CSA 2016: Week 5

Week five! And I’m actually sharing it the same week that we picked it up. I’m making progress!

CSA 2016 Week 5

This week, we brought home:

  • One Walla Walla onion
  • One head of lettuce
  • Two cucumbers
  • Two summer squash
  • One bunch of beets
  • Two kohlrabi
  • One pound of green beans
  • One bunch of garlic scapes

For once, the lettuce is not going into salads. We’re having tacos Sunday night, so I’m earmarking it for them. I plan on using the summer squash in our other favorite zucchini / squash dish soon. The cucumbers are going into salads and lunches for the next couple of days, and I am sure that we’ll simply steam the green beans until they are crisp-tender. I could make something with them, but why mess with perfection?

I used the beet greens from both week 4 and week 5 in last night’s dinner: bacon, scrambled eggs, and sauteed beet greens. A few years ago I wouldn’t have thought to cook the greens, but I’m older and wiser now. I sauteed the greens with chopped garlic scapes and onion in bacon grease. They were so good that I even had some for breakfast the next day. (Much better than a green smoothie, if you ask me.) I’ll probably roast the beets for dinner one night when it’s not 90°+ outside.

I need to do a little reading before I use the onion. If Walla walla onions are something special, I want to do something out of the ordinary with it.

For those of you keeping track at home, we are now up to FOUR kohlrabi in the fridge. I need to do something with them before things get out of hand. Fritters, maybe? Hmm.

In addition to our CSA goodness, our garden is coming into its own. I picked one and three-quarter pounds of snap peas this morning, and I really want to make this. Andy doesn’t love dollops of ricotta like I do, so I either need to make it when he’s gone or make a second dish for him. It looks like we’ll have beans soon as well. And as long as the cucumbers don’t completely invade the tomato plants, we should see fresh tomatoes in a few weeks too. Exciting stuff!

Weekend Food

Let’s face it. There are some dishes that I will never make during the week (at least, not as long as I’m gainfully employed full time). Roasts (unless they’re hanging out in the crockpot). Yeast bread. Short ribs. Let’s add risotto to that list.

It’s not like any of these foods are particularly hard to make; they’re just time consuming. And since we’d rather not sit down to dinner at 8 p.m., I’ve just accepted the fact that some things are better saved for the weekend, when I can take my time and make a complete mess in my kitchen. In fact, that’s one of my favorite ways to spend a Saturday afternoon, especially if the weather isn’t the greatest.

I’d had my eye on this recipe ever since Annie posted it, oh, FOUR years ago. I kept waiting for that magical moment when asparagus, leeks AND peas would all show up in my CSA delivery at the same time. No such luck. I finally decided that I’d just suck it up and buy the veggies I needed. Except that I refuse to pay almost three dollars for a tiny clamshell of chives, so I decided to use green onions instead. Which I forgot to add when I finished the risotto. Oh well. Such is life.

Whenever I make risotto, I do my best to have things chopped and prepped before I get going, which makes it easier to focus on stirring the pot. I rinsed the leeks, blanched the asparagus, shredded the cheese and measured out the frozen peas first. That way, I can give the risotto the attention that it deserves. (It’s such a needy dish… “Stir! Constantly!” Ha.) 

I was a little short on the amount of asparagus (because we had been roasting it for dinner), which worked out okay, since Andy didn’t love the texture of the asparagus in the risotto. I did add extra lemon juice to cut the richness of the cream cheese. Next time, I think I’ll omit the cream cheese altogether – we thought that it was rich and creamy enough with just the Parmesan cheese. All in all though, it was an afternoon well spent.

Asparagus Risotto

Spring Green Risotto

5 cups chicken or vegetable stock (I used a combination.) 
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, minced
3 cups chopped leeks, rinsed and spun dry
1 1/2 cups medium-grain rice
2/3 cup dry white wine (I used my favorite wine, mostly because it’s what I have on hand most often.) 
1 lb. asparagus spears, woody ends removed
10 ounces frozen peas
zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish if desired (We forgot about that…oops.) 
1/3 cup cream cheese, optional (I’ll leave this out next time, but that’s just me.) 
salt and freshly ground pepper

In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer over medium heat. Turn the heat down to low and keep the stock warm.

Chop the asparagus into inch-long pieces. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the asparagus until it’s crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Immediately drain the asparagus and place it in an ice bath to stop the cooking. Once the asparagus has cooled, drain it and set it aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter and olive oil together in a large pan (I use my stainless steel Dutch oven because I don’t have a saute pan that I love). Saute the shallots and leeks until they are tender, about 7 minutes. Add the rice to the leek/shallot mixture and cook for about a minute, stirring to coat the rice with the butter and olive oil. Add the wine to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid is almost all absorbed.

Ladle two scoops of stock from the saucepan into the pan with the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid has absorbed into the rice. Continue adding the broth, two scoops at a time, cooking and stirring until the liquid is almost absorbed before adding more stock. When the rice has been cooking for about 15 minutes, add the cooked asparagus to the rice. Stir in the lemon zest and the frozen peas. Continue to add stock and cook the rice until it is creamy and tender but still slightly firm.

Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the lemon juice, Parmesan cheese and cream cheese (if using). Stir until the cheese melts and the risotto is creamy. Taste the risotto and then season with salt and pepper as desired.

Serve warm, garnished with Parmesan if desired.

As seen on Annie’s Eats, originally adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics.

Click here for a printable version.