This is the first part in a bi-monthly series featuring the CSA vegetables we receive on a weekly basis.
It is sort of like getting a care package from your best friend...who happens to be a farmer. In February, my fiancée and I signed-up with Bluebird Gardens of Fergus Falls, MN to receive weekly half-bushel share boxes. We paid just $395 for the whole season!
After months of receiving anticipatory emails from the farm, one finally announced, “Boxes are here!” On Thursday, I raced to our pick-up site after work, checked my name off the list, and lifted spring’s first vegetables from our box. Once I reached my kitchen, I gently examined a head of silky lettuce, a bunch of radishes, green onions, spinach, a petite kohlrabi, and my favorite, a bag of tender pea greens.
I spent the first half of the evening processing our bounty to make sure the produce would last as long as possible in our refrigerator. All of the greens received a good wash and multiple whirls through our salad spinner. Then, I packed the tender morsels into containers covered with paper towels.
The first thing that came to mind for that night's dinner, was salad. I realize that a spring salad may not seem like the most novel idea, but it felt like the right dish to celebrate our first box. We don’t make many dinner salads at home, so having a convenient supply of newly washed, organic produce felt like a treat. Neither of us had been that fond of radishes, but were surprised by how much we enjoyed them out of our CSA box. I’m not sure I can say the same about kohlrabi whose flavor reminds me of one of my herbal tinctures. Fortunately, I have the feeling kohlrabi will make many more appearances in future boxes, giving us plenty of time to define and hopefully enhance our relationship.
Jake, my fiancée, is a man who was not accustomed to eating his vegetables during his bachelor days. Now, however, he expresses a growing enthusiasm about being a stakeholder in our CSA share. We were happily surprised by our newfound affinity for radishes and welcome more surprise-by-vegetable as the CSA season continues.
In college, one of my housemates created beautiful Lebanese salads. They were like a revelation to me and I never forgot them. She mixed freshly chopped vegetables and dressed them simply with lemon juice, pressed garlic, and mint. Then, she ate the salad straight out of the metal mixing bowl. Since, I have become enthralled with Lebanese food. I used to savor tart Fattoush salads from Shish in St. Paul, MN, which incorporated toasted pita bread in their version. We feasted on our version of fattoush salad for three days straight, without tiring.
I prefer to add some richness to my fattoush salad by using avocado and chips of aged cheddar cheese. Hardboiled egg would also be lovely.
Jeni’s First CSA Box Fattoush Salad
Freshly torn greens: Lettuce, spinach, pea greens, etc.
Radishes, shaved or thinly sliced. Cut the bigger rounds into half moons.
Kohlrabi, thinly sliced and cut into small pieces (if you’ve never handled kohlrabi, keep peeling away the tough, outer skin until you hit the tender interior.)
Green onion, thinly sliced.
Additional vegetables. I like avocado and cucumbers would also be a good match.
Toasted pita bread wedges, croutons or pita chips.
Garlic, grated or try minced garlic scapes.
Fresh mint, finely chiffonaded.
Freshly squeezed lemon juice, the more the better.
Salt and pepper.
To make your own pita chips, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut pita bread into bite-sized wedges. Place on a sheet pan and toss with plenty of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until golden brown and crispy, tossing at least once throughout the baking process. Let cool.
Mix the greens, sliced vegetables, mint, and pita in a bowl.
Grate in as much fresh garlic as you’d like.
Drizzle lightly with olive oil and douse with freshly squeezed lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
Toss by hand, making sure the garlic is evenly distributed. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
Jeni Hill grew up in the Twin Cities and recently moved to Fargo. Her two sustaining passions are food and writing and she combines the two whenever she gets the chance. Jeni believes food is never just about the food and considers it the finest medium to connect with others. When she is not crafting contributions to Simple Good & Tasty, she may be posting to her blog An Herbalist Eats, 20food, or Fargo's High Plains Reader. Her last article for us was: An adopted Korean makes her first batch of lefse.