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CSA Scout: Squash for Days

Clockwise, from top left: CSA boxes from Good Fortune Farm, Olin-Fox Farms, Spiral Path Farm and Great Country Farms. (Betsy Bajwa, Rita Fox, Michelle Forman and Sarah Hamaker)

Whenever I think of zucchini, I think of that old Paula Poundstone routine. It was about how her mother seems to be always mad at her father. The example? Her mother would call Paula and mutter, "He comes in here with that damn zucchini." Now, you have to hear Paula do her mother's accent, but suffice to say it's one of those phrases that just sticks in your head. The problem, though, is that Paula's point is there wasn't anything wrong with the zucchini itself. Her mother was just looking for any reason to be angry. But I always suspected there was more to it than that. After all, as any gardener or farmer knows, there comes a time when you've got so much of "that damn zucchini" that it's enough to make anybody a little touchy. I'll bet Paula's mother was just plain sick of it, and one more was going to send her over the edge.

The reason I mention all this? Well, guess what season it is for CSA (community-supported agriculture) subscribers? This is not the time to complain, because bounty is always better than deficiency (I think), but boy, are the squash coming in strong now. This week's share from my own CSA, from Karl's Farm, had six summer squash in it, and other CSA Scouts are reporting buckets full of the green and yellow vegetables. As Betsy Bajwa of Bethesda put it, "Now that the kohlrabi is potentially gone for the season and summer is almost upon us, the 'Iron Chef' factor comes more in using up large quantities or sizes of things like the zucchini."

For me, yesterday's squash overload could not have come at a worse time, as what I really need right now is corn, the subject of my next Cooking for One column. But I combined the corn and one of those squashes in a simple saute for one of my recipe tests, and it just might make its way into print.

For those who need inspiration, check out the recipe we ran for Preserved Zucchini in our recent canning special issue.

Here are this week's edited CSA Scout reports:

Betsy Bajwa, Bethesda
Whole share from Good Fortune Farm, Brandywine.

In the box: 1 dozen certified organic eggs; 2 very small green cabbages; garlic; 1 huge zucchini; 1 huge yellow squash; bag of 3 mixed summer squash; small bunch of peppermint; pint of Sungold cherry tomatoes; 3 New Girl tomatoes; 8 ears corn (from an Amish farmer)
Meals and cooking plans: I used the share in: peppermint tea, lentil soup (one head of cabbage), salad (other head of cabbage and cherry tomatoes), chocolate zucchini bread (eggs and zucchini), risotto with tomato and grated zucchini, onions in chili and on top of it and a main dish salad (corn and cherry tomatoes). Plans for the rest of the week: tacos (with sauteed shredded zucchini -- we’ll see how this goes! -- and tomatoes) and a corn side, BLT wraps (tomatoes) and a zucchini/squash side for later in the week. ... I may freeze the remaining zucchini/squash for use in minestrone in the winter.

Sharyn Fitzgerald, South Arlington
"Bushel" (large four-person share) from Bull Run Mountain Farm, The Plains.

In the box: Potatoes (23 small and medium); 2 giant zucchini; 2 heads cabbage; 2 large cucumbers; 2 young garlic cloves; handful of basil; small pears from an old heirloom tree in front of the farmhouse; electives of oregano, purslane, shiso, epazote.
Meals and cooking plans: We were so excited to see more than greens in this week’s haul! Especially exciting were the potatoes from which I made a very tasty potato salad with some of the tarragon and parsley from our “community garden” of herb seedlings from our CSA, planted several weeks ago. I have chopped the shiso into green salads, but the taste is somewhat overpowering. If they appear in any future shares, I plan to blanch and season them, Korean-side dish style, with a dressing of soy sauce, garlic, sugar, and red peppers. With the zucchini and oregano, I made a delicious pasta toss, seasoned further with some freshly grated parmesan cheese and olive oil. My neighbor Caroline mentioned that she made a yummy coleslaw from the cabbage using mayo, onion dip, apple cider vinegar and Dijon mustard.

Michelle Forman, Silver Spring
Two adults
Medium share from Spiral Path Farm, Perry County, Pa.
$413 (25 weeks)

In the box: 1 head of Boston lettuce; 2 zucchini; 1 small squash; 1 cucumber; 1 small bag of basil; 1 small bag of excellent green beans (I ate most of them raw...); 1 small container of cherry tomatoes, 1 tomato.
Meals and cooking plans: Tonight I happened to use almost all of the ingredients in the box. I grilled the zucchini and squash. I love it just grilled with just a
little olive oil to prevent sticking and no seasonings. It really just has its natural flavor and that's what I love about it. I used everything else for an Asian-style slaw along with other ingredients that I had in my fridge. It isn't a traditional Asian slaw, but it was mighty tasty. The lettuce and cucumbers have been used inside of wraps for lunch
along with some smoked salmon, and the tomatoes were eaten raw.

Rita Fox, Triangle
Two adults
Share from Olin-Fox Farms, Reedville, Va.
$396 (9 weeks)

In the box: 6 ears white sweet corn; 1 bag Yukon Gold potatoes (the highlight of summer shares for me); 6 summer squash (good thing I love squash); 1 bag turnips (gack), 2 cucumbers; 2 heads garlic (tiniest things ever, but very cute); 1 bag green beans; 4 large slicing tomatoes; 1 bunch parsley; 1 dozen free-range eggs.
Meals and cooking plans: I'm thinking a summer salad is in order: tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, corn, parsley and black beans. Additional squash will be used in a whole grain pasta toss. The potatoes would make a nice Indian curry. I might cut up the turnips and feed them to the deer, bunnies and any other visitors in our yard.
The previous week's Napa cabbage was used in a spicy peanut lime noodle dish. The two cucumbers are still sitting in the veggie drawer.
Other thoughts: Overjoyed -- it finally feels like a summer share! Great variety, good quantities. My husband is happy about the tomatoes and corn. I hate the scary worms that eat the corn. Also, I think the pickup site puts our bags in their fridge (very nice), but it ruins the tomatoes' flavor.

Sarah Hamaker, Fairfax
Two adults, four children
Half share from Great Country Farms, Bluemont.
$475 (20 weeks)

In the box: 2 medium summer squash, 6 small yellow plums, 19 small apricots, large bunch of collard greens (at least that’s what I think these are), 9 medium peaches, 1 nasturtium plant
Meals and cooking plans: The farm e-newsletter tells me that nasturtiums are great in salads, adding a peppery flavor, so I’ll probably encourage my husband to try that in his daily lunch salads. The fruit will be gobbled up by my children, although I will probably save some of the apricots for a cobbler. The collard greens will be a challenge, as I haven’t found a really good recipe for them yet. Most likely, I will sauté the greens in garlic and olive oil, adding some diced onions and a little bread crumbs for a side dish. I’ll use the squash in a casserole (made by mashing the cooked squash and combining it with minced onion and sour cream before baking it). The previous week, I ended up chopping up the zucchini and adding it to spaghetti sauce, which was a hit among the younger set.
Other thoughts: My children are big fruit eaters and love the freshness of the fruit from the farm.

Sarah Husain, Columbia
Two adults
Full share (eight items) from One Straw Farm, White Hall.
$485 (24 weeks)

In the box: 3 small heads of broccoli, 1 bunch beets, 1 bunch spinach, 2 bunches scallions (3-4 per bunch), 1 gorgeous red cabbage, 8 zucchini.
Meals and cooking plans: We made white pizza! Two types: broccoli and spinach and beet green and zucchini. Both were amazingly good. (Though can you tell we're eating from a CSA -- beet green and zucchini pizza!) Cabbage, broccoli stems, a few scallions, and one zucchini will become asian-style coleslaw. I made zucchini bread for a party with three other zucchini. The rest of the zucchini was made into a Parmesan and pasta dish from this month's issue of Real Simple: It was a good start but needed some pepping up. Beets were boiled and eaten plain. Last week, we ended up freezing most of the broccoli because it was just too much. Need some good broccoli recipes...
Other thoughts: The zucchini is delicious! I've been sneaking some slices plain. The scallions and red cabbage are also a welcome addition.

-- Joe Yonan

By Joe Yonan  |  July 15, 2009; 5:30 PM ET
Categories:  CSA Scout  | Tags: CSA, Joe Yonan, zucchini  
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Next: Flour Girl: Pull Up to the Pump


My favorite zucchini recipe: Cut zucchini, yellow squash, onion and portabello mushrooms into same-size chunks and marinate in a 50/50 mix of olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a few hours. Cut them bite size to broil or leave the pieces larger and grill. Either way, it's delicious and the aroma of the balsamic vinegar is amazing.

Posted by: margaret6 | July 16, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

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