Simply Fresh by Julie Wern

It is so exciting to be starting another season at the farm. I am itching to experiment with new preparations and expand my repertoire to explore more raw, vegan, gluten-free, paleo, and vegetarian techniques and dishes. I so look forward to sharing these experiments with you this season. As always, I welcome your feedback and continue to encourage members to share recipes, either on the blog by typing your recipe or ideas in the comment section of the post, or by handing a printed copy to farm employees, care of Julie Wern

Featured Item—Napa Cabbage

Napa cabbage is perhaps the most popular cabbage in the world owing to its relatively mild flavor and delicate, crisp texture. It has always reminded me of a cross between lettuce and cabbage, as its leaves are so tender, yet hold up well in salads and cooked dishes.

Even with their delicacy, Napa cabbage leaves can be used like any other kind of cabbage leaf. Napa cabbage lends itself well to raw preparations like salads, taco or soup toppings, coleslaw, fermented preparations, or as a wrap surrounding different fillings. Napa cabbage can also be baked, braised, stewed, steamed, stir fried, or grilled. I particularly love it as a nutritional add-in to fried rice or stir-fry, or as a topping for chili or tacos. Smaller or even medium leaves make a great base for Asian lettuce wraps. Larger leaves are wonderful substitutes for sandwich “wraps”, or if lightly blanched, can be stuffed and baked in a casserole-type dish (e.g. stuffed cabbage—see recipe below).

Napa cabbage is one healthful vegetable. It is low in calories and is very low in fat and cholesterol. Yet it contains significant amounts of vitamins A and C, is high in calcium and antioxidants, and is a good source of dietary fiber. Thus it is one of those filling, satisfying foods that doesn’t put on the pounds.

Choose bright, crisp bunches with compact, tightly closed leaves. Store whole cabbage, unwashed, in plastic in the refrigerator. Remember that cut cabbage quickly loses nutrients, so it is best to cut your cabbage just before preparing it.

Here are some interesting Napa cabbage preparations I have come across lately that only require added ingredients that are particularly appropriate to the early CSA season, like berries and scallions.

Napa Cabbage Salad with Berries

Napa Cabbage Slaw with Cilantro Dressing

Hosin Pork and Napa Cabbage Stirfry

Napa Cabbage and Shrimp Soup

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Cabbage rolls are a great way to use early summer Napa cabbage, especially on a rainy day. This recipe includes zucchini, which can be left out if you aren’t heading to the grocery store. I like to include the zucchini in order to add more vegetable punch to the dish and to spread out the meat so that it goes farther. This decreases the cost per serving of the dish, as well as dilutes the impact of saturated fat in each serving.

Note that you can substitute cooked rice or raw cauliflower “rice” for the bulgur if you desire a wheat-free alternative.

Middle Eastern Style Stuffed Napa Cabbage Rolls       Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS:

– 8 large Napa cabbage leaves

Sauce:

– 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes

– 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

– 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

– 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

– 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

– 1 large clove garlic, crushed

For Meat Filling:

– 1/2 cup bulgur wheat

– 1 pound ground lamb, turkey, or beef (preferably grass fed)

– 2 teaspoons oil of choice

– small onion, minced

– 1 small zucchini, shredded

– 2 teaspoons dried marjoram or oregano

– 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

– 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

– 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

– 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

– 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

METHOD:

Bring a large pot of water to boiling over high heat. Add 3 Napa cabbage leaves and press gently to submerge. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until leaves become largely translucent and pliable. Remove leaves to an ice bath. Repeat with 3 more leaves, and then again with the final 2 leaves until all leaves and cooked and chilled in ice bath. Remove leaves from water and pat dry with paper towels. Using a sharp knife, cut a “V” into the thick stem part of the leaf partly up the leaf and remove that part of the stem (the apex of the V will point to the top of the leaf). Set aside.
For sauce: In a medium bowl, mix tomatoes, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, cumin and clove of crushed garlic. Stir well to combine. Set aside.
For meat filling: Soak bulgur in boiling water for about 10 minutes while you are preparing the rest of the filling ingredients. In a medium saute pan, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and zucchini and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is soft and zucchini juices have cooked off, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Add the meat, marjoram, cumin, kosher salt, allspice, cayenne, and pine nuts to the pan. Drain the bulgur well and add to the meat mixture. Mix well with your hands until mixture is well blended and begins to stick together when pressed together with your fingertips.
To assemble and cook rolls: Preheat oven to 400℉. Spray a 9 X 13 casserole dish with cooking spray. Place about 1/2 cup tomato sauce in dish and spread evenly to coat bottom of dish. Roughly divide meat mixture into 8 portions. Using your hands roll each meat portion into a cylinder. Place on cabbage leaf right above the apex of the “V”. Roll meat in cabbage leaf to make a roll. Place each roll gently in the prepared dish. Cover the rolls evenly with the remaining tomato sauce. Cover entire dish tightly with foil and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until meat mixture is cooked through (165 to 170℉).

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Unfortunately, there has been little headway on developing a Holcomb Farm CSA cookbook as we are still hashing out some legal issues. But I would like to periodically share with you some of the great recipes we have received from our members.

The following recipe comes to us from CSA member Jennifer Kim, who has adapted a recipe by Giada de Laurentis for Roasted Fennel with Parmesan. Thank you, Jennifer!

Roasted Fennel with Romano Cheese

INGREDIENTS

-4 tablespoons olive oil

-4 fennel bulbs, cut horizontally into 1/3 inch thick slices, fronds reserved

-Herbamare seasoning to taste (or salt and pepper)

-1/3 cup freshly shredded Romano Cheese

METHOD

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Lightly oil bottom of a 13 by 9 X 2-inch glass baking dish.

Arrange the fennel in the dish and sprinkle with Herbamare) then Romano cheese

Drizzle with olive oil.

Bake until the fennel is fork-tender and the top is golden brown, about 30-45 minutes.

Chop enough fennel fronds to equal 2 tablespoons, then sprinkle over the roasted fennel and serve.

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Don’t miss out on the PYO sorrel in the herb garden. The leaves are very tart and fresh tasting and add a bright, lemony note to sauces, vinaigrettes, or compound butters. They are also great mixed into mashed potatoes or rice, or used in soups. Pick crisp green leaves. Avoid leaves that are yellow and dried out.

I made this vinaigrette to dress a bright salad of lettuce greens, kohlrabi, fresh strawberries, and sliced almonds. It was a great way to use up items in this week’s share.

Sorrel Vinaigrette           makes about ¾ cup

INGREDIENTS:

– 1 small shallot, minced

– 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar

– 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

– 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

– 1/2 teaspoon sweetener of choice

– 1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil

– 1-2 tablespoon water, as needed to thin vinaigrette and temper acidity

– 4 large sorrel leaves, washed and chopped

– 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or more to taste

– freshly ground black pepper, to taste

METHOD:

Place all ingredients in container long enough to contain the handle of a hand blender (you want to avoid splashes). Blend until smooth and emulsified. Taste. Add additional salt, pepper, or water as needed. Vinaigrette can also be mixed traditionally by blending all ingredients but the oil and then slowiy streaming in the oil while whisking constantly.

Strawberry and Kohlrabi Salad with Sorrel Vinaigrette Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

– 1 head lettuce, cleaned and shredded

– 12-15 fresh ripe strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced

– 2 baby kohlrabi, peeled and cut into matchsticks

– 1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds

– Sorrel vinaigrette

METHOD:

Toss lettuce with dressing to taste. Divide among four salad plates. Top with strawberries, kohlrabi, and sliced almonds. Serve immediately.

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