For access to locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables, it doesn't get more direct than a CSA -- besides your own garden.
By buying in to a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, you can get fresh produce directly from a farmer on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
New York City is home to dozens of CSAs. Even local workplaces, like LinkedIn, Martha Stewart, NBC and the Mayor's office, are getting in on them, receiving weekly deliveries of baskets with fresh, organic produce for employees.
Getting local produce is made easy, but coming up with dishes for every veggie in your CSA basket can be another story. Liz Neumark, CEO of Great Performances catering company and author of the cookbook "Sylvia's Table: Fresh, Seasonal Recipes from Our Farm to Your Family," offers advice for preparing meals with these bundles.
1. When in doubt, roast your veggies with salt, pepper, a good olive oil and herbs like rosemary or thyme.
2. If your greens become wilted, add them to soups.
3. Blend raw, roasted, or sautéed veggie to a hummus or white bean spread. They will lend great color, texture and flavor.
4. There are many dishes that work well with all veggies, including risotto, vegetable soup, empanadas, pizza, juices, smoothies and chopped salads.
5. For mixed vegetable salads, keep vinaigrette on hand, made up of garlic, lemon, Dijon, vinegar, salt and pepper.
6. Save your scraps to make vegetable stock.
7. Share extra vegetables with friends, neighbors and your doorman!
Wondering what a pro might make with a CSA basket? Great Performance’s CSA program recently held a cook-off competition in New York City, where professional chefs created a dish using a basket of seasonal produce. Here’s the winning recipe, by Haven’s Kitchen’s Tiffany Moy and Amy McDowell.
Egg-stuffed poblanos with cilantro oil
3 large poblano peppers
1/4-1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
1/2 cup mixed, medium-diced or shredded veggies (such as carrots, sweet peppers, shucked corn and onions, but any mix of favorite veggies will do)
4 large eggs
1/8-1/4 cup diced cilantro
1-3 cloves garlic, diced
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Wash poblanos. Split in half and remove and discard seeds (wear gloves if your hands are sensitive). Dry thoroughly.
3. Bake poblanos on a shallow pan for 15-20 minutes, flipping them halfway though and checking every 5 minutes to see if they’re done (the skins should blister and start to peel and char).
4. Remove from oven and cool until you can peel the skin off the poblanos. Set aside.
5. While peppers are cooling, add diced cilantro, a little of the diced garlic, 1-2 tbsp. of olive oil, freshly ground pepper and coarse sea salt into a stone mortar. Using a pestle, grind mixture until it forms a brightly green oil (alternatively, use a mini food processor). Add more olive oil as needed to retain a more liquid texture. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Set aside.
6. Scramble eggs in a bowl and set aside.
7. Add 1 tbsp. butter and 1/2 tbsp. olive oil to a large flat bottom pan on medium-low heat.
8. Add diced garlic and cook until fragrant (about a minute).
9. Turn up heat to medium and add veggies mixture. Season with a little salt and pepper.
10. Cook 1-3 minutes (until semi-transparent) and then add scrambled eggs.
11. Sprinkle pepper jack cheese on top. Refrain from turning the eggs until they just start to set.
12. Turn once to cook until eggs become a soft-scrambled omelet. Turn off heat as soon as the eggs are no longer runny.
13. Remove from heat and, using a spoon, gently stuff each poblano half with the egg mixture.
14. Top with a little shredded pepper jack and drizzle prepared cilantro oil.