Week #11 Food Prep Guide + RECIPE: Salad Burnet Cream Cheese Spread & Tea Sandwiches Two Ways
After such an intensely hot, dry start to the season, we are baffled by the recent chilly nights and mild days. Climate change is no joke, and I wish I could explain just how difficult it is to adapt to the unpredictable and extreme weather patterns. But nonetheless, this weather has seemed to trick a lot of our cool season crops to rally and produce beautiful new growth. Who are we to say no to that? Gorgeous kale, purple snow peas, and many hardy annual flowers are returning in the field.
We have a really diverse and balanced selection of fruit, veggies, cooking greens, and salad components this week. Two of the brand new items are celery and salad burnet. Celery takes a LONG time from seeding in February to harvest in late summer. But if you’ve never had the pleasure of eating locally grown celery, you’re in for a real treat. If you think you don't like celery based on your experience with the bland and watery grocery store variety, we promise you'll get it once you taste this instead. This celery is worthy of being the star ingredient; its flavor packs a big punch of intense, sweet celery flavor. The leaves are equally delicious and can be used wherever you’d use parsley. We harvest our celery not by removing the entire plant but rather by taking only the most mature outer stalks, which gives the plant energy to give more harvests over a long period of time. Based on our overwintering trials last year, we found that it survives without cover and can provide early season harvests in the following season. That's a big bonus so we can really bulk up the earliest May produce boxes.
Salad burnet is a perennial salad green that tastes like cucumbers. It would be delicious in green goddess dressing or tzatziki, or simply mixed in with lettuce or spinach for a side salad. Wherever you think cucumber would be tasty would be a great place to experiment with salad burnet. Perennials are an important food source on our farm and will be even more of a mainstay at the new property, where we will plant many culinary and medicinal herbs, salad greens, and asparagus to compliment the rhubarb and sunchokes we've already established here.
I know that it can feel intimidating to prepare new foods that you've never tried before. That's why I think it is so important to provide detailed instructions and some meal inspiration ideas. Of course, if you're not very confident in the kitchen sometimes that still isn't enough. One of the next guides I plan to put together to share with our members is a comprehensive food prep/storage and ingredient swap guide so you can make easy substitutions for your favorite recipes. Stay tuned!
We recommend that you set aside 15-30 minutes to unload your produce and do some quick preparations to help your food last as long as possible. Please consider the following preparation tips to make the most of your purchase.
*Wash all produce before use and either scrub or remove the peels.*
*Pickle or freeze anything you don’t plan to cook in 3-5 days.*
Celery. Refrigerate your celery as soon as possible or it will go limp; if this happens, you can prop it in a cup of water in the refrigerator just like you would do for herbs. Wrap the celery in a lightly dampened paper towel, then place in a plastic bag and store in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. It should keep for up to two weeks. Celery can also be frozen. Wash, cut into your desired size (i.e. diced for soup), then place in a single layer without touching on a lined baking sheet and partially freeze for 30-60 minutes before transferring to an airtight container. Celery pieces will be soft when thawed and are best for cooked preparations like soup or stew.
Salad burnet. Untie the bunch. Place in a mason jar or cup and add a few inches of clean water, just enough to cover only the stems. Drape a plastic bag loosely over the top of the leaves, allowing some air to circulate. Wash and use within three days for best quality.
Cherry tomato mix. Store on the counter, never in the refrigerator. If you want to use them fresh, simply wash in a 1:8 vinegar to water bath, rinse, and dry before use. If you freeze them, you can actually freeze them whole. When they thaw, the skin skips right off for use in sauces or soups.
Mixed snap beans. Store unwashed in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator and cook as soon as you can, or meal prep by blanching and storing. Wash in very cold water and remove the stem and any fibrous strings before use. To freeze, place blanched beans on a lined baking sheet and partially freeze for 30-60 minutes before transferring to an airtight container.
Blackberries. Wash in a 1:8 vinegar to water bath, then drain and rinse. Gently dry them with a paper towel, then store in an airtight lidded container that has been lined with a fresh paper towel. Anything you won't use in 3-5 days should be stored in the freezer. To freeze, place washed and dried berries on a lined baking sheet and partially freeze for 30-60 minutes before transferring to an airtight container.
Summer squash. Keep the squash whole, dry, and unwashed in a paper towel-lined zip top bag and place them in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. We find that they often keep for a week or more this way for fresh preparations. Alternatively, we find that the best way to freeze it is to wash, grate, and measure in pre-portioned packages for smoothies or quickbreads. For baking, be sure to fully thaw and squeeze out the excess moisture before combining with your batter.
Garlic. Store on the counter in a dry spot out of direct sunlight. Cool moisture, like in the refrigerator, will encourage the garlic to sprout which gives the cloves a bitter flavor. Stored properly, garlic can last for a few months. This variety is ‘German White’ and is known for its very large cloves and hot flavor.
Kale. Kale can be used both as a salad green or as a cooking green. Remove thick, woody stems. Briefly submerge the greens in cold water to remove any residual soil and to refresh the leaves. We recommend blanching kale right away in preparation for cooking later. To do this, lower the greens into (optional: salted) boiling water for 30-60 seconds until their color becomes very bright and vibrant, then immediately plunge into an ice water bath. Gently lift the greens into a colander to drain excess water. The cooking liquid contains some nutrients and may be stored as a base for homemade chicken or vegetable stock. Refrigerate in a lidded container for up to 3 days or freeze. Substitute for raw greens in recipes or smoothies by using half as much as is called for (i.e. ½ cup blanched greens in lieu of 1 cup raw greens).
Salad Burnet Cream Cheese Spread
8 oz cream cheese (dairy or plant-based), softened to room temperature
1/4 c salad burnet, leaves only
2 tbsp scallions, green parts only
Combine all of the ingredients in a food processer and pulse until combined. Store in the refrigerator.
Tea Sandwich #1: Vegan Zucchini & Salad Burnet
Prepare the cream cheese spread with a plant-based cream cheese base. Use a peeler or mandoline slicer from blossom to stem to make long, thin ribbons of zucchini. Place the zucchini on a wire rack, season with kosher salt, and set for about five minutes or until you see beads of moisture on the surface. (This process pulls the excess moisture from the zucchini and will keep your sandwiches from becoming soggy.) Blot the moisture from the zucchini and cut them to the length of your bread. Pullman loaves or regular white bread will work best. Lay the bread out on a cutting board, spread each with a thin layer of the cream cheese, and then layer the zucchini ribbons so they slightly overlap. Top with another piece of bread. Wrap the sandwiches individually in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. When ready to serve, cut the crusts off with a sharp serrated knife, then cut the sandwiches into diagonal fourths.
Tea Sandwich #2: Smoked Salmon & Salad Burnet
Prepare the cream cheese spread with dairy-based cream cheese. Pullman loaves or regular white bread will work best. Lay the bread out on a cutting board, spread each with a thin layer of the cream cheese, and then add a single layer of thinly-sliced smoked salmon. Top with another piece of bread. Wrap the sandwiches individually in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. When ready to serve, cut the crusts off with a sharp serrated knife, then cut the sandwiches into diagonal fourths.