Monday, May 21, 2012

CSA Share Ninja Rescue: kale, asparagus, fennel and radish

Clearly the harvests have started coming in around the country: I received more requests than I could handle this week for CSA Share Ninja Rescue, in which you, the readers, tell me, The Ninj, what veggies in your CSA share are giving you consternation and I give you some recipe ideas.

(Sadly, not so much bounty yet here in Vermont, where we just had another freakin' frost warning on May 17th!)

As always, if you need help with a veggie, leave a comment below or send me an email before this coming Friday. Recipes suggestions are posted on Mondays.

This week, readers in the Northeast asked for help with kale and asparagus, while some West Coast friends were confounded by fennel and radishes.

It's dark, it's tough, it's hearty -- and it's awesome! If you're new to kale, start out with lightly cooked versions. If you're already a fan, try using it raw, as well (I like to use it in place of lettuce on sandwiches and cabbage in slaws). Now, if only I could get Mr. Ninj to eat more kale, I'd be one happy camper.
  • Kale and sweet potato quesadillas: These easy quesadillas have become a staple for me now. And I'm quite convinced that even kids will eat them.
  • Kale chips: Move over potato chips, there's a new sheriff in town. 
  • Kale and amaretti salad: Cookie croutons on your salad? Oh yeah! (adapted from a Ron Suhanosky recipe in the February 2012 issue of House Beautiful)
    1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 bunch kale, washed, stems removed, chopped
    handful amaretti cookies, crushed (about 4 cookies if you use Lazzaroni brand)
    1/2 ripe pear, thinly sliced
    1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    salt and pepper

    Whisk together the oil and vinegar and toss with the kale. Add the pears and toss again, gently. Lastly, add salt and pepper to taste and top with crushed cookies.

Yes, yes, we're all aware of the side effects of asparagus, but it's worth it. Given the short season, enjoy it fresh whenever you find it. When cooking, be sure not to overdo it with asparagus; it's best when still a bit crisp. (And hopefully our West Coast friends were able to make it to the recent 2012 Stockton Asparagus Festival -- 3 full days of love for all things asparagus.)
  • Baked Asparagus Fries: Call 'em "fries" and maybe your kids will eat them. (Scroll down just a little to find the link from Kiersten at OhMyVeggies)
  • Asparagus Pesto: If, like Mr. Ninj, the texture of asparagus grosses you out, this pesto from Heidi Swanson will be right up your alley!
  • Cream of Asparagus Soup with Crab: Please try it. It's easy and lovely, even though my photos make it look scary.

If you're an anise fan, you'll enjoy fennel. In fact, I have used them interchangeably in recipes when one or the other was unavailable. I love that you can eat virtually the whole fennel plant: the seeds, the leafy foliage and the celery-like bulb. (Not to mention that fennel pollen is currently the New New Thing, isn't it?)

I think I have mentioned this before, but do try to branch out in radishes from the traditional small red ones normally found in the grocery store. They come in amazing colors, shapes and sizes, which can transform your crudite platter into a work of art. And don't forget to eat the yummy green tops, too!
  • Gabrielle Hamilton's Celery, Radish and Fennel Salad: Awesome -- a radish / fennel twofer!
  • Radish and arugula salad (origin unknown, as I just have a uncredited printout in my recipe folder):
    1 bunch of radishes, tops trimmed, thinly sliced
    2 cups arugula
    olive oil
    2 oz. shaved / shredded Parmesan cheese
    salt and pepper

    Toss radishes and arugula with olive oil. Add cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Eat.

Wow. I think this is plenty to get you cookin' this week, don't you think?


  1. Where were you last year when I was struggling with my CSA???

  2. Actually, I started this last year, Pam -- sorry you missed it. :-( Hopefully this will still help and give you some ideas, even if you're not in a CSA this year.