Everyone received sweet Italian chard, radishes, garlic scapes, and cucumbers this week. To complete your share, you chose from the following: lettuce, salad mix, cauliflower, broccoli, artichokes, new potatoes, kale/collards, spinach, braising mix, Chinese cabbage, polenta, roasting squash, zucchini, and peas.
This variety of chard is quite tender and I cut it when the leaves are young and so the stems are also small. You can eat this raw as you would spinach, and if you weren’t paying attention, you probably wouldn’t notice much of a difference in taste. It also sautees nicely. For a farmer and a cook, this variety is exciting both in the field and on the table. I hope you enjoy it. If you are looking for a simple light dish, cut the chard into ribbons and dress with a combination of lemon juice, pulverized juniper berries and olive oil (1 lemon and a 1/2 tsp of ground berries to a 1/2 cup of oil). Wait 30 minutes and combine this with thinly sliced apples and dried fruit (raisins or cranberries work nicely). Salt to one’s taste and serve cold.
These cucumbers are a treat, sweet and without bitterness. I enjoy these just by themselves, but with all of this hot weather, I have been using them in cucumber salads. The first I made a salad by roasting garlic scapes (they would be better grilled if you have this option) and combining the chopped scapes with cucumber and radish. I made a simple lemon vinaigrette, added some of our goat cheese to the chopped vegetables, and then folded in the vinaigrette. So good.
I have been thinking of India lately, and I remembered the pickles my host mother would make for us. So I stopped by an Indian grocer on a drive home one day and purchased a jar of mango pickles. If you have never had them, they are different from anything we have in our cuisine. The sourness and sweetness is predictable, but the heat, the mix of spices, and the funk (like preserved lemons in this way) is really memorable. I took two tablespoons of the pickle along with two or three diced cucumbers and a few radishes, a 1/2 cup of yogurt, and some salt and stirred well. Let the salad sit for 15 minutes to marinade and eat at room temperature. A sort of mangle pickle raita. We ate it with Greek potato salad, some halibut, and an assortment of grilled vegetables. We were kings that night!
Finally, the radishes and garlic scapes. The radishes combine heat with sweetness, and I don’t mind them sliced thinly and just tossed in a little vinegar and salt. We have also been tucking them into salads for their texture. One of our members remarked on how she had had them with goat cheese and crackers. The scapes taste like mild garlic and can be used in the same places as them. However, they have such a different texture than proper garlic that I would encourage you to savor them in their own right rather than using them as seasoning. My best suggestion for these: marinade with a little soy sauce, olive oil, and vinegar and grill them.
Take care and eat well.