Sunday, July 6, 2008

From the Farm: Early Summer Bounty

Last weekend I picked up my first official CSA farm share of the summer growing season from the folks at Gazy Brothers Farm. Although they are located in Oxford, Connecticut, they attend the Saturday Farmers Market here in Fairfield, so it is easy and convenient for me to pick up my share. (For those of you not familiar with CSAs, read my blog post describing how it works)

I was given a large plastic bag (reusable each week), and the Gazys proceeded to fill it to capacity with all sorts of veggies. "Carrots or beets?" "Head lettuce or Romaine?" "Zucchini or Yellow Squash?" I ended up with a gorgeous variety of goods from the garden, including broccoli, scallions, tomatoes, fresh herbs, greens, and radishes. I also got a fruit share, which in June is strawberries, which barely made it home without me digging into the bag!

The first night cooking with my fresh veggies, I made a simple stir fry using the broccoli and carrots, plus a few leftover veggies I'd cut up for a crudites platter the day before. I tossed the vegetables with some rice noodles and a basic stir fry sauce from an old Williams-Sonoma cookbook I've used for years.

The next night I was grilling, so decided to also grill the zucchini and summer squash (they ended up giving me both varieties instead of making me choose!). By brushing the halved squash with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, they caramelize nicely on the cooking grates and also have great flavor. The green and yellow colors look fantastic together, and make a simple, no-fuss side dish which can be cooked right along side whatever else you're grilling.

The strawberries never made it into any sort of recipe, because my family devoured them just as nature intended----freshly picked and right off the stem. There is nothing like a just-picked summer strawberry. The thought of those massively sized, tasteless, white-under-the stem things that make their way to the grocery store in mid-winter don't even deserve to be called strawberries. These berries are the real deal.

I can't wait to see what awaits me from the farm next week !

Farmers Market Stir Fry

Serves 4

1- 14 oz package rice stick pasta

3 tablespoons canola oil (or vegetable oil)

1 bunch carrots (about 5 medium), sliced

1 medium bunch broccoli, crowns only

2 bell peppers (red, yellow or orange), sliced

8 oz sugar snap peas
1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced

1 scallion, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon chili oil

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add rice sticks (I like my wide "everyday pan" like this one, but you can also use a wok). Cook approximately 8 minutes, or until soft. Drain pasta and set aside.

Return the pan to the stove and add 3 tablespoons of canola oil and heat until hot but not smoking. Add carrots, broccoli, peppers and snap peas and stir frequently while cooking. Allow to cook for approximately five minutes, or until veggies are crisp-tender.

In a measuring cup, add minced garlic, ginger, scallion, soy sauce and chili oil. Stir to combine.

Add the cooked noodles to the pan with the veggies, and then add the stir fry sauce. Cook for about one minute, while tossing everything together.

Serve hot.

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