Capital Region Veggies from the CSA Program

“Vegetables?!?! Vegetables aren’t exciting! Lets see the stuff that’s a minimum of a 1000 calories so I can drool at my computer then go into my kitchen to scrape up something that doesn’t even come close to the deliciousness I was just staring at!”

Well that’s what I would be thinking if I saw a post like this on a food driven blog but I feel the need to share everything that tastes great and yes, these veggies are delicious, I promise!  If you told me a year ago that we would have joined a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program where we receive locally grown vegetables each week, I wouldn’t have believed it.  When it comes to veggies, I’m a lettuce in a bag, frozen steam in bag, canned veggies kind of girl.  I know that it’s not the healthiest option but I’m kind of lazy when it comes to making them.  Well all I have to say is packaged veggies are out and fresh veggies are in because they taste so unbelievably great! This week we received cabbage, chard, garlic scapes (I feel the need to define these since they are a bit unique.  They are the “flower stalks” or green things as I like to call them that stick out of the top of the garlic bulb), bibb lettuce, cilantro, and fresh lavender.  What’s great about the CSA program is that you receive veggies you wouldn’t normally buy so it forces you to find ways of making them and more importantly, making them taste good.  One dish we made (I use the term we loosely since my husband made it and I watched) using the rainbow chard was so good, it could have come out of Wolfgang Puck’s kitchen. (recipe below)  It consisted of toasted pine nuts, olive oil, fresh basil, fresh garlic, and Parmesan cheese.  So simple, so delicious and SO darn good for you!!  I encourage you to try a new vegetable at the store, google a recipe that looks appealing and easy, and start cooking!  You won’t be disappointed and neither will anyone else in your household. Plus if you do the cooking, you can make the other person do the clean up- even better!

Recipe for Rainbow Chard-

13 to 14 oz. Rainbow chard (about 1 large bunch) 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil 3 Tbs. pine nuts Kosher salt 1 Tbs. minced garlic 1 Tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves (8 to 10 large)

Pull or cut the stems from the chard leaves. Cut or rip the leaves into 2- to 3-inch pieces and wash and dry them well. Rinse the stems and slice them crosswise 1/4 inch thick.

In a 12-inch nonstick stir-fry pan or skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the pine nuts to a plate, leaving behind as much oil as possible.

Return the pan to medium-high heat, add the chard stems and a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrunken and beginning to brown lightly, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the chard leaves and 1/4 tsp. salt. Toss with tongs until just wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. (If using a skillet, you may need to add the chard in batches, letting the first batch wilt before adding more.) Remove the pan from the heat, add the cold butter pieces and stir just until the butter has melted.

Using tongs, immediately transfer about half of the leaves and stems to a serving plate and arrange. Sprinkle on half of the Parmigiano, basil, and pine nuts. Layer on the remaining leaves, stems, and pan juices, and garnish with the remaining cheese, basil, and pine nuts. Serve immediately.