>THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:
• Sugar Snap Peas
• Fava Beans
• Napa Cabbage (see Winter Makeup Week 1 for recipe ideas)
• Genovese Basil
• Cinnamon Basil
Bing Cherries from the newly-certified organic Tonnemaker Orchards in Royal City
U-PICK THIS WEEK:
Flowers, although the heat has put a damper on things temporarily. We’ll be planting more flowers soon.
• Stir-Fry Greens
• Salad Mix
At last, now that the week is over, I finally have a chance to finish this entry! It’s been a long, hard week with the temperature extremes. As everywhere, we got up over 100° on Wednesday. We made decisions about what to water, what to harvest, based on the probability that certain crops would not make it. Indeed, we lost the spinach and by Friday had lost most of the lettuces, even with an extra soaking. They can only take so much heat. The peas had all started to dry up by Tuesday, and we decided to harvest all of the sugar snap peas that were left on the vines and put them in the cooler. I know some of them looked bad and were sunburned, but for the most part they still tasted good and we feel that it was worth the effort to make sure you all got a final serving this week. We practically watched the vines shrivel into brown, dried skeletons on Wednesday, and the funeral was Thursday. And now it is time to move on.
The main reason for operating a diversified farm that grows many crops, is that in times of weather stress like this week, we still have plenty of crops to harvest. The basil/herb patch got water on Monday, and it thrived in the heat, exploding into beautiful rows of aromatic foliage. The only problem is that it needs to be harvested promptly or it will begin flowering, and then it is less than prime. So, we graced everyone with big bunches of Genovese basil, and cinnamon basil. The Genovese is the classic Italian basil, the one used for pesto. Cinnamon basil can be used to make a pesto as well, and I find it goes better with the sweeter vegetables—beets, peas, etc. It also goes well with a fruit salad, which means you have to change your basil preconceptions, but just try tossing a few leaves into fruit and see how it goes. You might just like it! My big Cinnamon Basil idea was to make a pasta salad by pureeing the basil with olive oil into a pesto, tossing in some peas (raw or sauteed) with some sliced roasted beets and fresh goat cheese (chevre). It’s a lovely pink color as well, helping the mind to accept the cinnamon flavor.
Fava beans are ready now, to fill in the gap between peas and beans. They are the only “old-world” bean, and is actually in the pea family. They are very popular in the mediterranean region, as well as in England, where they are called Broad Beans or Horse Beans. You’ll need to shell them from their pods, and then they can be sautéed, steamed, or eaten raw. Some people like to blanch them in boiling water and remove the skin surrounding each individual bean. I find that this is not necessary as long as the beans are young, tender, and harvested at the proper time, which ours are. Mike says it takes an Italian to grow good Favas, and I think he’s right.
The Napa Cabbage and Bok Choi are doing their part in finishing up now that the spinach has gone, temporarily. They will help fill the gap until the cabbage, broccoli and next spinach patch are ready in the coming weeks. You don’t need to do anything fancy with Napa—just slice it into shreds and use it as salad, or turn it into cole slaw, or sauté it.
We’ve started harvesting our garlic crop, as it turns brown from the heat. If we expect it to keep into the winter, it needs to be harvested while some of the leaves are green, so the paper wrappers can dry around the bulb and protect it. The variety you get this week is called “Musik”. It has huge cloves that peel easily and taste wonderful.
4 Cloves Garlic, minced (use 1 to 2 cloves if they are large)
2 cups Fresh Basil Leaves, rinsed and thoroughly dried
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
1. Place the garlic and basil in the bowl of a food processor or blender. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the oil through the feed tube, and process until the basil is puréed.
2. Transfer the pesto to a bowl and stir in the salt and pepper. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use. This keeps in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. Or try freezing the pesto by filling ice cube trays with the prepared mixture. Place the filled trays in the freezer, then place the frozen cubes in freezer bags or other containers. Just thaw to use later. (We find that we use 1 cup of pesto for a meal when we have it with pasta, so we freeze it in one-cup containers.)
Try adding ground pine nuts or walnuts and/or Parmesan or Romano cheeses to taste. I prefer to add these things when serving the pesto, rather than while making the pesto.
FAVA BEAN RAGOUT
1 to 2 pounds young Fava Beans
1 clove Garlic
1 small sprig Rosemary
Salt and Pepper
1. Shell the fava beans and discard the pods.
2. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the favas, and simmer for 1 minute. Drain and cool them immediately in cold water. Pierce the outer skin with a thumbnail and squeeze each bean out of its skin with thumb and forefinger. Peel and chop the garlic very fine. Strip the rosemary leaves off the sprig and chop very fine.
3. Put the fava beans in a saucepan with a mixure of half water and half olive oil, enough to barely cover them. Add the garlic and rosemary, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until the beans are tender, about 5 minutes, more or less, depending on the beans. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice and another grind or two of pepper and serve.
* If the fava beans are young and tender, you may omit step 2—no need to peel the outer skin from the individual shelled beans. Beans cooked this way are delicious with pasta—toss or serve on the side.
FAVA BEANS BAKED WITH GARLIC & ROSEMARY
Peeled cloves from 2 mature bulbs of garlic
1 cup Shelled Fava Beans (or 2 pounds unshelled beans)
2 sprigs Fresh Rosemary & Thyme (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
1/8 cup Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 350°
2. Arrange the garlic in the bottom of a small baking dish appropriate to bring to the table. Surround with the favas and cover with the rosemary. drizzle the olive oil evenly over the vegetables. Cover and bake for 40 minutes, or until the garlic is tender. Season with salt and pepper, moisten with additional olive oil, and serve.
FAVA BEAN PUREE
Warm 1/4 to 1/2 cup of good olive oil in a shallow pan, and add a few cloves of minced garlic with some shelled fava beans and a touch of salt and a sprig each of rosemary and thyme, and a splash of water. Simmer about 30 minutes and mash or purée. Add a few drops lemon juice, and as much olive oil as needed to make it spreadable. Serve warm, alone or on grilled bread.