I love the surprise element of getting a CSA box. When you join a Community Supported Agriculture subscription program, you pay the farmer in advance for a share of the farm's bounty for a certain number of weeks. What you get depends on the farmer's plans and skill, the weather, the farm, the critters, and good old luck. This time of year, we're likely to get bok choy, spinach, chard, spring onions, and baby carrots, all terrific in a quick and simple stir-fry.
Vary the proportions based on what you have on hand and your mood. Greens cook down more than carrots, so I aim for about four times as much greens to start as carrots, measured by weight. You can think of it as two young carrots for every salad-spinner full of greens. Add cooked chickpeas to turn this stir-fry into a filling main dish.
Spring Surprise Stir-Fry
Active time: 23 minutes. Total time: 25 minutes. Make four big servings or eight side-dish servings.
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger, fresh or frozen from fresh last season
- 1/4 pound carrots (112 grams)
- 1 pound greens: bok choy, spinach, Swiss chard, or pea shoots (454 grams)
- 4 spring onions (60 grams)
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne for medium-hot results
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas (328 grams), optional
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- Mince garlic and ginger. Cut carrots in quarters length-wise and then into 1/4-inch wedges.
- Rinse greens well, then spin dry in a salad spinner. Cut any thick stems away from the more tender green leaves. Chop stems and cut leaves into 1 inch by 4 inch ribbons. If you spot any flowers or cute little leaves, save a few to top each serving. Cut spring onions into 1/4-inch rounds. Measure remaining ingredients.
- Heat your wok following the manufacturer's instructions. (I turn my electric wok up to high.) Pour oil down the side of the wok. Add garlic, ginger, and red-pepper flakes. Stir and cook until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add carrots and chopped stems, stirring them constantly for about one minute. Add greens and toss with carrots for about two minutes until greens are wilted. Add chickpeas if using.
- Pour soy sauce into wok down the side of the wok and cover immediately to capture steam. Turn heat to low and let vegetables steam for about two minutes. Serve at once over rice or noodles or as a side dish, garnished with flowers and small leaves if using.
- If you prefer a thicker sauce, mix 1 1/2 teaspoons corn starch with 2 tablespoons cold water with the soy sauce. (I shake it in a little jar to get rid of any lumps.) Add this mixture as you did the soy sauce in step 5, but stir for 20 seconds to coat vegetables before covering the wok.
- Add a few fronds of carrot tops to your stir-fry if you want. They may be somewhat bitter and tough, but some people find bitter and tough attractive. Food scientist Harold McGee writes that he can find no evidence that carrot tops are not safe to eat. The Carrot Museum describes the carrot-top controversy, coming down on in favor of eating carrot tops that you know where not treated with toxic chemicals.
- For other stir-fry recipes, see the more intense Stir-Fried Pea Shoots with Ginger and Garlic and the hearty Stir-Fried Vegetables with Chickpeas and Peanuts, my take on Kung Pao.