Last week, one of my friends was kind of enough to give me her CSA box for the week since she was out-of-town. I’ve always been interested in CSA’s and have been considering joining one, so this was the perfect opportunity to try it out.
If you’re not familiar with CSA’s, CSA stands for “community supported agriculture”. Here’s how it works: a local farmer offers a number of “shares” for purchase by the public. By purchasing a “share”, customers receive a box of locally grown produce (and/or sometimes other farm products) each week during the growing season. It’s a fabulous was to get high-quality, local produce and support your community at the same time. If you’re interested in learning more or finding CSA opportunities (and other local food options) near you, I recommend checking out Local Harvest .
The downside to the CSA is that you usually don’t get to pick what you get – it’s all about what’s in season and what the farmer has that week. Which means you could get a lovely box full of variety or end up with a giant box of mostly greens. Now I love kale about as much as the next person, but a box full of it every week? I wasn’t so sure.
The week I got my friend’s CSA box was the first week of the growing season, so my expectations were pretty low. I was pleasantly surprised to receive the following:
- A pint of strawberries
- 2 heads of broccoli
- 1 head of cauliflower
- A pint of green beans
- 1 head of bok choy
- 2 bunches of turnips with the greens
- 1 bunch of green onions
- 2 giant (and I mean GIANT) bunches of kale
Some of the stuff we ate straight up (e.g. strawberries, broccoli, raw turnips) and some of it we included in recipes. The bok choy and turnip greens were new to me so I spent a little time online looking up what to do with them. In the end, here’s how we enjoyed our goodies:
- Veggie Stir Fry: For this, I used the entire head of bok choy (including the leafy greens), broccoli, beans and green onions. I also threw in some carrots I had for a little color and whipped up a garlic/soy sauce. It was so delicious that I had two giant helpings. I will definitely be adding bok choy into my stir fry from now on.
- Kale Salad: My favorite kale salad recipe is Dr. Andrew Weil’s Tuscan Kale Salad. The recipe calls Italian black kale, but for I’ll make it with whatever kind I have. I also usually forgo the bread crumbs to save time or I’ll use store-bought instead of homemade. It is absolutely the yummiest way to enjoy raw kale! We had this salad nearly everyday for a week with the amount of kale we got in the CSA box.
- Oven-Roasted Cauliflower: We made an Emeril Lagasse recipe that was quite tasty and served it with steak and kale salad.
- Spicy Skillet Turnip Greens: I’d never cooked turnip greens before and didn’t really want to spend 5 hours on them, so I went searching for a quick and easy turnip green recipe. This spicy skillet turnip greens recipe from Add a Pinch was perfect – easy and super flavorful.
In the end, we ate everything from the CSA box before it went bad with the exception of a few green onions. Everything was incredibly delicious and really made us realize what good produce should taste like. That said, it wasn’t necessarily what we would have picked out for ourselves if we’d had the option. The cost is also a little bit of a factor for us ($45/week), and we feel like we could get a better selection of local produce we want for less. In the end, we decided to forgo signing up for the CSA ourselves (at least for this year) and make an effort to buy more produce from local farmer’s markets and farm stands. If anything, it reignited our interest in local food and made us appreciate just how good it really is.