Farm News (05/27/14)
This Week’s Vegetable Share:
- Bibb Lettuce
- Red-Stemmed Spinach or Traditional Green Spinach
- Fennel Bulbs
- Green Onions
- White Salad Turnips
As the Memorial Day weekend approaches, many of us look forward to the opportunity to kick back and relax. This is not so much the case for most farmers I know, especially those of the vegetable persuasion. After a long week, Jen and Tyler headed into the big city early Saturday morning with a truckload of fresh produce to attend the first weekend of the Oak Park Farmers Market. Jeff stayed behind at the farm in Grayslake to catch up on planting, take care of some cultivating (because the weeds never seem to take a holiday), feed the hens and collect the eggs. Matt, Evan, Kelsy and Brianna started at the crack of dawn on Friday and worked furiously all day to plant several thousand tomato plants. Only after the last plant was in the ground did Matt agree to a couple of days’ rest at the cabin to celebrate his birthday. (Happy 40th B-Day, Matt!) I stayed behind at the Grayslake farm to keep eggplant, cucumbers, squash and melons watered and to care for sheep, chickens, goslings, and Daisy the donkey.
Yesterday as I was sprinting from one chore to the next, it occurred to me that Memorial Day weekend is when farmers officially show up for the big race that the farming season represents. All the weeks leading up to this have been merely an opportunity to warm up. This is the day we take our places at the starting line and listen for the shot from the starter pistol that signals the beginning of the mad dash, more like a marathon really, that doesn’t end until November. Standing there yesterday and thinking about everything that will need to happen between now and November was a little nerve wracking, but more than anything, it was a really exciting moment. There’s so much to look forward to, and I think I speak for all of us when I say that the Sandhill crew is ready to go! Have a good week. --Peg
Delivery Schedule for 4th of July Week
Due to the holiday, we will be operating on a modified schedule for the week of July 4th. We will not be making any deliveries on Thursday. All members who pick up at the farm will pick up on Tuesday that week, including members who normally pick up at the farm on Thursdays. The pickup schedule for all other members will be as follows:
In the Farm Kitchen: Tips for Making the Most of Your Share
This Japanese turnip variety, called hakurei, is very mild and sweet and is easily mistaken for a white radish. Japanese turnips are delicious eaten raw, and we’ve found that even most kids like them. We like to saute the turnips in a little butter, then add in the chopped greens to the pan during the last few minutes of cooking. They don’t need much more, other than maybe a splash of soy sauce. Turnips are a good source of Vitamins A and C, and they are rich in the minerals potassium and calcium.
Raw fennel has a distinct anise flavor that becomes wonderfully mellow when cooked. You can use the entire plant—bulb, stalks and the feathery leaves. Large fall-grown fennel bulbs work well for grilling or braising and can be served on their own. These tender spring fennel bulbs aren’t quite that big, so they work best when combined with other ingredients in vegetable salads and pasta dishes. Try substituting chopped fennel for celery in most any recipe, including chicken salad, tuna salad and potato salad. You can also try using it in place of dill. A little sautéed fennel is excellent paired with baked or broiled fish. One final thought is that fennel features prominently in many Italian dishes. We’ve included two simple fennel recipes—one for pizza and one for a pasta dish that we think you will really like. Enjoy!
Carmelized Fennel & Onion Pizza
1 storebought pizza crust, precooked
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 small fennel bulbs and stems, thinly sliced
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated
freshly shaved Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion and fennel and cook over medium heat until onions are soft and golden and the fennel is tender, about 15 minutes. Brush crust with a thin layer of olive oil. Spread with grated mozzarella, and top with onion and fennel mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Bake until cheese is bubbly and golden. Remove from oven, sprinkle with shaved Parmesan and serve.
Penne with Fennel and Italian Sausage
4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
12 oz. Italian sausage, casings removed
2 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
4 cups thinly sliced fennel (bulbs, stems and leaves)
2 Tbs. chopped fresh sage1 cup lower-salt chicken broth
10 oz. dried penne1 cup grated Parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbs. of the oil in a heavy-duty 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring and breaking it up into smaller pieces with the edge of a slotted metal spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Use the spoon to transfer the sausage to a paper-towel lined plate and pour off any fat left in the skillet. Set the skillet over medium-high heat and add the remaining 2 Tbs. oil and the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens and begins to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the fennel, sage, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fennel is softened and the onion is golden, about 5 minutes. Add the cooked sausage and chicken broth and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the penne in the boiling water, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, 10 to 11 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta in a colander. Return the pasta to the pot over medium-high heat and stir in the sausage mixture until well combined. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese, 1/4 tsp. pepper, and enough reserved pasta water to moisten, if necessary. Distribute among 4 bowls and sprinkle with additional cheese.
from Fine Cooking, Issue 119
Israeli Couscous Salad with Roasted Hakurei Turnips
1 bunch hakurei turnips with greens
1 cup Israeli couscous1 garlic clove, minced
pinch of red chili flakes, optional
1/2 cup chopped green onion
juice from half a lemon
4-5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Trim turnips from greens. Halve each turnip and chop the greens. Toss the turnips with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, pinches of salt and pepper, and the optional chili flakes. Place flat side-down on a roasting pan. Roast for 5-10 minutes, or just until the bottoms are lightly browned. Toss around in the pan with tongs, and continue roasting another 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
Meanwhile, bring 3 cups water to a bowl in a small pot and add the couscous. Continue to boil for 8-10 minutes until couscous is tender. Drain. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high flame and add the garlic. Once fragrant, toss in the leaves and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sautee until just wilted, 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.
Combine the green onion with the cooled couscous and greens. Add fresh lemon juice, an extra tablespoon or so of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with the roasted turnips on top.
Roasted Asparagus with Buttery Lemon Breadcrumbs
2 bunches asparagus, ends trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Zest of 1 lemon
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and place a rack in the top third of the oven. Arrange the asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle the oil over top. Season with lemon pepper and salt and toss with your hands to coat. Spread the asparagus in a single layer and roast for 12-15 minutes or until the spears are tender and slightly blistered. Cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the stalks. Transfer to a serving platter.Meanwhile, melt the butter in a skillet set over medium heat. Add the panko and cook, stirring frequently, until the crumbs are golden brown and toasted, about 6-8 minutes. Stir in the salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Check the seasonings and adjust, if needed. Top the asparagus with the toasted breadcrumbs and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with lemon wedges, if desire.
Lettuce Wraps with Chile Peanut Noodles & Spring Veggies
4 ounces rice noodles
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
2 teaspoons chile sauce
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup raw hakurei turnips, cut into matchsticks
1 cup spinach, finely chopped
1/2 cup toasted peanuts, roughly chopped
4 green onions, chopped
4 limes, quartered1 head butter lettuce, or other leaf lettuce
Hoisin sauce for dipping
For the chile peanut noodles, soften noodles in medium pot of hot water until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside. Using a food processor, mix together the peanut butter, sugar, lime juice, tamari or soy sauce, chile sauce, garlic, and 1/3 cup warm water until combined thoroughly. Toss noodles with 1/2 cup of the dressing. Reserve remaining dressing, and set noodles and dressing aside.
For the lettuce wraps, arrange vegetables, peanuts, onions, limes, lettuce, hoisin sauce, chile noodles, and reserved chile dressing in separate bowls. Let guests create their own lettuce wraps with any or all of the items as they like.
- Margaret Sheaffer