Chris didn't like broccoli until I grew it for the first time in our apartment balcony garden and he got to taste just how flavorful it was capable of being. I remember that we steamed it totally plain so we could just enjoy the natural flavor, and we were blown away at the sweet taste and tender texture. He was hooked from then on! The broccoli cultivars that I grow are quite different from the ones you get at the grocery store. While those have large crowns with woody stems and little flavor, I focus on cultivars with high sugar content, long and tender stems, and great yields of "side shoots" (miniature heads that grow in after the main crown has been harvested). I'm so pleased with the quick-maturing sprouting broccoli we're trialing this spring, 'BC-1611' from Johnny's Selected Seeds. The florets are richly sweet, the stems are very tender and succulent like asparagus (without the stringiness), and even the small leaves are quite tender and flavorful. Be sure to utilize the entirety of your broccoli! Every bit of what you're getting in your boxes this week is both usable and delicious. And I think that's a lot of the satisfaction of locally-grown food. We get to choose based on the tasting notes without concerns about a crop's ability to ship well.
(Below is a photo of last week's boxes, though this week is nearly the same.)
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.* Broccoli. We recommend that you consume fresh broccoli in the first one or two days after receiving it. To store, mist the broccoli with cold water, shake excess away, wrap in a damp paper towel, and place in your crisper drawer. Before cooking, we recommend soaking the heads briefly in salted water to remove any bugs; we do not use any pesticides so occasionally they make their way into the heads. Rinse under cold water before proceeding with your desired recipe.
Rhubarb. Remove and discard the leaves as they are poisonous. Cut the rhubarb into 1-inch pieces, and either store in a paper towel-lined container in the fridge or partially freeze on a parchment-lined baking sheet before transferring to an airtight container.
Red Russian kale. Red Russian is a very mild and sweet kale that 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).
Summer crisp lettuce. Cut the root end away to make loose leaves. Briefly submerge the greens in cold water to remove any residual soil and to refresh the leaves. Gently lift the greens into a salad spinner to remove as much excess water as possible. If you don’t have a salad spinner (though we really do find a big difference in storage time when a salad spinner is used instead) you can also place the greens on a paper towel-lined cooling rack, then pat dry with more paper towels. Store in a lidded container lined with a layer of dry paper towel. Radishes. Remove the radish tops from the radish root. Wash and blanch the greens (boil for 30 seconds, then shock in a bowl of ice water) if you plan to eat them, then store in a container in the fridge. Line a zip-top plastic freezer bag with a moist paper towel, then place the radishes inside. Remove all of the air from the bag and put it into the crisper drawer. Radishes typically store for 2 weeks in this way. My neighbor's mom recently shared that her mother used to prop them in a cup of cold water to rejuvenate the roots.
Cilantro and sage. Place each bunch of herbs in its own mason jar or cup and add a few inches of clean water, just enough to cover the bottom couple of inches of the stems of the herbs. Drape a plastic bag loosely over the top of the leaves, allowing some air to circulate. If your kitchen is warm, put them in the back of your fridge. If you won't use them within a few days, freeze chopped herbs into ice cube trays topped with olive oil.
Green garlic. Green garlic is simply immature garlic that hasn't had a chance to develop paper-covered cloves. It has a sweet, mild garlic flavor and can be used as an aromatic in just about any recipe where you'd use onions, leeks, or garlic. We typically store whole green garlic propped up in a cup on the counter sitting in an inch or two of water, but you can also pre-chop them to save time later in the week. Prepare green garlic exactly like leeks. Trim away the roots and the coarse green part of the tops. Both of these are excellent for making flavorful homemade vegetable or chicken stock, so if you'd like to try that we recommend that you wash away any soil and then place them in an airtight bag or container in the freezer where you can stockpile scraps until you're ready to make a batch. At this time of year you'll notice that the cloves are forming but don't yet have paper; mince just like a peeled clove of garlic and proceed with your recipe. Cut the remaining white/light green section in half lengthwise, then wash under cold running water by fanning the layers to rinse away any sand or soil. Slice as required for your recipe.
Broccoli with Lemon Cream and Toasted Pepitas Broccoli, soaked and rinsed as above Extra virgin olive oil 1 head (the white bulbous part) green garlic, chopped a pinch of crushed red pepper salt and pepper lemon cream, recipe follows toasted unsalted pepitas (hulless green pumpkin seeds) Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat, keeping the lid close by. Add the green garlic and cook until soft and only lightly toasted. Add a pinch of crushed red pepper, stir, then add the broccoli in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Increase the heat to medium-high, add about 1/4 cup of water, and put the lid on right away. Steam the broccoli until it is tender, adding water if needed so the pan doesn't completely dry out. Serve with a drizzle of lemon cream and a sprinkle of toasted pepitas. Pairs well with grilled chicken and steaky fish (i.e. salmon or mahi mahi) and a glass of a crisp white wine (i.e. Marquis).
Lemon Cream (adapted from Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden):
1 head (the white bulbous part) green garlic, grated
1/2 c heavy cream
kosher salt and pepper to taste
the zest of 1/2 lemon
the juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Add the garlic and lemon zest into the cream, then season generously with both salt and pepper to your taste. Blend or whisk by hand until the cream begins to thicken. Just as it starts to thicken, add the lemon juice and olive oil. Taste and adjust for salt and acidity. Use immediately.