CSA Week 3: Loose Leaf Salad with Warm Garlic Scape Vinaigrette

Loose Leaf Salad with Warm Garlic Scape Vinaigrette

What in the heck is a garlic scape? It sounds like it’s fleeing…that can’t be good.

(So went the doubtful voice in my head as I was reading the list of produce included in the week 3 CSA box, on my way to pick it up.)

If you didn’t know, a garlic scape is the top sprout of a bulb of garlic.

Whaaaat? Garlic has a top part? There’s more than just a smelly, papery bulb?

Indeed! And it’s delicious.

CSA Week 3As I puzzled over what to make with the long, curly scapes, I just kept hitting on salad dressing. After all, my week 3 box also included about half a pound of loose leaf greens, a nifty mutant squash, and a large bundle of spring onions (oh, and some Swiss chard and sour cherries). The perfect makings of a salad (and a side dish and a tart)!

I looked and looked for a recipe for a salad dressing that highlighted garlic scapes, but nothing really called out to me, so I did what I have come to enjoy doing quite a lot: I wung it. (Yes, I did just make up a word.) And then I gobbled up the results and practically licked my salad bowl. You should stop by a farmer’s market and grab some garlic scapes to make your own tangy vinaigrette! I promise you’ll like it.

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CSA Week 2: Vegetable Potstickers with Sweet Chili Soy Sauce

Vegetable Potstickers

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a recipe for spring veggie potstickers that immediately peaked my interest. So last week when I opened up my CSA box and found a bounty of late-spring produce, I immediately figured out how to adapt the recipe to the veggies in my box.

CSA Week 2What I received for week 2 of my CSA share was: a huge bundle of kale, almost a pound of asparagus, several spring onions, a few large radishes, and a pint of cherries.

You can adapt this recipe to whatever veggies you have on hand! I thought that the radishes, kale, and asparagus went perfectly with a small handful of chopped mushrooms that I happened to have languishing in my fridge. The mushrooms upped the umami factor of the potstickers, which was a definite plus for my husband (who didn’t even complain that they were vegetarian!). This meal actually turned out so great that I made it twice!

These potstickers aren’t hard to make, unless you have an unhappy baby who doesn’t understand why you are spending 15 minutes pinching wonton wrapper seams together. In that event, you might want to give yourself some extra time and patience. I’m just saying.

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Mini Cherry Clafoutis

Mini Cherry Clafoutis

Did you know that the English word cherry is actually the result of a misunderstanding?

That’s right. Back in the thirteenth century when we were stealing all kinds of words from French (ahem), those Anglo-Saxons heard the French word cherise (modern French cerise) and assumed it must be plural! In fact, it wasn’t…but we hacked that pesky –s off anyway!

And that’s what goes through my head every time I hear the word cherry: False back-formation.

There. Betcha didn’t know I was a lingua-dork, did you?

Let’s put this knowledge to good use by baking some cherry clafoutis! (BTW, this is pronounced /klafuti/, both in the plural and in the singular..in case you were thinking of falsely applying English morpho-phonetic rules there…) I used the fresh cherries we got in this week’s CSA box! You should snag some cherries really quick to make this, because I hear cherry season is short!

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Shaved Asparagus Pizza

Shaved Asparagus Pizza

Oh, pizza topped with asparagus, where have you been all my life?

I am so happy that we had a cool spring and the asparagus season lasted a little longer! When my CSA box arrived with a tidy bundle of green and purple spears, I almost danced with joy.

This pizza is seriously delicious. It will convert even the most rigid of asparagus haters—especially if you are using fresh, in-season asparagus! Yum.

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Buttermilk Ranch Dressing and CSA Goodness

Salad

When I was a kid, I always ate my spinach.

Want to know why?

It was always smothered in ranch dressing. I think I actually may have been eating more ranch dressing than spinach, which probably doesn’t even count as eating a vegetable. (As a result of this childhood experience, I am a little horrified by the Hidden Valley commercial where the kids all eat vegetables because they can dip them in ranch…)

But let me tell you a little about the spinach itself…and also about why I love vegetables so much now, as an adult.

This little epiphany begins with an admission: I did not know that spinach came in little leaves, baby or otherwise, until I went to college and discovered the salad bar. You see, the only way I had ever seen spinach served up to that point was thawed from a frozen block. I honestly had no idea what sort of plant spinach actually was!

When I was growing up, probably to save money and avoid wasting food on kids who wouldn’t appreciate it, my mom served chiefly frozen and canned vegetables with the occasional iceberg salad for good measure. I didn’t discover the true goodness of fresh, brightly colored veggies until I was an adult. And I was instantly hooked!

Fresh is absolutely the best. I mean seriously. Who wouldn’t love the deep, leafy green of fresh spinach? I will even add a few drops of ranch as a throwback to my childhood. Delicious.

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Gooey Brown Butter Toffee Bars

Gooey Brown Butter Toffee Bars

Maybe you noticed that I have been sharing a lot of fruity and peanuty baked goods lately. Maybe you remember that those aren’t really my thing.

Most of the baking I have been doing for the last few months has actually been for others to enjoy. I’ve been taking a break from sugar in hopes of losing the baby weight. It has been working!

But this month when I was assigned a blog called Heavenly Treats and Treasures for the Secret Recipe Club swap, I knew I would give in and make something for myself. I meandered over to the brownie section of the blog and saw this recipe front and center. It was love at first sight!

Brown butter. Need I say more?

Okay. Toffee.

There…if you aren’t racing to your kitchen to make these, I think you might be a lost cause.

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Sautéed Purple Asparagus

Sauteed Purple Asparagus

Did I tell you we joined a farm?

Maybe joined isn’t the right word, but I definitely think about it as my farm these days! What we actually did is buy a CSA share for the summer.

In case that’s an unfamiliar acronym, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it’s a program that many farms across the country do to encourage local, seasonal eating…and of course, to boost patronage and earn enough money to keep growing great foods the next year! Each farm will establish their own specifics, but the basic gist is that you pay a lump sum up front and then you get a box of fresh produce every week! How amazing.

Great Country Farms also runs a U-Pick operation, so we’ve trekked out to Bluemont twice now to take advantage of asparagus and strawberry season! When we went last week, they were still selling big, beautiful asparagus…so in case you were lamenting the end of Spring and the impending dearth of delicious asparagus, don’t stress just yet! At least in our neck of the woods, asparagus plants are still edible!

I have always been a little wary of giant asparagus. In my mind, they are stringy and tough. But when I saw these huge, purple stalks, freshly cut and just waiting to be grabbed up at the GCF market last week, I thought I should give them another try.

Boy am I glad I did, because they were delicious! They were so fresh, they were actually juicy, and they tasted earthy and flavorful. The key, as with cooking any asparagus, is not to overcook it. Overdone asparagus is mushy, less vibrant, and often hard to cut, since the extra heating brings out the stringiness.

So let’s make some asparagus, maybe the last of the season! Grab your sauté pan and bring your appetite.

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Sweet Pea and Spinach Soup with Fresh Mint Cream

Sweet Pea and Spinach Soup with Fresh Mint Cream

A few days ago, Jake and I wandered outside to drop a few things into the mailbox. My neighbor immediately came rushing over with an armful of mint, freshly snipped from her garden. (And before I made it back inside, I was also gifted a huge handful of oregano and sage! Yay for neighbors who share from their gardens!)

While I stood in my driveway chatting about fresh herbs (mmmmm), regretting my choice not to change out of my pajamas before my quick jaunt outside, my mind immediately began sorting through the myriad ways I could put the mint to good use.

You know what goes great with mint?

PEAS!

(Is it weird that my food choices lately have been influenced by what baby foods I am making for Jake? The kid loves peas, so I definitely have peas on the brain…)

I have always been a little curious about pea soup, so I did a quick search and came up with a recipe that sings out Spring to me. What a perfect way to wind down the season, with peas, spinach, and mint all in one bowl!

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