In this week’s share:
- sweet potatoes
- brussels sprouts
- head of red lettuce
- head of green lettuce
- red, orange and green bell peppers
- spinach, chard, kale & collard
What a Season!
It’s happened again. An entire spring, summer and early fall — 20 long weeks — have passed in a whirlwind of planning and planting and picking. Along the way, we’ve feasted on a full season’s worth of successes, from our first truly bountiful crop of sweet peas in the early spring to our first big and beautiful heads of cauliflower this fall. I am deeply grateful once again to the Pagliarulo family who have let me plant my roots on their beautiful farm for 5 seasons now. And I’m so thankful for the support of my CSA members, without whom this crazy hobby would be even crazier. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of our 2014 CSA. It’ll be hard to beat, but we’ll certainly try.
The sweet potato patch did a lot better this year. I still lost a fair amount to enterprising voles, but I have a nice large harvest tub full of red-skinned spuds and there are still a few rows left to dig tomorrow morning. Something this orange just has to be good for you. Sweet potatoes are a “super food” renowned for super high levels of vitamin A and packed with beta-carotene. Lucky for us, they’re also super delicious and super versatile in the kitchen. Here are some of the ways that we’ve incorporated sweet potatoes into some of our favorite recipes:
- We love Rick Bayless’ recipe for his World’s Greatest Chili. It tastes best when you start with the whole dried chili pods — available at most supermarkets in the Mexican section — or you can substitute chile powder. Skin a few sweet potatoes, cut them into small cubes and add them in to the last 20 minutes of simmering so they get soft, but not overly mushy. The mild sweetness of the potatoes rounds out the meaty spice of the dish.
- Thai red curry is great with all types of vegetables, but we love to add cubed sweet potatoes to soak up the flavor of the coconut milk and curry paste
- Roasted potatoes are even better when mixed with an equal amount of cubed sweet potatoes. Simply toss them in some olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and bake uncovered in a glass casserole for 30 minutes at 400F, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking
- Sweet potato “fries” are a kid-friendly version of roasted sweet potatoes. Cut the peeled sweet potatoes into long, thin strips, toss with olive oil (don’t overdo it, or they’ll be too mushy), season with salt and pepper and bake for 30 minutes at 400F until soft on the inside and slightly crispy. Ketchup is a classic accompaniment.
- The easiest way to prepare sweet potatoes is to bake them whole. Wash off the skin, poke a few holes with a fork and bake at 425F for 50 minutes. Slice in half and serve with a pat of butter and a light sprinkle of brown sugar
This is one of those vegetables that I thought to be kid-proof, but as the old adage goes, “If you put enough bacon on a shoe, the kids will fight for a second shoe.” Lucky for us, fresh-picked brussels sprouts taste a whole lot better than a shoe, with or without bacon. The trick is to roast them into oblivion, until they are nicely charred and silky soft and caramelized. At least that’s the way we like them. Of course, if you do all of that charring in bacon drippings, the sprouts are none the worse for it.
We had to travel over the weekend, so I haven’t been to the garden since last Wednesday (gasp). My hope is that I’ll be able to harvest the whole brussels sprout plants and give you them still attached to the stem. It’s really quite a sight, but it depends on the sprouts being big enough. If not, I’ll just cut off the biggest ones. If you get to cut them yourselves, remove any wilted outer leaves from each sprout.When cooking, halve or quarter the largest sprouts to speed things up. If boiling the sprouts, some recipes suggest scoring a small X into the base of the stem to cook the sprouts more evenly. Here are some more brussels sprout ideas: