The final box of the season is here. There have been a lot of changes for us on the farm this year. We moved away from the land we had been renting west of the Twin Cities to Wisconsin. We jumped from 45 to 100 members and grew our restaurant sales. Heather made the transition from being the head chef at Surdyk’s to growing food full time. Frank gave up the cultured dog life of the city for a simpler country existence. The spring was long, cold and rainy. The summer was mild and pleasant and at times very dry. The fall has been wonderful, long and warm. We met many new and wonderful members and continued to share with those that have been with us in the past. There were surprises and successes out of the garden and disappointments as well. And all along the way we were able to share with you the best we had to offer. It’s amazing how long and how short 18 weeks can be.
We hope you have enjoyed being part of the CSA. It is a great joy for us to be able to do this kind of work and provide people with something so necessary and sacred as the food they eat. If we did our job right the share has enriched your life, brought a few new items to your dinner table, sparked a few conversations, and overall been a stimulating, enjoyable experience, and maybe even made for a few nice meals. From all of us at the farm, thanks so much for being a member and spending 18 delicious weeks with us.
So, one last time for this year, here is what’s in the box:Onions Cabbage Leeks Butternut Squash Carrots Spinach Sage Beets (medium and full) Parsley (full) Ornamental Gourds (medium and full)
Butternut Squash is the standard of winter squashes, and for good reason. Its filling is smooth, rich and sweet with a comparatively small seed cavity, making it an excellent choice for one of our favorite squash dishes: winter squash gnocchi. Gnocchi is an easy and delicious pasta dish that is made with both flour and a starch such as potatoes or squash. Squash gnocchi has an appealing color and a full flavor. See recipes below.
The carrots this week are some of the best we’ve had all year. Young and tender, they are perfect for roasting whole.
Leeks are making their end of the year appearance. A darling of the allium family, leeks are much milder than their onion cousin. They take considerably longer to grow, though, being one of the first things we start in the greenhouse and then taking an additional 120 days once planted (pretty much our whole growing season) making it just in time for the last box! They are prized for their white trunks, but the green leaves are good for enhancing homemade stocks.
The ornamental gourds are a little extra surprise for mediums and fulls. These little cuties are great for decorating your fall table. They are probably edible, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I got these seeds three years ago and every year have neglected to give them the time and space. In the midst of planting thousands of other plants this year Heather convinced me to put them in the ground and then lobbied to get them in the box as well. We hope you enjoy them!
The beauty of this recipe is that you can use any squash or pumpkin for the base. Cut your squash or pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds, and place cut side down on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for 40-50 minutes or until soft to the touch. When cool, scoop out the flesh and mash well or puree in a food processor. Save the filling for a soup base, pancakes, or use as a launching point for one of our favorite fall meals, gnocchi. Sometimes we just toss these with a little butter and parm, and when Brandon’s really feeling hungry we add venison sausage, bechamel, and fresh sage.
Pumpkin/Squash Gnocchi-from The Skinny Fork, complete with lots of helpful photos!
Ever had the pleasure of trying gnocchi?
If you aren’t familiar, these are sort of the italian equivalent to dumplings.
Gnocchi are traditionally made with semolina, flour, egg, potato, breadcrumbs, cheese, or other similar ingredients. These soft little pillows of pumpkin heaven are the perfect replacement for usual gnocchi, making any dish even more fall-friendly!
Making your own gnocchi does take some time, but I always find it to be a rather fun little 30-45 minute project. The process doesn’t consume many brain cells, and with so fewingredients the dough comes together pretty quickly.
What takes the most time is cutting the pieces and then adding the texture to them with the back of a fork. Let me be very clear that the added dimples are entirely un-needed, so feel free to skip that step to make this a less time consuming project!
Gnocchi are pretty versatile. You can use them on their own in a sort of ‘pasta’ dish, toss them with some simple brown butter or Guiltless Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce, or even add them to soup!
Clean Eating Pumpkin Gnocchi
Servings: 4 • Size: About 1 Cup • Calories: 220.3 • Fat: 2.5 g • Carb: 40.5 g • Fiber: 8.5 g • Protein: 8.8 g • Sugar: 2 g • Sodium: 22 mg
1 C. 100% Pure Pumpkin Puree (Not pie filling!)
1 1/2 C. Whole Wheat White Flour
1 Large Egg
1/8 Tsp. Nutmeg
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Combine all ingredients together in a large bowl.
Using your hands, mix everything together to form dough.
You will want the dough to be slightly sticky. Mine was also pretty dense.
Divide the dough into four sections.
Roll each section on a lightly floured surface until about 1/2″ thick.
Cut the long rolled out sections ito 1″ ‘pillows’.
Dust the pillows with just a little bit of flour to help prevent sticking.
If you want the traditional gnocchi indentation, gently press the pillows into the prongs of a fork.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and ad the gnocchi. Cook in batches if necessary.
As soon at the gnocchi begins to rise to the surface, they are cooked!
Cooking doesn’t take long. Mine started to rise to the surface of the boiling water in about 5 minutes or less.
Drain and let cook slightly.
Leek and Bread Pudding, courtesy of our dear Martha…
Leek Bread Pudding
Serve this leek bread pudding for a delicious accompaniment to any meal — including your Thanksgiving feast. Courtesy of “Ad Hoc at Home,” by Thomas Keller, (c)2009, Artisan Books. Photo credit: Deborah Jones
- 2 cups leeks (white and light-green parts only), sliced into 1/2-inch-thick pieces
- Coarse salt
- 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 12 cups 1-inch cubes crustless brioche or Pullman sandwich loaf
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, leaves
- 3 large eggs
- 3 cups whole milk
- 3 cups heavy cream
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 cup shredded Comte or Emmentaler
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Fill a large bowl with water and add leek slices. Swirl leeks so that any dirt falls to the bottom of the bowl. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat; using your hands, lift leeks out of water and transfer to skillet. Cook, stirring often, until leeks begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium-low; continue cooking until leeks release their liquid. Add butter to skillet and stir to emulsify; season with pepper. Cut a parchment paper round the same size as the skillet with a 1-inch hole in the center and set round in skillet. Cook leeks, stirring every 10 minutes, until very soft, 30 to 35 minutes. If the butter breaks or looks oily, stir in a tablespoon water to re-emulsify. Remove and discard parchment lid.
Meanwhile, spread bread cubes on a baking sheet and toast in oven for about 20 minutes, rotating pan about halfway through, until dry and lightly toasted. Transfer to a large bowl. Add leeks to bread; toss to combine. Add chives and thyme.
In another large bowl, lightly whisk eggs. Add milk, cream, a generous pinch of salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg; whisk to combine. Set custard mixture aside.
Sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Spread half of the leek mixture in baking dish and sprinkle with another 1/4 cup cheese. Repeat process with remaining leek mixture and 1/4 cup cheese. Pour enough of the custard mixture over leek mixture and press gently on bread so it soaks up the custard. Let soak for 15 minutes.
Pour remaining custard over leek mixture. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and season with salt. Transfer to oven and bake until pudding is set and top is brown and bubbling, about 1 1/2 hours. Serve.