First Asparagus of the Season!

This past fall we constructed three new plastic covered greenhouses in the corner of our asparagus field. Plastic greenhouses are faster and more affordable to build than glass ones and work just as well! While they don’t have the longevity of glass, they are a nice happy medium.

Rather than plow under and dig up the old asparagus plants, we left them alone. And now here we are in the spring season, and wouldn’t you know it, we have some asparagus! The greenhouses helped raise the temperature of the soil enough to coax the asparagus up a full week earlier than last year. We are so excited! We’re not harvesting enough to sell yet, but it won’t be long now — we’re crossing our fingers for late next week!

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As discussed on a Facebook post recently, an asparagus crop takes a huge investment of time and patience to come to fruition. We plant asparagus from crowns, which are basically baby asparagus roots. Asparagus can also be grown from seed to transplant, but it’s a much longer process. For the first 2 years after planting the crowns, we don’t harvest at all. In year 3 we harvest for just 2 weeks, and by year 4 we can begin to harvest at full capacity. From there we continue to harvest for 10-15 years! Some newer varieties are able to be picked for even longer, close to 20 years.

And so, because of the long-term investment we’ve made into our asparagus crop, we were hesitant to dig up the field under the new greenhouses. And now we’re glad we didn’t, because it’s given us an early taste of our favourite spring veggie! We’re not harvesting enough to sell yet, but it won’t be long now — we’re crossing our fingers for late next week!

Are you familiar with the asparagus harvesting process? Most people are surprised to learn that asparagus is harvested entirely by hand. Our field crew walks up and down the rows with a small knife in one hand, and a collection basket in the other. To harvest a stalk of asparagus, the knife is inserted into the ground on an angle, and a quick, smooth cutting motion is used to cut off the stalk at its base. Each crown (that root system underground) produces approximately 10-12 stalks. And when harvesting, we have to be careful not to damage any of those surrounding stalks. If one was to be accidentally nicked or cut into, that stalk of asparagus would begin to grow crookedly.

As you may have noticed from the video on social media, asparagus harvesting requires a lot of physical labour. To harvest each stalk by end, our field crew must not only walk up and down the rows, but also bend down & stand up repeatedly. It’s not easy on the back! Next time you pick up a bunch of asparagus for dinner – keep that in mind. A whole lot of hard work went into producing it!

Once we start to harvest our asparagus crop on a larger scale, we’ll check back in and fill you in on how we grade, package, and store our asparagus post-harvest. Stay tuned!

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Blog post written & photographed by Alex Chesney, RD

Special thanks to Luke Chesney for his additional photography and the video editing skills!




Bud the Spud

This week was off to a blustery start, with chilly temperatures and flurries in the air – not quite what we were hoping for, but we’re making it work! Our to-do list for the week is already growing, but there are two items in particular that we thought you’d be interested in.

First up is our rhubarb – one of our earliest crops! Rhubarb typically springs into season during the first week in May, alongside its skinny green counterpart asparagus. This year, though, we’re doing a little experiment. In hopes of getting our hands on some rhubarb even earlier, we’ve tunneled 5 rows of rhubarb. Tunnels are a technique used for several of our other crops, including our famous melons. A tunnel is basically a mini in-field greenhouse. They’re constructed by placing small metal hoops in the ground, evenly spaced apart. These hoops are then covered with sheets of clear plastic dotted with holes: the plastic helps trap heat in the soil, speeding up the growing process and the holes in the plastic allow for temperature moderation and air circulation.  

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Rhubarb is a spring crop, as most of you know. And that’s not just because we love to eat rhubarb crisp during the month of May (although this is a true statement!). It’s also because rhubarb plants don’t like heat. Once the temperature consistently climbs above 30⁰C, the plants begin to complain and we stop harvesting. That being said, we’ll need to carefully monitor these tunnels, and be careful that they don’t work too effectively, and raise the temperature too high. Overall, our goal with these tunnels is to end up with rhubarb in our hands approximately 5 – 10 days earlier than past years. Fingers crossed!

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The next item on our to-do list reminds us of a favourite childhood song… “It’s Bud the Spud from the bright red mud, goin’ down the highway smiling…” You guessed it; we’re talking about potatoes! This week we hope to plant our 2019 crop of potatoes. And did you know that potatoes aren’t actually planted from seed? Rather, they’re planted from other potatoes, called seeding potatoes. At least, if you want to get the same variety of potato, that’s how its done. Potatoes do produce seeds, but if you plant those, you’ll end up with a whole new variety. To ensure consistency, and get the same potato from year to year, you plant another potato!

Our seeding potatoes just arrived, all the way from the East Coast, and we’re getting ready to pop them in the ground. To do so, we typically cut the potatoes in half, ensuring that at least one ‘eye’ remains intact. It’s from these eyes that the rest of the plant will grow. Have you ever forgotten about a bag of potatoes and opened it up to find little alien-like sprouts climbing up towards you? It may be startling at first, but this is actually just what you want if you’re growing your own.

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Want to learn a little bit more about potatoes? We’ve got a few more fun facts for you, so keep on reading!

Okay, so potatoes grow under the ground, which makes them a root vegetable, right? …not quite! Potatoes are actually a tuber, which means that rather than sucking up nutrients from the soil and delivering them to the rest of the plant, they store up the nutrients. That’s what makes potatoes so fat and starchy.

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Another question we often get is “What about green potatoes?! Aren’t they poisonous?” When planting potatoes, we have to make sure they’re deep enough that they aren’t exposed to light. Sunlight causes a chemical called solanine to build up and turn the potatoes green. Solanine is technically poisonous, but you’d have to eat a whole bunch of green potatoes for it to actually make you sick! So, next time you see a green potato, just slice off the green part and keep on cooking.

After planting the potatoes, we’ll need to hunker down and wait until early June until we can start to harvest. By then, tender and sweet baby potatoes should be ready for digging! We won’t dig up our whole crop then, though. We’ll stagger our harvesting, allowing the potatoes to slowly grow larger throughout the season. By fall, the potatoes will be big enough and sturdy enough for storing through the winter. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though – we’re still waiting for spring!

Well, that’s it for this week! Stay tuned for updates on our rhubarb & potato crops. Thanks for reading!

Blog post written & photographed by Alex Chesney, RD

Frank & the Bulletin Board

Each year the bulletin board in our farm’s office slowly fills up with memories of the season. Things are tacked up as they arise, first in an orderly fashion and then slowly becoming more jumbled as the days get longer and the fields get fuller. Business cards from other local entrepreneurs, funny signs from our creative farmers’ market staff, quotes, and more all crowd together to help us remember what an adventure-filled summer we had.

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As we get ready for the 2019 season, we will take down many of last year’s papers and photos to make room for this year’s. Recently, as we were standing around looking at last year’s board, we were laughing and reminiscing. One memory in particular stood out: an email from Kathy, the daughter of one of our most loyal customers at the East York Farmers’ Market.

Frank has been a customer of ours for years . Last summer he attended the market every single week, bringing a flat of berries home with him without fail. That’s pretty impressive in and of itself, but what makes it even more so is that Frank was 96 years old at the time! We received Kathy’s email last fall, once the market concluded for the season:

“A huge thank you to all your staff for being so incredibly welcoming and attentive to my Dad again this season. His favourite day is Tuesday at the East York market for his flats of strawberries and the smiling faces at your booth! At 96 years old he didn’t miss a single Tuesday this summer. Hopefully he’ll see you all next summer!! 😘😘. P.S. he says your berries are the sweetest!!”

Without committed customers like Frank, our farmers’ markets would not be nearly as successful as they are. And they wouldn’t be as enjoyable, either! We looked forward to seeing Frank’s familiar and smiling face each week, and it meant so much to us that our strawberries were so special to him.

We have been emailing back and forth with Kathy over the winter, and were promised some photos from Frank’s 97th birthday party earlier this month. We just received them today and wanted to share with all of you! Take a look at Frank celebrating with his large extended family. His warm smile, sense of humour, and love for his family are clear.

Sadly, just 10 days after turning 97, Frank passed away surrounded by his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and friends. We were incredibly sad to hear of his passing, and asked Kathy if we could honour Frank and thank him for his commitment to our farm. We hope he knew how much his weekly market visits meant to us. He will be missed.

Spring Cleaning

It’s officially spring! The sun is shining more often, the temperatures are rising, and colour is slowly starting to return to the landscape. And with these changes in weather come changes in our routine. The winter months are mostly spent indoors, thanks to the cold, wind, and snow, but we’ve been able to spend more and more time outdoors in the past week or so.

First on our spring-cleaning list is the greenhouse, where our famous melons start their lives each season. Melon seeds (both muskmelon and watermelon) are planted into trays and grown inside the greenhouse for about 5 weeks. Once the plants are approximately 6 inches tall, strong enough to successfully survive outside, and once the risk of frost has passed us by (we hope!) they are transplanted into the fields. But before this greenhouse growing can take place, there’s a lot of work that must be done!

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To start, the greenhouse glass is carefully examined for any cracks or damage from the snow-filled winter months. Sometimes the weight of snow sitting on the glass can cause damage, and we need to ensure we address this before moving forward. If any damage is discovered, the glass is cleaned up and new panes are inserted.

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Next, the greenhouse is carefully arranged into rows of racks. These racks are supported by cinder blocks, and are the perfect size to hold the trays that the melon seeds will be planted into. Before planting, the both the racks and the trays must be thoroughly washed and rinsed, to remove debris from last season. This rinsing and debris removal prevents the risk of contamination from disease from last year’s plants.

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So there you have it! A peek into the beginning stages of prepping for the 2019 season. Are there any other areas of the farm that you’re curious about? Ask away! We’ll do our best to answer and provide some fun photos as well.

Blog Post Written & Photographed by Alex Chesney, RD

Soft Pretzel Twists & Garlic Scape Mustard Dipping Sauce

Superbowl Sunday is fast approaching, and that calls for just one thing - snacks! I’ve always enjoyed the Superbowl, but not really for the football. Instead, my priority has always been the food, and this year will be no different. I’ll be whipping up a batch of these delicious soft pretzels for guests to dunk into our delicious Garlic Scape Mustards. Check out the recipe below and try it for yourself! Serve alongside some fresh veggie sticks to balance it out. Have a great weekend!

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Prep Time: 20 minutes

Baking Time: 8 minutes

Makes: 8 soft pretzels

Ingredients:

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 standard packet)

1 cup warm water

1 tbs unsalted butter, melted

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

3 cups all-purpose flour + up to 3/4 cup more if needed

2 cups water

4 tbs baking soda

1 tbs coarse salt, for sprinkling on top

3 tbs salted butter, melted

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 475⁰D and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, then set aside.

  2. Combine yeast, warm water, and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with hook attachment. Let sit for approximately 5 minutes, until the mixture becomes "frothy". Stir in the salt and 1 tbs of melted butter.

  3. Next, add flour 1 cup at a time until a dough forms and is no longer sticky. If you press your finger into the dough and it bounces back, it's ready to knead. Knead dough for 5 more minutes until smooth and pliable. Form the dough into a ball and place it back into the bowl to rest for 15 minutes. During this time, prepare baking soda bath.

  4. In a small pot, combine 2 cups of water with 4 tbs of baking soda and bring to a boil. Once the baking soda is mostly dissolved, take mixture off heat and allow it to come down to a lukewarm temperature. Pour into a 9x9 baking dish once cooled down.

  5. By now, the 15 minutes of dough resting time should be up. Take dough out of the bowl and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. Cut dough into 8 sections (like a pizza). Roll each triangle into a long rope, about 19-20 inches long.

  6. Shape dough as desired; into a traditional pretzel shape, twists, pretzel sticks, or pretzel bites. Place prepared pretzel shapes in the baking soda bath for 2 minutes. If the whole pretzel isn't covered by the water, spoon it on top of the areas is doesn't reach. Once the 2 minutes is up, carefully pick pretzel up either by your hand or with the help of a fork and place on prepared baking sheet. You may have to re-shape slightly. Sprinkle the pretzel with coarse salt while still wet (optional). Repeat these steps until all 8 pretzels are prepared and on the baking sheet(s).

  7. Bake pretzels for 8-9 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and immediately brush the remaining melted butter.

  8. These homemade soft pretzels are best served hot and fresh out of the oven but will keep for about 2 days stored at room temperature in an airtight container. Pop them in the microwave and they're good as new!

Recipe adapted from sprinklesomesugar.com by Alex Chesney, RD

Oatmeal-Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies

Chilly winter days were made for baking, don’t you think? There’s nothing I love more than hunkering down in my kitchen with some music playing in the background while I mix up some dough and roll it out. It’s soothing and comforting, and the end result is so delicious. This week I wanted to bake something that featured one of our jams, and thumbprint cookies immediately came to mind. They’re quick and easy, and super cute. Although these fall firmly into the treat category, this recipe features oats and whole wheat flour for a bump of fibre. Give them a try and let me know what you think!

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Prep Time: 10 minutes

Bake Time: 10 minutes:

Makes: 3 dozen bite-sized cookies

Ingredients

1 ¾ cups old-fashioned oats, divided

¾ cups whole-wheat flour

1 teaspoon ground ginger

½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

¼ cup packed brown sugar

¼ cup white sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

¼ cup Thames River Melons raspberry jam

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350⁰F. Prepare a large baking sheet (or two smaller ones) by lining with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.

  2. Grind ½ of the oats into a finely ground flour using a food processor, high-speed blender, or spice grinder. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl.

  3. Add the flour, remaining oats, ground ginger, and salt to the oat flour and whisk to combine.

  4. Next, beat together the butter and sugars using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or an electric hand mixer. Use medium speed, and beat until light and fluffy (approximately 1 minute).

  5. Add the egg and beat thoroughly. Then, beat in the vanilla.

  6. Next, slowly add the flour mixture on low speed and beat until just incorporated.

  7. Finally, gently fold in the walnuts (if using).

  8. Using a spoon or small cookie scoop, measure about 1 tablespoon of dough from the bowl. Roll the dough between the palms of your hand to form a ball and place on the prepared cookie sheet(s).

  9. Continue to scoop and roll, placing the balls of dough approximately 2 inches apart.

  10. Use your thumb to press down on the middle of the dough ball. Fill each with a dab of raspberry jam.

  11. Place the prepared cookie sheets into the preheated oven and bake for 5 minutes. Then, rotate the baking sheet from front to back (and between racks if using two pans!) and continue baking for another 3 to 4 minutes, until cookies are set but still soft.

  12. Remove the cookies from the oven and cool for 1 to 2 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack to fully cool.

  13. Store in an airtight container for 4 to 5 days. Enjoy!

Recipe modified from The Kitchn by Alex Chesney, RD

Thai Coconut Curry Soup

Today’s freezing temperatures and blustery wind have me craving more soup. Do you feel it too? This recipe is sure to warm you through and through thanks to the flavours of ginger and Thai curry paired with comforting butternut squash and coconut milk. As a bonus, you’ll get a generous dose of vitamins A and C thanks to the squash, and a hit of protein and iron offered up by the red lentils.

The iron found in plant-based proteins is called non-heme iron and is a bit harder for our bodies to absorb than heme iron (found in meat). However, pairing non-heme iron with Vitamin C increases absorption. See where I’m going? The Vitamin C from the squash will work in tandem with the iron in the lentils to fuel you more efficiently. Another bonus of red lentils are their quick-cooking nature and their tendency to start to disintegrate when cooked. This makes them essentially impossible to detect; a great way to power up the picky people in your lives!

Give it a try today and let me know what you think.

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Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon cooking oil

1 bell pepper, diced

1 onion, diced

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon salt

1 –2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste (depending on your spice preference; I used 2!)

1 can coconut milk

3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

4 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed

1 carrot, diced

½ cup red lentils

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a medium pot, over medium heat. Place 1 piece of diced onion in the pot to test the temperature of the oil. Once the onion starts to sizzle, add the remaining onion.

  2. Sauté the onion for 1-2 minutes, until it begins to soften. Then, add the diced bell pepper and continue to sauté for another 1-2 minutes.

  3. Once the vegetables have softened, and onion has started to become translucent, add the ginger powder, salt, pepper, and Thai curry paste. Mix to combine.

  4. Next, add the coconut milk. Stir to combine, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan, gathering up all of those flavourful bits that may have started to stick!

  5. Add the vegetable broth, again stirring to combine.

  6. Finally, add the butternut squash, carrot, and red lentils. Stir to combine, then place the lid on the pot and bring to a boil.

  7. Once the pot reaches a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes.

  8. At this point, the butternut squash should be soft, and the lentils should have started to disintegrate.

  9. Blend the soup with an immersion blender until smooth and glossy.

  10. Top with your favourite roasted winter veggie and serve with a slice of whole wheat bread for a filling and nutritious meal. Enjoy!

Recipe created by Alex Chesney, RD

Leek and Potato Soup

The weather has been unpredictable lately — snowy and cold one day then slushy and warm the next. Regardless of the temperature, one thing has remained constant, and that’s my desire for soup. The winter months have always made me crave this warm and comforting meal, and that hasn’t changed this year! Their ease and versatility are also a great selling point. I de!ided to start off 2019 with a classic: leek and potato!

Both leeks and potatoes are crops that keep well long after harvest. The farm has settled into a quiet rhythm for these next few months, but we do still have a few veggies kicking around the barn. I rescued a bundle of leeks and a handful of potatoes to pair with leftover veggies from my fridge and then hit the kitchen!

When preparing the potatoes, I washed them thoroughly then removed any eyes and marks, otherwise leaving the skin intact. As with many fruits and vegetables, the skin houses the majority of the nutrients, particularly the fibre! When it comes to leeks, many consumers are not aware of their nutrition content. Are you? Just in case, I’ll fill you in! Leeks contain an incredibly high amount of Vitamin K, a fat-soluble vitamin that helps our bodies heal wounds, and maintain the health of blood vessels and bones. Because it’s fat-soluble, it’s best absorbed when paired with fat. In this recipe, both the butter and the milk/cream contribute fat. Pretty neat, hey?

Overall, this soup is flavourful, creamy, and satisfying. It makes the perfect lunch for a chilly weekend, or a quick and easy dinner for those busy weeknights. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

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Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 25 minutes

Makes: 4 – 6 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon cooking oil or butter

3 large leeks*, white parts sliced into coins

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 bell pepper, diced

1 large carrot, diced (or 1 cup frozen diced carrots)

2 stalks celery, diced

½ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon dried thyme

¼ teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon salt

4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock

4 medium potatoes, cubed

½ cup milk or cream

Directions

  1. Heat oil or butter in a medium stock pot over medium heat. Add one small piece of leek and wait for it to start to sizzle.

  2. Once sizzling, add the rest of the sliced leeks. Cook for 3 minutes or so, stirring frequently, until leeks are softened.

  3. Add minced garlic and other diced vegetables. Cook for another 3-4 minutes, again stirring frequently.

  4. Next, add herbs and spices, mixing until all vegetables are evenly coated. Cook for another 1-2 minutes.

  5. Add the vegetable stock and the potatoes and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low (maintaining a gentle simmer) and cook for approximately 20 minutes.

  6. Once potatoes are softened, remove soup from heat. Blend the soup using an immersion blender or upright blender until a creamy consistency is achieved. Add the milk or cream and stir to combine.

*Be sure to wash the leeks very thoroughly, as although they are pre-washed before being sold, dirt has a way of working its way inside of this tasty veggie!

Recipe created by Alex Chesney, RD

Late Summer Chowder

Cooler weather is approaching, the official start of autumn is around the corner, and soup season has arrived! I’m looking forward to being able to comfortably use the stove and oven again and put them to work cooking up the tasty fall recipes I have in mind. To start us off we’ve got a hearty, delicious, and easy chowder. Flavour is built by cooking the vegetables in stages, and coating them with a lovely combination of spices. A low-sodium vegetable broth and just a dash of salt at the end will ensure a hearty-healthy final bowl, and all the wonderful vegetables featured make for a soup that is satisfying and filling. Take advantage of these still-in-season vegetables combined with comfortable cooking temperatures and try this recipe today. Let me know what you think!

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Ingredients

1 tablespoon oil

1 red onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 small jalapeno, diced (more or less, depending on spice tolerance!)

2 bell peppers, diced

2 cobs sweetcorn, cooked & removed from the cob

1 zucchini, diced

5 small red potatoes, cubed

1 teaspoon paprika, oregano, and parsley (each)

½ teaspoon thyme

2 tablespoons flour

3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1 cup milk

Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat until hot. A handy trick to test the readiness of the pan is to toss in a small piece of diced onion along with the oil. When it starts to sizzle you know you’ve reached the right temperature!

  2. Once hot, add all the onion to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes until translucent and softened.

  3. Add the garlic and peppers and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

  4. Add the corn, zucchini, spices, and flour. Mix until vegetables are evenly coated with the spices & flour.

  5. Next, slowly add the vegetable broth, stirring constantly.

  6. Once all the broth has been mixed in, add the potatoes. Lower the heat slightly and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are softened.

  7. Add the milk and stir until hot.

  8. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

  9. Enjoy!

Recipe created by Alex Chesney, RD

 

 

Gussied Up Grilled Cheese

Grilled cheese is a classic – it’s quick, easy, reliable, and delicious. Now, the standard grilled cheese consists of bread, butter, and cheese. But this is just the beginning! There are tons of possible variations, and today I’ve got one for you featuring one of our favourite summer berries. This grilled cheese still relies on the good ole bread and butter but adds a twist with its combination of balsamic blueberry compote and sharp, tangy goat’s cheese. Sweet and savoury have long been a popular combination, and this recipe proves it to be true once again.

This tasty sandwich is packed full of fiber, thanks to the whole wheat bread and blueberries. Blueberries are also a great source folate (which contributes to production of red blood cells, a healthy heart, and prevention of some birth defects) and potassium (important for our bone, kidney, nerve, and muscle health). Further, blueberries are rich in Vitamin C, which plays an important role in the absorption of plant sources of iron, and bone and muscle health. Additionally, Vitamin C is one of many antioxidants found in blueberries. Antioxidants have been linked to heart health and improved cognitive function as well as reduction in cancer and diabetes.

One last fun fact about blueberries – there’s no waste involved, and they are ultra-fast to prepare! Unlike strawberries which must be hulled, blueberries simply need a quick rinse before they’re good to go.

Overall, you really can’t go wrong with blueberries! And this recipe is a real show stopper. Impress your guests this weekend with our gussied up grilled cheese.

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*Serves 4

Balsamic Blueberry Compote Ingredients

2 cups blueberries, washed

½ cup water

2 teaspoons honey

4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon ground dried rosemary

Sandwich Ingredients

8 slices bread of choice

4 tablespoons butter, softened

1 log goat’s cheese

Directions

  1. To begin, make the blueberry balsamic compote. Combine the blueberries and water in a small saucepan and place on the stovetop over medium/low heat.
  2. Cook the berries with the lid off for approximately 20 minutes. Leaving the lid off while cooking allows for evaporation of some of the liquid, which helps the compote thicken. Halfway through cooking, stop to gently mash the berries. Don’t mash too much, as you want the berries to maintain some texture! ,
  3. While the compote is cooking, begin to prep the bread for assembling the sandwiches. Spread an even layer of butter on each slice of bread. Place 4 slices butter-side-down into a frying pan. Set the other 4 aside for later use.
  4. Next, spread ¼ of the goat’s cheese log onto each of the 4 slices of bread.
  5. Once the compote is thick and bubbly, add the honey, balsamic vinegar, and ground rosemary. Cook for a couple more minutes, and then remove from heat.
  6. Add 2 tablespoons of compote to each slice of bread in the frying pan. Spread the compote to the edges, then top the sandwich with a second slice of bread, butter side up.
  7. Cook the sandwiches over medium-low heat for approximately 7 minutes per side. The key to a perfectly golden & melty grilled cheese is low and slow. You have to be patient!
  8. Once the goat’s cheese has softened and melted into the blueberry compote and the bread is golden brown, remove the sandwiches from heat and slice in half. Serve alongside a side salad for a perfect summery lunch!

Recipe created by Alex Chesney, RD

 

Oven-Baked Asparagus Three Ways

Asparagus is one of my favourite veggies for so many reasons. Not only is it packed full of many essential vitamins and minerals and a great source of filling fiber, it also has an uncanny ability to pair well with a seemingly endless number of flavour combinations. These quick and easy recipes below are a perfect example of this versatility. No matter what food mood you’re in, asparagus can work for you!

These recipes also offer a great way to squeeze veggies into our busy schedules. Finding time for a well-rounded meal that the whole family will enjoy can be tough to do when you’re juggling work, school, extra-curricular activities, and more. Offering a variety of flavours means you can easily cater to personal preferences while still using just one baking dish. And what’s easier than a wash and toss recipe like this?! Wash and snap the asparagus, toss in the wet ingredients, and follow up with the dry. Give another toss, spread on the baking dish, then pop in the oven. Serve alongside a whole grain and a lean protein and voilà! Dinner is ready.

Give these combos a try and let us know what your favourite is.

From left to right: Lemony Goodness, Garlic & Ginger, Chili Lime

From left to right: Lemony Goodness, Garlic & Ginger, Chili Lime

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 5-8 minutes

Serves: 2-4

Flavour Combination Options

Lemony Goodness

1/3 bunch asparagus

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon olive oil

½ teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon salt

Chili Lime

1/3 bunch asparagus

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you like it real spicy!)

2 teaspoons lime juice

1 teaspoon chili powder

Garlic & Ginger

1/3 bunch asparagus

1 teaspoon sesame oil

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon dried ginger

Pinch of sesame seeds

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400⁰F.
  2. Prep the asparagus: wash & snap off the ends.
  3. Choose your favourite flavours.
  4. Toss the asparagus with the liquid ingredients, followed by the dry.
  5. Spread prepared asparagus stalks evenly on a baking sheet (you can like the sheet with parchment paper for quicker cleanup).
  6. If using fresh lemon & limes, cut a few slices off and lay them on top of the asparagus for an extra punch of flavour and stunning presentation.
  7. Pop in the oven and bake for 5-8 minutes, watching closely.
  8. Serve alongside a whole grain and lean protein for the perfect weeknight meal.
  9. Enjoy!

Recipe created by Alex Chesney, RD

Asparagus & Italian-Spiced Grape Tomato Pasta Salad

Warm weather and pasta salad go hand in hand! It's a great option for a BBQ potluck, or the perfect make-ahead lunch. This recipe is overflowing with filling fiber thanks to the whole wheat pasta, asparagus, and beans. The beans also offer up a lean source of protein that will help keep you full and satisfied all afternoon long. The low-fat oil and vinegar dressing packs a serious flavour punch thanks to the addition of many herbs and spices. Feel free to play around with these and customize to your liking! Finally, this salad features an extra special ingredient: one of our newer preserves, Italian-Spiced Grape Tomatoes. I always find myself craving tomatoes this time of year, when there are still months between me and our freshly picked field-grown varieties. Fortunately, a jar of these little preserves is a wonderful placeholder. They are the perfect addition to this recipe, as they are pre-seasoned with even more herbs and spices. They are also nice and soft, and blend seamlessly into the salad.

Visit us on-farm or at a farmers’ market this week to stalk (get it?!) up on freshly-picked asparagus and other fresh produce and preserves. Mention this recipe to any of our staff, and get a special Mix & Match deal: 1 lb of asparagus and 1 jar of Italian-Spiced Grape Tomatoes for just $10!

Offer applies from today until end of asparagus season.

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Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 6

Ingredients

Pasta Salad

2 cups whole wheat pasta noodles of your choice (macaroni works well!), dried

1 lb. asparagus, washed with ends trimmed

1 jar Thames River Melons Italian-Spiced Grape Tomatoes

¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled

1 can beans (black beans, chickpeas, or kidney beans) drained and rinsed

Dressing

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

½ tablespoon mayonnaise

½ teaspoon dried basil

½ teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon dehydrated onions

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Dash of salt

Dash of black pepper

Directions

  1. Wash the asparagus thoroughly, then trim the ends, as they are tough and not tasty to eat! Once washed, cook the asparagus using your favourite method. You could roast it (8 minutes in a 400⁰F oven), BBQ it (8 minutes on a hot grill), or steam it (5 minutes in a steamer). Any method will do!
  2. Next, cook the pasta according to package directions. Once cooked, drain in a colander and transfer to a large bowl. Don't rinse the pasta, as this decreases its ability to soak up the dressing!
  3. Once the asparagus has cooked, cut the stalks into bite-sized chunks and add them to the bowl along with the cooked pasta.
  4. Next, open the jar of Italian-spiced grape tomatoes and drain most of the liquid. Toss the tomatoes and a small amount of the remaining liquid into the salad mixture of pasta & asparagus.
  5. Open the can of beans of your choice, drain and rinse them, then add to the growing salad mixture.
  6. Crumble the feta cheese and add this to the salad as well.
  7. Finally, prepare the dressing by vigorously whisking together the oil, vinegar, and mayonnaise (which acts as an emulsifier). Once mixed well, add the spices and whisk again. 
  8. Drizzle the dressing over the pasta salad ingredients and toss the salad together.
  9. Serve right away or chill in the fridge overnight and serve the next day.
  10. Enjoy!

Recipe created by Alex Chesney, RD