Lots of choices this week! I arrived early for pick-up, and I was so glad I did — it meant that I had my choice of all the options Farmer Ted offered us this week. I skipped right past the turnips in favor of a beautiful bunch of radishes. I also opted for bok choy and swiss chard as my greens, rather than collards and kale.
I was happy to see that cucumbers were back on the board this week! I really missed them last week. Here’s what else we got:
Week 5 Haul
- Cucumbers — 2 long, 1 slicer
- Summer squash
- Garlic scapes
- Baby lettuce
- Bok choy
- Swiss chard
What Rolled Over?
An onion and a few scallions. Last week was a light week!
This week: 0
Season to date: 0
Now I’m getting nervous. Of course, by writing that, the tomato deluge is assuredly right around the bend.
What I Made (Italics represent CSA vegetables used)
- Steak salad with baby lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and mushrooms
- Sliders, potato hash with scallions, onions, garlic scapes and shishito peppers, caprese salad with lemon basil
- Vietnamese steak with jasmine rice and a radish and cucumber salad
- Chicken stir fry with bok choy, radishes with their greens, garlic scapes, and scallions loosely based on this New York Times recipe for sweet and sour stir fried radishes
- Chicken sausage with summer squash and onion sauté, swiss chard with garlic scapes and lemon, French bread for mopping
Technique of the Week: Be a Pick-up Artist
Back when we started this journey together with an overview of what, exactly, a CSA entailed, I mentioned that members in buffet-style CSAs are expected to bring their own bags to gather their produce. Most people stockpile plastic grocery or produce bags for this purpose, or use a large nylon or canvas bag to carry their week’s share.
Over the past few years of CSA membership, I’ve experimented with different bags for pick-ups, and I have some tips to share that make life with a CSA so much easier.
The first is that I opt, when possible, to use produce bags rather than plastic grocery bags. The difference sounds negligible on paper, but in reality using produce bags means that I can easily see what’s in each bag once it’s stashed in the fridge, and that the items themselves fit better — produce bags are longer and narrower than plastic shopping bags.
I’ve also taken to using a sturdy canvas tote — in my case, an LL Bean Boat and Tote (I’m from New England, you see) — or a brown paper grocery bag with handles like the ones you get at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods for stashing the vegetables once they’re in their produce bags. The structure of those two different types of bags makes getting my haul home un-bruised and un-smooshed so much easier. I found that the nylon bags that so many people go for when it comes to CSA pick-up day were just too unstructured and resulted in a lot of smashed tomatoes.
One last tip for managing pick-up: I like to bag items by type when possible, which helps to cut back on the number of plastic baggies I’m using up each week. So greens are bagged together, squashes and cucumbers together, onions and scallions together, and so on. That also helps to maximize your refrigerator space, which can get pretty jammed up come pick-up day!
Standout Meal of the Week: Lemon Basil Caprese
A recent trip to Arthur Avenue, which is the Little Italy of the Bronx, netted a huge — and I mean HUGE — ball of smoked mozzarella, in addition to some fancy pastas that I bought with CSA season in mind. Even though we haven’t started getting tomatoes from Farmer Ted just yet, the potted basil we got in Week 2 has thrived to the point that it was practically demanding to be made into a caprese salad.
There’s not much to a caprese, really. It’s mostly in the arrangement of the sliced mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. For this version, I used the smoked mozzarella and quickly marinated the sliced tomatoes in a tablespoon of red wine vinegar, salt and black pepper for a little extra kick, while I sliced the cheese and washed the basil. After everything was arranged, I poured the vinegar over the whole salad and gave it a hit of kosher salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper. I mean, look at this thing. Delizioso!
Join me here each week, as well as on Twitter and Instagram, as I wash, chop, cook and eat my way through my CSA using the hashtag #CSASurvival. Got questions for me? Ask away!
READ MORE: CSA Survival Guide, Week 4: A Recipe for Better-Than-The-Bag Caesar Salad