CSA week #4, photo by Donna

OK, things are starting to roll a little faster here.  Delighted this week to see peas in our CSA haul!  Still a helluva lot of lettuce (which, truth be told, my belly needs a little a more of).  We were a little disappointed in week three, when some of the lettuces had rotty ends, suggesting they’d been picked many days before.  Be critical and tell your CSA farmers if you’re not happy with the product.  Remember that just because they’re local farmers, doesn’t mean they’re perfect.  As with any craft, there is a range of quality of finished product, depending on how it’s grown and, critically, how it’s handled after it’s picked.  (A friend asked me recently what CSA stands for, so it bears repeating: community supported agriculture.) Usually the farmers are happy to try to do better; it’s already really hard work as it is, they certainly don’t want that hard work to go to waste any more than you do.

How I’ve used the abundance beyond salad:

Past two weeks have seen chard, which I’ve sauteed with onion and garlic, seasoned with salt and pepper and finished with a hit of red wine vinegar at the end. Would love to hear how others cook chard.

Kohlrabi.  I absolutely love this raw and since there haven’t been many, I cut them into batons and eat them with salt.  Try them radish-style with butter and coarse salt.

Roasted beets for a tried and true beet-goat-cheese-walnut salad (I fried the walnuts in canola and used this oil for the vinaigrette).

For your radishes, instead of eating raw, try sauteing them lightly in butter an serving on risotto.  Cooked, they’re excellent, especially the super peppery ones.

Cauliflower, broccoli, potatoes!  No problem with these!

Spring Potatoes with Tarragon and Chives

I love this technique for new potatoes.  It takes advantage of the fresh herbs that are now in full bloom and can be made up to an hour before serving (gently reheat, serve warm, not piping hot). I believe it’s important to cook potatoes gently, so poach rather than boil (unless you’ve got hungry kids giving you the evil eye, in which case, boil away).

1 pound beautiful potatoes (any variety of thin-skinned potato)

2 ounce butter or to taste

plenty of salt, to taste

freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh, lightly chopped tarragon

1 tablespoon minced chives

olive oil to taste (optional)

Cover the potatoes with water and bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium low; water can be at an infrequent bubble (just avoid rolling boil that knocks them around), 20-30 minutes.

When they’re tender (pierce with a knife, take one out and cut it and taste it if you’re unsure), strain them, allow them to cool till you can handle them and peel them (again, if you’re in a hurry, you don’t have to peel, they’re just better if you do). Cut them as desired.

Melt the butter in the same pan you cooked the potatoes in, add the salt and pepper, swirl, add the potatoes, stir gently to coat with butter, add the tarragon and chives, and stir to distribute the herbs.  Taste.  Add a tablespoon of very flavorful olive oil if desired, more salt if needed.  Cover until ready to serve.  Gently reheat if you want.