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Sue’s Morning Stretch: Making the most of your CSA
The CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) are starting to deliver their shares of boxes of produce. And now that you’re getting yours, what are you going to do with it?
Here are some tips on how to make the most of what you get:
You gotta have a plan. But not the way you usually do meal planning. You have to look at what you received and THEN decide what you will make. Will this work in a pasta sauce? Or can that one work as a filling for tacos? Build your weekly menu around what you received.
Wash and prep as much as possible as soon as possible. My friends who use CSAs tell me they pull off the green tops of the produce as soon as they have their box at home. (The tops draw moisture from beets, carrots, etc.) Some of them sauté those top right then and there for use later. And, they say if the produce is chopped and ready to go, it’ll be easier later in the week to put it to use. Makes sense.
Use the fragile first. Cilantro is so perishable. You get some of that, use it as fast as you can. But hardy veggies – your onions, beets – can be prepared later in the week.
Remember, eggs are your friend. It’s easy to get tired of what you received. You have to use the produce up in different ways. Tired of kale or spinach salads? Chop some up and add it to eggs for an omelet dinner.
Think lettuce two (or more) ways. About the second week in August the family might start to rebel when you serve them yet another salad. That’s when you have to start improvising. You can sauté lettuce. I just saw someone do a demo where they were heating lettuce on a grill pan (not iceberg; something sturdier like romaine). Or puree it and add to a soup or smoothie (my kid does that all the time).
Don’t forget salad dressing. Add some of the herbs you get to a simple buttermilk dressing; you won’t be disappointed.
To freeze or not to freeze. It’s very easy to start freezing whatever you didn’t use in those early weeks. Unless you have an extra freezer or a lot of space, you’ll be taking up valuable real estate you might really need later.
Share. If you know you aren’t going to finish your week’s bounty, offer some to a neighbor or friend. That’s better than letting it waste away. And people will be so appreciative.
Make time to read. Most, if not all, CSAs have newsletters and websites. Visit them weekly to get their ideas on how to use up your week’s supply. Hunt around on the web for bloggers and other CSAs to see how they’re using their produce.
Embrace the unusual. If you get something you never used before, be brave. Find out its best use and make that. You may find something you never knew you loved. That is why so many grow so devoted to their CSA shares; they open their palate to new culinary adventures.
– Sue Ontiveros