2014 Spring CSA Share Week #4, May 7th

The ramps are here!  The ramps are here!


What in the world are ramps, you ask?  Ramps are wild leeks that grow in the woodlands of eastern North America.  For many of us, the sight, smell and flavor of ramps are some of the first signs that spring has truly arrived.  Their bright green leaves and purplish stems are a sight for sore eyes after a long winter.  Their unique flavor, much like a cross between garlic and leeks, compliments so many types of food that they are extremely versatile.  They can be eaten raw or cooked, added to soups, pickled, baked into biscuits or made into pesto.  They’re only available for a few weeks of the year, so make the most of them while you can!  Click HERE for a great article about ramps which includes lots of tasty recipes.

Ramps, which are gathered by professional foragers and adventurous consumers alike, have grown so much in popularity over the past couple of decades that they are now in danger of being overharvested.  What was once an obscure Appalachian edible has become all the rage and can be found on the menus of upscale restaurants all over the country.  The New York Times article “When Digging for Ramps Goes Too Deep” highlights some of the long-term concerns of overharvesting ramps.  At Penn’s Corner we’ve talked at length with our growers about using sustainable practices, and we are confident that our farmers are harvesting ramps responsibly.

The spring of our discontent…

From an agricultural perspective every year is challenging in it’s own way.  Last year we had a very, very wet spring.  So wet in fact, that farmers couldn’t even get into their fields to get early crops like onions and peas planted.   Then there was a fairly significant blight problem.  Some years are too hot and too dry.

This winter was very long and this spring has been darker and colder than usual.  This means that crops are coming in more slowly than usual.  As a result you will find items like cornmeal, salsa, beans, and applesauce in your shares.  Penn’s Corner has the advantage of being a co-op and because we have a lot of diverse member farms, we are able to continue to fill our shares each week.  During these lean weeks we will rely heavily on our value added and shelf stable products to keep your pantry stocked up with local food.  Week by week, more and more produce available but it’s all coming at us a little later than usual.  As with every year, it will be well worth the wait once we finally have it on our tables!




If you haven’t already signed up for your Harvest CSA share, now is the time!  We still have a few shares available for the 2014 Harvest season.  Email us at csa@pennscorner.com to add the summer to your share!


A Route Pick Up Locations

Penn’s Corner Hamilton Ave Warehouse, Monroeville, Churchill, Green Tree, Dormont,  Whitehall, Mt. Lebanon- Woodhaven, Mt. Lebanon- Eden’s Market, Bridgeville, Greenfield, Sq Hill- Eldridge, Sq Hill- Bartlett, Point Breeze, Chatham University, Sq Hill- Murray Ave, Shadyside, Friendship

Z Route Pick Up Locations

Highland Park- Jackson, Highland Park- Union Project, Fox Chapel, North Side- Children’s Museum, North Side, B Gourmet, Ross Township, Franklin Park, Bradford Woods, Restaurant ECHO, Westinghouse- Cranberry, Google, East End Brewing, Lawrenceville- Butcher on Butler, Lawrenceville- 39th St, 4 moms, Strip District- Marty’s Market, Direct Energy, Downtown- Gulf Tower,  PNC One, Highmark,  South Side, Branding Brand, Eat ‘n Park Hospitality, Edgewood Train Station, Regent Square- East End Ave, Oakland- Apple, Schenley Farms, Oakdale, Indiana


***Please remember to return last week’s empty CSA boxes to your pickup location***


A Share

 ~ 1/3# ramps, Nu Way Farm

 ~ 1/3# arugula, Nu Way Farm

 ~ 1# fresh rigatoni, Fontana Pasta

 ~ 3# rome apples, Dawson’s Orchards

 ~ Farmer’s Market Salsa, Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance

 ~ 1/2 dozen eggs, Clarion River Organics

 ~ 1/3# Boltonfeta cheese, Hidden Hills Dairy

Z Share

 ~ 1/3# ramps, Nu Way Farm

 ~ hydroponic bibb lettuce, Harmony Grove Farm

 ~ 1# fresh rigatoni, Fontana Pasta

 ~ 2# red potatoes, Blue Goose Farm, CNG

 ~ Farmer’s Market Salsa, Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance

 ~ 1/2 dozen eggs, Clarion River Organics

 ~ 1/3# Boltonfeta cheese, Hidden Hills Dairy

~ Vegan members will receive chopped tomatoes and arugula instead of pasta, eggs and cheese.

~ Gluten free members will receive arugula in place of the pasta.

OG- certified organic          CNG- certified naturally grown


The Pasta

It’s fresh!  That means that you can’t leave it on your countertop as you would with dry pasta.  We reccommend freezing this fresh pasta and tossing it right into boiling, salted water when you’re ready to use it.  No defrosting necessary! You can also refrigerate it but then it should be used within a few days.


Ramps with Pasta and Fried Eggs   ramps-pasta

adapted slightly from Blue Kitchen

Serves 4

1/3  pound ramps
1 lb. pasta
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt
black pepper
Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup freshly grated plus 1 tablespoon (you can substitute your feta cheese here)
1 tablespoon butter
4 eggs

A quick note: If you happen to have two people cooking together, it helps this dish come together at the end. If not, one person can easily manage it.

First, put a pot of water on the stove to boil, for cooking the pasta.  While it is heating up, wash the ramps thoroughly [see Kitchen Notes].  Cut the root end off and discard it [or save it for your compost pile].  Slice off the white part of each ramp.  Peel off the very thin white outer layer and put that in your discard pile too.  Take the ramps over to the sink and rinse, rinse, rinse, to remove any trace of dirt and grit.  Blot everything with paper towels or whirl it in a salad spinner.

Chop the white parts quite fine.  Take the green leaves and stack them, then slice in half lengthwise.  If the leaves are very large, also slice them crosswise—I like to do this at an angle so all the pieces have approximately the same shape.

When the water comes to a boil, toss in a little salt and then add the pasta.  Cook it until al dente.  Reserve about a half cup of cooking water, just in case, and drain the pasta well.

In a deep skillet, heat the olive oil.  Grind a lot of black pepper into the oil and let it heat with the oil to infuse it.  Pour in the white parts of ramp all at once and stir to coat with the oil.  Cook for about three minutes, until translucent.   Then add the green parts. Stir them to coat with the oil and cook until they are wilted—about 90 seconds.

This is the point where the significant other becomes significant.  Once the ramps are cooking, in a separate nonstick skillet, Cook #2 now heats the butter and carefully starts to fry the eggs, so that they remain individual and neat.  We like this dish with the eggs turned once so they are over easy.

While Cook #2 is frying the eggs, Cook #1 pours all the pasta into the deep skillet with the sautéed ramps.  Toss everything together over low heat, gently mixing the pasta with the oil and ramps.  You know how, so often, when you are mixing your pasta into your whatever, it really doesn’t all mix together?  The non-pasta parts fall to the sides or the bottom?  Well, this actually does mix together.  Quite rewarding.

Pour the half cup of Parmesan over the pasta and continue to toss and stir.  If it looks at all clumpy or stubborn, add a few tablespoons of the reserved cooking water to smooth it out.  Use your judgment in how much to add.

When the pasta, ramps, oil and cheese are all mixed together, dish out onto individual dinner plates or soup plates, and top each with a fresh fried egg.  Sprinkle a very small amount of cheese over all, then a bit more fresh ground pepper and salt, and serve.  Wonderful.

Kitchen Notes

The ramps at our Farmstand market were very clean, but most often, if you find ramps at a farmer’s market, they will probably be pretty sandy and grubby. Trim off the root end, then rinse well under running water. Unless your ramps are very fresh, you may also need to peel off the outermost white layer from the bulb.



Are you finding it hard to keep up with the apples in your CSA share?  Try making dried apples or apple chips.

How to Make Dried Apples or Apple Chips in the Oven

from Eating Well

It’s easy to make dried apples and their crispier cousins, apple chips, at home in your oven
without a food dehydrator.
Here’s how to do it in a home oven:
1. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 200°F.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Combine 4 cups water and 1/2 cup lemon juice in a medium bowl.  (The lemon juice helps prevent browning.)
3. Using a sharp knife or a mandoline (if you have one), slice 2 large apples as thin as possible, about 1/8 inch thick. (We skip peeling and coring because we like the look of the dried skins and the pretty pattern the core makes in the center.) Soak the slices in the lemon water for 30 minutes. Drain and pat the slices as dry as possible with paper towels (or clean kitchen towels).
4. Place on the prepared baking sheets in a single layer.  Bake the slices on the upper and lower racks for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and turn each slice over; return the pans to the oven.  Bake 1 more hour for soft dried apples or about 2 more hours for crispy apple chips. (Timing depends on your oven, the type of apple and thickness of the slices; check periodically and reduce or increase the total time as needed.)  Turn off the
oven, crack the door and leave the apples in the oven until the oven cools completely, 1 to 2 hours.  Store airtight for up to 1 week or refrigerate for up to 1 month.
Makes: about 4 dozen apple slices or chips

veganpesto  Not sure what to do with your arugula?  You can mix it into a salad, use it as a topping for pizza, toss it in with some pasta or use it to make pesto.  Check out this blog post about vegan pesto from Choosing Raw

 My Favorite Vegan Pesto Recipe


Check out the Penn’s Corner  page for great recipe ideas!

Click here for some more radish recipe ideas from our radish pinterest page!  If you have favorite recipes online, please let us know so we can add them to our Pinterest page.   Contact csa@pennscorner.com with the links!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s