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The CSA Coach: What to Do with Your Produce Bounty

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CSA share

A typical early summer share (photo courtesy of Mike Krautter)

I’m not a well-rounded cook. I prepare basic meals but when it comes to vegetables I can barely tell the difference between arugula and spinach.

This summer, I signed up for my neighborhood CSA (community-supported agriculture) program. Once a week, I pick up more vegetables than I can handle. I take them home, spread them out on the table, and then stress about how I’m going to use them.

Thankfully, I have all the resources I need here at Martha Stewart. When I started stressing about eating all of my veggies, I emailed our digital food editor Jenn Anderson for help. Jenn’s advice is helpful if you’re struggling with a bumper CSA crop, or if you just want to incorporate more vegetables into your meals. Below are a few of our recent email correspondences.

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Hey Jenn,

I’m overwhelmed by the volume of veggies from my CSA. Any ideas on how to incorporate vegetable into meals, other than the usual lunch and dinner sides? Help!

Ashley
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Hi Ashley,

First thing you want to do: go get a salad spinner now! Over the coming months you are going to be facing more heads of lettuce than you’ll know what to do with, and if you don’t have a salad spinner, I promise you you’re going to stop eating your lettuce.  And find a few new salad dressing recipes you really like, and make them in batches.

Also, once you’re tired of dinner salads, try breakfast salads! Use any kind of greens in this Frisee with Lardons and Poached Eggs recipe, and serve with toast.

Jenn

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Hey Jenn,

I picked up my latest CSA share yesterday, and I can’t even identify some of the vegetables. Kohlrabi looks like a medieval torture device, and don’t even get me started on deer tongue lettuce. Who decided to call it that?

What’s the easiest way to identify all of these? Is there a good resource where I can find recipes listed by vegetable so I’ll know how I’m supposed to prepare it?

Ashley

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Ashley,

I hear you. But part of the fun of joining a CSA is to force yourself outside of your produce comfort zone. This is an adventure! Along with the zucchini and tomatoes comes kohlrabi and garlic scapes and a seemingly endless parade of leafy greens.

For a recipe resource check out our  seasonal produce recipe guide where you can browse recipes by produce type and get inspiration for what’s in your CSA box. There’s  a fresh-from-the-garden image at the beginning of each gallery so you can identify it.

Sometimes you just want to throw dinner together without researching recipes, though, in which case I live by the rule, “When in doubt, roast it.” Roasting makes pretty much any vegetable taste good. Heat the oven to 450 degrees, toss your veg in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and stick it in the oven until it’s browned and tender. Then you can use it in a salad (with all those lettuces you still haven’t eaten) or toss it with the starch of your choice: pasta, rice, quinoa, couscous, farro, barley. And don’t forget the cheese: Parmesan, goat, blue, feta. Yum!

Or if it’s too hot to crank up the oven, shred everything and make a big ol’ bowl of kohlrabi-beet-radish-baby turnip slaw.

Jenn

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Interested in joining a CSA? Find one near you via LocalHarvest.

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