Saturday, June 27, 2009

CSA Veggies

I think I've mentioned here that this is our families first season as part of a CSA. I was a bit worried at first (and still am!) about how to use all of these fresh veggies, many of which I had never eaten before. The farmers have been great about giving me suggestions each week of different ways to prepare the veggies. Here are few things we've done (and a few things I need ideas for!):

Bok Choy - I wash and chop the whitish stem part and then the leaves too. I just make separate piles because the leaves cook faster and need to be put in the recipe later than the stems. I make stir fry with the bok choy and a package of sliced assorted veggies I grab from the produce section at Meijers. The assorted veggies includes baby corn, mushrooms, peppers, broccoli, and a few peas. I just find it quick and easy to mix the package with the bok choy rather than buying and chopping all of the veggies individually. I've also used a frozen package of stir fry veggies as well. We've been making stir fry every Tues night after CSA pick-up and its tasty, but getting a bit old. I do like that it gets us to eat a lot of veggies I don't normally serve otherwise. I wonder how much longer bok choy is in season? I got the recipe for the stir fry sauce off of a package of Freshlike brand stir fry veggies:

2 tsp beef bouillon
1/2 cup water
4 Tbs soy sauce
2 tsp corn starch
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Mix together.

Heat vegetable oil in pan. Stir fry chopped up chicken. Add veggies for 2-3 minutes, add sauce and cook until thickened. Serve over brown rice.

Kohlrabi- Last week was the first time the inside of my fridge had ever seen a kohlrabi. I'd call it a success! Katie, one of the farmers, told me that it tasted similar to a broccoli stem, and she was right. She suggested eating some raw, but we ended up putting it all in our stir fry. I chopped off the top leaves and then sort of peeled/ chopped away the outer skin until I just had the inside part of the bulb. I diced it and threw it in the stir fry. The taste was so mild I probably could have just steamed it and served it with butter and salt on top. I'll have to check into more ways to use kohlrabi.

Spinach- We like to eat spinach raw in salads. Another favorite recipe is Tofu Pasta Shells- large pasta shells stuffed with cheeses, chopped spinach, and a bit of tofu then covered with spaghetti sauce. Lucy loves this dish and chose it to have for her birthday dinner this week. I'm not sure if I can post the recipe, its from the book The Healthiest Kid In The Neighborhood.

Salads- I usually pick out whatever type lettuce is mildest tasting when I pick up our share and we make up a big salad several nights a week. I add my homemade croutons and some chopped tomatoes on top. My biggest problem is that we tried buying organic ranch dressing, but didn't like it. I feel bad topping my fresh organic lettuce with junky ranch dressing! I have a recipe to make your own that I need to try. We also use Italian dressing, which is healthier. I usually save some of the greens like Sorrel and others to put in tortilla wraps to send with DH for his lunches. Sorrel has a tasty lemony flavor that is nice in a wrap. I use a wheat tortilla, cheese, lunchmeat (I can find nitrate free at the Meijer deli now.), lettuce, and some ranch. I have been wanting to make up some sprouts again to add to the salads and wraps, they add a nice tasty crunch and are sooo healthy. I posted my first sprouting adventure series here.

Chives - We've chopped some of these a few times and added them to mashed potatoes which was tasty. I still have too much and am not using it all though. I wonder if there is a way to freeze chives? I think DH would probably like some in an omelet, but he doesn't often eat breakfast at home.

Green Onions - I spread cream cheese on a piece of ham and wrapped up a green onion, a tasty treat I'd had before. These were too spicy for me! I tasted green onion all afternoon and that was not helping my pregnancy nausea. They did eventually get eaten by other family members though everyone agreed they were spicy.

Radishes - Again, too spicy for me! I sliced them and put them in a bowl beside the salad so that people could add them if they wanted to.

Basil - I have made pesto sauce in the past and frozen it in ice cube trays. We use this on pizza, pasta dishes, and tortilla wraps. I need to harvest a bit of basil from my garden and add that to my CSA basil and make a batch. Homemade pesto is so much cheaper than buying it at the store and we really enjoy the flavor. When I put it on pizza I spread the pesto on, then add slices of tomato, cooked chicken, garlic, and mozzarella - delicious.

Cilantro - We have cilantro growing in our own garden as well, because DH likes it and wants to make fresh salsa with it this summer. Tomatoes aren't quite ready yet, so I'm planning to puree this in the blender with a bit of olive oil and then freeze it in an ice cube tray until we need it.

Parsley- I think I used some of this in a potato soup that I made once, but otherwise I'm not sure what to do with it.

Kale, Swiss Chard - Sadly, I haven't used this the past few weeks! I did just try this recipe for Creamy Swiss Chard Pasta this week. DH and I both felt kind of sick after, I think it had too much milk in it for us. Another idea would be to just add a leaf or two to a smoothie, which both girls love and would probably not mind it being green. It was also suggested that I chop these and add them to omelets.

Vegetable Stock - I've been meaning to do this. Someone suggested making vegetable stock with the leafy tops and veggies that I might not be able to use up. I guess you just simmer everything with some onion and garlic for 20-30 minutes and then strain and freeze it. I could use this for cooking rice with or making soups. I've been afraid to do it because I'm never quite sure what to use - if I use the radish tops, will the stock be spicy? Can I throw in the kohlrabi leaves or not? I just need to try.

Cookbooks - I have Simply In Season, which is a wonderful cookbook about using produce in season. I've had this cookbook for a year or so and we've been trying recipes from it. Some have been successes, some not. I'm waiting to purchase the cookbook From Asparagus to Zucchini from our CSA. Otherwise I've been looking up ingredients on, I like that the recipes are rated so I can pick and choose the ones with lots of good reviews.

Other - I picked up an OXO brand salad spinner on sale 50% off at Meijers a few weeks ago and after some conversation with OXO I did find out that it is BPA free. (Pampered Chef refused to tell me what their salad spinner was made of and I've been searching for a safe one ever since.) I also got some of these green bags to keep produce fresh. I'm still deciding, but I think they are helping a bit.

Overall I think I'm doing fairly well so far. Considering that I'd never even held bok choy or kohlrabi or sorrel before, and I have a nauseous, not very adventurous feeling pregnant stomach... If you have any more ideas for the things I've mentioned, please let me know! If you've never tasted a kohlrabi, go buy one! Or better yet, sign up for a CSA next year. :)

(This post is linked to Kitchen Tip Tuesdays.)


  1. This is great! This is my first year in the CSA as well. Just wanted to say we cooked our radishes in a stir fry last night with peas and kohlrabi - cooking the radishes takes the spiciness out of them and they become very mild, but still crunchy which was great. So I would guess that putting them in a veggie stock pot would be just fine and I'm sure you can put the kohlrabi leaves in there as, I'm told, you can use those the same way you would kale leaves. Speaking of kale one idea I tried was chopping it up and adding it to mac and cheese - you just put the leaves in with the noodles while they cook and then drain and add the cheese like normal. tastes great and adds lots of vitamins! Good luck on your continued adventures!

  2. We have been with Groundswell since their first year and look forward to the start of the season all winter long! I'm surprised that you haven't used the kale or chard--they are my favorite and are loaded with nutrients. My family refused the green smoothies, though! As you mentioned, recipezaar is a great resource. I suggest trying a "greens and beans" type recipe for your leaves and we also like to have frittata for lunch at least once a week with whatever cookable veggies we have, especially the leaves. Good luck!

  3. Hi!
    This year is our first with a CSA as well! I've picked up a few ideas along the way.
    Bok Choy: try this recipe, it's delicious!

    And for basil, if you have a lot, you can make basil lemonade! It's very good. Here's how I make it:
    1.5 c water
    1 c sugar
    1/3 c honey
    3/4 to 1 c basil leaves, rinsed
    2 c fresh lemon juice (or concentrate plus water to make equivalent of 2 cups juice)

    heat water and sugar/honey in med saucepan until sugar and honey are dissolved. Add in basil and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and crush basil leave slightly. Let sit for 30-60 minutes.

    Strain liquid into large mason jar.

    Let cool and store in fridge. This is a VERY concentrated mixture, and it keeps well. I leave it in concentrated form because it makes over 10 cups of liquid, and this is easier to store. I simply add a splash of the concentrate to a glass of ice water and enjoy it as a nice light something-other-than-water beverage. Garnish with lemon or basil. Tip: I made this last night and used a mixture of sweet basil and lime basil.

  4. Thanks for sharing this link with Kitchen Tip Tuesdays! Would you mind adding a return link to KTT in this post? Thank you so much! :)


  5. I use our kale a lot in the Veggie Burrito Bake from Simply in Season. It is wonderful. We always eat it wrapped up in tortillas with a cilantro cream sauce that I make (which for Brad and I makes the meal - the kids pass on it but still love the meal).

  6. We're planning to stir fry our kohlrabi too...I tried it raw and just really didn't like it. I'm working really hard NOT to be jealous of your CSA!

  7. Your experience with the CSA sounds wonderful. Good for you, for trying out all these unusual vegetables! I have generally steered away from stuff like kohlrabi and bok choy, but this year we've got a great garden going that we're sharing with our neighbor, and they planted some Swiss Chard which they've shared with us. We've been eating it raw in salads, mixed in with Romaine and spinach and whatever else we have.
    A basil idea (since I LOVE basil, but we never seem to have enough to make pesto) -- I harvest it as it comes ripe, chop it up, and put a layer of it in a glass jar. Top the basil layer with shredded Parmesan cheese. Then top that with more layers of basil and Parmesan. This goes in the freezer, and we use it all summer long, spooned over halved tomatoes that we grill. It is really delicious. The jar is nearly always close to empty :o

  8. We eat kohlrabi raw, sliced with a sprinkling of salt. Yum!

  9. Thanks for all the tips on how to use fresh produce. I am bookmarking this post for continuous reference.

    Have a great day.


  10. Thanks for all of the ideas! We're continuing to try lots of new things, I"ll be sure and post a CSA Veggies part 2 eventually. :)

  11. Hi Christy,

    We like to eat swiss chard plain, just with a little salt. Chop up all - leaves and stems - and boil it. You can freeze it that way too, and add it as a side dish to your meals in the future. Works well. Good stuff.

  12. Hi! Found your blog via the MFW Yahoo group and have enjoyed reading about homeschooling, diapering, and your CSA participation. This is our 2nd summer with our CSA. It is definitely an adventure and a lifestyle change to eat in season! I blogged about how I used the produce last summer, so if you'd like some more ideas, you can check out and look for the posts between May and October 2008 that have food names in the titles (sorry, I haven't ever done tags...). Another good source for recipes is from our CSA's website:
    Have fun!

  13. You can make pesto out of parsley or add parsley to basil pesto to do half and half. Kale Krispies is a recipe in Groundswells cookbook that's awesome and my daughter loves them! Brush Kale w/ olive oil, dust w/ salt, pepper, parm cheese and bake at 350 until crispy, around 10 min.

  14. If your CSA is like mine, there will be a second round of kale in the early fall. Click my name for lots of ways to use it!