Is Today Menu Monday? – Spring CSA Week 5 Needs a Salad Spinner

May 16, 2013 at 10:39 am

An Essential Eat Local Purchase

csa - spring 13-5

There’s not much to do with taking pictures of my Tomato Mountain Spring CSA*. Each week’s it’s been about the same: plenty of Spring greens augmented by white, mild Haruki turnips and gobs of super-sweet cold storage carrots. I about showed it all in week 3, where I tried to capture the fullness of the box as well as show the individual components. This week’s picture just focuses on my favorite element, the lettuce. It’s also time to remind you of an essential eat local purchase.

The very first piece of advice I gave on the Local Beet was to consider purchasing an extra freezer, “An Essential Eat Local Purchase” I called it. I stand by that advice. If you, however, need another essential eat local purchase, one that requires less money and much less space, I highly recommend a salad spinner.

If you get your lettuce at Costco it’s triple washed, and you need no spinner. If you get your lettuce in a CSA box, it actually has taste, and also comes gritty as all heck. Chris Covelli of Tomato Mountain explained once in a CSA newsletter why he did not bother with more than a good spritz before sending the lettuce on. It lasts a lot better otherwise. Washed, lettuce starts going bad fast. You may not notice it, but your mouth will. Do the washing yourself. And don’t do it too far in advance. When you wash your lettuce, you have to dry your lettuce. You can do it effectively with lots of paper towels or tea towels you don’t mind staining. A salad spinner is more green and works well. Well enough, I like to give my lettuce at least an extra half-hour of so of extra air drying to finish off the water. Fresh lettuce is good. Wet lettuce is lousy.

big salad

With this being the season of excellent local lettuce, making the menu has often been nothing more than tossing a salad. I can eat variations of the above nearly daily. In addition to washing and drying your greens well, my other advice for good salad is to not be afraid to slice. Many sources advice tearing lettuces. I’m sure there’s reasons. I say go ahead and use a knife. Make ribbons of your lettuce and then make similar sized slices of your additions like carrots and turnips. It all melds in your mouth in a pleasant cacophony of flavors and textures. A generous dose of feta and a few salty fishes and you can call it a meal.

Our current inventory of local produce includes several weeks of Tomato Mountain CSA, no matter how many vegan stir fry’s we eat. We used up the asparagus from Green City but added to the stocks with rhubarb from 61st Street. Our last bit of local produce, Wisconsin ramps, came from Whole Foods. For those not paying too close of attention, week to week, we finished the last of our winter radishes.

Produce Used Since Last Menu Monday

  • lettuce, carrots, turnips, radish, roasted vegetables – salads
  • bok choy, other Asian greens, and carrots – stir fry with tofu
  • ramps – pesto
  • ramps, turnips, chives – frittata
  • asparagus – grilled
  • asparagus – quinoa salad
  • potatoes – roasted on grill
  • rhubarb (with freezer berries) – pie
  • onions, shallots, garlic – various

Produce being fermented (Yes! To be posted)

  • bok choy
  • Tokyo bekana

Produce waiting

  • lettuce
  • herbs – chives, rosemary, sage
  • carrots
  • turnips – 2 kinds
  • spinach
  • mustard greens – a bit left from 2 weeks ago, and then a fresh bag last week
  • onions
  • shallots
  • garlic
  • leeks – found some we did not know we had!
  • apples – what we’re waiting for, I have no idea
  • beets
  • potatoes
  • komatsuna – a mild asian green
  • bok choy
  • “Vitamin Green” another Spring green
  • Yukina Savoy – if you guessed Spring green, you’d be right.

*My wife works for Tomato Mountain.