Clearly, we love a good play on words. In all seriousness though, as community farmers, we want each CSA share subscriber to enjoy and make the most of their vegetable share. This time of year, during the ‘Leaf Explosion’, something we’ve heard every year is that CSA members sometimes have a difficult time using all of their leafy greens before next week’s pick up. Chard, kale and spinach are making appearances in abundance as we move into summer, and leafy greens in general are staples in a local farm share.
So, how make the best use of it all? Here are a few farm house tips for eating those greens:
Proper storage. Even in the best crisper drawer, fresh leafy greens won’t last without proper protection from refrigerated air. This means storing them in a plastic bag or “Green bag”, closed but not air tight. If it does get wilty: Cook it! Cooking is going to wilt the green anyway, so why not throw the wilted kale into your next pot of soup?
Top them. Bunch root crops like carrots, beets and radishes should be topped prior to storage. Many tops can be used as ingredients themselves, but still top them and store separately. All that foliage will draw moisture out of the root in the refrigerator, making for a rubbery carrot or spongey beet.
Clean it. Since Groundworks is a farm not a processing facility, produce should be washed at home. Taking some time at the beginning of a share week to process and wash all of this week’s veggies will also make them easier to use throughout the week. I am MUCH more likely to throw in ingredients that are ready to use or simply chop up.
Make it fun too! If you have children or grandchildren, let them help out and learn about different vegetables.
Don’t wait for the best recipe. New recipes can be fun, inspiring and sometimes essential if it’s a new ingredient. However, it’s easy to get burned out on having to look for new recipes. My advice is always: Take what you’re already cooking- the family favorites, and find ways to add greens. For instance, this week our family ate the classic “biscuits and gravy”, but with a big heaping pile of kale thrown into the sausage gravy. (Our four year old son is now so used to this that he consumed over a serving of leafy greens without even really noticing.) Swiss chard can be a satisfying stand-alone dish, sautéed with onions and balsamic vinegar, but it’s also fantastic in a smoothie, as a sandwich wrap, thrown into macaroni and cheese, or added to a stir-fry. (Chop the ribs and add separately though, putting the greens in at the very end to avoid over-cooking.)
Cook gently. Even the more durable greens like kale can be over-cooked, making them less palatable. When adding leafy green to a hot stove-top dish, add them after it’s off the heat and simply stir in with the hot ingredients. They will ‘cook’ lightly, and still have a slight crunch.
And of course, contact us when a certain crop has you stumped, or visit the blog archives at groundworksfarmmt.com.
See you at the farm stand!