Stocking Your Pantry for Easy CSA Meals by Early Morning Farm

The CSA Season is just 7 short weeks away and we are stocking up the farm kitchen in anticipation!  Last week we put together a comprehensive guide to oils and vinegars you’ll want to check out when you’re making fresh salads this summer.  Keeping a variety of shelf-stable items on hand makes putting delicious CSA inspired meals together easy any night of the week.  We like to feature a variety of recipes in our index, holiday-inspired meals, gluten free, vegan, baking, soups, stews, and flatbreads, but easy week-night meals are sometimes a must during the CSA Season.  Keeping things like dried beans, whole grains, cooking stock, and just a few key spices will make preparing our fresh vegetables easy and fun.  We’ve put together a list of what we like to keep in the farm kitchen, are we missing something you can’t cook with out?  Let us know in the comments!


 

Dried or Canned Beans

If you like to plan ahead, you can simmer beans in a crockpot or the oven and have dinner halfway done by the time you get home.  If you’re not the typed to plan ahead, pressure cook your beans and chop up some fresh, local produce while they’re cooking.  Dinner will be ready in no time. Here’s a few of our favorites and what we like to use them for.  It’s good to have a few cans of beans around for emergencies as well.

Black Beans. Vegetarian soups and stews, quesadillas, salsa.

White Beans. Cannelini, navy, great northern.  Great in minestrone soup, slow-baked, white chili, and dips and spreads.

Chickpeas. Homemade hummus, mixed into salads, and tomato based stews.

Kidney Beans – Chili, bean salads, soups and stews.


 

Grains

Keep a variety of whole-grains on hand for easy meals, like our sushi salad, stuffed winter squash and to compliment stir-fries and stews.  You can also get adventurous and try our butternut squash risotto or Wild Rice Stuffed Dumpling Squash.

Brown Rice.  Mixed with raw or cooked vegetables for a warm or cold salad.  Under stir-fry or stew.  Make a quick fried rice with leftover chilled rice.

Spelt or Wheat Berries.  Great as the base for grain salad, stuffed into a roasted squash, or can even be used in risottos.

Quinoa.  Quick cooking grain that’s high in protein.  Makes a great tabouli salad or pilaf, and is also great dry toasted and sprinkled in salads like this Red Cabbage Slaw with Tahini Dressing.

Wild Rice.  Pilaf, mix into soups, pairs well with salmon.


 

Baking

If you follow along with our recipe ideas throughout the season, you’ll want to keep a few things on hand for baking.  Putting together a simple pastry crust or flatbread is simple, and can help you whip up delicious dishes like Leek Tart Gruyere or our Fall Inspired Flatbreads.

Flour.  We use a lot of whole grain flour, but usually give options for whole wheat, white or spelt flours in our recipes.  Good to keep on hand: whole wheat, whole spelt, and all-purpose white flour.

Gluten Free.  We always include gluten free measurements and options in our recipes, so many of our members have food sensitivities.  We typically use Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Flouror Pamela’sBaking and Pancake Mix If you do  a lot of gluten free baking, it’s good to also keep xantham gum, almond flour, and chickpea flour around.

Baking Powder & Soda.  Essential in most baked goods and shelf stable. Always keep this on hand.


 

Sweeteners

An addition of something sweet can elevate a sauce, soup, or stew with just a little hint.  We’ve also been known to bake with our vegetables, like these Chocolate Beet Brownies, and Parsnip Cake.  Sometimes sugar is all you need, but we also keep some whole and unrefined options on hand.

Maple Syrup.  Pure, grade b maple syrup is a great liquid sweetener, we always choose local!

Honey. Another local sweetener, easy to sub in baking.

Brown Sugar. Adds a rich carmelly flavor.

White Sugar. Sometimes  nothing else will do!


 

Pasta

One of the easiest things to put together during the week is a simple pasta dish with sautéed veggies and herbs.  Try different varieties and shapes and new combinations.  We also like Asian noodles for stir-fry dishes and our Fresh Spring Rolls.

Whole Wheat. If you haven’t branched out from regular semolina pasta, try a high quality whole-wheat pasta like Bionaturae.  It’s great in warm dishes and holds up well in pasta salads.  Try rotini, farfelle, and fusilli in addition to spaghetti and fettucine.

Rice Noodles.  Quick-cooking and great with stir-fry.  Follow package directions for cooking or soaking before adding to dishes.

Gluten Free.  Wheat alternatives keep getting better, we prefer brown rice noodles like Jovial.  Some of our gluten free members also use corn and quinoa pasta.


 

Pickled, Preserved, and Dried

In this category we have dried fruit, pickles, olives, kimchis, capers, and more.  Keeping some of these high-flavor items with a long shelf-life can help you spice up any dish.  Or try making your own, like our Refrigerated Pickled Beets and Bread & Butter Pickles.

Capers, olives, etc.  We always keep kalamata olives and capers on hand.  Stop by the olive bar next time you’re at the grocery store and try some new things.  These add a lot of flavor to salads and dressings, and even soups and stews.

Pickles.  Check your natural food store’s refrigerated section, pickles are not limited to cucumbers.  Some of our favorites include, carrots, beets, asparagus, artichokes, and kimchi- a pickled Asian condiment.

Dried Fruits.  Another great addition to salads, bean, grain, or lettuce based.  We like cranberries, raisins, apricots, and mango.


 

Spices

We can’t possible cover every spice you’ll need in your kitchen, so we’ll just go with the few we can’t live without.  If you’re trying out a new recipe, look for the bulk spice section.  You can get a small amount of what you need for a fraction of the price.  This is also a great way to refill your spice jars at a fraction of the price.

Peppercorns.  Fresh ground black pepper is so much better tasting then pre-ground.  Get a grinder and fill it up with peppercorns from the bulk bin.

Salt.  We typically use sea salt or kosher salt.  As with most basics, like olive oil, get the best your budget can afford.

Cumin and Coriander.  Popular in many regions in the world, and essential for Mexican, Indian, and Middle Eastern inspired dishes.  Keep ground and seeds available.  The compliment each other perfectly.

Crushed Red Pepper.  We often use just a hint in a dish, and good to have on the table for those who love spicy dishes!

Cinnamon.  For sweet and savory.

Smoked Paprika. Add a lot flavor with just a pinch.


 

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are a great vegetarian protein and provide healthy fats in your diet.  Buy raw whenever possible and dry toast yourself.  Sprinkle on salads, use in baking, pestos, and more.

Pumpkin & Sunflower seeds.  Salads, and spreads.  We sub sunflower seeds for pine nuts often.

Walnuts.  Another great option for pestos and dips, and also a great addition to baked goods.

Almonds.  Thin sliced almonds are great on our salad greens.

Nut Butters.  Pure nut butters with no additional ingredients are great in cooking.  Peanut butter makes delicious peanut sauce, can be added to stir-fry sauces, and baked goods.  Tahini is great in dressings and hummus.


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