At the local farmer’s market, I’ve often been intimidated by some of the most beautiful produce on offer during the summer months: the varieties of shelling beans and peas that arrive in unusual colors and shapes. While I’ve admired these beans for their beauty, I’ve never been quite sure of what to do with them…and the prospect of spending time removing them from their pods has never been particularly attractive.
In my earlier CSA Psolet Challenge posts, I committed myself to trying new recipes—specifically pesto—as part of my effort to be waste-free this month. My relationship to all this pesto-making turned out to be a mixed bag: I enjoyed eating pesto on pasta. I enjoyed creating a simple yet elevated dinner by spreading pesto on a baked potato. I enjoyed watching my one year old son smear pesto all over his face. What I did not enjoy was making the pesto. In my tiny Manhattan kitchen, none of the lovely kitchen appliances that occupied the extensive countertop in my Brooklyn apartment are anywhere within reach—so I grab the very useful Magic Bullet mini blender whenever I want to make a smoothie or some hummus. But sadly, the Magic Bullet was not particularly effective at making pesto, and blending the basil leaves and walnut to the right consistency became a very time consuming endeavor.
If last week was about confronting my CSA enemy, this week was all about reuniting with a good CSA friend: beets. It took me a while for my love affair with beets to ignite, but when it did, I never looked back. In addition to being gorgeous and delicious, nutritionally speaking, beets have it all: folic acid, iron, magnesium, calcium, fiber, B-complex vitamins, potassium, and more. A beautiful bunch arrived in the share, the first we’ve received this season, and I pondered which of my many favorite recipes to prepare. As I considered my options, I realized that most recipes I love call for peeling the beets—a rather arduous and messy task. No matter which technique I’ve tried—peeling while raw, roasting wrapped in tin foil, roasting not wrapped in tin foil, boiling—I’ve never found the peeling process to be as simple as every cookbook promises. So I decided to go with a simple roasted beet recipe, shared with me by my good friend Stephanie Pell, which does not require peeling the beets. Not only is this a huge time saver, but—CSA psolet challenge bonus!—you create less waste by eating the peels instead of throwing them away.
Frisée! My CSA nemesis. What to do with this morass of spindly, bitter leaves that poke wildly in my mouth? The word frisée means ‘curly’ in French, and a head of this green indeed resembles a Medusa-like afro on the most humid of days. I’ve never bought frisée on my own accord, having experienced it in restaurants as a somewhat pretty but largely inedible garnish; on the rare occasion when I’ve encountered it as an unwieldy component in a salad, I’ve left it behind on the plate. So I stared rather blankly when a large head of frisée arrived in my CSA share this week, thinking that I would have to literally choke this one down in order to live up to my psolet challenge.
Each day I go to breakfast
Put oatmeal in my bowl
Fill up my glass with O.J.
Eat half my jelly roll
I can’t believe I took more than I ate
That’s why I have so much psolet on my plate…
Not in the way you might think—I wasn’t standing over a cutting board, knife in hand, sobbing my way through an extended dicing activity. The onions that made me cry were whole, bagged and stacked about 5 feet high, in a small village in Western Senegal, where I was travelling with American Jewish World Service.