Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ideas for Local/Now Produce

I am four weeks into my CSA.  Above I have the first, third, and fourth weeks of produce.  Right now I am enjoying the fourth week.  From left to right in the bottom photo, I got beets, gigantic dandelion greens, collards, kale, two broccoli, escarole, two bok choy, two red leaf lettuce, radishes, salad turnips, garlic scapes, and some chives (chives didn't come with CSA).

I love greens.  And I am not just saying that.  The salad greens, so far, have changed my life.  I look forward to the days immediately following my CSA pick up because that is when we consume all the lettuce.  I have made many different salads, but haven't photographed them all.  Here are a few ideas if you are needing some:

A BBQ Seitan salad.  I made this twice actually.  This is some romaine and green leaf lettuce (my favorite).  Mixed with some thawed frozen corn, rinsed black beans, diced red pepper or roasted red pepper, finely diced red onion, and diced avocado (just put avocado on top, don't toss with the rest) tossed in a creamy yogurt with fresh herb dressing.  For the Seitan, simply slice, pan fry in a skillet with olive oil and toss with BBQ sauce.  We also ate with some cheese quesadillas (whole wheat tortillas grilled with cheese inside).

A Shaved Salad.  A great way to eat delicious, delicate salad greens is to do a shaved salad.  Using a mandolin or mad knife skills, thinly slice a tart apple, celery (do it even if you think you hate celery), and red onion.  Scatter of lettuce and dress with an herb yogurt dressing and some crumbled goat cheese.  It is SO refreshing.  I could eat it every day.

Other salads we have been enjoying:

Greek ish - lettuce, chickpeas, fresh goat's milk feta, thinly sliced red onion, roasted red peppers, diced cucumber tossed with a red wine vinaigrette.

Cherry dressing - Lettuce, goat cheese, salad turnips, chopped broccoli, chives, almonds tossed with a cherry vinaigrette (cherry jam, dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper).

Green pizza.  I cooked down an entire bunch of kale and an entire bunch of spinach from our week 2 CSA (just chopped them up and sauteed them in olive oil).  I dried the greens a bit by pouring them onto a kitchen towel.  Then, using a whole wheat pizza dough from Whole Foods, I topped it with cilantro pesto (bought from Whole Foods), fresh mozzarella, fresh goat's milk feta packed in liquid, ALL the greens, thinly sliced red onion.  It was SO delicious.  Two whole bunches of greens on one pizza.  You could grill this since it will soon be way too hot for pizza in the oven.

Puree those greens.  Saute the greens in olive oil and then add a rinsed and rained can of white beans (like Cannelloni, Navy, or even Pinto would be fine).  Puree until smooth and season with salt and pepper.  Here I used collards and Cannelloni beans and also flavored it up with some of the cilantro pesto.  I topped it with some fatty white fish.

Stir fry!  An obvious use for all the produce that grows right now is stir fry.  Which seems boring, but by switching up the sauce, you can do a lot.  Here I have cooked up all the bok choy with some onion and red peppers.  I also did a shallow pan fry of some extra firm tofu that has been drenched in corn starch.  The sauce here is a sweet and sour (mix 1/3 c. red wine vinegar, 1/3 cup orange juice, 1 tbsp honey, 3 tbsp ketchup, 1 tsp cornstarch, 1/2 tsp salt).

Another sauce option is a curry:  1 cup coconut milk, 1 tbsp fish sauce, 2 tsp Thai curry paste, 1 tsp packed brown sugar, and 1 tsp corn starch.  I made this with some of the other greens and added smoked tofu (which tasted like hot dogs, so don't use that).  Both of these are from (with some modification) Cook's Illustrated magazine.  For either of these, whisk together in a bowl and add to the stir fried veggies at the end and just cook until warmed through.  Make sure to stir fry your veggies in batches.  If you keep adding more to the pan, they steam and aren't as flavorful.

A warm cabbage slaw.  Here I sautee shredded savoy cabbage with some other dark greens (a type of kale, I believe).  It also has some carrots, onions, and shredded green apple.  I seasoned the slaw with soy sauce and rice vinegar.  I topped it with a fried egg (runny yolk).

Green Chips.  It is almost like cheating.  You just tear the leaves up, toss with some olive oil, salt and pepper.  Spread out on a sheet pan and bake in the oven until crispy.  Lower over temp is better, like 350.  But they work in any temp really.  I made these kale chips with these Roasted Mustard Potatoes, which were amazing.  I could easily eat like two bunches of kale like this in one sitting.  Easily.

Roasted kale, potatoes, and tempeh tossed with parmesan and lemon.  Here I roasted the kale, tempeh, and potatoes (all separately-ish, since they take different amounts of time).  I think I roasted the potatoes and then added the kale at the end.  I think I might have browned the tempeh in a skillet.  Then, I just tossed them all with some lemon juice and parmesan.  This is an old recipe I never posted.

Smoked Salmon, Kale Carbonara - Add your greens to some whole wheat pasta!  I used Cara's recipe here (with some modification).  Really delicious.  I also have made Eats Well with Other's recipe for White Bean and Kale pasta.  It was another great, fast pasta dish with kale.  I made the smoked salmon carbonara when Birk was only a few weeks old and remember eating it almost 100% cold while feeding him in my arms.  Why I took the time to take a blurry photo is beyond me!

I think you are getting the theme.  With the salad greens, you pretty much have to make salad.  Try to be creative.  Add beans and nuts for protein.  Cheese.  With the dark greens, there are so many options but you must add some fat.  If you want to be hard core, fine.  Eat dark greens straight up in your face. But I am telling you, it isn't sustainable.  You will eventually give up on eating greens and will only eat french fries the rest of your life (sounds threatening).  You will see a theme with my greens...cheese, potatoes, fatty fish, coconut milk, tofu, an egg.  It needs that balance in my opinion.  Also adding acid really helps balance out the bitter.

For the rest of the meals we have had with our Local/Now produce, I hope to share a detailed recipe with you.  We have tried some good recipes lately!  Also, it has been bothering me that I am cooking with all these greens but then buying things like cucumbers and red peppers at the grocery store to make things a little more exciting.  Am I a horrible person for relying on these out of season veggies?  Will I be able to live with myself.  Stay tuned to find out.

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