CSA Spectacular: Scapes, Salads, & Chevre

Achievement: #26. Join a CSA

Well, now that I’ve given you a bit of a primer on CSAs and an introduction to the CSA we have chosen as ours, it’s time to get into the good stuff: just what are we getting, and what are we making from our weekly farm share box?

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, we get a listing of what will be in the upcoming box a few days before it arrives. Since Penn’s Corner uses goods from multiple farms, we also get information about where each food item comes from. The early weeks are going to be full of greens until the warmer weather sets in, so here’s what Week #1 brought us:

CSA - First 2 Weeks
From Nu-Way Farm, (waaaaaay up north in Meadville) we got cilantro and green onions. From local Grow Pittsburgh, we got garlic scapes (more on those bad boys soon). From Crighton Farm, we got lettuce. Clarion River Organics provided additional lettuce, green kale, and a bag of turtle black beans (still haven’t found the right recipe for those beans yet, but soon!). And finally, we got our egg share from Heritage Farm and a delicious little cube of chevre from Riverview Dairy.

While the sheer amount of greens in there seems a little intimidating, it really forces you to eat outside the box of what may feel ‘normal’ for you and your family.

CSA - First 2 Weeks
For us, where we typically would have made some kind of starch (okay, by ‘some kind of starch’ I mean ‘tater tots’) to go along with our grilled steaks, we instead incorporated one of the lettuces (with my favorite Italian dressing from McKees Rocks’ own Primadonna restaurant). The other perfect side? Chevre served on the light and crispy brioche toasts from Trader Joe’s. (Full disclosure: I wish we could get this chevre every week! It was so creamy and crumbly!)

But in addition to adding fresh salads to every meal and fresh lettuce to every sandwich and hamburger, I’ve already had to stretch my imagination to make the most of my CSA. Until my box arrived on June 5th, I had no clue what a garlic scape was.

CSA - First 2 Weeks
Garlic scapes are the above-ground bits of garlic. They *do* taste like garlic, but obviously the preparation is a little different.

CSA - First 2 Weeks
For our scapes, I used one of the recipes recommended on the Penn’s Corner blog, Herbed Garlic Scape and Goat Cheese Fritatta. Step one was to chop up the scapes and saute them, which had the effect of making the whole house smell like something more serious than ‘egg pie’ was in the works.

CSA - First 2 Weeks
The recipe called for a half cup of scapes, but I was a little short, so I sliced up some of the green onions in our share and added those. I think the flavors balanced pretty well! Crumbled a bit of the goat cheese on top, baked it in the oven, and voila, a fancy-seeming but easy-to-make breakfast!

CSA - First 2 Weeks
I served ours with buttered Tuscan bread toast just to add a bit of carbs to the meal. I estimated the calorie count of the frittata to be about 280 calories for 1/4 of the pie. Not bad!

CSA - First 2 Weeks
The next mysterious beast in Week 1’s box was this large bunch of kale. I’ve had kale here and there at restaurants, but I didn’t know the first thing about how to prepare it!

Thankfully, there’s Pinterest and Epicurious, and between the two sites, I managed to piece together other recipes to come up with my own rendition of Kale Chips:

Fox’s Hearty Kale Chips
~ 1 bunch of kale
~ 3 tablespoons of olive oil
~ 2 tablespoons of minced garlic
~ Truffle salt

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Separate the kale from the stems. This means pull apart the leafy bits from the stick-like bits, and discard the stems. Tear the leafy bits up into small enough pieces that they resemble the size of a large-ish tortilla chip.
2) Put the torn-up bits of kale into a Ziploc bag. Note: You can do this in 2 parts, dividing all the ingredients evenly (which is what I did), or do it all at once. Whatever you feel more comfortable with!
3) Pour in the olive oil and garlic. Zip up the Ziploc tightly, and roll the kale around inside. You want the kale to be very saturated with the oil, so I found that it helps to have less air in the Ziploc, and really just massage the kale into the oil and garlic.

CSA - First 2 Weeks
4) Line a cookie sheet with foil and spread the kale out evenly across it.
5) Sprinkle the kale with truffle salt to taste. Here’s another note: you can be more generous with the truffle salt than you think. Truffle salt is REALLY stinky, but what I thought was ‘too much’ salt wound up being only very barely enough to taste after baking.
6) Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, depending on your desired finished texture. We like our kale chips a little meatier, so we baked until the edges were crispy, but the inside was still juicy. Some people like them crispier, so you can cook them longer. It’s up to you!

CSA - First 2 Weeks
Serve immediately, and whatever you don’t eat can be kept in the fridge for a few days. I estimate the calorie count on this to be around 90ish calories per serving (one bunch of kale makes about 4 hearty servings).

Finally, our first week’s CSA box brought to light one of the problems with a CSA and a small family: sometimes, you just can’t eat it all. There are two of us and one little red dog, and as much as we really focused on eating something from the CSA every day, it was hard work! So, on Sunday night, one of the best solutions to the ‘too much food’ problem arose: share it with your friends and family!

CSA - first 2 weeks
The perfect side to a Father’s Day steak dinner with my parents? A farm-fresh side salad! We left the remainder of that lettuce bunch with them so they could use it on their lunches. Don’t be afraid to share the wealth of your farm share with those you love! (Maybe someday I’ll share the incredible recipe for my mum’s Pittsburgh Potato Salad, pictured on this plate – but only if she’ll let me lol.)

Tomorrow, I’ll update you on Week 2’s CSA box, and then we’ll be all caught up and ready to dive into the weekly posts on Sunday. Feel free to share any recipes or suggestions from your own CSA experience in the comments or at our Facebook page!

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