Monday, June 23, 2014

Week 6, CSA, Putting Up Your Veggies

Putting Up Your Veggies

Summer is here and so is the arrival of several new vegetables.  Your share includes a variety of vegetables and leafy greens that can be enjoyed in various ways.  It may not be your first thought when you pickup your share, but the concept of preserving your vegetables may not be something to dismiss this season.  Whether you freeze some extra items from your share or decide to get a bulk box of ‘canner’ tomatoes next month to freeze or can, the choice to “put up” fruits and vegetables is not only becoming more trendy, it is a great way to enjoy quality organic produce in the coming months when a particular crop is no longer in season.  The easiest way to preserve foods in small batches is to freeze them.  Here are some quick tips and suggestions (more information will be available on our blog throughout the season).

Broccoli: Soak in salt water for 15-30 minutes, rinse and cut into bite size pieces before blanching in hot water or steaming.  After the broccoli turns bright green (about 3 minutes) dunk in cold ice water to stop the cooking and preserve crispness, and transfer to labeled freezer bags and freeze.  Lay flat on a baking sheet until frozen, and then gather up the bags for better space management in your freezer.

Spinach or Kale (similar process for other greens like chard or collards):  Use whole leaves or leaves with discarded stems. (To strip away a heavy stem, fold in half along the stem, then gently tear down the stem separating it away from both sides of the leaf.) Rinse and blanch in hot water (approx. 2 minutes) then transfer to ice water.  Blot dry or use a salad spinner to get rid of excess water.  Freeze in airtight bags.  Excess water from the blanching process and blanched stems are a great start to a tasty vegetable stock. Experiment with making your own vegetable stock this summer or save your stock when roasting Elmwood chickens to use in soups, pastas and other recipes.

Zucchini/Yellow Squash: Great frozen by itself for use in soups or side dishes.  One of our family’s favorite ways to enjoy frozen zucchini and yellow squash is to cook it first with onions, garlic and tomatoes.  Once cooled, transfer to bags and enjoy as a side in the winter months.  You can choose to season this with salt and pepper before freezing or after thawing.

When I think about freezing and preserving fresh foods and how this once dated concept is now becoming more accepted and adopted again, I also think about our parents’ generation that received recipes from the generations before them and will pass down recipes to their kids and grandkids.  While I am an old soul loving old recipes and cooking with good ole’ butter and sugar, I do also love the convenience of Pinterest and the internet.  Such recipes are an inspiration in the kitchen on many occasions and definitely provide me with healthy and tasty options with the click of a button and touch of the screen.  Some of the below recipes have been shared with me and I wanted to share with you.  I hope that you will find the time this season to try some chocolaty zucchini treats, southern style green beans, or creamy squash casserole in between weeks when you enjoy healthy grilled or sautéed squash, spinach, and broccoli or fresh salads. Variety is the spice of life and I wish you some spice this week in your cooking!

In Your Share :




Kale Greens

Green Leaf or Red Leaf Lettuce


Yellow Squash

Green Zucchini

Garlic Scapes



Zucchini Brownies

3 cups all purpose flour

¼ cup cocoa

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 cups grated zucchini

½ cup butter melted

1 ¾ cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups semi sweet chocolate morsels

brown sugar

½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl, stirring well.  Combine zucchini and butter and add to flour mixture.  Combine sugar and next 3 ingredients and add to mixture and stir 2 minutes.  Pour batter into a greased 15x10 inch pan.  Top with chocolate morsels, brown sugar and nuts (optional).  Bake in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes.

Spinach & Sausage Skillet

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound Italian-style sausage (beef, turkey or pork sausage or Elmwood organic beef sausage are all great choices)

3 garlic cloves

2 ¼ cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 ¼ cups water

8 ounces penne pasta

½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed & chopped fine (Elmwood dehydrated tomatoes work well)

Salt and ground black pepper

8 ounces spinach (torn in pieces)

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup pine nuts, toasted (optional)

BROWN SAUSAGE: Heat oil in 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add sausage, breaking it up with spoon, and cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 minutes.  SIMMER PENNE: Stir in broth, water, penne, sun-dried tomatoes, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Increase heat to high and cook, stirring often, until penne is tender and liquid has thickened, 15 to 18 minutes.   WILT SPINACH: Stir in spinach, handful at a time, and cook until wilted. Off heat, stir in Parmesan and pine nuts. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.  Variation/notes: Omit spinach and substitute broccoli.  Add 8 ounces broccoli florets (3 cups) to skillet after penne has cooked for only 12 minutes, and then continue to cook until penne and broccoli are both tender, about 5 minutes longer.

Kale Chopped Salad with Berries and Quinoa

SALAD: 1 cup uncooked quinoa (or freekeh)

3 ½ cups finely chopped kale, tough stems removed (from about ¾ pound kale)

2 cups dried cranberries

1 cup finely chopped carrots

1 cup fresh blueberries (about 6 ounces)

¾ cup finely chopped yellow pepper (from 1 small pepper)

cup chopped walnuts

½ cup crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese

cup finely chopped celery (from about 1 stalk)

1 scallion, finely chopped

VINAIGRETTE:  ¼ cup cider vinegar

3 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

Cook quinoa (or freekeh) according to package directions and allow to cool completely.  In a large bowl, combine quinoa and all other salad ingredients and mix well.  In a small bowl, combine vinegar, honey, olive oil, salt, and pepper, whisking to combine. Pour vinaigrette dressing over salad and stir thoroughly so dressing evenly coats all salad components.  Serve immediately or chill, covered, until serving.  Yields approximately 11-12 cups.