Greens, Greens, Greens

The last distribution for the 2009 season of Upper Meadows Farm’s CSA is loaded with greens. There’s arugula, Hon Tsai Tai, lettuce, Pak Choi, Mizspoona, Yokata-Na, and Green Wave mustard. And there are even more ways to eat them, from soups and salads to main-dish stir-frys and sides. Here are some of my favorites:

Arugula salad with pears. Epicurious gives you several options to combine two of the items in this week’s share, from a salad that combines arugula and pears with Stilton cheese, to an option with the ingredient that I would need on a deserted island, pancetta. The extra ingredient in this latter salad is ricotta salata, which, just like regular ricotta, you can easily make at home. And I think either of these salads would be lovely with a dusting of hickory nuts.

Chinese chicken soup with greens. The Web sites of my favorite Asian cookbooks, “A Spoonful of Ginger” and “Hot Sour Salty Sweet”, are limited and hard to navigate. But both books have excellent chicken soups with greens that can be summed up as follows: Make a big pot of chicken stock, add the coarsely chopped greens of your choice, cooked noodles (I like the thin, mung bean kind), a bit of cooked chicken and a dash of fish sauce. You can build on the pungency of your greens by adding ginger or chile paste, or tamp it down a bit with Chinese black vinegar. Vegetarian? “Washoku”, a Japanese home-style cookbook I have on my shelves, uses a dashi broth with a bit of miso in place of the chicken stock.

Asian greens as a side dish: Cook up more substantial Asian noodles (soba and chow fun are good, as is a noodle I recently discovered that is made from sweet potato starch). Saute the greens lightly in a neutral oil and toss with the noodles and a bit of soy sauce. If you absolutely need a recipe, here’s one from a CSA in Tucson. You could stir fry the greens with gingery sauce.  Easier still: Mark Bittman of the New York Times paired bok choi (Pak Choi in our list) with oyster sauce.

Asian greens in the main course: Take the above, and add protein. Green Your Plate is a wonderful food blog written by a woman who belongs to a midwestern CSA. Earlier this year, she put up a very complete post on Asian greens, and it included several ideas on using them in main courses.

Enough. I’m getting hungry.

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