The Summer of our CSA – and a lightened-up Pad Thai

We decided to join a CSA for the first time this summer. Since we’ve both been living alone for so long it didn’t make sense to buy a subscription to a massive box of produce for just one person. But now  it does! So we joined up with Summer Wind Farms in NJ and anxiously awaited our first box. If you live in the Northeast, you know this spring was a little…strange. 80* weather in March? Wearing my down jacket in May? Rain boots for days? You get the idea. It wasn’t a typical slow, steady crawl into summer – so the CSA didn’t start until June. That’s part of the beauty of a CSA though – you’re supporting a local farmer regardless of the growing season. It’s a risk you take but the reward is TONS of tasty, local, organic food – for much less than we’d spend at the grocery store.

I picked up our first box one Friday afternoon right before we left for a camping trip – and I mean right before. I dropped the box off in the fridge and turned around to drive to Manhattan to pick up Travis so we could head out to Harriman for a few days. The CSA box was full of various types of greens. We figured we’d be in salad heaven upon our return and didn’t think too much about it. We munched on salads during the week and chopped up a head of Napa Cabbage and turned it into a lightened-up Pad Thai-inspired meal while everything else sat in the fridge.

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Then the following week we were out of town for a wedding. Same thing: pick up the box, put it in the fridge, come back and try to eat it all.

This past weekend we finally sat down and made a plan because the greens were taking over our fridge. There was no room for anything. Even the dozen eggs I’d picked up were balancing precariously on top of veggies at the very top of the fridge. Not good. I don’t like wasting food. I’d prefer to compost all my organic waste since we eat a lot of veggies but we have a second-floor condo and no garden space, so…I try not to think about it. But I couldn’t ignore the wilting greens.

I dove into the cookbook I’ve been working on and chose a handful of recipes in which we could incorporate the greens. Some were old standby recipes (a Southwestern tofu, black bean, and spinach one comes to mind) I was able to update with different greens, and some were new ideas. One of those new ideas is very quickly becoming a staple in our house. We had a few heads of Napa Cabbage after that initial Pad Thai-inspired meal, and decided to make it again, tweaking the sauce to our liking. I also made my first-ever batch of seitan to toss on top of mine (Travis put chicken on his) – more on that later, but for now I’ll say it came out better than expected!

Our freezer is now completely full of meals for at least two weeks…and we get another box of groceries in four days. My shoulders and chest muscles are tired from all the stirring, chopping, and lifting yesterday. I think we used every single dish we own. It took us all day in the kitchen to use up all the greens, but at least now we are caught up!

Have you ever signed up for a CSA? What did you do with all of nature’s bounty?

 

Napa Cabbage "Pad Thai"

Napa Cabbage "Pad Thai"

Ingredients

  • Sauce (to taste):
  • Peanut butter - the more liquid-y, the better
  • Tamari or soy sauce
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Chili garlic sauce
  • Pad Thai
  • 1 head of Napa Cabbage, rinsed and sliced thin
  • Olive Oil
  • Garlic (we keep a jar of garlic and just spoon it out as necessary)
  • Carrots, sliced thin
  • 1-2 bell peppers, diced
  • 3-5 green onions, sliced thin
  • 1 egg
  • Sesame oil
  • 2 packages mung bean sprouts (our grocery store sells them in 12oz bags)
  • Chopped peanuts

Instructions

  1. Whisk sauce ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth. I didn't give amounts here because everyone has different taste buds. We LOVE peanut butter so ours was probably about 1/2 cup peanut butter, 2-3 tablespoons tamari, 1-2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, 1-2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce.
  2. Heat some olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add the cabbage and cook for about 3 minutes. Color will brighten but be sure it's still crispy.
  3. Remove cabbage from heat and set aside. Reheat the pan and add some more oil. Toss in a couple scoops of garlic and saute for about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Pour in peppers, green onions, and carrots, and stir.
  5. Add the egg and stir occasionally until cooked.
  6. Add the cabbage back in and pour sauce in. At this point we added a dash or two of sesame oil. Stir to combine, then add bean sprouts and stir until heated through.
  7. Dish up, toss with some chopped peanuts, and enjoy!

Notes

recipe inspired by White on Rice couple

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