It is possible that my most notable accomplishment between the ages of 6 and 10 was precocious use of the word "crepuscular." It is also possible that while using it during those years to describe animals such as crocodiles with which it has a relationship more alliterative than factual I was fully unaware of the loveliness of the hour it denotes. I mention it now because it is at this time of year that my waking hours most closely correspond to the hours of daylight, and I find myself rising each morning and later preparing for sleep in the same degree of crepuscular twilight. These mid-July days are long and hot, but I feel eased through them by their bookends, the hour when the sky grows light and the hour when the sky grows dark. And I feel grateful for the opportunity to work in a way that allows me to feel attuned to the full progress of each day, to know that the cool air of a hot day's early morning is a refreshment that will return to us at day's end, and to know that the gradations of color between dark and blue in a brightening sky will be repeated in reverse as the same sky dims. And that's all. At this time of year I like to wake up early and go to bed early: A short thought for a warm season.
The share this week:
Green Curly Kale
Red or Chioggia Beets
Summer Squash / Zucchini
You-Pick Sugar Snap Peas
Notes about the food:
* With apologies to those whose appreciation of these summertime staples is more nuanced than my own, I use summer squash and zucchini interchangeably. We will occasionally offer them as separate items, but more often they will be grouped together in the share and you will have your choice of the three varieties we grow. Pictured left to right: The zucchini is dark green-skinned and will usually be harvested when it is the largest of the three; the zephyr squash is a variety of yellow crookneck notable for its dual coloration; and the magda is a mid-eastern variety of squash, shorter and less slender than the other two. All can be eaten cooked or raw, and I've noticed when reading seed catalogues and other such resources that their flavor is often described as "nutty," an adjective I'd like to think is synonymous with "zany," but which in this case probably refers to flavors too subtle for my palate. If I enjoy these summer foods thoughtlessly, it's because I'm hot. I certainly appreciate their abundance, though, and their versatility. Try an easy raw salad, or consider marinating and adding them to whatever else you have on the grill this July (From the June 2011 Bon Apetit and The Food Network, respectively):
Shaved Summer Squash Salad
3 tablespoons whole almonds
1 pound summer squash
2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 minced garlic clove
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Roast almonds and coarsely crush. Meanwhile, trim the ends off summer squash. Using a vegetable peeler, thinly slice the squash lengthwise into strips and transfer to a large bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together extra-virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, minced garlic clove, and kosher salt to taste. Pour dressing over squash. Let stand for a few minutes and then add handfuls of arugula. Shave a little Pecorino over the squash and toss. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Garnish with the almonds.
Marinated Zucchini and Summer Squash
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound zucchini, trimmed and sliced diagonally about 1/4-inch thick
1 pound yellow squash, trimmed and sliced diagonally about 1/4-inch thick
Whisk the vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and thyme in a large bowl to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in the oil. Spoon 3 tablespoons of the marinade into a small bowl. Cover and set aside. Add the zucchini and yellow squash to the remaining marinade in the large bowl and toss to coat. Transfer the mixture to a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Cover and marinate at room temperature at least 3 hours or cover and refrigerate up to 1 day.
Prepare the barbecue for medium-high heat. Grill the vegetables until they are crisp-tender and brown, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a platter. Drizzle with the reserved marinade and serve hot or at room temperature.
We are lucky to have friends who are not only CSA members but also enthusiastic volunteers on the farm. And we are even luckier that of those some are not only enthusiastic volunteers on the farm but also excellent cooks who bring us samples of the things they make with our vegetables. Thanks to Kathy Warburton for the weekly help, the company, and for sharing her ongoing hummus experiments with us. Here is one of her recipes, apropos of the ingredient at hand:
1 large or 2 medium zucchini
1/2 cup tahini
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1-2 cloves garlic
sprinkle of cayenne
sprinkle of paprika
Process zucchini, olive oil, and garlic in food processor. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth.
* Fennel is not something we usually offer two weeks in a row, but we want to plant some of our fall crops in the bed space it is occupying, so we are going to harvest the rest of what we began to harvest last week. I like this recipe from Eating Well magazine because it uses the bulb as well as the fronds of the fennel:
Seared Salmon with White Beans and Fennel
3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 small bulb fennel, halved, cored and thinly sliced, plus 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds
1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed
1 medium tomato, diced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 teaspoon fennel seed
8 ounces center-cut salmon fillet, skinned and cut into two portions
Heat 1 teaspoon oil in large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add sliced fennel; cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Stir in beans, tomato, and wine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomato begins to break down, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; stir in chopped fennel fronds, mustard, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Cover to keep warm.
Rinse and dry the pan. Combine fennel seed and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon black pepper in a small bowl; sprinkle evenly on both sides of salmon. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in the pan over medium-high heat until simmering but not smoking. Add the salmon, skinned side up; cook until golden brown, 3-6 minutes. Turn the salmon over, cover and remove from heat. Allow the salmon to continue cooking off the heat until just cooked through, 3-6 minutes more. Serve salmon with the bean mixture.