This time of the year, all the early plants race to put out as much green growth as possible; leafyness abounds. All those greens are packed with plenty of vitamins which is just what we all need after a winter of fat and starch. This week is, again, a box primarily of greens but there are a few delicate treasures starting to creep their way in. In the bottom of the box you will find a bundle of pok choy, some sticks of rhubarb, some tiny beets (and I had to scrounge to find them!) and a bunch of onions. These onions have been in the family for decades. Sometimes they go by the name of Multiplier onions, or Egyptian Walking Onions, or Top Setting Onions or Winter Onions, but these beauties came from my grandparents farm where they were pretty much growing wild under the apple trees. They are a perennial, coming back year after year and the multiply in a unique way. Late spring, the onion sets forth a flower, but it’s not really a flower, it is more of an aerial bunch of baby onions, technically called bulbils. Once the weight gets too great or the onion starts to die back, the cluster falls to the ground where they then root in and grow into new onions, hence they walk about and multiply. Like most onions, they overwinter quite well and provide one with a fresh crop of onions with little work early in the season. They are a bit more firm than normal onions, but once cooked up or chopped finely, work out great. Sometimes they are a bit on the strong side, but that is a good thing! In Eating on the Wild Side, author JO Robinson brings up that the older varieties of more pungent onions have more antioxidants and other cancer fighting compounds than the large sweet varieties that populate the grocery shelves, so eat up!
In the second layer of the box, you can find some spinach, mixed lettuce, a bag of Bright Lights Chard and a bag of dill weed and pea shoots. Pea Shoots? Yep, pea shoots or pea tendrils. These gems taste like peas or pea pods, just in the form of foliage. They can be chopped finely and added to a salad or steamed. At an old place of employment, we grew peas by the acre for pea trials and many of my Asian coworkers cut off pea shoots by the bag full. They then steamed or sauteed them and ate them with rice
daily for weeks. I think they would pair nicely with the garlic scapes like this Pea Tendrils with Garlic Scapes Recipe, also in the box. Garlic Scapes have a very short season and now is the time! They are the immature flowers of a hardneck garlic. Removing the scape also helps the bulbs grow larger so it is a win-win to cut off the scapes. As for the Swiss Chard… its not a favorite of mine. Steamed, its ok, creamed, were getting better, but I do love it in this Pasta with Swiss Chard Recipe! The little hot pepper, garlic and Parmesan cheese make some great flavors. I don’t think the capers are totally needed if you don’t have them.
Other doings on the farm include the birth of the last goats of the year, the completed butchering of the broiler chickens, and weed pulling in between rain showers. The weather has been great so things are looking ripe for a great growing season. Even some of my grafted apples are looking like they want to fruit, like this Cox Orange Pippin!
Coming up next week, probably more of the same, but more beets, napa cabbage, and possibly something for your sweet tooth.