Friday, May 09, 2008

The coming of the green . . .

For the first time this year, we signed up for a CSA. (Community supported agriculture . . . you pay a set price for the season and get a box of vegetables every year.)

I've been thinking about it for ages. There are lots of good reasons, including supporting local farmers who raise their crops carefully and sustainably - good for the earth and good for us; and getting a nice box of fresh organic vegetables that had been in the ground the day before. Mostly, I realize that the big hole in our otherwise healthy diet is that none of us eat quite enough vegetables.

We tried. I'd dutifully trundle off to the farmers' market, but either arrive too late for the good stuff or get overwhelmed and simply grab the things I knew what to do with - sweet corn, a random head of broccoli, and a handful of fresh lettuces.

I worried about wasting the food - could we use up a whole box? But that seemed a good prod; guilt would get the vegetables in us, if nothing else.

So I signed up, and the first box came last week. My husband - the true veggie lover in the family - was thrilled. Son #2, who so avoids green vegetables that once, just to spite me, spent an entire year without eating ANYTHING green, and that included green M & M's and mint ice cream, was less certain. As was son #3, who will dutifully nibble on a broccoli floret or asparagus spear but doesn't really understand why anyone would waste stomach space on such things when there's fresh bread and pasta in the world.

There were lots of green things in the box. Bok choi I can handle, and lettuce and carrots and onions. Nothing strange there. Most herbs I can deal with as well, though I have to say the lovage is a new one on me. The beets - the one vegetable the DH can't stand - will go to my parents, who love them. The nettles downright frighten me . . . I'm supposed to EAT something that I'm warned could sting me? Hmm. I might have to work my way up to that.

But the spinach . . . now, that huge bag of spinach is a good thing. My kids will actually eat it, if in only two ways: chopped up very fine and thrown into an adaption of lo mein that they dubbed "popeye noodles" years ago, and in the following salad, which is the otherwise green-phobic son's favorite.

It's easy, and from Cooking Light magazine, so it has to be good for us, right?

The dressing: whisk together 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp. maple syrup, 1 teaspoon redwine vinegar, a 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard.

Toss with:
A big pile of spinach - 5 or 6 ounces.
1 tart apple, slivered
The bacon crumbles from two strips of bacon, well drained (or, if you're lazy like me, two tbsp. from a bag of pre-made bacon crumbles.)

That's it. And it's pretty darn good.

But you all have to help me get through the summer without the fam running from me every time I come at them bearing a vegetable bowl. What are you very favorite ways to fix veggies?



Playground Monitor said...

Oh yum! That spinach salad sounds great. You can tell your kids have grown up with your 24-year-old son tells you "Mom, I really like baby spinach salad."

My favorite way to fix veggies is to roast them. I take a mix of things -- broccoli, cauliflower, an onion or two cut in fourths, mushrooms, baby carrots, sliced zucchini or yellow squash, slices of green pepper -- and put them on a pizza pan. Then I brush them with olive oil, sprinkle on fresh rosemary from my herb garden and roast at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Talk about delicious! If you like, you can add a few cloves of fresh garlic too.

Many's the night we have this and a piece of broiled or grilled meat. Matter of fact, that's what's on the menu for tonight.


Fiona said...

We love baby spinach sauteed in olive oil, with slivered garlic. Serve hot with a sprinkle of grated cheese.

Zucchini and yellow squash chopped, sauteed and added to risotto.

Sweet & hot peppers and red onion, sliced, marinaded in lime juice, crushed garlic and cilantro, then stir fried OR cubed and grilled, or put on skewers and grilled. YUM.

Sliced, raw veggies with a yogurt-cucumber dip. Good any time.

Sweet potatoes peeled, cubed, tossed with olive oil and minced rosemary. Roast and enjoy. You can slice, toss with olive oil and rosemary and grill.

Google any veggie and Cold Soup, really, there are great recipes.

Liza said...

I love to steam or grill veggies. I also love raw veggies with a yogurt based salad dressing. It only has 3 grams of fat for the blue cheese dressing and taste like the real thing.

I could eat spinach salad everyday and will have to try your recipe.

Ellen said...

I eat most of my vegetables raw with some king of dressing. Leaf vegetables like baby spinach I also use in sandwiches.

Amy said...

We've joined a CSA for the first time this year, too. LOVE IT! And we paid extra so we get a homemade pie every week, too.

PJ said...

Oh, I love veggies! I fix them roasted, steamed, raw, stir-fried, and grilled. I live in a rural area and hit the farmers market every Saturday morning all summer long. My neighbor always has an abundance of yellow squash and zucchini in their garden so I'm gifted with a lot of those too.

Here's my favorite way to fix yellow squash.

Wash yellow squash. Cut off both ends and place squash in a steamer. Par-cook then remove from steamer and slice into two pieces length-wise. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, place squash on sheet with cut side up (skin down), sprinkle with Lawrey's Seasoning Salt and cover with a slice of Pepper-Jack cheese. Broil until cheese begins to bubble. ENJOY!

Helen Brenna said...

You guys are making me hungry and I just ate lunch!!

Susie, I love this CSA concept. Perfect for people who don't have the time, yard space, or inclination to garden! Me, in other words.

I'm definitely jotting down these food ideas to try later!

Betina Krahn said...

Sounds yummy! I'll try that this week!

And I do like the idea of the CSA. . . but I see the problem of getting things you may not use. A good friend of mine was in a food co-op for quite a while, where they put in requests for things and the requests were honored by the people in charge of buying for the week. They took turns doing the buying and distributing. But this may be an entirely different thing.