Started Out on Bok Choy, Soon Hit the Harder Stuff
I've just joined a CSA, which is completely absurd (for me). I'm rarely home; I rarely cook; my kitchen is unsuited for handling a large influx of vegetables in need of spontaneous cooking. I do enjoy cooking, though, on the rare occasions when I do it (and I'm not just saying this so I don't get fired).
But I realized that griping about the mall-sized new Whole Foods in my neighborhood, and then lazily relying on it for most of my shopping, wasn't defensible. Better, I figured, to support a small local farm directly—even if it just means writing a check and then letting some vegetables rot in my kitchen while I travel or play hooky from home. I'm hoping the weekly produce onslaught will force me to cook more—and at the very least, to eat more vegetables, which I love but usually don't get enough of.
Tuesday night was the first vegetable delivery of the season from my adopted upstate-New-York farm. So I walked to the farm's dropoff site—a community center near my Manhattan apartment—to load up a suitably eco-friendly canvas totebag with this week's organic produce: radishes, collard greens, bok choy, kale, spinach, red romaine lettuce, cilantro, apples.
Although I had to rush home, change clothes, and meet a friend for drinks a half-hour after the produce pickup, I wanted to start my CSA membership off on the right foot by showing the vegetables some love—instead of just ignoring them, which was my first instinct. What follows aren't F&W-tested or approved recipes, mind you; I'll just call them anecdotal, improv-on-a-deadline notes. I trimmed some radishes, sliced them in half, and placed them cut side down in a quick vinaigrette I made with sherry vinegar, olive oil and sea salt. I let them soak for a bit while I quickly stir-fried some of the bok choy with sesame and peanut oil, minced garlic and a little Sriracha sauce: a tasty, virtuous snack, and enough to tide me over for a late dinner. I was tempted to smuggle the crunchy, salty-vinegary radishes to the bar to munch on with a beer.
I don't know yet what I'm going to do with the vegetables that arrive later this summer and fall—cabbage, summer squash, turnips, beets, rutabaga and more—let alone the rest of this week's produce. Maybe I'll ad-lib some kind of soup that uses as many ingredients as possible as quickly as possible. Could be dangerous. Or maybe I'll stumble into something delicious. If anyone has suggestions for how to seamlessly work a CSA membership into your life—especially if, like me, you're not quite ready for it—I'm all ears.