Week #37 2/09 & 12

This week your basket contains: Leeks, potatoes, beets, bok choi, Swiss chard, BELGIAN ENDIVE, and Delicata squash

In our never ending search for new winter crops to add to your baskets, we have been experimenting with Belgian endive.  These small, blanched heads, also called chicons, are tricky to get right. You start by growing a lettuce-like plant all summer long. In fall you harvest the roots (they look a bit like parsnips), and store them in a cooler or root cellar. Three weeks before you want the crop, you pack the roots in crates of moist potting soil and set them in a warm, completely dark room (any light will make the chicons turn green and bitter). We are not yet at the point where we have this whole process down, and have suffered a lot of losses at every step of the process. We do have at least one chicon for everyone today. It can be cut apart and added to salads, or used with your other greens in any recipe. We will try again, but like many things on the farm, it will be a full year before we get another crack at doing it right.

We are excited by the potatoes in your basket today. They come from Patrick Thiel of Prairie Creek Farm. He is the organic farmer we have worked with to supplement our winter storage potatoes. We started this relationship after polling our subscribers for their opinion about buying in storage potatoes. By doing this we are able to grow more summer crops like sweet corn in space that would otherwise need to be dedicated to potatoes to fill out our year. This week, he delivered these beautiful Huckleberry Gold potatoes. They have bright purple skin and yellow flesh and are good prepared just about any way. We hope you enjoy them.

This is a great recipe for this week’s veggies. While it calls for kale, it can be made with any and all of the greens in your basket including the beet greens.

KALE, LENTIL AND ROASTED BEET SALAD

3 leeks (ends trimmed, sliced lengthwise then chopped, thoroughly rinsed and dried)

1 beet (rinsed clean, dried and quartered – remove any rough skin)

1-2 Tbsp olive oil

1/4 tsp each salt and pepper

1/2 cup green lentils, rinsed clean

1 cup vegetable stock (or sub water)

4 big handfuls kale, baby spinach, or spring greens

TAHINI DRESSING

1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)

1/2 lemon, juiced

2 Tbsp maple syrup (or sweetener of choice)

3-4 Tbsp good olive oil

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and lightly grease a baking sheet. Once thoroughly rinsed, add lentils and stock or water to a small saucepan and bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat. Then reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes uncovered, or until all liquid is absorbed. Set aside. Add chopped leeks and beets to the baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat, then bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly browned. For crispier beets, remove leeks from pan and continue roasting beets for an additional 10-15 minutes (I prefer mine crispier). Set aside. While veggies and lentils are cooking, prepare dressing by adding all ingredients to a mixing bowl and whisking to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

If using kale, add to large mixing bowl with a bit of olive oil and lemon juice and massage with hands to soften. For all other greens, skip this step. Add greens, beets, leeks and lentils to a large mixing bowl, add dressing and toss to coat. For additional protein / crunch, add your favorite nut or seed (such as lightly salted sunflower seeds or roasted pecans). Leftovers keep for up to a few days, though best when fresh. From the Minimalist Baker

This being the season for soup, this is a good one to have in your lineup.

EASY MINESTRONE

1 medium onion or 2 leeks, chopped

3 (14 ounce) cans chicken broth

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes

1 (15 1/2 ounce) cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 (15 1/2 ounce) cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups chopped cooking greens

1/2 cup whole wheat pasta

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

salt & pepper, to your liking

In a large pot, cook onions in 3/4 cup broth, over medium high heat until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add another 1/2 cup broth and garlic. Cook for 5 more minutes. Stir in tomatoes, rest of broth, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, kale and pasta. Add Italian seasoning, rosemary red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer 10 to 12 minutes, or until pasta is tender. Season with salt and pepper before serving. Adapted from Food.com

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Belgian endive growing in crates

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