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.
If there has ever been a vegetable or herb garden on the property where you live, chances are you have chives, popping up faithfully every spring in clumps of hollow grass-like shoots followed by purple buds and eventually fuzzy blooms.
One of several clumps of chives growing in my herb garden.
Don’t overlook these ubiquitous perennial herbs as a way to add some fresh onion-garlic flavour to just about any dish.
Need an example? Here’s three ways I used chives just last weekend.
Sauté mushroom in a little butter in a non-stick pan. Beat eggs with sour cream, 5 mL (1 tsp) or so per egg, salt, pepper and lots of chopped chives. Add egg mixture to pan. Cook over medium-low heat until eggs are nearly set, stirring gently at the beginning to speed things up. Add shredded havarti. When cheese is melted and eggs are set, flip one half of omelette over the other and serve.
Barbecue baked potatoes
Poke baking potato several times with a knife. Microwave on high for about 8 minutes, until soft, flipping once. Wrap in foil. Toss in the coals while you’re grilling your meat. Serve with sour cream and chopped chives.
Asian-style chicken thighs
To your favourite barbecue sauce (store-bought or homemade), add fish sauce, sriracha (rooster) hot sauce and a little sesame oil. Taste for heat and seasonings and adjust as necessary. Marinate bone-in skinless chicken thighs in sauce at least four hours. Grill or bake. Serve sprinkled with chopped chives.
When you trim chives, they will produce a second growth (and maybe even a third depending on the weather and your consumption) during the same season. Which means you can be picking and eating them in May (in an asparagus tart – recipe to come), August (along with lots of fresh dill for a new potato salad) and October (as a garnish for your roasted squash soup).
Spinach with pancetta, mushroom and egg ingredients.
While a green salad is on the menu almost every day of the week spring and summer, eating with the seasons makes it a rarity during the winter.
Sometimes, though, I just give in to the craving for fresh and green. Combine it with a few more robust ingredients and you’ve got a hearty main course that could really go by a name other than salad.
Spinach with pancetta, mushroom and egg
Original recipe. Serves 2.
6-8 handfuls of baby spinach
75 g (2-1/2 oz) pancetta, diced
10-12 crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 shallots, halved and thinly sliced
15 mL (1 tbsp) white wine vinegar
5 mL (1 tsp) Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
Heat 5 mL (1tbsp) of olive oil in non-stick pan at medium-high heat. Add pancetta. Sauté until crisp. Remove. Add mushrooms to pan. Cook until golden. Remove. Add shallots to pan. Cook until soft.
Add 37 mL (2-1/2 tbsp) olive oil to pan. Stir in white wine vinegar, Dijon, lots of pepper and salt to taste. Return pancetta and mushrooms to pan and heat through.
In large bowl, toss spinach with pancetta and mushroom mixture.
Meanwhile, in the same pan, covered, fry eggs until whites are set and yolks are runny.
To serve, divide spinach mixture between two plates. Top each with an egg.
Spinach with pancetta, mushroom and egg.