It’s finally feeling like summer ’round here. Not only does that mean sunshine for this vitamin D deprived gal but that also means lots of warm-weather running. I know I’m in the minority, but I’m a big fan of summer running.
Aside from running and sunshine, summer also brings the opening of farmers markets and farm share — which means we get to eat all sorts of yummy, fresh-from-the-farm, food. Much of it is organic as well, the farmers having used things like natural herbicides or soil nutrients to give you the best and healthiest produce possible. It’s definitely worth checking them out. If you’re new to farmers markets or CSA (farm-shares), it can be quite confusing, a little intimidating, and perhaps a little flustering at times. When I first joined my local CSA I was excited but when I picked up my first bag from the truck, I got home and began scratching my head.
“What is that?” “How do I store this?” “I wonder how to cook this?” were all questions I had. It took a lot of digging and a bit of creativity, but I soon had a good handle on all the farm share had to offer. Today I’m going to give you a few tips to help you make the most of your summer farm share. After all, veggies shouldn’t be intimidating!
How to Make the Most of Your Summer Farm Share
1. Find Out What’s in Your Bag.
If you’re able to get a list of what will be available in your box or bag for the week, it’s a great place to start recipe research, meal planning, or even swapping with your friends and neighbors. If you can’t find out what’s in the bag beforehand, that’s okay. You’ll just have to rearrange the order of the tips below.
2. Research Recipes.
Once you know what you’ll be getting in your bag, you can begin recipe research. The internet is a glorious place when it comes to learning new culinary skills or combinations. A lot of farm shares and farmers markets will even have recipe cards at their tables, or can give you serving suggestions. When I was first getting used to things like celeriac root, fennel bulbs, and dragon tongue beans, I searched for all sorts of recipes. It really helped me use all the items from the bag and very little went to waste!
3. Meal Plan.
After you’ve researched some recipes, it’s time to meal plan. Meal planning will allow you to pair recipes together and will help cut down on wasted produce. One of our favorite pairings is grilled garlic scapes and veggie burgers! Had it not been for the CSA, I never would have known about garlic scapes.
In addition to creating delicious meals, meal planning will help with grocery shopping.
4. Shop for Extra Ingredients.
With your bag contents, recipes, and meal planning all done, you can easily shop for the extra ingredients you may need. If you know you’re getting Swiss chard, why not make a Swiss chard quiche? Just make sure you have an onion, some milk, cheese, and eggs on hand and it’s a simple, delicious recipe.
When to wait to grocery shop: Sometimes it’s better to wait until you receive your bag before you head to the grocery just in case something’s different than what you were planning. Waiting can be necessary when you don’t know what’s in your bag (see #1).
Having a game plan when you first start going to the farmers market will eliminate a lot of guesswork. It will help you figure out what to do with your caraflex cabbage, introduce you to new fruits and vegetables, and make your summer dining a lot more enjoyable.
Good luck and have fun!
TALK TO ME!
What’s one of the stranger produce items you’ve purchased at a farmers market?
Favorite fruit or vegetable?