Besides the obvious ways of enjoying your weekly Blandford Farm CSA produce eating it raw, saute it, baking it, etc. I have four tried and true methods to get just a bit more use out of the veggie share.
- Vegetable broth: I just started making my own vegetable broth this past winter and let me tell you it is so easy – I can’t believe people still buy veggie broth at the store! Save up your trimmings from onions, carrots, celery (the base of a good broth are these 3), plus just about anything else you can think of – potato peels, any veggies that may be just a bit past their prime, mushroom stems, etc. – place in a freezable container and freeze until you have enough for a batch (which for me was a couple of cups). This ended up making enough broth for me to use 1/2 and freeze 1/2. I generally start out sauteing the following fresh items – garlic, onion, celery & carrots (maybe 1 cup total) in olive oil until onion is translucent. Add approximately 6-8 cups of water and place on medium-high heat. Add whatever frozen veggies you will be using, add’l spices if you’d like I usually put in rosemary sprigs, thyme, basil, salt & pepper. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and let cook for an hour (or more). I recommend tasting the broth throughout the process. It will taste very watery in the beginning, but as the flavors cook and mingle you will really taste it coming together. After about an hour, you will know when the broth tastes good to you. Once cooking is complete, strain through a fine mesh strainer (cheese cloth, nut milk bag, or even a regular strainer lined with a few paper towels) to get all of the tiny bits of spices and vegetables out. Discard all of the veggies and spices. After cooling to room temperate. Place in freezable container in your freezer until ready to use. Vegetable broth is so versatile you can use it in soup, in place of water when making quinoa or rice to add another level of flavor. I mostly use mine in veggie and bean soup – yet another way to use up those veggies! Vegetable and bean soup – tremendously simple! So delicious and nutrient dense.
- Smoothies: To know me, is to know my love of a good smoothie! I have been perfecting my smoothie recipe for years. My family drinks a lot of smoothies – generally one a day. Especially with greens! Kale, spinach, swiss chard, arugula – anything really. We love ours with about 8 oz. of almond milk, 1/2 – 1 banana, 1 cup strawberries (or other berries or fruit), 1-2 cups of greens, 2 TBSP ground flax seed. If none of the ingredients are frozen, I add about 1 cup of ice cubes too. Blend and enjoy! This is my go to recipe, but you can really use any fruits and veggies that you think may be good. Sometimes I put in carrots or apples. It may take a bit getting used to the flavor, especially for kids, so you can always do a 50/50 fruit and veggie combo or even a 25/75 ratio. I love that smoothies allow me to ‘sneak’ veggies into my children’s diet. And it’s pretty much foolproof – you throw everything into a blender, blend & voila!! You can customize it to your family’s taste too – hate strawberries – use another berry or fruit. You can add yogurt or use juice instead of milk or non-dairy milk as well.
- Kale or Spinach Chips: A house divided – half of us like kale and chips and the other half do not. My youngest and I can eat kale chips all day long! And they are easy to prepare & super low calorie. No, they taste nothing like potato chips, but if you are craving something crunchy these really do satisfy. I have never tried spinach chips, but I would imagine the process would be the same. All you have to do to prepare kale chips wash and thoroughly dry the kale, rip the leaf away from the center rib and tear it up into bite size pieces. Keep doing this until you get enough for a single layer on a cookie sheet. Place into a bowl drizzle with just enough olive oil to coat the kale, add some salt and pepper (here is where you can get creative – add anything you think would taste good – cayenne, red pepper flakes, garlic salt, etc.). Massage the kale, oil, spice mixture. Lay in a single layer on a cookie sheet, bake at 300 degrees for 10 minutes, turn the cookie sheet 180 degrees, bake for another 15 minutes. Store in a airtight container. Here is a recipe with some really great guidelines (especially for first timers) – http://ohsheglows.com/2014/03/12/6-tips-for-flawless-kale-chips-all-dressed-kale-chips-recipe/
- Freeze It: I will freeze just about anything. Freezing is a great way to use up produce that you just can’t consume before it goes bad. Frozen fruits and veggies sometimes get a bad rep, but if you think about it, frozen in-season produce that came from a local farm, has better nutritional content than produce that has travel thousands of miles on a hot truck. A few of my favorite options include:
- Freezing greens into cubes to use in smoothies and soups later
- Freeze herbs in veggie broth, water or even olive oil to use later in soups or to use in sauteing
I hope you find these suggestions useful. Do you already do any of these things or have any other suggestions for getting just a bit more use out of your CSA produce? I’d love to hear about it – please share below.
About the author: Shanna Phillips has a degree in Sustainable Business from Aquinas College. She is a vegetarian who enjoys experimenting with new recipes. She enjoys hiking, gardening, traveling and spending time (preferably outdoors) with her family.