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FLS reporter Katie Thisdell serves up news on local food finds, tales from home cooks and inspiration to help you have fun in your own kitchen.

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CSA Week 5: A new routine

[Sorry for the lack of photos this week. The camera has been packed in the pre-baby hospital bag and my phone was never in the right place at the right time while making dinner this week.]

In this week’s box:

10 pints sugar snap peas

1/2 pint raspberries

1/2 pint blackberries

6 eggs

3 cucumbers

4 pounds red and white potatoes

1.5 pounds string beans

1 bunch onions

1 bunch kale

Looking back at my meal-planning lists from late winter, I realize that I’d gotten into a bit of a slump.

Just about every week would include a taco or burrito night, a couple of pizza nights and some sort of Asian dish served with rice. Pasta and soup-and-sandwich nights were sprinkled in around that. Fresh vegetables cooked for the sake of their own flavor were a rarity.

There was nothing really driving those choices aside from grocery store coupons and specials and what we weren’t sick of yet.

Since I started picking up a weekly box of produce, my rationale for meal planning has completely changed. In some ways, I worry that I am forcing vegetables into certain dishes, but on the plus side, we are consuming a much higher quantity of vegetables than we had been, and our meals no longer revolve around what kind of meat is in the fridge.

This week, since the box included potatoes, I made a Martha Stewart recipe for Spanish tortilla that I often use (find it here).

This was certainly not a Spanish tortilla that would have been recognizable to my Spanish host mother from my college study abroad years. I ended up throwing in a sliced zucchini (leftover from the week before) and a small amount of green beans to saute with the potatoes.

It’s maybe a little strange to put green beans in an omelet-type dish, but we all ate it happily, along with a simple roasted beet salad and some cooked sugar snap peas.

Yep, we’re eating a lot of snap peas these days. Before joining the CSA, my yearly quotient of snap peas was usually purchased at the Hurkamp Park farmers market in Fredericksburg on a workday and taken back to my desk at The Free Lance-Star, where I would snack on them all day. Rarely did they make it to our home kitchen.

But this week I brought home 10 pints of them. So I’ve had an opportunity to try out several preparation methods.

At lunch, they have come to replace potato chips next to a sandwich. I know–this obviously leaves a big gap in our daily allowance of saturated fat. Don’t worry, I solve that problem by dipping them in pimiento cheese.

At dinners, I’ve tried them blanched, sauteed and roasted. I found a recipe on the website TheKitchn.com for sesame-roasted snap peas. Honestly, this is not a vegetable I would usually think to roast. Its texture doesn’t lend it to the crisp, caramelized crust around soft, melty inside that I usually crave from roasted vegetables.

I wouldn’t say snap peas taste terribly different roasted than sauteed, but this was an easy, tasty side, and I liked the sesame flavor.

The variety in this box was remarkable. All week, I felt like I was reaching into my fridge and re-discovering a new item I’d forgotten we had. The potatoes were a nice addition, and they filled out three different meals for us, roasted one night under a whole chicken, cooked in an omelet and then chopped and cooked as hash browns to pair with hamburgers.

I rounded out burger night with the rest of the green beans, sauteed with garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar and brown sugar, then drizzled with sesame oil and seeds at the end.

By Sunday night, it was soup time. As I was grabbing the kale and remaining onions to chop up for the soup pot, I came across the cucumbers. I grew cucumbers last summer, and discovered then how they have a tendency to sneak up on you. Apparently that applies to the fridge, too.

I’m planning to try them out in a soup of their own early this week. This one from EatingWell.com, which actually calls for sauteeing cucumbers (something I’ve never done) is top of my list right now.

How is your CSA season going? Please share the recipes you’re loving for seasonal produce right now in the comments or by emailing me.

This week’s recipe:

Since I linked to most of the recipes I cooked this week in the post above, I thought I’d share links to some recipes that are good for seasonal veggies you might be receiving in a CSA box right now, but that I haven’t gotten around to making.

How to Stir-Fry Chicken – A great back-to-basics post on stir-fry from The Kitchn, with a recipe that includes sugar snap peas.

Napa Cabbage Picnic Salad – This uses several spring vegetables and looks great. Just haven’t had the right opportunity to make it yet.

Here are two recipes shared with me by a friend who also belongs to the Snead’s CSA. These are definitely on my list to make:

Chicken and Summer Vegetable Tostadas

Squash and Kohlrabi Empanadas

Happy cooking!

 

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