Cooking from a CSA box, Part 1: Joining a CSA

A few months ago, I took a leap of faith and signed up for a CSA (that’s Community Sponsored Agriculture) option that was delivering to my office. Every week from late April to mid-November a bushel of vegetables will be dropped off at our headquarters cafeteria, filled to the brim with fresh-off-the-farm organic vegetables.
Why was it a leap of faith? After all, fresh organic vegetables are awesome, aren’t they?

I’ve looked into CSAs a few times and decided not to sign up for a few reasons:

1) A bushel of vegetables a week is a lot of vegetables! I hate wasting food, and I worry about my refrigerator being filled with rotten produce.
2) Members don’t have any say in what arrives in their box. So if it’s 3 lbs. of turnips or another vegetable I’m not too fond of, I’m out of luck.
3) Some of them are quite pricey, and don’t work with my food budget.
4) Trying to remember to drive over to the drop-off location, and arranging my schedule to make that happen seems very inconvenient.

The CSA offered through my office eliminated a few of my worries:

1) Since I’m a vegetarian (well, pescetarian, if you want to be technical), I eat a lot of produce anyway, so this wasn’t my strongest concern. A rep from the farm came to the office and answered a lot of my questions, including the one about the amount of food. They also offered a half-share with biweekly pick-up for the summer portion of the CSA (June through October).
2) I like trying new things, especially with food. Maybe I can learn to love turnips.
3) With the half-share and a monthly payment of $75 spread over the entire year, my concerns about the price were alleviated. Since I originally researched CSAs a few years ago, the cost of groceries has gone way up. Also, the grocery store nearest my home has TERRIBLE produce. So I often find myself running to the local organic co-op last minute, and that type of grocery shopping gets quite pricey. $75 a month for the bulk of my food will cut my grocery bill by quite a bit.
4) They deliver to my office. It can’t get easier than that–I’m there anyway!

So I’m very excited to have inexpensive fresh produce coming to me at work.

I received the first box on Thursday, and I’ll admit that I was a little overwhelmed. Look at everything inside:

Left to right, top to bottom: Mustard greens, radishes, scallions, green garlic, leeks, frozen strawberries, three types of beets, a bag of mixed salad greens, celeriac, more beets, a head of parnisse, arugula, mizuna, purple mustard greens.

Plus, there were two bonuses:

Frozen strawberries and roasted red peppers.

I didn’t start cooking until Saturday morning, when Mary and I experimented with an egg dish:

Baked Omelet filled with vegetables

Easy Baked Omelet

  • 5 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup flavorful grated cheese (we used Feddoste)
  • 1 bunch arugula, rinsed, thoroughly dried and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small leek, cut in half length -wise, then chopped. Rinsed.
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped roasted red peppers
  • 1 scant tablespoon butter
  • splash of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
Whisk eggs and milk together. Heat butter and olive oil in a pan over medium. Add mushrooms and leeks and cook until just soft. Add arugula and stir in until barely wilted. Turn off heat and stir in red peppers. Pour vegetables into 1 qt. casserole dish and add egg mixture, salt, pepper and half the cheese, stirring to mix. Top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350° F for 20 minutes, or until the omelet is puffed and golden brown on top. Serves four.
Wish me luck as I try to work through the rest!
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5 thoughts on “Cooking from a CSA box, Part 1: Joining a CSA

    • Thanks, Tammy! I think that’s the key–and part of why I signed up that I forgot to mention. Sometimes a challenge is a great source of inspiration.

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