It’s summer again, and you know what that means: the beginning of CSA season! (For those who don’t know what a CSA is, here’s a good start.) This is an annual project I do to show that busy people who aren’t professional cooks or even very good at food photography can nonetheless join a CSA and cook all the mountains of vegetables you get—or even just expand their produce repetoire, which can make healthy eating more fun. More fun even than eating not-healthy food. There are many ways to do this, but what makes enrolling in a CSA great is that since they pick your vegetables (and other things) for you, you’re forced to work with ingredients you hadn’t considered before. It keeps you from relying on the familiar, and therefore alleviates that “not that again!” problem. Even if you cook nothing but stir fry, having different veggies to work with each time makes it much more fresh and exciting. Also, learning how to use new ingredients—the internet helps—helps build confidence in your cooking skills, which can lead to more at-home cooking. CSAs are also an affordable way to invest in local farmers; even though it’s a big cost up front, if you break it out week to week, it’s cheaper than buying this stuff at the grocery store.
Because of all this, the usual “concern” trolls who object to my vegetarianism, my often pathetic excuse for photographic skills, and my utter rejection of frou-frou cooking will crop up, but I hope it’s clear that the point of this project is that you don’t have to be Anthony Bourdain to cook at home and enjoy it. Those people just want to intimidate amateurs from cooking, and they can stuff it.
Some of the stuff in my shipment was sort of alien to me this time, because I had a friend pick it up, so if I’m vague about what kind of greens I used, that’s why. But this week, I’ll be able to take a picture of the board listing what we get. This year, there’s some mildly exciting developments, as well, which I’ll touch on in future installments.
Also, check out my new toy, acquired just in time for this new CSA season, with all its needs-lots-of-dirt-removing produce in it. (It doesn’t have pesticides: That’s what you tell yourself while trying to get dirt out of food before you serve it.) I got it on sale somewhere and now know what I’m getting everyone as a gift for the next year. Not only can you wash and drain veggies with one dish, but since it has a nice handle, you can drain it over your plants if you happen to live somewhere where it quits raining long enough to water plants. (Lucky bastards.) Easy + water-saving. I’m in love.
Luckily, because the CSA shipment the first week was mostly greens, I had a ton of good new recipes, including this one for a kale-based quinoa salad that had cherry tomatoes and corn. I didn’t use pesto, but instead just fresh basil from the balcony garden, and didn’t use tofu, since the quinoa has plenty of protein.
Seared the green beans with herbs and a bit of lemon juice.
Made gingerbread muffins.
We left room to eat some strawberries from the CSA with pudding.
I still had a bunch of unidentified greens (a friend picked up for me while I was at Netroots Nation), so I decided to stir fry the greens with the garlic scapes from the shipment and some green onions. I used this as a general guide for what to throw in for a sauce. Added tofu and served over rice.
The shipment had lettuce, so I just added cherry tomatoes to make a salad to eat with the stir fry.
Made radish salsa with Bittman’s recipe. All I had left was the rhubarb, and I love rhubarb dal, so I went ahead and made that. It was sort of an odd combo, so I decided to go all the way with it and make burritos/wraps with dal topped with the salsa. I feel that Anthony Bourdain would shit a brick, but Bittman would probably approve of my no-nonsense and healthy approach.
There was also salad left over from the previous night, so we ate that.