DIGGING DEEPER

Farm NewsLetter 01/09/06

For the week of January 9, 2006
Happy New Year!!

Farm Pickup Dates:
SE: 1/10, 1/24, 2/7, 2/21, 3/7, 3/21, 4/4, 4/18
LkO: 1/12, 1/26, 2/9, 2/23, 3/9, 3/23, 4/6, 4/20

The Winter Brassicas

The winter brassicas are doing great this year! This family of crops (aka cole crops or the broccoli family) includes many of our winter share staples. We have most of the hardy varieties planted at Luscher Farm, and a few of the more tender ones in the greenhouse at Zenger Farm. Some types are harvested for their head like cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage, others we pick just the greens or the roots, then there are the wierdos like Brussel sprouts.

Early in the winter we enjoyed lots of brussel sprouts. It is thought that sprouts and cabbage may have come from a common wild ancestor then been selected over the centuries by industrious farmers to diverge in an extraordinary way. The Belgians first selected the sprout for its enlarged auxiliary buds, hence its name. Cabbage on the other hand seems to be a truly global brassica, enjoyed here as coleslaw, in Germany as sauerkraut, in Korea as kim chee, and almost everywhere in between.

Throughout the fall, winter, and spring season hardy brassica greens like kale and collards are steady producers. We grow 3 varieties of collards, though even I can hardly tell the difference for most of the year. However, when spring comes, they start to bolt (or flower) in a staggered order which allows us to pick the delicious tender flower buds, or raab, for an extra few weeks. Kale comes in a wild variety of shapes and colors. In the fall and spring, Lacinado (black Italian kale) and Red Russian kale are the standout varieties for their tender sweet leaves. By this time in the winter they have faded, and the hardier curly varieties like Winterbor and Redbor are shining in all their sturdy winter glory. These kales are vibrant dark green and red, and because of they’re striking beauty are often used as garnish. In the summer, that’s all I would do with them, because in the heat they are tough and sometimes bitter, But this time of year they are tender and sweet they are the only greens I know of that can be made into popcorn!

We grow the more tender brassiacs in the greenhouse. Varieties like arugula, mizuna and hakuri turnips need a bit of cover to make it through this cold rainy season, but given just minimal shelter, they too are quite productive. The arugula should be ready soon, and the other greens will follow either at salad stage or as bunches.

Thanks everyone for all your help
The Weather: Pretty cold and rainy

In the share this week…

Arugula One of our favorite tender brassica greens from the greenhouse this time of year. Use it in salad or lightly sauté leaves to enjoy the distinctive flavor.
Beets These Big Red Beets are as tasty, tender and sweet as any we’re ever grown.
Cabbage A winter staple around the world! Like most of the winter greens, they get sweeter in the cold.
Collards A quintessential winter meal, and one of my favorites! Cut greens into thin slices, sauté in olive oil until wilted, lower the heat, add a bit of water or broth, cover and simmer until tender. Add salt and a dash of balsamic vinegar, sautéed onion and leeks, then serve with roasted or mashed roots. Yum!
Leeks The delicate flavor of these alliums makes an exceptional complement to greens. They’re also good in soups with parsnips and the sweet winter squash.
Mizuna Another one from the oh-so-versatile brassica family. Use these frilly leaves in salad or sautéed.
Onions This variety is called Candy and that says it all.
Parsnips Perhaps my all time favorite root veggie, they are sweet and nutty and add an amazing depth of flavor to any dish. Roast them with any other roots, slice them thin and bake parsnip chips, sauté them with greens, or add them to soups- the parsnip is an amazingly versatile vegetable and scrumptious too.
Delicata Squash Need we say more…
Spaghetti or Kabocha Squash These are two very different winter squash. Spaghetti has moist pale golden flesh that pulls apart into separate pasta-like strands. Kabocha has a very dry rich orange flesh that flakes apart when roasted. Both are tasty with traditional toppings of olive oil and parmesan or butter and brown sugar. Spaghetti is often served with other pasta toppings like pesto or tomato sauce. Kabocha can be cubed and roasted or cooked with risotto, mashed, or made into soup, and it also makes great pies.

Winter Risotto

You can use almost everything in your share this week for this recipe if you want to or make it with just some of the ingredients ie. Leeks & Squash or Parsnips & Greens. Just beware- if you use the beets they will turn it bright pink! Keep the ration of Arborio to stock the same no matter which combo of veggies you use.

2 cups Arborio rice 3 cups chopped onions and leeks, sautéed
6 cups stock parsnips chopped and sautéed until tender
1/2 cup dry white wine (optional) 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 lbs squash, peeled, and cut into 1/2 “ cubes 1/2 cup cream (optional)
1 lb beets, peeled and cut into 1/2 “ cubes salt and pepper to taste
olive oil
1 lb greens chopped and sautéed until tender (note: collards will take longer to cook than mizuna or arugula)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle squash cubes (and beets if you’re using them) with olive oil and roast until tender and starting to brown, stirring occasionally, 30-40 min.

Sauté greens in olive oil until tender. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring stock to a simmer, reduce heat and cover to keep warm.

In large heavy saucepan sauté onions, leeks, and parsnips over med-low heat until tender. Add rice and stir for 1 min. Add wine (or 1/2cup hot stock) and simmer until absorbed, stirring constantly, 2 min. Add remaining hot stock 1/2 cup at a time allowing stock to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until rice is tender and mixture is creamy, about 20 min. Add cooked greens, roasted squash and/or beets, cream, parmesan cheese and stir until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper, serve warm.

Optional: sprinkle toasted winter squash seeds on top