Our first CSA pickup, supplemented with bread and jam due to the fact that May isn't a huge harvest month in Ohio! (Photo by Donna.)

We joined a CSA this year to see how it compares with simply shopping at the North Union Farmer’s Market.  A friend suggested I write about how I use what find in our bag.  When Donna dropped our daughter off at a friend’s, the friend’s dad appeared and asked, “How are you going to cook your kale?”  He too was part of the CSA.  Donna recounted that he intend to saute it, which reinforced the notion that this could use some writing about.  Kale is not tender, needs lots of cooking.

The morning we returned with our organic booty, there was delicious toast, raspberry jam, strawberries and poached eggs.  The garlic scapes I intend to saute tonight and serve with stir-fried broccoli.  The hot house tomato is gone but there’s still some red leaf lettuce for salad.  A big head of escarole will go into soup tomorrow (andouille and escarole, if i have time I’ll put some white beans in there as well), using the chicken stock made from last night’s roast chicken carcass.  Roasting a chicken and baking potatoes is one of those great weekday meals, for me at least, because it cooks itself, you can leave the kitchen for an hour.  While the chicken rests, I boil some green beans, that’s it.  Because we had kale, as well, and because I’d been sent some excellent cured belly from mangalista pigs from Mosefund farm, I added this to last night’s menu as well.  I started rendered the fat on the stove top, stuffed the kale in, and popped it in the oven along with everything else to finish cooking.  Perfect.

Kale with Pancetta

6 ounces pancetta, diced or sliced

2 pounds kale, stems removed, cleaned

salt to taste

freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon honey

Tabasco to taste

Cook the pancetta over medium low heat until enough fat has rendered to saute the kale in.  Turn the heat to medium and add the kale.  Cook and turn the kale till it’s begun to wilt. Add a three fingered pinch of salt, cover it, and put it in a hot oven (350 degrees if you’re just cooking kale).  After 15 minutes or so, toss and turn the kale to ensure it’s cooking evenly.  After thirty minutes, remove it from the oven, season it with plenty of black pepper, the honey and lots of Tabasco.

Serves 4