Here’s a (not very beautiful) photo of some vegetables that made up part of this week’s farm share. Trust me, the veggies are much prettier than they look in my photo. In the center is some gorgeous lacinato kale and on the right is purple kohlrabi.
All these vegetables belong to the botanical family Brassicaceae and to the genus Brassica. You may have heard the term “brassica” or “cruciferous vegetable.” All these terms mean the same thing, as does “cabbage” or “mustard.” They are called “cruciferous” because their flowers all have four petal arranged in the form of a cross. Mustards, cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, radishes, kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli rabe–all are brassicas. In fact, they all share the same genus.
Brassicas are among the most healthful of foods, especially if you eat the greens. Many members of the family, especially turnips, radishes, and kale, are among the easiest to grow for novice vegetable gardeners.
Here’s what I’m going to do with the kale and kohlrabi greens: make a gratin. I’ll cook some legumes and grains–probably a mixture of French lentils, quinoa, farro, and millet, which take about the same time to cook. I’ll saute some aromatics–garlic, onions, celery, sweet pepper–and add the washed and chopped greens, plus some herbs, to soften them. I’ll mix everything together with some beaten eggs and grated cheese and bake it in the oven. It will be yummy.
It’s taken me about three years of CSA membership to develop a repertoire of vegetarian or almost vegetarian dishes. Now, when I pick up the share and see what it includes–it’s like opening up a delightful surprise package every week–I know exactly what to do with it, and the week’s meals begin to form in my mind.