Posts Tagged ‘potomac vegetable farms’

At Market: What to Make with Garlic Scapes

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

It warms my heart around this time each year when my old garlic scape recipes suddenly see a spike in traffic — because it means people are hitting the farmers markets and trying something new. Garlic scapes, or curls, as our CSA farm calls them, are one of those things you won’t find in the grocery store.

garlic scapes

The early shoots of the garlic plant, they pack a potent punch and crisp bite. I like to thinly slice them and toss ‘em in salads or scrambled eggs. Garlic scape pesto is a classic and easy way to jazz up pasta or chicken salad. My garlic scape chimichurri makes a great topping for grilled bison steaks. You can throw the whole scape on the grill, too. I’ve even quickly blanched them, cut into 1-inch pieces, and frozen them for stir-fry use later in the year. And I keep meaning to make garlic scape vinegar (perfect for salad dressings) — maybe this year I’ll finally get to it.

How do you like your scapes? Do you grow your own garlic?

kohlrabi broccoli and greens

I made a quick stop at the Falls Church Farmers Market this past weekend for Memorial Day grilling supplies, where I spotted the scapes pictured above. There were a couple other new arrivals at market this week, including kohlrabi nearly as large as bowling balls, broccoli and sugar snap peas a plenty. Coming soon: English peas and sour cherries.

CSA Sign Up Season is Here

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

farm stand at PVFRegardless of whether you believe the groundhog’s prediction of an early spring, your local farmers are gearing up for spring plantings. And you can help by signing up for a farm share, or “CSA.” (CSA = community supported agriculture.) If you’ve incorporated a weekly (or more) farmers market trip into your routine, joining a CSA lets you take your relationship with your local farmers to the next level — signing up up front to share in the farm’s produce for the season.

Of course, CSA membership is not for everyone — if you like to have total control over your weekly menu and don’t deal well with surprises, or just can’t bear the thought of getting kale or chard seemingly every single week, you may not be the best candidate for a CSA membership. (Personally, I split the difference — a half share to replenish the produce crisper midweek, but still shop the markets on most weekends.)

If you live in the DC/Northern Virginia area, here are a few well-regarded CSAs you may wish to check out:

  • Potomac Vegetable Farms — Our CSA, they grow “eco-ganic” produce on the last remaining working farm in Fairfax County, just minutes from Tysons Corner, as well as on a larger farm in Loudoun County. They also have an arrangement with Next Step Produce and another local farm to supplement their offerings during the season. (Registration for new members opens Feb. 15, and fills up quickly so act fast!)
  • Food Matters CSA — If you’ve eaten at Food Matters in Alexandria’s West End, you’ve already sampled the producers who supply the restaurant’s CSA. This CSA is technically a buying group, as the restaurant sources the products from a variety of well-vetted local sources. This means more variety for you, including local honey and cheeses. They do not deliver; you’ll need to pick up your share at the restaurant each Saturday.
  • Bull Run Mountain Vegetable Farm — a chemical/pesticide-free farm in The Plains, delivers to Alexandria, Falls Church and DC.
  • Great Country Farms — Great Country offers u-pick and many weekend festivals throughout the year, and a number of options for CSA pickup/delivery (including a monthly payment plan).

inspecting the week's haul

Most of these CSAs require sign-up by the end of February, so if you’re thinking about taking the plunge this year, please act quickly! And if you’re outside the area, check out Local Harvest to find a CSA farm near you.

Any CSA veterans out there? What did you love, or not, about your experience?

Support Farmer Heinz (and a Sunchoke Soup Recipe)

Friday, January 7th, 2011

A local Maryland farm, Next Step Produce, recently lost their boiler room in a fire. They lost $1600 worth in seeds in the fire and are unable to heat their greenhouses until the boiler room is rebuilt. Read more about the situation here, or go to FreshFarm Markets’ website to make a contribution to the “Help Heinz Fund.” Not only is farmer Heinz a fixture at the Dupont Circle FreshFarm market, but his organic produce is also distributed through our CSA in a crop-sharing arrangement. Below is a favorite recipe from the FoodieTots archives using one of the ingredients I was first introduced to by Heinz, sunchokes. My toddler, then just two-and-a-half, eagerly sampled a sunchoke handed to him by Heinz at the market — and if I remember correctly, sampled this soup as well.

~

Sunchokes, also known as Jerusalem artichokes, look very similar to ginger root, but when you begin to peel them they offer an intensely concentrated artichoke aroma. Raw, they have the texture of a water chestnut, but taste sweeter and nuttier. They are a member of the tuber farm and are packed with iron and potassium. They aid in digestion and store carbs as inulin, not starch, making them an ideal substitute for potatoes. The farmer suggested roasting them or serving raw in a salad, but I’ve had sunchoke soup on the mind since Ramona’s post in the spring. This simple soup lets their flavor shine. I added mushrooms which added to the earthy flavor, but you can omit them.

Recipe: Creamy Sunchoke Soup
Adapted from Thomas Keller

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound sunchokes
  • 1 leek, white part and an inch of the green portion, rinsed well
  • 1/2 cup maitake mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup cream

Instructions: Peel and thinly slice the sunchokes. (They are a little tricky to peel, so go carefully.) Slice the leek cross-wise into thin strips. Coarsely chop the mushrooms. Melt butter in stock pot over medium low heat. Add sunchokes and leeks and cook until they are translucent, about 8 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook 2 minutes more. Season with white pepper and salt, and stir in chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and puree in blender or with stick blender until smooth.  Stir in cream, warm over low heat for two minutes, then remove from heat and serve. Makes 4 servings. Enjoy!

Farms of Origin: Organic sunchokes and leek, Next Step Produce and maitake from the Mushroom Lady, Dupont Circle Farmers Market. Butter from South Mountain Creamery.

– originally posted 12/09/08

How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Pureé

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Happy October! While I may spend my Septembers pretending summer isn’t over, October 1st is officially time to bring out the Halloween decorations, head to the apple orchards and pumpkin fields, and begin the fall baking season. And nothing says fall like pumpkin … bread, muffins, pie, cheesecake, there is no shortage of ways to enjoy my favorite fall flavor. While the recent canned pumpkin shortage is reportedly over, I still prefer to avoid BPA-contaminated canned foods and make my own pumpkin pureé. It’s really quite simple, and one good sized pumpkin will make enough to last through the fall. Naturally the best place to begin is at the farmers market, where you can find all sorts of unique and flavorful pie pumpkins — I’ve had good success with the Cushaw and Cinderella pumpkins pictured below. Just ask your farmer which variety he or she recommends for baking.

You can also likely find something labeled a pie or sugar pumpkin at the grocery store right now, which is where I picked up this little pie pumpkin.

To begin, use a sharp knife to cut off the stem and then halve the pumpkin.

Use a spoon to scrape out the pumpkin guts. Added bonus of baking your own pumpkin pureé? Pumpkin seeds, which you must save, wash and roast. We’ll come back to that.

Place your cleaned pumpkin halves cut side down on a parchment-paper lined rimmed baking sheet.

Bake at 400 degrees for 50 minutes to an hour, until pumpkin is soft to the touch.

Remove from the oven and let cool. Then scoop out the baked flesh, and divide it into one cup portions. Freeze what you’re not using right away, and just thaw a portion in the refrigerator whenever you’re ready to bake.

Now about those seeds. Once dry, toss them with a tablespoon of melted butter or olive oil and your favorite seasoning combination — cinnamon and sugar, cumin and chili pepper, smoked paprika, etc. Roast at 400 degrees for 7 to 9 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure they brown evenly. Remove from oven, let cool and enjoy!

What’s your favorite pumpkin treat?

In the Bag: Baked Ratatouille

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

It’s been a while since I’ve shared what we’ve been getting in our CSA bag, from Potomac Vegetable Farms. Of course tomatoes were the star over the past month or so, along with lots of beans, onions and garlic. Oddly, we went for three weeks without a zucchini, only to get two small ones last week. And of course now that my own, once-prolific basil succumbed in our last crushing heat wave, we aren’t getting it from the CSA either. As summer winds down, we continue to get peppers and squash (though summer squash is giving way to butternut), and eggplant.

Now I find eggplant quite lovely to look out, but they’ve been piling up in my fridge as I lacked the motivation to make something with them. I finally decided to try a ratatouille and searched the food blogs for inspiration. I came across this one from Smitten Kitchen, inspired by the movie. Well, duh. If a rat could make something delicious out of it, surely I could. Unfortunately the movie endorsement didn’t hold much sway with the boy, who declared that “only rats eat ratatouille!” I happened to find it quite delicious, with the addition of some cherry tomatoes from our garden and freshly-grated parmesan cheese. And aside from slicing the vegetables (which you can do earlier in the day, if you have time), it’s relatively fast as you simply arrange the sliced squash, peppers and eggplant in the baking dish, season, and toss in the oven. Make a side salad while it cooks and voila, a simple meatless supper to savor the waning days of summer. Enjoy!

Recipe: Baked Ratatouille
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano (unless you have fresh on hand)
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (plus more to oil baking dish)

Instructions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush shallow baking dish with olive oil. Thinly slice the zucchini, eggplant and pepper. In the baking dish, spread tomato sauce on the bottom. Add garlic, and a pinch of salt. Over the sauce, arrange alternating slices of zucchini, pepper and eggplant in rows across the dish. Season with another pinch of salt and pepper.

Sprinkle oregano over vegetables, then tuck cherry tomato halves in between the rows. Drizzle olive oil over the top. Cover with a piece of parchment paper, trimmed to fit inside the pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until vegetables are tender when pricked with a fork. Remove from oven and sprinkle parmesan cheese over top. Serve warm or cold. Makes 4 servings.


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