Welcome to the early CSA season… you will be seeing many types of greens as these first weeks go by. If you are anything like me you may have a particular kind of excitement for tomatoes, snap peas and cauliflower, but sometimes greens can feel hard to use up, or use well. So, don’t feel bad if this is you- because it’s not just you! Here are my tips on using greens:
Making a point to eat greens earlier in the week while they’re still crisp makes them more enjoyable, and cleaning, storing and preparing them well is also key.
When you pick up your share and get it home, things like head lettuce, pac choi and kale bunches can benefit from a little trim off the bottom and a soak in cold water for a minute. Afterwards, dry them off a bit and put them into a bag with a flour sack towel (if you’ve got lots of tea towels, great, if not, I would highly recommend a 2-4 pack of flour sack towels to use this season). These steps will become more important as the temperatures go up.
Cut greens like our greens mix or loose lettuce mix shouldn’t get wet until right before use, and typically don’t need to be washed since we grow these in greenhouses to avoid rain splatter. You could leave the bag open in the fridge for an hour to cool them off, but don’t forget to fold the top back over or the greens will dry out.
All greens, including Napa cabbage, need to be stored in a plastic bag to avoid drying out and going limp. Same for broccoli and cauliflower. This is a great use for the bags we send some items in that don’t need to be kept in there to stay fresh (i.e., potatoes, tomatoes and snap peas because you’ll eat them all at once)
If you have a way to change the humidity of your fridge- they (and all the veggies in there) would appreciate being fairly humid.
The way I like to clean greens that might be dirty like head lettuce, spinach, kale (and cut greens only if they need it) is using a salad spinner. I’d recommend getting one if you don’t have one. Before I got one, I’d dunk greens in a large pot of water (this is not a time to skimp on water use!) 2-3 times (until it’s clear and grit free) spinning the greens between each dunk outside in a towel. It was very satisfying, barbaric looking and worked fine. With a salad spinner I put my torn up greens in the basket, fill the base with water and gently agitate, lifting the basket of greens out, spinning, and re-rinsing 2-3 times. I always take the greens out of the water, then dump the water. If you just pour the wash water back through or over the greens into strainer you are just adding all that dirt back in. Maybe that’s obvious to you all, but I’ve seen some crazy stuff with how people “wash” greens!
I’m writing this because grit in greens is a pet peeve of mine. We do our best to clean and cool greens before they get packed in boxes, but the system is never perfect, especially if we have to harvest in the rain.
If using greens up is a struggle, I can’t tell you how amazing it is that most of them cook down to hardly anything at all. And if a pile of steamed spinach isn’t your thing, cut it up in to tiny pieces and put it in any sauce for pasta or other veggies, put it in eggs, just keep putting it in stuff! And don’t hold back on adding seasonings and dressings if that’s what helps you enjoy them. A spritz of lemon juice on bowl of fresh kale isn’t enjoyable for everyone–it’s OK in my book to load up on parmesan cheese and olive oil.
I hope some of these tips might help if you’re new to our Farm, or even if not. It’s nice to start off the season staying as on-top of the share as we can, and finding ways to creatively remove ourselves from the predominant culture of convenience.
Enjoy the food.
For the Farm crew,
In your share this week:
Kale – Head lettuce – Green onions – Radishes – Spinach – Turnips
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp curry leaves (optional)
- 2 roma tomatoes
- 2-4 turnips
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/8 – 1/4 tsp cayenne (to taste)
- 1/8 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup red lentils
- 1 3/4 cups water
- 3/4 cup full-fat coconut milk
- fresh lemon juice and rice for serving
- Mince the garlic. Peel and dice the turnips. Wash the tomatoes and dice them as well.
- Add 3-4 tbsp water to a pot, add the garlic and curry leaves and sauté for 2 min.
- Add the tomatoes and cook for 1 min. Then, transfer the diced turnips to the pot, stir and cook covered for 2-3 min.
- In the meantime, rinse and drain the lentils. Add the lentils, spices, water and coconut milk to the pot and bring to a boil. Then, simmer slightly-covered on low for 17-20 min.
- Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice and brown or basmati rice. Store leftovers in the fridge. As the dhal may thicken in the fridge, add a bit of water when reheating it on the stove.