Thursday, March 29, 2012

Organic Harvest Box for March 29, 2012

I was a little intimidated with this week's list when I first saw it on Monday - fennel, chard, lemon.  Chard, I know that I love it but is it versatile?  Fennel is one of those veggies that is just a little strong for my kids so I think that I have only used it a handful of times.  And lemon, there are so many options but it is one of the last fruits to get used up from my harvest box.  However, the more I started looking around and linking from this recipe to that and pulling out favorites, I realized that this week is a snap - so many of these veggies go so well together in so many different food combinations.

It was a nice coincidence to see a lemon on the list as I had just read this great little piece on the Food52 website.  It was talking about the staple items in your fridge or grocery list, and they listed lemon as one of their staple items and how versatile a lemon is for salad dressings, stuffing a chicken with lemon, using the zest on pasta, in pancakes or crostini, squeezing the lemon into water or using the juice to keep apples/avocados from going brown.  I am going to challenge myself that the lemon will not be the last fruit used up this week.  This recipe for Zucchini Frites with Lemon Basil Mayonnaise caught my eye as the lemon mayo could be used for dipping a few different things - zucchini frites made from last week's zucchini if you have any left, sweet potato fries made from the yam, or fresh cut up carrots, celery and fennel.

The fennel was definitely the most challenging veggie for me this week as I have maybe only prepared fennel a couple of times in the past.  As I mentioned this to a co-worker, she said that she had a great Fennel and Orange Salad recipe which sounded perfect as both are in our box this week.  I had to try it out.  I didn't quite stick to the recipe as I added in some carrots and a radish from last week's box but I'm sure the original version is equally as good.  It tasted even better the next day as the flavors intensified.

Fennel and Orange Salad

1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup wine or rice vinegar
1 tsp. French mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed
 1 tsp. honey
 salt and pepper
 1 tsp. orange zest
 1 Tbsp. orange juice
 3 Tbsps. raisins
 2 heads fennel, sliced
 3 oranges, segmented
 3 spring onions, sliced
 3 Tbsps. pecan halves (optional)

Segment the orange over a bowl in order to catch the juice for the dressing.  Mix up the dressing using the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, honey, salt, pepper, orange zest and orange juice.  Slice your fennel and green onions and toss together with the raisins, oranges, and pecans.  Toss with the dressing.  

All of the parts of the fennel can be used in cooking, the stalks and greenery can be used to season dishes with the anise type flavor and the milder white bulb can be cooked or eaten raw.  The bulb is a good source of vitamin C and fibre.  Fennel is best stored in the crisper but eaten soon after purchase as it is said to lose it's flavor the longer it is kept, however if you find the fennel flavor too strong, then do leave it a few extra days to be more mild.  Fennel pairs well with so many of the items from this week's box such as lemon, orange, celery, carrot, spinach, and onion.  It can be used in some great recipes such as New Carrot and Fennel Soup with Watercress,  Spinach Salad with Vidalia Dressing or this simple Fennel and Celery Salad  If you have a bit of time, this Lemon and Onion Roasted Chicken will make use of your lemon, fennel, carrots, yam and onions.

I was really impressed to find out how healthy chard is.  Everything I read about it proclaimed its high levels of vitamins A, C, and K, iron, beta-carotene, and the phytonutrient betalain which is good as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detox agent.  Just one cup of chard provides over 700% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin K, over 200% of the recommended intake of Vitamin A, and half the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C.  To store chard, do not wash the leaves until ready to use, place it in a plastic storage bag and wrap the bag around the stems, squeezing out as much air as possible.  One of my favorite ways of preparing chard is quite simple, cut the leaves and stalks, boil in water, drain, toss with a little butter, salt and pepper, a squeeze of fresh lemon or a little bit of vinegar.  However, chard can also be used in almost any way that you enjoy spinach or kale.  I came across this great frittata recipe which will incorporate both your onions and your chard for a great weekend breakfast/brunch meal or a quick weeknight meatless dish.  Or from another of my favorite recipe sources, LCBO's Food and Drink magazine, the Spicy Greens would be a great way to use the chard as side dish.

I wasn't feeling very creative about what to do with the yam in this week's order.  I normally use yams at holiday meal times  but I don't happen to be hosting Easter dinner this year.  Or we often use them for homemade baked fries, but I remembered a recipe from an Ottawa Citizen article that is worth trying if you are still in the mood for a warming stew.  This recipe takes a little bit of prep but can then be put in the crockpot to be ready at then end of a busy day.  

Curried Lentil Stew
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry French lentils, soaked 2 hours or overnight, then drained
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, with liquid
One 14-ounce can coconut milk
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth, or water
2 large carrots, diced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup raisins
11/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger (or 1 teaspoon grated fresh gingerroot, peeled)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
11/2 teaspoons salt, or less to taste
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, chopped

To garnish (any or all):
Chopped fresh basil leaves, cilantro or parsley
Plain yogurt
Diced avocado
Green onion, chopped
Goat cheese, crumbled

1. In a frypan, heat olive oil and sauté onion and garlic. Transfer all ingredients (except spinach and garnishes) to slow cooker and cook on Low setting 7 to 8 hours, or until lentils and sweet potatoes are tender.
2. Before serving, fold in spinach. Garnish with your choice of any or all of the garnishes.
Source: The Red Apron

Lastly, just a few tips for the produce in this week's box - trim the green stalks off the carrots before putting them in the crisper and they will stay fresher longer, pat your lettuce dry and then wrap it in an absorbent paper towel and place it back in the bag, and keep your tomatoes unwashed and at room temperature and if you want them to ripen quicker place them in a paper bag with an apple.  Enjoy!


  1. These are great looking recipes! I especially like the zucchini frites, but I wonder if I could bake them in the oven . . . bet they wouldn't taste as good. Fennel is an issue for me too, I am often the only one who eats them as my three kids are too excited about them. I do like the spinach salad recipe though, so that may be one I try this week.

  2. The Spinach Salad recipe from Food and Drink is fantastic! With the oranges in the fennel salad, you just might be able to get the kids to eat it.

  3. I also found this recipe with fennel and am trying it tonight b/c the kids love feta: