Friday, June 12, 2009

A Sea of Green

(Above) Fennel, with Cher Hair.

(Above) Chard and Cucumbers.

(Above) Red Leaf Lettuce.

This week's CSA box from Farmer's Fresh was filled with green. Cucumbers, chard, lettuce, a bundle of lovage and dill, and a fennel bulb with a ridiculous mane of fronds, reminiscent of either Bob Marley or Cher in all their glory.

I'm becoming pretty adept at cooking greens like chard, using the steam/sautee method that Pam Anderson writes about in "How to Cook Without a Book." Put some olive oil in a skillet, place the greens inside, let them wilt, toss in a minced garlic clove or more, sautee for a minute or so, then serve. The sauteed greens can be saved for other leftover-friendly foods such as frittatas, quesadillas and calzones.

The cucumbers will most likely be used in salads, but I'm tempted to try something new like a cool summer soup with yogurt. If I had tomatoes and a nice stale baguette, they could be tossed in a panzanella (bread salad). Perhaps there's a quick pickle to be made. We love pickles in this house. My grandmother would keep a small glass container (remember the days before Tupperware, when cooks used glass containers in the fridge?) that held a sliced cucumber covered with vinegar, what she called salad oil (vegetable oil), salt and pepper.
The fennel will require an education for me. From what I have read, the bulb is the money part, and the fronds are a nice garnish, but the stalk is best for stock. I have a stash of frozen leek greens that will soon get an addition of fennel stalks, just waiting for stock-making day. Deborah Madison's "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" features many fennel recipes, salads, braises and soups, I think that's where I'll head for inspiration.

Dill is one of my favorite herbs and I will probably use it in a homemade buttermilk ranch dressing and possibly with some tuna that I'm cooking tomorrow night. Lovage is new to me, but it smells and tastes quite like celery, so I'll probably toss it into the stockpot and maybe into the salad, too.

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