Friday, April 12, 2013

A few new ways to eat parsnips

In the shoulder season of early spring, the pickings for fresh food can be slim some weeks. You might find an overwintered green which has survived and has started to regrow, like kale under mulch, but it grows slowly, and you wait and wait while cheering it on. You might have an overwintered bed of arugula which wants to bolt and get bitter every time you turn around...and it finally gets away from you. You might pick a planting of spinach hard on a sunny day, only to have it turn cloudy and cold for the next few days, which slows down the regrowth. Or you might get so excited about your pea shoots that you mow them all down and then have none to eat for the next week! I'm not saying it's always like this on Whatley Farm, but we're learning as we grow, and every year is different. What you need to have in your toolbox if you want to eat local year-round and savor the season are lots of different ways to prepare the same vegetables. Today I'll share a few new ways to eat parsnips.

At Thanksgiving last year, we had a Parsnip Gratin which was wonderful. The recipe was provided by Sylvia   Fountaine on her Feasting at Home blog (also the beautiful photo of the dish you see here). Click here to see the recipe for Parsnip Gratin with Gruyere and Thyme. If you look around on Sylvia's blog you'll find lots of other nice recipes using seasonal produce, including this one which we want to try for Roasted Parsnip Soup.

Parsnips can be mashed, roasted, grated into salad or slaw. Each time, parsnips carry the frosty sweetness of winter along with the vitality of spring growth. It is a flavor to look forward to every spring, and when they're gone, they're gone, so enjoy them while you can!

We'll also have a baby spring salad mix, baby spinach, and eggs. So even in a time of slim pickings, we can enjoy great salads, omelettes, and parsnips--let us count the ways in which we love you! Hope to see you later at the Topsham Fairgrounds for the Midcoast Winter Farmers Market, from 1-6 PM--

Friday, April 5, 2013

Pea shoots and Parsnip candy

Today we have two new sweet and wholesome offerings for the Midcoast Winter Farmers Market, which is held as always from 1-6 PM at the Topsham Fairgrounds:

Early this morning Ben harvested Sugar Snap Pea shoots from the greenhouse--cool, clean, and crisp. They make a great snack, a salad addition (mix with our baby spinach and microgreens), or stir fry (just for a minute or two, with garlic and sesame oil). Pea shoots have long been a star of Asian cuisine, but they are new to U.S. farmers' markets. They are full of fresh pea flavor and rich with nutrients. Their juicy stems, soft leaves and delicate tendrils hold the promise of spring!

Ben also dug parsnips fresh from the soil--they came out with frost on them, but that makes all the difference with parnsips, which need the good long freeze of winter to develop their sweetness. These are crunchy and sweet like no other vegetable "candy," and well worth the wait. Supply is limited, so get them while you can. We will be digging them fresh for the next week or two until they are gone.

We will also have baby spinach, and our microgreens mix for salad or snacking. Now is the time to treat your body to fresh, nutrient-dense vegetables after a long winter. Hope to see you later!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Microgreens for an oh-so-fine spring salad

The table at Whatley Farm is set. To start, a super-fresh salad of microgreens with just a little vinaigrette. You can taste the life in these young sprouts which give you strength and vitality. For the main course, maybe some turnip greens with bacon and onion over rice, a spinach lasagna, pasta with arugula and sun-dried tomato, or a fried eggplant tomato sauce with stewed onions and angel hair. While there isn't anything coming out of the garden for dessert at this point, the freezer does provide wild blueberries, which we saute in butter, then flame with Cold River gin and serve over vanilla ice cream with sea salt sprinkled on top (Ben actually did this, it tastes incredible). When your fridge is full of fresh greens, and your freezer contains some treats from last summer, it's easy to throw something together which is nutritious and delicious.

Those beautiful little babies in the picture are our microgreens--an extra-baby sized salad leaf of mixed greens--and they make a nice spring salad. Inside your bag you'll find frilly purple mustard and mizuna, hon tsai tai, tatsoi, yukina savoy, micro-arugula and more, and you'll find it for sale today at the Midcoast Winter Farmers Market, from 1-6 PM at the Topsham Fairgrounds.

We'll also have fresh baby spinach, arugula, braising greens mix, turnip greens, garlic, shallots, and some of our dry beans.

Our fridge is stocked with convenient, ready-to-eat salad and cooking greens. Is yours? Come stock up today from 1-6 PM at the Topsham Fairgrounds--the Whatleys

Friday, March 22, 2013

Arugula for Lasagna, or whatever you ask of it.

Arugula (aka Rocket, Eruca sativa) is a versatile salad and cooking green, and it is the latest and greatest on Whatley Farm this week. Pictured above is a mixed mustard green lasagna which we ate last night, which included arugula in the filling (and has some fresh arugula on top to show you what we're bringing to market this week).

Arugula makes a tasty, simple pasta dish wilted with olive oil, parmesan, and pepper (and tomatoes when you have them) , or a salad with balsamic vinaigrette. Here is a link to a recipe for Arugula Salad with Shaved Parmesan and Balsamic Vinaigrette. You can cook some bacon and onion, and wilt down a pound of arugula for a nice side dish. It's good and good for you, and so you should use it liberally--greens at every meal! We'll have a lot of it at the Midcoast Winter Farmers Market today (1-6 PM at the Topsham Fairgrounds) for a fair price, and anyways, better to pay the farmer now than pay the doctor later, am I right?

We will also have our fresh spinach, garlic, shallots, dry beans, and eggs. Hope to see you there--

Friday, March 15, 2013

Fresh salad and braising greens for Hortopita and more...

The latest and greatest this week is the return of these fresh salad and braising greens like Arugula, Hon Tsai Tai, Tatsoi, Mizuna, Ruby Streaks, and Pink Lettuce-y Mustard. Like the spinach, they were established in the fall and picked down to crowns before Christmas. Now, with longer days and warmer temperatures inside the hoophouse, they're back, if only for a little while (they keep wanting to bolt, and if we don't keep them picked down, they just might when we're not looking). Suffice it to say that we've been gorging on these greens this week--Steamed and dressed with hot pepper vinegar, wilted with sausage and risotto, thrown in a turkey and mushroom soup, and...the greatest revelation, mixed with spinach in Hortopita, which is just like Spanakopita with the addition of horta (spicy or bitter greens) to the spinach. I found the recipe in the Meditteranean diet cookbook, which is a little lengthy to paste in here (2 whole pages), but if you look up any spanakopita recipe, and just use about half spinach and half braising greens, you'll be set. We'll be bringing other recipes to the market this week for braising greens, and remember that they make a tasty, healthy salad too! You can see we had a big bowl of them, ourselves.

We'll be at the market today with a good supply of both spinach and braising greens, so come on down for the best deal around on fresh organic greens! 1-6 PM at the Topsham Fairgrounds Exhibition Hall.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Return of Greens, feat. Spinach

Spinach is here again after a deep winter dormancy, and it's now in full-swing. With the protection of our 30' x 48' Rolling Thunder Hoophouses, it was able to harvested into December after a September planting, left alone in January, and now we're all getting our iron again, and enjoying delicious spinach recipes (see below). You can get a great deal from us on a big bag of spinach at the Midcoast Winter Farmers Market in Topsham (Fridays 1-6 at the Fairground Exhibition Hall)), through the Kennebec Local Food Initiative online marketplace, the Long Branch Buying Club in Bowdoinham. It also available in bulk at Morning Glory Natural Foods in Brunswick. Our garlic and shallots are also available through all of those outlets right now.

Sauteed Spinach with shallots

1/2 lb fresh spinach
1 large shallot, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
3 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp ground coriander (or for, fullest flavor, use toasted, fresh-ground coriander seed)
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper to taste

Wash Spinach and allow to drain (a little water on the leaves will help it wilt).
Melt butter over medium heat. Add shallot, coriander, and red pepper flakes.
Saute 2-3 minutes.
Increase heat to medium-high. Add spinach, a handful at a time, tossing with tongs for a few seconds to allow to cook down a bit before adding the next handful. Cook, tossing or stirring, about 2 minutes until wilted and bright green.
Season to taste.

And, when the rich, nutty taste of spinach in butter, creamed spinach, spinach lasagna, spanikopita and so forth has satisfied you and you're wanting a change, as I was the other night, try it Mediterranean-style with lemon!

Sauteed Spinach with garlic and lemon

1/2 lb fresh spinach
2 Tbsp olive oil
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
juice of one lemon

Wash spinach and allow to drain (a little water on the leaves will help it wilt).
Saute garlic in oil over low heat for about 2 minutes. Add salt.
Increase heat to medium. Add spinach, a handful at a time, tossing with tongs for a few seconds to allow to cook down a little before adding the next handful. Cook, tossing or stirring, about 2 minutes until wilted and bright green.
Toss with lemon juice. Season to taste.

Spinach with lemon or vinegar could be thought of as a way of making the transition from hearty, rich winter fare to the cleansing aspect of springs greens prepared more lightly. It reminds us of eating beet greens or swiss chard with vinegar in the spring and summer. It's helpful to be able to change it up, flavor-wise, when spinach is the best (and only) green going! Soon we'll have many choices for salad and cooking greens. We'll keep you posted here.

-The Whatleys