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CSA Week 7: Spring into summer
This week’s box:
1 bunch kale
2 pounds red potatoes
2 pounds white potatoes
3 pounds string beans
4 pints peas
1 bag tomatoes
2.5 pints raspberries
.5 pints blackberries
1 bag squash
Summer officially arrives Wednesday, but I feel like it really got here last week, evidenced by the appearance of tomatoes in our CSA box.
There were only two, but there were tomatoes, and they were the real deal. My husband and I celebrated by having simple tomato-and-cheese sandwiches the day I brought the box home.
There’s still plenty of spring hanging around–kale, sugar snap peas and kohlrabi rounded out this box–but a big load of berries, summer squash and the nice touch of a couple of little bears filled with local honey made this week pretty tasty.
There were also potatoes. I’ve been doing a lot of wintery things with the potatoes so far–roasting them in the oven or charring them in my saute pan–but this week I wanted to treat them more delicately. So I boiled them and made potato salad. I didn’t want to go to the store to get exact ingredients for any one recipe, so I used the dressing (minus buttermilk) from this one I’ve always loved from the Barefoot Contessa, left out the celery and dill and added a few chopped hard-boiled eggs.
It served as a nice side for two different meals, easy leftovers at lunch, and made for tasty nibblings from the fridge in between.
This week’s berry supply was the most generous yet. I felt like we kept eating piles of them on top of ice cream, in yogurt and for random snacks, and every time I looked in the fridge there were still more there. At the farm on pickup day, kids were nibbling berries in their car seats while their parents stowed the vegetables. It was a nice summer scene.
With many familiar items in this box, I stuck to some old favorites. I think one key to cooking through a CSA share is familiarizing yourself with a few basic techniques that you can come back to week after week as items are repeated. Here are a few favorites:
Stir-fry - I use a pretty simple method: Heat oil, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes in a skillet. When really hot, add your vegetables of choice. After vegetables cook, add a tablespoon or two each of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and brown sugar to the pan. Serve alone or over rice. Good candidates for this technique are green beans, snap and snow peas, kohlrabi (peeled and chopped into matchsticks or planks), squash, bok choy and many other spring vegetables.
Beans and edible-pod peas -I’ve tried them many ways, but the easiest and tastiest is to dunk them in boiling water (two to three minutes for snow and snap peas, five minutes or more for green beans), then toss them in a bowl with butter and lemon zest. Finish with coarse salt and a little lemon juice. Toasted almonds also add a nice touch.
Lasagna – Grill or saute sliced squash (or eggplant when it arrives) until it’s a little brown to get maximum flavor. Cook down kale, chard or other greens with any meat you plan to use. Layer these elements with noodles, seasoned ricotta cheese, good tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese or anything else your heart desires. Assemble in a freezer-friendly container to stash your summer goodness away for another day.
Savory pastries – Keep pizza dough, puff pastry, phyllo dough, wonton wrappers or pie dough in your fridge or freezer and you’ll find you can whip up many vegetables into some variation of pastry that can be served as an entree. Most countries’ cuisines include an item like this–think empanadas, spanakopita, quiche, pot pies, spring rolls and even pizza or calzone. Use your imagination, along with meat, cheese, hard-boiled eggs or other tasty add-ons, and you’re bound to find yourself some new favorite weeknight dinners.
Happy cooking, and please, send your own recipe suggestions to email@example.com.