CSA Preseason Playbook #1 – Veggie Roshambo
The Pre-Season CSA Playbook
At a systems level view, CSA is an incredible, beautiful thing. You support our local, organic family farm. We support the health of your body and the planet. And we travel the season together.
However, when we switch lenses and look at CSA on the micro, everyday level, the view is a little different. That view? A fridge full of fresh produce that you may or may not know what to do with.
If you are the type of cook where mucho veggies excites you, and you have no issues cooking seasonally and using an adaptive approach to recipes, then good for you! You probably don’t need to read this newsletter.
But for those of you who are new to CSA, incorporating a CSA share into your everyday life really changes how you plan and cook each week. Don’t fret! You can do this!
This pre-season newsletter is just one of many ways that we will help you make the transition to a seasonal, veggie-dense style of cooking.
What follows in these next few pre-season newsletters, are tips for having a successful experience as a CSA member.
Consider us not just your farmers, but your cooking coaches as well!
CSA Playbook #1 – Veggie Roshambo (Raw, Freeze, or Cook)
One way to have a good experience with your CSA share, is to do some weekly meal planning. Take some time to sit down with a list of your ingredients (or if you are like me, spread them out on the kitchen table so you can visually and physically organize them) and make a plan for what you will do with them.
One great way to start this planning, is to split your veggies into 3 categories. In this Roshambo, you are choosing between: Raw, Freeze, or Cook.
Raw – Can you eat it raw? Carolyn Pope of Serious Eats, says this better than I ever could: If you’re anything like me, it can be a challenge not to overcomplicate everything from child-rearing to radish-eating. Still, it pays to keep it simple, especially if you’re anticipating a particularly busy week. Sometimes the best approach to using up your CSA haul is to sprinkle it with salt and start taking bites of it. You’ll know when it feels right. Don’t be shy.
Freeze – Again, Carolyn Pope has the gift of gab here: All fruits, all greens, tomatoes, beans, peppers, and even potatoes can be frozen raw for use later in the year, when you’ll be thrilled beyond belief to see them. Some people suggest blanching first to cut down on bacteria and cooking time after defrosting, but it’s optional. Spread out your produce on sturdy baking sheets and put in the freezer until frozen so it won’t stick together, then store in the freezer in airtight plastic bags or reusable containers.
Cook – After you’ve separated what you’ll eat raw and what you plan to freeze, you now know what veggies you’ll need to cook with for the week.
After the relatively quick Veggie Roshambo, you’ll now need to take some time to plan and search ideas for what you’ll cook. It will no doubt be one of the hardest parts of CSA cooking at first! One way is to come up with a specific meal plan for everything you put in your cook category. OR you could decide loosely which vegetables you’ll put together in a meal, and save the specific recipe searching for the night of. Either way, the idea is that success with CSA comes with a little time spent planning just how you’ll cook with what you have. We’ll devote many other playbooks and newsletters to this one, but for now some basic tips for recipe searching:
1) Use our recipe database. Over the years we have added just shy of 600 recipes to our website. These recipes are all seasonal in nature, meaning they aren’t going to call for vegetables that grow at completely different times of the year locally.
2) Look for recipes that utilize several vegetables. Life (and the week) is too short to only cook 1 vegetable at a time.
3) Internet searches are your friend. Not sure what to cook with chard, fennel, and zucchini? Type in the veggie names along with the word recipe and see. Over the years, I have discovered some awesome recipes this way!
We’ll be back next week with another play from the CSA playbook.
We look forward to feeding you!