We really rocked it out getting beds prepped and planted ahead of the rain last week. On Tuesday morning, Cole prepped five beds and we had three additional beds that were prepped the previous week to let weeds germinate ahead of planting. I flame weeded those beds and on Tuesday evening I seeded two kinds of turnips, french breakfast radishes, spinach, arugula, mizuna and two beds of beets. It might be have been too late for the beets to fully mature, but I figured it was worth a shot! Now we are mostly in weeding mode as the rains from the previous couple of weeks really got the weeds going. We did quite a lot of weeding on Monday, and since Steve was home for the Labor Day holiday we also got our summer cover crop mowed down in two of our fields. We have been trying to figure out how to incorporate more cover cropping into our farm system and we decided at the end of last year to open up a bit more space so that we could take two fields out of the crop rotation and into cover crops for a whole season. There are many benefits to doing this. Different types of cover crops can add nitrogen, add biomass in the form of fibrous roots and large plant stalks that we mow and leave on the beds to decompose, till the soil with long roots, smother weeds and provide food for pollinators. Our summer cover crop mix included cowpeas (a legume that fixes nitrogen), sorghum sudangrass (a major source of biomass), and sunhemp (a nitrogen fixer and good for biomass). After mowing that down today we covered those eight beds with tarps and will let the cover crop residues decompose for several weeks. After that we will use three of those beds to plant our fall garlic and overwintered onions and leeks, and the rest will get a fall cover crop (either tillage radishes or winter wheat and hairy vetch - depending on how soon we want to get into those beds in the spring). I'm excited to see if the productive capacity and soil quality is improved in these beds next year.
We are harvesting the last big flush of tomatoes this week, so shares are getting 2 lbs. We'll probably still be harvesting some tomatoes for the next month, but is sort of the last hurrah of good production. I'm excited about the butternut squash and sage combo in the share this week. We really love to make a pasta just like the one that Maria has in the second recipe. Sage brown butter sauce is a thing of beauty. You should absolutely try the recipe if you've never had anything like it before. If you don't use your sage fresh this week, I recommend hanging your bundle to dry for a couple of weeks. Honestly we'll keep a dried bundle hanging in our kitchen and just use the leaves as we need them. Just crush the dried leaves for amazing aromatic flavor! We are giving baby turnips with their very nice greens this week since the turnip planting needed to be thinned. We should have bigger turnip bunches next week!
Recipes from Maria:
Summer Squash Soup
1 lg onion
5 to 6 cloves of garlic
About 6 cups summer squash peeled, cubed and seeded
2 T olive oil
4 cups chicken broth
4 fresh thyme sprigs
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 T lemon juice
1/8 tsp hot pepper sauce
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Sauté leeks and onion in olive oil. Add squash cook for 5 min, add garlic, cook for 1 min. Sir in broth, thyme and salt bring to a boil. Reduce heat simmer for 30 min. I pull my thyme off the stem. Use an immersion blender, then add zest, juice and cheese. Taste before adding too much lemon to see if you like it.
BROWN BUTTER GNOCCHI WITH ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND KALE
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups diced butternut squash
sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
1 batch ricotta gnocchi (or a 1-pound package of store-bought gnocchi, cooked according to package instructions)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
20 large fresh sage leaves
4 cloves garlic, minced or very thinly sliced
2 handfuls chopped fresh kale leaves, tough stems removed (or the turnip greens from this week’s share)
1 cup walnut halves
lots of freshly-grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish
Roast the butternut squash: Heat oven to 425°F. Place the diced squash on a large baking sheet, drizzle evenly with oil, then toss until combined. Arrange the squash in an even layer on the baking sheet, season with a few generous pinches of salt and pepper. Then roast for 30 minutes, or until the squash is completely tender inside. (Cooking time will entirely depend on the size of your squash, so keep a close eye on it.)
Meanwhile, prepare and cook the ricotta gnocchi according to recipe instructions. (Or cook the store-bought gnocchi according to package instructions.) Drain and set aside.
Prepare the sage brown butter sauce: Heat the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once the butter has nearly melted, add in the sage leaves. Continue to cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring continuously, until the butter has turned a light golden color and the sage leaves are crispy. (Keep a very close eye on the butter so that it does not burn!) Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds.
Put everything together. Then immediately add the cooked gnocchi to the brown butter sauce, and toss until it is evenly coated. Let the gnocchi rest and continue to cook for about 2 minutes, or until the gnocchi is golden and toasty on the bottom side. Then give it a flip, and cook for 1-2 minutes on the second side until golden. Stir in the kale, walnuts, roasted butternut squash, and toss to combine.
Remove from heat, taste, and season with extra salt and pepper if needed. Then serve warm, garnished with lots and lots of freshly-grated Parmesan cheese.