Early Season CSA

It's the third week of the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) season, and I am reminded just how delightful it is to go to the pickup site, open the bin, and be surprised by the week's vegetables. Throughout the winter and early spring, I find myself aimlessly wandering Sunflower's aisles, trying to decide what is truly seasonal and where does it originate, usually determining that I should just buy what I want to eat. I end up only buying a few vegetables each week, instead relying on them as an accompaniment to a protein; they are not the star of the meal.

But when Wednesday arrives and it's pickup time, I am in veggie heaven, inspired to create and determined to use everything. So, for several weeks it has been rhubarb aplenty. With the unseasonal high 90s/low 100 temperatures of late, I did not want to create a baked delight, so instead decided to make a rhubarb simple syrup with some mint from the garden. In the end, it has a pale pink consistency, almost grapefruit colored, yet a slight sweetness with mouthfuls of rhubarb and mint. I usually add some sparkling water and a fresh lime to help cool the hot weather.

The Spinach has also been consistent each week, and I am reminded, just how sweet a freshly picked leaf falls on my tongue. Most of the time, I opt for simple with so much spinach, either steaming it or sautéing heaps of garlic and spinach in olive oil, sometimes adding fresh lemon, red chili pepper, and/or butter. It's a deliciousness that I can consistently taste.

And this season, for the first time since I subscribed four-five years ago, I am getting plenty of fresh garlic. Also, for the first time early in the season, I am picking up a huge bag of heirloom beans weekly. I prefer fresh beans, and in the spirit of Mark Bitman, like to cook up a pot of beans on the weekend and then have beans handy all week to add to salads, rice, and currently, spinach. These little things make me happy.

And in the end, though, it is the beet that I fall back in love with at the start of the season. Simply roasting it in the oven (despite the high temperatures but worthy of the aid of the air conditioner) and then taking that first bite slightly warm, reminds me of their sweet and delicate nature, almost a dessert-like treat at times. Last weekend, despite hot temperatures, I walked to the local farmer's market just to pick up some of my favorite goat cheese from Mini Moos in Canon City, treating myself to salads with diced beets, goat cheese, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, and avocado (the only non-CSA item besides the goat cheese), knowing that the only thing missing--a fresh tomato--was almost ready to be picked from the patio pot.


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