>THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU
• Salad Mix
• Baby Bok Choi
• Green Garlic*
• “Lacinato” Kale
* see recipes at the end
• Spring Salad Mix
• Stir-Fry Greens
• Green Onions
First of all, we would like to apologize for being so very late with our Tuesday delivery. It was one of those days in which everything goes wrong. And, to top it off, we didn’t realize the salad mix was ready to harvest until late Tuesday. We will make it up to the Tuesday folks next week. I’m sure you will be disappointed when you read this and find out you missed the salad, but we will make sure you have extra next week.
The heat wave has got things growing, and we have sprinklers running 24/7 right now to keep all the little plants hydrated. It doesn’t take long for them to crisp to nothingness when it’s in the 90°s.
Much on the way, the peas and favas are blooming, onions are growing well in their plastic mulch beds, and salad greens are here to stay. We should be able to put together a stir-fry mix next week—perfect for those hot nights as it only takes a minute to cook.
PENNE WITH RICOTTA AND GREEN GARLIC SAUCE
1-1/2 cups fresh Whole-Milk Ricotta, or a 15-ounce container whole-milk ricotta
1/4 cup finely minced Green Garlic
2 tablespoons minced Parsley
Salt and freshly ground Pepper to taste
1 pound Dried Penne or Fusilli Pasta
2 tbsp Butter
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese, plus grated Parmesan for the table
1. Combine the ricotta, green garlic and 1 tablespoon of the parsley in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Just before pasta is done, remove 1/2 cup of the boiling water. Whisk enough of the hot water into the ricotta to make a smooth, creamy sauce.
3. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce along with the butter. Toss well. Add 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and toss again, adding a little more of the hot water if needed to thin the sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning.
4. Serve on warm plates, topping each portion with some of the remaining parsley. Pass additional Parmesan at the table.
Cardoons grow wild in the Mediterranean, and so they are eaten and enjoyed in Italy, France, and Spain, and northern Africa. They are a close relative of the thistle and, of course, the artichoke. They require several steps of preparation, but they are worth the effort. Small or medium stalks are the most tender and need the least amount of preparation. The stalks should be solid, not spongy, no matter their size. They will keep in the refrigerator for several days, wrapped in moist paper or plastic.
To prepare: trim the leaves and any spiny skin off the stalks. Cut the stalks into manageable lengths about 3 inches long, and put in a bowl of cold water acidulated with lemon juice or vinegar to prevent browning. One by one, peel the skin off the pieces and tear off the largest strings, as you would from celery stalks, returning each piece to the water as you finish. Parboil the trimmed stalks in salted water until tender, and then proceed with cooking. Sometimes it’s easier to peel and string them after parboiling, and some stalks are tender enough not to need blanching at all.
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup chicken stock
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 lbs. cardoons
1 cup grated Gruyère
1. Place cream, stock, and bay leaf in a large saucepan and season to taste with salt and pepper. Wash cardoons, then remove and discard tough outer stalks. Cut away thorns and pull off stringy fibers. Cut cardoons into 1 1/2’’–2’’ pieces, placing them immediately into cream mixture as you go, to prevent them from discoloring.
2. Bring cream mixture to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until cardoons are tender, about 1 hour. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cardoon pieces to individual gratin dishes (or a 1-quart baking dish).
3. Preheat oven to 350°. Reduce cream mixture to about 3/4 cup over medium heat, about 30 minutes. Discard bay leaf and divide reduced sauce equally between gratin dishes, sprinkle gruyère on top, and bake until golden and bubbly, about 30 minutes.
Egg, beaten with a fork
Fresh Fine Bread Crumbs
1. Choose cardoons with white, tender-looking hearts. Strip the strings from the stalks (just as one would do with celery) and then parboil the cardoons in salted, acidulated water. Drain them when just tender. Cut the stalks into 3-inch by 1-inch sticks. Dredge them in flour, shake off the excess, then dip them in egg and finally in fine bread crumbs. Deep-fry them in peanut oil at 360° until golden brown. Drain on towels and serve.
2. You can also make cardoon fritters in batter. Trim the cardoons, string and parboil them, and cut into sticks, as described above. Dry the cardoons and marinate in a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, and chopped parsley. Dip the slices in fritter batter and deep-fry in peanut oil heated to 375° until lightly browned. Drain on towels, salt, and serve. If you like, batter-fry thinly sliced and seeded Meyer lemons to serve with the cardoons.
Chicken or Vegetable Stock (optional)
1. Trim the cardoons and cut them into 3-inch lengths. Simmer them in a nonreactive pan, well covered with water flavored wtih salt, olive oil, and lemon, for 35 to 45 minutes, until tender. When cool enough to handle, peel away the strings from the cardoons, as you would with celery.
2. Arrange a thick layer of cardoons in a buttered earthenware gratin dish. Just cover with cream, or a mixture of cream and stock, season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with grated Parmesan. Bake in a preheated 375° oven until browned and bubbly. Serve garnished with chopped parsley and chervil.
CARDOONS IN BECHAMEL SAUCE—”CARDONI IN BALSAMELLA”
Cardoons (See below for amounts)
Salt and pepper
Milk or cream
1. Discard the toughest ribs, strip the filaments from the others, and boil them in salted water until half cooked.
2. Cut the cardoons into inch long pieces and sauté them with butter and salt to taste. Add some milk, or, even better, cream, and simmer them until they’re done, then bind the sauce with a tablespoon or two of béchamel sauce. Sprinkle the vegetables with grated Parmigiano and remove them at once from the flames. This dish goes very well with pot roasts, stewed cutlets, stewed giblets, and other such dishes. Coarsely diced turnips can be cooked in the same manner, as can diced potatoes, or sliced zucchini, though the latter shouldn’t be boiled first.
STEWED CARDOONS—”CARDONI EN UMIDO”
Cardoons (1 pound for four people)
1. Wash the cardoons, strip away the fibers, and chop them into 2-inch lengths. Boil them until close to fork tender in lightly salted water. In the meantime, mince two cloves of garlic and a bunch of parsley.
2. When the cardoons are done, drain them, and then finish cooking them in a skillet with the 1/4 cup olive oil, the minced herbs, and salt and pepper to taste.
3. If you would like them better tasting and more elegant, pour an egg-and-lemon sauce over them after transferring them to the serving dish. To make the sauce, beat several eggs with the juice of a lemon, heat the mixture over a low flame, stirring constantly, till it begins to thicken, and pour it over the vegetables. If you choose not to use the sauce, at least sprinkle the cardoons with a pinch of grated Parmigiano.