June is both a colorful and a flavorful month here on the farm. Many of the major annual crops are planted and some, like the greens, are harvestable and peaking, but what's really rolling is those perennial herbs we nurture from year to year that give us the zip and spice and variety all season long in our cooking. We keep about 700 feet of perennial herbs and are endlessly thankful for the savory nuance they bring to our lives year-round, but we are especially grateful to them since they are the first crops to poke their heads through the soil in spring and they encourage us through those chilly early days when it's hard to believe anything is actually going to come up!
You'll find a lot of herbs in your box this week because they need to be cut back early and often in order to keep producing for us through the season. Use what you can, freeze or dry what you can't, and enjoy experimenting! We'll give you lots of ideas for using these in all of your dishes both savory and sweet, but the main thing is to nibble them yourself and see what you might like to do with them based on how they appeal to you. We think that fresh herbs, used creatively, are the main thing that sets great cooking apart from good cooking. In fact, we're such believers in herbs, we include some herb plants in your early boxes each year so that you can plant some at home in pots or the ground, and harvest fresh every day, even in between boxes. This week, you've got parsley and cilantro to get started with. Both of these benefit from a little bit of shade in the heat of the day, so you should have no problem growing these on a porch or patio. Cut often!
It may seem obvious, but we want to mention that we'd like you to return your boxes and clamshells to us. Hang on to them and bring them back to us at the next delivery. Thanks!
And now, here's what's in the box. Please notice that we'll put the most perishable things at the very top of the list and work our way down to the least. So use the things at the top of the list first. For recipe ideas, click through to the Farmer Kriss Pinterest Page and the Circle M Recipe Blog. Have fun and bon appetit!
Pea Shoots - These are a very fleeting treat we are only able to pack in the first box or two. We grow this little peas in the greenhouse so they'll get long, leggy and tender, as opposed to the beefy pea vines we have in the garden growing up the trellises to bring us snap and snow pods in the coming weeks. Enjoy these tossed on top of a salad or lightly sauteed over pasta. You can use them long like this, or chop in smaller pieces. You might end up just eating them straight out of the clamshell.
Circle M Spring Salad Mix with Edible Violas - Those of you who've already been with us through the years know that we LOVE edible flowers here at Circle M. We grow lots of them to try and get them in the salad mixes all season long. If you ever need flowers to decorate a cake or cheese plate, let us know and we'll pick you some! This mix features a little bit of everything - lettuces, baby brassicas, spicy mustards and tender Asian greens.
Head Lettuce - Crisp and delicious oakleaf head.
Chicory - Yep, that is a version of a dandelion! These pretty red-veined leaves are a bitter green, wonderful raw, lightly steamed or sauteed in a tiny bit of olive oil and served with our warm chive goat cheese and some caramelized onions and mushrooms.
Nettles - We pulled these with gloves and you SHOULD NOT TOUCH THEM. But you should eat them. Pour the entire bag into a colandar. Rinse. Then put the whole bunch into a skillet and saute in butter or olive oil. I usually serve with eggs. But these are great with mushrooms, or brats. They have a rather spinach-y flavor and are nutritionally fabulous.
Spinach - First cutting. Sweet and tender. Try raw. And those long stems? They are the best part of the plant at this time of year. Trust us.
Sorrel - These bright lance-shaped leaves are the Sour Patch Kids of the veggie garden. They'll make you pucker - in a good way! We love these ribboned and added to a breakfast salad, or sauteed on pasta, or even chopped into a rhubarb cake recipe. The English do a great creamy Sorrel Soup. When schools come for field trips to the farm, these leaves are always the ones the kids come back to and want to taste some more.
Arugula - The few days of heat has made these leaves grow rather aggressive in flavor. We like them raw in salads, but cooked they are a bit more mild. Chop or ribbon. Great paired with lentils in a Mediterranean style and dressed lightly with olive oil and feta cheese. Try a terrific pizza with arugula bits tossed ON TOP of whatever you typically enjoy. It'll crisp up for you and taste peppery and amazing.
Herb Bouquet - Chives, Oregano, Lovage
These will keep for a week or more on your kitchen counter in a vase. Just pull flowers and leaves daily and cook away! Both the chive flowers and the chive leaves are edible. BUT the stalks that the chive flowers grow on are not. So pull the little bulblets from the flowers and toss them on egg dishes, salads and pasta, then toss the stems. Oregano is terrific fresh - toss on top of pizza in whole leaves. Simply hang what you don't think you'll use this week, and it'll dry in a few days. Then crumble into a ball jar and use all year. Lovage is a perennial celery. We won't have celery to harvest until fall, so these leaves and stems will make a great substitute until then. Has a hint of nutmeg flavor in it!
Broccoli Raab - A personal favorite of mine. Spicy and fresh all at once. These stalks look like broccoli that hasn't quite made it, and that's just as it should be. I chop the entire stalk, leaves included, into two-inch pieces and sautee in green garlic and olive oil. But you can also strip the leaves and chop separately and steam or saute the stalks alone to plate up in a lovely manner. Have had some wonderful raab dishes at Lombardino's.
Green Garlic - Looks like scallions, but it is early garlic that you can use just like a green onion. Chop all the way up the stalk until you get to the flat leaves. Mild and amazing!
Rhubarb - OH! The joy of that first fruit taste in spring!
Radishes - These are big, bold French Breakfast radishes. Spicy, crisp and full of life! I love these chopped in an arugula, lentil and farro salad dressed with lemon juice. But my dad always loved them sliced on buttered baguette rounds and liberally salted and peppered.
Popcorn - We harvest this in fall and let it dry all winter and spring. The darling little ears can be shelled and popped by the quarter-cup in a lunch bag put in the microwave for about a minute and a half. For a fun experiment, husk an ear and put the whole cob in a bag to pop in the microwave! Not all of the kernels will pop this way, but it will be fun and cute!
Herbs to Plant: Parsley and Cilantro
Gift from the Goats: Chive Blossom Goat Cheese!
Since we've gone with a smaller CSA membership this year, we are able to share more of the farm's goodness with you. Each week, your box will include some small gift from the goats - our lovely dairy does. This time around, we've got the first goat cheese of the year - a Chive Blossom Chevre that'll pair great with the arugula or chicory. Next week - Chevre Truffles!