Since my last post, we’ve continued to pick up weekly shares of local, organic vegetables from our CSA every Tuesday. And as our summer weekend travel schedule heated up (we were out of town six weekends in a row, people), our feelings about the bags of produce began to change. What was once an occasion for curiosity and excitement (“What’s this? Oooooh, look at all the spinach! I love radishes with salt!”) became less so. And it seemed as though our “share” increased in size and quantity in inverse proportion to the time I had to cook creatively that week. My husband would walk in the door with four or five or SIX plastic grocery bags of Green Things, and I would cringe.
“Look at that kale! It’s like a tree!” I said, a couple weeks ago as the leafy stalks lounged in my sink, waiting to be washed. I shoved them unceremoniously into the fridge, and when I was showing my babysitter the dinner options the next night, I apologized. ”There’s a lot going on in there right now,” I muttered, as kale and chard spilled out of the crispers and a giant bunch of basil threatened to fall out of the door. When does kale go OUT of season, I wondered.
Then my sister-in-law alerted me to a recipe that her CSA had passed along for Kale Chips. She claimed that her children loved them. So the next afternoon, I went ahead and made them, glad, at least, for a way to use up all that leafy greenery for another week. Here’s her recipe:
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 t. salt
1/2 lb basil leaves, washed well, stems removed (a large bunch)
1/4 c. pine nuts
1/2 – 3/4 c. olive oil
1/2 c. parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/4 c. butter, softened
Place garlic, salt, basil, pine nuts, and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process until mixture is smooth. Add cheese and butter and process again until mixture is smooth. Store in refrigerator. Makes 2 cups.
This makes A LOT of pesto and can easily be halved if you are making a single pasta-with-pesto dish or something similar. I’ve used it lately as a spread on sandwiches (with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and grilled chicken – a great picnic option), in pasta with grilled shrimp, and on pizza in place of red sauce. And guess what? Even though my eldest daughter LOVED pesto just last summer, this year, she hates it. Wrinkles her nose at it. My younger daughter? Won’t even give it a lick.
I wouldn’t call the last few weeks a success in terms of getting my kids to branch out and eat a healthier diet, per se, but I would call it a success in terms of figuring out creative ways to embrace the bounty of summer, even that never-ending kale.
What about you? Which veggies are you roasting or grilling? Which bountiful summer ingredients are you surrounding yourself with? And which ones are your kids discovering anew?