Grilled Bok Choy (A story of a picky eater reformed by the farm share)
I'm throwing the farm share on the grill this summer, starting with Bok Choy. This easy and versatile side dish of tender stems and smoky crispy leaves is great with fish or chicken.
In honor of my formerly picky eater's 17th birthday, I thought I'd share a story about picky kids and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm shares.
Ten years ago we set off on our first CSA adventure filled with loads of idealism (farmers! local food!) and a smattering of technical skills. Our kids really didn't have a say in the decision, but being resilient military kids they were used to going with the flow, living in a variety of settings and being offered a variety of foods.
The kids were not big on a lot of vegetables, however. Sure, my daughter would eat raw broccoli stems for a snack and my son (a carb and cheese lover) would eat the occasional baby carrot under duress, but mostly they'd eat corn or potatoes. [One glaring exception was Yakisoba.] When a box full of vegetables comes into the house, and then another and another and another every week, though, you have to figure something out or you'll end up wasting food.
I hate wasting food. It's a waste of my money and our farmers' time. If the food came to us all packaged it would be an even bigger environmental waste, but in this case my compost bin doesn't complain.After the massively steep learning curve of the first year farm share I picked up a few tricks [and shared some of them in a post written during the slow winter months]:
- Make familiar foods with additional vegetables added.
- Perform Vegetable Triage to identify and use what is most perishable first.
- Think outside the salad bowl.
Every season some new-to-me vegetable will throw me for a loop, but eventually I find a way [or fake one, our motto Peary high] to love it. Or at least tolerate it. I've had plenty of failures, some shown on my FB page, but the one that is family legend is Grilled Radicchio. I tried some recipe years ago and we hated it. [Like, straight into the compost bin don't even pretend to eat it for the kids' sake hated it.] The only Good Thing about grilled radicchio became the story.
When you take your kids to the pediatrician they'll get asked "what fruits and vegetables won't you eat?" I'm sure it's a roundabout way to gauge a child's nutritional status. My kids will always answer without hesitation "Grilled Radicchio!". This usually shuts down that line of questioning. I can only assume it's because a kid who has an opinion on grilled radicchio has probably been exposed to more than just baby carrots, corn, and potatoes.
When I picked up the first farm share the other day I was delighted to see strawberries, spinach and salad mix and unsurprised to see additional greens. It's Spring, after all. I decided to grill some bok choy partly because I had the grill out for tilapia and salad turnips and partly to try and change our family's perception of grilled leaves. I loved how the edges of the leaves got all crispy like kale chips, and was pleased at how tender the stems became so quickly. I kept the seasoning simple--a splash of soy sauce--because we ate it with fish and rice, but I think you could go in a variety of directions. Maybe some lemon pepper seasoning, or hot sauce, or a balsamic vinegar reduction.
For more recipes using bok choy, please see my Bok Choy Recipes Collection, part of the Visual Recipe Index by Ingredient. For other ideas using greens, please see my Greens board on Pinterest.
Grilled Bok Choy1 large bok choy
1-2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
salt & pepper 2 generous pinches of each
1-2 teaspoons soy sauce or whatever seasoning direction you feel like veering off to
Slice bok choy lengthwise and rinse many times to get any debris out from between the leaves at the base. Set in colander to drip dry. Preheat grill over direct medium to medium high heat (one half went on the medium side with the fish, one half went on the medium high side with the turnips). Brush cut side with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place cut side down on hot grill. Cover and cook for about 5 to 8 minutes until leaves are wilted, color is bright, and you've got nice char marks. Brush the uncut side with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and flip over. Cover and grill for another 5 minutes until stems are tender. Remove to a cutting board and slice off the base of the bok choy (I discarded this to Robert Barker), then slice into bite-sized pieces. Splash some soy sauce over top and serve.
This post is shared with What's Cookin' Wednesday.