Tell us about any new veggies you tried in 2016.
I had never seen a garlic scape before, so when I brought it home in my CSA I assumed it was a variety of scallion. I chopped it raw into my salad for lunch at work. Good thing I didn't have an important client meeting or I would have knocked them over with my garlic breath!
What was your favorite fruit, veggie, and/or herb from CSA this year?
The CSA helped me to try so many new and delicious foods I had never eaten before (i.e. ground cherries, watermelon radishes, the infamous garlic scapes, holy basil, and the often-sold-out "spicy salad mix"), but my absolute favorite was the tomatoes. Fresh, in-season tomatoes are so much crisper, juicier, and flavorful than the candy-red flavorless lumps for sale at Giant, and Liz often put out seconds for the taking. I used them in everything: my dad's famous spaghetti sauce (which takes multiple days to stew), tomato herb bread (a recipe from Kuhn Orchards that I laced with homemade pesto), caprese salads with thick-cut mozzarella, and on toasted country bread with avocado and soft scrambled eggs on a weekend morning with my roommate.
What tips do you have for folks who might be trying a CSA for the first time?
Make stock! When you're cooking for just one orΩ two, all that fresh produce can seem like a lot. I hate letting any of it go to waste, even the onion peels, carrot tops, or kale stems, so I throw all the cast-offs and wilty bits in a gallon ziploc bag in my freezer. Every two weeks I would accumulate enough to whip up a batch of vegetable stock, as described in this Food52 article. I'd use it in rice or other grains, risotto, savory oatmeals, soups, etc. It made everything taste better and it was unique every time. Pesto is another great way to use up leftover greens - instead of basil, substitute kale stems, carrot tops, beet leaves, or any other wilting greens.
And don't go to the supermarket until after you pick up your CSA each week - that way you can purchase items that will complement your share, like nuts to roast with your winter squash, or cheese to sprinkle on your salads, or curry spice to cook with your eggplants.
Finally, help out Liz at the weekly farmer's market! It's fun to introduce new veggies to shoppers and watch them eat a ground cherry for the first time. It's also a nice opportunity to meet some of the local chefs who source their produce from Owl's Nest.
What's your favorite CSA recipe?
Pesto: Toast a handful pine nuts or walnuts on a dry pan over medium heat until fragrant, watching that they don't burn. Transfer them to a food processor with two cloves of garlic and your choice of greens (basil, kale, beet leaves, etc.). Process until the greens are fully broken down. Add a pinch of salt and slowly add some glugs of olive oil, processing in between each addition of olive oil until the consistency begins to look like a thick paste. Add a handful of a hard cheese, like parmesan, and process until incorporated. Squeeze a lemon slice and taste, adding more lemon, salt, or cheese to as desired. Can be frozen if you make a big batch, to be used for a quick weeknight pasta dinner or baked into the swirl of an herbed savory bread.