Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Beets (and sorrel)

My produce picture did not turn out and already some of our share has been cleaned and consumed so I hope you can figure out the share this week. But here is the list of what was in the share: kale, chard, basil, dill, chive, carrot, beet and radish.

As you can tell from the share, the extreme heat and lack of rain has affected our produce. If you ask around at other CSAs, the consensus would be that this has been a particularly difficult couple of weeks to grow produce. The heat causes the plants to bolt, often increasing the bitterness in greens or forcing plants to flower prematurely. Or growth has slowed down so much that it is taking more than a week for things to be replenished. Plants like the peppers are hardly growing at all. This is frustrating weather to farm in and Justin and Kelly are doing their best to keep our shares as large as possible. They will do a second planting of greens so we should have a plethora of salad greens later in the season along with our other mid-season vegetables.

But despite the heat, the farm is still beautiful:


Here are some recipes for the week, including one for sorrel that a fellow member sent to me.
Happy eating and happy 4th of July!

I never thought I liked beets and now they are one of my favorite vegetables. If you cut off the greens, they will keep in your crisper drawer for quite a while. Here are some hints about using beets as well as my two favorite beet recipes.

Beets have a tendency to stain everything they touch so be forewarned. In order to reduce staining do not cut the root ends or peel the beets, keep the stems about 4-6 inches long and don't scrub them, just wash gently. When the beets are done cooking you just slide their skins right off or eat with skins on.

Beets can be grated raw in a salad and beet greens are also edible although they should be eaten soon as their integrity will diminish quickly. You can steam or saute beet greens or use them in any dish that calls for fresh spinach.

Roasted Beets:
I think beets are best roasted. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Toss clean, diced beets with olive oil, salt and pepper and place on baking sheet or in a glass dish. Cover loosely with foil and bake 20-30 minutes or until beets are fork tender. I usually remove the foil for the last 10 minutes so that they caramelize. Eat them as is or for an added treat, toss roasted beets with feta cheese. You can also experiment with adding some of our fresh herbs to the pan.

Pickled Beets (from the Asparagus to Zucchini cookbook):
2 lbs beets
1 med white onion, sliced
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups white vinegar
1 tsp whole allspice
2 whole cloves
1 stick cinnamon
Boil or steam beets until tender. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid, then drain beets and let them cool. Peel, slice, and pack beets and raw onions into pint jars (about 3). Combine reserved liquid, sugar, vinegar, allspice, cloves, and cinnamon in a pot; bring to a simmer and cook 5 minutes. Strain and pour into your jars. Cool, cover, and refrigerate 24 hours.  


Sorrel pairs well with beets because the green offers plenty of sour to the
beets' sweet.
This salad makes enough to serve 4.

2 slices thick, rustic bread
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for toasting the bread
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly cracked pepper
3 cups young sorrel leaves, washed and dried
2 pounds beets, roasted, peeled, and sliced

8 ounces goat cheese
1/2 cup toasted pistachios or pecans

Warm up a cast iron griddle over medium-high heat. Place the bread in the
middle, and drizzle a little bit of olive oil on top. Toast for 2-3 minutes
per side, or until the bread is sizzling and golden. Remove the bread from
the heat and let it cool for a few minutes before cutting it into 1/2-inch

Whisk together the remaining olive oil and balsamic vinegar with a fork,
and add salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the sorrel in a large salad bowl
and layer the roasted beets, bread cubes, goat cheese, and toasted nuts on
top. Drizzle with the oil and vinegar mixture and serve at once.
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