Monday, July 13, 2009

Adventures in CSA: Week Four, Part II + Week Five, Part I (and a surprise revisitation of Week Three?)

CSA: Week 5
(photo by Dan)

Due to my attendance at an awesome birthday party (thanks, Mike and Anna!) on Saturday night, Weeks Four (the conclusion) and Five (the beginning) have blended together. Lines between vegetables blurred! The posts have also, therefore, merged into one.

To refresh your memory, here is a list of the contents of week four's CSA vegetable share:
  • 1 lb kale (CHALLENGE VEGETABLE!)
  • 1 head lettuce
  • 1 bunch broccoli
  • 2 oz mint
  • 4 beets
  • 4 spring onions
  • 4 oz sugar snap peas
The first three dishes made from these ingredients are listed in Part I of this post. To make things more complicated, on Thursday evening, a random bag of chard appeared in the bottom of our refrigerator. It must have been left over from week three's CSA share, though I could have sworn I cleared all of those vegetables out (by consuming them) before picking up this week's allotment.

At that point, I'd used up the kale, broccoli, mint, snap peas, and half of the spring onions from week four. Beets, lettuce and two spring onions (plus the mystery chard) still remained, when week 5 brought me:
  • 1 lb Swiss Chard
  • 1 Napa Cabbage
  • I head of Lettuce
  • 4 onions
  • 4 cucumbers
  • 4 squash (2 yellow, 2 green)
So what has been prepared and eaten since last Wednesday?

Biggie salad

4. Lettuce and Spring Onion Salad. Last week's lettuce was tender and light. I hoped a dinner using it could be quick and simple, but filling and delicious. This salad may not have been the most exciting, but it certainly succeeded.

Salad Close-up

Salad Schematics
  • Contained: Lettuce, one sliced spring onion, walnuts, feta cheese, and "toast cubes" (they were not quite crispy enough to be croutons).
  • Dressed with: Fresh-squeezed lemon juice and salt.

Beet bites

(photo by Dan. Creation by Dan.)

5. Slammin' Beet Tuffetts (named by Dan). Who thought beets could ever amuse one's bouche? Dan's imagination ran wild, I guess, and he created these small towers of fresh mozzarella, beet, and spring onion. The beets were quite mild, the cheese creamy, and the onion had a gentle bite. I was a little cranky after a day struggling with my sewing machine, a piece of elastic, and a pile of purple sparkly tulle, but I still managed to eat and appreciate the flavor of a bite-sized beet stack.


6. Pasta Primavera of Spring Onion, Rainbow Chard, and Squash. So many vegetables? So hungry? Pasta's fast and adaptable. We had an attractive curly-edged pasta on the pantry shelves with some place to go, but not at all dressed up. I had the idea to toss together spring vegetables (hence, the primavera designation) from the share, including our Mystery Chard, cook them, and eat them over the pretty pasta.

I tend to be wary of pasta primavera because sometimes it turns out dry (give me a tomato sauce any day over vegetable-topped pasta), but this method kept things moist:

I started out by sauteeing garlic and sliced spring onions (2 of the 5) in olive oil. After a few minutes I added chopped chard stems.

Then, while bringing a pot of water to a boil for pasta, I added sliced squash, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.

I let this cook a few minutes on medium heat while I threw my dried pasta into the now-boiling water and consulted Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything (or, as I call it, "How To Cook Everything Except Stroganoff") for primavera tips.

Adapting his instructions just a bit, I tipped a pinch of dried thyme into my pot of veg., turned the heat up to high, and added 1/2 cup of chicken stock. This I heated until the stock was absorbed/evaporated. Then I turned the heat down to medium, threw in 1 T. butter and 1 T. olive oil, let the butter melt, and then added another 1/2 cup of chicken stock and the chopped chard leaves. They wilted nicely, and the vegetables were now very tender.

Luckily, by this time, the pasta was al dente. I drained it and added it to the vegetables and stock, tossing everything together and adding a veritable blizzard of parmesan cheese. The whole shebang was aromatic and flavorful. I'll be preparing pasta and vegetables this way again.

7. Beets and More Salad (not pictured). To accompany the pasta, Dan whipped up a salad of (non-CSA) cucumber, sour cream and jalapeno pretzel bites, CSA lettuce, more of the fresh mozarrella cheese, and the remainder of the beets. Moss and Rachel contributed some beautiful radishes. I was so busy eating the pasta I forgot to have any salad (or take any pictures), but everyone else seemed to enjoy it.


There is still a lot from week 5 waiting to be put to edible use (chard, cabbage, 3 spring onions, cucumbers), and I bought a few additional items from the farm this week (whole chicken, fresh honey), so you'll hear from me again when this week's produce has been spoken for.

Now back to our regularly scheduled snacking!


Lawnwrangler said...

I really appreciate your "Adventures in CSA" stories. There is one down here that I've been looking into but I'm not fully ready to commit. Your commentary is giving me a virtual test run!!! Thanks pal!

Jennette said...

At your service!

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