Considering joining Farmers Fresh CSA or another Atlanta CSA program? Now’s the time. Spring is the best season to get used to preparing local produce for one reason:
Salad goes with everything, and it’s quick and easy to make. Salads are easy to change up so that you don’t get too bored. They can be simple sides or a meal if you add some protein. And fresh salad greens really put their conventional counterparts to shame. Local lettuce is one of the highlights of CSA-dom.
Spring salad crops
- Arugula, spinach, lettuce, and field greens form the basis of salads.
- Carrots, radishes, broccoli, and green onions can be chopped and tossed with salad greens.
- Fresh herbs like parsley, chervil, salad burnet, par-cel, dill, mint, and cilantro can also be added to salads if you don’t have other plans for them. Or you can use them to make an herb vinaigrette dressing.
Essential spring tools
There are a couple essential tools when you’re in salad-making season: a salad spinner and good knives. A salad spinner is not a silly gadget that will take up space in your kitchen; it’s the best way to wash, dry, and store fresh lettuce and other salad greens. Look for one the spins easily and will fit in your refrigerator.
The chopping of salad toppings is much more fun with a quality knife and something with which to sharpen it. Look for deals on sets of knives and find some that feel good in your hand. Three knives to have are a small paring knife, a large chef’s knife, and something in between. I got this set from Tuesday Morning a couple of years ago. I’m guessing it was about $40. I’ve used them nearly every day since, and they’re holding up well.
Chris made me this awesome custom knife rack!
Here’s my favorite knife story. When I first got this set, my favorite knife was the Santoku, the second from the bottom. It’s a nice, all-around size and you can kind of scoop stuff with it. A couple of months later, I decided that my favorite knife was actually the utility knife, the one at the top. A couple of months after that, my favorite for sure was the little paring knife – it was so easy to work with. A couple months after that, my favorite became the big ol’ chef’s knife. It was so useful for chopping large things but still good for the small ones.
A couple of months after that, I finally realized my favorite knife was the sharpest knife, and I went out and bought a knife sharpener.
Now I like all of them best for their intended uses.
Why not start in summer?
Most people think of summertime produce when they imagine local produce – tomatoes, blackberries, zucchini, etc. So why not start in the summer? Well, you can of course, but it’s jumping in the deep end. Summertime can be overwhelming with week after week of lots of produce to cook. If you start in spring not only do you get lots of easy salad, but the summertime produce starts sneaking in during late spring so you have time to play with a little bit of it before the real harvesting starts.
In addition, many of us will go on vacations in the summer, and vacations wreak havoc on CSA meal planning. Better to get a season of meal planning under your belt first.