Incorporating the Monday CSA pick-up into our routine has required a willingness to be more flexible with meal planning.
For years, I have planned Thursday and shopped Friday for the week. But, with the majority of our produce arriving Monday (and being able to only make an educated guess at what our box will contain), a rigid meal plan has gone out the window. Instead, I am keeping our pantry and refrigerator stocked with ingredients that I can combine with vegetables and herbs from the garden to create fresh and flavourful meals.
Since most weeks, I also buy a dozen of the most beautiful (inside and out) free-range eggs from the CSA, frittatas have become a regular weeknight dinner.
Here’s my method:
In a cast iron pan at medium-high heat, sauté sliced or diced onions in a little oil.
Add whatever vegetables are available (chopped new potatoes, sliced zucchinis, broccoli florets, asparagus spears, halved cherry tomatoes).
While vegetables are cooking, whisk together four large eggs.
Add salt, pepper and a flavour booster or two – chopped spinach, diced roasted red peppers, a couple spoonfuls of pesto or herbs such as parsley, chives or basil.
Turn heat down, arrange vegetables evenly in pan and add egg mixture.
When frittata starts to firm around edges, top with grated or crumbled cheese (old cheddar, feta, Parmesan, etc.).
Bake in 350 Fahrenheit oven until top is set.
Let cool slightly before slicing.
Serve with a side of CSA vegetables, such as salad greens, steamed green beans, sliced tomatoes or kale chips.
Last week, I started with young red onions and new red potatoes (which I par-cooked in the microwave) from the CSA, added roasted red peppers from a jar in the fridge and topped with crumbled feta.
Pickling cucumbers are flowering and fruiting.
For more than a decade, early July has meant a road trip for David and I.
An annual vacation requires a little strategic thinking when it comes to the edible garden. First, you need to find a neighbour, friend, housesitting service or local kid with an entrepreneurial spirit to do some watering.
Second, you want to plan your plantings so that you don’t miss the harvest.
For example, the garden at our old house included a sizable (and naturally, aggressively expanding) strawberry patch planted by the previous homeowners. Strawberry season in that part of Ontario usually lands in early July – which meant most of our crops were consumed by the birds. The friend who often watered our garden (and was instructed to please please pick and eat whatever was ready) during our absence was allergic to strawberries. At our current house, I planted blueberries and raspberries.
Third, you want to do some pre-holiday prep.
Freshly picked lettuce greens, ready for salad, sandwiches or even soup.
In the week leading up to this year’s vacation, we ate lettuce – in salads, sandwiches and even a fantastic soup (recipe to come, I promise) – nightly. The night we left, I picked, chopped and bagged for the freezer any suitable Swiss chard as well as the small amount of pak choi I was able to rescue from the beetles. I will use both is soups this winter.
I also weeded diligently, trimmed the last of the scapes from my garlic and ensured the tomatoes were supported by their spirals.
I am always amazed by the results of two weeks of summer sunshine on my garden. I came home (more than two weeks ago now) to tomato plants doubled in size and weighted down by (mostly still green) fruit, replenished Swiss chard and lettuce greens and jalapenos, beans and zucchini ready to pick and eat.
The start of the cherry tomato harvest.