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This is Mariquita Farm's weekly Ladybug Postcard, our year round recipe newsletter, with notes by Andy, announcements, and events. 

It's Quarterly Renewal Time! Have YOU renewed? Details below.

Vegetable Notes by Andy Griffin

Dry-Farmed Early Girls: "Dry farming" is the practice of growing crops without recourse to irrigation. We transplant the tomatoes seedlings into the field in the spring when the soil is moist. As the water table receded the tomato plants send their roots ever deeper as they chase the moisture. Eventually this puts the feeder roots deep in the mineral earth. Flavor in fruits and vegetables and color in flowers depends more on trace elements and minerals than the standard fertilizers like nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus which support the growth of foliage. When a tomato plants feeds off the deeper mineral earth the result is a richer flavor. When the plant has to struggle for water the skin of the fruit ends up being tough but the flesh is firm and the flavor doesn't taste watered down. Not all tomato varieties can be dry-farmed successfully but the Early Girl, which is a modern hybrid, does well under dry-farmed culture.

Radicchio di ChioggiaRadicchio: Radicchio is a much appreciated vegetable in Italy, probably valued even more for cooking with than for eating raw in salads. Every town in Northern Italy seems to have its own form of radicchio. Just off the top of my head I can think of radicchio di Verona, Radicchio Castelfranco, and radicchio di Treviso. The radicchio in your share box is radicchio di Chioggia. You might remember the name "Chioggia" from the funny pink beet we've grown for you from time to time which sports concentric red and white rings inside the root.

Potatoes: We're still moving through the potatoes we harvested in the spring. Some potatoes were planted in early August that we're hoping make a nice mid-winter crop for the "Winter Abundance" harvest boxes we're hoping to distribute throughout the winter months. More on that later.

Couve Tronchudo Portuguese CabbageCouve Tronchudo: Biera Couve Tronchudo, or Portuguese cabbage, is a loose-leaved cabbage, much like a collard green. This traditional, open pollinated form of cabbage is much appreciated in the Iberian Peninsula both for its broad leaves which are harvested like kale as well as for the loose ball of a head which it will eventually form.

Cheddar cauliflower: Cheddar cauliflower is a nice cauliflower to grow in the summer since the more sun it receives the more of an orange color it picks up. Yes, we've had a lot of cauliflower recently. The long days and warm temperatures pushed the crop a little faster than I'd planned, but that's nature. Cauliflower waits for no one. Use it or lose it is the name of the game. I enjoy Cheddar cauliflower because it tastes great and it looks like it has been doctored up with saffron.

Copyright 2011 Notes and photos by Andy Griffin.

Is this week your last scheduled share?

For those on our quarterly renewal schedule, the third quarter ends this week on September 15th. (You subscription expiration date is listed to the right of your name on the sign in sheets.) To keep your veggies coming and to secure your spot for the fourth and final quarter of the 2011 CSA season, please send your payment now, to ensure it reaches us by the deadline of September 17th. We need to receive your payment by this Saturday in order to extend your subscription and ensure you are on the list for your Fall veggies. The 2011 CSA season ends November 16-17.

Nine weeks of veggies is $198.

Please make your check payable to Mariquita Farm and
mail it to P.O. Box 2065, Watsonville, CA 95077.

What's Planned in this Week's CSA Box

Sweet Peppers MixedDry Farm Early Girl Tomatoes
Radicchio di Chioggia
Couve Tronchudo Portuguese Cabbage
Cheddar Cauliflower
Mixed Sweet Peppers

*From Blue Heron Farm
Photo of Mixed Sweet Peppers by Andy Griffin.

Storage tips from Chef Jonathan:

Tomatoes: Store at room temperature on the counter, left open. Check your basket for split tomatoes and eat or use them right away as they attract flies. Do not refrigerate your tomatoes! They turn mushy.
Radicchio: Give it a drink and store in a plastic bag in the fridge. No coldest drawer.
Potatoes: Store in the plastic bag they come in in the fridge. No coldest drawer.
Couve Tronchudo: Give this a nice drink, put in a generous plastic bag and store in the fridge. No coldest drawer.
Lettuce: Wash and shake; store in a plastic bag in the fridge. No coldest drawer.

Cheddar Cauliflower: Store in a plastic bag in the fridge. Coldest drawer ok.

Peppers: Store in a plastic bag in the fridge. No coldest drawer.

Planning Tip: To get an early hint about what is planned for our weekly CSA shares, bookmark the link to our "What's In The Box 2011" web page. Each Monday we post Andy's best guess for what he has planned for that week's CSA box. And, we update this webpage if/when there are changes so it is the most current status of what's planned for the CSA share.

Ladybug Bulk Deliveries

Tomato and pepper season continues! This week, we have San Marzanos, Dry-farmed Early Girls, our mixed heirloom tomato toy box, mixed sweet peppers, strawberries, as well as flats of Anaheim and Poblano peppers. Some items are already sold out but if you didn't get your order in in time this week, more will be coming next week. (If you are signed up for the Ladybug Delivery announcements for your area, you would have received an email about these last week. See info below if you're not signed up already.) Click on the Order Form link specific to the pick up location you want to place your order for:

Tomorrow, Wednesday, September 14th in Santa Cruz
to 6 PM in Santa Cruz on Park Way
***Sold Out***

Thursday, September 15th in San Francisco
4:30 to 7 PM at Piccino in the Dogpatch
Order Form for San Francisco Delivery

Friday, September 16th in Palo Alto
4 to 6 PM at our Palo Alto Ross Road CSA P/U site
Order Form for Palo Alto Delivery

And, we're planning bulk deliveries for next week in Aptos, San Francisco, and on the Peninsula. We'll send out announcements with order form links at the end of this week. Make sure you're on the list for your area to receive these email alerts.

For the convenience of cooks who would like to can, pickle, juice, dry, or otherwise consume bulk quantities of fresh vegetables, herbs and fruits we are regularly scheduling special deliveries of bulk quantities of tomatoes, carrots, peppers, basil, pumpkins, etc. whenever the harvest permits. If this service looks interesting to you, please be sure you're signed up to be included on the list of people to get a special email alert. This is a separate mailing list from this Ladybug Postcard newsletter! We have three separate lists: San Francisco, the Peninsula/Palo Alto/San Jose, Monterey Bay Area and now, East Bay Then, stayed tuned for announcements when we're bringing the bounty to your area!

More Tomato U-Picks: September 22nd & 24th in Hollister

Tomato U-Pick9 AM to 12 Noon

Cost will be $0.75/lb for u-pick tomatoes, including heirloom varieties. NOTE: for the Thursday u-pick, there will be heirlooms, beefsteaks and dry-farmed principe borghese but no San Marzanos. At the Saturday u-pick, all of those varieties as well as San Marzanos will be available for picking. (We assess the week before each u-pick which types will be available depending on which field is most bodacious in its available ripe harvest.) Bring shallow boxes and crates (not too deep or your tomatoes will squish each other!), water to drink, and a hat because it can get hot. We will have some cardboard boxes for sale, but you’re encouraged to bring your own. This u-pick will be held in Hollister at 7788 Lovers Lane off of Hwy 152. We’ll have our Mariquita Farm banner sign up so look out for it.

Dogs are great, but please don’t bring yours to the u-pick day. Children sometimes feel threatened by dogs and I don’t want to be responsible if someone’s dog gets into a fight with someone else’s dog. Also, dogs can do a lot of damage in the fields, and the sight of a dog peeing on a tomato plant doesn’t do our sales any favors.

San MarzanosHeirloom Purple Cherokee

U-Pick & Heirloom Photos by Andy Griffin
San Marzano Photo by Shelley Kadota

Want to join, renew or know someone who does?

There are 9 weeks remaining in our CSA season (after this week)! And, we are still accepting members and have 4-week trial subscriptions for new members only for $88. If we receive your payment by this Saturday, September 17th, we could get you started next week, the week of September 21st. Here's a link to our pick up site list and to a PDF of our subscription form. To sign up, please print and complete our subscription form and mail it with your check made payable to Mariquita Farm to P.O. Box 2065, Watsonville, CA 95077. We'll email you a confirmation as soon as we get your subscription entered in to our system. If you have any further questions about our CSA program, please contact Shelley at

Spread the word!

If there's a bulletin board at your office or elsewhere that you would like to post and share information on about our Mariquita Farm CSA with others in your community, please feel free. Here's a pdf of our Mariquita Farm CSA flyer.

Mariquita Farm PostcardsTell a friend about eating more vegetables using a weekly CSA box with our new postcards. We are happy to send some to you via the USPS and then you can put them out at your church/ preschool/lunch room/office/business etc. Let us know (email Shelley at how many you'd like (from 2 to 200, up to you!) and the best postal address to send them, and we will get them in the mail.

Photo by Julia Wiley.

RECIPES from Julia & Chef Jonathan Miller

First, some notes and suggestions from Julia:

On the Cabbage/Kale thing in your box: that's just what it is: a cabbage kale thing! The leaves can be used in many recipes that call for cabbage or kale, and the white parts of the bottom of the leaves can be cut up and used like cabbage. I nearly always prefer my greens cooked, I always have. The occasional coleslaw that isn't too mayo-heavy is ok, but I love wine-braised cabbage, garlic sauteed kale, etc. With this veggie you can truly look up cabbage and kale recipes with great success.

Julia's note on Radicchio: Radicchio is a pleasantly bitter chicory that works well in lettuce salads, and for folks that don't want everything on their table 'sweet', it can even be it's own salad. For palates that aren't ready for an all-radicchio salad, it also is GREAT cooked way down with some onions and olive oil as a pasta dressing. I've done this many times in the past, with a small drizzle of balsamic at the end. Here are three Cook-the Radicchio-Down recipes for you to peruse.

Radicchio Pasta Recipe

This one looks interesting!: Tagliolini con Gamberi e Radicchio

A risotto recipe from Epicurious

And our own radicchio recipe page is full of ideas: both salady and cooked.

My favorite way to prepare cauliflower. I just do it often enough I don't use a recipe, but Elise at Simply recipes made a nice page about it with the 'official recipe': so here you are: Roasted Cauliflower from Simply Recipes.

You can then serve this cauliflower as is, or top a pizza, or mix into a grain salad....

Curried Cauliflower from Epicurious


And, from Jonathan:

Hello! There are some great items in your box this week - and I'm not talking about the tomatoes or peppers! You have a very unusual cabbage, one that I would bet none of us has seen in a traditional American grocery store. It's a Portuguese cabbage. You can use it like regular cabbage or other cooking greens if you like, but I'm recommending an actual Portuguese dish - the traditional caldo verde soup - for it. You'll also have radicchio, one of the most beautiful vegetables, and one not to be feared. I know it can be bitter, but try it in either of the recipes I include below and I bet you'll love it! Have fun with these unusual ingredients! Hope to see some of you out at the tomato u-picks! - jm

Grilling Radicchio

Grilled RadicchioA simple preparation, and one that I bet will become your favorite way of preparing radicchio. Done correctly, the radicchio comes out smoky, crispy and tender at the same time, juicy, while still retaining some of its bitter qualities. The color does fade somewhat, but that is a small price to pay for this delicious and simple dish. Cook over fire or mesquite charcoal for an even more pronounced smokiness. Serve with your favorite balsamic vinaigrette, or just by itself. Yum! Note that this is for 1 head of radicchio - use more if you like!

1 head radicchio
olive oil

Shave the root end of the radicchio so you have a clean, white cut. Quarter the radicchio through the root end, making sure that each quarter has part of the root and the leaves are still attached to it. Drizzle each quarter with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with some salt, turning to coat. Heat a grill, or a barbeque until very hot, then put the radicchio on one of the cut sides onto the grill. Do not fuss with it once it is on the grill and cook for a few minutes, or until it is flecked with black char, but not totally blackened. Turn with tongs to the other cut side and cook the same way. Remove from the grill and put on a serving plate, drizzling with a balsamic vinaigrette if you like. It's also fine just the way it is. Serve hot.

Radicchio and Fennel Salad with Prosciutto

This is the very first salad I ever made with radicchio, and one that I still love. There is something about this flavor combination that helps minimize the bitterness of the radicchio, and the combination of textures is really appealing. Use more prosciutto if you like.

4 T pine nuts
olive oil
white wine vinegar
1 t Dijon
2 red grapefruit
1 head fennel
1 large, or two small heads radicchio
1/4 lb prosciutto, thinly sliced

Chop the pine nuts, then saute them in a little olive oil until they are lightly golden. Remove from heat and add the Dijon and a couple tablespoons of the vinegar, whisking well. Taste to make sure you like it, adding just a little salt if you prefer.

Section your grapefruit, making sure to catch the juice. Very coarsely chop the sections. Core the fennel and slice it very thinly crosswise. Thinly slice, or shred, the radicchio. Toss the radicchio with the grapefruit sections, the fennel, and the pine nut vinaigrette. Put the prosciutto on a serving plate and top with the salad. Finish with a little bit of the grapefruit juice and serve.


A richer variation of simple stewed sweet peppers, peperonata is super versatile. You can eat it just the way it is, or use it as a topping, which is how I use it most. You can even top pizza or sandwiches with it. It is only special during this time of year though, when both tomatoes and peppers are at their peak. Feel free to vary the herb based on your planned use. Thyme is my favorite.

4 sweet peppers, cored and thinly sliced
olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
leaves from 6 branches thyme

Heat a large skillet and add some olive oil, then the peppers, stirring until coated in the hot oil. Saute briskly for a few minutes until they begin to soften, then add the garlic, tomatoes and any tomato juices that exude onto the cutting board. Add the bay leaf and the thyme, stir, lower the heat, and stew, uncovered, until the tomatoes have cooked down and the peppers are very soft, about 7-8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve over polenta, grilled meats, strong cheese, or as a side dish. Use leftover peperonata for sandwiches, pizza, or serve on a crostini with ricotta cheese.

Roasted Cauliflower and Pasta

I think I've contributed this recipe on another occasion, but it's worth repeating. This is a go-to dish in our house, and is so satisfying. I vary the vegetable used here based on what I have in the fridge. This week it will be cauliflower. Some weeks it's cabbage, broccoli, escarole, or even chard. This is also good with chopped sauteed padron peppers in it. Or you could garnish it with charred padrons for a more dramatic look.

1 large head cauliflower or two small heads, cut into florets
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 t crushed chili flakes
olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
handful of green olives, pitted and chopped
4 T parsley, chopped
2 eggs, beaten
3 T parmesan, grated
3-4 oz smoked cheese (gouda or mozarella are good here), grated
1 lb pasta noodles (spaghetti works great)
1 c bread crumbs

Toss the cauliflower with some olive oil and salt on a sheet pan, then roast in a 400 degree oven until colored and nutty tasting, about 15 minutes.

Heat a skillet. Add some olive oil and saute the onion with the chili flakes over high heat, stirring, until golden but not caramelized, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, some salt, and remove from heat. Combine in a bowl with the cauliflower, the olives, and the parsley.

Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and fold in the cheeses.

Saute the bread crumbs in olive oil or butter until golden brown.

Cook your pasta until al dente, drain and immediately toss with the cauliflower mixture. Add the egg mixture, and stir with tongs until all the noodles are coated well. Transfer to a serving plate and top with the bread crumbs. Serve hot. 

Caldo Verde

You will have an unusual and delicious head of Portuguese cabbage in your box this week. Since you probably are the only person on your block to have this here, it merits being used as it is back in Portugal - as part of the traditional soup, Caldo Verde. Make sure to source a good linguica here. It makes a difference. 

2 garlic cloves, chopped
olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 oz linguica, thinly sliced 
1 lb potatoes, diced
1 bunch couve tronchudo, shredded

Heat a pot with some olive oil in it and add the garlic, onion, and half the sausage. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until the onion is soft, about 8 minutes. Add about 2 quarts of water, the potatoes, and some salt. Boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 8-10 more minutes. Mash the soup with a masher, or use a food processor to create a coarsely mashed, rustic texture. Return the soup to a simmer and add the couve tronchudo and simmer until it is cooked down, at least another 5 minutes. Add the remaining linguica and heat through, tasting for seasoning. Serve warm with quality olive oil drizzled on top.

Salad of the Week: Roasted Peppers and Green Beans

3 sweet peppers
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 T red wine vinegar
1/2 T sherry vinegar
olive oil
1/2-3/4 lb green beans, stem end trimmed
1/2 lb tomatoes, chopped (or use cherry tomatoes, halved)
almonds, toasted

Combine the shallots with the garlic, vinegars, and a little salt. Allow to sit while you make the rest of the salad.

Roast your peppers using the method you prefer. (I do mine under the broiler or on the grill outside. Make sure you blacken the skin.) Scrape the charred skins off them and slice the flesh into strips.

Blanch the beans until crisp-tender, about 2-3 minutes in heavily salted boiling water. Drain and cool under cold running water or in an ice bath. Drain and pat dry.

Combine the peppers with the green beans the tomatoes, the herbs (use a tablespoon at least of each), and the shallot mixture.  Toss well and taste for seasoning. Finish with toasted almonds (chopped or whole). Serve at room temperature.

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Couve Tronchudo Portuguese Cabbage

Recent posts: 

From Andy: Couve Tronchudo is a traditional, open pollinated Portuguese cabbage variety. The leaves are harvested like collards for a while and eventually the plant forms a loose ball of a cabbage head. We'll see the cabbages form sometime in the winter.

Sweet Allysum betweem rows of Portuguese Cabbage

From Andy: The Sweet Allysum planted in the middle of the Couve Tronchudo attracts tiny wasps that feed on the aphids that would harm our crops. (Photos by Andy Griffin)

Harvesters with some of their bounty at last Saturday's Tomato U-Pick.
From Stephen H.: Awesome tomatoes! Thank you Mariquita for a great U pick day. (Photo Left by Stephen Harrington)

From Denise H. S.: We made super delicious spicey catsup from some of the San Marzanos. I ate about a cup of it with my egg, potato, escarole lunch today. Thanks for all the wonderful veg!

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Mariquita Farm
PO Box 2065
Watsonville, California 95077-2065

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