Every Thursday for the last 20 weeks (give or take) I’ve walked out of my office with a box full of straight-from-the-farm seasonal vegetables. For the first 10 weeks or so, every box was a special delight: I looked forward to the surprises I’d find in each one and meticulously planned my meals to ensure that no veg would go to waste.
Over time, though, the thrill of the box started to wear off. I got tired of spending my evenings in the kitchen trying to use every last leek. Some days were long and all I wanted to do was come home and inhale a bowl of popcorn, not stand over a pot of kale soup for an hour.
But it wasn’t just the sense of obligation I felt toward my CSA that eventually wore me down. Oh no, there were plenty of other issues that eventually got to me:
- Variety: I got a few vegetables so many times that I started cringing when I saw them in my share. Beets and basil every other week. Kale and lettuce in every single box. In the second-to-last week I got five kinds of greens. (Lettuce, kale, collards, bok choy, and cabbage.) What am I, a rabbit?
- High cost: I don’t normally buy organic produce (now you know my secret shame) and even if I did, I still think $20 for a box of lettuce and beets that I don’t want is too much.
- Free will: I eventually got pretty tired of planning my meals around what was in my share. Oh, you want roasted Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes for dinner this week? TOUGH, I didn’t get any in my box. Now shut up and eat this lettuce.
To be fair though, there was a silver lining: I discovered a whole slew of new (to me) veggies—and, by extension, new recipes—that I might never have tried before. And while I’ll likely never subscribe to a CSA again, I’ll most certainly make these recipes as often as I can:
12. Spicy Collard Greens
Admission: I didn’t have much experience with collards before my CSA. But now that I have this recipe, I want to make them all the time. (Vegetable-averse Sean agrees!)
Alterations: I never steam my collards for the full hour (30 minutes, tops) but I always (always!) sautée them until they are fairly crispy. Don’t skip that step!
11. Jamaican Callaloo with Shrimp
WTF is callaloo, you ask? It’s sort of like spinach, but when you use it in this recipe, it somehow comes out tasting like butter. I can’t explain it.
10. Asian Slaw with Ginger Peanut Dressing
I made this one night specifically so I could take it to work for the week, but I ended up “sampling” so much of it that I only had enough for two lunches. I couldn’t help myself. It’s dadgum delicious.
Alterations: This recipe makes A LOT of sauce, so depending on how dressed you like your greens, you could probably add more cabbage than it calls for. P.S. don’t pour the sauce on until you’re ready to serve. I poured it on all at once and had to eat a very wilty salad for the next two days.
ROOTS AND STALKS
9. Mushroom, Leek, and Fontina Frittata
This recipe is perfect if you love the flavor of onions *raises hand* and to be avoided if onions are your nemesis *raises Sean’s hand*.
Alterations: I used light sour cream and Egg Beaters for half the eggs to lighten it a smidge, and it still turned out amazing.
8. Beet Dip
Beets, man. They haunted me this season. I’d never eaten them before, I hated the first dish I made with them, I tolerated them roasted, and I enjoyed them boiled. But I kept thinking I was missing something…that there had to be a mind-blowing way to prepare beets. This was it!
Alterations: I used fresh beets (obviously) that I boiled for about two hours instead of canned.
7. Roasted Moroccan Carrots with Chickpeas
My friend Meghan recommended this recipe to me. I LOVE adding cinnamon to savory dishes, but if you’re not super into that Middle Eastern vibe, this might not be the best choice.
Alterations: I cut my carrots too fat and too long. You probably shouldn’t do that. Try to make them baby-sized.
FROM THE VINE
6. Kinda Sorta Sours
I am no lover of cucumbers, so the best way I could figure out to make them go down easier was by turning them into something I do like: pickles.
Alterations: I couldn’t find champagne vinegar in my grocery store, so I used white wine vinegar. Tasted just fine to me.
5. Potato and Bean Enchiladas
I’d never used tomatillos before I got them (once) in my share, so I wasn’t sure what to do with them. But it’s tough to go wrong with enchiladas, amirite? I’ve been making a similar version of red enchiladas for years, and Sean (my enchilada connoisseur) said he preferred this one.
SO MUCH SQUASH
4. Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili
I got SO MUCH squash this fall. Good lord. I like squash, but I eventually had to figure out a way to make them so I wouldn’t realize I was eating squash. This chili did the trick! I ate it hot, I ate it cold, I ate so much we barely had enough leftover for lunches.
3. Acorn Squash with Kale and Sausage
If there’s one dish that represents my CSA defeat, it’s this one. It tastes good, it’s relatively easy to make, and it used up all the squash and greens I kept getting very efficiently. I must’ve made it at least four times.
Alterations: I varied my sausage choice depending on what was most readily available, and I honestly preferred this with plain old original flavor (with a couple shakes of red pepper flakes added while the kale was cooking).
2. Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
I made this to go with my collards one night (most Texas use of vegetables ever, I know) and it was a delight. The addition of thyme made it taste a bit fancier, and the addition of tons of cheese made Sean forget he was eating squash.
1. Thai Red Curry with Butternut Squash and Chickpeas
This was—hands down—the best recipe I made. Period. It tasted exactly like red curry you get at a Thai restaurant. EXACTLY. I could eat it every single day.