Fava Beans (or Spinach)
Bibb & Oakleaf Lettuce
Spring Salad Mix
Welcome to the beginning of our 10th CSA season. This Spring has been really nice so far, with a few slightly jarring little heat spells but mostly nice temperate conditions making for great growth on both our spring and summer crops. The past two winters have been extremely mild, meaning that the soil has not had any extended hard freeze. This doesn’t mean we did not have any extreme weather, we were hit by the heavy ice storm in February and it ravaged our area harder than most in Virginia; but it did not mean really cold temperatures for days. The mild winters, while nice to work in, also mean increased pest issues, as the pest populations are not naturally culled in the same manner they would be with extended hard frosts. Point of all this is beautiful weather, but we are seeing and expecting a heavy pest year. This Spring we have some great part-time help on the farm which is easing the work load and although we also get terribly behind in the first half of May, it is not seeming so daunting as in past years. This time of year, just past the average last frost date for the area we need to be very active with cultivating and handweeding in our fields (the growth of everything doubles in speed about now), feeding spring plantings, adequately irrigating (the wind has been a doozy); while also getting a lot of our large summer plantings in the ground quickly (eggplant, peppers, beans, corn, okra, watermelon, and winter squash plus our next successions of tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash). This time always coincides with our transition to two markets per week and the CSA beginning. We have about 3 weeks where we need 4 full time workers in addition to us as well as absolutely perfect weather patterns or we fall behind schedule. This year though we are almost caught up and luckily we have a great crew scheduled over the next few weeks, plus a CSA work share day in a week, and we pushed our Spring broiler processing until the end of May. So perhaps 2021 will be a little different.
The CSA share for this first week screams out Spring, young garlic, fava beans, radishes, an abundance of lettuce, and tender spring kale. Garlic is planted the first week of November, so the Winter and early Spring weather indicates how much green growth the garlic will get and then once there are enough degree days (a combination of day length and temperature) it will begin to bulb, fresh garlic.. Once it begins to bulb, the scape (would eventually be the garlic flower) and cloves begin to form. What this means for you, is the garlic will still have a sweet, mild quality like green garlic and you can use most of the plant, but it is not quite as tender. As you go up past the bulb and white tender stalks to the leaves, it probably needs to be minced and cooked a little longer, think of leek leaves. The other really special treat in this week’s share is the fava beans, also known as broad beans. If you do not get them this week, you will get them the following week. 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. There are a myriad of delicious preparations: cook with rice , 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
Wait! Stop! Don’t Peel Those Fava Beans!
Butterflied Trout with Spicy Lettuce, Celery, and Herbs
spring stir-fry: chicken, radish & green garlic
ottolenghi’s radish & broad bean salad
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
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.