The CSA Psolet Challenge: Week One

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.

A quick Google search for recipes turned up variations on a theme: apparently, frisée is the preferred green for a French country salad that is bathed in a Dijon vinaigrette and topped with a poached egg. Traditionally, the salad includes thin slices of bacon (called lardons), but that would not fly in my kosher kitchen. Kashrut isn’t the only reason to eliminate the bacon, though, and I found several meat-free versions of this recipe that turned out to be surprisingly delicious.

The vinaigrette muted the bitterness of the greens, while the red peppers’ crunchy sweetness provided a perfect contrast. The croutons—a rare addition to salads I typically prepare—soaked up just enough of the dressing such that each one became a little treasure of flavor waiting to be discovered among the leaves. With one poached egg, this recipe is a nice starter for a meal. With two, it’s a light but substantial summer supper. When I used the remaining frisée the following night to make the salad without any eggs, I discovered that it’s not bad as a side dish on its own. I might even consider buying frisée just to make it again.

Frisee Salad with Poached Egg
Serves six

2 heads frisée
1 sweet red pepper, very thinly sliced
6 thin slices of toast, rubbed with a cut clove of garlic and cut into squares
6 eggs
1 tablespoon vinegar (any kind)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, minced or pureed
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Mix together the lettuce, red pepper and croutons in a salad bowl.

Poach the eggs. Fill a small saucepan or frying pan with water, and bring to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon vinegar to the water. Reduce heat until the water is just barely bubbling. One at a time, break the eggs into a teacup or small bowl, then slide from the teacup into the pan. Cover and cook until the eggs are set, approximately four minutes. Lay a clean dish towel next to the pan, and using a slotted spoon or spatula, carefully remove the poached eggs from the water. Set on the towel to drain.

Combine the vinegars, salt, mustard and garlic and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the oil. Toss with the salad until thoroughly coated. To serve, place a mound of salad on a salad plate and top each serving with a poached egg. Season the egg with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Here’s how I used the rest of this week’s CSA share. It was not a perfect week, but a strong start and overall I feel pretty good about how I’m doing on this challenge.

o Parsley—chopped finely and added one shredded carrot, minced garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. This is a great way to use up a big bunch of parsley. Pine nuts are a nice addition to this salad, but it’s totally delicious without them.
o Patty pan squash and green onions—sautéed these together with some garlic, oregano and dash of cayenne pepper. Mixed with goat cheese and made 2 quiches using pre-packaged quiche crusts.
o Basil—tore up half the leaves and added to a tomato cucumber salad. Blended the other leaves with olive oil and strained through a cheesecloth to make a basil-infused oil that will keep for 3 weeks in the fridge—perfect for dressing summer tomatoes!
o Shelling peas—there weren’t enough to use for a full recipe, so I cooked them for a few minutes in lightly salted boiling water and nibbled on them as a snack.
o Green beans—did a quick sauté until the beans were blistering but not burnt, then tossed with toasted sesame seeds, salt, pepper, and a drop of sesame oil.
o Salad mix—here I failed in my challenge. I served the greens at Shabbat dinner, but since there were only a few of us, we didn’t finish the salad. The next day, the greens, which had been dressed, were soggy with oil and completely inedible. Sadly, I threw them away.
o Turnips—again, mixed success. I waited too long to use the turnips and most of the leaves had turned brown by the time I went to cook them. So I made mashed potatoes and turnips, sautéed the few remaining greens, and added them to the mash for a little color.

Shuli Passow started her relationship with CSA’s in 2004 when she joined Hazon’s first CSA at Anshe Chesed, and is now a member of Hazorim, a Hazon CSA at B’nai Jeshurun. When she’s not cooking locally grown vegetables, Shuli keeps busy as a fourth year rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary and rabbinic intern at New York University. A former Hazon board member, Shuli has worked as a Jewish educator and communal professional for nearly 15 years.

The CSA Psolet Challenge: Week One

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