You haven’t really eaten your vegetables until you’ve eaten them from a CSA!
By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau
You want more vegetables in your diet? Then, you gotta go for the entire experience. So, I joined a CSA (community supported agriculture). That way, I can speak intelligently about what a CSA is and what it can offer you. But now I’ve got to cook!
That’s a lot to ask of me, you know. I’m not a cook. I’m a great eater. A hearty eater, in fact. So, maybe my next step is to engage a personal chef.
But, first things first; the CSA.
I’ve purchased the 12-weeks spring season of vegetables. But being only one person (college student renting from me is erratic resident but good at eating my leftovers), I’m only getting half a share of vegetables.
A brown bag overflowing with veggies arrives every Friday morning. Attached to it are a weekly recipe and the Desert Roots Farm tag, the Queen Creek farm run by Kelly Saxer. They grow produce year around. So if I’m successful with my spring vegetables, I can purchase summer, fall and winter produce too.
A Fill Your Plate participant, Kelly takes her CSA seriously and is devoted to the business of farming. She seems to come by it all naturally and if you check out her story on her web you’ll learn how she got into farming, but I’ll leave that discovery to you.
Of course, I’m receiving vegetables I rarely purchase. This is stretching my culinary creativity but I like it. Actually, the entire process is stretching me. I have to build meals around leeks, Swiss chard, fennel, beets and more.
“Super Easy Fennel Spinach Pasta” anyone?! That was my first recipe attached to the first bag of vegetables I received. Fennel! It’s sort of like getting a bunch of white celery that tastes like licorice. Yum. Right?
Actually it was good! For the Fennel Spinach Pasta I caramelized the fennel and onions together in a sauce pan with some olive oil and garlic. By the time I added the white beans and bowtie pasta to the other ingredients I had a great pasta dish.
Into my third week, I’ve also sautéed beets with Olive Oil, garlic and parsley (easiest recipe so far) and made a Swiss Chard with Beets, Goat Cheese & Raisins dish
(the most complex). Family is chuckling and cheering me on. I’m laughing too because it’s so out of my comfort zone. But I love trying new things.
The recipes are great in helping use the vegetables and especially those I’m not as familiar with. The other fun experience is that I’m eating seasonal vegetables. Some suggest eating your food more seasonally is healthy for you; it certainly forces you to try different vegetables.
Of interest, all the recipes are exclusively vegetables and they’re main courses. So Kelly is either a vegetarian or I’m guessing she is wisely picking recipes to showcase her blend of vegetables since every recipe is using a minimum of 2 to 3 of her vegetables if not more. The latest recipe I made had no less than seven vegetables in it.
One new discovery: I love baked beets! Grandma Howard made beets a variety of ways including pickling fresh beets. But I can’t remember eating them baked prior to Kelly’s “Swiss Chard with Beets, Goat Cheese & Raisin” recipe.
So, if you can join a CSA, try one out. You’ll get to try vegetables you may not have ever even eaten before. You’ll get to eat your vegetables more seasonally and you’ll certainly be challenged to try new recipes.
Now, where’s that list of personal chefs I started a while back …
Special note: All of Kelly Saxer’s recipes that I’ve tried can be found in Fill Your Plate’s recipe tab. Search by main ingredient and you’ll find them.