Today was the first CSA delivery from Root 5 Farm. We got fresh asparagus. Definitely a day for Pasta with Asparagus.
The trick to pasta with asparagus is to build up of flavorful sauce to coat the pasta. Otherwise, the dish turns out kind of boring. I’m going to use leftover chives butter (green paste on the left), and chopped green onions (glass jar on the right). Additionally, we want some protein. So I’m adding tuna in oil. However, the tuna can overpower, so I drain off any extra oil or liquid. I also toss in the tuna at the very end so the flavor doesn’t spread around too much.
Not shown, but critically important, Parmesan cheese. The salty umami flavors complement the tuna and vegetables. I made Sam stop at the grocery to pick some up. Tip: use the vegetable peeler to get long strips that don’t melt into the background.
Next year – I’ll be able to make pasta with asparagus hopefully from my own garden.
What’s the term for a group of vegetables? We have a herd of cows, a flock of sheep, a murder of crows… but what do you call a bunch of vegetables? A bunch?
Either way, we got a lot of leeks this week in the CSA. I tried to chop and freeze them a few years ago, but I just didn’t get back to using them and they got freezer burn. I think I will put them into a quiche. Sound good. Maybe with bacon?
That’s a lot of leeks. A bunch of leeks? A bramble of leeks?
This is a variant on the spaghetti-based Italian Fritatta.
2 to 3 medium, 1 to 2 large, or 1 jumbo zucchini
4 to 6 eggs
1 cup grated cheese like parmesan or cheddar
2 tbsp Butter or oil
Garlic or onion powder
Heat the oven to 400F and place a 10 to 12 inch cast iron skillet in in the oven to get hot.
Run the zucchini through the mandoline and cut into long julienne strips. If you don’t have a mandoline, cut into uniform slices, then cross-cut into julienne strips or grate the zucchini. Toss the zucchini with salt and pepper, garlic or onion powder, and 1/3 cup of grated cheese. Beat the eggs.
Once the oven is hot, add butter or oil to the hot skillet and swirl to coat the bottom. Remove the skillet from the oven and loosely pile the zucchini in the hot skillet. Return to the oven and cook for 8-12 minutes until the zucchini smells toasted and fragrant. Remove the skillet again from the oven and pour the eggs over the zucchini. Cook another 8-12 minutes until the center of the eggs are firm. Top with 2/3 cup of cheese and cook about 5 minutes longer, until the cheese is brown and bubbly.
Remove from the oven and let set for 5 minutes to firm up. Slice into wedges.
Late August is the only time that New Englanders lock their car doors. If you leave your car unlocked, somebody will leave you a box of orphan zucchini on your front seat. (Photo from greenstag.net)
We have the first week of our CSA where we don’t have lettuce and do have more zucchini (and other summer squash) than we expect to eat in a week. This marks a big move in our Summer eating. Up until this point, we have new vegetables trickling in for the first time – the first cucumber, the first tomato, the first zucchini. We’ve now reached the peak of novelty and descended into bounty. We must smash tomatoes into jars because there are just too many to eat. The cucumbers get huge, bitter, and neglected on the vine. The lettuce, spinach and other greens have gone to seed and are bitter and inedible. We now have to hide zucchini in other foods. We now move into crisis mode. There are vegetables coming out our ears.
I have a lot of strategies for handling the bounty. Of course, you’ve read about my adventures with canning, drying, and other odd types of preserving. I also have strategic approaches for cooking that use up lots of vegetables. I went through some of my recipes for using lots and lots of greens, and now over the next few days, I will let you in on my secrets on how to cook a lot of zucchini.
Yes, I will share my recipe for chocolate zucchini cake.
We got a healthy load of cucumbers this week. I’m completely OK with that. First, I’m at my fermenting workshop this week learning all about lactic acid fermentation and making old-fashioned “sour” pickles. Second, there’s nothing to beat the heat like an ice-cold cucumber. We’ll see what happens.
I’m also happy to see an influx of full-sized onions. We’ve been running low on aromatics over the past week. Spring onions are past, green garlic is scarce, and there’s not a ginger root or shallot to be had.
When talking with my non-– CSA friends about joining a CSA, one of the first concerns that comes up is, “how do you eat all of those vegetables?”
My answer? We don’t.
Sure, we do eat a good portion of these vegetables, or else we wouldn’t have joined the CSA. But, honestly, there’s a lot of things that still will turn bad in the bottom of our refrigerator. Arugula and red lettuce are common culprits. We don’t sweat it, we have a compost pile. The food isn’t “going to waste”, we’re making fertilizer for next year’s garden.
But only about 5% of our CSA box will go bad. That’s because I often anticipate foods that we might not eat, and I’ll either find a special recipe to use with that vegetable, like I did with the pesto and arugula. Alternatively, some of the foods we put away to eat in the winter. This week, we received a large head of broccoli. Broccoli is really easy to blanch and freeze, and we eat it all throughout the winter in different dishes like stirfry and garbage rice. I know that the value of that broccoli will be greater to me in November or March then it will be this week. So, into the freezer it goes.
Last, I know there’s some vegetables that we just don’t eat in our house. Eggplant is probably the best example. What I will do is leave the eggplant at the CSA pickup point. There’s often someone else there picking up their vegetables who might enjoy an eggplant which would otherwise just rot in my refrigerator. I also occasionally give away CSA vegetables to my friends and neighbors when we are really overwhelmed with too many vegetables.
So, when you look at these pictures and you think “how do you eat all of that?” We don’t. We have figured out how to cheat the CSA system so that we don’t have to eat all of those vegetables. But importantly we don’t let the vegetables go to waste.
I don’t hate cauliflower, but if don’t love it either. It seems to always be the leftovers from the crudités platter, or the bad cheese and cream soup, or mushy and over-cooked. So, this week it will be a challenge for us to eat an entire head. Our former CSA in Wisconsin didn’t grow cauliflower because it was too much of a hassle, and we didn’t get any in our box last year. So… I can roast it. What else?
Thanks to Sam for taking the pictures. We pickup on Tuesday nights when I am teaching. He’s masterfully taken over the responsibility of photographing and packing away the share in the fridge.