Tuesday, June 15, 2010

CSA Week 1: So. Many. Greens.

Welcome to the inaugural installment of a new feature here at Chez Burnout, wherein I will regale you with our weekly CSA haul. Are you excited? Good.

Red and I bought a share from One Straw Farm, which is located about an hour north of us. They are lovely people up there and grow some really tasty food! Initially, I waffled on the idea of committing to a CSA: I wanted to support a local farm, but I really didn’t want to give up control of what we’d be eating every week. Who hasn’t looked at a pile of random produce and wondered how the hell to turn it into dinner? I’m used to picking recipes and then going shopping, not vice versa! Eventually, I got over myself and reasoned that it would be a good experiment in eating seasonally and would stretch my creativity in the kitchen. We won’t be getting any avocados, for sure. We got 24 weeks, kiddos, so strap in.

[Technically, this should really be Week 2, or Week 1b, since we had a surprise early delivery of a whole big bunch of strawberries two weeks ago. They were divine. We ate a couple pints, then turned another couple into a strawberry-coconut crisp (I hacked a recipe from Veganomicon). I highly recommend eating local strawberries whenever they’re in season where you are. There’s nothing like it.]

So. First week of our CSA, and what do we have? Greens. A massive boatload of green leafy things. Holy cats, there was so much greenery I thought it was effin’ Christmas.

Well, it wasn’t entirely greens:

There were some strawberries that clearly wished they’d been on the bandwagon two weeks ago. They were fine, but definitely not the luscious jewels we’d gobbled before. Strawberries, alas, are fleeting.

There was also a bundle of green freakiness that looked like Medusa’s hair as interpreted by scallions. These little devils turned out to be garlic scapes, also known as that part of the garlic that sticks up above the ground. It’s garlic hair, y’all, and it behaves like a garlicky scallion. Ours found their destiny in the Zucchini-Corn Fritters from 30-Minute Vegan.

The green chard was easy to identify, since I love it so. I knew exactly what to do with it, too: Veganomicon’s Fresh Dill-Basmati Rice with Chard and Chickpeas. This recipe is so good, I cannot stress it enough. I don’t know what it is about the lemon and dill, but they remind me of my grandma and it is one of the simplest, tastiest meals I have ever made. You seriously need to make it. Red and I could crush the whole batch in a single day if we were of a mind to.

Arugula! Oh, weird peppery-smelling arugula. What do I do with you? We didn’t really feel like eating salads all week, so we went the cooked route. Half the bunch went into miso soup, and we were delighted with the results. Arugula rocks in miso soup, guys! You don’t need any fancy seaweed or baby spinach—use whatever greens you have on hand, and your miso soup will be good. Shameless product plug for which I am not being paid: Twin Oaks Tofu is rad. It is rad in scrambles, stir-fries, and now miso soup. I’m sorry if you live too far away from the Virginia commune where the hippies make it, but we do not, and we reap the benefits of their hippieness. The rest of the arugula and tofu contributed to a stir-fry with diced zucchini and peppers, which then got together with…

…Red leaf lettuce for lettuce wraps! Man, these were a bitch. I officially hate lettuce wraps. It doesn’t wrap! I had a tantrum and made Red do the wrapping. Didn’t he do a nice job, though?

Only two more bunches of greens to go. After much consideration, we settled on turning the kale into kale chips. I was a little sketched out, because how good could roasted kale taste? It’s leaves, after all. But we reasoned that if our direst fears came to pass, we could chuck the whole batch into the compost bin and try something else with the next head of kale. I used this recipe; it took me twice as long to get the kale crispy and chip-like, and I added way too much salt because I was afraid of eating bland dried-out leaves, but they were good! The kale chips were declared a success by Red, King of All Snacking, and even suggested as a worthy accompaniment to veggie burgers in place of potato chips. A triumph.

The last bunch of greens was a puzzlement, indeed. I must have searched online for damn near an hour trying to sort out its provenance. Curly endive? That wasn’t it. Celeriac? The leaves looked right, but it terminated in thin stalks, not a bulb. Finally, by sheer luck and Googling “WTF is this vegetable,” I found it: dandelion greens. It was almost anti-climactic, but I was relieved to finally know what I had in my fridge. We had some leftover potatoes, and Google led me to Mark Bittman’s (Mr. “Vegan Until Dinner,” don’t get me started) recipe for Green Mashed Potatoes. I couldn’t tell if the dandelion greens added anything flavor-wise, but you can’t go wrong with mashed potatoes. I think I’ll have some after yoga tonight, actually.

And there you have it, my darlings—a recap of everything we did with our first CSA pickup. I’m anticipating plenty of greens for the foreseeable future, to be slowly replaced by more winter squash than I can roast, puree, or steam to perfection. Tell me: What are you doing with your seasonal produce, CSA or not? Together we will stave off local-eating exhaustion!


  1. Alright gal, I have a super annoying lazy person's question, and I mean it totally sincerely: how do you have time to cook like the goddess you are? I mean, I work at home, mere steps from my kitchen, and tonight I'm eating muffins for dinner (and they're from a box mix, don't get all proud of me for baking). I/we do cook nice stews and curried veggies in coconut milk and make non-cheese 'dillas, but when it comes to things that are going to take more than an hour from prep to serve, I'm just not there, mostly because I feel strapped for time. Do I just need to get over myself and realize that good food requires more energy than I already give it, or did I miss a secret of the well-fed universe? Guidance, please.

  2. b, this goddess does 90% of her cooking on the weekends! It helps that we are homebodies. Seriously, we cook up a whole mess of food in two or three days and eat it all week. We did the zucchini fritters on Wednesday (when we got the veggies) and the chard/rice/chickpeas on Friday, but all the rest was Saturday and Sunday. Often we'll save an easy dish to make on Mondays, but I couldn't bear making dinner from scratch each night. Basically, I schedule my cooking and try to pick unfussy recipes!

    Mmmm, coconut curry. Thanks for the idea! And muffins for dinner is a totally valid choice!

  3. holy crap that is awesome. I am so in awe of your vegetable creativity.

    andrew and i punked out of our csa- mostly because i need to pressure him just to eat a tiny bit of veggies.

    sigh- someday. :)

  4. Ah, I suspected as much. We're homebodies too but so miserably lazy on weekends :) But we do that too, make vats and store it. Plus cooking together is kinda sexy, no?

    I asked, btw, b/c this was mad inspiring. My guy doesn't like greens but I think they're super fun, so we're still trying to find middle ground on that one. He especially hates and I especially love kale, so selling him on chips (despite his love of the potato kind) may be hard. But that seriously sounds SO good. Congrats on being so productive AND to committing to the CSA! There's a similar thing here but we just haven't been able to buckle down and say yes to a potential crate of celery root yet ;)

  5. Oh, and I'm sure you have an equally good one, but my coconut curry recipe is from How It All Vegan, the cookbook that made me and keeps me vegan :)

  6. Great post! My CSA box tends to overflow with greens too. I stir fry a lot of them, or make fritattas and soup.

    I'm going to try the mashed potatos though! Thank you :)

  7. Thanks, Buddy! Ooh, frittata! Good idea. I'm liking your blog--you may inspire me to buy a waffle iron soon!

  8. I had a really hard time getting my head around figuring out what to make from a box of vegetables rather than making a menu and shopping for what I needed too when we started getting an organic vegetable box. I've found that the indexes of cookbooks are a real lifesaver, I just look up whatever vegetable I have to hand in a few books until I find something I fancy eating and have the other ingredients for. A cookbook with a bad index now drives me crazy and doesn't get used very often!

    Well done for getting through all those greens, I have the hugest bag of greens I've ever seen in my fridge at the moment plus a bag of chard and having used up two lots of greens already this week I'm kind of running out of steam and hoping we don't get a ton more on Friday when the next box of vegetables arrives!

  9. Haha, that's almost precisely the reason I've always held back! I love the idea, but I think I oculd only do it for the summer months - two years back I made a pledge to spend a year only eating seasonal veg. If I ever see another turnip it's going straight out of the window, as that's all there is to eat in February in Britain!!

  10. OH garlic scapes. Love 'em. And like clockwork, every year I totally forget about them and then I see them and I'm like, OH YEAH! Garlic scapes! Come to mama.

    g-scapes would be my rap name if I had one. And by the way, they make an AWESOME pesto.

    I am totally going to try that recipe for kale chips. Sounds delicious!

    I am totally impressed by how triumphantly you've managed to make use of all those greens. Can't wait to see what you do with your next delivery!