5 Solutions to Common CSA-Related Problems

More produce, more problems? Never. • Photo by Sang Lee Farms

Farm share season has officially begun, which means another year of trying to combat the weekly onslaught of familiar and less-familiar veggies. Here’s a look at five solutions to common CSA-related problems:

Problem 1: Alien Cabbage

You may not know what to do with kohlrabi (yet). But don’t despair at the sight of these sexy-ugly beasts. I love these crunchy, insane-looking vegetable aliens, which come in both purple and green varieties. The cruciferous green and purple bulbs are members of the cabbage family, though they more closely resemble a cross between jicama and apple (minus the sweetness of the latter). Kohlrabi is delicious raw, especially in slaw, but I like to toss mine in the sauté pan with mushrooms and bok choy for a satisfying stir-fry. Peel the fibrous exterior layer with your knife, cut them into your favorite shape (cubes for me), and sauté away. Prefer a crunchier cabbage? Toss your cubed, raw kohlrabi into your finished stir-fry right before serving.

Problem 2: Greens, Greens, Greens

CSAs can provide an (at-times) overwhelming volume of greens. Unlike beet greens, turnip greens, and collard greens, which are better sautéed, carrot greens (my favorite unexpected CSA star) thrive with little-to-no manipulation. Buzz them in a food processor with garlic, olive oil, lemon, salt, and pepper, and you’ve got pesto for pasta or your morning toast. Looking for something to liven up your Saturday steak? Your carrot top pesto—with the addition of jalapeño, lime juice, and scallion—can easily become salsa verde to accompany grilled flank steak. If you’re swimming in arugula, kale, parsley, or garlic scapes, throw these in, too, or substitute them as you see fit. Leftover sauces can be frozen in standard ice-cube trays and used as needed.

Problem 3: Radish Overload

If you’ve pickled, sliced, and diced your radishes, why not try doing barely anything at all? Sun-warm summer radishes (French breakfast radishes perform exceptionally well), served with cool-not-cold butter and coarse salt: A dish made in foodie heaven. Dry your radishes well and plate them cold and make sure your butter is the best you can get your hands on. As Prune chef and owner Gabrielle Hamilton notes, “With only three ingredients, there is nowhere to hide.”

Problem 4: In a Pickle

You’re going out of town and you don’t have time to eat your CSA. If you’re worried that all that perfect produce will go to waste, the refrigerator pickle is here to save the day. Mix 2 parts hot water with 1 part rice wine vinegar (or any other vinegar of your choice), along with salt and sugar—you can adjust the recipe to taste—and pour over clean, cut vegetables. Store your pickles in a quart container in the refrigerator. They’ll hold for a month and you’ll get to keep those valuable veggies close at hand.

Problem 5: Doesn’t Eat Shoots and Leaves

A perennial CSA problem: So much garbage! Sometimes, it feels like my kitchen has turned into a non-functioning compost heap. To this, I say: Keep your peels, stems, and leaves. If you’re not tossing your radish greens, say, in a dollop of olive oil and fresh garlic, set them aside. During CSA season, I have a Dutch oven parked on my stovetop, awaiting the discards of my spoils. Cover your throwaways with cold water, bring them to a boil, and simmer for 20-30 minutes. The resulting vegetable stock can be used as a stand-alone soup (boil egg noodles right in the broth and add mushrooms and an egg for an impromptu weeknight meal), for cooking pasta and rice, and to flavor any otherwise-ordinary dish. Better yet, freeze this stock and use it as a soup base in winter, when you’re craving a bowl of something hot and local.