southern greens, aka CSA love

IT’S FINALLY HERE.

By it, I obviously mean the CSA (community-supported agriculture) season. I’ve been talking about this for months, and it’s finally here. SQUEAL!

CSAs are a way for consumers to buy local, seasonal produce directly from a farmer in their community. Essentially, you pay for a share of a farm for a season. A farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public.

Usually, you pay in advance for the entire season (May-October), but Green Door Gourmet in Nashville offers a week-by-week payment option. This is great for anyone who travels on the weekends!

Every week, for $27, I get a half-bushel (don’t ask me how this quantity is measured – no clue!) of the most beautiful, local, organic produce. I “have to” pick it up at the farm, which is the sweetest little operation I’ve ever seen.

CSA-box-300x200
not my photo — but this is an example of green door gourmet’s offerings!

There’s a little shop, with all the local groceries your little Southern heart could ever ask for. Produce, dairy, meats, eggs, jams, and more, all made locally, all in one place. It’s a dream. 

You can also pick strawberries – Tennessee summer strawberries, i.e. the best kind – in bucket-sized quantities. Seriously, a dream.

This week, the half-bushel contained lots of greens: Kale, butter lettuce, mustard greens, broccoli, green cabbage. We also got baby beets, little carrots, French breakfast radishes, asparagus, and spring onions.

At the store, I picked up some heirloom tomatoes, strawberries, some Benton’s bacon, and a little bottle of local chocolate milk.

It’s been so fun cooking my way through all of the ingredients.  Some of the more familiar ingredients (like broccoli and asparagus), I simply steamed, roasted, or sauteed. Others, like the greens, have been more of an adventure!

Although I was raised in Arkansas, I can’t say that I’ve ever cooked greens. I’ve also never purchased a ham hock! So many firsts. Many people told me this was precisely the reason they loved having a CSA — you get to learn about new produce that you might not usually buy or have access to. We also got some baby kale in our bushel, so I decided to give those a Southern makeover as well, and threw them into the pot.

Greens are super easy, but they do take a little time. Essentially, you make a stock out of your ham hock, onions, garlic, and water, and then gently cook your greens in that. To speed up the process (because I’m an impatient city slicker), I used homemade chicken stock instead of water to boost the flavor.

These greens are worth the wait though! They’re so flavorful and delicious — and, thanks to the simple ingredient list, paleo! Winning.

The email sign up for this weekend’s box is about to enter my inbox and I’m. So. Pumped.

GET YOUR HALF-BUSHEL!

If you live in the Nashville area, sign up for this week’s Local Farm Box here. You won’t regret it!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pieces bacon, chopped
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 ham hock (find at Whole Foods!)
  • 2 lbs. greens: collard, mustard, turnip greens or even kale! (I used half mustard, half kale)
  • salt and pepper
  • hot sauce and vinegar, to serve

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a large stockpot, cook the bacon to render the fat out.
  2. Add the diced onions, and sautee for about 4-5 minutes, until they’re translucent.
  3. Add the chicken stock, water, garlic, and ham hock. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 45 minutes (an hour if you have the time).
  4. Add the greens to the pot and cover, stirring occasionally. Salt as needed throughout the cooking process — but remember that as it cooks, the saltiness of the ham hock will make its way into the greens.
  5. Cook for another 45 minutes, until the greens are wilted and delicious. Serve with hot sauce and vinegar.

TIP

Don’t throw out the cooking liquid or the ham hock! Them’s good eatin’ — throw it all in a crockpot with some water and vegetables for a hearty vegetable soup. I’m making cabbage soup with mine, using up the cabbage in my half-bushel. ❤

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