I belonged to a CSA for a year. It seemed as if everybody around me was talking about what was “in the box” this week, and I wanted to talk about what was in the box, too. There’s a lot to like about Community Supported Agriculture providers: the food tends to be mostly local, organic, and in-season. My main reason for enlisting in the service was to force diversity into my diet. I wanted to make myself figure out what to do with a pomegranate, to have to eat Swiss chard and to get out of my unimaginative rut of always going for broccoli. And it did just what I’d intended it to do. I figured out how to cook Swiss chard (learning only after the second or third batch showed up to cut around the stems). I practiced getting the seeds out of a pomegranate (cutting it in half and whacking out the seeds with a wooden spoon). I discovered lemon cucumbers (and have been eating them every summer since). I learned to love bock choy (but quit buying it when the box quit showing up).
It was exciting to see what was in the box each week, and it was challenging to plan meals around what was in it. It was also very hard. As the weeks went on, the Swiss chard seemed less appealing, and having to use kale two nights in a row didn’t seem fun anymore. It turns out that not a lot grows in the winter months. After a year in, I quit the box.
The box still lives on in spirit, though. There were vegetables that were imposed upon me during that year that I learned how to use and how to appreciate. There are vegetables that I buy, eat and love today because of the box. Vegetables like butternut squash.
makes 6 servings
1 butternut squash
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, diced
1 apple, diced
1 32-ounce box of chicken or vegetable broth
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
Cut the bottom and top off the squash to create a stable base. Use a knife or peeler to cut away the outer skin. Cut in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut the squash into cubes. Coat in olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake cubes until tender, about 30 minutes at 375 degrees.
Melt butter in a soup pot. Add onions and apple and cook until soft. Add baked squash and the broth and heat through. Put into blender or food processor in batches until smooth. Return to soup pot. Add seasonings.