Leafy Greens, Red Chili Vinegar and the CSA

The Bed-Stuy Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
The Bed-Stuy Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Last week, was the first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) pick up. My canvas bag was filled with organic kale, collard, dandelion, bok choy, and Swiss chard greens. A large head of romaine, a small head of butter lettuce, green garlic and a dozen eggs were also included in the share. I dutifully took my bags home, and the next two hours were spent cleaning, cutting and packaging the greens. The next day, a salad was made with a mixture of butter lettuce and dandelion greens. Goat cheese, mulberries and a small red onion were tossed together in a bowl. A few tablespoons of Cilantro-Almond Pesto were mixed into Greek yogurt to make a salad dressing. That was an easy salad to make. Now, a few more bags had to be sautéed, simmered, stir-fried or served fresh.

The First Share of Vegetables
The First Share of Vegetables

Since that day, the dandelion and the butter lettuce are the only vegetables that have been consumed. Between Father’s Day and various activities, the time spent cooking has decreased. This week is definitely going to be about the greens, because next week is a new shipment of vegetables and eggs. As recipes are being researched and memories are being recalled, clever meals of making greens more interesting to serve are being created.

One memory being recalled is the ominous presence of the chili vinegar bottle placed on most Southern tables, next to the salt and pepper. A quick dash of the tangy liquid is added to Southern greens. My Southern undergraduate college placed a bottle on every table in the cafeteria. Kids from the north always wondered if it was part of the cafeteria decoration. They quickly learned from their southern cousins to douse it over their Southern greens, too.

A Southern Condiment for Leafy Greens: Chili Vinegar
A Southern Condiment for Leafy Greens: Chili Vinegar

Receiving a large shipment of greens, means that the slowly-simmered Southern style green cannot be prepared every day. We all have outside responsibilities from the kitchen. Mark Bittman of How to Cook Everything provides a quick recipe for those hardened, leafy greens. What’s essential about this recipe is the greens are served cold or at room temperature. It’s a refreshing light salad to eat in the summer. Any green can be used, thus the cooking times will vary with spinach needing only 2 to 3 minutes to Collards needing 20 minutes to cook. Any fancy oil and vinegar can be used. Choose lemon or lime to perk up the dish. I added a dash of nutmeg to this version. There’s a lot greens in the refrigerator, and the options of serving them are endless.

Cold, Quick Greens

Cold, Quick Greens: Purple Kale
Cold, Quick Greens: Purple Kale

1 to 2 lb. kale; washed thoroughly, ribs removed, cut or torn to pieces
Walnut oil
White balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
A dash of nutmeg
The juice of half a lemon

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.

2. Add the kale, or any green to the water. Cook kale for 15 to 20 minutes.

3. Rinse with cold water and drain. Squeeze excess water and roughly chop the kale.

4. Toss in the rest of the ingredients by “eyeballing” the amounts according to personal taste.

5. Enjoy.

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