CSA 2008, Week Seven.

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
And whether pigs have wings.”

All right, so maybe that’s a smidge dramatic or odd, but what can I say — sometimes I like a bit of odd drama. The truth of the matter is that our weekly CSA box has gotten to be so big, that the time has come to take photographs of single items up close and personal. This week’s box had the following bona fide pile of incredible vegetables:

  • Beets
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Japanese eggplant
  • Parsely
  • Pepper
  • Tomato
  • Turnips
  • Salad mix
  • Scallions
  • Spicy salad mix (primarily of arugula and mizuna)

Here’s a picture of my gorgeous little turnips, some of which were barely the size of my thumbnail. This photograph came about when I was soaking these in a bowl in the sink; I was about to give each one a nice scrubbing and then dock their spindly tapered tails like a breeder with so many puppies, when I decided to take the shot. I thought the light was just so nice. Afterwards, I used a tried-and-true recipe that I’ve come to really enjoy, but with a few herb substitutions and the juice of one lemon. Both versions I thought were delicious, so if you’re going to try it out, I really urge you to think about adding lemon if you’ve got a liking for citrus the way I do.

Later in the week, I roasted the beets to toss in a salad with goat cheese, toasted walnuts, strawberries and a quick balsamic vinaigrette. I hadn’t ever used beets before, though for years I had read about using the juice as a dye for things such as paper and Easter eggs. I got the proof as to the permanence of their juice as I peeled and cubed the beets; not only were my hands stained, but so was my T-shirt. Luckily it was one I’ve never been overly fond of, but now it appears as though I have memento of my first foray into beet cookery.

Roasted Beets and Salads, adapted from Alice Waters‘s Chez Panisse Vegetables

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Remove the tops of the beets, leaving about half an inch of stem; wash the beets thoroughly and put them in a baking pan with a splash of water. Cover tightly with foil and bake for forty-five minutes to an hour, until they can be easily pierced through with a sharp knife. Uncover and allow to cool.
  2. Peel the beets and cut off their tops and bottom tails. (This is where you will inevitably stain your hands.) Cut the beets into halves or quarters, depending on their size; sprinkle generously with vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Add a pinch of sugar if the beets are at all bitter. Do not add any oil until the beets have sat for at least half an hour and have had a chance to absorb the flavor of the vinegar. Adjust the seasoning.

Prepared this way, the beets are ready to join other ingredients into a salad. The following are some suggestions for combinations:

  • Beets, sherry vinegar, orange zest, tarragon and crushed garlic.
  • Beets, sherry or balsamic vinegar, blood orange segments and mâche.
  • Beets, balsamic vinegar, shallots and toasted walnuts.

2 thoughts on “CSA 2008, Week Seven.

  1. I hope you also used the greens from the beets and turnips. Actually, when the turnips are that size, the farmer meant for you to consider those as turnip greens, not turnips. The little turnips are simply a ‘bonus’, and I usually cook them right in with the greens, halving or quartering the larger ones. Both beet greens and turnip greens are delicious cooked with ham, bacon or salt pork. There are also many other ways to use them.

  2. You know, I honestly don’t recall if these turnips came with the greens or where pre-cut; our CSA alternated between the two. During the course of our CSA run, I did cook assorted greens with bacon and garlic, and it was delicious. Then again, with bacon involved, how could it be otherwise?

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