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Now is the time to forage (carefully!) for nettles or find them at the farmers market. Thanks to Marcia Newlands for bringing this spring recipe to our attention!

Nettle Risotto

(Serves 2 as a main, 4 as an appetizer)

Blanched, nettles will keep their emerald loveliness even after a good 15 minutes of cooking, which makes this risotto visually stunning. The dish itself is pretty simple: Risotto rice, cooked nettles, butter, shallot, garlic, a little pecorino cheese and beef stock. The basic structure of this risotto holds with all sorts of variations. You could use a different grated cheese, such as parmigiano or a Greek mizithra.

Note: Depending what variety your nettles are, you will need four or five big tongs-fulls of fresh nettles to get your cup of cooked nettles. Regular nettles (urtica dioica) are more substantial than their daintier cousins, the dwarf nettle (urtica urens) and retain more of their volume when cooked. I say tongs-full because you do not want to pick up fresh nettles, as they will sting you. Thus the name.

1 cup risotto rice

1 cup cooked, drained nettles or spinach (see note above)

2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2-3 tablespoons grated pecorino cheese

1 large shallot, minced

3 minced garlic cloves

4 cups chicken, vegetable, or beef stock

Salt

Get a large pot of water boiling and add a handful of salt.  Add the nettles. Stir and boil for 1-2 minutes for dwarf nettles, about 5 minutes for regular nettles. When done cooking, dump them into a big bowl with ice water in it. Once they are cool, put them in a colander to drain. Put the nettles in a clean tea towel and twist to squeeze out as much moisture as you can. Chop the nettles finely (a food processor will turn them mushy). The finer you chop, the smoother your risotto will be. Remove any stray stems.

To make the risotto, heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a large heavy pot set on medium-high. Wait until the butter stops frothing and add the shallot. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic and rice and stir to combine. Stirring constantly, cook for a minute or so or until all the rice is well coated with butter. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and the first cup of stock. Turn the heat to high and stir in the rice. When it starts boiling strongly, turn the heat down to medium and stir often, at least every minute or so, until the rice absorbs the stock. Repeat with a second cup of stock. When the second cup is absorbed, add the nettles and the third cup of stock. Stir well to combine. Keep stirring constantly to develop the creaminess in the risotto. Taste the risotto, and add salt if needed. It may need the remaining cup of stock, as you want the dish to be loose.  Add the butter and cheese and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes, stirring often. Serve at once.

recipe by Marcia Newlands, The Savory Gourmet

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Persephone Farm Tomatoes

You can see why we’re thinking of gazpacho this week! My Spanish grandmother (okay okay she was German)(okay okay it’s me) makes gazpacho without a recipe, and it’s still the best way to do it. Finely chop up the peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers you haven’t already finished on the way home from the CSA pickup site; add a finely chopped small onion, a few tablespoons of olive oil and a couple cloves of minced garlic; and salt and pepper, lemon juice, and vinegar to taste—cumin, cilantro, or parsley if you’re fancy—and chill for an hour. Some people like to blend it up—or blend half the mix, leaving the other half in small chopped bits—before chilling, but some prefer to leave the vegetables finely chopped. Other interesting options: finely ground bread crumbs or toasted almonds, Worcestershire sauce, jalapenos, gin (kidding about the gin*)…There are almost as many variations of this recipe as there are tomatoes, so use what you’ve got and go with your gut! Perfect with a hearty bread for dinner on a hot summer’s day. — Apprentice Rachel

For those who prefer a little more direction, the New York Times recently (and timely) published a collection of recipes under the apt headline “30 Ways to Do Justice to Summer Tomatoes.”

*vodka would definitely work better

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Recipe by Melissa Clark, from the New York Times collection of recipes “30 Ways to Do Justice to Summer Tomatoes.”

INGREDIENTS

1 ¼ pounds very ripe tomatoes; a mix of varieties and colors is nice
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
¾ teaspoon kosher sea salt, more to taste
6 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, more as needed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups leftover or rotisserie chicken, including some skin (about 1/2 chicken)
1 tablespoon capers, drained and patted dry
1 6-inch length of ciabatta or baguette (about 4 ounces), preferably stale, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 sprigs fresh thyme or 2 sprigs fresh oregano
Chopped fresh basil, for serving

PREPARATION

Cut tomatoes into bite-sized pieces and transfer to a large bowl. Using a large chef’s knife, mince 1 of the smashed garlic cloves. Add a pinch of salt and using the flat side of your knife, smash into a fine paste. Add garlic paste to the tomatoes along with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Toss to coat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the lemon juice, mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper to taste. While whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in 3 tablespoons olive oil until the mixture is thickened. Remove the skin from the chicken, shred the meat and combine with the vinaigrette. Roughly chop the chicken skin and set aside.

In a 10-inch skillet over high heat, add 1 teaspoon olive oil. When oil is shimmering, add the chicken skin and capers. Cook while stirring occasionally until the skin is crisp and the capers are beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil.

In the same pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, bread cubes, the remaining smashed garlic clove, 1 sprig of fresh thyme or 1 sprig of fresh oregano and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook while stirring occasionally until toasted and golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool completely. When cool, discard the garlic and thyme and add bread cubes to the tomato mixture. Add the leaves of the remaining uncooked thyme or oregano, the shredded chicken and toss to combine. Transfer to a platter or individual plates and serve garnished with the capers, chicken skin, chopped basil, and freshly ground black pepper.

4 Servings

Recipe on cooking.nytimes.com

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Fresh broccoli

This week, along with the first tomatoes of the season, CSA subscribers got plenty of beautiful broccoli in their baskets. Here’s some delicious ways to enjoy the broccoli bounty. Happy Fourth!

GRILLED BROCCOLI

Ingredients
1 bunch broccoli, cut into 8 large spears 2 lemons, quartered 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling kosher salt and black pepper

Directions
Heat grill to medium. In a large bowl, toss the broccoli and lemons with the oil and season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Grill, turning occasionally, until tender and lightly charred, 10 to 15 minutes.
Squeeze the lemons over the broccoli and drizzle with additional oil.

BROCCOLI AND BLEU CHEESE SALAD

Ingredients
1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets (6 cups) ¼ cup buttermilk 2 tablespoons sour cream 2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled 1 scallion, sliced ½ teaspoon red wine vinegar kosher salt and black pepper ½ cup toasted walnuts

Directions
Fill a large saucepan with 1 inch of water and fit with a steamer basket. Bring the water to a boil. Place the broccoli in the basket, cover, and steam until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Rinse with cold water to cool.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the buttermilk, sour cream, blue cheese, scallion, vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Drizzle the broccoli with the dressing and sprinkle with the walnuts.

PERFECT(LY EASY) BROCCOLI DIP

Ingredients

1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons minced onion
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons seasoned salt

Gently stir all ingredients together and chill until ready to eat.

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Gazpacho

Lots of tomatoes and a really long cucumber!

Lots of tomatoes and a really long cucumber!

CSA subscribers are enjoying lots of great cucumbers and tomatoes right now. Onions and garlic have also appeared in our boxes. Hmmm, how about some refreshing gazpacho (chilled tomato soup)? My Mom raved about this gazpacho recipe she found online. I finally tried it myself, it was easy and delicious. Next time I’ll use the blender, I made a bit of a mess using the Cuisinart (too much liquid).

Source: Ree at The Pioneer Woman Website
Check it out for her entertaining story and many photos illustrating the process (chopping and dicing included).

Serves: 8 (keeps pretty well in the fridge)

Ingredients
2 cloves Garlic, Minced
1/2 whole Red Onion, Diced
1 whole Large Cucumber, Diced
5 whole Roma Tomatoes, Diced
1 whole Zucchini, Diced
2 stalks Celery, Diced
1 dash Salt To Taste
1/4 gallon Tomato Juice (or V8)
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/8 cup Red Wine Vinegar (to taste – I used more that 1/8 cup)
2 Tablespoons White Sugar
6 dashes Tabasco
1 dash Black Pepper To Taste

  • In the bowl of a food processor or in a blender, combine the minced garlic with half the red onion, half the cucumber, half the tomato, half the zucchini, half the celery, half the tomato juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, sugar, Tabasco, and a dash of salt.
  • Pulse until all ingredients are blended well; mixture will have a nice speckled, colorful texture.
  • Pour into a large bowl and add the rest of the tomato juice, and half of the remaining onion, cucumber, tomato, zucchini, and celery. (Reserve the rest of the diced vegetables for garnish.)
  • Stir mixture together and check seasonings, adding salt if needed. Chill soup for at least a couple of hours; soup needs to be very cold!
  • Remove the soup from the fridge and stir. Check seasonings one last time. Ladle into a bowl and garnish with remaining diced vegetables, a sliver of fresh avocado, sour cream, and cilantro.

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