Getting through the early-summer greens glut

*Or, “Ramen: It’s not just for broke students anymore.”

I missed the first week of the “large” summer share that my roommates and I are splitting, but I am back in Boston for the avalanche of greens that is the second week.

We may need to buy some rabbits.

We may need to buy some rabbits.

Yep, that right there is what we in the business refer to as an “Oh My God What Have We Gotten Ourselves Into” amount of greens. Working clockwise from bottom left, we got romaine lettuce, red kale, rainbow swiss chard, mixed field greens, some seriously fierce parsley, beet greens with beets attached to them, and red oak lettuce. Not pictured is the baby spinach that I lost track of while corralling the greens for this class picture.

We also got these babies:

Spoon is for scale.

Spoon is for scale.

Now at this point you may be mentally composing a comment along the lines of, “Wow, Jackie, that’s a really cool CSA you joined if they send lime-flavored licorice ropes! I had no idea candy was an option! Where can I sign up?” Well, much to my dismay, these are not in fact farm candy. They are garlic scapes. And before you ask the natural “What the hell is a garlic scape” question, I’ll just admit that I have no idea. I’m going to go look them up right now. Imagine, if you will, elevator music is playing while I am away researching esoteric vegetables…

….strangers in the niiiight, exchanging glances…doobee doobeedoooo…………..

…Okay, I’m back. Apparently the scape is sort of the stalk of a garlic plant that will come up and eventually flower. Okay sure why not. I’ll let you know what we do with them and how it all turned out in the next post. For now let’s just look at some of the steps we are taking to whittle away at the Green Wall in the fridge.

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Yet another kale soup

*Or: “A study in kale, punctuated by a soup”

I haven’t just gotten kale. I’ve gotten mustard greens, collard greens, several kinds of chard, dandelion greens (wow, was that a fiasco), red cabbage, green cabbage, boston red lettuce, loose leaf lettuce…okay let’s just say “many lettuces”. Lettuci. No I think the plural is probably lettuces. But the kale does keep popping up. And I am learning that it has as many varieties as any other fruit or vegetable, if not more. Here I thought there was just the one kind, namely, the pretty curly kind pictured below. Boy, was I wrong. It’s sort of like if you thought the only type of apple was a granny smith. Wrong, wrong, wrong. And the kind of variety you see in apples is actually a decent analogy for kale: big, small, soft, crisp, tart, bland, many many colors, you get the idea. But do you? I think you need to see it to understand. So before we get to the soup, here are most of the kinds I have encountered so far.

Curly kale

Curly kale

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Colcannon

*Or: “The transformative effects of five pounds of butter on a bunch of kale”

I was talking with an Irish friend recently and lamenting the embarrassment of kale I’ve been dealing with, and he asked me if I’d made colcannon yet.
To which I replied, “What in the world is colcannon?”
“So you’re saying you haven’t made it.”
“Yes JP, that’s what I’m saying.”
“You should.”
“Got it. What is it.”
“Look it up and call me when you’ve got a pot of it.”
Well I did and I do and JP doesn’t get any because he was a smart-ass about it. Okay maybe some leftovers since he did point me in this direction, because it’s good. It’s tasty, it’s buttery, it’s hearty, and it would make a nice alternative side dish if you’re a little tired of standard mashed potatoes. Or if you’re me it makes a nice main course. One of the perks of being single is that you can go ahead and have a bunch of colcannon-or chips n’ salsa, or marshmallows- for dinner and nobody cares.

Anyway, I have seen some recipes that add bacon, which would be delicious, but I didn’t have any. I’m not terribly concerned with making “authentic” colcannon here, but apparently there was no bacon in it when Irish peasants were originally whipping this up. There also seems to be some disagreement on if it includes kale or cabbage, but I ate all my cabbage, and I still have plenty of kale (and a few russet potatoes that came in the Box a few weeks back), so I’m coming down on the side of the kale supporters. Continue reading

Caldo Verde

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale Soup)

Ever wonder what the national soup of Portugal is? Me neither. But since we’re on the subject, the national soup of Portugal is Caldo Verde. You’re welcome for any future trivia victories.

This soup is part of the continuing effort to use the kale that keeps showing up in the Box of Wonders. Not every week, but many weeks. It’s not that it can’t get worked into various recipes, it’s just that I get so much of it, and a little of it goes so far, and well, we are looking for full-on, kale-based meals.

And really, I am measuring success in the whole CSA venture by how many actual meals I can get out of a box and how close I can come to living on the contents of the box. So we’re trying to stay away from random side dishes and confections that don’t really contribute to getting me through the week standing up. This game, by the way, has definitely health-ified my diet, which didn’t suck in the first place. It’s just that when you are really trying to use everything before the next Box of Wonders shows up, but you also want to order a pizza, you have a short internal debate that goes like this:

“Ooh, I want to order a pizza. With sausage and mushroom and onion.”

“Yes a pizza would be lovely, but then who’s gonna eat all this kale?”

“Touché.  Kale it is.” Continue reading

Sausage and Kale Soup

*Or “One can only eat so much kale sautéed with garlic”

What to do with a ton of kale? And you in the back waving your hand and whispering “Make kale chips! Make kale chips!”, you can just put your hand down mister, because I hate kale chips. I’m pretty much the only one though. I get that people like kale chips, and I’m not going to stop anybody from making them, you just won’t find me willingly making them myself. (Mom, Dad, if you’re wondering, you just take the kale, cut it into snack-sized pieces, toss them with olive oil and salt, and bake them for 15 minutes or so at about 300, and they end up crispy and salty and people are absolutely nuts about them). The one thing I have ever tried doing with kale was sautéing it last winter in Denver, which I did because the girls upstairs gave me a bunch from their garden. And sautéed kale is delicious, but a little goes a very long way and kale appears to be a staple of the season. I’m gonna need some fresh ideas.

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The Fresh Idea

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