In This Week’s Beet Box:
- New Veggies: Purplette Onions, Fennel, Basil, Zucchini
- U-pick Marionberries and Peas!
- Flowers in your Abby’s Greens!
In your share this week:
- Head Lettuce
- Purplette Onions
This means that some pickup sites will receive it this week, others next week – or in a future week.
New Veggies of the Week…
One of the first and most favorite onions we grow, Purplettes are an early, mild, fresh-eating onion that has become much-adored by our CSA members over the years. It’s a gentle onion, as onions go – mild enough to eat raw, but also spunky enough to cook up as you would a typical yellow storage onion (we grow those, too, but they take another month or more to mature).
You’ll be getting purplettes for the next few weeks. They are not a cured, storage variety, so keep them in your fridge and try to eat them up as they come. They’ll keep for at least a couple of weeks in your fridge (longer if you take the green tops off). The tops can double as green onions if you are inspired to use every last inch of them!
For our new CSA members, this might be your first encounter with fennel. Returning members know that this is one of my favorite vegetables (to grow and to eat), but I have learned over the years that not everyone is head over heels for it (we have at least one member who without fail feeds her fennel to a neighbor's cow, every time). Fennel is officially tied with beets for Most Controversial CSA Vegetable of All Time. My job is to help you learn to like (dare I say “love”?) it, or if you are already among the converted, to cheer you on as you relish this week’s two fat bulbs in your share. They are three weeks early, which makes my day. In our kitchen, we are in fennel hog heaven at the moment.
Fennel has a mild, sweet, anise flavor (I’ve learned not to say “licorice” for fear of scaring people off before they’ve even given it a try…), and adds depth and complexity to dishes, both cooked and raw. It’s a staple in Italy (and CHEAP there!). It probably most resembles celery in the kitchen.
So what to do with it? You have options.
There’s an array of recipes on our website: http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/recipe_search/results/fennel
- Most recipes are going to put the bulb to use, rather than the feathery fronds. You can use the tops, too, however – as an herb. Try it in place of dill. Great on baked or broiled fish with butter and lemon.
- Eat it raw: cut the feathery fronds off, strip any damaged or woody parts of the bulb, wash it, quarter it, and slice it cross-wise paper thin. Put it on salad, or make a salad of it by itself. Also great served on a cheese platter or dipped raw.
- Cook it: It’s really nice caramelized with those purplette onions in your tote and some fresh basil. Slice it up thinly and sautee it with the onions for a good while until it’s all mushy and soft. Salt to taste and add fresh-slivered basil at the end. Serve as a side, or on top of pasta, or on toast (it’s awesome on some toasted Seth’s Bread, bruschetta style).
- Try a sautee of fennel, artichoke hearts, zucchini, tomatoes, sweet bell pepper, thyme and a dash of salt and pepper.
- Cut the bulb into quarters, drizzle with olive oil, and bake until tender – about 35 minutes.
- Substitute for celery in any recipe.
- Add it to soup, stir fry it, steam it, put it in pasta salad or pasta sauce, or juice it (it lends a wonderful sweetness to fresh-made juice).
Storage: At least a couple of weeks in the fridge in a plastic bag. The tops will go limp, so cut them off, wrap them in a moist towel (or stuff into a plastic bag) and refrigerate.
I knew it was truly summer yesterday when I opened the door and our entire walk-in cooler smelled like basil. That’s happiness. Basil is one of those signature summertime smells (and tastes) that I love. As soon as I get my first whiff of the season, I start to crave tomatoes. Fresh, ripe tomatoes on a plate with olive oil, fresh basil, and some fresh mozzarella. Soon…
In the absence of tomatoes just yet, this week’s basil pairs well with your fennel. I also love to simply chop it up and put it in my salad with whatever veggies we have on hand.
Storage: Will hold for a week or so in the fridge in a plastic bag.
Zucchini is one of those crops that sneaks up on you. All through June we watch the plants growing in the field and it seems like it’ll be months before we’re eating any zukes. And then, suddenly – practically overnight – there are zucchinis coming out of our ears. Last week’s heat wave helped accelerate this year’s attack of the zucchinis.
My mom grows the zucchini on the farm and she is pretty much wedded to her squash plants for the duration: combing through the patch every day to harvest them at the perfect size. If she skips a day, inevitably she’ll end up with a pile of lunkers – perfect for zucchini bread, but not so attractive for dinner.
You should see zucchini in your tote for the next many weeks, if all goes well.
Storage: In the fridge, in a bag. Use within a week.
U-Pick Marionberries & Peas
We opened the marionberries to upick today, and the peas are at their peak. Come fill your buckets!
Flowers in your Abby’s Greens!
If you get a salad share, this week you’ll notice flower petals in the mix. Usually by July, Abby’s patch of edible flowers is in full bloom and she begins to add them to the salad. The orange and yellow petals are calendulas. The blue is bachelor button. It’s totally edible confetti.
The Valley Flora Crystal Ball: What MIGHT be in your share next week…
No promises, but your tote might include some of the following NEXT week:
- Head lettuce
- Purplette Onions
- Red Cabbage
- Rainbow Chard
- Fresh dill?
Please note: all of our produce is field-rinsed, not washed. We recommend you wash all of your produce before eating it.
For recipes and ideas, check out these links:
Our own collection of recipes, where you can contribute and share your favorites
Our website’s recipe “search engine,” where you can hunt down recipes by ingredient
A vast collection of recipes, searchable by one or multiple ingredients
A storehouse of recipes, searchable by ingredient
A Washington farm that has a good collection of seasonal recipes