What to do with Broccoli Rabe

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Featured at today's co-op: broccoli rabe. You might also know it as broccoli di rape or rapini. Or you might not know it at all, so listen up! Broccoli rabe is not to be confused with baby broccoli or broccolini which has less leaves and a sweeter taste. Here's a good explanation of the difference between the three, with pictures.

Broccoli rabe can be steamed, boiled, sauteed, or roasted. Perhaps the easiest and most common way to cook it is to boil the rabe in salted water for about 4 minutes. All of it is edible, but you'll want to peel or discard the tougher bits of the stem before cooking, and discard any tough looking leaves. 

NPR's Kitchen Window suggests pairing rabe with salty foods such as sausage, pancetta, anchovies and olives. It also goes well with sweet currants, raisins, and cherry tomatoes, or with tangy vinegars and lemon juice. Try it in a stir-fry over rice with soy sauce or served as a side dish with sesame oil garnished with toasted sesame seeds. 

Try this recipe for breakfast topped with a few of our farm fresh eggs (hint: we've got ground pork to go with it!) You can make it into lunch or dinner by adding some cannelini beans, or using it as topping on a homemade pizza. 

Broccoli Rabe with Ground Pork  

adapted from Food and Wine magazine 

  • 1 pound broccoli rabe
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pound ground pork 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed fennel seed
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley 
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • Salt and pepper 
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup grated parm, romano or peccorino cheese
  1. In a pot of salted boiling water, cook the broccoli rabe until nearly tender, 4 minutes. Drain and cool under cold water. Squeeze and pat dry, then chop.
  2. In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the pork and cook over moderately high heat, breaking it up into small pieces, until browned. Add 3 more tablespoons of oil, the garlic and spices to the skillet and cook for 1 minute. Add the broccoli rabe and cook, stirring, until tender, 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the lemon juice and toss. Serve with grated cheese.


    What's Kombucha?

    ...and why should you try it?

    Kombucha is a sugar-sweetened fermented tea. It's slightly fizzy, with a bit of a vinegar kick. We make it here at the farm and offer it occasionally at the CSA.

    Every batch of kombucha is unique. Like a sourdough bread, the tea sits at room temperature and absorbs bacteria from the air, which leads to fermentation. These living bacterial cultures are beneficial - it's generally believed that kombucha aids in digestion, supports the immune system, and acts as a detoxifier.

    Ours is milder than some commercial brands I've tried (you can find it at some health food markets, but it's not cheap). If you find the taste too strong to enjoy plain, try mixing it with half fruit juice, soda water, or lemonade for a refreshing beverage that's healthier than soda. 

    Shepherd's Pie

    Shepherd's Pie is a classic recipe using ground lamb, although you can easily substitute ground goat or beef. It's best made using leftover mashed potatoes from the night before. 

    This recipe is written assuming that you already have mashed potatoes leftover (about 4 cups or so). That way you can make them however you like - completely creamy or with chunks and bits of potato skin, with rosemary or garlic and butter, with parmesan cheese and sour cream... you get the picture! 

    You'll need:

    • at least one pound ground lamb
    • garlic - a few cloves
    • celery - a couple stalks 
    • carrots - about 4 
    • onions - one large, 2 medium or 3 small 
    • olive oil 
    • salt and pepper
    • 3 tablespoons butter 
    • 1/4 cup flour
    • 3 cups beef or mushroom broth 
    • leftover mashed potatoes 

    Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Chop enough vegetables to mostly fill a 9 x 13 baking dish: I used 3 small onions, a couple stalks of celery, and four carrots. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil, salt, and pepper, stirring them around to coat evenly. Then bake for about 20 minutes. They should still be a little crunchy. 

    Meanwhile, cook the ground lamb: Mince a few cloves of garlic and put a drizzle of olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, then add the ground lamb and break it into smaller chunks with a wooden spoon or spatula. Season with salt and pepper. When the meat is cooked through scoop it into a separate bowl and set aside. To the pan add three tablespoons butter. When melted, whisk in 1/4 cup flour to form a thick paste. Add half a cup of broth and keep whisking until the liquid is absorbed. Add the rest of the broth a half a cup at a time, whisking until you have a thick sauce. Season with salt and pepper (and rosemary, thyme, or sage if you feel inclined).

    Add the ground lamb to the pan of vegetables and pour the gravy on top. Distribute the mashed potatoes evenly over the whole thing. At this point you can top it with diced chives or shredded cheese to make it pretty and extra tasty.

     Bake for about 30 minutes more or until the veggies are cooked through and the top of the pie starts to brown. 

    Cooking with Jerusalem Artichokes

    In case your wondering what the heck you're supposed to do with these odd-looking potato things you picked up at the CSA,  we want to assure you that jerusalem artichokes are delicious and easy to cook with. A few kitchen tips should waylay any fears you might have! But first, here are some interesting facts:

    • Jerusalem artichokes are actually a relative of the sunflower and are sometimes known as sunchokes. 
    • Nutritionally speaking, they contain high amounts of dietary fiber, potassium, and iron
    • They're low in starch, and don't raise blood glucose levels the way most potatoes do. In fact jerusalem artichokes can help you maintain lower glucose levels, making them a good choice for type 2 diabetics.
    • When taken in excess, they can act as a natural laxative. This has caused the jerusalem artichoke to be nicknamed the "fartichoke" in some circles! So if this is your first time eating them, you might try a smaller dose than say, a soup made entirely of puréed sunchokes. Most of us have no trouble if we incorporate them into larger dishes like salads, soups, and roasted vegetable sides. 

    Ok, now for the instructional stuff. Some tips for storing and cooking with sunchokes: 

    • Store in a cool, dry place : a paper sack in the pantry, or for longer storage the crisper drawer of the fridge with paper towels to absorb excess moisture. 
    • Like potatoes, they can be boiled, steamed, roasted, and mashed. The skin is tougher, so you might want to peel them first - take off the little knobs with a paring knife to make this step easier. If you're not afraid of a little texture, just give them a good scrub, remove the smallest knobs and then cut them into chunks. 
    • Their nutty, earthy flavor pairs well with sweet and tangy ingredients like lemon, vinegar, orange, mustard, mint, and chive. Also good with garlic and rosemary. 
    • We like to roast them with other root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, onions, beets), chopped into largish pieces and dressed in a little olive oil with salt and pepper, at 425˚F for about 30 minutes.
    • We also incorporated them into our mashed potatoes with great success, but found that with skins on they took a little longer to soften and had to be puréed separately in the food processor. Peel them first to avoid this step and boil them along with the potatoes.


    What are your experiences with this intriguing vegetable? Leave us your feedback in the comments section! 

    Cooking with Lamb

    Lamburger on a homemade whole wheat bun! 

    Lamburger on a homemade whole wheat bun! 

    If you came by the barn on Wednesday to get your share of this week's goodies, you probably noticed the two freezers stocked with pastured meats - our pork, beef, and lamb. In case you're not familiar with the latter, here are some helpful tips for cooking with lamb. 

    Lamb pairs well with mediterranean flavors like mint, garlic, dill, parsley, oregano, lemon, and goat cheese. If you picked up some ground lamb you might try the classic "lamburger" - prepared like a hamburger but topped with goat cheese on a bed of mixed greens. If you're feeling fancy you could incorporate some red onion and oregano into the mix. Don't forget the garlic! 

    If you picked up some lamb chops, try preparing them as you would pork chops. We like to rub them with salt and pepper, sear them on both sides in a cast iron skillet, and them finish off in the oven topped with thinly sliced onion and a drizzle of lemon juice.

    When bell peppers are in season, we like to stuff them with a mixture of ground lamb, sauteed veggies, rice, tomatoes, and feta cheese. But it's just spring and the pepper house is still empty... so how about a shepherd's pie? Sauté the lamb on the stove top with whatever veggies you have on hand, then whip up some garlic mashed potatoes and gravy. Layer in a casserole dish the meat and veggies, gravy, then potatoes, and top with cheese if you have any. 

    We'd love to hear your experiences and ideas cooking with pastured lamb! Voice your opinions in the comments section :) 

    Lemon Dill Egg Salad

    We've got no shortage of eggs here at the farm, so I thought I'd share a quick recipe that you can make in no time with few ingredients. It will work especially well if you've got a carton in the back of the fridge that's been sitting there for a week - older eggs tend to have larger pockets of air on the inside and are easier to peel after they're boiled. 

    The only trick is cooking the eggs just right. I like Heidi Swanson's method best: cover the eggs with cold water, bring the pot to a gentle boil, cover and turn off the heat, let them sit for seven minutes. Depending on how soft or hard you like your eggs, you might consider setting the timer for eight minutes or just six. But I like medium-boiled eggs and seven minutes is just the ticket. 

    To peel the eggs, I find it's best to tap an egg on the counter and lightly roll it around under your palm to create a web of cracks all around. Then start at the top of the egg (that's where you usually find the air-pocket) and use your thumb to peel off the shell and membrane. 


    Lemon Dill Egg Salad

    • 8 eggs
    • 3 Tablespoons mayonaise
    • 1/2 tsp dried dill, crushed
    • the juice and zest of one small lemon 
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • parsley to garnish 
    • crusty bread to serve 

    Place the eggs in a small saucepan and cover them with an inch of cold water. Bring to a boil; as soon as the water boils, cover the pot and turn off the heat. Set a timer for seven minutes.

    After seven minutes, drain the eggs and run them under cold water until cooled. To peel, tap them on the counter to crack the egg in a few places, then lightly roll it between your palm and the counter to loosen it up.

    In a small bowl, mix the mayo with the lemon zest, juice, dill, salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over halved eggs, mix with diced eggs, or drizzle over diced eggs on sliced bread.