CSA season is soon upon us; are you ready? There are an amazing amount of benefits to participating in a CSA - supporting a local and sustainable farm, eating fresh seasonal produce, focusing more on plant-based foods, and testing your creative cooking muscle. Yet, CSA anxiety is the major hitch. I have discussed my CSA anxiety in the past and, without doubt, I have a bit of a relapse each week of the season. Not this year! I am going in with a plan. No more night sweats, nail biting, and hyperventilation. Here are 10 ways to avoid CSA anxiety.
- Wash and properly store your greens when you arrive home with your CSA loot. Don't forget to utilize the top greens from root vegetables like beets and turnips. Use a salad spinner to ensure optimal dryness. Store in your crisper drawer for quick salads, sautés, frittatas, and pestos.
- Zucchini and squash are typically repetitive items throughout a summer share. Invest in a sprializer to make noodles with the various squashes. Toss with pesto, fresh tomato sauce, or spicy peanut sauce.
- Have whole grains on hand such as quinoa, amaranth, and millet to easily toss with roasted or sautéd vegetables for a filling meal that you can repurpose for lunch the next day.
- Keep nuts and seeds in your pantry as garnish and added crunch. Toasted pistachios or hazelnuts add dimension and mileage to simply cooked vegetables or lightly dressed greens.
- Purchase a good quality cheese that shreds or crumbles well and can add a creamy and salty balance to a dish. We love sheep milk ricotta salata.
- Stock your shelves with good quality olive oil, dijon mustard, and vinegars. Apple cider vinegar, golden balsamic, and red wine vinegar are always our "go to's" for basic dressing that can work on a range of dishes from simple greens to sautéd string beans.
- Be open minded with unique and unusual produce. Deborah Madison's Vegetable Literacy is our CSA bible and has a plethora of simple ideas for seasonal produce.
- Plan what you can. Reverse your thinking when it comes to meal planning. Instead of recipe first, think of ingredient first. Review your weekly share and start assessing simple ways to use your produce. Better yet, if you do not want to use up all your loot, consider pickling or jarring - a great way to make your CSA last into the winter.
- Shop for the extras in advance. Buy the essentials like garlic, shallots, chili flakes, and lemons. Garlic and shallots are the ideal foundation for sautés, soups, stews, and sauces. Lemon zest and lemon juice add the perfect pop for finishing vegetables. An added bonus - lemon juice helps to maintain the brightness of cooked greens.
- Keep it simple. There is nothing wrong with a simple soup, salad, or vegetable-filled omelet or pasta. Throw a bunch of veggies in the oven to roast, then toss in a blender with some reduced sodium vegetable stock for a simple roasted vegetable soup. You are eating farm fresh, nutrient-dense foods at their peak! Their freshness will shine through; sometimes the more basic, the better!
Quick Fix 5
- Make a smoothie with greens and fruit
- Use large lettuce leaves or collard greens for a wrap
- Add dark leafy greens to a soup or sauce. Consider replacing meat with chickpeas or seasonal shell beans for a meatless main.
- Toss wilted spinach or kale into an omelet or frittata.
- Put it in a taco. Add seasonal cooked vegetables to a taco, top with hot sauce and avocado.
Tools to have on hand
- Blender // Immersion blender
- Julianne peeler
- Salad spinner
- Sheet pans + parchment paper
Wishing you a delicious CSA season!
all photo's except sweet potato by sophie mathewson