CSA Cooking: Kale Rapini Spread

kale rapini

Years ago, I picked up a copy of Marcella Says while wandering a used bookstore. While I don’t typically follow the recipes closely, it often provides very useful inspiration, particularly when I’m looking for something delicious to do with unusual produce.

rapini spread

One recipe that’s long been in the back of my mind is this one for rapini and pecorino spread for crostini. So, when I found a bundle of kale rapini in the CSA box from Philly Foodworks, it seemed a good time to try it.

sauteed rapini

It’s an easy thing to make. You plunge the rapini in a large pot of boiling salted water for a few minutes and then run it under cold water to cool. Marcella says you should only use the leaves and florets, and I find that the easiest way to do that is to pull them off the stems after blanching. Once you’ve stripped all the good stuff off the stems, chop it fine.

rapini spread at tea party

Then, warm a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and add the chopped rapini. Stir in two or three minced, pressed, or grated garlic cloves, a big pinch of salt, and a few vigorous turns of a pepper grinder. Cook until the greens are warm and the garlic has lost its rawness.

rapini crostini

My plan was to tuck this spread in the fridge, so I didn’t add any cheese. However, I took some of it to a little tea party for three, and we perched slivers of strong, hard cheese on top of it which complimented it beautifully. I ate the rest this morning, folded into some warmed leftover rice and topped with fried eggs.

A good birthday breakfast! Garlicky rapini with leftover rice. Sunny side eggs. Tomatoes. Iced cold brew. #breakfast

It would also be good spooned into a little omelet or stirred into a grain salad. It keeps in the fridge for a bout a week and is a useful way to condense your greens if your fridge overflows.

Next time, I’ll tell you about that bundle of chard.

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Philly Foodworks Partnership + Stinging Nettle Pesto

Philly Food Works Share

Over the years, I’ve participated in a number of different CSA shares. Last year, I had to sit the CSA thing out entirely because I just wasn’t home enough. This year, I’ve partnered up with Philly Foodworks, for a series of blog posts on how I approach a CSA share. The goal is to share recipes for preserves as well as salads, spreads, and other goodies to help you make the most of what’s in your weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly box.

stinging nettles

Once a month, they’ll be dropping off one of their small Farmer’s Choice/Share boxes on my doorstep. When it’s in my hands, I’ll document and then share the ways I cooked, preserved, and prolonged the various bits of produce. If you’re in the Philly area and want to play along, sign up for one of the Philly Foodworks CSA programs. Use the code “FOODINJARS” to get $10 off your first order.

blanched nettles

The first box contained kale rapini, stinging nettles, a head of butter lettuce, 3/4 pound of fat asparagus spears, Swiss chard, a bundle of arugula, a slender bunch of ramps, and a pound of red potatoes. I’ve made several things so far, but right now, want to talk about the stinging nettles.

toasting walnuts

Stinging nettles grow wild in the springtime and are typically foraged rather than cultivated. They have a taste similar to spinach and are bursting with good things, including vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, potassium, and calcium. They can cause a topical rash (hence the stinging) when touched raw with bare skin, so if you do forage them, you want to wear gloves.

If you end up with a big bag of them like I did, the best approach is to bring a large pot of water to a boil and then upend the bag of nettles right into the pot. Cooked for 2 to 3 minutes, they’ll lose their sting and become a possible ingredient for all manner of dishes.

stinging nettle pesto

My freezer stash of pesto has dwindled over the last few months, so it seemed best to transform these nettles into a bright, green pesto to start replenishing the stores. Once my nettles had spent the requisite time in the boiling water, I strained them into a colander and rinsed them with cold water. That made it possible to pick through and remove the tougher stems and any twigs that came along with the nettles. Finally, I gave them a good, hard squeeze, in order to force as much of the cooking water out as possible.

finished pesto and rapini

They went into a food processor with 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, 3 crushed garlic cloves, a generous pinch of salt, and the zest and juice of 1 lemon. I pulsed to help combine the ingredients and then ran the motor while streaming in 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil. I stirred, tasted, added a bit more salt and a few turns of a pepper grinder, and processed for another 10 to 15 seconds (I like a silky pesto).

Once it was done, I smeared a little on a piece of toast for a snack and then packed the rest into little mason jars. The total yield was just under 2 cups. I topped the jars with a thin layer of olive oil (to keep the air out), screwed on old lids and rings (this is where you can reuse lids that have been through the canner), and stashed the jars in the freezer.

I’ll be back tomorrow to talk about the sauteed rapini. It’s a riff on a recipe from Marcella Hazan, so you know it’s good.

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Giveaway: The Complete Cuppow Glass Travel Mug

Cup Coozie set

About a month or so ago, the Cuppow team added a new product to their line-up. Called the Cuppow Coozie, this snug-fitting jar jacket works with most wide mouth pint jars and is made from recycled plastic PET bottles (those are the ones with a #1 on the bottom). The material is called pfelt and is durable and feels good in the hand.

feel the pfelt

I’ve had a Cuppow Coozie in my life for about a month now, and I’ve been using it a lot. Back in January, I made a private resolution to only get take-out coffee if I had a reusable cup with me. Because of this, I almost always tuck a travel mug of some kind in my bag before heading out (I never know when the urge to grab a cup will strike).

Before the Coozie landed in my mail box, I had been using a Contigo Autoseal mug. It’s a very well made mug, but it insulates so well that in order to bring the coffee down to a drinkable temperature, I’d need to remove the lid for an extended period of time. To my mind, that defeats the purpose of a travel mug.

jar with coozie

What I appreciate about the Cuppow Coozie is that it provides some insulation (and hand protection) while allowing the coffee to cool naturally enough that I can manage to drink it without removing the lid or waiting half the day. It also comes fitted with a little finger loop, making it easy and comfortable to hold and drink from the jar.

I’ve started taking a jar fitted with a Coozie with me whenever I’m planning on working from a coffee shop, which is something I do at least twice a week. My two favorite shops both offer reusable mugs if you plan on staying awhile, but far too often, I’ve managed to spill coffee everywhere when using their ceramic mugs. Using a jar fitted with a Cuppow lid and Coozie means that my risk of spillage is much less (additionally, both shops offer a small discount if you bring your own mug, so I save a few pennies each time).

holding jar with Coozie

The kind folks at Cuppow have offered up five of their Complete Glass Travel Mug set-ups for me to giveaway. Each one contains a wide mouth pint jar and ring, one Cuppow lid, and a Cuppow Coozie (just like what’s pictured in the first image in this post). Oh, and if you don’t want to wait to see if you win the giveaway, the travel mug kit is on sale right now for just $24.95.

Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me what you’d put in a Complete Cuppow Glass Travel Mug.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, May 16, 2015. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog soon thereafter.
  3. Giveaway open to United States residents only. Void where prohibited.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: The Cuppow team sent me one of their travel mug kits for photography and review purposes. They are also providing the units for this giveaway. Additionally, they are a Food in Jars sponsor. However, I would write about their products even if they didn’t help support this site because they are good and useful, particularly for those of us who are preoccupied with jars. 

Upcoming Classes: Morris Arboretum and Online!

class image revised

I’ve made my teaching schedule intentionally lighter this year than it’s been in previous years, but I have a couple rapidly approaching classes I wanted to highlight.

The first is a jam making class this Saturday, May 16 from 10 am to 12 noon at the Morris Arboretum. I’ll demonstrate how to make a batch of honey-sweetened strawberry jam that is set using Pomona’s Pectin. This class is a terrific opportunity to refresh your skills for the upcoming season and will also help attendees get comfortable with both alternative sweeteners and Pomona’s Pectin. The class costs $40 for Arboretum members and $45 for non-members. Register here.

The second class I want to draw your attention to is my first-ever live online class. It will be on Tuesday, May 19 from 7-8:30 pm eastern time (but folks in other time zones are also welcome to join, I’ll just be appearing a bit earlier in your location!). In the class, I’ll make small batch of strawberry jam and will talk about canning safety, boiling water baths, and how to safely make a recipe your own. I will also be answering questions, so come prepared with your queries.

The class costs $20 and is being hosting by a service called Concert Window. If you want to participate, create an account on the site now and follow the event. I’ll start broadcasting promptly at 7 pm! Please let me know if you have any questions!

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Links: Ramps, Rhubarb, and Winners

Banana, spinach, dates, frozen grapes, milk, and the last of the 2014 blueberries. #smoothieinajar #glassdharma

Since turning in the book draft on Wednesday, I’ve slept a little more than normal, gone for a couple extended walks along the river, made nettle pesto (more on that soon), and wandered through two farmers markets. I have a busy start to the coming week, but my birthday (36!) is Thursday and I plan to do nothing but fun things. Now, some links.

Wil It Waffle

In the madness of finishing the book manuscript, I never managed to post the winners in the Will It Waffle giveaway from a few weeks ago. The US winner is #190/Laura and the Canadian winner is #210/Anne. And don’t forget about the Orchard Road giveaway. It’s open until Tuesday.

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Giveaway: Orchard Road Decorative Series One-Piece Lids

Orchard Road Decorative Series

Before I start talking about these lids, I want to say thanks. I so appreciate your patience with me during the last few weeks, when finishing the book draft made it so hard for me to show up here. I turned the manuscript in last night, so we can now turn our attention to more important things, like mason jar lids with whimsical prints!

Last summer, a new mason jar company entered the canning market. Called Orchard Road, they offered five sizes of jars as well as lids and rings (I first wrote about them here). In the last year, I have the chance to use their jars and lids a number of times and they have performed well and given me absolutely no grief.

Orchard Road lid patterns

This summer, Orchard Road has brought out a line of Decorative One-Piece Lids. They recall the old gingham and flowered lids that Ball used to make back in the day and have been a really fun addition to my canning process. They are one-piece lids, which means that they need to be handled a bit differently than the two-piece lids most of us regularly used. Happily, I have an entire blog post devoted to that topic that you can find right here.

marmalade lids

The nice folks at Orchard Road have offered three sets of their new lids for a giveaway. Each of the three winners will get a one box of each of the new designs (fruit, purple gingham, and daisies). Additionally, for those of you who don’t want to take your chances on a giveaway, you can use the code “DECO25” for 25% off your order over at Orchard Road. As long as you buy at least one box of lids, it will take 25% off your entire order, including the jars!

To enter the giveaway, here’s what you do:

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share something new to you that you’re hoping to can this season.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Tuesday, May 12, 2015. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog soon thereafter.
  3. Giveaway open to United States residents only. Void where prohibited.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: The folks at Orchard Road sent me the lids you see here so that I could try them and take some pictures. They are also providing the giveaway units. They have been site sponsors in the past, but are not at this time. No additional compensation has been provided for this post. All my opinions remain my own.