Monday, July 2, 2012

Week 3: The First Tastes of Summer

It looks like we may get a break from this dry heat towards the end of the week. Phew!

The vegetables are responding well to the weather for the most part, thanks to the miracle of rotating sprinklers.

Irrigating in the peas among cover crop stubble earlier this spring. The process
is pretty much the same this time of year, except the plants are much bigger.
One crop that is doing particularly well for us this week, despite conventional wisdom's assertion that it shouldn't stand up to the heat, is head lettuce.

Members (and market customers) will have their choice between two excellent varieties of lettuce, prizehead and della catalogna radichetta.

Prizehead, a loose headed, relatively mild, and richly colored lettuce.

Della catalogna radichetta, an Italian heirloom lettuce with
sturdy leaves and lots of flavor.

In addition to lovely lettuce, this week's share will contain: Kale, Braising Mix, Spicy Salad Mix (arugula and mustard), Radishes, Kohlrabi, Sorrel or Parsley, Baby Pac Choi, Jalapenos, Bunching Onions, and Basil.

There won't be a lot of basil in the shares this week, just a taste (the first taste of summer!). We'll be pinching the tops off of our basil plants this week, both sweet and Thai, to encourage the plants to fill out and produce better so that later season shares will see more basil. 

Lots of little top sprigs like this one add up to just enough basil for everyone
to have a little.

You'll probably notice a bit of grit on your basil (more than you find on most of our other produce). That's because we won't be cleaning the basil at all. If basil gets wet before it goes into the cooler it will quickly turn limp and black. For that reason we recommend that you don't wash it off until just before you plan to use it.

The jalapenos, unlike the basil, could be doled out in massive quantities, far exceeding the needs of all but our spiciest members.  

One of about 50 similarly laden jalapeno plants in the hoophouse.
Because we know that not everyone likes jalapenos, we will not be forcing a flood of them upon you. The plan is to harvest them on the light side and offer them as an option with everyone allowed to take none to three peppers. If anyone knows now that they will want more than that let us know and we will take that into account during harvest.

The bunching onions are simply baby storage onions, something we actually never thought to harvest until Eva at Northwinds Co-op requested them. I'm glad she clued us in, because they're a very versatile vegetable. The small bulbs can be used like any cooking onion and the green tops can be used like scallions. They're handy to have around, as you'll see if you try out the recipe below.

Sesame Noodles with Basil and Onion

This dish is light enough to enjoy in the most oppressive heat and features the lovely summer flavors found in this week's share. It works equally well with sweet and Thai basil. It makes about four servings.
  • Approximately 8 ounces of dry rice noodles (I used half a 16 ounce package of extra wide noodles)
  • 3 Tablespoons plus 1/2 Tablespoon peanut oil
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar, or other sweetener of your choosing
  • Jalapeno peppers, minced, to taste (optional)
  • 1 large handful of greens of your choosing (braising mix, mustard/arugula, or kale would all work well) chopped into bite sized pieces
  •  6 large eggs
  • 1-2 spring onions, greens and bulbs chopped finely
  • 1 handful (about three sprigs) basil, cut into ribbons
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, remove from heat, add rice noodles and soak until the noodles are tender. My noodles take about 10 minutes of soaking but this will vary by noodle size and brand.

Combine the 3 tablespoons of peanut oil, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, and optional jalapeno in a small bowl. Stir very well so that the ingredients are thoroughly combined.  Poor this sauce over the rice noodles immediately after draining to prevent them from sticking. Toss the noodles to coat them with sauce and set them aside.

Heat the remaining half tablespoon peanut oil in a frying pan over medium/high heat. Scramble together the chopped greens and eggs. Cook them in the peanut oil, forming large dry curds of scrambled egg.

Combine the sauce covered noodles, eggs, onion, and basil.

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