Mels Box – Week 1

I was really excited for the first week of our CSA box, especially because the contents were shared with us a few days before pickup. This is a new feature for us this year and it’s great. A big help with meal planning.

Here’s what we received last week and what I made with it.

Fennel: I have to admit, this one threw me for a bit of a loop. I’ve never cooked with fennel before, though I have used the fronds lots for garnish. It turns out fennel is really easy to cook with and the great thing is you can use the whole plant. I braised the bulb with moose sausage and new potatoes for a dinner that my husband and I dubbed “The Trifecta”. The farmers provided the fennel, my husband hunted the moose, and I grew the potatoes. The stalks went into a coleslaw and the fronds were used for garnish and salads.

fennel bulb

Braising Mix:   A mix of hearty greens like kale, spinach, mustard greens, collards and such that sauté and braise well. I sautéed them with garlic and red pepper flakes, which is one of my favorite ways to cook them. A mix like this would also be a good way to up the nutritional ante of a soup or tomato-based pasta dish.

Cauliflower:   Although it was hot this week, I chose to roast the cauliflower. I cut it into one inch pieces, tossed it with olive oil and chili powder, then baked at 400 °C for 30 minutes. I had a yam to use up, so it went in the oven too. These two items provided us with a quick snack for a few afternoons, but ultimately got mixed together with some peas (from the freezer, not this week’s box) as a salad.

Daikon Radish: These guys were big! And we got two of them. One went into a coleslaw with some of the chard, the fennel stalks, and a carrot that was in need of a home. I admit, it wasn’t my best creation. The other one I sliced up and stir-fried with the pea shoots. They were so good. Just a bit of soy and garlic for flavor was all that was needed. They were the perfect accompaniment for some teriyaki salmon we cooked on the barbecue.

Garlic Scapes: This time last year I had just received garlic scapes for the first time and wasn’t sure what to do with them. Now I can’t get enough. I even grew some of my own this year! This week’s batch was made into a pesto. I froze half and used the rest in a pasta with this week’s garden peas and some cherry tomatoes I had kicking around. The pesto also worked well as seasoning in a frittata and was a welcome addition, straight-up on crostini, at a get-together with the neighbours. Scapes should be at your farmers market for the next few weeks. If you are a garlic lover I encourage you to give them a try.

Lettuce: A crisp head of lettuce that came in handy for an impromptu barbecue with the neighbours. I added some tomato, cucumber, pumpkin seeds, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Simple is good.

Peas: Few things beat fresh garden peas. I intended to use all of them in a pasta dinner – only half of them made it that far. The rest I ate while making dinner. Sorry Love.

Pea Shoots: Another first this week. Pea shoots have the same flavour as peas themselves. After a bit of research I discovered that they can be used cooked or raw anywhere you would add greens or peas.   I stir-fried them with the daikon and served with some teriyaki salmon. Delicious!

Swiss Chard: When I was a kid I hated my greens. Really, who didn’t? Now I am grown and things have changed. I won’t go as far as saying that I love them, but they are pretty darn good. I used most of the chard in a frittata and the rest got chopped up into ribbons for a coleslaw (that won’t make the repeat list).

What new vegetable have you tried lately? Is there anything new to you on this list?

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