Veggie Friends update, new box, and beet greens rice pilaf

I’m back and have a new box! I can’t believe our spring break totally threw me off my schedule! luckily I still remembered to take pictures (most of the time). I did a bit of baking, but was having some oven issues. Thankfully, I seemed to have figured them out. I’ll be back to posting regularly and I believe next Friday is Cookie Friday!

I actually have a great little story to share with you guys about my Veggie Friends post. Before I wrote the post I had emailed my CSA provider to ask some information about the local bugs that I might find in their crops.I know farmers are very busy people and I wasn’t really expecting them to reply, so I went ahead and wrote my post just based on my experience. The farm’s general manager actually got back to me a little while later and put me in contact with their Farmer #1, named Ellie, who was very accommodating and gave me plenty of information. They also included my original email in a current blog post with tons of info seen here: http://www.suziesfarm.com/. If you read their post, you will see they have invited me 🙂 to head down and experience the bugs for myself during their Second Saturday Harvest Tour next month and I intend to do just that! I will do a follow-up post about my Veggie Friends after the tour!

Box contents:
Strawberries
Baby Lettuce Mix
Mixed Beets
Carrots
Kale
Lettuce
Artichokes (We were super excited about these)
Wheatberry Sprouts –Never had these before, but we liked them. I used the recipe for wheatberry salad that came with our box insert (It’s also on their website). It was delicious, but I want to get more ideas to use them more often.
Mint

They have the texture of cooked brown rice with a hearty nuttiness. We ate them raw.

This week's box contents. Looks like Spring!

My husband bought additional strawberries and beautiful, fragrant basil!

***************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************
This week, my beets came with some very abundant, and beautiful beet green tops.

They were so pretty I felt compelled to take their picture.

I have really come to love eating beet greens. I put them in all our salads and they blend in really well with other greens and a nice vinaigrette. For a long time I didn’t even know they were edible until one of the farm stand marketeers told me. She also told me about eating the broccoli greens (which I do now). I cringe to think back at how many times I threw them away! :-0 I’m still working up to eating carrot tops, I can’t really figure out which way to go flavor-wise as they are pretty bitter.

For some reason this week’s beet bunch had more beet greens than usual. It might be because the beets were also a lot bigger. I make rice pilaf often and usually just switch out the herb/veggies I add in. This week as soon as I thought of rice pilaf I knew I was going to make it with beet greens. It was delicious and I loved the little red speckles from the beet greens.

I almost always use my electric rice cooker to make rice. It’s much more practical for me and it keeps the rice warm until I’m ready to serve.

Beet Greens Rice Pilaf

I love the red flecks in the pilaf from the bright red veins in the beet greens.

1-1/2 cups rice (I use Calrose, I like the texture of medium grain rice)
1/4 cup of orzo pasta
2 cups of beet greens, shredded
2 cloves of garlic, minced fine
2-1/2 cups broth (chicken or veggie)
1/4 tsp salt
1-1/2 Tablespoons butter

Place a medium size skillet over med-low heat and melt butter. Add orzo and stir until slightly browned, this will take about 3 or 4 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat in butter, add garlic and toast for another 2 minutes. You do not want to let the garlic burn!

Carefully transfer the toasted rice/orzo mixture into an electric rice cooker (or proceed with your usual stove-top steaming method), add the broth and salt and set to cook. Once cooked, remove lid, fluff rice with a fork and very gently fold in the beet greens a handful at a time. Serve.

I served this with a mustard pork tenderloin and a side of marinated beets like the ones I used in my Power-Up Salad. We had a guest for dinner and I kept hearing “This rice is really good!” Success! 🙂

Green Garlic- my fleeting Spring love!

I’m sure if you did a quick internet search you would come up with several articles, blog posts, etc about why people love green garlic and all the health benefits it contains. But today I’m going to tell you why I love green garlic and how I came to do so.

You can see how I easily mistook this guy for a large scallion the first time I saw one. The green parts are edible, just make sure you wash it as you would a leek; separating the layers to get all the dirt.

Green Garlic is basically young garlic which has been plucked from the ground before it has split into cloves. Green garlic contains all the health benefits of regular garlic with the added benefit that you can eat it raw without burning off your taste buds! It is sadly available only for a fleeting moment in spring when it breaks the earth with its fragrant green tops and gives us the privelege of tasting its beauty. I know I sound melodramatic, but let me tell you if you’ve never had green garlic before- you too will spout your love from the roof tops when you do. Those of you who have, I know you understand. 😉

How we met:
I still remember the day clearly. It was last spring- I had invited a friend over for drinks and a bite on a Friday evening. She went with me to the Farmer’s Market to pick up my CSA box at the farm’s stall. I don’t remember what else came in my box, most likely carrots, lettuce, an herb or two. What I do remember was seeing a leek-like, scallion looking thing in my box. I thought it was a very large green onion and wondered that I had only received one. I knew it wasn’t a leek because the stalk was too tender. Suffice to say that I from the contents of my box and pantry/fridge I decided I would make a fried rice to enjoy with a beer in front of the television with my friend.

I prepared my fried rice the way I normally do- carrots, peas, mushrooms, protein of some kind, steamed white rice, sesame oil, soy sauce, and a very large handful of sliced scallions stirred in right before serving. I served my friend and myself and sat down to enjoy our repast. I knew the second I took my first bite that I had added something different to that dish. I looked up at my friend and she said “This is delicious! It is honestly the best fried rice-ever!” I felt the same way and I knew it had to be my “scallion” that didn’t taste anything like a scallion. It was kind of garlicky and buttery all at the same time. It had the bright flavor that scallions would have added to the dish, but with a very faint bite of garlic. When we were done eating I went to look for the contents list that usually comes with my box, and there it was- green garlic! I was hooked. I looked for it at the market and was only able to get it one more time. I dreamed about it from last spring to the present and was overjoyed to finally see it on the list of upcoming veggie box occupants. I’ve been sending my husband to the farm stand with explicit instructions to purchase more green garlic if it’s available. There wasn’t any at the farm stand today. I’m down to my last two stalks. It makes me sad to think about it. So, in an effort to conserve my green garlic a little longer I made a pesto with it today. I still had plenty of dill and incorporated a good amount of it into this pesto. The flavors were amazing. It was everything I wanted it to be. I’m going to slather it on everything this week. Seriously, everything. I might even turn my last green garlic into another batch I can freeze for later (if it makes it to later). I must admit that when I transferred it to a bowl after it was done, I took a heel of bread and cleaned the inside of my food processor with it. It was that good. I’ll let you be the judge. But please, please, seek out this beauty at your local farmers market before it disappears until next spring and then you too will be left with nothing but a fleeting memory, wondering if it  was all just a dream.

I set aside some of the pesto before adding the cheese to brush onto some chicken thighs before grilling. I meant to add arugula to the pasta to wilt in with the pesto, but completely forgot in my anticipation to eat the pesto! I also made a simple roasted sugar plum tomato bruschetta to which I stirred in a spoonful of the pesto when it was done. I’ll include directions for that at the bottom. The sugarplum tomatoes I used are organic and were purchased from Trader Joe’s. They were a product of Mexico. I try not to purchase tomatoes out of season, but I couldn’t pass up these cuties on my last trip. I miss tomato season.

Green Garlic and Dill Pesto

1 whole green garlic, sliced in half lengthwise and rinsed between layers to get all the dirt out.

1/4 cup of chopped fresh dill

1/4 cup of lightly toasted pine nuts

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

A handful of shaved/shredded parmesan cheese

olive oil- enough to make make a thick sauce (I didn’t measure, I just poured in while the blades on the food processor were running, but if I had to guesstimate, I’d say 1/4-1/3cup?)

Toast the pinenuts over medium heat in a dry skillet. Place into food processor. Chop the washed green garlic  and also place into food processor along with dill, salt and pepper. Pulse until ingredients begin to come together, then with the food processor running, stream in olive oil a bit at a time, until mixture loosens and moves about easily. Add parmesan and pulse again to combine. Taste the pesto for seasoning. Adjust salt and pepper if necessary. If pesto is too thick, add a bit more oil and pulse again. Pour. Over. Anything. Eat and be happy.

Pesto in a bowl. The lighting in my kitchen makes this look yellowish but it was a very nice green color. Not to mention delicious!

Roasted Sugarplum Tomato Bruschetta

I spread it over toasted slices of pugliese bread and sprinkled with shaved parmesan cheese.

1 16 oz container of sugar plum tomatoes

2 Tablespoons minced green garlic, or substitute 2-3 cloves regular garlic, finely minced

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil for drizzling

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Halve all tomatoes and place into earthenware or other roasting dish along with garlic. Spray/drizzle generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes depending on your oven. Keep an eye on them, you may need to stir once or twice to prevent scorching around the edges. I stirred in a heaping spoonful of my green garlic pesto to the tomatoes once they were done. Do a taste check and adjust salt if necessary. Serve over toasted bread slices or pour over the pasta along with the pesto.

I love the beautiful red color!