Romanesco Broccoli from our first share from the CSA – I had no idea what this was!

We joined a CSA at  The Good Earth Organic Gardening Center about 2 weeks ago.  It was perfect timing!  The first share was ready last week, and we received a generous amount of fresh organic produce.  The offerings included a yellow squash, a cucumber, a bouquet of fresh flowers, some peas, bunches of red leaf lettuce, swiss chard, Tuscan kale and collard greens, basil, fennel, parsley, and a beautiful head of Romanesco broccoli.

I felt like a kid with a bunch of new toys, trying to decide which one to play with first!  I decided on the yellow squash and peas.   This was the result:

Yellow squash and peas with mushrooms and garlic over couscous, flavored with fresh basil and dill, from our first CSA pick up.

I am learning to cook without oil, so I used a little organic vegetable stock to saute chopped garlic scapes and mushrooms, adding the yellow squash and peas, with some sprigs of the fresh basil and dill.  Once those were beginning to cook through, I put in a cup of tri-color couscous and let that brown a little before adding 1 1/2 cups more of the vegetable stock.  Couscous takes about 10 minutes to cook, so the veggies got nice and tender.

One of the best results of this type of cooking is the flavor of the vegetables.  Not only are they fresh, but cooking them without oil, sauces or condiments allows their true flavor to come through.

This meal is an example of the way I’ve been cooking most of our dinners.  I mix-and-match vegetables, grains and legumes, and try to include as many different colors as I can.

The next night, I had to try the Romanesco broccoli.  It was so intriguing; not to mention amazingly beautiful.  My photo above does not do it justice.  I had to look it up online to get an idea of how to prepare it, and I found a recipe in which the broccoli was cooked in the same pot as the pasta.  So, I followed suit.

Romanesco broccoli and Swiss chard from the CSA over whole wheat pasta with chick peas.

The result was wonderful!  Romanesco broccoli tastes like regular broccoli, but not as strong and bitter.  The broccoli doesn’t take long to cook, so I put it in the pasta pot when the pasta had about 5 minutes left to go.

While the whole wheat pasta with broccoli was cooking, I sauteed chopped garlic scapes in vegetable broth along with some finely-chopped Swiss chard and a can of chick peas, then poured that over the cooked pasta and broccoli.  Richard loved it!  (So did I.)

My final challenge for the first week was to find a way to cook collard greens.  For inspiration I went to my old stand-by vegetable cookbook, “Greene on Greens” by Bert Greene.  This has been my go-to book for preparing vegetables for more than 20 years.  There are lots of used copies on Amazon, so grab one while you can – it’s out of print.  His chapter on greens included a recipe, “Wilted Summer Greens” that was the inspiration for my final culinary adventure of the week.  I sauteed a Vidalia onion with some julienned sundried tomatoes and chopped garlic scapes, then added the collard greens and let them cook until they wilted.  Then I threw in a cup of whole wheat couscous and some water, and 10 minutes later dinner was ready.

Collard greens from the CSA, Vidalia onion and sundried tomatoes over whole wheat couscous.

Here’s the whole meal:

Collard greens over couscous, garden salad and watermelon.

This meal used up the last of the first week’s CSA share;  collard greens, red leaf lettuce, cucumber, and basil.  Oh, and of course the bouquet of flowers, too!  Tomorrow we’ll pick up the share for week 2.  I can’t wait to see what’s in it!  Stay tuned……