Early in my CSA days I was told that it takes new CSA members three years to get used to (and good at) eating all the greens that come in a CSA share. Kale’s recent trendiness aside, Americans just do not eat a lot of greens. If you are not used to greens being part of your diet, then the volume you get with the CSA can seem overwhelming and confusing.
After eight years as members of a CSA, my family still goes through a greens-eating adjustment at the beginning of the growing season. We love greens, but during the winter we do not eat them in the same volume that we do in the summertime. It isn’t that our palates need to adjust, it’s our eyes. It can seem a little disconcerting to take home one or two grocery bags full of different kinds of greens. Are you supposed to eat salad for dinner every night? And what do you do with the micro-greens, mustard greens, beets greens, kale, chard, collards, cut greens, arugula, spinach, frisee, bok choy, radicchio and various cabbages?
Salads are, of course, a great thing to eat, but they do not help you tackle the volume issue I’m talking about. Some people suggest green smoothies, but I am not a fan. My preferred way to prepare greens is to cook them. That huge bag of cut greens cooks down to just two or three servings. Classic side dishes like sautéed kale dressed in a vinaigrette, creamed spinach (or any other green), and silky cabbage cooked with heaps of butter will knock out those greens faster than you can sing “Popeye the Sailor Man.” And cooked greens don’t only have to have to appear as side dishes. Make a habit of thinking through ways you can add chopped greens to main dishes you already cook. Scrambled eggs, soups, and stir fries are foods that LOVE greens. Start adding greens to everything you cook and you will soon be wondering why we don’t get MORE greens (except when we get Napa cabbage, you will still struggle to use a whole head of that in one week).
In the upcoming weeks you will be able to find some great cooked –greens recipes on this blog. In fact, if you click on the recipes tab at the top of the page there are already some available. Meanwhile, check out this recipe for pasta with peas, asparagus, prosciutto, and Butter Lettuce. Yes, that’s right, a recipe for cooked lettuce. It sounds strange now, but once you have become a convert to cooked greens you will be willing to give any cooked leaf a try. As Julia Child once said, “It’s no wonder that Americans don’t like vegetables, since they’re afraid to do anything to them”…though I have to admit I haven’t yet tried Julia’s recipe for braised lettuce. Maybe this is the year!
About the author: Rachel Anderson is a seasoned CSA veteran going into her 8th year of vegetable onslaught (4th year at Blandford). She’d like you to think that means she’s figured out how to use the weekly vegetables in an efficient way, but that would probably be a lie. She has a two year old daughter and another baby girl due to be born smack dab in the middle of the growing season. When she is not corralling vegetables and toddlers, you can find Rachel moonlighting as a adjunct at a local university.