Too many greens
May 24, 2015 9:48 AM   Subscribe

I just got a CSA box full of 6 different types of greens. Four to five pounds of fresh greens is a lot for a single person to eat in a few days! I have about 3 days to cook or eat them before they will start to spoil. While I am skilled enough in the kitchen, I don't cook greens very often so I am stumped on what to do with them. How can I prepare these so that I am not wasting food? I am looking for delicious, easy recipes that can combine as many as possible into a single dish. Details inside.

Box Contains:
Green Kale
Red Oak Leaf Lettuce
Bok Choy
Pink Chard

On hand I have garlic, onions, bacon, eggs and general pantry items. However, if needed I could pick up a few more ingredients. No special dietary restrictions. I also welcome tips or tricks on freezing this type of produce (if it is possible)!

What would you make?
posted by KMoney to Food & Drink (36 answers total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
You can triage that a bit -- the kale and collards will likely keep much longer than the rest, and I suspect the chard and red leaf lettuce are the most fragile and need to be eaten first.

To make any of the salad greens last longer, you can separate the leaves, clean them, and store them with paper towels.
posted by jaguar at 9:56 AM on May 24, 2015 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I have frozen chard and kale before and add them to smoothies as needed.
posted by Sassyfras at 9:57 AM on May 24, 2015 [10 favorites]

That stuff is not all going to go bad in 3 days. In particular the kale and chard should keep for at least a week, and I suspect the collards will as well. And personally I usually keep romaine on hand for 7-10 days without much ill effect - maybe peel off a wilted leaf as necessary.

Fortunately greens like kale and chard cook down pretty well. Without engaging the "authenticity" issue, I like to stew them in some curry simmer sauce from Trader Joe's or something. Toss in some protein source, like chickpeas, lentils, or chicken, and serve over jasmine rice after an hour or so on low heat.

Since you already have eggs, I also think both of those greens work pretty well in omelettes. Maybe bacon omelettes given that you have that too? Along with either sliced tomato or bell pepper.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 10:00 AM on May 24, 2015

Kale crisps with the kale, use the charts in a quiche, and soup with the collard greens. I'd get more salad stuff to mix with the lettuce and romaine, and maybe put the bok Choy into a stir fry.
posted by kellyblah at 10:00 AM on May 24, 2015

I would eat the lettuce, romaine, and chard first as they are the most delicate and likely to spoil quickest. Chard is great in soups and the lettuce and romaine are of course easy in salads, sandwiches, tacos, etc.

I highly doubt the other greens will spoil in three days. I have had kale and collards last for a week in the crisper drawer of the fridge, if not longer. Don't stress! I like to sauté kale with caramelized onions and sausage.
posted by joan_holloway at 10:02 AM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Colcannon freezes really well (once defrosted, you can reheat it in the oven with a dollop of butter). Nom.
posted by humph at 10:02 AM on May 24, 2015

I've frozen chard in several ways successfully. It's fine, so long as your not wanting to use it for crisp, crunchy salads afterwards. I tend to keep it for stir fries, or adding to pasta and sauces. Or for chucking into soups and stews at will. I expect the other greens will be similar.

I have frozen it as is. Just in a plastic bag, chopped up in reasonable sized bits, separating it out the stalks. Or I've it first to wilt it, then frozen it. Or I've taken fresh leaves, stuffed s bunch in the cups of a silicon muffin tray, covered with water and frozen to make chard ice cubes.

To keep them longer without freezing, treat them like fresh flowers, trim the stems (no need to separate the leaves), and put them in a glass or bowl of water in the fridge. I keep lettuces for weeks doing this, weeks and weeks, and it stays crispy. I seriously don't know why this isn't better known. You can also do it with broccoli.

Some plants from hot climates don't like the fridge, eg cilantro, just keep them on the side out off direct sunlight.
posted by Helga-woo at 10:04 AM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you can pick up some lemons and coconut milk, I just found this recipe today for grilled kale:
posted by permiechickie at 10:07 AM on May 24, 2015

I freeze kale regularly for later use in soups and quiches.
posted by slateyness at 10:07 AM on May 24, 2015

Blanch the kale, chard, and/or collards and freeze them in a plastic bag.

Whatever of those you don't want to freeze can go into a frittata or quiche or strata for breakfast over the week. Collards in particular are really good when combined with bacon.

Stir-fry the bok choy. Use the rest in salads.
posted by mchorn at 10:08 AM on May 24, 2015

Best answer: Collards you can use to make braised collards. Fry up your bacon, add garlic and onion, cook til softened, add chopped collards, about half a beer, a splash of vinegar, a bit of molasses, and some cayenne. Cook an hour or so while making something to go with: beans? Cornbread? Fried chicken? Collard greens will last a while too so you can wait and see if you get more next week, then do them all at once. You can also throw the kale and chard into this, just do it later in the cooking time.

My two go-to whatever kind of greens using recipes at the moment, though, are saag paneer and green smoothies. Saag doesn't have to be spinach--just either put the hardiest greens in early or blanch them so they'll all cook at the same rate. They'll cook down to nothing, so you could use up the kale and the chard together, no problem. If you have a blender, banana-greens-frozen mango/pineapple-apple juice-grated ginger is really good. A friend swears by a similar blend but with almond milk and almond butter for protein.
posted by felix grundy at 10:08 AM on May 24, 2015 [8 favorites]

Also, if you do fire up a grill (or grill pan), grilled romaine is very trendy as well:
posted by permiechickie at 10:09 AM on May 24, 2015

You should read the book An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler. It deals thoroughly with this very problem (and is also a brilliant book).
posted by Clotilde at 10:13 AM on May 24, 2015 [5 favorites]

The kale and collards make a terrific healthful pasta sauce. Chop them up, sautee them in good olive oil and minced garlic for a few minutes and toss this with cooked penne or the like. Add some raisins and toasted pine nuts or walnuts, and a bit more fresh good olive oil just before serving. Some fresh-grated nutmeg while cooking is a nice touch. It's a fine meal. Add white wine (I mean in a glass on the side.)
posted by fivesavagepalms at 10:20 AM on May 24, 2015 [6 favorites]

Oh, and top with fresh-grated parmesan!
posted by fivesavagepalms at 10:21 AM on May 24, 2015

You can make and freeze quiches packed with sautéed greens.
posted by cessair at 10:48 AM on May 24, 2015

Best answer: Cook some hot Italian sausage, then sauté a chopped onion and 2ish diced cloves of garlic in the leftover sausage fat (may need to add a bit of olive oil depending on your sausage). Add to this your chard, washed thoroughly and chopped roughly (leaves will cook down, may want to focus your chopping efforts on the stems) and a red pepper, cut into strips. Sauté until everything is nice and soft. Meanwhile, you're cooking some penne. At some point, throw your sausage chunks back in with the veggies to warm up. When the penne is done, drain it, return it to the pasta pot, and stir in your sausage/veggie mixture. Liberally grate parmesan over each serving.
posted by coppermoss at 10:52 AM on May 24, 2015

I would cook down everything except the two lettuces and freeze in portions* to make curry/saag paneer later.

*If it even makes enough for portions. You'll be surprised how little there is once you cook it down. I am every single time.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:53 AM on May 24, 2015

Fresh greens require little embellishment. I'd chop a bunch of garlic, brown it in butter or bacon grease, then add chopped greens and sauté until they wilt, adding a splash of soy sauce toward the end. The kale, collards, chard, and bok choy can all be treated this way. They cook down -- you can easily polish off a half-pound of greens in one serving. If your pan isn't large enough to accommodate a big pile of greens, you can add them to the pan gradually as the greens already in the pan reduce in volume.
posted by aws17576 at 10:54 AM on May 24, 2015

Best answer: Here's our greens triage procedure with the CSA:
1) Salad greens. These go bad first. Our CSA arrives on Tuesday, so guess what, we're having salad for dinner Tuesday night! Wash, dry, eat. Plan to eat the rest the following day(s).
2) Spinach, chard, bokchoy and the greens from the tops of beets & kohlrabi go bad second, so we plan to use those next.
3) Kale and collards keep forever, so we plan to use those last.

Generally, I try to assess the incoming produce on the day it arrives and realistically determine what we are going to eat before the next CSA delivery. If I think we're not going to eat something (spinach, the first year), then I'll blanch and freeze it.

When we're short on time that week, I just chop up all the greens and cook them until they're wilted, then store them cooked in the fridge for future meals. I started doing this after I noticed two things: 1) I'm much more likely to use them when they're already prepped in some way, and 2) They look so BIG in their bags, but they tend to cook down to very little. When they're already prepped, I can toss them in with egg dishes, soup, hashes, beans, casseroles and any other thing.

If I'm taking the time to meal plan, then I plan meals according to what goes bad first. Often, dinner on Monday night consists of any veggies we haven't used over the course of the week thrown into a soup or fritatta or something so that the fridge is empty for veggie delivery on Tuesday.
posted by linettasky at 11:00 AM on May 24, 2015 [11 favorites]

Make veggie broth using the greens - cook it down A LOT so it is really flavorful. Then store in small containers in the freezer or put them in ice cube trays to freeze in smaller amounts and then put in ziploc bags in the freezer. The greens will cook down a lot, so you could probably use them all for the broth.
posted by Toddles at 11:05 AM on May 24, 2015

What coppermoss said, except I use kale (but I'll have to try the same recipe with chard now). You can use up a whole big bunch of kale that way. I also add an 8 oz can of tomato sauce.
posted by medeine at 11:17 AM on May 24, 2015

posted by aniola at 11:23 AM on May 24, 2015

You can probably pickle some of those ....
posted by aniola at 11:26 AM on May 24, 2015

Make Thai green curry and put in as many of the greens as you can, it's delicious and it's amazing to see how dense it is with veggies.
posted by yueliang at 11:40 AM on May 24, 2015

Whenever I have too many greens (of the cooking sort, this doesn't help too much with the salad greens) and don't feel like being too inventive, I make a version of this green soup. It calls for 1 bunch of chard and 14 cups of spinach- but I've thrown in collards, bok choy, and/or kale or other greens in the past to replace some of the spinach. Different ratios of greens will change the taste- my personal preference is to make it with at least 50% spinach (which means I usually end up buying greens to use up greens!) and chicken broth. This soup stores fine in the fridge for quite a while, or could be frozen.
posted by Secretariat at 12:26 PM on May 24, 2015

CHARD TART. This recipe can be adapted/learned by heart pretty easily (I forget the pepperoncini and do it by sight/feel these days) and used for huge bunches of any kind of green that you steam down. It's my highly-recommended way to use up spring bounty from my own garden.
posted by mynameisluka at 1:08 PM on May 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

The two recipes that I made all the time when we had a CSA box:
1. Garlic-lettuce stir fry - for romaine, bok choy (and presumably other things that have less flavor, a strong crunchy edible rib, and moderate-sized leaves)
2. saag paneer - for whatever mix of cooking greens we had on hand: spinach obviously, but also mustard, kale, collards (if pureed well), chard or beet (if it's not more than 1/3 of the blend otherwise the rooty/beety flavor starts to dominate the mix), and whatever weird stuff was in the box that we didn't feel like dealing with (mizuna, etc). If the mix seemed too weird, sometimes I'd supplement with store-bought spinach, but really, if you like saag paneer, the spices will stand up to just about any green you want.

(a note on Indian food - "palak paneer" is spinach-only, while "saag" just means leafy greens, typically blend spinach plus mustard and fenugreek greens. I am bastardizing the recipe but not without precedent.)
(another note, once we got in the swing of this, I started to precook big batches of the onion/spice mixtures and freeze in pucks, so now it's only steam and puree the greens, brown the cheese (ok we use tofu) and toss in a lump of stuff from the freezer. Message me if you want explicit instructions.)
posted by aimedwander at 1:08 PM on May 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Sturdy greens cook down beautifully into a sauce for sausages. Here is a good recipe from Nick Stellino (yikes about the typos, though!). For the tomato sauce, use a regular size can of Hunt's (the best mass-market tomato sauce in my opinion) to save time instead of instead of making your own. This Portuguese green soup is also very good.

As others have said, use the more delicate lettuce first, then turn to the kale, collards and chard. Any of them will work in this dish. I've made both of these recipes with Italian sausages and also with chorizo, which gives a different but equally tasty result.

Can you get Chinese bacon? Sometimes known as "lacquered bacon", it's available in good Asian markets, usually in 1-lb shrink-wrapped packages. If so, here's a good recipe for the bok choy (heavily adapted from "New Cantonese Cooking" by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo).

1 lb Chinese bacon
2 lb Shanghai bok choy, collards, or other sturdy greens
3" chunk of ginger

For sauce:
1 Tbs oyster sauce
2 tsp soy sauce
2/3 c chicken stock
2 Tbs cornstarch

Wash greens well and cut into 1" chunks. Keep stems separate from leaves.
Remove tough skin/rind from bacon and discard.
Slice bacon across the grain into ~3 mm strips. (Don't trim off the fat.)
Wash ginger, peel if desired, and cut into thick (~3 mm) julienne.
Mix sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
Heat wok over medium-high heat and stir-fry bacon until fat renders. Don't cook to crispness, just until the fatty tissue is translucent.
Remove meat with slotted spoon and set aside, leaving all the fat in the wok. There will be a lot!
Stir-fry the ginger julienne until fragrant (about 2 minutes). Lower the heat if it starts to brown.
Add bok choy stems and stir-fry another 2 minutes.
Add leaves and stir-fry another 2 minutes.
If fat pools in wok after greens are added, there is too much and you can remove and discard the pool. (Usually the fat coats the greens and there's no excess pool.)
Add the reserved bacon back to the wok and mix well.
Reduce heat to medium, stir the sauce thoroughly to resuspend the cornstarch, then pour over the wok.
Stir quickly to distribute the sauce evenly before it starts to thicken and clump.
Serve immediately (always over rice, in my kitchen).
posted by Quietgal at 3:25 PM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

For a super-easy, no-carb dinner last week we made this Martha Stewart Soy-Ginger Pork Chops with Stir-Fried Bok Choy.

It was really good.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 3:37 PM on May 24, 2015

FInely chop the kale and basically add as much of it as you want to a homemade pizza. Mix it in with the sauce, under the cheese. Like, you could add a pound of kale to one pizza and it would still taste delicious.
posted by 256 at 3:48 PM on May 24, 2015

I'm with felix grundy. Perhaps it's the Southerner in me, but braising is a totally delicious way to eat any hearty green. Definitely the kale, collards, and chard, and I would throw in the bok choy nearer the end (it's not quite as tough as the others in the stem) and the lettuces too if you don't want to save them for salad. Dice some bacon, cook it to render the fat, remove the bits when they're cooked to your liking (reserve for mixing them in or topping with them later). Dice your preferred amount of onions (I like lots) and garlic. Saute in the fat, adding the garlic in later than the onions because it cooks faster. Throw in roughly-chopped (maybe 1-inch strips) greens, wilting them down a bit. This is the part that's awesome, because you'll watch huge bundles of green shrink in size to manageable amounts. Then pour in some chicken or vegetable broth, or good salsa. If you use salsa you don't really have to add much extra seasoning; if you use broth you might try some hot sauce. Get the liquid hot and then turn down med-low to low to simmer for an hour or so, until the stems are soft enough to eat and everything is delicious. Correct the seasoning, top with the crispy bacon bits, and eat as is (I make this all the time, had it last week for a series of easily-microwaved meals) or have some sausage with it, or use it as a side for any kind of a main.
posted by spelunkingplato at 7:02 PM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

There is an article in Farm Show magazine about a vegetable farmer that preserves his leftover greens by drying them into "Dried Salad Flakes", he says he sprinkles them onto all sorts of food as a supplement.
posted by 445supermag at 8:40 PM on May 24, 2015

Seconding that any greens in any amount can always be turned into saag paneer to wonderful effect, and that you'll be surprised at how massive volumes of fresh greens reduce into extremely dense and compact cooked-down masses. Mmm, saag.
posted by kaspen at 4:19 PM on May 25, 2015

I would make and freeze a couple of quiches with the Kale, Bok Choy and Chard, seeing as you have bacon & eggs.
posted by sarajane at 9:16 AM on May 26, 2015

The kale, the collards, and chard would also make really great pestos. Pesto freezes well and is good on almost anything -- I like it with pasta or on pizza for a quick dinner.
posted by PearlRose at 2:16 PM on May 26, 2015

« Older Where can I find a phone or in person interpreter...   |   Variations on a Theme in Myth Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.