There is a growing list, never a shrinking one, of things do do on the farm. This time of year it all needs to be done right now. Or last week. This past Friday the crew finished close weeding the second planting of carrots. It is slow detailed work done crawling around on one’s hands and knees. The completion of weeding each carrot field is like a quarter, half, and three quarter chime to an hour when it’s finally done. Two down one to go.
There are a lot of things getting done on the farm and I don’t really know how. It is amazing what gets done. There is even more getting done than I know because half the time I don’t know what Janaki is doing on the tractor and more than half the time, veggies pop out of the ground and I realize Dave snuck seeds in at some point.
This past week on the farm my contribution to crossing things off the list has been superseded by my adding things to it. Mostly adding broccoli. I’ve been spending a fair bit of time zig-zagging across beds of broccoli with my head down and my brow furrowed wondering if I really should be harvesting of all this. But yes, I really should. The first and second planting of broccoli (out of 8 plantings) both came on strong and at once. Luckily Janaki has a list of people he can call who might be interested in extra broccoli and John is good at sweet talking restaurants and grocery stores into ordering
just a case more.
Having such a bounty to manage is a good thing. Too much broccoli? What a lucky problem for a farm to have.
The harvest is what really matters even if I find myself thinking of other things I could be getting done instead. Like starting to weed the third planting of carrots. But the work we do is given meaning by the harvest, and by the produce ending up in your home. Otherwise what would this all be about?
For the farm crew,
1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds
Juice of half a lemon (about 1 tablespoon), plus more to taste
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt, then more to taste
3 tablespoons (30 grams) dried currants
5 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for frying
2 tablespoons (about 25 grams) brined or salt-packed capers
oil for frying
1 head of cauliflower (about 1 1/4 pounds)
Freshly ground black pepper
3 scallions, thinly sliced (use green and white parts)
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional, mostly for color)
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread almonds on a tray and toast them until they’re a deep golden color, tossing them once or twice to ensure even cooking. This will take 10 to 14 minutes. Set aside to cool.**
Meanwhile, place lemon juice, vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Add currants; set aside and let them soak while you prepare the other ingredients.
If using brined capers, drain and spread them on paper towels until most of their moisture has wicked out, about 5 minutes. If using salt-packed capers, soak them in water for 10 minutes to remove the saltiness, then drain, rinse and pat dry on paper towels. Pour a 1/2-inch of olive oil or another oil that you prefer to fry in in a small skillet or saucepan. Heat it over medium-high. When hot enough that a droplet of water added to the oil hisses, carefully add the capers and step back — they’re going to sputter a bit for the first 10 seconds. Once it’s safe to get closer, give them a stir. Depending on how dry they were, it can take 1 to 2 minutes for them to get lightly golden at the edges and then crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels.
Trim cauliflower leaves and cut head into quarters. Cut cauliflower, stem and florets, into 1/4-inch slices. Add to a large bowl.
Scoop currants from vinegar mixture with a slotted spoon and add to bowl with cauliflower, along with almonds, capers, scallions and parsley. Slowly whisk 5 tablespoons olive oil into remaining vinegar mixture in a thin stream. Add several turns of freshly ground black pepper. Pour over cauliflower and other ingredients and turn gently to coat all pieces. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more lemon juice, salt or pepper to taste. Dig in!
2 medium juliet tomatoes, cubed
1 1-pound English cucumber, cubed
1/2 medium red onion, cubed, or 4 scallions, finely sliced
3 tablespoons finely minced fresh, flat-leaf parsley
Juice of half a lemon
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons sumac powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
You can either toss all of the vegetables in one large bowl, and pour over it the parsley, lemon juice, olive oil and sumac mixture you whisked separately in a small bowl, or if you’re in a hurry just toss everything all at once.
Other additions: 1/2 to 1 cup crumbled or cubed feta, 1 bell pepper, cut into cubes, 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained, 1/2 to 1 cup coarsely chopped olives, 1 to 2 tablespoons finely minced mint or dill or pita chips (see below). You could also whisk a couple tablespoons of tahini into the dressing for a thicker, sesame-coated flavor. Serve with pita chips, or just eat it plain!