A few years ago, I took over a friend’s CSA because she was moving in the middle of summer. If you aren’t familiar with Community-Supported Agriculture, it is a program that many local farms here in Ohio (and around the U.S.) offer in which you pay up front – usually in February or March – to support the farm’s start-up costs. In return, you receive the bounty of the farm during their growing season. There are many variations of the CSA, but in this case, I received a variety of vegetables every Wednesday for the final three months of this friend’s farm share.
I figured this would be exciting: I liked cooking and the idea that I was helping out a local farm. Exciting? Sure. More than anything, it was an eye-opener. I received vegetables that I could not identify without Googling terms like “white tubular root vegetable” and “bumpy winter squash.” Others, I may have known but had no idea how to cook! I realized that summer that, although I ate well and enjoyed cooking, I was in a serious food rut. How could there be so many vegetables that I had never even tried before!?! Receiving a mystery box every seven days forced me to try something new. At the risk of sounding trite, the creativity I gained in the kitchen translated into a confidence in my everyday life. Doing something you love for yourself has a way of doing that, doesn’t it?
Today, I’ll be sharing with you one of my CSA-induced creations! My first farm share always included a bounty of assorted cooking greens – some familiar and others novel. One day, I whipped this dish up and I’ve been making variations of it ever since! Some substitutions that are equally delicious and nutritious: swap collard greens, rainbow chard, or callaloo and try it with white potatoes if you don’t have sweets!
Sweet Potato and Kale Sautee
Makes 3-4 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium-large onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
1 bunch kale, de-stemmed and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon coarse brown mustard
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon Cajun seasoning or Mrs. Dash
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large frying pan or skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onion, stirring often until translucent (about 5 minutes). Stir in sweet potato and cook for 10 minutes or until cooked through. Meanwhile, whisk together remaining tablespoon of olive oil, vinegar, mustard and spices. Set aside. Add kale and cook for an additional 8-10 minutes until the kale is wilted. Reduce heat to low and pour dressing over the mixture. Stir until kale and potatoes are evenly coated.
This dish makes an excellent side dish to chicken, tofu, or fish! I’ve also been known to eat it all by itself.
If you are considering a CSA, I highly encourage it – many have pick-up options at farmers markets and local businesses, even several miles away from their farms. If you are worried that a share might be more than you can use, there are smaller shares offered by a lot of farms or share with a friend.
That’s it for this week. Have a delicious weekend!
Until next time, remember that… there are no excuses when it comes to your health!