The start of a new season is always an exciting and hectic time here on the farm. We plant so many crops in April and there is so much promise in those baby plants. I've been farming now long enough to know that some of the crops will fulfill that promise, while others won't live up to their potential. This is the nature of farming and it's one of the reasons that we plant so many different crops. There is resilience in variety, a resilience that means we will always have something to harvest for our family and your family. The super cold temperatures we experienced this past weekend have been a bit of a test for us. The 29 degree temp on Friday night was most definitely the coldest temp we've had this late into the spring season. Luckily, most of our crops experienced only minor damage. Unfortunately, we lost 1/3 of our tomato crop that had been planted in one of the hoophouses. It's always something in farming, and this is our first big crop challenge of the 2020 season. The best course of action is not to dwell too long on the loss, and to quickly pivot to solutions or contingency plans.
This year is certainly turning out to be unique thus far. Again, we are so lucky that our farm has not been negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic that has altered the normal patterns of all of our lives. I know that many, many people and businesses have not been so fortunate. We are incredibly grateful for your support and we are working hard to make sure you will have the best quality, safe, local veg all season. Our CSA members are the highest priority for our farm. We have a small number of people helping out on the farm this year and all of us are keeping our bubbles of influence as small as possible to protect ourselves and you. We hope that each and every one of you stays healthy during this crisis. However, if you happen to fall ill and need to put your share on hold or make any other change, we are happy to accommodate. We really hope that we don't have to deal with any of us getting sick, but in the worst case scenario it's possible that we would have to suspend shares for a short time to protect you. Hopefully, that is not a bridge we have to cross.
Whew, ok enough downer stuff. Let's talk a bit about the crops this week. In early spring you should always expect a good amount of greens. These greens are such a tonic in the spring - just what the body needs after the rich foods of winter. We have a nice mix of fresh salad greens and cooking greens along with some alliums (onion/garlic crops) and radishes. One of the more unusual items in your share this week are pea shoots. These are the young tender sprouts of the pea plant and they have such a fresh, green, sweet flavor. They can be eaten raw, but I prefer them lightly cooked or wilted. The risotto recipe Maria has provided below sounds like a perfect way to experience the texture and flavor of this early spring crop. Another item that you may not have used previously is green garlic. This is similar to a green onion - just a young, small garlic planted harvested early. You can chop and use the entire plant, bulb + greens, and substitute for garlic in any recipe. The greens are a little tougher than green onion, so it's better to cook them a bit, but their flavor is fantastic. The different share days are receiving different types of mustard greens this week. Tuesday shares are getting sprouted baby pac choi - these plants were starting to flower, but the stalks are still tender and would be excellent in a stir fry with your fresh onions. Thursday and Saturday shares are receiving green or red mizuna. Mizuna is a milder mustard green that is great eaten fresh in salad or lightly cooked.
Lemon and extra-virgin olive oil, to drizzle (optional)
Melt the butter in a large pan, add the onion and gently sweat for about 10 mins until really soft. Meanwhile, put a third of the peas into a food processor with a ladleful of stock and whizz until completely puréed.
Stir the rice into the onion, increase heat to medium and sizzle the rice for 1 min. Pour in the wine, then bubble and stir until completely absorbed. Continue cooking like this, adding a ladleful of stock at a time, and stirring continuously until the rice is tender and has a good creamy consistency – this will take 20-30 mins.
Stir in the puréed peas, remaining peas, Parmesan and some seasoning, then turn off the heat and leave to stand for a few mins. Give the risotto a final stir, spoon into shallow bowls and top with some pea shoots, a squirt of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil.
This can be served with numerous other sauteed vegetables, asparagus, mustard greens, mushrooms, etc.
Paprika Creamed Greens
4½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
2 pounds fresh greens, stemmed and chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small red onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons smoked paprika
¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
4 cups half-and-half (or other dairy alternative)
In a large Dutch oven, bring 4 inches water and 3 teaspoons salt to a boil over medium-high heat. Add greens; cook until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Remove using a slotted spoon, and place in an ice bath. Drain well, and squeeze dry.
In a 12-inch enamel-coated cast-iron braiser, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion; cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and thyme; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in flour, paprika, and pepper; cook for 1 minute. Whisk in half-and-half until smooth; bring to a boil. Stir in greens and remaining 1½ teaspoons salt; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, about 15 minutes.