Farmers strive to provide a wide variety for their customers. But this year, the spring downpours mean that’s a tall order in June. Even for a CSA sourcing from many farms. There are always repeats from week to week, but this week’s CSA box looks a lot like last week’s.
Some varieties of fruits and vegetables are different. There are a few other types of leafy greens, fresh herbs and alliums. But the real differences come down to two ingredients. I received fresh strawberries and fava beans instead of storage apples and fennel. Does that mean I’m eating the same meals as last week? Of course not!
The Big Dinner Salad
To immediately contradict myself, yes, Thursday night’s dinner is salad again. But that’s on purpose and it’s a completely different salad than last week. Salads are best enjoyed with the freshest ingredients. This first dinner just makes sense.
A few points about this salad:
By “big,” I’m not referring to the size of the salad so much as the number and variety of ingredients. No matter how large, a salad of lettuces cannot serve as dinner. Not only are savory tastes provided by the fava beans, cheese, soy sauce, and crackers, but the salad has more protein than you might imagine. Fava beans have 13 grams of protein per cup. Then there’s the cheese and assortment of vegetables (yes, vegetables have protein!). In total, my dinner salad has about 20 grams of protein per serving. Think that’s not enough? I disagree. Read my post on the protein craze.
I almost never boil anything, let alone vegetables. But if it’s good enough for Deborah, then I’m willing to try it. I learned the light flavor of the boiled asparagus and garlic scapes was perfect for this salad. The scapes were also more tender than when roasting which many people would prefer. A great reminder—there’s no one right or perfect way to cook anything. Sometimes “something different” is actually the best choice.
Leftover salads make easy lunches. The key is to wait to dress the salad greens or other delicate ingredients until right before eating. So although I tossed all the vegetables with the vinaigrette the night before, I stored the salad greens and sprouts in a separate container from the other vegetables. Add some crackers and cherries and enjoy this gorgeous lunch:
No More Foliage, Please
When my mother-in-law used to visit us, I’d always buy bags of washed greens at the market to cook up for fast meals. Farmers market convenience food, I like to call it. She usually looked skeptical and accused me of eating weeds. It’s true. A few market foods do amount to little more than “weeds”—dandelion greens, purslane, and nettles. But I was serving the kale, chard and arugula variety of greens. In any case, all this roughage may prove too much for you at times. And that’s when it’s nice to turn to smoothies. I didn’t have a blender at the time so this wasn’t an option. Even so I’m not sure she feels any better about green smoothies. (I got the same skeptical look about the ones from the Palm Springs farmers market, which was my favorite place to go when we visited her. Also, I highly recommend the date smoothies. Local dates—definitely worth getting excited about.)
I gave up using recipes for smoothies about five minutes after getting my blender. Many recipes call for things I don’t have and almost never buy, like grapes or tropical fruits. I’ve found it helpful to use a fruit or vegetable that produces a lot of juice—apples, pears, or cucumbers. I also add at least one sweet ingredient—again, apples and pears, or bananas or dates, or even chocolate. This way I only need a little extra liquid and can leave out the added sweeteners. But even these aren’t hard rules. And you don’t need them. If something isn’t right (too thick, not sweet enough), add more of this or that and keep pureeing.
Because who doesn’t love tacos? Since learning how to make tortillas a few years ago (and buying a tortilla press), tacos have become a staple meal. Yes, you can buy tortillas too. But homemade ones are seriously delicious. If you keep masa harina in your fridge, you can have them any time.
Taco toppings and fillings work a lot like salad. Look at what you have and offer anything that’s good raw or is otherwise simple to prepare. Like dinner salad, make sure to include a protein in the filling. In this case, quinoa, which has 8 grams of protein per cup cooked.
What Comes After Tacos?
No, not leftover tacos. (Although they do make a good lunch the next day.) But if you can keep from eating them all, then you are well set for another easy meal: enchiladas.
Another dish well worth improvising. It’s a basic formula: wheat or corn tortillas + filling + sauce. Cheese is optional. I don’t always offer a sauce with tacos but it’s a must with enchiladas. With everything already made from previous meals, this was an assembly job.
Continuing with last week’s promise to give you lots of ideas for using greens, here’s a couple more:
The variety of vegetables throughout the summer makes seasonal eating worthwhile. Still, it’s the summer fruits that most people (including me) get excited about. June in the Pacific Northwest means strawberry season. While those California strawberries are tempting in April, any true Seattleite waits until June to indulge. (Nothing against those oversized intruders. As a brief Southern California dweller long ago, I can attest to the deliciousness of California strawberries consumed while in California.) Freezing summer berries is always a good idea, but it’s hard to keep from eating them all now.
The Hot Days of … June?
Even in temperate Seattle, we get some uncomfortable heat that makes indoor cooking a chore. I rely on my toaster oven year-round but in summer it’s essential.
Even with minimal-effort cooking, a few no-cook meals are crucial.
The End of The Week
With all this cooking, I didn’t have much left from my CSA box after a week. Garlic was all that remained.
Fridge, Pantry and Freezer Staples
Even in summer, I rely heavily on kitchen staples for easy cooking. I’ve talked about what to keep on hand before. Here are a few more specialized items beyond last week’s list of staples. I store most of these things in the freezer:
- quinoa (store in the fridge)
- ginger root
- turmeric root (or store powdered in the pantry)
- whey (from draining yogurt or from attempts at making ricotta)
- homemade stocks
- herbs and herb purees
- bread cubes and crumbs
- citrus peels
- cooked turkey meat (yes, from Thanksgiving)
- sausages (like bratwurst)
- nut butters (store in the fridge)
- cooked rice
- crackers (store in the pantry)
I don’t necessarily have all these things all the time. The list includes ideas for the types of foods to keep around for effortless cooking (and no grocery shopping).
EATING MORE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES (AND LEAFY GREENS!) IS EASY. START BY CREATING A FREE ACCOUNT NOW.
If you’d like more information about any of these June CSA meals, leave me a comment.
Read more about my “Week in Review” posts.