Each week during the months of June through early December, our family gets a box bursting with farm-fresh, organic vegetables . We are a part of something called Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). The quick definition is that we own a share in an Illinois farm, and in return this farm sends us a part of their bounty. CSA membership has been such a wonderful thing for our family for many reasons. Our kids have learned about the farm, and know that the food that they eat is the result of a lot of hard work (which inspires them to waste less). We have all been exposed to a whole range of produce that we would have never tried otherwise. And, a really fun aspect: the challenge that comes with creating a meal plan each week that includes all of the vegetables that we receive in our box on Saturday. In the Spring, we are drowning in leafy greens, garlic scapes, green onions. In the summer we enjoy the full bounty of tomatoes, squash, peppers, and more! In the Fall, it’s potatoes, squash, and more leafy greens. In the early years, there were many vegetables that I had never seen or heard of before: Pea shoots, garlic scapes, random bitter greens. These are all things that have inspired creativity in me, and fostered a fun outlet for me to explore my love for food.
In this section of our blog, I will be sharing ideas for ways to use seasonal produce. My hope is that it will inspire you to be more adventurous, to connect with your food, and to have fun, even with the “scary” vegetables. For me some of those “scary” vegetables were fennel, turnip, and rutabaga. I have come to love all of these, and I know that if you step out of your comfort zone a bit, you will come to love them as well.
In the spirit of easing into things, I am going to start today with a simple tutorial on how to wash and store your greens. In our fridge this week we have arugula. Last week it was chard, choi, and lettuce. This process can, and should, be applied to any greens that you have. It will ensure that any sand and dirt (and bugs) are cleaned off, while also encouraging the greens to stay fresh and crisp for a longer stretch of time.
Step 1: Place the greens in a large bowl. The bowl should be large enough to allow some space for your greens to float freely. It is also helpful to slowly pull your greens out and loosely separate them as you fill the bowl. I have found happy little caterpillars munching my greens as I go to wash them from time to time. Simply place the caterpillars outside and move on with your wash. Just a friendly reminder that your veggies came from the earth, and we are just a small part of this circle of life (cue the Lion King music)
Step 2: Fill the bowl with cold water, and a little bit of white vinegar. The proper ratio is 1 part vinegar to 3 parts of water. Since precision is not one of my skills, I usually eyeball it. The vinegar is a helpful addition because it will kill bacteria, as well as any little bugs that may be hiding in your greens.
Step 3: Allow greens to soak for at least 10 minutes
Step 4: Pull the greens out of the bowl and rinse under cold, running water.
Step 5: Spin the greens in a salad spinner to remove excess liquid. I store mine right in the salad spinner, and pull them out as needed. It makes it really easy to use them all week long!
Since I started washing my greens this way, I no longer find soggy greens rotting in my fridge. They stay nice and crisp, and are so easy to grab when I am ready for them.
Stay tuned here, I will post a new recipe each week!