It's true that they say April showers bring May flowers...boy was that a long shower.
Well, the flowers have finally arrived, the leaves are popping, and the grass is green! CSA members have received our first flush of lush, delicious, healthy greens....arugula, salad mixes, leaf spinach and bunch spinach, sunflower sprouts, as well as braising mix, a medley of hardy greens packed and ready-to-cook. These typically feature a variety of kales and chards, and can include anything from dandelion greens to bok choi leaves....sometimes even carrot greens! Spring is the time to munch on nature's greens in any form to get as many antioxidants and vitamins to make up for that sunless, green-less winter. In our case, it's been months of roast turnips and winter squash! Nice to get a splash of green in our meals these days.
Echollective's first week of market went swell! It was quite evident that market-goers were poised and ready to pounce on the season's first asparagus shoots....we sold out in an hour on Wednesday! We sold out our table completely on Saturday with the exception of some garlic and other things. People simply swarmed in for greens and asparagus.
No changes to CSA pickups this week....they will remain the same. It hasn't really been our intent to confuse you this much while getting you your delicious vegetables. We hope you are happy to be among the first to be getting the freshest, tastiest organic greens you can get in the Iowa City area. Only two weeks of Spring CSA remain!
"What should we expect?":
- Braising Mix
- Salad Mix
- Stinging Nettles
- Spring Radishes
- ....and possibly more!
Yep, it's the return of those crazy stinging nettles again. Don't be alarmed! The very same plant you try to avoid on your beautiful hikes (or that inadvertently ruins a nice hike when you bump into it) is one of the most highly nutritional vegetables on land; the most nutritional green after seaweed! (That's right...for you sushi lovers, it's time to try making sushi with nettle leaves.) It is probably even more nutritious than your spinach....well, maybe that's stretching it. Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) is the highest source of iodine in any land-bound plant, which is imperative to healthy liver function. Not to mention stinging nettles are chock-full of vitamins A, B and C, iron, calcium, magnesium....the list goes on.
No, we are not saying to take the Stinging Nettle out of your box and immediately chew on it. That would hurt. Traditionally, stinging nettles are boiled or sauteed immediately after picking, like spinach. In the process, they lose their sting. You may also dry nettles and save the dried herb for a hot tea. We will include delicious recipes on how to prepare stinging nettles to your liking! If you have any further questions about stinging nettles, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I should add, we had a delicious lunch the other day of cooked ground venison mixed with sauteed stinging nettles, with rice and beans in a tortilla. We eat nettles out here, too!
In some brief farm news, any time we have not been picking, packing, and washing veggies for CSA, market, restaurants and Co-ops, we have been planting, planting, planting! Onions, leeks, broccoli, kale, lettuces, greens. Quite soon here we will be putting our first tomatoes in the ground!
Well, take care everybody and enjoy the week's bounty. See you at market!
Spring Lasagna with Asparagus, Peas and Stinging Nettles
A Recipe from TheBittenWord.com, with inspiration from Martha Stewart Living and Gourmet
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 pounds asparagus, trimmed
- 1 medium white onion, diced
- 5 cups loose stinging nettle leaves (see note); baby spinach can be substituted
- 2 cups fresh or frozen peas
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 4 ounces mild goat cheese
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 lemons, very thinly sliced
- 12 no-boil lasagna noodles
Note on preparing stinging nettles: Wearing gloves, place fresh nettles on a cutting board. Separate the leaves from the stalk. You can use the stems and leaves from the top 6 or 8 leaves on each stalk. You can also use the lower leaves, but discard the thicker stems as well as the main stalk, as they will be too thick and ready to eat.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare stinging nettle leaves (see note above), and prepare asparagus: Cut the tips off of each asparagus spear and reserve them. Then cut asparagus spears into 1/2-inch pieces and set aside.
In a large saucepan over medium high heat, cook sausage, breaking up pieces, until no longer pink, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to paper towel-lined plate.
Into same saucepan, add 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, then the pieces of asparagus spears. Sauté asparagus until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
Add remaining olive oil to pan, then add diced onion and sauté until just softened and beginning to turn golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add stinging nettle leaves and sauté until wilted and cooked through, about 3 more minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Cover lemon slices with cold water by 3 inches in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 7 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate using a slotted spoon.
Make the roux: Melt butter in a different saucepan over high heat. Stir in flour; cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in milk. Bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat. Simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Whisk in Parmesan and goat cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Spread 1/4 cup of the roux in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, then top with a layer of noodles. Top with sautéed asparagus, half the sausage, one third of the remaining roux, and another layer of noodles. Top that with sautéed nettles and onions, peas, half the remaining roux, half the lemon slices, the remaining sausage and another layer of noodles. Arrange the remaining lemon slices and the reserved asparagus tips on the top layer, then pour on the remaining roux.
Cover dish with parchment-lined aluminum foil and bake 28 minutes, until top is golden and bubbly. (You may want to finish it under a broiler for 2 minutes.) Let stand 10 minutes.
Sauteed Nettles with Green Garlic & Olive Oil (www.mariquita.com)
Created by: Armando "Tiny" Maes
- 1 ¼ # Nettles, Cleaned
- 3T Green Garlic (Chopped)
- 1/2 cup Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper (To Taste)
First preheat a large sauté pan on medium high heat, (one large enough to accommodate the nettles, you can even use a large pot as well). Second pour ¼ cup of the olive oil into the preheated pan. Then put all of the green garlic into the pan sauté briefly for about 30 seconds, just enough time for the green garlic to release its essential oils, being sure not to brown or burn the green garlic. Place the nettles into the pan and give it a good stir, let sit for just a second and then continue the stirring process. Once the nettles are completely wilted place them on a plate, drizzle with the rest of the olive oil and place a couple of lemon wedges for garnish.
Note: The nettles do not have the water content like spinach or other similar greens. So it might help to put a couple Tablespoons of water into the pan after the nettles have started cooking, just to hurry the cooking process. Myself I do not put the water, because I like the texture of the nettles when you sauté them. It is like little crispy nettle leaves and it also brings about a certain nuttiness.
Potato Nettle Soup (www.mariquita.com)
- 2 cups Nettle Leaves (young shoots)
- 1 Onion
- 6 small Potatoes
- 8 cups Water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp. Parsley
- 3 cloves Garlic OR 3 stalks green garlic
Puree onion, garlic, and nettles with 1 cup of water. Cut potatoes into small pieces. Simmer pureed mixture with potatoes and remaining water for 45 minutes or until tender. Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes making the soup thick and creamy.
Please tell us if you can't identify something on the market table, don't know what to do with a particular item, have a food allergy we should know about, or if you have other questions or comments. We love to hear from you!