We have been going to a pick-your-own vegetable farm in the summers of last 3 years. The tomatoes harvested in this farm are particularly amazing and we usually pick the 10$ worth bag to the overflowing brim. The only downside of PYO veggies is the work that follows to come home and clean and store them; that takes close to 90 minutes at least. A luxury, I may not have now with a toddler, who is willing to throw my washed veggies back into mud any minute!
So this year, we decided to finally brave and become a CSA member. The irony is, there is a CSA farm just a mile from home, and we used to run past the road to it everyday on our morning runs, couple of years back. And we didnt know!
Better late than never.huh? The other amazing thing about CSA is not only are we helping and supporting community farming and our farmers, but the produce is so varied and fresh. It also gives you a chance to experiment and discover veggies you never knew you could use or cook with! We have been thru three weeks of CSA shares this year so far. I will try to be more regular and post the recipes and ideas we have been coming up with to use the veggies in our cooking, which is primarily Indian cooking..
My recipes are far from formal. please feel free to improvise on my measurements and ingredients!
Until, I found this in my second week share, I had no clue, there was something called garlic scapes, leave alone know how to use them. I was excited to try it in recipes akin to how spring onions is used instead of onions, I wanted to try garlic scapes instead of garlic.
I chopped them up and stir fried it with many different veggies. The flavor was milder than garlic, which was great and new!
With the remaining scapes, I whipped up a spread/chutney. we used it as a dip for dosa (indian crepes made from rice and lentils) and as a spread in sandwiches.
- Garlic scapes – a dozen or more
- Cilantro – a generous bunch
- Curry leaves (optional) – a cup full
- Coconut (fresh) – half a handful
- Dry red chilly and black peppercorns – according to spice level desired
- Chop up the ingredients.
- Saute the ingredients, except coconut, in a dribble of coconut oil, or any oil of your choice, until the aroma fills the air.
- Once the scapes start to brown a tad, add the coconut and let it stay for a few more minutes before letting it cool down.
- Add salt now and blend it to a paste; I preferred to keep a slight crunchiness to the mix and not blend it too smoothly.
- In the same saute pan, add a generous amount of coconut oil or olive oil or butter.
- Temper with mustard seeds and cumin; wait till they crackle.
- Now add the paste/chutney to the tempering and let it simmer in the oil on a low flame for at least 15-20 minutes.
- Add more oil as desired and wait till oil starts to separate with the mixture. The oil helps to keep the chutney from spoiling and preserve longer.
So far, I havent tried anything special with it. And like our farmers mention in their blogs too, it is probably the toughest green to break into.
I blend some into my daily smoothies, along with a more generous portion of spinach and fruits.
And the rest, I have been chopping it up finely and adding it to roti (indian bread from whole wheat) dough. So it has been mostly kale parathas for us all week long. ( My toddler loves it too)
Radish and beets
Not the toughest veggies. But oh! the radishes were soo sweet and amazing.
I put them into our sambhar ( Indian gravy made from lentils and tamarind as base ). It was delish.
I made a beet biriyani on whim —
- Sauteed Grated beets, onions and curry leaves in ghee.
- Added a freshly beaten powder of cardamom, nutmeg and cloves.
- Sauteed basmati rice along with it for sometime.
- Let it all cook in coconut milk and water combo in the rice cooker.
Since I user up all the good spinach to make smoothies for myself, I used the remaining greens for this.
I basically used all the collard greens and beet greens (yellow and red), followed this recipe —
- Blanched greens for 5-10 min and made it into a smooth paste
- Sautéed onions, tomatoes and some garlic scapes.
- Tossed the green gravy. Added dribbles of cayenne pepper, turmeric and hint of garam masala. Salt to taste.
- Let it simmer for 10-15 min before adding cubed paneer ( cottage cheese ) — tofu may be a healthier substitute.
- Let it simmer for another 5 min before taking it off the stove.