In this week’s share:
- Head of red lettuce
- Head of green lettuce
- Head of Boston (bibb) lettuce
- Bag of lettuce mix
- Bag of Asian greens and spinach mix
- Bunch of kale
- Green onions
- Green garlic
Beth and I have been working together for years, ever since she was kind enough to loan some greenhouse space to a very “green” grower trying his hands at a CSA. Beth and I sold side-by-side at the Washington farmer’s market for a couple of seasons and frequently mused about joining forces. Now that we’re officially growing partners, I get to look forward to our weekly Tuesday morning conversation. That’s when I first learn about the goodies Beth plans to harvest for the week’s upcoming share.
This week Beth and I are both contributing lots of beautiful lettuce. My first red and green varieties have sized up in the garden and Beth is still producing heads of Boston lettuce and mixed greens hydroponically in the greenhouse. We’re both harvesting our first radishes and we should have enough Asian greens to produce a nice mix again. Even more exciting is that Beth also told me this morning that she’s going to give out something I’ve never tried before: green garlic.
What is green garlic?
Garlic is the only crop that northern growers plant in the late fall — right around Halloween. We plant a single clove of garlic for each plant and cover the rows thickly with straw mulch to protect the young seedlings when they emerge in April. Garlic doesn’t develop its trademark bulbs until July, but if you’re lucky you’ll get your hands on a late spring treat: green garlic. When garlic is planted, sometimes we accidentally plant the cloves too close together. Spring is the time to thin the rows down to roughly three plants per foot. When you pull garlic at this early stage, it doesn’t have a bulb yet, but you can enjoy its tender white and green stem raw or cooked — that’s green garlic!
Prepare green garlic like you would leeks. Remove the tougher dark green top leaves. Then treat them like green onions — you can slice them thinly and add raw to a salad or at the tail end of cooking a stir fry. You can replace regular garlic in your favorite recipes for a subtler, fresher garlic flavor. Try some of these recipes to get you started or experiment on your own:
- Seared pork cutlets with green garlic salsa verde – Try this garlic-herb sauce that goes great with meat or fish
- Spaghetti with green garlic – Sautee some kale or other greens with the green garlic to beef up this simple pasta dish
- Spicy green garlic chicken soup – This one looks great. Add some thinly sliced radishes at the end
I share this recipe every year because it’s my favorite way to eat radishes and small turnips. I’m not a big fan of the “bite” of a raw radish, but I love the flavor that they take on when sliced and lightly pickled in a simple brine. Pickle them overnight and they become this sour little flavor bombs that you can add to salads, layer in a sandwich or chop onto a fish taco.
- Pickled radishes (or baby turnips) – Any light vinegar works well here, but sherry or red wine have a nice mild flavor
It’s a wrap
Yes, you are getting a lot of lettuce this week. Short of eating salad for breakfast, consider building a meal around lettuce wraps. They’re fun — especially for kids — and well-suited to the large crinkly leaves of red and green lettuce you’re getting this week. Some ideas to play with:
- Chili beef lettuce wraps – slice up some of that green garlic along with the green onions
- Asian chicken and vegetable lettuce wraps
- Gingery beef lettuce wraps
Dunk, rinse & spin
My lettuce isn’t grown hydroponically, which means that it will probably arrive in a less-than-pristine state. There may be bits of soil, blades of grass and the occasional slug attached to your heads of lettuce. Never fear — here’s a simple three-part solution to cleaning and storing your lettuce or any other leafy green:
- Fill a large bowl with cool water and dunk a head of lettuce, loosening any stray bits that will float to the surface
- Run some cold water and rinse off each leaf of lettuce, making sure to rub off any soil from the bottom edge. Place rinsed leaves in a salad spinner*
- Spin the lettuce dry and store in plastic bags with a square of paper towel on the bottom. Don’t tie the bags closed, but keep in the crisper drawer
*If you don’t have a salad spinner, drip dry in the drying rack (or buy a salad spinner)
CSA member recipe — submit your own!
A big thank you to CSA member Colleen for sending along a favorite recipe for creamy sausage, potato and kale soup. I’m excited to try it out. Please leave your recipe suggestions in the “leave a reply” box below or email me directly and I’ll pass it along in the next week’s post.