Are you getting amazing vegetables in your CSA boxes (community sustained agriculture) or at your farmer’s markets? I am loving the bounty in the box I pick up each week. Oxbow Farm, located about 30 miles east of Seattle, grows the veggies and our CSA is organized through JHarvest at the UW Hillel.
Last year, my younger son, Isaac, volunteered with our CSA as part of his Bar Mitzvah project. On the pick-up days, he arrived early to set up the tables, write the signs identifying produce and lay out the veggies for pick up. It was a terrific way for him to be more involved in locally sustained agriculture, which was a theme of his d’var (talk) he gave at his Bar Mitzvah.
This week in my CSA box, I have Lacinato kale (aka blue kale!), broccoli, a variety of lettuces, beets, parsley, spring garlic, cabbage, spinach and rainbow chard. It’s always fun to create new ideas for serving seasonal veggies. Here are some salads I played around with and want to share with you. They can be made last minute and they do not require any cooking (other than quickly steaming the broccoli). The salads travel well for picnics and, if you happen to have an abundance of lettuce in your CSA box, can be served on a bed of Jericho romaine or red butterhead.
Kale Herb Salad
Adapted from Courtney Savin
The inspiration for this salad comes from my friend, Courtney. It looks similar to a tabbouleh salad but combines kale, herbs and nuts. I've made it numerous times, adding different fresh herbs I have on hand, and have found that mint is the key herb to always include. The bright freshness of the mint plays well with the kale. Leftovers make a tasty breakfast topped with a poached egg and a sprinkle of Parmesan.
1 large bunch kale (I prefer Lacinato but curly works well, too)
1 clove garlic
2 cups nuts of your choice, toasted (I've used walnuts, almonds and macadamias)
1 bunch Italian parsley, roughly chopped (dill is also nice)
2 cups fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons salt
2 lemons, juiced (or more to taste)
3 tablespoons olive oil (or more if it seems dry)
A dash of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Remove the tough stems of the kale and roughly chop. In a food processor, pulse the garlic and nuts together about 12 times. Scrape out into a large bowl. Add the kale to the food processor (may need to do this in 2 batches) with 1 tablespoon olive oil (divide if doing 2 batches) and pulse until chopped finely. Scrape down sides once while pulsing. Add to the nuts and garlic.
Place the herbs in the food processor with 1 tablespoon olive oil and pulse until finely chopped. Scrape down sides once. Add to the kale mix.
Stir in the lemon juice, salt and remaining olive oil. Taste for seasoning and add more lemon, salt or oil if needed. If you want to spice it up, add the crushed red pepper flakes. This salad does well if made ahead and can be served room temperature.
Broccoli Feta Tomato Salad
This salad combines some of my favorite tastes and looks pretty with the green, white and red (or yellow or orange, depending upon your tomatoes).
1 pound broccoli florets, cut into bite sized pieces
7 ounces feta cheese, cubed
1 pint cherry or baby heirloom tomatoes, halved
4 ounces hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Steam the broccoli florets lightly and run under cold water to cool. You want to soften them a bit but make sure they still have some crunch.
Combine broccoli, feta, tomatoes and hazelnuts in a serving bowl.
Whisk or shake the oils, vinegar, garlic, agave nectar, mustard, salt and pepper until emulsified. Toss salad with dressing and serve. If taking on a picnic, bring dressing in a little jar and toss before serving.
Carrot and Zucchini with Seeds
When you are looking for yet another way to use your abundance of zucchini, this pantry staple salad will be sure to please. It is a dish you can pull together quickly and serve at a summer lunch. The pumpkin and poppy seeds add crunch and flavor. You can substitute other grated veggies such as jicama or yellow squash, just make sure you are getting some color contrast.
3 carrots, grated
3 zucchini, grated
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Mix the carrots, zucchini and seeds together. Whisk the lemon juice, salt and olive oil together. Toss the dressing with the salad and serve. The salad can be transported to a picnic already dressed.