I am so grateful for all of the local farmers this time of year with awesome produce, meats and products. It is the only time I think to go. However, there are other opportunities for city dwellers to get farm fresh produce that always escape my timing—Community Supported Agriculture.
CSA is an opportunity for customers to support local farms by buying shares of the farmers’ crops, helping to offset the cost and risk of farming. In exchange customers receive a weekly share of what is harvested. Customers receive seasonal produce that ranges from root vegetables to tender herbs and aromatics.
Now what to do with all of that wonderful produce. It can be a little overwhelming, and you don’t want anything to go to waste. I recently received a post on my SCHOP! Facebook page from a Harlemite who picked up his local CSA share and was looking for some ideas and recipes for his loot (bibb and romaine lettuces, broccoli, kale, squash, basil, scallions and a handful of garlic scapes).
Here is part of my response and my SCHOP! Quick Guide to CSA:
- Get greens washed and stored properly ASAP! Most leafy greens need a little symbiosis in their life, a little give and take. Wash and remove excess water (salad spinner or let drain), wrap loosely in a paper towel and place into a plastic storage bag. The greens will release moisture when they don’t need it and take from the damp paper towel when they do. The best way to keep the basil is in a glass, with just enough water on the bottom for the stems, then loosely cover the whole thing with a plastic bag. Leave on the counter, not the fridge. That creates a hothouse-like environment that basil loves.
- Do not wait to use your loot! This produce has a culinary destiny that you must fulfill. You want to use it as close to its harvest as possible. It is farm-to-table, not farm-to-compost! Roast that squash, sauté that broccoli!
- Get creative and inventive with these ingredients! Making pesto is essential when you have fresh basil. However, instead of using cloves of garlic, use those garlic scapes instead. They are strong (blanche them quickly to remove some of the bite before using in your pesto), so start with one garlic scape and add more to your taste, and why not a little scallion, too?
- When all else fails, make condiments! You can take this fresh produce further and expand on Step #3 above. Basil oil (with really good fruity olive oil) is as simple as putting basil and oil in an immersion blender, strain (or not), store in the refrigerator. It is great for salad dressings, as part of a marinade, or as a finishing oil over steamed fish. Mix all of those washed greens for a salad with a garlic scape vinaigrette. Steep cut scallions and crushed red pepper in grapeseed oil over a low flame for a spicy oil for shrimp or fish, then cut up and serve in bibb lettuce cups over leftover rice.
These CSAs are all over Harlem. You can find them online by searching “Harlem CSA.” Look for one with a pickup location that is most convenient to you.
Happy eating and thanks for reading!
Kysha Harris is a food writer and editor, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service in NYC for more than 15 years. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @SCHOPgirl, on Facebook, /SCHOPnyc, and her blog, www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations! Email AmNewsFOOD at AmNewsFOOD@SCHOPnyc.com. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @NYAmNewsFOOD and tag us with #SoAmNewsFOOD with your food finds!