We get a CSA box every Wednesday, and believe it or not, we usually end up using our fruits and vegetables up by Tuesday. Some weeks, I have to buy auxiliary vegetables like potatoes or onions, just because I go through them more quickly. But after having done this for a few years now, we’ve finally got it down. For the most part.
All it takes is one night of take out, however, and our vegetable usage is all thrown off! I don’t know how that happens exactly, but as soon as I order take-out (because sometimes a girl needs chow mein) all the chard immediately wilts, as though it heard us placing the order and died of shame.
I have a few tricks up my sleeve too, judgmental rainbow chard! I call these wily tricks Kitchen Sink Dinners, since everything but the kitchen sink ends up in them, though a name involving refrigerators would probably be more apt.
My personal favorite is to chop up a bunch of vegetables that are starting to look a little haggard into smallish pieces, toss them with lemon, minced garlic and olive oil, and then put them on top of a pizza crust. Anything works. We’ve used kale, asparagus– anything. But maybe not turnips. Sprinkle some cheese on there to glue them all down (Cheese as glue! Perhaps don’t scrutinize that too much?) and pop it all in the oven. Depending on how many people are in your household and how many people you are feeding, you can get rid of a lot of vegetables this way. And if they are wilty, well, it doesn’t matter because once they come out of that hot oven, they will look the same as if they had been fresh to start with. And of course, bonus points because now there’s cheese.
When I am feeling super lazy, I make a soup in the crock pot. This is good when you have a lot of questionable root vegetables, but greens work well, too. Using the same principle as the kitchen sink pizza, a kitchen sink soup cooked in a crock pot (or even on top of the stove) cooks everything to death anyway!
Sure, it’s always best to use fresh– but sometimes if it is a question of using something up before a new CSA box arrives or simply not wanting to waste food, wilted or slightly shriveled vegetables are better than nothing. We have been known to stick a romaine heart that had seen better days onto the barbecue grill, or sauté mixed lettuce in a stir fry, in place of bok choi.
Jams and preserves are good for using up one kind of fruit, or even two that go well together, but my CSA box tends to toss in what they call a Seasonal Fruit Mix. This time it was peaches, plums and apricots– but in other seasons it’s apples and pears. A clafoutis is an impressive way of using up fruit. It looks pretty, and when I tell guests I made a clafoutis, their eyebrows rise a little at the French name. I must run in an easily impressable crowd, n’est-ce pas?
Not long ago, Smitten Kitchen– one of my go-to sites, whose recipes never ever produce less than stellar results– came out with a one-bowl recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars, and it uses up two cups of fruit at a time! I think it just might be the ideal fruit-user-upper. If you have four cups of fruit, simply double the recipe and use a bigger pan. I mean, it’s perfect. I don’t care for baked strawberries, so I used peaches, plums, and pears, and I think it may have actually made the fruit taste better. No joke. Usually, I like my fruit unadorned– but this? Whoa.
What kinds of dinners do you make to clean out the refrigerator, or use up the remnants of a CSA box? I like my methods, but I loathe wasting food, and I’m always up for learning one more way to avoid throwing away a vegetable I know I should be eating.