Since moving to West Chester, Ohio, each summer I have signed up for a produce delivery from Rice Family Harvest, a farm located in nearby Oregonia. This is a very cool deal–each week, half a bushel of fresh, locally grown produce is left on my patio, sort of like a CSA delivery. But unlike a traditional CSA, I can start or stop deliveries at any time, add items to my order, and even request the mix of fruits or vegetables I would like.
I usually skip that last step though–I like to be surprised! Plus, it’s a fun culinary challenge to try and figure out what to do with all the ingredients, including some I haven’t used before or can’t find at the supermarket, like radicchio and pattypan squash.
As a result, I find myself not only eating more fruits and vegetables, but planning meals around them. Instead of “What can I serve as a side with this chicken?” (which tends to produce boring answers like salad or steamed green beans), I’m asking myself, “How can I turn this big zucchini into dinner?” For me, this is a more interesting question. That one zucchini could be breaded and fried like eggplant Parmesan, spiralized into zoodles for tomato sauce, stir fried with the chicken, roasted and served over polenta, cooked into a frittata… The possibilities are endless!
To show how this planning process works in practical terms, I’ve decided to do a new series through the summer I’m calling “What’s in the Box?” where I’ll detail everything I received in my produce delivery each week and what I did with it. (Since I don’t always know what I’m going to do with the food right away, I’ll write about each previous week’s delivery. Which is why we’re starting with last Wednesday’s!)
July 13 Delivery
- 2 zucchini
- 1 cucumber
- 4 tomatoes
- 3 ears of corn
- 1 onion
- 1 pint blueberries
- 3 peaches
- 2 pints green beans
What I did with it:
I’ve been craving pasta lately but have been restricting calories after vacation, so the zucchini were turned into zoodles. Saving calories on the pasta allowed me to make a more decadent Parmesan cheese sauce, which also included store-bought leeks and mushrooms.
Half of the cucumber was diced up for salads at the end of the week. Another quarter was grated for a batch of tzatziki, and the remaining quarter was diced and reserved for falafel night.
Three tomatoes and all of the corn found their way into a batch of succotash. We ate this as a side with panko-crusted tuna steaks one night, and then I took the leftovers to work for lunch with some pearled barley.
One of the peaches and some blueberries became overnight oats for my breakfasts. The rest will be snacks throughout the week.
I used up about one-quarter of the green beans and the remaining tomato over the weekend making a salad with goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette that I ate for lunch on Saturday and Sunday.
The remaining green beans will be used in a stir fry sometime in the next few days.
The onion is currently in storage in my pantry. I have no immediate plans for it, but once the skin dries out it should keep just fine for a few weeks if I don’t use it.
Do you use a CSA or other food delivery? How do you plan for random or unexpected items?