How to Use Perfect Pairings of Early Spring Produce

The most amazing event of my spring happened this week. My yearly CSA box subscription began!

CSA is short for Community Supported Agriculture. It’s a way for customers to support small, locally-owned farms, by paying the subscription fee in January, allowing the farmer to immediately purchase seeds and supplies for the upcoming season.

Then, when the vines, trees, and plants begin to ripen with amazing fruits and vegetables, CSA members receive a portion of the harvest, in the form of a box of fresh produce every week during the growing season.

The Best Part

The best part of the growing season is that it gives my grocery budget a much-needed relief. Feeding a family of six on a food budget of $375 is a balancing act. Yes, our yearly CSA membership is figured into my total monthly average grocery budget.

When our beautiful boxes begin arriving each week, I spring into action, centering my menu plans around the items I receive in our bountiful bushel basket.

Over the next six months, each week I’ll show you how easy and inexpensive it is to use fresh-picked produce as the backbone of your family meals.

There is nothing like biting into greens, asparagus, green onions, and tomatoes, fresh from the farmer’s fields.

Let’s look at some of those crops and discuss how you can put them to the best use, pairing them to achieve the perfect balance of color, taste and texture.

This post is sponsored by Garden Spot Vegetable Farm. Located in Princeville, Illinois, owner, Jim Buckley and his family, cultivate 34 acres of vegetables and 375 fruit trees. Garden Spot is a no-spray farm, offering a variety of CSA packages. Check their Facebook page for current programs and options for available produce.

Spring Vegetable Panzanella

Pair fresh asparagus with parsley and mint for a tasty treat

It’s an age-old custom in Europe to visit the market nearly daily to purchase ingredients for the family meals. Because bread is generally prepared with no preservatives, it begins to harden after a day or two. For this reason, you’ll find a variety of recipes, using slightly stale bread as a base ingredient.

This came in handy for me this week when I neglected my dinner rolls, cooking them too long. Although they look perfectly fine, they are very dry, making them ideal for this dish. A handful of backyard mint, green peas, and avocado round out the ingredient list for this Italian inspired main dish salad.

Spring Vegetable Buddha Bowl

There is nothing easier for supper than allowing each family member to build their own perfect bowl. Start with a base of quinoa, rice, or potatoes. Then, finish with a variety of ethnic-themed toppings.

In this recipe, quinoa is topped with Asian baked tofu and roasted asparagus, radishes, and sugar snap peas. A drizzle of a simple vinaigrette adds the perfect finishing note.

Catalan Asparagus Vinagrette (Espàrrecs Amb Vinagreta)

Colorful tomatoes and asparagus meet green onion and parsley

Although, it may seem intimidating when you read the fancy Italian name, this dish is an example of perfection in simplicity. Tomatoes, green onion, asparagus, and fresh parsley provide a colorful and delicious base for a simple fresh dressing of lemon juice and olive oil.

Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Peas, Avocado, and Lemon Basil Dressing

As soon as spring produce begins to arrive in my home, it’s time for main dish salads for either lunch or supper (or both!)

This recipe featured fresh asparagus and creamy avocado. I didn’t have fresh basil, so I subbed fresh mint from my backyard in the dressing. It tasted so amazing that I’d make it with mint again next time.

Crispy Potato Spinach Balls

This is comfort food at its best! We adore potato balls. They are a tasty and effective way to use leftover mashed potatoes. You only need to add finely chopped leftover vegetables, add an egg or flax egg as a binder, roll in finely ground nuts, bread crumbs, or flour and then fry or bake.

We either use our air fryer at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or bake in a 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes (turning half way through). We tried both methods with this recipe and liked the looks and taste of the oven baked ones better. Grab a variety of sauces from the fridge and dinner is served!

We generally put out:

  • honey
  • salsa
  • ketchup
  • mustard
  • hummus
  • sweet and sour sauce
  • soy sauce
  • barbecue sauce

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