30 June, 2014
The Veggie Files: My First CSAPosted in : Fooducation, Recipes on by : jailavie
This summer, I leaped into the trend of purchasing a “farm share” as part of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. I’ve been trying to eat more vegetables, and in the summer that should be easy. But unfortunately, now that I live in a city, buying fresh produce isn’t as easy as taking a drive to Donaldson’s Farm. (Yes, there are actually SOME things that Warren county has that big city living does not.) So, I’m limited to the poor selection of over-ripe fruits and veggies at A&P, or on a good day, splurging for some pricey vegetables at the local market.
So after all the talk from friends and co-workers, buying into a CSA seemed like a good idea. Hoboken has several, and after some research I committed to a share with Catalpa Ridge Farm. And after some delay in the crops, I finally received my first box (or bag) last week!Making salads with the vegetarian staples is easy – but for the rest, I had to get a little creative with my menu planning.
The program offers recipes to help you make the most of your weekly delivery. But part of the fun with a CSA is that you get to experiment and try new things. One of those things for me was rhubarb. What the heck do I do with a whole bunch of rhubarb other than make a pie?
Not wanting to succumb to baking desserts in the middle of bikini season, I tried adding it into a summer burger! I was able to use the rhubarb, onion, and garlic chives for this meal. The result was new, fun, and tasty. [Recipe below]
Also on the menu was a side of Bok Choy Slaw, using up my head of bok choy! [Recipe here – I added some agave and sesame seeds!].
Later in the week, I used up the scapes in a scape pesto [recipe here] which I combined with some cream for a garlicky sauce with linguini (my carb allowance for the week). I doubled the recipe so I’ll have plenty left over as a spread for sandwiches or frozen for later in the summer.
And finally for dessert, I used my remaining rhubarb and tried out the Rhubarb Apple Sauce [recipe here] and this was a deliciously sweet way to end the meals (without baking a carb-o-loaded pie)!
The vegetables also come with some information and tips on storing and preparing them, so there’s an educational component too. Here’s a full summary on what’s in the delivery this week along with some useful tips:
- Red & Green Lettuce – Lettuce leaves should be torn by hand; cutting with a knife will turn the edges brown faster. The outer, greener leaves of lettuce contains more vitamins and minerals then the paler inner leaves. Lettuce tends to keep well in plastic bags in the crisper section of the refrigerator. Iceberg lettuce keeps the best, lasting around two weeks, while Romaine, ten days, and butterheads types and endives lasts approximately four days.
- Bok Choi – Bok choy, or brassica chinensis to use its scientific name, is classified as a cabbage (sometimes called “white cabbage”) but bears little resemblance to the round European cabbages found in western supermarkets. Its white stalks resemble celery without the stringiness, while the dark green, crinkly leaves of the most common variety is similar to Romaine lettuce. The Chinese commonly refer to bok choy as pak choi or “white vegetable.”
- Micro Greens – Unlike sprouts, these are more mature and will be grown in soil and harvested early to maximize flavor. Most people enjoy the baby greens raw by simply adding to any salad, but the baby greens may be cooked as well.
- Rhubarb – Rhubarb can be used to enhance the flavor of other fruits, such as pairing it with strawberries in baked sauces or beverages. It makes a delicious pie filling and is also used to make sauce in the same manner as applesauce. Rhubarb can also be used to make jams, cakes, muffins, and other desserts, as well as used in savory dishes or sauce to serve with meats and fish.
- Tomatoes – Their flavor begins to deteriorate below about 54 degrees Farenheit so don’t refrigerate your tomatoes. To retain that bright, fresh flavor, cook tomatoes quickly. Cooked longer than about thirty minutes, their flavor begins to change as sugars are released and liquid evaporates.
- Texas Legend Onions – Use an onion as soon as possible after slicing or chopping, as oxidation will give the onion a bitter flavor. If you plan on saving your chopped onions, they should be kept in a screw top glass jar or double wrapped in a plastic bags. If you only need one part of an onion, leave the skin on the part of the unused portion.
- Garlic Curls – Garlic curls (or “scapes”) are the tender flower stalks that grow out of the middle of hardneck garlic, before the garlic below is full grown. We break them off so that the plant can devote its growing energy into the storage bulb and not into making flowers and seeds. The garlic curl season is about three weeks long, so you could freeze garlic curl pesto in ice cube trays, and store the cubes in a freezer bag to enjoy later in the season.
- Herb of The Week: Garlic Chives – Also known as Chinese chives, garlic chives (Allium tuberosum), can be used and stored in the same manner as chives. They are distinguishable from chives by their flat, broader leaves and fragrant white flowers.
So take it from me – whether you participate with a CSA, visit the farmer’s market, or have a pretty darn good selection at Shop Rite – have a little fun with your veggies this summer! It’s the season to get creative with healthy recipes! 🙂
- 1 lb. ground chicken
- 1 small onion, chopped fine
- 3 stalks chopped rhubarb
- 2 tsp. garlic chives, chopped fine
- Cook onion on medium-low heat until translucent. Add rhubarb and cook until rhubarb becomes soft and begins to breakdown. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Combine onion-rhubarb mixture with ground chicken and garlic chives.
- Form into patties and refrigerate until ready to grill.
- Before grilling, season both sides with salt and pepper.
- Cook on a grill pan or frying pan on medium heat until browned on both sides and center is cooked through, about 5 minutes each side.