we had about 1/2 cup total. I knew this wouldn’t be enough to make the pea pesto as directed, but I knew I still wanted to include the peas.

Perfect fresh peas!

Because I didn’t have enough peas, I decided to fill out the pesto with garlic scapes and basil! I’d been wanting to make garlic scape pesto anyway, but, again, based on quantity (and my need to eat them right away) I haven’t been able to make it yet. I chopped the four garlic scapes into about 1 inch pieces, just using my kitchen shears, and tossed about a cup of basil into the food processor.

I blanched the peas for about 4 minutes while toasting pine nuts in a dry cast iron skillet.

Once everything was ready, I tossed 2 tablespoons of pine nuts, all the peas, 1/3 cup of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and about 1/4 cup of fresh grated Parmesan cheese into the food processor and blended until smooth.

The pesto became the most beautiful vivid green color and had a delightfully smooth texture. The peas lended a touch of summer and mellowness that is unusual for pesto. The garlic scapes added just a bit of bite and heat and the basil filled it out with a classic pesto finish. We served these on slices of baguette with the cheese spread first topped with the pesto. I ate probably two thirds of it and it was delicious (if I do say so myself)!

Don’t you wish I brought this to your house? Luckily, you can make it for yourself! The pesto is also delicious tossed with pasta. Just reserve a bit of the cooking water to help it bond to the noodles and smooth out the texture.


This Week’s Haul

Since it is early in the growing season here in Boston, this week’s CSA share looks much like last week’s. When that is the case, rather than posting pictures of all the same things, I’ll post what’s new and focus instead on what different things I do with the produce that came.

This week, we got another beautiful green bounty (with a hint of pink from my favorite, beets). Included was a large head of Romaine lettuce, beets (as I said already), spinach, peas, and a few more things.

This is tatsoi. I’ve never cooked with it, but have eaten it before. It is in the Chinese cabbage family along with bok choy. What is your favorite tatsoi recipe? I’d love to see your suggestions in the comments.

This, I believe, is arugula. It tastes like it, at least, with that slight peppery bite. Yum! This will definitely be featured in a salad this week. We also got another head of lettuce, greenleaf lettuce, I think. Sometimes, with a CSA, it’s all about the educated guess!

Somehow, I feel like this is the cutest head of lettuce I’ve ever seen!

We also got……drumroll, please…..more garlic scapes! Hip hip hooray! (It is a miracle that these are still here for me to take a photo of. That is a true testament to my love for beets!)

I left them in the bag because, just before taking these pictures, I stabbed myself in the finger while cutting the greens off the beets for tonight’s dinner. Yeouch! Luckily, when my husband and I moved in together, we brought with us two adult supplies of BandAids, so I was able to wrangle my fingertip and get it all patched up. Long story short, scapes are too tricky to wrangle in and out of a baggie with a bleeding finger!

Speaking of tonight’s dinner, I’m in the middle of putting together a Turkish-inspired meal to brighten up this cold, rainy night. Check back tomorrow for pictures and recipes!