In Season

The CSA Chronicles: Week 4

Substitute salt with garlic, onions, and other low-sodium foods.
Substitute salt with garlic, onions, and other low-sodium foods. (By Stephanie Witt Sedgwick)
By Stephanie Witt Sedgwick
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, July 30, 2008; 6:06 PM

This summer and fall, In Season columnist Stephanie Witt Sedgwick is sharing her experiences as a member of a community-supported agriculture program. CSA members pay in advance for a weekly delivery or pickup of produce and other fresh items from a local farm.

Here is her quick take for the week. Check out her recipe for Fusilli With Fresh Tomato and Zucchini Sauce, which uses ingredients from her CSA bag, and watch for her column, which appears on the first Wednesday of every month in Food.

Usually when I pick up my CSA share, I hit the cooler around noon and I'm the only customer around. This week, I didn't make it there until late afternoon. Three or four other members were crowded around the cooler, and everyone was excited. Our shares contained not one but three of the treasured items of CSA life: potatoes, tomatoes and sweet corn. Even my vegetable-phobic kids were happy: The one vegetable they will eat is corn.

Oddly, I found myself missing the Swiss chard. But the sight of a yellow tomato, small round eggplants and the fresh potatoes more than consoled me.

The surprises continued at home. I found two bunches of what I thought was parsley. Tasting the leaves, I realized one bunch was celery. The stalks were much thinner than the supermarket celery I'm used to, and the taste was more intense. It never occurred to me there was any other kind of celery. Discovering a different variety is the kind of experience CSA members look forward to.

Still, I couldn't take my eyes off those tomatoes. The celery and corn could wait for tomorrow. My family needed a break from the grill, so I diced some of the tomatoes, squash and sweet onion and made a quick sauce. Mixed with some fusilli and a generous helping of fresh oregano and basil (from my own plants), we had a flavorful, fresh and very satisfying meal, courtesy of my CSA bag.

In the bag this week: three ears of bicolor corn, three summer squash, three tomatoes, five sweet onions, three small heads of garlic, about three pounds of potatoes, two small eggplants and one bunch each of celery, chives and parsley.

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