Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Excellent CSA Produce

In my last post, I promised that I would post the recipes of any successful recipes, or any other useful ideas I had for the CSA food box that we picked up. I didn't think it would be so soon.

I had a plan for the second day, but I wasn't sure I'd be able to pull it off. The truth is work is crazy right now, and Alison has a bunch of summer time activities planned to get Jackie and her out of the house for a few hours on random days. Today was tumbling class again, and my week has rapidly degenerated from "catch up on delayed work because everyone is on vacation, to get even further behind because...just get used to it" It's been fun, I assure you. I now have at minimum a weekly visit to my favorite waste water treatment plant, as well as all my other project responsibilities. Our conversion of The Rev. Floyd Flake's Allen Christian School to the Eagle Academy for Boys for the NYC School Construction Authority has our team on red alert, and we're headed to the site on Thursday to check out all the newly discovered field conditions that our brave contractors have found by opening the door and scratching the paint. It's going to be a fun summer.

Anyway... I had in my meal plan based on the box we got from the fine folks at Melick's Town Farm yesterday the secret ingredient of "beet greens" I say secret, because they gave us a heads up on Sunday and we didn't think we were getting beets this week. Neither Alison or I like beets... I can't honestly say I've given them a fare shake, it just sounds like something from my childhood that I didn't want to eat, so I always said I didn't like them. Anyway, I want to make pickled beets, because it's a family tradition to eat them at Christmas, even though, no one to my knowledge has consumed them since my Grandma Julia passed away. I was hoping, since I knew I would get several weeks worth of beets in this CSA, that I would make some, and based on my limited success in preserving various things, convince people to try them, hopefully like them, and give cause to this family dare that graces our table each year and ends up in the garbage can....each year.

But what to do with these lovely stems? I must admit, since I am no beet fan, I never cared to see what a full beet looked like! From my addiction to food network, and other culinary tv shows on PBS since I was a young boy (Yan Can Cook, Gourmet Cooking with Chef Earl Peyroux, The Frugal Gourmet pre-scandal, Great Chefs Great Cities... these were all shows Joe and I watched when home from school on random days off, and we watched them all day, they cultivated my love for culinary misadventures). The stems reminded me of Swiss Chard, or any other cooking greens I had seen.

A quick google search revealed this recipe for beet greens, and I was intrigued. NJ Transit made my morning and evening commute interesting today, but I made it home in time to try it out. The recipe was modified as such.


  •  beet greens from three medium sized beets.
  • 2 strips of extra thick cut bacon
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion ( I used the onion from our CSA Box)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/6 cup of cider vinegar
  • 8-12 oz bow tie pasta 
  • Parmesan Cheese to taste 


1 Wash the greens in a sink filled with cold water. Drain greens and wash a second time. Drain greens and cut away any heavy stems. Cut leaves into bite-sized pieces. Set aside stems and chop up into pieces 1/2" - 1" inch in length.

2. Start water to boil for pasta. 

3 In a large skillet or 3-qt saucepan, cook bacon until lightly browned on medium heat. Add onions, cook over medium heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occassionally, until onions soften and start to brown. Stir in garlic and beet green stems. Add water to the hot pan, stirring to loosen any particles from bottom of pan. Stir in sugar and red pepper. Bring mixture to a boil for 3-5 minutes. Finish Bacon in the oven at 375 degrees for 5 minutes or until really crispy.

4 Add the beet greens, gently toss in the onion mixture so the greens are well coated. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes until the greens are tender. Stir in vinegar.

5. While waiting on step number 4 to complete, and keeping a careful eye on it, boil the bow tie pasta.

6. Drain pasta and toss with the greens/onion/garlic mixture... add chopped up bacon from step 3. Serve....(if desired add parmesan cheese... I had planned on it, but it tasted so good I didn't add it)

I broiled a bunch of tilapia fillets seasoned with salt, pepper and lemon and served it with this side dish.

I was expecting disaster based on last nights zucchini experiment, but it was awesome, and I recommend anyone who reads this, head out to your super market, pick up a bundle of beets with the stems attached and give this recipe a go. I have never really tried any type of "greens" before, but this was an awesome dish, and I will be making it again for sure.

Our CSA experiment is already a great success, we were hoping to try new things and experiment with new foods to hopefully get our diet healthier... I don't know if cooking greens in bacon fat counts for healthy, but it sure was tasty. We chose a "conservative" farm for our tastes...lots of fruit, that we knew wouldn't go to waste. We were a bit leery of a lot of strange vegetables. But I think this experiment of using something that would have otherwise ended up in my compost pile, is an indicator that it's going to be a fun summer, and hopefully something we will continue in years to come.

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