Rainy day vegetables

Garlic planted last fall is in good shape this time of year.
Garlic planted last fall is in good shape this time of year.

It’s on rainy early June days that the East End’s gardens begin to pop. Vegetable and flower plants that had been seedlings just days earlier react to the heat and moisture and rapidly become full-grown plants.

But while you’re waiting for the those little plants to become a salad, there’s not much to do but sit in the house and wonder what fate could befall your plants this year. Will the aphids and potato bugs descend on the garden? Will the late blight return and wipe out the tomato crop, as happened the last two years? For an exercise in patience, farming is one nail-biting experience.

The farmers over at the Peconic Land Trust’s Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett are well aware of this dilemma. Scott Chaskey, the director of the farm, even once wrote a book about the mental machinations farmers go through as they wait for their crops to ripen.

But today, Quail Hill has launched a different book, this one of recipes culled from members of the farm over the past five years. The 30-acre farm was formed in 1990 after its owner, Deborah Light, gave the land to the Peconic Land Trust. It became one of the first farms in the nation to be formed on the principle of Community Supported Agriculture, where customers pay up front for a share of the year’s produce, thereby splitting both the bounty and the risk with the farmers. These farms often become community gathering places, where members meet to do weekly chores to help out on the farm and share pot luck suppers.

Quail Hill’s 94-page book is available in pdf form here.

“The most pleasurable activity next to eating the beautiful, healthy, organically-grown food produced at Quail Hill Farm is talking about it,” said Quail Hill Farm e-news editor Jane Weissman in an email accompanying the recipe book Monday morning. “Who hasn’t marveled at the many colors and shapes of the varieties of any one vegetable or traded inventive recipes for preparing it? Such conversations invariably take place at the farm-members crouched low over planting beds as they harvest-and at farm events…and in our homes at table over bountiful, delicious meals shared with family and friends.”

The recipe book is nothing if not exhaustive, covering an alphabetically arranged array of fresh produce found both at Quail Hill and other farms on the East End.

There are gourmet recipes for broccoli rabe and for edible flowers, for celeriac and edamame, fava beans and fennel, for tatsoi, tomatillos and wheat berries, in addition to recipes for more commonly grown vegetables.

What’s so great, in looking through these recipes, is the realization that the ingredients are all perfectly chosen to line up with the local harvest times for each vegetable, no doubt an offshoot of members of the CSA trying to decide what to do with their heaping weekly shares of vegetables.

This recipe, by Ms. Weissman, is one of the few that uses ingredients that are either ready to pick now, or will be ready very soon:

GARLIC SCAPES WITH HAKURI TURNIPS, PEAS & PEA SHOOTS
contributed by Jane Weissman
Remove the string top of the bulb of 15 garlic scapes and cut tender part of stem into 2‐inch
pieces. Sauté in 1 Tbs. olive oil for 2 minutes over medium heat. Add 6 medium Hakuri
turnips, sliced about ¼ inch, and cook 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add ½ c. peas,
shucked. Toss and cook 1 minute. Add a handful of pea shoots, using only the tender leaves
and flowers. Toss until lightly wilted. Turn into serving dish and garnish with fresh pea shoot
flowers.

Bon appetite!

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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