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By Betsy Harvin

cooking greensI’ve been a shareholder for 14 years and here are some tips based on my experience and from advice from the gardeners and other shareholders:

1. I still get home sometimes after picking up my share and can’t identify one of the unusual greens or root vegetables in my bag. If in doubt, write it down. Be brave and take everything offered in your share. For those unfamiliar veggies, write the name on a scrap of paper and tuck it into that produce in your bag. When you get home, do a Google search for recipes.  Of course, you can ask other shareholders for how to prepare it or consult the resident cookbook in the distribution center, but I find “Googling” an unfamiliar vegetable when I get home is fun and easy.

2. Perhaps most important to using all of your share is deciding what you’re going to do with each item you get and plan meals accordingly. Do this immediately after pick-up, or at the latest, the morning after you pick up your share.  I find that if I don’t incorporate all of the share in my meal planning, I land up wasting much of it.  I read somewhere that it takes an average of 4 years for a CSA member to regularly use everything in a share! I found that so helpful to know.  It changed everything: I finally got it that I had to look at that share right away and make plans.

3. Eat the salad greens first. The taste of them the day they are harvested is remarkable.  As the days progress, the taste is still is good, but the sooner you eat after harvest, the better the taste.  If I keep some for later, I wrap the greens loosely in a paper towel and put it in an open plastic bag in the fridge. If there is more lettuce in your share than you can use, give it away immediately to neighbors (or leave the excess on the “sharing table” in the Distribution Center.

4. Cook the greens off root vegetables the night you pick up the share.  I tear off the beet greens or the radish greens or whatever other root greens I get and blanch or sauté them (or microwave them dripping wet and covered for a minute) and store in a small covered dish to use in eggs, soup or stir-fry in the next day or two.  The trick is to undercook them so they retain their bright color and finish cooking when you add them to a dish.

5.  I find spinach, kale, chard and collards store well up to a week (I store them as I do the lettuce), but I’m inclined to get them prepped as above to retain vitamin content.  Again, I use them ASAP.  I strip leaves off the stems and separately chop up the stems and cook and store them separately.

6.  If you have a family that isn’t naturally hard-wired to revel in the beauty of cooked bitter greens, I have two secrets for you to make them swoon in anticipation. The first is toasted sesame oil (TSO).  I don’t know why it has to be toasted, but it does.  It costs a pretty penny, but a little goes a long way. (You can enter a drawing to win a bottle of it if you give an hour to weeding when you pick up your share in May). The second is Chinese vegetarian stir fry sauce (CVSFS).  It’s inexpensive and you can get it at any Chinese supermarket.

To cook bitter greens, warm a little TSO and garlic in a pan. Rinse your bitter greens. Crank the heat up to high and toss in the dripping wet greens. Sauté quickly for 30 seconds. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, let sit for a few minutes. The combination of sauté and steam reduces the bitterness from the greens and gives you a lovely soft vivid plate of greens. Add seasonings if you like, or add a splash of CVSFS at the end and toss.  Voila! The family gets one whiff of that familiar Chinese-restaurant dish smell and digs in.

Good health begins with good food. We rarely get sick and I attribute that to eating the Genesis share.  Bon appétit!