Welcome to Week 1 of the CSA! These Cook the Box posts are written to give you a few more ideas on what to do with your shares as well as a little insight into what is happening on the farm each week. I do my best to keep the ideas quick and simple, because if I’m being honest, there’s not a lot of time to be spent in the kitchen during the summer months for me and I know it’s similar for many of you.
For those of you that are new to the CSA program, welcome! It’s the 12th year of our CSA program, but 53rd year of farming. I always like to start Week 1 off by sharing a little insight into what it takes to make the CSA program work. In short, a very dedicated team makes this program function almost seamlessly and we are extremely grateful for all the hands that make this program work. From the field workers that harvest the crops, to our packing crews that ensure each box is packed correctly, the drivers that get the shares to where they need to be, and the behind-the-scenes people who make sure the emails are written, logistics are set, and inquiries are answered, it’s an incredible team that puts this program together.
CSA Tuesdays begin at 2am when our first crew arrives to get our packing shed set up. By 3am, we typically have a team of about 20 employees assembled and ready to pack all of the Family and Mini Shares for the week. We are extremely fortunate to have most of our employees return year after year, so most of our CSA packers are experts by now. It’s our goal each week to have our delivery trucks loaded and ready to depart the farm by 7am so the shares can get you to all on time.
As soon as shares are shipped out on Tuesday, the planning for the following week begins. What will be ready to harvest? How much of certain crops to we have available? When will the harvesting need to take place? Will the items fit in the box? It’s always the goal by Friday at noon to have the following week figured out so that the Sneak Peek email can be put together and harvest schedules can be planned for the days to come. As you can see, many moving pieces, but it all comes together in the boxes you receive every Tuesday.
Now, let’s dive into what’s in the box this week and a few ideas on what to do with it:
Asparagus: Grilled and served alongside salmon is a great way to enjoy the last batch of local asparagus for the year. I like to toss it in a bit of olive oil and place it in a grill basket. Personally, I don’t like it too soft, so I cook it for about 10 minutes max. If grilling isn’t your thing, try this Spring Weeknight Pasta recipe. It’s a great way to incorporate asparagus and radishes. Add some shredded chicken and you have dinner and probably even some leftovers to enjoy this week.
Cucumbers: The perfect addition to any lunch or afternoon snack. The best thing about these cucumbers is that the skin is fairly soft, so no peeling necessary if you are short on time. Sliced cucumbers and hummus make a great afternoon snack or even side dish to dinner.
Zucchini: I’m a huge fan of zucchini noodles, but only in the summer. If you don’t have a spiralizer, I highly suggest grabbing one and giving these noodles a try. My favorite way to enjoy the noodles would be sauteed with a bit of olive oil and garlic and then topped with shrimp, fish, or sometimes chicken depending on my mood. I’ll even roast some grape tomatoes when they are in season and add those for another pop of flavor. Quick and easy, but a delicious dinner option. If spaghetti is a staple in your house, try subbing the zucchini noodles for regular noodles and see what you think!
Radishes: A raw radish is fine every once in a while for me, but I prefer to roast them if I’m being honest. My goal is to roast the radishes and serve over the sauteed radish greens one night this week. If radishes aren’t your favorite vegetable and you struggle to get through them, give this Ricotta and Radish recipe a try. I like to shred the radishes into the ricotta and serve on some crackers or toast.
Strawberries: It’s officially Minnesota berry season! These berry are ripe and soft, so enjoy them as soon as you can. Please do not keep them in their containers overnight. It’s best to lay them flat on a baking sheet or plate if you can’t get to cutting them up today. Strawberries are extremely easy to freeze if you can’t get to them all right away. I like to wash, cut, place on a parchment lined baking sheet and toss them in the freezer for a day before putting them in a freezer bag or container. Remember, this heat and humidity to hard on the berries, but it doesn’t take away the fabulous flavor. Enjoy them while you can!
Maple Syrup: A special treat for those Saturday morning pancakes or even drizzled on top of some oatmeal. We always do our best to get this to you in our first and last shares of the season, so be on the lookout for more at the end of season. You can always find this at our Garden Centers and Vegetable Stands as well.
You’ll find 5 different herb plants in todays share: Basil, Chives, Cilantro, Mint, and Thyme. Plant them and enjoy fresh-cut herbs all summer long, or keep them in their little pots for a couple of weeks and enjoy just a cutting or two.
There you have it, week #1. I hope you all have some fun in the kitchen this week and enjoy the content from your share this week. Remember, if you ever come across a fantastic recipe that uses something in your share, feel free to share it with us. Have a great week!