25 TRICKS WITH FRUITS AND VEGGIES
How to Use All the Veggies in Your CSA without Going Crazy: Part 1
If you're reading this site, you're probably a lot like me: determined to make Instagram-worthy meals from local, organic produce, despite having basically no cooking skills and even less money.
That's exactly why I signed up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share this summer. For an up-front cost of about 0, I'm getting a huge bag of local, organic vegetables every two weeks from now until the middle of November. That's a pretty incredible value.
The only catch: I'm getting a ton of vegetables, and I have no one to feed them to but myself and my veggie-averse boyfriend. With each delivery I feel a low-grade panic set in because my crisper drawer runneth over and I have no clue how I'm going to eat all of this before it turns into a pile of slimy green vegetable rot.
But I have resolved to use it all, partly because I want to be more conscious about exorbitant food waste, but mostly because I already paid for this stuff, dammit.
So how does a mediocre cook utilize a bounty of organic veggies and do it quickly? That's what I'll be figuring out (and documenting) all summer long. Here's what I learned as I ate my way through Bag Number One.
What I Got:
Swiss chard, parsley, red leaf lettuce, scallions, summer squash, zucchini, cucumber, garlic scapes, a head of Napa cabbage quite literally the size of my head, beets with the greens still attached, and an adorable squash shaped like a UFO.
How I Used It:
Bought a salad spinner
I've always opposed kitchen tools that have only one use. Strawberry hullers, avocado slicers, pepper corers—why bother when you already have a knife? But I am making a big fat exception for this salad spinner from IKEA. It makes cleaning lettuce 18 zillion times faster than anything else you've been doing, and it's absolutely necessary for CSA lettuce, which is so fresh that you may find a live bug crawling around in it, like I did.
A blender can do everything a food processor can!I naively thought to myself one Tuesday night.I will throw some greens, nuts, olive oil, and garlic into this blender, and I will make fresh pesto!Alas, I ended up with an inch of garlicky green juice on the bottom and a bunch of completely untouched leaves up top. I ate a box of mac and cheese for dinner that night. (If you do have a food processor, try this quick sweet pea and basil pesto…and then let me borrow your food processor?)
Guzzled beet green smoothies
Since they're slightly more sweet than bitter, beet greens make an excellent addition to your morning smoothie. Just know that blending greens with blueberries will yield a sad-looking drink that's roughly the color of a dirty puddle. Your boyfriend will call it "witch's brew" and ask how much eye of newt you threw in there.
Aced a frittata
There's no better dumping ground for excess veggies than a frittata (plus, it's a dish that's both fast and nearly impossible to eff up—the holy grail of weeknight dinners). I started with this no-recipe template from Nourished Kitchen and threw in chopped parsley, scallions, garlic scapes, and sautéed UFO squash. Serve it with a little side salad for double veggie awesomeness points.
A few days in, my boyfriend and I coined the endearing phrase "CSA Shit," a catchall term for the often misguided practice of chopping up a bunch of vegetables and throwing them in a bowl together, regardless of how the combination might taste. As in, "I'm making some CSA Shit for dinner tonight, and I won't feel bad if you want to opt out and order yourself a pizza."
Some dishes conceived under these auspices: quinoa with parsley, scallions, zucchini, and wilted chard.
A slaw of thinly sliced cabbage with tomatoes, corn, cucumber, scallions, red pepper, and a can of black beans, dressed in lime juice and avocado oil. Tastiest things I've ever made? Nope. But edible? You betcha.
The Final Word:
I did have to throw out a few severely wilted leaves of cabbage and chard, plus the hairy white bulbs at the end of the scallions (what the hell do you do with those?!). But overall, Bag Number One wasn't a total failure—and I single-handedly ate about 3 pounds of greens without turning into a rabbit. That's gotta count for something.
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