09 August 2013

Tempted by the veggies of another...

Gorgeous late summer vegetables from Midnight Sun Farm

We have a pretty good garden each year, and this year is no exception: five different types of tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, dill, cilantro, lots of basil, thyme, rosemary, etc.  Pretty run-of-the-mill stuff.  Last year, our well-worn basics became so...well, extraordinarily well-worn.  With a tiny urban garden, it's hard to plant all the stuff we eat!  This year, we decided to liven things up a bit and join a CSA program through Midnight Sun Farm.  And esoterically speaking, we couldn't be happier!

CSA programs (community supported agriculture) are a way to get fresh, organic* vegetables direct from a local farm on a weekly basis.  In our case, a box of fresh produce is delivered to a pick-up point (our neighbors' house, who also happen to be the parents of one half of the Midnight Sun proprietorship) each Wednesday for 22 weeks, from early June until the end of October. 

A selection from early June with asparagus, lettuce, spinach, kohlrabi, green onions

The cool thing is, one never knows what's in the box each week until a few hours prior to delivery.  We've received everything from bok choi to purple kohlrabi to sweet corn- all of it incredible!  From a cook's perspective, each box brings an abundance of intriguing new possibilities.  I've cooked some amazing things that I never would've considered, like sautéed Swiss chard with dates and toasted wheat berries (both Swiss chard and wheat berries from Midnight Sun; recipe below).  I've also made old favorites, like roasted turnips and new potatoes with bacon, and pesto made from the fresh spring garlic and basil.  This week, we received sweet onions in our box, and tonight's menu will include a lentil and basmati rice dish, topped with fried sweet onions.  I'll let you know how it turns out next time.

Sweet onions, ready to be sliced and fried up proper!


Swiss chard with wheat berries and dates**

1.5 pounds of Swiss chard, washed
4 large shallots, peeled and sliced thin
Olive oil (to sauté)
1 cup of wheat berries, rinsed (may substitute farro or barley)
2 cups water
5 Medjool dates, chopped
1 1/2 cups of chicken stock (may substitute vegetable stock)
Salt and pepper

Remove the stalks from the Swiss chard and chop into 2-inch chunks.  Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan.  When hot, add the thinly-sliced shallots, and sauté until translucent.  Add the chopped dates.  Cook while stirring for 1 minute.  Add the Swiss chard and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the wheat berries, chicken stock, and salt and pepper.  Bring to a low simmer, then cover and cook for approximately 60 minutes.  The liquid should be cooked in when finished, and the Swiss chard and wheat berries should be tender.  Serve as a side dish, or as a main vegetarian dish.  May be topped with a bit of Greek yogurt.

*The produce from this farm is organic, but you should ask your farmer to be sure.

** This recipe is loosely based on another recipe: Swiss chard and wheat berries with pomegranate molasses, from Jerusalem, by Y. Ottolenghi and S. Tamimi. 


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