Weekly Share May 13th – 19th

Young Garlic
Fava Beans
Bibb Lettuce
Oakleaf Lettuce
Hakurei Salad Turnips
Russian Kale
Dill & Mint

Welcome to the 8th season of Tomten Farm’s CSA vegetable shares. We are so excited to have you here with us and hope we can make it the best season so far. That is always the aspiration of course, to get better at farming and to excel from the previous year; but lets be honest there are so many external factors involved in farming, that our job is really to be intuitive and quick to adjust when conditions shift. Last year was by far the most difficult in terms of the weather and the conditions it gave us; but it was also the year we had the most labor on our farm, with a really strong crew; so between these two elements we had a good CSA season and a ok overall season. It could have been so much worse and many farmers throughout this region, from larger conventional mono-crop operations to small intensive organic operations, really struggled. This year in contrast is shaping up to be our most understaffed; but so far we have seen more balanced weather conditions (although it is still so early). Point being is that each year is different. The crops that thrive are different and there is always some sort of failure somewhere, the hope is just that its minimal and we can be quick to adjust.
Over the past few weeks we have seen crops growing at such a fast pace that we are a little ahead of schedule, meaning for a very full first share with lots of greens. Cut greens, lettuce heads, cooking greens (kale and hakurei turnip greens), so think about lots of salads or using lettuce lightly dressed with lemon and salt beneath your morning egg or really any protein throughout the day. People love their greens but we also see this quick saturation of customers in April and May of leafy lettuces; but for our weather with such a short Spring, the lettuce is really superb for a pretty short 6 week window, so we try to think of all the ways to use this delicious, refreshing crop in our daily meals. We received this wonderful book recently, The Turkish Cookbook by Musa Dagdeviren, which is so much more than recipes. It really looks at the history and culture tied to food in a region of absolute awe-inspiring diversity and history. This quote about lettuce gives a new perspective on the often overlooked crop:

Often, greens are served unadorned, sometimes with only a squeeze of lemon. Lettuce is a good example of this. Lettuce can be eaten on the go as a snack with no accompaniment, or at home it might be simply given a sprinkle of sugar, a drizzle of molasses, or a squeeze of lemon juice.
In my home town of Nizip , Gaziniantep, from early April to early May, growers sell lettuces in big sacks carried by mules. People would shop in bulk for the home and eat lettuces as a snack all through the day. When lettuce was bought in bulk, the seller would not cut off the root. However, if it was to be eaten there and then, the customer would ask for the root to be trimmed. Once the root was cut off, that was it – that lettuce was yours no returns accepted. Even if it was bitter, all you could do was buy another one. The outer leaves of the lettuce would be stripped off and given to the donkeys, sheep, and goats, then the lettuce hearts washed in a common fountain and enjoyed on the spot.
Women long believed  that a stroll in a lettuce orchard would purify their souls and give them eternal youth. And not so long ago there were even impromptu street festivals to celebrate the lettuce. Eating lettuce was the purpose of the day, and the unfortunate souls  who ended up with the  bitter lettuce would be mercilessly teased….All of these rituals affirm the vital role of raw vegetables and greens in Turkish culture.

The 80 degree weather a couple of weeks back really affected the growth of our allium (onion family) crops, so our garlic has developed past the tender green garlic stage and is beginning to bulb and produce the scapes (what would eventually turn into the garlic flower), at least 10 days earlier than in past years. What this means for you, is the garlic will still have a sweeter, mild quality; but it will be slightly less tender. You can still use most of the plant, stalk and all, although some baby cloves are beginning to emerge and there may be a small core in the center of the bulbing section, which you can easily remove. As you go up past the tender stalks to the leaves, its still very delicious, although it probably needs to be minced and cooked a little longer, think of leek leaves. The really special treat in this week’s share is the fava beans, also known as broad beans. We grow a small amount each winter; seeding them in early November, covering with low tunnels (small metal hops covered in greenhouse plastic) through the coldest months, venting them regularly, and then feeding and weeding in early Spring. We are one of the only farms in this area growing these beans as they take a bit of management; but we love them so much. They will taker a little work on your behalf too and will yield only about 1 cup of beans total, so relish in this creamy, fatty seasonal bean, a true speciality. There are a myriad of delicious preparations: cooked with rice and dill, or boiled and then pureed with olive oil as a bean dip, or sautéed with green garlic and chilies and added to pasta or as a side dish. We have included some recipe ideas to inspire delicious meals with this week’s share items. We are excited to begin this season with you all. Enjoy the share…Autumn and Brian

Artisan Pizza: Arugula with Green Garlic Cream

Turnip Salad with Yogurt, Herbs, and Poppy Seeds Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden
Serve this dish right away; otherwise things may get a bit soggy.
1 bunch Japanese Turnips with their greens trimmed leaving ¼” stem
1 lemon halved
½ tsp chile flakes
½ cup plain whole-milk yogurt (not greek style)
1 cup lightly packed mixed herbs: mint, chives, dill, parsley, cut into 2” lengths
4 scallions, trimmed, sliced on a sharp angle, soaked in ice water for 20 minutes, then drained well
salt & pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup poppy seeds
Slice the turnips lengthwise as thin as you can. If you have a mandolin, use it; otherwise make sure your knife is sharp and just go slowly. Soak the slices in ice water for 15-20 minutes, then drain very well.
Rinse, dry, and roughly chop the turnip greens. Put the turnips in a bowl and squeeze in about half the lemon. Add the chile flakes, ½ tsp salt, and many twists of pepper, toss and blend. Add the yogurt and toss again. Taste and adjust the seasoning so they are quite bright. Add the herbs, scallions, and ¼ cup olive oil and toss again. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Scatter half the poppy seeds on the bottom of a platter or individual serving plates, top with the turnip salad, and finish with the rest of the poppy seeds. Serve right away.

Smashed Fava Beans, Pecorino, and Mint on Toast Six Seasons  by Joshua McFadden
This is a loose pesto of fava beans and mint, with plenty of olive oil. Use it as a pasta sauce or as a dip for vegetables, spoon it over crushed new potatoes, or spread some on toasted country bread.
1 ¼ lb Fava Beans in their pods
1 stalk green garlic roughly chopped
4 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves
salt & pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 – ½” thick slices bread
Shell the fava beans. Blanch beans for about 30 seconds in boiling salted water and then rinse well with very cold water. If desired, make a small slit on the bean, gently squeeze out two halves of the bean and peel off the membrane skin (it can be a little tough).
Put the green garlic and a pinch of salt into a food processor and pulse a few times. Add half the mint leaves and pulse a few more times so the garlic is fairly fine. Add the peeled favas and 1 Tbls olive oil and pulse again. Your goal is to bash up the favas but not completely puree them. You may need to scrape down the sides of the processor bowl between pulses.
Scrape the mixture into a bowl, season with some pepper, and stir in 1/8 cup grated pecorino cheese and the lemon juice, and adjust the consistency with olive oil so that its loose and luscious. Brush the bread on one side with olive oil and grill or broil until crisp. Arrange on plates, top with the fava mixture and the rest of the mint leaves, torn if their big, and finish with a nice shower of grated pecorino and a drizzle of oil.

Roz bel Ful Ahdar (Rice with Fava Beans) the New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
In Egypt this is prepared in the Spring, when fava beans are very young and tender. It is served hot as an accompaniment to meat, or cold with yogurt and a salad. Egyptians do not remove the skins of the beans.
1 pound fresh fava beans, shelled
vegetable oil
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic or 1 green garlic stalk, minced white & greens
1 cup fresh dill, chopped
1 1/2 cups basmati or long-grain rice (wash)
2 ¼ cup water
Boil the beans in salted water for a few minutes, until they are tender, then drain. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pan and fry the onion until soft and golden. Add the garlic and stir for a minute or two. Then add the drained beans and sauté a little, stirring and turning them over. Add the rice, and stir until transparent. Add the salt, pepper, and chopped dill and pour in the water. Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat, covered, for about 20 minutes, until the rice is tender.

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