It’s officially summer and we’re seeing more summer crops emerging in the field. I expect another two-to-three weeks with an abundance of spring greens (plus summer squash!) before moving on to our summer crops: tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, summer squash, green beans, eggplant, potatoes, basil, and cantaloupe! In the meantime, we have new varieties of spring produce coming your way this week including beautiful fennel, fava beans, and collard greens.
I hope participating in the CSA inspires you to try new kinds of produce, experiment with new recipes, connect with family & community through cooking and recipe sharing, and taking a more active role in your own healthy eating. Being a CSA member can be intimidating or overwhelming at times (even farmers feel this way!). To try to keep those feelings at bay, I wanted to write a newsletter geared towards strategies for turning your farm share into a delicious and healthy meal.
The most common household issue Alec & I face is finding the time to make all the healthy meals we’d like to. We have found that in planning ahead and keeping kitchen staples on hand, we can whip up better than restaurant-quality healthy meals without an extra trip to the store. Here’s a list of some of our pantry items we always keep in stock:
Chicken or vegetable stock (we like to make our own & freeze it, thawing on the stove right before cooking)
Butter (store long-term in the freezer)
Balsamic Vinegar (we typically make our own simple salad dressings with oil & vinegar)
Red pepper flakes
Coconut Milk (turn any veggie medley into a delicious curry)
All purpose flour (dredge produce before frying, or turn veggies into baked treats like zucchini bread or beet muffins)
Corn Meal (can be baked with your share into a veggie cornbread, or prepared as polenta to pair with sauteed vegetables)
Eggs (turn your produce into an omelette or veggie scramble)
Milk (or unsweetened milk alternative)
Parmesan Cheese (I’m an Italian food enthusiast)
Yellow Onions (both garlic & onions will eventually be part of the farm share, but we find that many recipes call for one or both of these items and that they can be kept in our pantry for a 2-3 weeks at a time)
Rice or any other similar grain (like millet, farro, or couscous.)
Over the past few years, Alec & I have developed a love for cooking from cookbooks as well as from cooking blogs. A few of my favorites are How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman, Dishing Up the DIrt by Andrea Bemis (wonderful cookbook AND blog specifically geared towards cooking with in-season CSA ingredients), and Smitten Kitchen by Deb Perelman. Alec’s latest obsession is Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan. One important thing to remember--recipes can often be altered to fit what you have on hand. Found a recipe you like that calls for spinach when you have swiss chard in your share? Why not try substituting what you have!
Here’s a falafel recipe shared by CSA member Simone Prather! Simone recommends using the Bob’s Red Mill garbanzo beans to make the falafel and to serve on top of a farm share salad.
My favorite recipe of the week is Marcella Hazan’s Braised Fennel With Olive Oil (we made the alternate version with butter and parmesan cheese). It was so delicious, and, for us, a different approach to fennel preparation--I also loved learning that fennel is called finocchio in Italian.