Monday, April 7, 2008

From the Farm: Greens



The phone rang, and it was Lexi Gazy "from the farm", as she said. That would be Gazy Brothers Farm in Oxford, CT, where I recently joined the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). For those of you who aren't familiar with CSAs, they are programs where you agree to purchase a “share” of the farm, and in return, you receive weekly harvests of whatever is in season at the time. For creative cooks and adventurous eaters alike, this is a wonderful way to have a variety of interesting, fresh produce each week, and the opportunity to support local farmers. Shareholders pay the farmers upfront, guaranteeing them a market for their crops, which in turn provides stability in the sometimes unpredictable world of farming. Gazy Brothers Farm in Oxford is in their fourth year of the CSA program.

I'd missed the deadline to join the spring CSA, so a friend and I went in on one share of veggies and one share of fruit for the summer growing season. Lexi had a few bags of this week's harvest left over and said she could swing by if I was interested. Naturally, I was. She pulled up and opened the hatch of her car to reveal a half dozen or so white bags of produce. Given the time of year, the bags were full of a variety of greens, ranging from the familiar, to those lesser known. I immediately recognized a gorgeous bunch of cilantro, some green leaf lettuce, and arugula. I also saw what looked like monster scallions, but were instead green garlic. I guessed correctly on the beet greens, which gave themselves away by their vibrant red stems, but didn't recognize the remaining two bunches. They turned out to be kohlrabi greens and turnip greens.

After thanking Lexi for thinking of me, I rushed inside to wrap everything correctly to insure they stayed fresh. Then sat down to figure out what I was going to do with all these greens. Since there was no way I could possible eat everything in the next few days, I decided to focus on longer-term storage.

This process was old hat to me, as I had grown accustomed to harvesting my abundant indoor basil plant every several days. Unless I needed basil for whatever I was making for dinner that night, I would pull out my food processor and whip up a batch of basil puree or pesto. I would then scrape the contents of my work bowl into a plastic ziplock bag, squeeze out the air, and freeze for later use. I figured this was probably the best bet for many of the greens I'd just received. I started with the green garlic. Into the work bowl they went with some salt and olive oil, and the result was a wonderfully bright, pungent puree. I figured the garlicky goodness would be fantastic slathered over grilled fish or chicken. I didn't have any lemons on hand, but I will likely squeeze some fresh lemon juice into the mixture when I'm ready to use it, making it a totally fresh lemon-garlic seasoning.

For my second batch of puree, I didn't even bother to clean out the work bowl of my food processor, since I figured the remnants of my green garlic puree would be a fantastic addition to my arugula pesto. I whirred the peppery greens (also know as "rocket") together with salt, pepper, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil to make a beautiful sauce for pasta. I saved some for the night's dinner, and froze the rest for another day.

Lastly, I made cilantro pesto, which I often use with shrimp. It is great brushed on grilled shrimp skewers, or even as an alternative dipping sauce for chilled shrimp. To cut the strong flavor a bit, I added the last of my fresh parsley from my indoor garden, and also added a pinch of sugar and a squeeze of lime juice, which gives it a bit of a southwestern flair. Like the others, into the freezer it went, filling my shelves with great solutions for fast weeknight meals.
I can't wait to see what is in my farm bag the next time!
Contact info for Gazy Brothers Farm:
391 Chestnut Tree Hill Road, Oxford, CT 06478
203-723-8885

To find a CSA in your area, go to http://www.localharvest.org/.

RECIPES
Linguine with Arugula Pesto
Serves 4
1 large bunch fresh arugula (rocket) greens
1 large green garlic stem, cut into 1 inch pieces (or 2 small garlic cloves)
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
olive oil
salt/pepper

Place the arugula and green garlic in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse until finely chopped.
Add pine nuts and Parmesan cheese, pulse to combine.
With the blades still running, slowly add olive oil through the feed tube until a puree is formed (everything should whirr around the work bowl like a sauce).
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with linguine and more grated cheese.

NOTE: To make a creamier sauce, add 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese to the pesto.


Cilantro Pesto
1 large bunch cilantro, thoroughly washed and thick stems removed
1 large stalk green garlic, cut into 1 inch pieces (or 2 small garlic cloves)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar
olive oil
salt/pepper

Place the cilantro and green garlic in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse until finely chopped.
Add lime juice and sugar, pulse to combine.With the blades still running, slowly add olive oil through the feed tube until a puree is formed (everything should whirr around the work bowl like a sauce).
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve as a dipping sauce for chilled shrimp, or brush on shrimp skewers before grilling. Also good for chicken, fish, or grilled veggies.

1 comment:

Klo said...

These recipes sound delicious!!
Thanks for sharing.