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CSA Scout: The Last-Chance Grilled Chicken

Grilled chicken stuffed with pesto. (Michelle Forman)

Sooner or later (usually sooner), subscribers to CSA programs find out that keeping up with the farm-fresh bounty is one of the biggest challenges.

Take Michelle Forman, 29, of Silver Spring, a first-time CSA-er this year who is getting boxes from Spiral Path Farm in Perry County, Pa. Forman and her husband are paying $413 (the early-bird rate) for a medium share they pick up every Saturday at the Silver Spring farmers market.

She was thrilled with the first delivery on May 23. Here's what they got:

-- Spring baby lettuce mix ("a ton of it jammed into a quart-sized bag")
-- Baby spinach
-- 4 bunches fresh spinach
-- 4 bunches spring onions
-- 2 heads broccoli
-- 7 red new potatoes

For those of you wondering about that broccoli and those potatoes, Forman writes: "To make up for the slow-growing crops due to the cold weather, they got organic broccoli and potatoes from another farm to supplement the boxes. I really appreciated this!"

Among other things, Forman made a frittata with many of the ingredients: "I roasted some of the potatoes and broccoli, sauteed the spinach with the onions and some garlic, and cooked it together with egg whites, a few herbs and goat cheese." The verdict: excellent.

The day before the next pickup, she realized she needed to get on the stick. The last thing you want to do when you're a CSA-er is allow any overlap from one week to the next, or things can get out of control pretty quickly. So she made what she called her "last-chance dinner": grilled chicken stuffed with a spinach pesto, along with grilled potatoes.

She adapted a recipe she had made a few weeks ago for grilled chicken stuffed with mint pesto, using spinach pesto since that's what she had. "I usually find recipes to get ideas and then make them my way," Forman writes.

Let's hear it for that.

When she picked up that Week 2 box this past Saturday, the box was a little less diverse: spring onions, broccoli, baby spinach, non-baby spinach, baby lettuce, non-baby lettuce. "The note in the box this week explained that the boxes were a little 'top heavy' with greens due to the cold spring, the occasional heat snap, and storms that brought hail," she writes. "I understand that this is part of the risk associated with joining a CSA. I'm glad to have the greens, especially if the alternative was nothing at all."

That's the kind of flexibility and good-naturedness that suits the CSA experience well. What would you make with what Forman got? Fellow CSA-ers, what advice do you have for handling less-than-ideal situations?

-- Joe Yonan

By Joe Yonan  |  June 2, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  CSA Scout  | Tags: CSA, Joe Yonan  
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I've been making "green" smoothies for breakfast lately using baby spinach (or lettuce would work), a frozen banana, frozen mixed berries, a little frozen orange juice concentrate, and enough water to puree. Great way to go through a ton of greens quickly!

Otherwise, I'd probably be boring and sautee everything but the lettuce in olive oil/garlic/red pepper flakes and toss with fusilli and maybe some sun dried tomatoes and pine nuts, and serve it with a big salad!

Posted by: lizlemon | June 2, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

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