Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The season of greens!

For those of you following along who are now in the 3rd week of the Fresh Start Farms CSA, you've no doubt noticed the weekly parade of greens coming your way.  The greens are coming in a diverse array of different shapes and forms -- bok choi, kale, collard greens, and swiss chard.

Early summer fields are full of delicious greens waiting for the dinner table.

No doubt, some of you have been thrilled to get such a steady supply of cooking greens, while others of you may be feeling the squeeze.  It's true that many of us are unused to greens being a major part of our diet. Part of eating seasonally and locally is learning to use what's in season, and even in July, most Maine farms are still waiting for the bounty of summer to come pouring in with its cucumbers, zucchini, green beans and tomatoes.  In adidition, for those of us sweating out the heat of the past week, it's hard to remember what a cool and rainy June we had -- but the plants absolutely remember, and are still a few weeks behind from the setbacks of the late spring this year.  Rest assured that those wonderful crops are just a week or two away, as they soak in all this heat and nighttime rain!

Batula harvests rainbow chard for her farmers' market and CSA shares.

Greens are one of those vegetables that take some CSA members time to get used to at first, but often become a regular staple of members' family meals. Greens are interchangeable in a lot of recipes, and there are some tricks of the trade that apply to any green that you’re planning to cook.   You'll find that if you are eating seasonally from the farm, that greens will become a staple part of the CSA share -- so you may as well get comfortable with them! The good news is that they are surprisingly versatile and their range of flavors is a major benefit of the discoveries associated with the share.

Let’s start with flavor. Greens range from mild (spinach, swiss chard, collards, beet greens, and kale) to spicy (turnip, mustard, arugula, and radish). If you're not sure what you have, be sure you are taking advantage of our produce guide that we've made available just for that purpose.

And for the preparation…

When it comes to cooking, with greens simplicity rules! Cooked greens don’t need to be messed with very much but they do need to be cooked properly. Try these guidelines, but the most important thing is to watch for their color to brighten – when they turn bright green they’re properly cooked. And wash thoroughly before cooking!

Cooking times:
2-4 minutes to boil
5-8 minutes to steam
2-5 minutes when added to stir-fry

Most greens won't need more than a little bit of olive oil and garlic to become a side dish that can stand on its own.  If you're not sure how to use your greens, just go simple, and let their flavor speak for itself!

You can also consider trying greens with:
• your favorite vinaigrette
• with red wine vinegar, oil, and salt
• with toasted sesame seeds, soy sauce, and rice vinegar
• with parmesan cheese and butter

You'll soon find that greens can add color and diversity to the dinner table with a minimum of time and effort.  If you want to get more ambitious, check out this website for an amazing best-of compilation of tons of recipes using greens (246 to be exact):

And did you know that all of this information is at your fingertips on our recipes page? We've got more detailed cooking ideas there AND on our produce guide, so be sure to take some time to explore this site!

1 comment:

  1. I haven't had many greens yet in my bundles (lots of lettuce, though!) but I can't wait - I love hardy greens!! Thank you!