CSA recipes (or seasonal cooking)

What I'm doing with my CSA share

For whatever reason, writing my newsletter in the summer feels like absolute drudgery. I dislike summer cooking generally, and writing about cooking in the summer reminds me of how grumpy I get cooking in the summer (and also sometimes eating in the summer, to be honest.) In the summer what I want to eat and what Noah is willing to eat diverges significantly. I want to eat a lot of Japanese food. There’s a lot of terrific Japanese summertime dishes. Noah really hates Japanese food (Noah, reading my newsletter: “I don’t hate Japanese food, I just….”) and so we have to compromise. It’s terrible.

We have a CSA again, it’s especially cool because it’s the Red Hook Farms CSA, so it’s grown like, 150 yards from our house, maybe? I can watch my dinner grow when I’m out walking the dog, when the dog makes it that far, which is not often.

CSA years are always kind of hilarious, because you immediately wind up with too much of the things you don’t know what to do with, and the recipes CSAs always send out are like “make collard rolls” which, ew. no. Here are some things that I have made recently with my CSA share, if you have a CSA share you are probably getting these vegetables also, so hopefully these recipes will be useful to you.

Here are some recipes to use your CSA vegetables, and there are no collard rolls.

Garlic Scapes

This year I have finally done something good with garlic scapes! I made a version of this stir fry, using more carrots and no pork, and using a lot more ginger than the recipe calls for, in addition to using gochugaru instead of whole peppers (just because I didn’t feel like getting my peppers down). If you have a CSA, and you get garlic scapes… try this out! I have made the garlic scape compound butter, but like, I don’t get the point of that, it’s never that great. This, however, really good! It also says in the headnotes that you should treat scapes like asparagus, and find the point at which they snap and only use the part above that. I’d never done that before, and uhhh, it makes a difference.

Collards

Collards are slowly growing on me, but unfortunately they do need to be cooked for Too Long in order to be good. This Too Long cooking is exponentially Too Longer if you use ham hocks to make the stock first, and then cook it in that. This week I’m going to be making this vegetarian collard recipe from Divas Can Cook. I know already from reading the recipe that I will add at least a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar at the end of cooking, and that I will use gochugaru or my silk chili instead of regular chili flakes (I just don’t like them, idk why), and probably some vinegar hot sauce as well. I think collards need lots of vinegar.

I have also made this recipe for collards braised in coconut milk before, it’s quite good also. It goes nicely with a lot of dishes that could be described as “Asian” or “Indian inspired.” It would probably go well with like, a jerk tofu or seitan also. It’s a vague but pleasant flavor palette that goes well with a lot of things, but isn’t “southern” like the usual collard braise.

Lettuce

lol. This is a funny joke. idk put it on a BLT or something. Make a salad? I mean, I won’t be making a salad, but you could. My lettuce will sit in the bottom of the refrigerator until next week, when I will put it in the trash. If you have iceberg or romaine lettuce you can make stir fried lettuce, but if you have the “nice” lettuce that my CSA gave to me, well, there’s nothing for it, this is going to wilt for a week.

Kale

I love kale, I’ll do lots of things with kale. One of the things I will do with kale is pesto it, especially if it gets to be the end of the week and it looks not so hot. Personally I think that blanching kale for just a few seconds (seriously, not even 30) softens it and improves the dish. If you get any other various herbs (I keep getting various herbs) they’d probably be good tossed in too. Kale pesto feels more like you’re eating a vegetable for dinner than regular pesto, which I like, because I feel like I’ve done a good job.

Peaches and apples

I make this galette once or twice a week in the season. I make twice the frangipane and enough dough for two galettes, and then all I have to do is slice the fruit. It’s great with apples, it’s great with peaches. It’s just good. The frangipane at the bottom keeps it from getting soggy, and adds a bit more flavor. I’m gonna be honest, I measured this wrong the last time I made it, the dough was way too wet, and you know what? It was still really good. Calling something “foolproof” always feels dopey to me, but my dough was like, QUITE wet, and it was still really good at the end. Sprinkling the crust with sugar and the butter wash really do make a difference, you can skip that and it will still be fine, but it’s much better with it.

Scallions

I make this a lot. It’s great. Really fast, really easy, doesn’t make your house too hot. Steamed tofu with scallions, ginger and cilantro. You can also do it with fish if you prefer. Use soft tofu, not firm or, god firbid, extra firm. If you are able to find fresh tofu, it will taste spectacular, but if you can’t (and I have to travel for fresh tofu so almost never get to eat it) it is also very good with the normal stuff.

I will also make a little sauce with scallions, soy sauce, a bit of shaoshing, a pinch of sugar, and white pepper to put on a fried egg to eat with rice for breakfast. Fry the scallions in the leftover egg oil, add the liquids and sugar, cook for a split second to melt the sugar. Pour over egg, put white pepper on top.

Fennel

This is definitely cheating. I hate fennel. But I also want to feel good about myself and like I “use” the fennel. I don’t use the fennel, not really. Here’s what I do:

Buy some salmon (and a few oranges and lemons and an avocado, oh and a red onion). Enough for however many of you there are eating.

Make a bed of herbs (get this… fennel fronds, you’ve done it, you have used the fennel. You could even mandonline the fennel and toss that down there) and thinly slice a lemon.

Skin the salmon (skinning raw salmon is really hard. I dislike it, you can NOT do this, but it won’t get so much of the flavor. It’s really up to you.)

Salt and pepper on the salmon. Make a little glaze with a few tablespoons of olive oil and the zest of an orange and a lemon. Slather that on the fish.

Put fish in oven for 50 minutes or so at 225.

While fish is baking:

Thinly slice a half a red onion. Put it in a few tablespoons of red wine vinegar. Let it sit.

Supreme a few oranges (3 is a good number if they are small and there are two of you.)

Make a salad dressing: some orange juice (squeeze it from the leftover goop from supremeing it), some olive oil, some salt and some pepper. Maybe some mustard, but I just really like mustard in dressing.

When fish is done:

Put onion and orange on plate. Add avocado. Sprinkle some salt on there. Add the fish, pour the dressing. Dinner is served.

Those are my ~seasonal~ recipes for you. Enjoy.