If you’ve seen any of my other work on Food Republic, you know that a lot of my recipes could be classified as “comfort food” in the sense that they are meaty, cheesy, fried, braised, sauced, encased in dough or some combination of those. But I love vegetables, too — in fact, I signed up for my first CSA this year (read: My lovely girlfriend signed us up). But I was not necessarily prepared for the sheer volume and diversity of vegetables I was about to receive. In my first haul, I got:

  • 1 head green leaf lettuce
  • 1 bulb white kohlrabi
  • 2 whole fennel
  • 2 pounds beets
  • 2 pounds black radishes
  • 1 piece spring garlic
  • 1 pound turnips
  • 1/2 pound cucumber
  • 1/2 pound red kale
  • 1 pound white kale
  • 3 endive

That’s a lot to use in one week for two people. What do I even do with black radishes? Do I want kale salad, or should I braise it? Which of these things even go well together?

First things first: I pickled those radishes right off the bat. I made plans for the endive and the turnips, and decided to make a kale salad. The lettuce also made it into a salad with the cucumbers. Kohlrabi made great baked fries. These were all things that were planned out with my girlfriend, but she hates beets and fennel, so that was left up to me. What was I going to do with those? Beet and fennel gratin. And that settled it for week one.

Close-up of the beet and fennel gratin. Look at those colors.

Week two brought some changes. I’m still working my way through this load, which included:

  • 1/4 pound garlic scapes
  • 2 purple kohlrabi
  • 4 heads lettuce
  • 1 1/2 pounds squash
  • 1 pound beets
  • 1/2 pound radishes
  • 1 bok choy
  • 3/4 pound Swiss chard
  • 3/4 pound collard greens

Does anything on this list grab your attention? Cause I saw “four heads of lettuce” and thought, “Welp, I better gear up for a lot of salad.” But you know what? It’s not all bad. There are ways to make salad appealing. First off, two of the heads were frisee, so I made frisee salads with bacon and poached eggs. Then we also had a head each of green and red leaf lettuce. I didn’t want to do standard salad with those, so since it’s summer, I fired up the grill and grilled the lettuce. That’s right. Grilled lettuce, if you didn’t know, is actually pretty amazing, and it was a great way to have a salad without feeling like I was just having another salad. I also incorporated pickled radishes and garlic scapes from my haul, and the results were even better than expected.

So what’s the take-away here? If you join a CSA program, don’t be afraid to experiment and try out new things. You’re going to be bringing a new load of vegetables home every week, so gear up and get cooking so you can make space for the next one. And if you don’t know what to do with something, do a little research, find a recipe you think you’d like, or just make something up! Baked kohlrabi fries come to mind.

Paul Harrison is a Brooklyn-based recipe developer and professional whiskey fan who penned possibly the greatest recipe for taco meat ever. Follow his more carnivorous endeavors at the Devour Hour