Let’s admit it. A farmers’ market can be an overwhelming place. Don’t get me wrong. I love them and won’t soon forgo my weekly visits. But there is something rather dizzying about them, especially during the height of the season when tent after tent is populated by dozens of different shapes and varieties of fruits and vegetables. Who hasn’t overbought at one time or another during summer’s zenith?
A CSA share, on the other hand, can be so comforting. For those unfamiliar with sustainable food jargon, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Many family-owned farms sell shares at the beginning of the growing season. The farm earns money during the planting season when they most need it. In exchange, CSA members pick up a box full of seasonal produce on a regular, usually weekly basis. I love my CSA not only because I get a manageable amount of certified organic produce, but also because I know that I’m cooking exactly what I should when I should.
Before signing up for a CSA, I would agonize over meal planning. It could take me take me hours to create a weekly plan, one that I would change almost the instant I stepped into the circle of market tents. After signing up for our CSA, my menu plan was circumscribed by the contents of my produce box. In spring, we eat lots of greens, such as kale, chard, and spinach. In summer, I cull my cookbook collection for delicious and unusual recipes to use up the seemingly endless supply of cucumbers and summer squash. As the growing season slows, my family enjoys slow roasted squash and more cool weather greens. I may forgo the endless selection at the market, but my CSA better connects my family to the season and to the vicissitudes of Mother Nature by tying the fortune of our dinner table with those of our farmer’s.
These days, we’re enjoying garlic scapes, the curly cue tops of the garlic plant, a early summer delight. I use them like chives, finely chopping them and using them in marinades, dressings, and as garnish.
Buttermilk-Scape Marinated Pork Chops Serves 4
3 garlic scapes 1/2 cup loosely packed mint leaves 1 cup buttermilk 1 teaspoon coarse salt 4 bone-in pork chops
Rip the scapes into large pieces and put into the bowl of a food processor with the mint leaves. Pour the buttermilk through the feed tube and process until finely chopped. Mix in salt. Place the pork chops into a large shallow dish. Pour over the marinade and turn to coat. Marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Grill on a charcoal or gas grill until the interior temperature reaches 150° F. Serve warm.