By Farmer Tam
CSA membership can be a wonderful, rewarding experience! You can head home from work every day to a meal made with beautiful fresh local food. But by the third week, the sheer magnitude of weekly bunches of freshness can start to overwhelm busy people with regular (or even spectacular!) lives to lead.
The good news is that with a few simple strategies and a little weekly preparation and planning you’ll rarely have a week where you can’t use or freeze your whole haul.
Speaking of whole haul – the header image is last week’s CSA basket with labels for the new veg. In case you wondered “what is this again?”
It’s a wee bit different kind of menu planning than you might be used to. Take a minute to scan the email newsletter we send you in advance of pick-up day, and check out the recipes we give you. Take a few minutes more to think about how and when you’ll use each ingredient.
Wait until the day you get your veggies to finish your plans. The farm dictates the menu! This way you will see what else you’ll need to buy from the fruit and produce section at the grocery store to supplement what is in your CSA share.
Not sure what something is? Ask me or Farmer Amy while you are at the farm or city picking up your share. Or Facebook us!
Don’t hesitate to ask fellow CSA members or friends. Now you’ll be able to Google the un-familiar vegetable to get in touch with your inner-chef! Share recipes! And check our Pinterest CSA recipes board for lots of seasonal veg recipes.
3. Wash & prep your greens before putting them away.
Fill a large bowl or salad spinner with cold water, add leafy greens, and agitate them to remove sand and dirt. Wait a minute to let the debris settle to the bottom, then pull out the greens, dump the water, and repeat until the greens are clean. Dry thoroughly in a spinner or with towels and store until ready to use.
Use the tender greens first. You know they are not going to keep for long in the crisper!
4. If you can eat it raw, go for it!
It pays to keep it simple, especially if you’re in for a busy week. Sometimes the best approach to using up your CSA haul is to sprinkle it with salt and start taking bites of it. You’ll know when it feels right. Don’t be shy. Greens, beans, cucumbers and even baby potatoes!
5. On the other hand, cook your greens!
Last week I chopped my komatsuna up, sprinkled it with grated cheese and a drizzle of olive oil, and microwaved it for a couple of minutes for a quick supper side dish. It was delish!
The most common comment I’m starting to hear on pick-up nights is: “I am so tired of salads. WTF am I supposed to do with all these greens and onions!” The surprising but simple answer is – you should cook it! Chop up and sauté just about any green in some olive oil with a little garlic, crack a few eggs into the pan, beaten or otherwise, and cook until set. Sprinkle with some cheese if you like, and you’ve got a delicious dinner.
6. Freeze it!
You’ll be thrilled mid-winter to see them. You can blanch it (1 min in boiling water) first, but it’s optional if you can use it up by mid-winter. Spread out your produce on sturdy baking sheets and put in the freezer until frozen so it won’t stick together, then store in the freezer in airtight plastic bags or reusable containers.
7. Garnish with flair, baby!
Edible flowers, odds and sods bags, bundles of herbs. Think of how it can garnish your meal. For example, only receive a couple small beets this week? Grate ‘em and toss them on top of your dish.
8. Fry it. Even lettuce.
Yes sir-eeee! I said fry your lettuce. Switch up how you think of each vegetable. For example, move past thinking of lettuce is just for salads. It can be sautéed, tossed into soups, chopped and fried. Have you ever added Swiss chard or komatsuna to a stir-fry? What about beets on your pizza?
Think way beyond basil. Just about any herb and leafy greens like komatsuna, radish greens, amaranth, and even broccoli can become a delicious pesto-style sauce when combined with nuts, oil, garlic, and grated cheese or some of the above.
Pesto freezes beautifully, too, so you’ll be thanking yourself in December for a little bit of foresight and elbow grease in the warmer months.
10. Embrace the bounty: MORE Kale?! Realllllly?
There are going to be weeks that you will get waaaaayyyy more of one vegetable than you bargained for. It’s what you signed up for. A sustainable food shed! It’s going to happen. Embrace it.
Welcome all the leafy greens like kale and other vegetables such as zucchini into your life. (oh yes –there will be zucchini!) This is going to happen whether you like it or not. And instead of being cranky and annoyed that you are faced with another week of eating kale, embrace your creativity. Making loaves of zucchini bread? Make extra and give it to a neighbor. Throw a kale party to crunch on Kale Chips! Share your favorite recipes!
11. Oh, yeah – we’re doin’ this… breakfast smoothies!
Here’s you. Livin’ the life of the super healthy. Have you ever added kale, Swiss chard, strawberries and beets in a blender? Add a handful of chia seeds, and hemp nuts, some frozen blueberries, some apple juice and a banana. Sure the color is crazy. But think! It’s soooooo good for you!
12. Crank up the cold in your fridge.
It’s amazing how much time a few extra degrees will buy you. If you find your refrigerated produce beginning to spoil before the week is out, try turning down the temperature a notch or two.
13. Get creative!
Monday becomes Meatless Mondays and your meals are centered on a particular vegetable or two. Don’t like that idea? Monday could be Macaroni Mondays and all your dishes are pasta based with whatever veggies you have on hand that week.
14. Taco Tuesdays
Look for recipes that are taco-ish. Lots of opportunity to toss in vegetables to this dish.
15. Wacky Wednesdays
You eat breakfast for dinner. Eggs + greens + sautéed CSA veggies? Yes please.
16. Thrifty Thursdays
It’s all about the crockpot. Or soup. CSA veggies are fab-u-lous in a soup.
17. Fun Fridays
DIY pizza. Just basil on a pizza? Of course. Earls does it! Not into DIY pizza? What about BBQ salmon, Grilled onions plus CSA steamed potatoes? Yummmmy!