Dear Frugal Upstate,
I laughed when you started talking about burning your garlic scapes in this week’s menu plan~I just had the same experience myself!
This year I joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), and I’m receiving vegetables that aren’t used in my usual repertoire of recipes. I was wondering, do you have a recipe for radish greens and/or kohlrabi that you would recommend?
Well first of all congratulations on joining a CSA! They can be a great way to get a wide variety of locally grown (frequently organic) produce when you don’t have the time, space or inclination for your own garden.
For those of you not familiar with Community Supported Agriculture, it’s a really neat idea. Basically you buy a “share” in a farm-that helps them buy their seeds, cover their costs etc. As a member you then get a portion of the farm’s production. Each CSA is run slightly differently, but typically you get a weekly “box” with a variety of whatever is being harvested that week. The costs vary, as do how many boxes you get for your share. Many CSAs also offer half shares and even discounts if you come and help out at the farm.
It is important to note that the system is set up for these truly to be a share, like in the stock market. You share in the ups and downs of the harvest. If there is a drought and the tomato plants have a lousy yield, the share holders just won’t get very many tomatoes. If it’s a prolific year for beans, you’ll probably get a ton of them.
The sort of scary (or exciting, depending on your viewpoint) thing about a CSA is you don’t get to pick and choose what goes in your box-you get whatever they are harvesting. Which means folks can get items they have never heard of, no less cooked with.
If you are interested in finding a CSA in your area check out Local Harvest to find one!
But that’s ok! It’s a great way to try new things!
Now on to the specifics of Lora’s question. How do you prepare Kohlrabi and Radish Greens.
Kohlrabi, quite frankly, looks like something alien. They are a member of the brassica family, which means they are related to things like broccoli and cabbage. The part most typically eaten is the bulb that forms at the base of the plant.
I love Kohlrabi raw. The skin is pretty fibrous, so I usually cut the tops off and the roots and then use a paring knife to peel it. Then I cut it into slices and either dip into ranch dressing or just sprinkle with some seasoned salt. Yum! They are very crunchy with a very light almost sweet mild cabbag-ish flavor. I brought them to a party last year on a veggie platter and folks went nuts.
I also have tried cutting the Kohlrabi into smaller pieces (after peeling of course-trust me, you don’t even want to try to eat that skin) and sauteing them in butter, which was ok.
Last year (thanks The Victory Garden Cookbook!) I found out that the leaves of Kohlrabi are edible. They are pretty sturdy-more like a cabbage leaf in texture than lettuce or spinach. You can use them the way you’d use any other green. Cut them into bite sized pieces and toss some into your regular green salad, chop and add to soups and stirfrys, or cook them as a “pot green”. My favorite way to cook pot greens is to chop them up, simmer the heck out of them in just enough broth to cover (chicken or ham is good) with some diced onions and seasonings (we like a couple of dashes of red pepper flakes).
I never used to be much of a radish fan. I mean sure, they were ok for a bit of a bite in a salad. . . but how many of them can you really eat? Then I found out that you can braise or saute the radishes and it totally changes the flavor, mellowing out that bite! Also you can cut the radishes in thin slices and then get a nice crusty piece of bread, spread on some butter, layer on the radishes, sprinkle a bit of salt. . . very good! So this year I planted a good sized patch of radishes for the first time in years, and I’ve started using the bulbs and the greens.
Basically you can use all of the same techniques for radish greens that I suggested for Kohlrabi. They are a bit more substantial than lettuce, a bit fuzzy and have a bit more bite raw. You can add them to a salad, where I’d chop them up a bit smaller than to your pieces of lettuce. I personally wouldn’t want to try a big bowl of just raw radish greens with vinegrette or anything, I think that would be way too strong. Cooking mellows out the flavor so you can add them into a stirfry, soup, curry, or use them as pot greens.
Don’t be afraid to mix a couple kinds of greens together when you are cooking-sometimes having spicy, mellow, different textures all together makes a more pleasant (and filling) dish than just trying to use one and having it’s taste be overpowering.
Two more quick notes:
1. The hands down best cookbook I ever got for vegetables is “The Victory Garden Cookbook” which was written in 1988 and is out of print. It not only gives you recipes for each vegetable, but it starts out the section by talking about all the different techniques you can use to cook that vegetable. Endless ideas! I couldn’t live without it when the garden is in full production.
2. If you are a member of a CSA and don’t want to see your hard earned cash wind up in the compost pile, you need to follow the excellent advice of my friend Evelyn. Once you get your box decide what you will reasonably be able to eat for that week and then go ahead and preserve the rest. For most vegetables that can be a simple blanch and freezing. Or even just cooking it and then refrigerating it. Just a thought.