Monday, June 20, 2011

Macaroni and Cheese, and Sorrel

The first distribution of 2011 is upon us!

The share includes head lettuce, kohlrabi, radishes, kale, arugula, mizuna, spinach, mustard, parsley, sorrel, sprouts, and one of the following fresh cut herbs: oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, or garlic scapes.

The first share in 2011

We are excited about this share, which contains veggies from our old garden, our new expanded field, and the hoophouse. This is a very busy time for us, as we are still transplanting some of the tender crops, like melon and eggplant, into the ground even as we begin to harvest. Pairing the hectic time of year with the fact that this is the first season neither of us has an off farm job to ensure a steady pay check means the stress level at our house is high these days. We're ready for the sigh of relief that's sure to come with the successful completion of the first week of distribution.

Bring it on!

As usual, the early season share is heavy on the greens. That's to be expected because the leafy stuff is shorter season than the roots and fruits that come later in the summer (except of course for radishes, which are inexplicably fast growers).

Members faced with a CSA bag brimming with greens are probably going to wonder just what to do with them. Do not fret, I have suggestions.

Start with the obvious, a salad. The lettuce, spinach, arugula, sorrel (if you're not into the mac and cheese recipe below), mustard, sprouts, parsley, kohlrabi (peeled and sliced thinly), and radishes (greens too)  all work well in salad.

The other easy solution to a bounty of greens is a stir fry. The mustard, sprouts, kohlrabi (again peeled and chopped), mizuna, radishes (don't forget those greens!) and kale are all good stir fried. Chop them up with some garlic, ginger, and dried chilies. Cook them briefly in peanut or vegetable oil and serve with rice and soy sauce. Add mushrooms or chicken if you need more substance - remember greens cook down a lot!

If you are in the mood for some more elaborate recipes, keep reading.

The first is a recipe I came up with the other day when we had a lot of sorrel to use up. Sorrel is a perennial green that starts producing even before the grass gets green. If it isn't picked frequently it sends out a flower stalk and the leaves start getting tough. In early May it is a coveted treat, but by mid-June we start forget to pick it and we end up harvesting a ton at once to make sure it is still tender when the CSA starts. If you aren't sure which one is sorrel, taste your greens until you find the sour one. That is the sorrel.

Macaroni and Cheese and Sorrel

Homemade macaroni and cheese is so simple, I don't understand why anyone would make it from a box. You can get fancier than this by making a more traditional bechamel with a roux and adding some different spices, but this easy version is yummy as is. It was a hit with the one year old as well as the elders.
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic (or more to taste), crushed or minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 ounces sorrel, cut into thin strips (chiffonade) 
  • One 14 ounce box of pasta: macaroni, shells, penne, or similar
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 6 ounces cheddar or colby cheese, cut into small cubes
  1. In a small saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. 
  2. Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for about a minute.
  3. Add the sorrel, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sorrel "melts" and becomes a greyish green sauce. This will take about five minutes.
  4. In the meantime, get a pan of water boiling for the pasta, following the directions on the pasta package to cook the pasta.
  5. Set the cooked sorrel aside.
  6. Put the cold milk into a medium saucepan, add the cornstarch, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper, and stir until combined. Do not heat the milk until the cornstarch is mixed in or your sauce will be lumpy.
  7. Put the pan of milk over medium/high heat and stir (I like to use a heat proof rubber spatula) until the sauce begins to steam.
  8. When the sauce is steaming hot, stir in the cheese. Continue stirring until the sauce just starts to boil.
  9. Turn the heat to low and stir in the cooked sorrel.
  10. Combine the sauce with the hot cooked pasta and serve.
If you still need more ideas, these recipes all look good to me but I haven't tried any of them. They should give you a place to start if you are still wondering how to use up your share.

Arugula: One of my favorite things is arugula with a simple blood orange juice and olive oil dressing, so this looks pretty great to me.

Kohlrabi: The internet is full of kohlrabi recipes. Check out: A Collection of Recipes and this Kohlrabi Stew recipe. If you want to try a recipe that calls for more kohlrabi than is included in your share, stretch it with some broccoli and/or potatoes.

Kale: Pretty soon the kale is going to take off and we are going to have more of it than we know what to do with. When that happens, I will make this salad first thing. 

Mizuna: This Whole Foods recipe looks like a great stir fry. I don't think there is a full pound of mizuna in the share, but you could combine it with the kale to make a substantial meal.

As soon as my camera is ready for the task, I plan to create a post that offers a who's who of greens in case you are wondering which is which. Hopefully that will come soon!


  1. I like the idea that you are including some recipes. Some of the veggies will be a new experience for me. and yes! Why would anyone make mac & cheese from a box? Real is always best and more tasty!

  2. Oh, mizuna is my favorite. So easy to grow.