Saturday, July 6, 2013

Adventures in CSA 2013: Week 4 Recipes

Week 4

What an abundantly vegetal week we have had in our house, thanks to the goodies in our farm share! I've been looking forward to writing about the ups and downs (yes, even the downs) of dishes we made with week four's CSA items. Without further ado:

Week Four's Share Contained
1 bunch Tuscan kale
1 bunch beets
1 bunch scallions
small bunch basil
2 heads broccoli
2 daikon radishes -- CHALLENGE VEGETABLE
1 head lettuce
10 garlic scapes

With the above, we prepared:

Week 4

Garlic scape and basil pesto - Dan's been whipping up pestos for the past few years, and he's gotten pretty good at them. Garlic scapes make for a slightly unusual pesto, but it's one we always enjoy.  The flavor is brighter and it tastes like summer. This week, a bunch of basil arrived in our share, so he was able to include that as well. It meant the pesto tasted a bit more "traditional," but the garlic scapes still shone. Our two-year-old chose the pasta shape, which I guess counts as "helping," and he seemed pretty pleased with the end product as his dinner.

Week 4

Simple salad of lettuce, cheese, and homemade croutons - The dressing for this was made with vinegar, oil, and bottled artichoke hearts. Not very exciting, as salads go but still tasty as a side dish. I'm so into homemade croutons. They're easy to make, and I kind of just want to eat them like popcorn.

Week 4

Broccoli and pesto pasta salad - Dan took the leftover pasta with pesto from dinner the night before, then added olives, tomatoes, cheese, one head of the broccoli (quickly boiled, then shocked in ice water), and Italian salad dressing. This held up really well as a supplement to lunches over much of the week.

Week 4

Butter-braised daikon radish - I wanted to like this. I really did. Sigh.

I'm getting ahead of myself here. But this was the flop of the week. I had considered making one of many recipes that call for daikon raw (often shredded), but I just wasn't feeling motivated to eat them that way. I remember making butter-braised radishes a year or two ago, and really enjoyed them. They had come out both smooth and juicy.

Then, before I had quite decided what I was doing, I  impulsively boiled the daikon radishes along with our CSA beets, thinking I was killing two birds with one stone ... and found I was stuck. Boiled, the daikon had an unappetizing smell and texture.

I still wondered if braising might sort of work, at least to impart a little more flavor. I sliced the boiled radishes into coins, then simmered/braised them in chicken stock and spices until they almost tasted great. But they never lost their bitter edge. I tried splashing on some lemon juice, as suggested by Mark Bittman. Still bitter. Incredibly bitter. Throw-them-into-the-trash-after-hopefully-eating-half-of-them bitter. Sigh.

Week 4

Beets with goat cheese/Kale salad with beets - Two-ingredient dishes that taste good are rare, so the fact that I can put beets and cheese in a bowl and enjoy it makes me happy. We alternate between boiling and roasting the beets to cook them. These were boiled, as you know from my sad, sad daikon story, but not to oblivion. Ultimately, they ended up working in three different dishes. On their own, the beets and cheese were creamy and mild. Later that day, added to kale and lemon juice, they enhanced the texture of the greens...

Week 4

Blue tacos, featuring chicken, kale salad and beets - ... and the next day, leftover kale and beet salad topped chicken-sofrito tacos in blue corn shells. Dan added more cheese (queso blanco, this time), which melted under everything in a tantalizing way. I think I ate more than my share of these, and I would happily have eaten more. Winner!

Week 4 Week 4
Week 4

Cheese, onion, and broccoli quiche - A quiche seemed like a good way to use up CSA leftovers at the end of week four. This one had spring onions, a head of broccoli and the remaining 3 or 4 garlic scapes, as well as 4 oz. of shredded cheddar cheese and a tiny bit of red pepper. I also used the last of our batch of farm-fresh eggs. I think, if I made it again, I'd cut the broccoli a bit smaller and steam it first (I just sauteed it in a pan for a few minutes). The scapes and onions were so good on their own, I think I might leave the broccoli out entirely. I'd also cook the whole thing an extra 5 minutes. I followed Mark Bittman's instructions to take it out of the oven when the center was still a bit wobbly, but the eggs inside still were (not raw, but) slightly runnier than I prefer.

The pie crust here is Bittman's "whole wheat savory" crust, meaning that I left out the sugar and used 1/2 cup of wheat flour along with the white. I really like his pie crust recipe. It's easy to make and to work with, and this was sturdy enough to go underneath a wet-custardy base without problem.


Addendum: I decided to admit to you that I threw out a bit of this week's lettuce salad (gone mushy in the fridge) and most of Week Three's slaw (way past its prime) today. I'm just not a big fan of coleslaw, and we couldn't get through a whole head of cabbage + a whole head of radicchio that way.  We won't be making that much coleslaw again. The ends of the spring onions wilted badly before I got to them, too. But, all in all, I do feel good about the amount of vegetation we made it through, and I'm always working to have less waste. Dan made some chicken stock last week, and it was definitely improved by the vegetable trimmings I've saved in the freezer thus far.

How did you do with your CSA veggies this week? What's been a standout on your table? Did anything go bad before you could get to it?

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