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This Week's Bounty: December 10th

Rain finally started falling in Santa Barbara County and should continue next week, a welcome sight for farmers. Sunrise Organic Farms persists in planting crops like strawberries, radishes, beets, and an array of different lettuces and herbs. Steady accumulation will help everything they’re growing to survive and thrive.

“We're coming into winter so now we just have to keep everything healthy,” Sunrise co-founder Andrew Gibson says. “This time of year it’s more about defending your crops and keeping mildew away - and all types of things - because the growth slows so much that there’s more time for it to hang out there and have problems.”

In this week’s farm box, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Well, at least one vegetable. Romanesco is a beautiful green member of Brassicas family, cousin to broccoli and cauliflower, with clustered, conical buds that resemble Christmas trees. “It gets sweeter when it gets cold,” Gibson says, making this an increasingly good time to enjoy Romanesco. He prefers the vegetable in soups. It’s also great roasted.

Green leaf lettuce is another new addition. “It’s a sweet, hearty lettuce that’s like red leaf, but red leaf has really thin cells,” Gibson says. “This one is thick.” He uses their lettuce and tomatoes in salads and on sandwiches like BLTs. Since this is a hearty lettuce, it doesn’t wilt as quickly when making contact with condiments like mustard or mayo.

Sunrise’s spinach is noteworthy, regardless of size. “We are lucky enough that we found an amazing spinach that is sweet and buttery even when it’s mature,” Gibson says. This week, they’re featuring baby spinach. He says, “For us, it doesn’t have a huge difference in flavor, but it’s just inherent that baby things are more tender and sweet.” Gibson finds baby spinach “fantastic” sautéed in a pan with olive oil, garlic, and lemon. He also enjoys baby spinach in a goat cheese salad with whatever he has on hand in the fridge and pantry, which could be pumpkin seeds, pomegranate arils or cranberries.

Flesh from spaghetti squash pulls apart as strands, which creates some fun options. ”That one’s great because you can use it for a spaghetti alternative,” Gibson says. He likes to toss spaghetti squash with tangy house-made sauces like marinara or puttanesca. This variety is also conducive to baking, casseroles and lasagnas.

Dill is a versatile herb that Gibson enjoys using with summer vegetables like zucchini and in wintertime salad dressings. It’s also great with fish and cold dishes like chicken salad and potato salad. Gibson particularly enjoys his friend’s potato salad that wins raves by incorporating dill, capers, green olives and vegan mayonnaise.

This week’s farm box also includes rainbow chard, one red onion, shallots, and salanova. Our vegetable selection is always different, and what you cook with them is unlimited.