Well, I’m not sure if anyone noticed, but its been raining a lot this spring. Believe it or not I try to hold back when it comes to my complaints about the weather. Weather has a major impact on my life, though, so its hard not to talk about it, especially when we are setting records for number of rainy days in April since 1872!!
Rain helps plants grow, to be sure, and the old adage “April Showers bring May Flowers” definitely rings true. But there is a point when the soil is never allowed to dry at all when things get problematic. Air is actually just as important as water in the soil when it comes to plant health, especially annual vegetables. Oxygen is essential for many of the microorganisms that are actively working on the nutrients in the soil, making them available to plants. In fact, a lack of oxygen can kill off beneficial bacteria and allow anaerobic (thriving without oxygen) bacteria to flourish. You’ll know when your soil, or compost pile is anaerobic because it will start to smell like rotten eggs.
What do we do? At this point, we can’t do much. Our worms are active and the tunnels they leave do allow air to penetrate the soil, but right now we are just waiting for warmth, and wind, and sun. (Which we finally got a healthy dose of today. I swear I could see the tomato seedlings growing . . . )
Despite all this our first spring share is going to be great! We grew it entirely in greenhouses, where we control the moisture so we are starting off on a good foot. It’s the 2nd week that I worry about – but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve yet, but nothing as magical as producing food out of thin air.
We are sure you are as excited about fresh greens as we are. First I want to introduce our awesome CSA member, Jess, who is going to be helping me with the recipe portion of the blog this year. Some recipes will still come from me, but Jess has been with us since the beginning, and is always sending me great recipes, so we decided to level up and get her more involved. Here at Upswing Farm we want to empower our customers to feel confident eating the delicious produce we grow, even if it is something you don’t usually eat, or if it feels like more fresh produce than you usually consume (EVERYONE knows you should be eating boatloads of fresh produce – now is your change!). Feel free to ask questions at pick up, or send an email if you are unsure about anything. Don’t worry – there was a time when I didn’t know what arugula and bok choy were too.
A little about Jess: Hi! I’m Jessica Girotti and I live in Holliston with my husband, 2 children, 2 cats and 6 chickens. I work full-time from home as a Freelance Bookkeeper and I love to go camping, read as many books as I can get my hands on and to cook delicious things. We started getting a CSA share through Upswing Farm two years ago because we wanted to eat more locally grown food and were concerned about the pesticides and chemicals used in conventionally grown produce. We have been loving our shares! There is nothing like eating produce fresh from the field and our shares have challenged us to try so many new things and have kept us excited about eating more vegetables. When I first started getting my shares though, I was a bit concerned that I wouldn’t be able to get my family on board with all of the vegetables. This season I’d love to share some of my tips and recipes with you to help you make the most of your share. Even if a recipe doesn’t sound like something your family will go for, it will hopefully give you some ideas on new ways to prepare the items in your share. Happy cooking!
So, what’s in the share:
Spinach: 2 bunches
Arugula: 1/3-1/2 pound
Head Lettuce: 1-2 butter heads
Pea Tendrils: 1/4 pound
Micro Greens: 1 container (container is compostable, but in a commercial facility, so it should probably go in the trash, after you re-use it a few times)
Radishes: 1 Bunch french breakfast
Here’s Jess’s ideas for what to do with it all!
“I can’t believe it’s FINALLY here! The first spring CSA share is something I look forward to all winter. Worried you won’t be able to use it all up? I’m going to share some tips and tricks for making the most of your CSA share and I’ll give you recipes that will help you make the most of every last bite. I’m a busy working mom and don’t have a ton of extra time on my hands and I’m guessing you don’t either so I’ll do my best to pick recipes that are relatively quick and easy and don’t call for dozens of exotic ingredients that you’ll never use again. Here’s my plan for this week.”
1 head Butterhead Lettuce
The spring share is always chock full of leafy greens and I’ve definitely been looking forward to highlighting the flavors of the season in a salad. I’ve adapted a salad from Joshua McFadden’s amazing new cookbook “Six Seasons: A Way With Vegetables” and you can easily keep adapting to include your favorite ingredients. It has the most amazing Lemon Cream Dressing, mint and sunflower seeds. Plus we’re going to use some of the French Breakfast Radishes on there as well. This salad is packed with the spring flavors you’ve been craving. (Recipes are at the end). Don’t have time to make the Lemon Cream? No problem – this salad will still be amazing with a super simple lemon vinaigrette. Just squeeze a lemon over the top and drizzle with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
If you’re new to Arugula, it is a vibrant leafy green that pairs well with tangy goat cheese or blue cheese, citrus fruits like lemon, orange or grapefruit and sweet things like dates or caramelized onions. I’m planning on making mine into a pesto that I can toss with pasta for a super quick weeknight meal. If there’s any leftover pesto you can stir it into hummus, schmear it on sandwiches, toss it into soups or freeze it to use later.
I don’t know about you but there’s only SO much salad that I can expect my kids to consume without a fight. That can get tricky with the spring share but never fear! There are always plenty of creative non-salad options. I’m going to use my spinach in a frittata. This recipe should use up what you get in your share this week perfectly. Got a little more or less? No problem. If it’s close just toss it in, a little less will still work out fine especially if you increase the amount of the other veggies. If you have a lot more than you need just shred the extra up and mix it in with your salad or add it to a sandwich or wrap.
These are my favorite! They have a mild, slightly sweet, earthy flavor and I could eat them right out of the bag (and frequently do). This week though I’m going to switch it up and try delicious creamy Pea Shoot Soup with Spring Onions. Can’t find Spring Onions? Scallions will work too.
1 container Microgreens – 2 cups/2 oz.
Packed with flavor and loaded with nutrients Microgreens are such a treat to have! They’re delicious in sandwiches or added to a salad but they also make a great pizza topping. I love making my own pizza and it’s surprisingly easy to throw the dough in the bread machine or Cuisinart but there are many nights when I don’t have time for that. If you’re short on time skip the from-scratch dough and pick up a bag of dough from the supermarket or your favorite pizza shop or, faster still, just use pre-baked crusts or Naan bread. Wegman’s sells them in perfect sizes for individual pizzas and in the summer we through them right on the grill instead of heating up the oven. This pizza sounds amazing with ricotta cheese, pistachios and bacon. I might add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar or honey over the top too.
French Breakfast Radishes – 1 bunch
These beautiful oblong radishes are deliciously crispy and milder than a traditional radish. I’ll use some in my salad but I’m definitely saving the rest for these scrumptious little breakfast toasts. I love savory breakfasts and this one screams spring with the radishes, fresh dill and a squeeze of lemon.
Butterhead Lettuce with Lemon Cream, Radish & Mint
1 head heads Butterhead Lettuce
½ bunch of radishes, scrubbed, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 small handful fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup Lemon Cream (recipe below)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp salted sunflower seeds
Lemon Cream – makes ¾ cup
4 garlic cloves, smashed & peeled
½ cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp grated lemon zest
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Combine garlic and cream in a bowl and let sit for one hour. Strain out the garlic, season with salad and pepper and add the lemon zest. Whip by hand or with a mixer until it starts to thicken and then add the lemon juice and olive oil. Keep whipping until light and airy. It won’t be thick like whipped cream but it will have a nice creamy texture. Taste and adjust seasonings. Best if used in one day so scale the recipe down if you don’t think you’ll finish it.
Arugula Pesto: https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/arugula-pesto-51116200
Spinach and Feta Fritatta: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/spinach-and-feta-frittata-recipe-2108113
Pea Shoot Soup: http://www.midwestliving.com/recipe/pea-shoot-soup/
Parmesan and Ricotta Cheese Pizza with Pistachios Bacon and Micro Greens
French Breakfast Radishes on Toast https://www.killingthyme.net/2016/05/09/french-breakfast-radishes-toast/