Week 3: Summer Squash! Lettuce, greens, peas, kale or beets, fennel…
Oh boy, the first summer squashes! You MAY also see lettuce, kale chard or beets, peas, or pickling cucumbers.
The summer squash is so tender and delicate, so no need to break out the elaborate recipes to bury it…that time may come later 😉 Summer squash refers to any soft skin squash you harvest in the summer. there are MANY types of summer squash and I am sure you are already very familiar with the yellow skinned straight neck or crook neck summer squash and zucchini. We also grow Golden zucchini, the bright yellow version of the dark green classic, cousa, a pale green Mediterranean squash, as well as some of the scallopini types which come in an array of colors, smoothness and/or depth of scalloping (slightly UFO style). You will seldom see the scalloped types, but you might!
Why so many? Because like all open pollinated vegetables, you see lots of variation over time. Varieties that posses desirable characteristics are saved and hopefully reproduced in coming years. Who has ever had some mutant squash vine grow out of their compost and looked at the fruiting bodies wondering what it is? Butterkin? Pumcorn? Well, when you find the right squash, you need to grow it separately from other varieties if you are going to save the seed. Sometimes the hybrid is wonderful and sometimes not. We cannot afford the space to only grow one variety within convenient reach of our pollinators, so we do not save seed…but no problem, the bees can go from variety to variety and it will not affect the fruit that year. At the end of the day, I find that all the summer squashes are interchangeable. Yes, the cousa might be a little drier and hold up better in some dishes, and sometimes the zucchini can have a stronger taste, bordering on bitterness, but you can safely use any of them in any recipe calling for any summer squash.
Don’t forget you can click on the magnifying glass and search my blog:)
Check out Swiss Chard and Summer squash Enchiladas , Zucchini Recipes, and Kale Pizza. For those of you who are challenged with kids who think they won’t eat kale, I promise you if you chop the kale nice and small in the “pizza” your kids will eat it and also, definitely make Kale Crunch/ Kale Chips and present them as green potato chips (as one mother tells me her girls call them that).
I am told many of you will see fennel this week…and if not this week, next.
About fennel: We grow the bulb type fennel, aka finochio aka Florence Fennel. If you have it in your box, it will have a whitish bulbous base with lots of stalks and feathery foliage that smells like anise. It is high in vitamin C, potassium, folate, and fiber. Sounds like a super combo with beets, eh? Did you know the Greeks called it marathon and it actually was growing in the field where the epic battle was fought? Yep, the Battle of Marathon. It was also awarded to Pheidippides after his long run. The bulb is good raw or cooked, the leaves are nice for seasoning, the stems not so useful, as they are very fibrous.
If you find yourself swimming in greens and hope to enjoy them later, blanch your greens for 2 minutes, drain thoroughly and pack in freezer bags/containers. This works with chard, kale and beet greens. Or, make a big recipe and freeze the leftover for a quick meal/side dish later. I use mine for calzones in the winter 🙂
Not sure about kale yet? My babies had kale broth in their sippy cup, transitioned to smoothies with kale leaves in them, the kale chips and kale pizza and now it simply appears on the counter with the expectation that kale salad, with or without quinoa or wheat berries will happen for supper.
Kale Salad (this is the generally how I make it…remember, I cook with The Force)
one bunch of kale cleaned, ribs removed, and chopped fairly small.
1/3 cup olive oil
1 TB balsamic vinegar
3 TB fresh lemon juice (by all means use your bottle lemon juice in the fridge)
1 TB Dijon mustard
1 tsp coarse salt (start with less if that sounds like a lot)
At least 1 clove of garlic, minced
Fresh black pepper, to taste
Whisk the above together and pour over kale. I mix it well with my hands to make sure everything is well coated. It is best if it can rest for a little bit before eating and the kale gets all soft and wilty. Sometimes I add a cup or so of cooked quinoa or wheat berries. It is even better the second day, but it has never lasted beyond that 😉
Yes, wash everything Preheat oven to 400°F. Wash and trim the beets. Chop in halves or quarters if the beets are large. Place the beet pieces in roasting pan. Add about 3 tablespoons of water to the pan. Drizzle a tablespoon olive oil on the beets and sprinkle with coarse salt if you like. Cover the pan with foil and put into the oven. Separate the fennel bulb from the stems. Thinly slice the fennel into 1/8th inch slices. Place the slices into another roasting pan. Drizzle a tablespoon of oil on the fennel. Cover the pan with foil and place into the oven. Bake fennel for 20 minutes covered and 10 minutes uncovered. The slices should start browning at the edges. Bake the beets till they are easily pierced by a knife; about 30 – 45 minutes. Chop up the leaves of the fennel – about 1/2 cup. Mix the cooked fennel and beets together with the dried thyme. Place beet mixture on top of a bed of mixed greens or lettuce. Sprinkle the fennel leaves on top. Serve with a vinaigrette dressing, like: ½ cup balsamic vinegar, ½ cup olive oil,1 TB Dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. This is great with oranges and or goat cheese too! If you like oranges, sub out half the balsamic with orange juice in your dressing.
We had a delightful rain last night! While many parts of the state experienced rain during spotty thunderstorms last week, we missed them all in New Braintree. Sometimes the Quabbin reservoir splits the storms north and south…and since we are due east of the reservoir, those storms skip us. Typically, you will hear us say we like it dry, and we do. Glenn has irrigation for a lot of his acreage, but our earliest land (read driest in April) does not have access to water. We also have several pieces at the extremity of the farm with not enough pipe to reach them. Last night’s rain was just the ticket for all those crops! Of interest, when it is very dry on the farm, not only do we have every bird at the fountain in the backyard, but the honey bees line up along the water’s edge. Everyone needs water! This morning, instead of the steady morning song of Robins at 4:10am (and the one Cardinal who competes with them daily), it was kind of quiet, with only subtle individual calls, no symphony. We decided they were too busy taking advantage of the perfect worm hunting conditions. I did note that the tree frogs were full of it again…perhaps rehydrated and rejuvenated!
This letter will be posted on the blog, most likely with pictures and links to great recipes.