What to Do with a Surplus of CSA Veggies

Especially weird ones you've never heard of.

A group of community green thumbs have brought urban agriculture to the Fishtown section of Philadelphia through the establishment of Greensgrow Farms, which includes a nursery, a farm market and a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. // Photo by M. Kennedy for GPTMC

Fishtown’s Greensgrow Farms includes a nursery, a farm market and a community-supported agriculture program. // Photo by M. Kennedy for GPTMC

Community-supported agriculture programs have so many benefits: They give you access to fresh veggies delivered straight to a neighborhood near you, they can help you save some cash over grocery-store produce, and they give you a direct way of supporting local farmers.

Yet one of the main problems of joining a CSA is this: You end up having a mountain of veggies—often, ones you’ve never heard of—in your fridge at all times. While it’s amazing to have an overflow of lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes as a salad base, what on Earth do you do with piles of kohlrabi, rutabaga and lacinato kale? Here’s a diary of how I handle a week with my CSA veggies.

My CSA veggies for the week:

Napa Cabbage
Tot Soi
Curly Kale
Snap Green Beans
Sweet Potatoes
White potatoes

Tuesday afternoon: I realize I have to pick up my veggies, although I still have leftovers from last week in the fridge. I head over to my CSA pickup in Rittenhouse and wait in line with the other locavores. Once I get a gigantic box of veggies into my reusable matching totes that everyone else has, I botch collapsing the box and return it to the clerks.

Tuesday evening: I take tomatoes and basil from my back-alley garden to make an incredible tomato-basil soup. Luckily my sister-in-law had iMessaged me the recipe without any proportions, which made my job wayyy easier. (Best method: Throw stuff in pot. Mix. Blend in food processor. Taste. Add more basil. Repeat.) I also make my lunch for Wednesday: a salad with the arugula and broccoli, along with some almonds, goat cheese & dried cherries I had in the pantry.

Wednesday: Have my lunch as scheduled. Wednesday evening I have a networking event at Yards Brewery. I repeat my mantra: I will resist eating too much food. I will resist eating too much food. I have too many veggies in my fridge. I’m doing well until I have two of the Yards PYNK beers and realize how delicious Kung Fu hoagies are. I have an entire hoagie and a few vegan skewers. Appetite for Wednesday evening ruined.

Thursday: I take a little more of the tomato soup for lunch, as well as salad with this week’s kale and arugula. Take a scoop of leftover kolrabi slaw from earlier in the week as a side. I also take last week’s leftover collard greens, cabbage and some red kale leaves that are looking pretty withered and throw them in my food processor with cucumber, grapefruit &and honey for a smoothie. Looks like I’m being super healthy with a green drink at work. Get compliments.

Thursday evening: Stumble across an amazing recipe from the CSA gods online. Use the sweet potatoes, white potatoes and cabbage in potato and cabbage tacos. I use leftover onions from last week’s CSA and a jalapeño from my back alley garden for caramelized onions. Top off tacos with my handy hot sauce and processed cheese (we’re not all perfect with clean diets, eh!) and pat myself on the back. Resist Instagramming my meal since I was so hungry, I just wanted to dive in.

Also take my green beans and throw them in my dehydrator with olive oil. Make an amazing dried snack for work days.

Friday: WTF am I going to have for lunch? Take the last droppings of soup and greens leftovers for another soup and salad. We’re creatures of habit, right?

Friday evening: Try my own attempt at Indian cuisine with broccoli, green beans, onions and tatsoi, a dark green Asian salad green. Make a curry sauce with coconut milk from the pantry and curry powder I found at North Market in Columbus, the bizarre Reading Terminal of Ohio. Maybe not 100 percent authentic, but I’m learning how to cook all cuisines with this thing!

Saturday morning: Take the broccoli rabe and make a phenomenal omelette with the CSA eggs share I also receive. Enjoy with my coffee as my cat considers how he can sneak attack my plate without me noticing. Consume omelette on full alert, knowing every bite is watched.

Saturday evening: Wedding. Veggie day is shot.

Sunday: Make a quiche to freeze with my broccoli and CSA eggs for the winter. With an overflow of veggies, I’ve learned to make a few dishes for those cold winter weeks when I have no desire to cook. It works like a charm!

Sunday evening: Have leftover potato and cabbage tacos.

Monday: Realize I still have an abundance of kale since my friend rejected her kale share this week. Have another salad for lunch. (Luckily, I preserved it well!)

Monday evening: Have the damn potato and cabbage tacos. Again. Thank God I’ve eaten the majority of it. Take a scoop of the final potatoes and throw into my cat’s bowl to see if he likes it. He licks a couple of bites. Throw the rest away.

Make roasted kohlrabi as a side with olive oil, garlic and a little parm.

Tuesday: I’m spent. But yet, I realize I have to do it allll over. Have lunch with a co-worker and then prepare myself for another pickup …

Although I joke about the difficulty figuring out what to do with the veggies each week, I feel healthier and have become a way better cook from my hummus-and-pita vegetarian days. There are many more than eight reasons to join a CSA. Find out for yourself and try it for season.


Julie Hancher is author of Green Philly Blog, where she shares more CSA recipes, green adventures with her orange tabby cat and tips for greening our lovely city. When she’s not a slave to cooking her CSA veggies, she enjoys long bike rides by the beach and traveling. Follow her tweets at @greenphillyblog or on Facebook.