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Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Whole Week of Dinners with My First CSA Share

On Monday afternoon, I made sure my boys were excited about our first trip to Mud Creek Farm to pick up our CSA share. A while back, I wrote a post about community supported agriculture (CSA) and why I'm a fan. Now my boys are fans too.

We arrived early for our pick up, and went straight to the Pick Your Own Garden.

Each crop that was ready to be picked was marked with a flag and a sign. The boys took their job seriously: finding the flags in the field. Our first stop was a pink flag by the sugar snap peas. I showed the boys how to find the pea pods, then to pull and twist them off the stems. We filled a big Solo cup (this week's allotment) in just a few minutes.

Next we saw a yellow flag by the flowers. My four-year-old picked a white snapdragon, my two-year-old picked a pink snapdragon, they each picked out some flowers that look like giant mums, I picked a purple wildflower, and we added some maroon Queen Anne's Lace (or perhaps some strain of baby's breath?) to our bouquet. Pretty.

Our last stop was an orange flag at the other end of the field by the garlic chives. I'd never had - or heard of - garlic chives before, and I admit I was excited. I snipped a couple of handfuls, and then we made our way over to pick up this week's share. Holy greens, Batman! My canvas bags were overflowing with leafy goodness in no time.

The final tally: a ginormous bag of kale, more Swiss chard than I know what to do with, a head of Romaine lettuce, 2 1/2 pounds of spinach, some broccoli, garlic scapes, plus the snap peas and garlic chives. Now, what to do with it all? Well, we had my older son's birthday party this past weekend which left us with lots of extra food but not an entire meal's worth of anything. Our surplus included stale rosemary-olive oil bread which I turned into breadcrumbs, a few types of cheese, parsley, basil, celery, carrots, pasta salad, and potato salad.

As I added items to my bag, I kept thinking, "What in the world am I going to do with all this?" And around this time last year, I remember seeing some Facebook posts from friends asking for recipes for their CSA bounty. So, I know I'm not alone. I figured that some of you might be wondering what to do with your fridge full of new produce, so I'm sharing my week's menu.

A Whole Week of Dinners with My First CSA Share

  1. Quiche (recipe follows) and Tossed Salad, plus leftover Potato Salad
  2. Chik'n and Veggie al Forno with Jarlsberg cream sauce 
  3. Curried Lentils & Kale with Basmati Rice
  4. Ravioli & Roasted Red Pepper Sauce with Sauteed Kale, Spinach & Garlic Scapes
  5. Marinated Tofu with Stir Fried Bok Choi, Snap Peas, Carrots & Garlic Chives and Brown Rice
  6. Swiss Chard with Garbanzo Beans and Fresh Tomatoes over pasta
  7. Leftovers!

The quiche was delicious, if I do say so myself (I made up the recipe)! Try it yourself:

Swiss Chard Quiche

1 Tbsp. olive oil
4-5+ leaves Swiss chard, de-ribbed and roughly chopped
2 garlic scapes, chopped
1/4 c. white wine
1 c. sausage or vegetarian sausage, cooked to package instructions and crumbled
10 sun dried tomatoes, chopped
1 roasted red pepper (jarred is fine), chopped
5 eggs
1/2 c. milk
4 oz. shredded cheese (pepper jack is a good option)
1 tsp. salt-free seasoning
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 c. fresh bread crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 375. Coat a pie plate with cooking spray and set aside.

2. In a skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the chopped garlic scapes and heat 1 minute. Add the chard and wine. Toss to coat, then cover until chard is wilted. Allow to cool then squeeze out excess moisture using paper towels.

3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and milk. Add the cheese and four seasonings and mix well. Add the Swiss chard and garlic scapes, the cooked sausage, sun dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and mix well. Pour into prepared pie plate and top with bread crumbs. Bake 30-35 minutes.

I made up this recipe as well:

Chik'n and Veggie al Forno with Jarlsberg Cream Sauce

3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1/4 c. white wine
1 pkg. Quorn Chik'n Tenders (or real chicken)
2 garlic scapes, chopped
6 c.+ combined Swiss chard (de-ribbed) and spinach, chopped
1 Tbsp. whole wheat flour
1 c. milk or milk alternative
4 oz. Jarlsberg cheese, shredded
1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
1/4 to 1/2 c. fresh bread crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 350. Coat a casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.

2. In a skillet over medium heat, warm 1 Tbsp. oil and wine. Add the chik'n or chicken and cook until browned and liquid is absorbed. Remove chik'n to a dish and set aside.

3. In same skillet, warm 1 Tbsp. oil and add chopped garlic scapes; heat 1 minute. Add chard and spinach; toss then cover until greens are wilted.

4. In a small saucepan, heat remaining oil and add 1 Tbsp. flour. Whisk and cook 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk and continue whisking until sauce thickens. Add cheese and stir until melted. Turn off heat and add parsley and basil; mix well.

5. In a large bowl, combine chik'n, greens, leftover cooked veggies, and cream sauce. Pour into prepared casserole dish and top with bread crumbs. Bake 30 minutes.

Cooking with all these fresh-from-the-ground foods is exciting. Trying to pair them with other foods from our pantry and fridge is challenging, but it's sparked some culinary creativity - which is usually a good thing. Plus, my grocery bill this week was only $52 for some fruit, tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, bread, milk, eggs, string cheese, and juice. Not bad.

As always, thanks for reading and happy cooking! If you have a great farm-market or CSA-related recipe, please Post a Comment to share it.

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