Perhaps I’ll kick myself for this later, but I’m adding a new feature: the CSA Series. In this, I’m planning to add a quick post each week about what we get in our CSA box and how I plan to use it. So, in addition to the weekly foray into learning something new, you can look out for Tuesday posts on the things that come in our box!
While it’s likely too late to sign up if you’re interested, I will mention our CSA because I already think they’re awesome. The CSA is organized by the Tufts New Entry Sustainable Farming Project. They call it the World PEAS CSA. They are a really awesome group working with new and immigrant farmers to help them get started on farms north of Boston. This is a description from their website:
New Entry provides services for beginning farmers such as locating farmland, education, training, business/enterprise development, and production and marketing assistance. The project provides opportunities for economically disadvantaged farmers, preserves farmland, and promotes New England agriculture.
Because they work with so many different farms and farmers, there should be a really great mix of crops this summer. That’s a huge benefit in my book, because there is only so much you can do with 5 cucumbers. Also, it means automatic new ingredients, which is perfect for me!
So, without further ado, the contents of week 1’s box. FYI, we have a small share, because it’s just the 2 of us, so someone with a larger share would get more and sometimes also additional products. We also signed up for a winter share, which will provide us with various stored produce through December.
From left to right:
- Garlic Scapes – the tops of garlic bulbs; garlic flavor, but milder (helpful info on how to use)
- Chinese Broccoli (Gai Lan) – similar in appearance to broccoli rabe, but much milder
- Pea Tendrils – the shoots of snap pea plants, similar to other delicate greens
- Swiss Chard
I can easily use lettuce, radishes, and strawberries, so that’s no problem, but what about the other stuff? Sure, chard isn’t hard, but pea tendrils? I’ve eaten them in restaurants, but certainly never seen them in the store. So, I did a little research and found the following recipes that mix things up a bit.
- Black-Bean Shrimp with Chinese Broccoli
- Spaghetti and Swiss Chard with Garlic Chips
- Salmon with Sweet Chili Glaze, Sugar Snap Peas and Pea Tendrils
- Pasta with Three Peas
- Strawberry Shortcakes with Mint & Whipped Cream
JP requested the Black-Bean Shrimp tonight, so I made that and used some of the garlic scapes as well, reserving some for adding to salads or pasta dishes. This was a pretty simple recipe. After prepping the broccoli (separating leaves and stems, cooking the stems in salted water for longer than the leaves), I stir-fried the shrimp with a black bean sauce (ginger, garlic scapes, fermented black bean paste, sriracha) and poured it over the greens.
For what it’s worth, we typically plan our meals for the week each Sunday. So there’s a certain leap of faith with the CSA box. But that’s okay. My approach is to keep a well-stocked pantry (grains, seasonings, beans, etc.) and freezer (meats, fish, etc.) and then I’m able to cook just about anything the CSA box dictates. Not sure what to keep in your pantry? Check a few cookbooks that you like. Most will include an introductory chapter that explain the ingredients common to that specific cuisine. For example, with Mexican food, the pantry could need beans, dried chile peppers and masa. Or for Chinese, like above, rice, ginger, Shaoxing rice wine and fermented black beans. It all depends on what you like to cook.
That’s all for this week – and next for that matter, as we’ll be on vacation. But I’ll be back with the week 3 box, ready to cook! Please let me know if there’s anything else you might want to see from this series.