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Maria

Tips For Using All Those CSA Veggies

by Maria on July 18, 2013


Taking part in a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program is an excellent way to get a variety of fresh, locally grown produce, while also supporting local farmers. The catch is that not only do you not know what you will be getting until you pick it up, chances are you will also find yourself leaving pick-up with some less familiar veggies. (Ok, sometimes the veggies are completely unfamiliar!)

 
This week's stir-fry with napa cabbage, fresh onions, carrots, zucchini, and kale.

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Since joining a local farm cooperative (similar to a CSA, but gets produce from multiple farmers), I have gotten a little better at using all my veggies each week (or at least before they wilt).  As my familiarity with all the most common CSA veggies has risen, so has my confidence with what to do with them. Of course, on any given week you will still find me doing an internet search for recipe ideas or inspiration.

I am a list maker. So my simple strategy for get the most out of my farm share this year is to write down each vegetable that I get every week and then my plans for what to do with them. I also try to do a daily inventory to remind myself what we have on hand. Once the veggies are all tucked away into their bins and baggies they are less visible, making it easy to forget about them. (Until it is the evening before another pick up day, and you suddenly panic and realize it is use it or lose it time!)

My kitchen chalkboard gets put to good use.

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So here are my tips for using your CSA veggies:

Planning:

  • Make a list of each week’s bounty. Then write down the plan or plans for each item. For example:
    • Kale – use in smoothies, stir-fry and try kale chips recipe.
    • Beets – roast in the oven and save for salads, or if too hot to roast, boil.
    • Bok Choy – make into salad for picnic dinner on Friday.
  • Google unfamiliar items to learn more about them and get cooking ideas. Many CSA’s also have a newsletter and/or Facebook page that are filled with information specific to your veggies. Google familiar items too, to get new cooking inspiration.

Cooking Suggestions:

  • Roast vegetables and then add them to salads and pastas throughout the week.
  • If it’s too hot to turn on the stove or oven, look for grilling or salad recipes.
  • Most vegetables can be eaten raw in a salad or smoothie, although some benefit from a quick blanch or sauté. Definitely don’t overcook the vegetables, as this depletes their nutrients, color, and tastiness!
  • I also love to get out my food processor and make pestos, sauces, and mashes. 
  • When in doubt, sauté or stir-fry! You can’t go wrong with a quick sauté. Start with canola or olive oil, garlic, and onions. Make it Mediterranean style with some fresh herbs or Asian-style with a splash of soy sauce and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
Garlic-scape pesto made with EVOO, Parmesan cheese, and cashews.

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So far making a list seems to be working well for me. In the past I have just planned the main entrees for the week on Sunday and then done my best to whip up side dishes using the CSA veggies of the week that I pick up on Tuesdays. This works well for most items, but without a plan in place for each item, occasionally some were forgotten.

Finished stir-fry.

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Are you a member of a CSA? What are your tips for using all your veggies?

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