Here is a quick lesson on preserving veggies by freezing–in case you want to try it sometime this summer. As a general rule, you will not get enough veggies in your CSA Boxes to bother with preservation. Still, there may be a time when you have other plans and don’t want to eat your veggies one particular week. “Putting up” or “putting away” is not that difficult. I find pulling a package of veggies from the freezer a quick addition to most every meal. On a cold winter day, eating from the harvest of the season before takes me me back to the lazy days of summer!
Blanching (scalding vegetables in boiling water) is a must for veggies you plan to freeze for over a month. Unblanched vegetables quickly become tough and suffer a loss of flavor, color, nutrients and texture. Vegetables naturally contain an active enzyme that causes deterioration of plant cells. Blanching before freezing retards the enzyme activity. Veggies at peak quality for eating produce best results in the freezer.
1. In a large pot with a tight fitting lid, bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil. (Use 2 gallons water for 1 pound of leafy green vegetables.)
2. Meanwhile, wash and trim the vegetable you want to freeze. Cut into uniform pieces, as desired.
3. Blanch no more than one pound at a time. Add the vegetable to boiling water and immediately cover with a tight fitting lid.
4. Start timing immediately and blanch for “x” minutes. (See times below.)
5. Meanwhile, prepare an ice water bath in a large 5-quart container or the sink.
6. Remove the vegetable from boiling water with slotted a spoon or metal basket.
7. Emerge the vegetable in the ice water bath for the same number of minutes it was in the boiling water. Remove veggies; drain well.
8. Pack the cold vegetable in zip-closure freezer bags. Squeeze out the air before sealing the bags. (Some veggies can be frozen on a cookie sheet first.)
9. Label and date each bag.
10. Immediately spread packages out in coldest part of freezer so they will freeze quickly.
11. Blanching water can be used over and over again. Add more water to the pot as needed & always have water at a rolling boil before blanching more vegetables. If you feel the blanching water needs to be replaced, toss the old, hot water out the back door. Or, if you live in the “city,” run it down the drain with ample amounts of cold faucet water to reduce the temperature in the drain pipes.
Some blanching times for various vegetables follow: Beans, 3 min; Broccoli, 3 min; Most Greens, 2 ½ min; Okra, 3 min; Snap Peas, 2-3 min; Sweet Peppers, 2 min; Potatoes, 3-5 min; All Summer Squash, 3 min; Zucchini, 3 min.
1/4 cup walnuts or pine nuts
2 cups packed chopped raw fresh herbs/greens—include the stems!
1/2 cup grated hard cheese, such as Parmesan or Romano
2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
2 TBSP lemon juice
1 TBSP water, for desired consistency
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Toss spoonfuls of pesto with hot pasta or steamed vegetables. Or, use it as a spread on sandwiches or serve as a dip with raw veggies or pita chips. Pesto can also be frozen! I recommend using an ice cube tray so you can pull out a small amount when you desire for that gourmet touch. Use a standard amount in each “cube” (such as 1 TBSP) to have a measurement of how much each “cube” represents.
GREENS & GRILLED CHEESE
Another way to use greens is to add them to your sandwiches. They make a nutritious and colorful addition to grilled cheese sandwiches in particular!
Mix chopped greens together separating thicker stems for longer cooking time
3 Tbsp. olive oil and/or butter
1/4 tsp garlic powder (or 2 cloves fresh garlic)
Salt & pepper to taste
1 juice of fresh lemon
1/4 to 1/3 cup vegetable or chicken broth
Optional: Splash of white wine!
Wash the greens (such as turnip, beet tops, choi) several times to remove silt (and slugs! Sorry! But we ARE low, low to no spray!) Drain. eat olive oil. If using fresh cloves of garlic, sauté garlic briefly. Add stems first then greens, salt & pepper, lemon juice and broth. Stir until tender. Place on dish and top with toasted walnuts.
NOTE: To toast walnuts use a shallow pan and a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Watch carefully and stir once or twice.
Greens can be cooked in advance and stored in an airtight container. Dip out individual portions at mealtime. We also like greens on top of pasta instead of spaghetti sauce. If you do this, you might want to add extra olive oil creating more of a sauce. Sliced calamata olives are optional.
Here are beet tops ready to sautée. The deep purple stems lend a “earthy” flavor which some prefer to omit from the dish. The orange is this dish is from frozen orange peel. Save these from your pithy oranges in a freezer bag. I prefer to slice or chop mine in advance. They make a tasty addition to cabbage dishes, also.
BTW: All sautéed greens freeze well, so if you ever get tired of eating spring greens raw, just sautée them, cool slightly, and put them in a freezer zip lock bag in the freezer for next winter when the snow is blowing! hey are great with a bowl of bean soup or a slice of veggie pizza for a quick and nutritious meal.
NOTE: Beet pigment can affect bodily fluids. The condition, called beeturia, is the excretion of red (or pink) beetroot pigment in urine and/or stool of some people. The pigment is harmless, but can be quite alarming to the unsuspecting.
2 TBSP sunflower seeds
2 TBSP fresh lime juice and zest
½ cup fresh basil—red or green, stems and all
Green onion, if desired
¼ tsp powder ginger
Water to get the desired consistency
Adding the water just a little at a time, toss all of the above ingredients into a food processor and puree.
An equal amount of sour cream or plain yogurt can be added to the mix to change the texture. I think just about any fresh herb could be used in this manner. Do some experimenting and see what you can create.
TATSOI AND ARTICHOKE DIP
1 can (about 14 oz.) Artichoke hearts, drained, and chopped
1 1/2 cups (about 10 oz.) Tatsoi, washed and finely chopped
3/4 cup Grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup Mayonnaise
1/2 cup Shredded reduced fat cheese (Mozzarella, Italian, etc.)
1/2 tsp. Garlic powder
Mix the above ingredients until well blended. Pour into a pie plate or two smaller dishes. Bake
15 – 20 minutes until heated through. Serve with dipping vegetables and crackers.
HOT & SOUR GREENS
1 pound greens (bok choy, swiss chard, turnip, etc.)
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, or favorite variety
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon light-brown sugar
Wash and drain greens. Slice the leafy ends into 1/2-inch strips. Chop the stalks and tender stems. Keep them separate (as they will take longer to cook). In a bowl combine your choice of vinegar, soy sauce and sugar and set aside.
Using a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the chopped stalks of the greens and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the dry mustard and the greens leaves a handful at a time so they will “wilt down.” Stir to coat with the spices. Add the vinegar, soy sauce and sugar. Mix. Cover the pan and simmer over medium heat until the greens are tender, or about 5 minutes.
KALE & KOHLRABI GREENS
Blanch the washed leaves for about three minutes in boiling water before starting a standard stir fry. This is a much preferred step for kohlrabi greens, in particular! When the blanching is done, drain and place in a hot skillet with some olive oil or Smart Balance, drizzle with some Balsamic Vinegar. I keep it simple and use the same dressing I make for the Ching Chang Salad ‘cause it is already made and in the ‘fridge! I toss in a handful of sunflower seeds right at the end! We like this dish served either hot or cold.
You can cook the globe and then peel it. Or, peel the Kohlrabi (like an apple) and then cook it. I prefer the later and go so far as to julienne or slice it before cooking; but the choice is yours. I will note that an uncooked kohlrabi is almost white (in other words, peel off the greenish cast around the bulb.)
Yes, the leaves are edible. (Everything we put into your CSA Box is edible!) You might try steaming or sautéing chopped leaves in an ample amount of olive oil. Then, top with the same dressing you made for the Ching Chang Salad! Pine nuts or sunflower seeds may be added for crunch. Serve warm or serve as a cold salad—my favorite way. Kohlrabi leaves will be the “chewiest” green you will find in your CSA Box, but is certainly an interesting taste you might like to give a try!
Kohlrabi can be steamed or boiled (like you would turnips) and served with butter and seasoned to taste—consider dill or parsley or chives or tarragon or a pinch of nutmeg with salt and freshly ground pepper. Or, baked and served au gratin with diced Swiss or Jarlsberg cheese and used as a potato substitute. Kohlrabi recipes frequent use heavy cream or whipping cream! Kohlrabi with the leaves is the defining ingredient in Hungarian Kohlrabi Soup. The leaves are removed, blanched, and chopped apart from the bulb.
Or, this unique vegetable can be peeled and shredded to use in a raw salad with carrots (diced sweet, red peppers would be pretty) and onions and dill. An olive oil and tarragon wine vinegar mixture would make a fine dressing to this crunchy salad.
We also grow a purple kohlrabi. My preference is to eat all kohlrabi raw! Unfortunately, it is necessary to remove all of that beautiful purple peel before consuming.
CRUNCHY KOHLRABI SALAD
Shred a ‘peeled to the white’ Kohlrabi bulb
Shred carrots to a 50/50 mix, or whatever ratio you desire
Shred onions, if desired
For a dressing, mix the following:
½ cup sour cream
1 TBSP rice wine vinegar
1 – 1 ½ tsp sugar
Fresh dill, diced, to taste
Dash salt and a few grinds of pepper
Pour over the veggies, stir and serve for a unique raw salad treat!
REMINDER: To store kohlrabi, cut off the leaves about one inch ABOVE the top because when stored in the refrigerator the leafy greens will draw the moisture from the root greatly reducing the flavor and, eventually, causing the veggie to which they are attached to become rubbery. Of course, it is much better to eat than to “store” your CSA veggies!
GREEK STYLE KOHLRABI
1 Kohlrabi with leaves
1 cup chicken broth
1 egg, beat and set aside!
1 large freshly squeezed lemon, set aside!
2 tsp butter
2 tsp flour or other thickening agent
Salt and pepper to taste
Trim and peel the bulb. Reserve the leaves! lice the white bulb into 1/4-inch thick slices and place into a sauce pan with the chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then simmer 15 – 20 minutes. When it is fork tender, drain, but reserve the broth! Put the slices in a bowl and cover with foil to keep them warm.
Meanwhile, trim the leaves of any tough stems. Cook the leaves in boiling salted water, uncovered for about ten minutes. Drain off the water and chop the leaves.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over a medium-low heat. Make a rue by stirring in your thickening agent for two minutes. Quickly add the chicken broth you boiled the slices in and continue stirring for two more minutes. Next, beat some of this hot mixture into the bowl with the egg. hen blended, add back into the saucepan. Add the lemon juice. Continue to cook five or six minutes over low heat, stirring constantly.
When the mixture is thickened to your liking, add the chopped leaves and seasoning. Pour over the Kohlrabi slices and serve.
If this recipe sounds like a bit much, then just melt some cheese over the boiled or steamed slices and cooked leaves. Squeeze a fresh lemon over the entire dish!
LETTUCE, ENDIVE, ARUGULA (GREENS) SALADS
We like variety! What follows are some of our favorite “additives.” We always top with freshly ground pepper! Some ingredients can be purchased in advance and stored in the cabinet while some, like berries, need to be purchased as “just in time inventory.” You can mix various greens together, or keep them separate depending on what you have available and the number of salads you are preparing.
Note: I divide “greens” into the categories of “soft greens” and “hard greens” depending on the leaf texture.
FYI: Greens can be washed in advance and stored in a big zip bag until assembly time.
The Lettuces: Red and green head varieties
Endive: It is in all of the pre-packaged salad mixes! A slightly bitter flavor.
The Orientals: Ching Chang, Joi Choi,Tatsoi, and Chinese cabbage
The Tops: Various seasonal “veggie tops” from carrots to turnips and beets add fiber, flavor, and nutrition! Dense leaves can be shredded or finely sliced and added to any raw salad mix.
The Additions: Diced apples, sweet grapes, strawberries, blueberries, fresh pineapple, Craisins, orange, tangerine, grapefruit sections, spring onions, carrots, radishes, sweet baby turnips or snow peas
The Nuts: chopped pecans, walnuts, almonds or soy
You can toast nuts 4 -5 minutes in 400 degree oven; but watch closely!
The Cheeses: Crumbled Feta or Blue Cheese or shredded Parmesan, etc.
Also: Freshly snipped arugula or radish tops make for spicy flavor additions.
Most of these are all hearty greens which can stand up to toppings with sautéed beef tips, grilled chicken, cooked shrimp, or for a Southwestern flair, ground turkey or sirloin mixed with taco sauce.
The Dressings: A drizzle of quality, virgin olive oil is simple, easy and quick.
Or Oil and Vinegar:
3 Tbsp. apple cider
1 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
½ Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Whisk apple cider, apple cider vinegar, & mustard. Slowly drizzle in olive oil while whisking. Add freshly ground sea salt and peppercorns.
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/3 cup Balsamic vinegar
2 TBSP finely chopped onion
2 tsp sweetener (organic sugar, honey, maple syrup)
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp salt, freshly ground pepper
Mix together until smooth. This is also good as a raw vegetable dip.
6 ounces silken/soft tofu, drained
2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 TBSP chopped fresh parsley
2 green onions, chopped
1 1/2 TBSP Balsamic vinegar
Combine all ingredients and blend until well mixed. This is also good on a baked potato or as a raw veggie dip!
Juice and zest of two oranges (A zester is a handy kitchen tool . . .)
1/3 cup walnut oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. grainy mustard
Squeeze two oranges into a bowl, add the zest. Whisk in the walnut oil, the vinegar, and the grainy mustard. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
This plate is loaded with various greens and lettuces, onions, radishes, sliced kohlrabi, and fennel then topped with a taco-seasoned, ground bison, shredded cheeses, and sour cream (and more than just one dollop, it appears!)
2 TBSP Butter or Olive Oil
1 large onion
Fresh garlic, if desired
2 heads of hearty lettuce
Freshly ground pepper
1 quart chicken broth
½ cup sour cream (or heavy cream, or whole milk)
Before starting the heat, wash and chop the lettuce, onion and herbs.
Heat a couple of TBSP of olive oil or butter in a large sauce pan. Add a large onion which has been sliced paper thin. If fresh onions are used, dice all of the green tops as well.
Cook until translucent, stirring the entire time. Add chopped fresh parsley. Add diced garlic, if you prefer. Add two heads of chopped hearty lettuce and stir until wilted—only about three or four minutes.
Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer for about fifteen minutes. Then stir in sour cream, heavy cream, or whole milk depending on your taste. Add salt and pepper. Simmer for about seven minutes.
The soup is ready to eat! Some people prefer to puree it in a blender at this stage, but this is not necessary.
I realize Lettuce Soup is a stretch and if you never attempt it, my feelings will not be hurt. I just like providing options for our CSA Members and our web site fans!