Snobby Joes and the return of the CSA
Two blessed food events occurred within the past few days.
One: The Lawrence Farmers’ Market opened on Saturday.
Two: My first CSA pickup of the year was Monday.
Yes, local food is upon us. All winter I look forward to this week. To me, it means the start of many things: great local produce, warmer weather, sunshine and homegrown garden greens.
For those of you who are new to my blog, know that during the CSA season, the format changes slightly.
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and is basically a subscription service to a farm or a collective of farms. For the price of your subscription, you will get a weekly share (bag) of farm-produced foods. My particular CSA, Rolling Prairie, provides some choice in items (for example, picking between turnips and radishes), though not every CSA does this and because of availability, even the ones that do might not have a lot to choose from weekly.
I’ve written many stories about CSAs in Lawrence, including this one, which is somewhat of a who’s who of the major CSAs in and around Lawrence. If you’re interested in signing up, please visit the websites of the CSAs on that list and they’ll let you know if they’re still open to subscribers this season. Most don’t start deliveries until May (I’m participating in the “early bag” of my CSA), but you’ll need to sign up soon to get a spot.
Each week, I’ll tell you exactly what I made with my CSA bounty and then show you what I got in my bag and plan to use for the week ahead.
I do this because I’ve heard from several readers (and from personal experience) that finishing all the produce received in a weekly CSA can be difficult. The reasons for this are all over the map. Some of the more popular ones include: unfamiliarity with certain vegetables (kohlrabi, purslane), dislike of certain foods (turnips, radishes, mushrooms, certain greens), difficulty planning meals, not able to cook every night or new to cooking, feeling like you’ve got too much in your share, etc.
I’m hoping that in this space you’ll find ideas and inspiration so that you never have to throw out or compost a single item you pick up at your CSA this year, or at the farmers market (hey, we all overbuy sometimes). If you’d like to see what kind of posts you’ll get over the next 26 to 28 weeks, check out the end-of-season round-up I did of last year’s CSA action.
So, without further ado, here’s what I got in my first bag this week. If your CSA starts later, or you aren’t signed up for one, this is pretty good example of what you’d find at the Farmers' Market right now with one exception: spinach, green onions, salad mix, dried mushrooms and tofu (Central Soy's local tofu).
Now, for those of you who don’t care about all this CSA stuff and just want to know what that delicious-looking stuff next to the steamed asparagus is at the top of the page, I’ve got the recipe below. It’s a very simple and healthy recipe that uses lentils, onion and bell pepper to re-create the sloppy Joes of your youth (adulthood?). You’ll find it satisfying and easy and yummy on a roll if that’s what you like. I had some Wheatfield ciabatta on the side (not pictured).
Snobby Joes (from www.theppk.com)
1 cup uncooked green lentils
4 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
1 green pepper, diced small (we used red)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon salt
8 ounce-can tomato sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
4 to 6 kaiser rolls or sesame buns (optional — for serving)
Put the lentils in a small sauce pot and pour in 4 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until lentils are soft. Drain and set aside.
About 10 minutes before the lentils are done boiling, preheat a medium soup pot over medium heat. Saute the onion and pepper in the oil for about 7 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and saute a minute more. Add the cooked lentils, the chili powder, oregano and salt and mix. Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Cook for about 10 minutes.
Add the maple syrup and mustard and heat through. Turn the heat off and let sit for about 10 minutes, so that the flavors can meld, or go ahead and eat immediately if you can’t wait.