Sunday, May 25, 2008

I received my first CSA box

Spring is here with summer just around the corner. You know what that means--since I signed up for a CSA share, I received my first harvest of the season. I ended up with some red kale, two bags of spring green mixes for salad and stir frying and a bag of mixed herbs. What do I know about chives, anise hyssop or Mesclun salad mixes? Absolutely nothing.

I was raised on iceberg lettuce salads and dried herbs in a glass (now plastic) jar. It has only been recently I have branched out to romaine lettuce, but still like the crunch of iceberg in the mix. Frankly, this variety of salad greens and fresh herbs has me a bit intimidated. So how am I handling my first box of greens?

Red Russian kale is a bit beyond me at the moment--the scent reminds me of broccoli (not unexpected as they are relatives)--and I am not a fan of broccoli except cooked and smothered in cheese. One of my colleagues has two bunnies and they need more greens so the bunch of kale went home with her. One set of greens to be consumed by rabbits--check!

I have no idea how Mesclun versus stir fry salad mixes differ so I chose a bag and unloaded some for a quick salad. While there was quite a variety of greens in the bag (and one with an interesting flavor I had no clue about but liked), the mix had entirely too many stems for me to like eating them. Poor critique I know, but I am a farm girl. Many of the things I was trying to eat looked like weeds not food. Fresh salad plans abandoned, I washed off the dressing and put the remainder in the refrigerator.

My first success was reading various recipes for cooking greens and finding a couple ideas I liked. Therefore, I heated up some olive oil in a pan, chopped some white onions and cooked them in the olive oil, put in freshly washed (and stems removed) greens, sprinkled garlic powder on top and cooked for a minute or two. Served with a slice of warm, buttered bread and it worked well together. I knew greens cooked down easily, but was still surprised at the low volume of food I had at the end. This may be my recipe of choice to deal with all the salad greens. Of course, to consume the volume I have, I will need to have greens at least once a day. This may be a challenge, but as long as I can find new recipes to try, I will keep at it.

As for the chives and oregano, they may end up on some pizza. I still need to identify who is who (is it anise hyssop or oregano) and then plan accordingly. In the end, the herbs may prove more of a challenge than the salad mixes, but I can report back in a week. Lest my tale scare you, the CSA farm had some serving suggestions for oregano (pasta tossed with olive oil and fresh oregano), anise hyssop (use leaves for tea) and chives (add to cream cheese as a dip).

Still, I am not sure I will be looking forward to curly garden cress or radishes, but I may find new recipes to explore as I try various seasonal produce. If only the farm offered some asparagus...

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