I’ve been using Instacart a lot this year. Don’t get me wrong–having groceries delivered while not feeling completely comfortable braving the grocery store with my baby (while this pandemic has me seeing germs everywhere…) has been an enormous blessing.
But I was feeling less and less connected to my food and more and more fed up with the accumulation of plastic bags around here.
I’ve been wanting to sign up for a CSA (community supported agriculture) program for a couple years now, so we decided to test the waters with a short 4-week early fall season with a local farm.
I had so much fun cooking with my first box of farm fresh vegetables, and in some ways it relieved the stress of planning what to make for dinner all week long. The framework for our meals had already been laid by the veggies we were receiving, so I just needed to fill in the gaps to turn them into complete meals. It was like a kitchen creativity puzzle!
Here’s what was in our box for week one:
- turnip greens
- spaghetti squash
- green bell peppers
- butternut squash
- mini sweet peppers
- tomatoes (not technically part of the box, but the farmer had some up for grabs at the pickup location)
I knew I needed a plan for how to use everything in my box if I didn’t want anything to go to waste. Here’s a little weekly diary of how I used it all:
Oliver went to pick up the box for us right after work on Tuesday evening. Our pickup location is a quarter mile down the road from us, so this was simple enough! I already had white chicken chili in the slow cooker for dinner, but I added some fresh cilantro on top and served it with homemade sourdough discard crackers and some of the mini sweet peppers.
I made a version of my Vegan Palak Paneer with a few tweaks. Instead of tofu, I made paneer. (I use this tutorial every time I want paneer. Making fresh cheese is actually pretty simple.) Rather than using spinach, I used the turnip greens from the box. I also substituted the canned tomatoes in my recipe with the fresh ones we received. I think this dish was even better than usual because of the farm fresh vegetables. So delicious!!
I made up a gumbo recipe as I went along, and it turned out really well, though I’m not entirely sure it could truly be considered a real gumbo. I used the green bell peppers and okra from the CSA box, and I added andouille sausage, canned crushed tomatoes, parsley, and a lot of spices. Plus maybe some other things… I just kept throwing more into the pot. I also used some of the cornmeal from the box to make cornbread for this meal.
I split the spaghetti squash from the box in half and roasted it, then filled it with black beans, cheddar cheese, salsa verde, pickled onions, and the remaining cilantro and (sauteed) sweet peppers. This meal was simple and a lot of fun!
The only remaining vegetable was the butternut squash, and I made my Curried Butternut Squash Soup and pulled some leftover sourdough focaccia from the freezer to serve with it.
I used some of the remaining cornmeal to make cornmeal pancakes for dinner, and I served it with fried eggs and fruit.
And there you have it! I was afraid I’d be overwhelmed with vegetables and wouldn’t be able to use everything in time, but at the end of the week all that was left was some of the cornmeal. I’m planning on using it to make more of the cornmeal pancakes for breakfast this weekend because they were so good!
I absolutely loved having fresh, local vegetables to cook with all week, and I look forward to all the meals that will come from my next box!