This Week's CSA: A Boxful of Brassica

Arugala and parmesan

I was talking with someone at a party last week about how to manage the weekly load of vegetables from the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box. His approach is to identify the vegetables he likes the least, and eat them first.

"Otherwise," he intoned, “there's no hope for them."

I told him about my Eat/Freeze/Give approach. He agreed that giving away the things he didn't like might be preferable to choking them down. I thought of that this week when I opened my CSA box from Foxtail Farm. It was full of Brassica vegetables  -- cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kohrabi, arugula -- members of the mustard family. Except for the arugula, my husband is not a fan. Because he's a grown-up, though, and because he knows he sets an example for our four- and six-year-old sons, he eats vegetables he doesn't like. My challenge in preparing them is to find ways to make them more palatable. I've had good success with even these unpopular members of the Brassica  family. I know I've succeeded if I hear, “I hate [such and such vegetable], but I like this!”

The following recipes have made my husband and sometimes even my boys look on these much-maligned cabbage cousins with more appreciation. The next time you think you have to grudgingly eat or give away something you don't like, search for a new recipe. It might help to change your mind, or at least your palate!

The kohlrabi was not quite as big as a bowling ball, but it was close. I cut and washed the greens, then saved them to chop and add to my morning eggs. I peeled the globe and cut it into finger-sized pieces to eat raw. I told my kids they were like white carrots, then made a fresh-herb dip to go along with them.

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Fresh-Herb Dip
(makes about 3/4 cup)


¼ cup buttermilk

¼ cup mayonnaise

2 Tablespoons sour cream

½ Tablespoon minced shallot or other mild onion

½ Tablespoon minced parsley

½ Tablespoon minced dill

1 small clove garlic, minced

½ teaspoon lemon juice

pinch sugar, salt and pepper


Whisk all ingredients together in medium bowl. Keeps covered and refrigerated for three days. Whisk again before serving.

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Steak and Arugula Salad, adapted from a recipe from the Cook's Illustrated kitchen

(Serves 2; can be doubled)


Take the steaks out of the refrigerator to bring down their temperature while you prepare the rest of the salad. This lessens seizing (and toughness) when put in a hot skillet. Serve with crusty bread to sop up the juices. Use a vegetable peeler to shave the parmesan.

For the dressing:


3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil  


2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon  


1 garlic clove, minced or pressed  


1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley leaves  


1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves  


Salt and black pepper  


For the steak:

1 teaspoon vegetable oil


2 boneless local, grass-fed strip or top sirloin steaks, about 8 ounces each


To finish the salad:


4 cups arugula, in bite-size pieces


2 ounces Parmesan cheese, cut into thin shavings  




1. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, oregano, and a pinch each of salt and pepper until smooth.


2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. Meanwhile, season the steaks liberally with salt and pepper. Lay the steaks in the pan and cook, without moving, until a well-browned crust forms, about 5 to 6 minutes. Using tongs, flip the steaks. Reduce the heat to medium. Cook 3 to 4 minutes more for rare (120 degrees on an instant-read thermometer) or 5 to 6 minutes for medium-rare (125 degrees). Transfer the steaks to a cutting board, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest for 5 minutes.  


3. Divide the arugula evenly between individual plates. Cut each steak crosswise into thin strips and arrange the steak over the arugula. Drizzle any juices that collected from the meat over the greens. Rewhisk the dressing and drizzle it over the steak and greens. Sprinkle with the shaved Parmesan and serve immediately.

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Crunchy Salad with Buttermilk Dressing,  adapted from this salad at Smitten Kitchen

(Serves 8)

For the dressing:

1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk

2 Tablespoons mayonnaise

2 Tablespoons cider vinegar

2 Tablespoons minced shallot or other mild onion

1 Tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground pepper

3 Tablespoons finely chopped chives

2 Tablespoons crumbled blue cheese

For the salad:

1 pound cabbage, cored and thinly sliced crosswise (about 4 cups)

1 stalk broccoli, chopped small (about 2 cups)

2 peeled watermelon radishes, diced (or 6 regular washed, unpeeled radishes)

2 celery ribs, thinly sliced diagonally

¼ cup toasted sunflower seeds


1. Whisk together buttermilk, mayonnaise, vinegar, shallot, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl until sugar has dissolved, then whisk in chives and blue cheese.

2. Toss cabbage, broccoli, radishes, and celery with dressing. Garnish individual servings with sunflower seeds. 

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Roasted Cauliflower with Kalamata Vinaigrette, from Gourmet

(Serves 4)


1 (2 1/2-to 3-pounds) head cauliflower
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 small garlic clove
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (to taste)
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, finely chopped


1. Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in lower third.

2. Cut cauliflower lengthwise into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Put in a large 4-sided sheet pan and toss with 2 tablespoon oil and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Roast, turning once or twice, until golden and just tender, about 25 minutes.

3. While cauliflower roasts, mince and mash garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt, then whisk together with lemon juice, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, olives, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Serve cauliflower drizzled with Kalamata vinaigrette.

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      Roasted Cauliflower Popcorn, from 101 Cookbooks
      (Serves 4)

4-inch segment of a thin day-old baguette
1 medium head of cauliflower, washed
Extra-virgin olive oil
Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 fresh red chile pepper, minced, or pinch of red chili flakes

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place racks in the middle.

2. Give the baguette a spin in a food processor until you have textured, not-too-fine bread crumbs.

3. Trim the cauliflower. Get rid of the big stalks and stems and strive for uniform, bite-sized little florets. Little trees.

4. In a big bowl toss the cauliflower with a few generous tablespoons of olive oil and the salt. Toss until the cauliflower is well coated and then place it in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. You are going to bake for about 25-30 minutes total.

5. There will be some residual olive oil in the big bowl you used to toss the cauliflower. If not, add another tablespoon or two. Add the bread crumbs, garlic, and chiles. Mix.

6. After the cauliflower has been baking for about 15-20 minutes anything in contact with the pan should be nicely browned. Pull the pan out of the oven, rotate each piece of cauliflower so that another side will get some color, and then sprinkle the entire pan with the breadcrumb mixture. Return the pan to the oven and finish with another ten minutes or so.

The cauliflower should be tender throughout and the breadcrumbs nicely toasted. Serve immediately, it really isn't half as delicious after it has been sitting on the counter getting cold.


Kristin J. Boldon is a frequent contributor for Simple, Good and Tasty, who also writes for the Eastside Food Cooperative's newsletter on health and wellness, and for her own blog Girl Detective. Her last post for us was "This Week's CSA Box: Satisfying Salads, Hold the Lettuce."