|Signs of the Season: Zucchini and Herbs|
Step 1: Triage
The question is how long one can wait to include a specific vegetable into your meal planning. Does the protein need to be purchased now or later? Will the vegetable complement the beautiful eggs coming home with our shares? Is it a stand alone? Better yet, will it make a good coleslaw for the July 4th?
Short Life (1 week): Lettuce, Sugar Snap Peas, Basil (some sites only)
Medium Life (1-2 weeks): Cucumbers, Broccoli, Collard Greens, Summer Squash/Zucchini
Long Life: (2+ weeks) Sweet Onions, Caraflex Cabbage
A first, immediate note on shelf life: the longer Sugar Snap Peas are off the vine, the less sweet and more starchy they will be. Use these as soon as possible for prime deliciousness.
Next note: In truth, after many a year working through the Denision Farm CSA, the particular features of each cabbage variety slightly blend together. That being said, I know that Caraflex Cabbage is sweet and light, easy to work with. If you need a dish to bring to your 4th of July celebration, may I recommend this light coleslaw?
Sweet and Sour Coleslaw
From America's Test Kitchen
1 head cabbage (2 lbs) cored and shredded (about 12-14 cups)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 T fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp poppy seeds
2 carrots, peeled and grated
Toss the cabbage with the sugar and 1 tsp of the salt. Allow to sit in a colander for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours. Whisk the oil, lemon juice, poppy seeds, the remaining 1 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper together in a bowl large enough to hold the salad. Add the wilted cabbage and carrots and toss. Chill for at least 1 hr before serving. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Note: Coleslaw can be prepared, covered and refrigerated up to 3 days in advance. Before serving, freshen the salad with a dash of lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
Step 2: Divide and Conquer
I admit it. I find Collards a little intimidating. I'm rarely one for 'well done' greens and I haven't found a recipe yet that calls for 'bright green' collards. That being said, they are an excellent example of 'Divide and Conquer.'
When cooking, some recipes call for the Collards to be stripped from their stems. This holds in line with other 'heavy' greens such as kale or chard. This vegetarian recipe calls for the collards to go in whole and delicious:
Vegetarian "Southern-style" Collard Greens
From Sunny Anderson, Food Network
1 T olive oil
1 T butter
1/2 large onion, chopped Note: Insert Sweet Onion here!
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 lb collard greens, chopped
3 cups vegetable stock
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
Salt and pepper
In large pot over medium heat, heat oil and butter. Saute onion until slightly softened, about 2 minutes, then add the red pepper flakes and garlic. Cook another minute. Add collard greens and cook another minute. Add the vegetable stock, cover and bring to a simmer. Cook until greens re tender, about 40 minutes. Add tomatoes and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Step 3: Everything in it's Place
Thus begins Summer Squash/Zucchini season. It will continue until these creatures become zucchini bats and become piled onto break room tables accompanied by the desperate words "Please take me home!!!"
At this stage, your summer squash and zucchini should still have tender seed and crisp flesh. They are delicious sauteed with rosemary and caramelized onion, tossed through pasta with a bit more olive oil. If you're feeling adventurous, try tossing through with tortellini. Serve hot or chill for a great salad on a hot day.
Speaking of hot days, grill your Sweet Onions on the 4th. There is no better use other than caramelizing them into deliciousness and turning them into a quiche, soup, omelette, sauce... Well, let's put it this way. If the Sweet Onions in our house last more that a week, I will be very surprised.
Step 4: Storage
If you unwrap your basil from its rubber band and place the bunch in a vase of water on your kitchen window, it will keep for months. This is truth - we received basil in August of last year - it lasted us until December. Just make sure to keep leaves out of the water - brown or otherwise - and to keep an eye on the water level.
Zucchini and Summer Squash can be grated, frozen and saved for a day when you feel inspired to make zucchini bread. Cucumbers, as always, can be pickled. Broccoli can be frozen.
Onions and Calafex Cabbage will keep long if kept long and dry. That being said, keep an eye. The onions are not dried (nor would we ever wish them to be) and the Calafex is more tender that your 'traditional' cabbage.
Whatever you end up with, whatever you try, have fun and share it with someone else. Enjoy the week, enjoy the weather, enjoy the food.
All the best,
Leah the Nosher