This week we got: red lettuce, dandelion greens, spinach, spring onions, collards, mixed baby greens, broccoli, oregano, and spearmint.
SO MUCH GREEN. I’ll be sad when it gets too hot for the edible leaves, though.
Dandelion greens are tied with kale for my personal favorite leafy green. The first time I tasted them is when we got some in one of our first CSA boxes four summers ago. That summer I was traveling to Pittsburgh frequently to spent time with my ailing grandmother and other relatives, and I packed my vegetables so none would go to waste. Not sure what else to do–how to help, how to comfort, or how to cook this alien vegetable–I sauteed the leaves with potatoes, onions, and a little mustard. They were slightly bitter but nourishing and light for a summer meal. It gave the family something besides grief to share: here we are, eating overgrown lawn weeds together.
Mint and I have a more convoluted history. I was allergic to it for a few years: the effect was a horrible itchy red rash on the lower half of my face. However, like many inexplicable allergies, that one subsided with time. I am happy to brew up some mint tea from time to time, though I prefer hot mint tea to cold.
On Wednesday, I still had a fair amount of Memorial Day leftovers to use up, so my neighbor and I made a gigantic salad with the new lettuce and some odds and ends while we waited for last week’s kale and this week’s spinach to simmer in a gigantic pot of hambone and bean stew. (The hambone has been hanging out in her freezer since the last hamcentric holiday, waiting for some succulent greens to suck up all its smoky richness.) We seasoned it with some of the fresh oregano as well as dried savory from last week.
On Sunday, having enjoyed several days of lazy fixes, I went on a bit of a tear to use up the rest of the odds and ends in the fridge. Made tea from the mint (with ginger and honey), chopped the rest of last week’s radishes, put the oregano in the oven to dry, chopped the remainder of my roast chicken and CSA broccoli for the next day’s meal, and sauteed dandelion greens to mix with the last of the Memorial Day black beans and carrots. Sometimes I put a wisp of sugar into dandelion greens to mellow them out, but no need when they are destined for a strongly seasoned dish like the slow cooker beans.
I also did dishes and started some laundry on this tear. It lasted less than an hour. Sometimes when I put off food projects until I have time or company, I forget that there are a lot of ways to cook that don’t actually take up much time or energy.
On Monday, my neighbor and I made collards (with bacon, like the first week) and a cheesy chicken and broccoli casserole that reminded me of a dish I frequently enjoyed as a kid, except without the creamy condensed soup. Usually broccoli presents itself to me as a good occasion for stir fry, especially on weeks that it arrives with other stirfry-friendly vegetables like mustard greens and spring onions. But since I had the leftover chicken as well as sour cream and cheese from social gatherings, I loosely followed this Food Network recipe.
While we cooked, we made chicken stock out of the bones and innards from the chicken we roasted last week, and a couple of sandwich bags full of spring onion leaves and butts, herb stems, and carrot peelings. This time of year we’re getting so many things that are perfect for the “aromatics” bags (as we label them).
The only thing I had trouble finishing this week was the gigantic head of red lettuce. I took the whole thing, trading for the mixed baby greens, because I’ve been enjoying the habit of a crunchy salad with each dinner. But! I ran out of salad dressing this week, and a foot injury discouraged me from venturing up to a good store to buy more.
Now, obviously I could make my own. I keep a selection of vinegars on hand, and it doesn’t take too much time to mince some shallot or garlic and shake it up with oil, vinegar, and spices. But we had such a bounty of other good things to eat that putting together salad dressing became the thing that slid to the bottom of the to-do list. It happens! I picked up a couple of different dressings yesterday so that I’m ready for another week of lettuce. Salad dressing is one of the shortcuts I’m willing to take if there are good options. Good salad dressing–Annie’s, Briana’s, and the like–is better than I can make at home, and can be used for other things (marinade for meat, dip for roasted potatoes, dressing for a mixed bean salad) if I’m in a rush.