Make Fennel Your New Favourite
Through out the years we've been told by friends and family that we are foodies.
It comes as a shock to us each time we hear it, as we find ourselves unworthy of such a title.
Don't get me wrong, after years of growing our own produce I've become a real veggie snob, walking through the produce isle with a permanent frown muttering "tsk, tsk".
No. The real reason we look like foodies has to do with the many friends who perhaps have been drawn to us because of our disdain for flavourless ingredients.
How do you know if your friends are foodies? Well, they prefer cooking at home as opposed to going to the restaurant, and always insist on making the whole meal themselves ("just show up, we've got it covered") even it if means that it took them all day to prep.
They don't even blink if you mention the term chiffonade, or julienne, have successfully started a sourdough starter from scratch and they never, ever buy salad dressing premade.
David and Saskia are exactly this type of friend, and we've been enjoying fine meals with them for quite a few years.
On one such occasion, David made something that I'll never forget, finocchio al vino bianco.
You see, up until this point I regarded fennel with suspicion, unsure of how to make it shine.
Spaghetti sauce was made more authentic and flavourful, but I felt like it was too safe for my adventurous spirit.
Orange-fennel salad was nice, but I drew tired of buying oranges when my garden was full of produce, and who has time to cut orange segments?
Braised fennel had everything going for it. It was comforting, packed with so much flavour due to the caramelization, and demanded very little of me.
Thank goodness for foodie friends who teach us just enough so that we become foodies by association ;)
Sweet Peppers In July!?
We oftentimes forget how spoiled we are to have two 96' hot houses for growing warm-season crops.
The tomatoes are almost ripe, the cucumbers are in full swing, and the peppers are just begging to be picked.
Not kidding. They are in full lean-over mode due to the abundance of fruit that are set on them. We have no choice but to do a mid-season trellis.
Incidentally, we are also going to share some with you this week :)
An easy way to eat peppers at this time of year is to simply grill them on the barbecue and eat them as a side dish. You can also amp the fanciness level a tiny bit with olive oil and salt. And don't just fire up the bbq for the pepper, add the scapes too!
Another warm-day option is to make burrito bowls, think tex-mex stir-fry atop a grain such as quinoa or rice. We play with our bowls quite a bit, ranging the flavour from indian to asian, but I think that the burrito bowl is my favourite.
Don't feel like cooking up grains? Just plop the above stir-fry into some sort of flat bread, put your feet up, and call it a day.
Mouth Agape For Garlic Scapes
Having a CSA share sometimes means discovering new things.
We're not talking cringe-worthy oddball ingredients ala Chopped, but rather, a gentle way to add new items to your culinary repertoire.
Last week you met our friend the kohlrabi, that unsung hero of the brassica world, ready to become a favourite crudité in a moments' notice.
You may even have been pleasantly surprised to discover a new favourite with the haskaps, french breakfast radishes, pac choi, and spring salad turnips.
Garlic scapes fit into that world of lovely new things.
So what are garlic scapes, anyway? They are the curly bit that grows out of the top of the garlic plant which eventually becomes the "flower" and produces bulbils, full of little garlic seeds.
The flavour is a bit more mellow than the bulb below, like the onion is to chive.
When immature, the scapes are a texture not unlike asparagus, and I usually recommend that you cook it as such.
I sometimes dice up the raw scapes to add to a coleslaw, giving it a bit of time to soften.
Other notable recipes include making a pesto out of the scapes, barbecuingthem dry or with oil, stir-fried, or sautéed.
Whatever dish you end up making, make sure to cut the tip of the scape before preparing (see photo above), as it is often too tough to chew through.
Com'mon Baby Carrots
As locavore foodies, it is sometimes REALLY hard to wait until something is available locally.
Especially if that something is carrots. After all, carrots are featured in so many delicious dishes, are tasty raw, and are healthy to eat.
Now I will admit to buying a few bags of carrots since we ran out of our home stash in early March, but these were acts of desperation tainted with regret.
And while early season carrots are nowhere near as sweet as their cool-season, fall counterparts, they still deliver that carroty goodness, and that's more than good enough for me.
So what's the best thing to do with mini carrots?
Eat them in an uncomplicated yet sophisticated fashion, perhaps with one pinky finger floating in the air, nibbling with an aristocratic air about you.
And if you want to honour them even further, make an amazing creamy basil dip to pair using, say, the basil you received last week, or the plant basil you will receive this week.
While you are at it, why not dip the radishes and kohlrabi too?
Because hot summer days need simple pleasures like crudités featuring carrots, basil and fresh, crunchy brassicas.