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Roundly Rejected

By Stephanie

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:

KALE CHIPS
1 bunch kale, washed. Use your kitchen shears to cut up the sides of the stems, making strips or pieces. Toss the stems; they’re not very tasty.
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
sea salt
Heat oven to 375. Pour the vinegar and oil over the kale and toss to coat. Sprinkle on the cheese and salt, and toss again. If you think you need more of anything, just eyeball it.
Spread onto a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until crispy and brown around the edges.
Here’s what they looked like when they came out of the oven:
They were crisp and light and pleasantly tangy from the cheese and the vinegar.  I made a big deal out of how we had made Green Potato Chips!  Here’s the girls when I had them try the kale chips:
So, yeah.  They hated them.  So I brought them outside, where my (adult) neighbors gobbled them up.  They were actually quite good, and I was reminded that it’s a rare vegetable that doesn’t taste good when you toss it with a little olive oil and salt and roast it in a hot oven.
The second recipe I’ve leaned on heavily in these last few weeks is basil pesto.  We are growing some in our garden, plus we’ve gotten a couple bunches from the CSA, and It. Is. Gorgeous.  I even took a picture of some of the giant, glossy green leaves spread out after I’d washed them last time:
The pesto recipe I use is one I’ve adapted from The Common Grill Cookbook, a restaurant just outside of Ann Arbor that we used to frequent in our student days.  I have cut down the oil from the original, because I like my pesto to be a little thick for spreading on sandwiches, and it can always be thinned down with pasta water or additional olive oil if you want.
Basil Pesto

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?

7 Responses to “Roundly Rejected”

  1. Valerie Says:

    Reading your article made me think of another blog I read…this chick is pretty awesome – you have to read her back story. In any event, she finds herself with loads of veggies that she needs to find a use for. Scroll around her website for some good ideas. What came to mind was a purple basil pesto pizza she made last summer…good luck!

    http://www.foodiefarmgirl.blogspot.com/

    http://foodiefarmgirl.blogspot.com/2008/06/purple-basil-pesto-easiest-white-bean.html

  2. julia Says:

    I am actually really jealous of your many bags of CSA vegetables, because we have been getting next to nothing in our shares. The weather has been so dark and rainy that nothing is growing!

    What I did yesterday was just to search Mark Bittman’s blog for greens recipes, and used the one that looked most promising (http://bitten.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/11/recipe-of-the-day-kale-sausage-and-mushroom-stew), although I nearly fell out when I saw how much fat it had. Turkey sausage next time!

  3. Peggasus Says:

    You just reminded me I need to make some pesto, my pot of basil on the deck is going gangbusters.

    I just made kale ‘chips’ last week too; my teenager wouldn’t touch them. Too bad kid, you’re getting quinoa tonight with the salmon for dinner, SO THERE.

    I also made roasted chickpeas: just drain and rinse a can, and dry them off pretty well with a towel. Toss them with a little bit of olive oil and some spices. I used some smoked paprika, garlic powder and onion powder, and a little cayenne. You could use cumin or curry powder or chile powder or whatever you like and sounds good. Bake on a baking sheet at 350 for about 30 minutes, and shake the pan around once or twice while they’re baking. Toss with some salt when they come out. Don’t tell your kids what they are and they’ll probably love them!

  4. Amy Says:

    This made me laugh… we used to do a CSA box and actually quit because of all the greens we were wasting. Oh, the forests of kale! Now we just go to the farmers’ market every week. But sadly, we aren’t too adventurous with our picks: the usual berries, cherries, tomatoes, garlic, onions, broccoli, peppers, squash, zucchini, etc. We have developed a huge fondness for blue potatoes, though. We boil them, “smash” them with a spatula, top with sea salt and some shredded cheese, then bake in the oven. Yum!

  5. Ashley Says:

    I laughed out loud at what you said to your babysitter “There is a lot going on in there” I have totally been there! Your intentions were good, but a girl can only take so much GREEN STUFF. Thanks for the recipes! I heard kale chips were yummy dipped in ketchup!

  6. Sara Says:

    We split our CSA with someone else so it’s not quite so…vegetative at our house. The kale chips look soooo yummy I can’t remember if i have some kale at home to try this!

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