Week #8 Food Prep Guide + RECIPE: Costata Romanesco Carpaccio with Wild Blackcap Vinaigrette
We're so excited to be able to pack lots of summer squash into this week's boxes! This year we are trialing a modern Costata Romanesco type ('Pantheon'). The original heirloom squash is prized for its buttery flavor, fine texture, attractive ribbing and coloring, and strong flower attachment. However, its fruit production is exceptionally low, though it does offer abundant male flowers for stuffing. We were so excited to give the modern Pantheon a try this year and are extremely impressed; it's truly identical in every single way except that it is extremely prolific. They are chef-quality, and if you're not too keen on the bitterness and sponginess of traditional dark green zucchini or yellow crooknecks we have a feeling you'll like these a whole lot more. You also may be surprised to see that our squash are smaller than what many folks pick out of their garden. This is because we pick when the fruit is no longer than my hand (5-6"), which allows it to have the sweetest flavor, firmest texture, thinnest skin, and no seeds. At this stage they're equally delicious when raw or cooked. When it comes to summer squash, bigger is NOT better. The flowers are also superb either as a garnish or battered and shallow fried in olive oil for a real treat.
All boxes will include a clamshell of seasonal berries, whichever looks the absolute best on your pick up day. You may receive black raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries. Thanks to all of the well-established blackberries in full sun on the new farm site in addition to all of the ones we already have on our original property, we expect to have quite the bumper crop. Keep your eyes peeled for any wholesale deals for anyone looking to freeze, do some canning, or make a pie!
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.*
Berries. 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.
Kohlrabi. Remove the leaves from the bulbous stem. The leaves are best used as a cooking green, so process it just like kale: remove the stems, briefly submerge in cold water to remove any residual soil and to refresh the leaves, blanch, drain, and either refrigerate or freeze. Just the same, the cooking liquid contains some nutrients and may be stored as a base for homemade chicken or vegetable stock. The bulb can be stored in a plastic zip-top bag lined with a paper towel in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator and typically maintains quality that way for several weeks.
Fennel. The fronds, or the greens, will wilt within the first few days, so we recommend that you remove them from the bulb and treat like other herbs: place in a mason jar or cup and add a few inches of clean water, just enough to cover the bottom couple of inches of the stems, then drape a plastic bag loosely over the top of the leaves, allowing some air to circulate and store in the fridge. If you won't use them within a few days, freeze chopped fennel fronds in ice cube trays topped with olive oil, hang to dry, or make some salad dressing. Like kohlrabi, when stored without the leaves, fennel bulbs have a long storage life in the refrigerator; store in a plastic zip-top bag lined with a paper towel in the crisper drawer - but we recommend that you use them as soon as you can so they have the strongest flavor. Fennel bulbs are an excellent seasonal replacement for celery both when cooked or when raw. Though they will lose some flavor, they can also be frozen by blanching and storing in airtight bags or containers.
Scallions. Untie the bunch. Place in a mason jar or cup (5-8” in height) and add a few inches of clean water, just enough to cover the roots and bulb of the scallion. Drape a plastic bag loosely over the top of the leaves, allowing some air to circulate. Scallion bulbs can be replanted in your garden or even in a small indoor pot and will regrow.
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.
Sage. Place the bunch in a 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.
Costata Romanesco Carpaccio
with Wild Blackcap Vinaigrette
3 Costata Romanesco squash, 4-6" in length
freshly cracked black pepper
1 bunch fresh tarragon, leaves only
assorted edible flowers, petals only
Wild Blackcap Vinaigrette:
1/2 c wild black raspberries
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1/4 extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic, grated
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp raw honey (or more to taste)
kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
Make the vinaigrette by combining all of the ingredients in a high speed blender and pureeing until smooth. Strain if a seedless consistency is desired.
Remove the stem and blossom end from the squash. Use a mandoline to slice the squash into 1/8" coins. Arrange on a serving platter in a shingled pattern. Season with salt and pepper and allow to rest for five minutes so the salt pulls the moisture out of the squash. Drizzle with the vinaigrette, garnish with the tarragon leaves and flower petals, and serve.