The Chatfield CSA at Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield
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Posted 7/8/2011 2:59pm by Vicki Phillips.

Overcoming the CSA Jitters

Three of my initial reservations about joining a CSA have indeed materialized. First, what to do with all the vegetables when you go out of town? That turned out to be easy. Our friends Alan & Deb came by and picked everything up before we left for Atlanta for a week.

Deb reported a marvelous veggie experience: “We are still eating it! Alan made the most delicious steamed vegetable dish with the spinach, kale, peas and cauliflower, adding onion and spices. Next we had a fabulous egg omelet with a mix of the veggies. Best omelet I’ve ever had. P.S. Lettuce is great on a sandwich. I think I want to check into this co-op!”

Vegetable anxiety strikes

The second concern hit me after I got back home on Tuesday with this week’s big beautiful load of produce. Yikes, I thought, as it all lay on the counter looking at me. How on earth will we eat all this? And the third cause of CSA jitters was the kohlrabi, which I’ve never before seen nor eaten, much less cooked.

Returning from Atlanta, Ray and I had stopped on the way from the airport to pick up our distribution. By the time we got home and unloaded luggage — and then spent 40 minutes washing and green-bagging all the vegetables and herbs — I was too tired to cook so we went out to eat. Moreover … once again … we already have dinner plans with friends this coming Fri. and Sat. nights, leaving only four dinners to use up everything. Some items will be used for lunches, too, but all in all I began to experience my first twinge of vegetable anxiety.

Don’t bruise the lettuce!

It’s now Thursday and already I’ve made a good start. Yesterday for lunch I did an easy skillet Napa cabbage with Polska kielbasa, with enough sausage left over for another meal. Last night I made shrimp salad using the head lettuce and dressed it with an Asian dressing using Thai basil, cilantro, lime, fish sauce and a few other ingredients. Wow, an excellent, high-flavor, low-cal weeknight dinner.

The only thing I did wrong was to cut up the lettuce too small and then bruise it during tossing. The tender young lettuce we’re getting from the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield's garden is a lot different from what’s typically available at the grocery store in that it’s far more delicate. You have to use a light, gentle touch with it.

Last night’s salad was so good — and I had extra shrimp and cilantro left over — that I made it again today for lunch, this time with the mixed greens.

Tonight we’re having the leftover Polska kielbasa with a “mess o’ greens,” as they say in the South. Often, Southerners mix different types of greens together, which I decided to do with the kale, chard and kohlrabi greens. But I’ll cook them individually in case they don’t all get done at the same time. I also want to sample them separately before combining them, since I’ve never tasted kohlrabi greens and only once or twice have I ever cooked chard.

Changing the way we eat

We may just eat everything this week, after all! I’m noticing one really positive change in my meal-planning strategy: more focus on vegetables and less on meat. Determined to use everything up from the CSA distribution, I’m approaching the vegetables as the main attraction and meat the side thought.

I also like using sausage, not only because it pairs well with greens but also because it’s already highly seasoned so preparation is simple. Furthermore, its intense flavor means a little goes a longer way, so we end up eating less quantity.

The Polska kielbasa worked great, and I plan to cook Italian sausage with the spinach for an upcoming meal. I want to experiment more with different kinds of sausages I’ve never cooked with before, like chorizo. Recipes, anyone?