Some of the best vegetables in your CSA boxes are beet, carrots, turnips, radishes and kohlrabi. Not only due to their numerous health benefits but because you get two vegetables for the price of one. The green leafy tops on all of them are edible, nutritious and delicious.
Each one has a flavor and texture of its own, but they’re all interchangeable in most recipes calling for dark, leafy greens. Once you become familiar with the flavor, texture, and cooking time, of each top, the possibilities are endless.
When storing any of these leafy greens, separate the leaves from the vegetables they came with; if left attached, the leaves can rob moisture from the vegetables and render them flabby. And though the roots may last for weeks in your vegetable drawer, it’s best to use the leaves within a few days, because they’re seldom as sturdy as they look
Beet leaves look deceivingly sturdy, but cook down quickly to a meltingly tender texture with a mild, earthy flavor. A good idea is to steam the leaves and use them as a bed for roasted beets. Or add them to a braising mix and serve as a side dish.
The feathery leaves of carrot top are also edible. They taste something like a cross between carrots, parsley, and lemon zest. Taste them before you decide what to do with them, as they tend to be a bit more bitter when the carrots are older. They do make a nice addition to pastas, tabbouleh, and cooked carrot salads.
Kohlrabi leaves have a great broccoli-like flavor. Try them sautéed in olive oil with garlic, red chile flakes, and lemon, or briefly boiled. The stems and white ribs that run up the lengths of the leaves should be discarded.
Turnip greens taste like young turnips or broccoli stems, with a peppery bite. The sturdy leaves do best when cooked in liquid for about 4-5 minutes if the greens are tender, or as long as 10 minutes if the greens are mature. The stems and ribs are edible when young, but are best torn away from the leaves if thick and tough. Pass on any bunches that have yellow leaves — a sign of age and bitterness.
Turnip greens are lovely when blanched and added to hearty soups. In the American South, turnip greens are commonly boiled with smoked pork hock or bacon in a soupy liquid.
Radish tops are also a wonderful green vegetable. They have a slightly peppery bite and are best mixed with other greens. CSA member Wendy says she stir fries them along with other veggies, or adds them to quinoa and other green leafy vegetables.