Monday, June 15, 2009

June 16th baskets-recipes

Excerpted from Farmer John’s Cookbook: The Real Dirt On Vegetables: Seasonal Recipes and Stories from a Community Supported Farm by Farmer John Peterson & Angelic Organics (Gibbs Smith Publisher). Check with your local farm or bookstore for availability. Additional recipes, charts, signed copies of this book, and quantity discounts available at

Salad Greens
Salad greens start early and keep coming throughout the season. Experiment with salad building! You can top greens with fruit, nuts, seeds, pasta, and whole grains in addition to numerous dressings. As nineteenth-century editor and author Charles Dudley Warner once wrote, “You can put everything, and the more things the better, into a salad, as into a conversation; but everything depends on the skill of mixing.”

Store unwashed lettuce or mesclun in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. (Wet greens will spoil quickly, so make sure they are truly dry before refrigerating them.) If you have a salad spinner, wash and spin the greens before refrigerating. Use mesclun mix within three or four days, and use lettuce within a week.

Salad greens bruise easily, so be sure to handle them gently. For lettuce, slice the head at its base with a sharp knife and let the leaves fall open. Discard any damaged or leathery outer leaves and tear large leaves into bite-size pieces. Wash lettuce and mesclun mix by swishing them in a basin of cold water. Dry the greens in a salad spinner. (Or place them loosely in a mesh bag or thin towel, then go outside and swing the bundle.)

Sweet Maple and Balsamic Vinegar Dressing

Try this dressing over a mesclun mix or tossed with grilled or steamed vegetables. You might like to add some bitter greens such as endive, radicchio, or arugula to your salad mix to complement the sweetness of the dressing. Angelic Organics Kitchen.
Makes about 1 cup

1 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons finely sliced fresh basil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 clove garlic, minced (about 1/2 teaspoon)
freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine the oil, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, basil, lemon juice, dry mustard, and garlic in a large jar. With the lid tightly screwed on, shake the jar vigorously until the oil and vinegar have thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste and shake again to combine.

2. Store the dressing in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. To serve, toss it with salad greens or grilled or steamed vegetables.

Arugula Pesto
In this recipe, the strong, peppery snap of mature arugula finds its counterpart in Asiago cheese. Blended to creamy smoothness with garlic, olive oil, and toasted pine nuts, this vibrant pesto will make something brilliant of a basic pasta meal. You can also try it tossed with roasted potatoes or steamed vegetables. If you plan to freeze it, don’t add the cheese until after the pesto has thawed. Angelic Organics Kitchen.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

1/4 cup pine nuts
2 cups mature arugula
1/2 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese (about 1 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, smashed
freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.

2. Toast the pine nuts in a dry, heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over high heat until they start to brown in spots and become fragrant. Transfer the nuts to a dish to cool.

3. Combine the arugula, Asiago cheese, oil, garlic, and pine nuts in a blender or food processor; process until thoroughly combined and smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Braised Lettuces

Tired of munching bunny food? Don’t be afraid to add heat to lettuce. In this recipe, small heads of lettuce are carefully bundled and cooked like whole vegetables—first blanched to tender succulence, then braised to give them a buttery golden glow. Cooking lettuce this way brings out a natural, delicate sweetness in the leaves. The bunnies don’t know what they’re missing. Shareholder.
Serves 3 to 4

3 to 4 small heads lettuce, rinsed whole under running water, tough or bruised outer leaves removed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1–2 tablespoons butter
freshly ground black peppe

1. Tie a piece of string around each head of lettuce, just tightly enough to hold the leaves together and promote even cooking.

2. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil; add the salt and reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the lettuce heads and boil for 3 minutes.

3. Drain the lettuces in a colander and let cool. When cool enough to handle, gently squeeze them in your hands to remove any excess water. Remove the string.

4. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the lettuce heads; cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Continue to cook, turning them carefully, for another 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

The Crop
Our growing manager said to me last night, “What are we going to do with all the lettuce? We’ve got so much lettuce, and it’s all big and beautiful.” I said, “Give it all. The shareholders won’t mind. It’s the first box—they’re not tired of anything yet. Just cram it in somehow.” —Farmer John

Garlic & Garlic Scapes

There are many exciting garlic preparations to choose from: zesty raw garlic, mellow roasted garlic, pickled garlic, and the savory flavor of sautéed garlic that falls somewhere in between. Garlic scapes are the curlicue flower stalks we snap off garlic plants in the spring to redirect the plant’s energy down toward the root.

Like onions, garlic can be eaten fresh (uncured) or dried. Dried garlic will keep for several months in a dark, dry, well-ventilated place at a cool room temperature. Keep fresh green garlic in a plastic bag in the refrigerator and use promptly; accumulated moisture in the bag will cause it to spoil. Store unwashed garlic scapes in a loosely wrapped plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

To separate the cloves, set the bulb, root end up, on a counter and press down on it with your palm. To peel an individual clove, trim off the root end and then press on the clove with the flat side of a knife. The skin should pop off nicely. If garlic is fresh—uncured—the skin will present more of a challenge.

To mince garlic, lay the clove on its flat side on a cutting board. With a small, sharp paring knife, make thin lengthwise slices, using your fingers and thumb to keep the slices squeezed together. Then slice crosswise, making even more tiny slices. Or, use a garlic press.

Garlic scapes can be minced, chopped, or sliced.

Garlic Croutons

The great thing about making your own croutons is that you can make them at your leisure, when the inevitable stale half-loaf of bread appears in your kitchen. While store-bought croutons are adequate in a pinch, you’ll find that the little extra time and effort it takes to make your own make this delicious homemade version an attractive option. Friend of the Farm.

stale bread, any amount, sliced (white bread is best, but any kind works)
olive oil
garlic cloves, peeled, top quarter sliced off

1. Preheat the oven to 450° F.

2. Brush both sides of the bread with a thin layer of olive oil. Place the bread on a baking sheet and sprinkle tops lightly with salt. Bake until lightly golden, 5 to 7 minutes, checking frequently to make sure bread doesn’t burn.

3. Remove the bread from the oven and rub all over with the cut side of the garlic cloves.

4. Cut the bread into smaller pieces if desired. The bread is ready to be used or stored.

Mongolian Garlic

If you find yourself lucky enough to come upon a bounty of garlic, here is a wonderful recipe to use up some of it. These intensely flavorful little gems are great as a condiment, or, for an hors d’oeuvre, stick toothpicks in them and serve in a shallow plate in a pool of the sauce. Any leftover sauce is delicious over rice or egg noodles. Friend of the Farm (adapted from The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking).
Makes about 2 cups

5 large, firm heads garlic
2/3 cup chicken or vegetable stock or water
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons sake or Chinese rice wine
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon hot chili oil (optional)

1. Separate the cloves of garlic from the head. Peel away all skins that fall away from the cloves, but leave the thin layer of skin that doesn’t fall away on each clove. Use only large, firm cloves.

2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan and set over medium heat. When the liquid is just about to simmer, add the garlic, turn the heat to low, and partially cover.

3. Stew the garlic in the liquid until the garlic is very soft, 3 to 4 hours depending on the size of the cloves and the variety of garlic. It is very important that the liquid does not come to a boil; the garlic will turn bitter if boiled. Uncover the pot frequently to check that the liquid is just barely simmering and to stir the garlic. At the end of the cooking time, turn off the heat, cover the pot tightly, and let the cloves marinate in the liquid for 2 hours.

4. The cloves can be served at this point or refrigerated for up to a week. They are best served warm or at room temperature. The cloves are still in their skins. Pop them in your mouth this way and use your tongue to squeeze out the clove (it comes out easily), or squeeze it out with the flat side of a knife.

Excerpted from Farmer John’s Cookbook: The Real Dirt On Vegetables: Seasonal Recipes and Stories from a Community Supported Farm by Farmer John Peterson & Angelic Organics (Gibbs Smith Publisher). Check with your local farm or bookstore for availability. Additional recipes, charts, signed copies of this book, and quantity discounts available at

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