Friday, June 18, 2010

CSA Adventures

Community supported agriculture, or CSA, is a great option if you want to decrease your food footprint and eat locally or if you just want to increase the amount and variety of fruits and vegetables in your life. In short, membership in a CSA gets you a big box of fresh-from-the-farm veggies either every week or every other week. Here in Madison, there are quite a few local farms that sell memberships to their CSA program, and most health insurance plans will partially reimburse you for the price. It's a good deal, and it's my first year taking advantage of it.

My first box came with some delicious stuff: green garlic, asparagus, and parsley...

... big long stalks of rhubarb,

... a bunch of beautiful bright red radishes,

... and, here, already wrapped, a head of lettuce and a large bunch of arugula.

Now these ingredients went into a lot of dishes, but the first thing I made (using three of my veggies) was a delicious pancetta asparagus quiche. I luckily had a half-recipe of pie dough in my freezer, so this quiche came together quickly. And the quiche went into our stomachs even more quickly. I had forgotten how a little egg and a little gruyere and a little pie crust can turn any vegetables into something rich, delectable, and sinfully good.

Pancetta and Asparagus Quiche
adapted from this recipe at Simply Recipes

1/2 recipe pie dough (I think mine was from the bottom of this recipe)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 package pancetta cubes
4 stems of green garlic, sliced (or scallions, or 1 shallot)
10 oz asparagus, cut into 1 inch sections
freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 large eggs
6 oz gruyere or a mix of gruyere and swiss cheese, grated (1 1/2 cups)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pie dough into a 11 inch circle. Fit into a 10 inch pie plate and press it into place. Trim the edges.
2. Place a large sheet of aluminum foil or parchment paper over the crust, and fill with dry beans, dry rice, or aluminum pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, and carefully remove the foil or paper with the weights. Using a fork, poke the pie crust multiple times, and return to the oven to bake for another 10 minutes (or until lightly golden). Set aside to cool while preparing the filling.
3. Heat oil at medium-high in a large skillet. Cook pancetta until crisp. Remove to a small bowl. Add green garlic and cook for 3 minutes, until translucent and tender. Remove to the pancetta bowl. Add asparagus and cook for 5 minutes. Pour in a little water (to just cover the bottom of the pan) and cover. Cook for 3 more minutes, remove the lid and finish cooking until the water is gone.
4. Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Place the pie pan on a baking sheet to catch any spills or overflow. Sprinkle half of the cheese onto the crust and top with the asparagus, pancetta, and garlic. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on a top.
5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, cream, eggs, and pepper. Pour over the filling. Transfer the baking sheet and quiche to the oven and bake until it is set in the center, 30 to 35 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

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