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Posts Tagged ‘CSA’

getting fresh and staying local

pea shoots

Locavores scare me. So do über-environmentalists. Those people who are obsessed with getting all their food from local farmers, who eschew trucks that bring bottled water from natural sources (Fiji?), and pineapples grown in Costa Rica. Because, let’s face it, despite now living in crunchy crunchy Cantabrigia where people recycle like mad and have compost pails in their kitchens and backyards (I don’t), I like my meat and cheese from France, and regularly carry home or import food from around the world.

I first experienced really local food when my family would pick surplus berries and tomatoes at our friend’s farm in the boonies of Maryland. My mom always made tomato sauce to freeze for the rest of the year. In the summer, we used to stop at roadside stands for corn-on-the-cob.

When I moved to New York after college, I discovered the the Union Square Greenmarket a few blocks from my first “suit job.” I used to wander around during my lunch break, but rarely made a purchase. When I returned to New York after graduate school, I often bought apples the growing number of farm stands at the 76th and Columbus Sunday flea market. And when the weather was good, I used to buy most of my produce from the corner fruit and vegetable guys on the Upper West Side (save for trips to Fairway). This past week visiting NY was not much different as I found some not-so fancy, but all-the-same lovely berries and peaches for my morning breakfast while staying at my friend Meira’s (who was characteristically generous in offering her home while out of town).

fruit at Meira's

Despite my growing dependence on outdoor markets for some produce, I had forgotten that greens don’t always arrive triple-washed in a plastic bag.

And then I moved north. And Cantabrigia is rubbing off on me. If you’re been on this little food journey with me for a while, I’m sure you know that I joined a CSA. Weekly or bi-weekly, I receive vegetables and some fruit and herbs from a nearby farm. Over the past few weeks, I’ve figured out how to prepare chard and hakurei turnips, garlic scape pesto, and no-cook collards. And we can’t forget the kale that started it all.

This summer, as a true Cantabrigian, I’ve been dining on a fair amount of rabbit fare – fresh romaine, red and green leaf lettuce. I don’t bother to put away my large stainless bowl in which I dunk the greens in wash after wash of fresh cold water, gently agitating to remove any clinging grit and soil. I even bought a salad spinner (also stainless) to facilitate my new salad habit.

One of the first things I did upon returning from New York was to hit up my local farmers market and pick up some greens and fill up my stainless  bowl.

It feels good to be home.

Super fresh salad of pea shoots, tomatoes, and corn

farm-fresh ingredients

Inspired by what I found at my local farmers market and some of my sister’s favorite flavors (corn is her favorite salad add-in), this salad tastes incredibly fresh due to the pea shoots. I once had pea shoots in a restaurant and was excited when I saw them with one of the vendors in the market. Pea shoots are also sometimes called pea tendrils; there may be blossoms on the stems that are edible (and lovely). They taste like sugar snap peas in leaf form.The dressing for this salad, like most of my summer staples, is a simple splash of oil, a tiny bit of acid (lemon juice or white wine vinegar) and salt and pepper. Just enough to wet the ingredients without overpowering the natural flavors.

There are no measurements for this salad – it’s sort of come as you go. This is how much I make for a single serving.

Prepare the pea shoots: rinse in cold water and drain. They will last a loosely covered bowl in the fridge for 3-4 days (if you don’t eat them first). Grab 1-2 handfuls of pea shoots per person and tear into good-sized bowl. If you’d like, add a handful of farm-fresh greens, also rinsed, any dirt removed, and torn into the bowl.

Slice a handful of cherry tomatoes (5-8) in half and add to the shoots.

Grill or roast one ear of corn. Cut kernels off of cob into the bowl.

Add a splash of extra virgin olive oil (~1T), a squeeze of lemon or a few drops of white wine vinegar (1-2 t to taste), a pinch or two of kosher salt, and a few grinds of pepper.

Toss and savor the flavors of summer.

pea shoots, tomato, and corn off the cob

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tweaking tradition

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Tradition is good. Family memories. In my bedroom, the chair that Bubbie once rocked me and my sister on.

Bubbie's rocking chair

The hat pins that she used to keep next to her sofa.  They were her mother’s.

hat pins

I like holding onto these things. And sometimes too many things (I have a friend who keeps threatening to come to my place with 5 contractor bags and to start the “clean-up” process by discarding something with sentimental value). And while food no doubt creates memory — strong memories — every so often there is the need to recreate new traditions or update old ones..

Growing up, I recall that almost every time my mother  entertained she would make what seemed to me to be a quintessential Thanksgiving dinner: turkey, roasted potatoes (or some variation thereof — sweet potatoes, or maybe mashed potatoes), green beans almondine, “dirty” rice with mushrooms and onions, and apple pie or chocolate chip pound cake. Now, I have never made a turkey and this menu is relegated to my mother’s kitchen and glass dining room table (having always been assigned to clean the fingerprints off the table before dinner and any food remnants after, I now only buy wood furniture). This menu tastes to me like family coming together.

As much as I like to hold on to tradition, I also try to create some of my own. Anything from a few variations to turning the world upside down. This recipe is about tweaking and in my mind, improving on a classic. It started with some yellow beans that I got from my CSA.

haricots jaunes

I reinvented my mothers green beans almondine and turned it on its head from methodology to ingredients. Whereas growing up we boiled or steamed green beans (to keep things lower fat) and threw on some sliced or slivered almonds, here I substituted yellow beans for green and sauteed them, toasted some hand-chopped whole hazelnuts, and added lemon juice and a lush slightly sweet drizzle of sweet hazelnut oil.

Haricots Jaunes aux Noisettes (Yellow Beans with Hazelnuts)

fork

This recipe can easily be be made with green beans and almonds — just leave out the hazelnut oil (which truth be told can be difficult to find). Haricots jaunes – yellow beans - taste just like haricots verts, the green ones, though to the best of my knowledge haricots verts normally refers to the really skinny green beans. When I did a summer exchange in France (in Mont-près-Chambord in the Loire Valley) during high school, I was taught to choose the skinniest of the bunch while still plump, and to pick les haricots one-by-one rather than just grabbing them by the handful. To this day, I still pick my haricots comme ça. I received these haricots jaunes from my CSA.

I always toast the nuts first for a few reasons. First,this enables a dry roast. Second, it makes it less likely to burn them. Finally, if allows me to make some extra for things like topping chocolate ice cream. Oh, what a perfect dessert. Actually, I’m thinking gelato.

Serves 2-3.

- 1/4-1/3 C hazelnuts

- 1.5 C yellow beans

- 1 shallot

- kosher salt

- 2 t olive oil

- 1 lemon

- 2 t hazelnut oil: I use Philippe Vigean brand (OU; info in Resources tab); La Tourangelle also makes a hazelnut oil, but theirs is not kosher.

Phillipe Vigean hazelnut oil


Prepare ingredients: Chop hazelnuts. Remove tips from beans. Thinly slice shallot.

mise en place

Toast hazelnuts: Using the pan you plan to use for the haricots, dry toast the chopped hazelnuts with a few pinches of salt over medium heat until fragrant (5-7 minutes). Remove from pan.

Cook beans: Pour olive oil in pan and heat over medium heat with sliced shallots. Add yellow beans and toss in oil for 2-3 minutes. Add juice of lemon to  pan and cover to allow beans to steam another 3-5 minutes (depending on how crunchy you like your beans). Uncover and add toasted hazelnuts (you don’t need to use all the nuts) with hazelnut oil, continuing to toss beans in the mixture, adding more salt to taste.

Serve beans immediately. And don’t forget the throw any leftover slighty salty toasted hazelnuts on your ice cream.

ready to eat

Some of the toasted hazelnuts fall to the bottom of the plate — I love this part.

last few bites, crunchy salty hazelnuts

The hat pins that she used to keep next to her sofa.  They were her mother’s.

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a fine mess

“But I have never tasted meat,

Nor cabbage, corn nor beans, / Nor fluid food one half as sweet

As that first mess of greens”

- James T. Cotton Noe*

collard slaw from above

My CSA is yet again challenging my taste buds and culinary prowess.

I received collards last week. I associate these hardy greens with the South, and though I grew up in a border state and affect an accent and a “y’all” when it suits me, I’m pretty Northern and city to the core. In looking around for some collard recipes I could relate to, I learned a bit about the history of collards but came up with very little that I could actually envision cooking eating because most recipes call for hamhock or fatback, neither of which fit into my kosher cooking repertoire.

While these greens were imported from Europe, they became part of Southern “soul food” in the 1800s as they were quite prolific and cooked with other kitchen extras using a long simmering method from Africa. These greens cook down quite a bit, not unlike bok choy, kale, or spinach, and the phrase “a mess of greens” usually refers to a whole lot of southern collards that reduce down to a hearty dark green, somewhat stinky (even though I do go for stinky sometimes) slightly slimy in my book, beloved-by-Southerners delectable dish. The better part of the poem that supposedly popularized, or at least codified, this phrase is copied at the end of the this post.

As true Northern folk (and with apologies to my dear dear “Atlanta family”) I just couldn’t bear to cook down a mess of collards. So I sought out alternatives. I found a collard green slaw recipe – bingo! No cooking means no stink. And no pork. I’m no raw food vegan, but I guess this fits the bill if you’re into that. The one thing I can say is that when you eat this slaw, it tastes like you’re eating something healthy. But in a good way.

Collard Slaw

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The inspiration for this no-cook salad came from Red Menace over at A Chow Life. Check out her beautiful blog for great ideas and lovely photography. While I didn’t use her sweet slaw recipe, I did filch the idea of marinating the collards in a vinegar to break down some of the fibrous bitterness in the raw greens. I followed my more savory, Asian-inspired slaw recipe that I use for other cruciferous greens- cabbage, broccoli – rummaging through what was handy in my cupboard. This was great after about 30 minutes of flavor mingling and even better the next day when a bit less crisp, but more intensely flavored.  After 18-24 hours, your greens will reduce by about about half, so you still need to start with “a good mess.”

This recipe doesn’t really have exact quantities, but I’ll do my best. I prepared enough for 3-4 small side salads.

- A mess of collards – I received about 20-25 medium-sized leaves from my CSA share

- 2 carrots

- rice vinegar (~2T)

- toasted sesame oil (~1 T)

- hot pepper sesame oil (~ 1-2 t)

- salt or soy sauce (a pinch or 1/2 t to taste, I used pink salt)

- sugar (a pinch or two to cut the bitterness)

- sesame seeds

Soak and gently agitate collards in a big bowl of cold water several times until the water runs clear.

Pat collards dry and chiffonade: roll up 5-6 leaves at a time lengthwise. Because the leaves are pretty wide, I made a cut on each side of the stem. I kept the stem intact because the collards I had were pretty young, but if yours are really fibrous feel free to discard. Then slice widthwise into thin (~1/4 in) strips.

Peel the carrots and julienne them. I used my julienne peeler which made this pretty easy. You could use a food processor, but what a pain to clean (plus, I don’t have one).

Mix the greens and carrots and add the the vinegar, oils, and a little bit of salt and sugar to taste. Start with just a little bit of salt and sugar (and spicy) because you can always add more later. The sugar is important to cut the bitterness of the greens. The salt draws out some of the flavor. Add a few pinches of sesame seeds for taste, texture, and looks.

Let marinate for at least 30 minutes for a crunchier salad, or overnight for a softer slaw. The spiciness does intensify with time.

Variations: if you don’t have hot pepper sesame oil, leave it out, or add some red pepper flakes. Try peanut oil instead sesame oil.

bowl o greens

* THE FIRST MESS OF GREENS

… to me the woods a-ringin’

With the notes of happy birds / When the April buds is springin’

Is a song too sweet for words: / And the beautifullest, since you ask it,

In art or nature’s scenes, / Is Kate with knife and basket,

A-getherin’ of greens.

It pears to lift the veil of years / And opens up to view,

A scene that brings me soothin’ tears

As sweet as tender dew / To grass that suns have withered dry :

I can see her jist as plain, / Though Father Time has dimmed my eye,

And ricollect the pain, / I suffered while she paused a-thinkin’

What such an answer means; / And the “Stay and help us, John,” a-winkin’

“Eat our first mess of greens.”

But I have never tasted meat, ‘

Nor cabbage, corn nor beans, / Nor fluid food one half as sweet

As that first mess of greens.

It’s not the pictur near as much

As the thoughts that gethers round, / That always gives the paintin’ such

Distinction and renown. / There’s nothin’ in a grassy knoll

So beautiful to see, / And yit I think within my soul

It beats a flowery lea. / And oh, I git Munkasket,

If I only had the means, / To paint me Kate with basket

A-getherin’ of greens.

- James T. Cotton Noe (1864-1953), American writer and poet,

from the Loom of Life

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no sriracha in sight

-022 sharp panorama

About six weeks ago, I started the following post draft as I was cooking dinner and got distracted before I could finish.

After a hedonistic feast in New York that I thoroughly enjoyed, I was happy to get home to some CSA veggies, simply prepared. I opened my fridge to see what had made it through the weekend. The lemon balm had seen better days, and I was not so sad, for after walking by a cleaning crew in the subway, I recalled what the smell was a not-so-subtle reminder of. The 2 remaining turnips were OK, not great, and their greens are fading fast. The chard and collard greens were going strong, and the baby bok choy and scallions were hitting peak. I had some tofu, so I figured a veggie stir-fry was in order.

I had planned to spice up my dish with sriracha (the brand I always buy is Huy Fong) but to my dismay, had none anywhere in my kitchen. This is such a staple in my home that when my neighbors were moving and cleaning out their fridge, offering me their half-opened bottle, I scoffed, saying, “I must have at least a bottle if not two upstairs.” Imagine my shock when I scoured my cupboard but it was bare, at least as far as sriracha was concerned.

So trek out to the mean streets of Cantabrigia, Central Square to be exact, at a few minutes to 8 I did, in search of this apparently elusive ingredient. Afterknocking on a few neighbors’ doors first (no one was home). Three grocery stores in a 5 block radius, I figured my odds were pretty good. I first tried Shalimar, my local Indian grocer and spice store because it closed at 9. No luck – they only had chili garlic sauce.

Next door, Harvest Co-op should have been a sure thing. I mean, a store that sells bulk spices and dried beans to the crunchiest of crunch? I searched every aisle and even asked the store manager, finally storming out of the co-op, exclaiming in a too-loud voice, “How do you NOT have sriracha? This is Cambridge, for G-d’s sake!”

Final stop, Whole Foods. Nope. They had one random brand that had fish extract in it – sorry, that’s not sriracha.

I returned home empty-handed.

Deflated.

A final knock on the same neighbors’ doors. My next-door neighbor was home, but poor guy, his wife and infant son were out of the country for a few weeks and he was a born-again bachelor, eating pre-frozen, labeled dinners. He opened his pantry and looked at it bewildered, letting me rummage around a bit. Still no luck.

That night, I had turned to Twitter, tweeting out my frustration, and got a few words of consolation after the fact (including an offer from @alizakaila at KosherGourmetMart to send me some sriracha). Before leaving my apartment, I had sent out an SOS message and here’s what the “tweetlog” looked like:

must return foodie status — about to make tofu stirfry w/ bok choi and spring onions from my CSA and I have no sriracha. off 2 store…7:55 PM Jun 22nd from TweetDeck

RT @sweetamandine Congrats to all involved. RT @steamykitchen FINALLY! I don’t have to keep this project secret anymore … www.goodbite.com 9:37 PM Jun 22nd from TweetDeck

scoured 3 grocery stores including my local Indian grocer – no Sriracha in sight. neighbors also turned up empty. back to basics…9:47 PM Jun 22nd from TweetDeck

You may wonder what that middle message is — it’s actually the most important one because it introduced me to Jaden Hair over at Steamy Kitchen.

Jaden and a few other bloggers that I had previously come across had just launched GoodBite — a compendium of the best of the food web, “delicious made easy” is their verbiage — and I was drawn in to Jaden’s site that I browsed through as I set my canola oil to heat, having already chopped up my veggies, garlic, and ginger, and checked on the tofu that I had cubed and pressed before leaving for the store.

Sweet serendipity!

I came across a post about cooking bok choy and with snappy rules like, “hot wokky, no stikky” – “cold wokky, very garlickky” and of course, “young grasshoppa, let me show you the way” (OK, that one was just a bit gratuitous, but I couldn’t resist), how could I not listen? I immediately commented on her post (wow … look at the time … I was really getting hungry!):

Zahavah says:

Just came across your site via a tweet from sweetamandine. And such serendipity – I am making a bok choy dish tonight and was heating up the oil. Turned burner off, letting oil cool, and will reheat with garlic and ginger. Beautiful pictures!

It was too late to re-chop my baby bok choy like Jaden’s pictures, but I did just as I commented. And the result was stellar. Even thought I didn’t cover the wok (ok, I don’t have a wok — we’re adding that to the list) to let the veggies steam and get brilliant green, I so loved what I made that I didn’t miss the sriracha at all.

close-up

And the reason for this post tonight of all nights?

Because I never went out to buy sriracha. And I made stir-fry this way a few more times, including tonight to use up more CSA baby bok choy and some gorgeous 8-ball zucchini that I bought at the Harvard farmers’ market a week ago …

zucchini at Harvard Farmers' Market

and had hoped to stuff and bake, but life got in the way and as some of my veggies are wont to go, they had seen better days.

Bok Choy Tofu Stir-fry

steamy

I picked up the cold-oil technique from Jaden/Steamy Kitchen’s bok choy recipe, but if you want your vegetables to be vibrant green, you should read her recipe and tips more closely. The rest is how I’ve been stir-frying for years. It might not be so authentic, but it’s how I like things. The quantities here are pretty approximate because I very rarely measure when stir-frying – this is a taste-as-you-go kind of dish for me, but this should give you an idea of how I pull everything together.

Serves 2. Or 1 with some leftovers for lunch (and to snap pictures in daylight). Or 1 very hungry girl.

You want to prep everything in advance so that when your wok is hot, you can throw everything in and cook it all up pretty quickly. Most of the time required for a stir-fry is the cleaning and chopping.

Cube and cut a package of firm tofu at least an hour in advance and press some of the moisture out between paper towels. I often place the tofu on a bed of paper towels in a colander, cover with more towels, and then place a plate on top, weighted down with a can of beans. Keep changing the paper towels as they absorb some of the tofu’s moisture – the idea is that the tofu should be pretty dry when you put it in the wok.

Prepare a whole lot of garlic and ginger – as much as you want…I used 2-3 cloves garlic and ~ 1.5 t ginger (a chunk about 2 thumbs wide) here. I chop my garlic pretty fine with a big chef’s knife (or often cheat with the stuff you get in a jar and keep in the fridge) and grate my garlic on a cute little fish-shaped grater after peeling. I usually keep ginger in the freezer because otherwise it dries out or gets moldy in the fridge. It defrosts pretty quickly.

Cut up your veggies. You can use whatever looks good to you. On the night in question (i.e., the one that I captured in photos), I used a few CSA veggies — 1 baby bok choy, 3 spring onions — and 1 can of straw mushrooms. Separate the bok choy leaves from the central stem and let soak in cold water to remove dirt, then run under cold water and remove any remaining dirt with your fingers. Cut perpendicular to stem into ribbon-like strips. According to Jaden, keep the little center intact – this is the nugget (how cute!). Clean the spring onions under cold water and remove the outer (sometimes slimy) layer and any clinging dirt (check the green tops, especially if they have separated because that’s where dirt might be hiding). Chop off the hairy ends and then slice rounds of white and light green. Drain the straw mushrooms.

Gather the rest of your ingredients: 1-2 T canola oil, 1-2 t sesame oil, 1 t hot pepper oil, 1 t ersatz chicken soup mix (yup – this is just that MSG stuff…but Jaden says she likes MSG…) dissolved in ½ C water OR chicken stock OR veggie stock, a dash of soy sauce/tamari, juice of ½ lemon (~2t), and 1 t corn starch (have this ready in its own little bowl).

Now, get ready to act fast. Pour canola oil in wok or large sauté pan (I use a Calphalon hard anonized pan) with the ginger and garlic over pretty high heat (medium-high or high). Keep moving the wok around and use a silicone spatula or fancy Asian tool if you have one (I don’t) to prevent the garlic/ginger mix from burning. When you can smell the spices, after about a minute or so, add tofu with sesame and hot pepper oil (to taste) and let it start to brown on all sides. Add the spring onions and then bok choy, for another minute or two (cover with top if you have one and let everything steam). Add the mushrooms last  because they only need to heat up. Pour in the stock and soy sauce/tamari, and squeeze the lemon-half over the wok.

To thicken sauce, add a few spoonfuls of the hot sauce from the pan into the bowl with the corn starch and mix well. The pour this sort of milky mix back into the wok and incorporate it into the sauce. Keep stirring the whole stir-fry with your spatula or switch over to tongs.

The whole process take me about 6-10 minutes — I’m not a fast stir-fryer. Also, my tofu always sticks to my pan. Perhaps my motto should be “anonized panny – major stickky!”

This is great served over rice, or plain.

-020 sharp

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no (e)scape from destiny

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Updated photo: I made this pesto again this summer and took a few more pictures. (September 2013)

garlic scape pesto

Joining a CSA has really expanded my food repertoire. Kale. Hakurei turnips and chard. Last week, dandelion greens (hmmm…yeah, they’re still in the fridge). I was most excited about the garlic scapes that I got a few weeks ago because I had read about them in the foodblogosphere and had just recently seen a recipe for scape pesto posted on Dorie Greenspan’s website.

I had grand plans to make this pesto in mid-June, even offering to take scapes off the hands of fellow CSAers who might be befuddled by the strange scraggly curly creatures, but kept getting side-tracked by travel, life, an extravagant meal, and a friend visiting from Paris. All good things, but my small allotment of scapes sat lonely in the fridge, the ends slowly turning from their bright green to a sad pale yellow.

scapes

A “fleeting pleasure” according to Dorie with their short June season (we’re not really on a first name basis, but calling her Ms. Greenspan seems a bit formal…I hope she’ll forgive me this gaffe). Would their long sojourn in my vegetable crisper ruin their delicate flavor?

I put them on my counter, playing with their beautiful curves, snapping photos along the way, and these wiley creatures seemed to cry out to be used up, literally crawling into my mini-food processor.

scapes, crawling up

scapes, crawling in

Apparently, a scape can’t escape its destiny, and who am I to deny this little guy its inevitable future? So, scape pesto I made. With only 3 measly scapes, I cut Dorie’s recipe down appropriately, failed to use any measuring cups (par for the course in my book) and probably added too many almonds, liberally dousing the mix with a mild extra virgin (not that intense Unió because I wanted to let the scapes shine in all their glory).

The end result was light and fresh, though not as green as Dorie’s. Alas, those several weeks I so thoughtlessly squandered! Perched atop some perciatelli with lots of parmigiana, and then mixed in, the scapes seemed at home. Destiny delivered on a fork and a spoon.

scape pesto on perciatelli

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csa lunch box

Marinated white turnip and lemon balm over romaine

After a bit of hemming and hawing over the winter, I took the plunge and went with a CSA for the summer. I picked up my first share last week and it included several vegetables that were a bit foreign to me.

Heaven's Harvest CSA share

According to the Heaven’s Harvest website, the share this week consisted of: scallions, Hakurei turnips, summer squash, sweet potatoes, red chard, romaine lettuce, baby bok choi, collards, lemon balm, chives (boo – no chives for me!), and strawberries.

As I was heading down to New York for the weekend, I prepared a little lunchbox for my trip using the fresh bounty that I had.

I researched the white hakurei turnips and learned that they don’t require peeling. Recalling the first time that I made jicama cilantro slaw and inadvertently bought a large turnip (yes, this was well before I had developed into the sophisticate that I am today…I kept exclaiming, “my, this tastes quite earthy!”), I figured a modified slaw would work well with the delicate turnips. So, I did a quick 45-minute marinade of julienned turnips in lemon juice, salt, pepper, extra-virgin, and chiffonaded lemon balm, and then threw the mix over hearty romaine lettuce.

marinated white Hakurei turnips with lemon balm, romaine lettuce


I next prepared some chard, also chiffonaded, and then quickly sautéed in olive oil with salt and thrown atop a whole wheat wrap slathered in hummus.

sauteed chard with hummus on ww wrap


Finally, I rinsed and dried the strawberries and repacked them in their container.

And then I threw everything into an old salad greens container next to a bottle of water, and rushed off to South Station.

lunch box for my trip to NY

As I was heading down to New York, I prepared a little lunchbox for my trip using the fresh bounty that I had.I researched the white _____ turnips and learned that they don’t require peeling. Recalling the first time that I made jicama cilantro slaw and inadvertently bought a large turnip (yes, this was well before I had developed into the sophisticate that I am today…I kept exclaiming, “my, this tastes quite earthy!”), I figured a modified slaw would work well with the delicate turnips. So, I did a quick 45-minute marinade of julienned turnips in lemon juice, salt, pepper, extra-virgin, and chiffonaded lemon balm, and then threw the mix over hearty romaine lettuce.

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loads of kale

There has been a lot of talk about CSAs – community supported agriculture – in the world at large and in the Jewish community. For example, check out the past few Hazon Food Conferences and their The Jew and the Carrot blog.

I first learned about CSAs when my good friend, Meira, the source of the  pretzel chicken “nuggets” recipe, joined a CSA in New York and cooked interesting dishes with her fresh local vegetables. She always introduced each dish with, “I got this squash/cabbage/spinach from Eve, my Jewish female farmer.” She really seemed to feel a kinship with her farmer, especially after going to some sort of outdoorsy event way out on Long Island and driving past the Garden of Eve farm!

So, I was excited when my own local community decided to partner with a CSA. But I was also a bit apprehensive. Sure, there are a lot of pros – supporting local farmers and guaranteeing their livelihood, getting in tune with a more agrarian life (and a little reminder of the importance of the harvest in Jewish festivals), eating fresh (and almost entirely organic) produce, etc. And my friend Laura, whom I call “farmer Laura” since she will be be spending the summer as an ADAMAH Fellow — is organizing the CSA partnership and was quick to point out some of the logistical virtues partnering with this particular farm — Heavens Harvest — notably that they provide timely recipes that incorporate that week’s harvest and pre-pack everyone’s share (or half-share for couples or three-tenth-share for those single people out there…they’ve even thought of us!) which is apparently a vast improvement over other CSAs that have you bag your own which can take forever.

Despite all of these benefits, I was worried about one con – the loads and loads of kale that I would very likely be stuck with at the end of the season.

See, apparently kale is a very hearty leafy green and grows when other veggies can’t quite make the cut. So if the weather is really bad, kale will dominate.

Of course, I have never cooked kale. I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten kale.

But, I’m open to new things and in preparation for joining the CSA, I decided to buy some kale and make something with it. In case I needed a push over the edge, the label on the rubber band around the kale was written in French, calling the leaves chou vert frisé. I once had a boss who could convince me to do any menial task by telling me, “it’s French…you’ll like it.”

So I bought some curly green cabbage and tried a recipe on a card near the grocery store entrance.

looked like a bouquet, so I put the kale in a vase

looked like a bouquet, so I put the kale in a vase

Based on my experience, I think I’ll be joining the CSA…

Kale and White Bean Soup with Parmesan Crisps

Kale and White Bean Soup with Parmesan Crisps


Adapted from Whole Foods Vegetarian Tuscan Kale and White Bean Soup recipe card.

Makes ~ 5 cups soup or 4 servings.

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup diced onion

4 large garlic cloves, chopped

1-2 t thyme (to taste)

1-2 t oregano (to taste)

5 C ersatz chicken broth (i.e., parve chicken soup powder + 5 C water)

4 cups packed chopped kale (i.e., 1 bunch, chopped)

2-3 carrots, peeled and sliced; or 20-25 baby carrots cut into thirds

1 small can (14.5-ounce) diced tomatoes

1 small can (14.5-ounce) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Parmesan crisps (see recipe below)

Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion ~3 minutes until softened, then add garlic and cook together another 2-3 minutes.

Add 1t of each herb and carrots to pan and mix.

Add tomatoes, broth, and kale and mix a few times. Cover saucepan and allow kale to steam until tender, ~5 minutes.

Add drained cannellini beans when kale tender. Keep on heat until parmesan crisps finished to allow beans to warm.

Serve with parmesan crisps or sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

122-cropped

Parmesan Crisps

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Spread ~1T of parmesan cheese in ovals on parchment (1T per oval)

Parmesan crisps, uncooked

Bake in oven 5-7 minutes — WATCH VERY CAREFULLY -  these can burn really quickly. Remove before your smoke alarm goes off (like mine did the first time I tried this!).

Parmesan crisps, baked

The crisps will peel very easily off of the parchment paper.

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