Discovering the deliciousness of spring onions, garlic scapes and pea shoots.
During the early days of the pandemic, I was extremely anxious about potential food supply issues. Purchasing a CSA share from one of our local farms here in Western Pennsylvania felt like a bit of an extravagance (we’re a one-income family these days) but helped to somewhat ease my mind. If you’re not familiar with the CSA concept, it stands for Community Supported Agriculture which means that you sign up and pay in advance to receive a portion of a farmer’s harvest during the growing season.
Which is what I did. I spent considerable time researching various options and local farms while eagerly awaiting the start of our CSA. I chose an organic, family-owned, local — as in the next town north of us — farm. I can spread out our payments throughout the season and pick up our share a few minutes from our home.
I went with a small half-share, meaning that we’ll get a delivery every other week. I’m the only person in this household who has this level of enthusiasm for the CSA because I have very selective eaters. I am, however, determined to introduce at least a few new dishes to our repertoire because no matter what I do, try or offer (and at this point, I swear I have tried everything imaginable) my 18-year-old twins apparently have regressed into culinary toddlerhood with diets of fish sticks, macaroni and cheese, ramen, ice cream and frozen pancakes. Meals that have been on the regular rotation for years are suddenly shunned.
(My theory is that this return to comfort food has some psychological basis rooted in leaving their childhood behind and going to college this fall. Regardless of the reason, it’s making me crazy. I can either choose to be frustrated and at my wit’s end or not stress about it because they will be responsible for their own nutrition soon enough.)
Anyway, I digress.
This week was our first CSA pick up. We received spring onions, ground coffee, garlic scapes, pea shoots, lettuce, and a jar of mild Southern chow chow. There’s a Facebook group for CSA members and the farm gave us a heads up about what we would be getting so I had time to look up recipes, storage information and what the heck I could do with chow chow.
For breakfast, I’ve been using the green onions and scapes in cheese omelets. Sometimes feta, sometimes mozzarella.
I tossed the lettuce, spring onions and pea shoots with strawberries and feta to make a salad. I typically don’t like dressings but this one could have benefited from a vinaigrette of some kind rather than a squirt of lemon juice which made things a little bitter. Something more citrusy, maybe? It looked pretty, though, no?
And here’s another improvised dish I made for a quick weeknight dinner with some leftover cooked pasta. I’m calling this Skillet Pasta Primavera.
I started by chopping a spring onion and scape, then sauteeing in olive oil.
Then I tossed in some frozen veggies — diced red pepper and carrots. Seasoned this mixture with some dried basil, salt and ground pepper.
Added the cooked pasta and stirred it around. Adjusted the seasonings, added more olive oil, tossed some pea shoots and a generous handful of shredded mozzarella. That made the mixture a bit crunchy in spots, like a casserole. Served with grated parmesan.
You could easily add other vegetables as well as chicken, salmon or shrimp to this dish. It’s one of those meals that’s quite flexible. My Skillet Pasta Primavera got positive reviews from myself, The Husband and The Girl so I’m deeming this a keeper. I kept it a bit light on the veggies because The Husband isn’t crazy about them but if you try this, you can certainly add as much as you prefer.
All in all, I’d say our first week of the CSA was a success.