A Single Person’s Guide to Produce


By Laura Virginia Anderson

[In which Ms. Anderson attempts to down the full allotment of her CSA share and then some. – mb]

Let’s say you’re a single person living in Brooklyn, and let’s say that a few months ago, you signed up for a full weekly CSA share containing vegetables, fruit, and eggs. Let’s also say—just for the hell of it—that you sometimes work as an assistant stylist on the set of your boss’s cooking videos, and that you often take home leftover vegetables from the set so that they don’t get thrown away.

My hypothetical question is this: Is it possible for you, single Brooklynite, to consume your CSA share, plus vegetables rescued from the set, over the course of the week without either throwing anything away or having a nervous breakdown?

I am here not only to tell you that it is possible, but also to give you an easy-to-follow step-by-step guide for getting through the week.

You’ll need a few things on hand before you begin:

1) The stomach of an ox. Absolutely crucial to getting through this week is the ability to keep eating vegetables past the point of fullness. If you don’t think that you’re capable of eating a large bunch of lettuce, four beets and their greens, or a head of cauliflower in one sitting, it is not recommended that you attempt to consume more than a full CSA share of produce in one week without a physician’s supervision.

2) Alcohol. Sangria is particularly good because you can put your CSA fruit in it, but really, any beer, wine, or spirit will do. It whets your appetite and reduces stress levels—both critical when you are racing the clock to consume several pounds of vegetables.

3) Other people. Extremely helpful but, unfortunately, often difficult to pin down. If you are a single Brooklynite, it is likely that most of your friends belong to CSAs, too, which means that they will also be trying to foist vegetables on you.

Let’s get started!

Wednesday: Bring home this week’s CSA share: radishes, loose-leaf lettuce, arugula, beets, radishes, leeks, four ears of corn, peaches, nectarines, blueberries, eggs, and the biggest bunch of basil you have ever seen.

Do a little prep work to save yourself trouble later on: Pluck the basil leaves from their stems and put them in a gallon ziplock bag in the fridge. Tear the beets from their leaves and bake them in foil until they are very soft; put them, foil and all, in the refrigerator.

For dinner, attack the most perishable parts of your share. Rinse, dry, and chop the lettuce and arugula, throwing any bugs you find tucked in their leaves out the window (gently). Make miso mayonnaise: whisk together equal parts mayonnaise and miso with a little cider vinegar to thin the mixture out. Toss the greens with the miso mayonnaise and eat them stoically. Reward yourself by having the blueberries for dessert.

When the guy you have been casually dating comes over to watch a DVD, separate the radishes from their leaves, scrub them, and serve them to him with more miso mayonnaise. Make sure he has eaten all of them before you tell him that you think you should just be friends.

Thursday: Come home from a long day of making and eating baked goods on the set of your boss’s cooking show craving something nutritive. Peel and slice the beets you baked yesterday and sauté them in olive oil with their greens and some garlic. Eat with a side of radish greens tossed with (why not?) miso mayonnaise. Squeeze all the peaches and nectarines and choose the softest for dessert. Pat yourself on the back for doing such a good job of getting through your produce before it goes bad. Watch a few episodes of The Daily Show online, take a shower, and go to bed early.

Friday: Grab most of the remaining peaches and nectarines to take with you to work so that you’ll have something to snack on on set.  When the shoot is over and the producer offers you some leftover ingredients to take home—and tells you that they’ll have to be thrown away if no one takes them—heed that crazed guilty voice inside your head and say yes. Struggle back to Brooklyn on the subway carrying two celery roots, two kohlrabi, an eggplant, three bunches of radishes, a couple potatoes, a frighteningly large ridged zucchini, a pattypan squash, eight lemons, several jalapeños, and various non-perishables.

When you are hit with a sledgehammer-like sinking spell as you put all your new vegetables away at home, dull the despair with a bowl of granola and some slices of pound cake. (Occasional indulgences are allowed on this plan.) Take a brief nap, then do the right thing: purée that basil into pesto before it goes slimy.

Take the C train uptown to a party at a high-school friend’s apartment and drink several glasses of sangria.

Saturday: Wake up at 1:00 PM. Lie in bed contentedly for a few moments before panickedly remembering all the vegetables in your refrigerator. When a friend texts to ask if you want to make a picnic with her to take to a concert in the park that evening, consider it a stroke of good luck and offer to bring vegetables. (Don’t be deterred when your friend reminds you that she belongs to a CSA, too.) Carry the eggplant, some radishes, the kohlrabi, four lemons, your last peach, and a Tupperware of pesto over to her apartment. Sauté the eggplant with some of your friend’s zucchini for sandwiches. Rinse the radishes and peel and slice the kohlrabi to dip in pesto. Chop the peach to go in sangria with white wine, lemon juice, amaretto, and agave nectar. Drink a glass and feel your burden begin to lighten.

After the picnic, when your friend offers you some of her peaches and blueberries to take home, say no, but tell her that she can leave them at your apartment so that she doesn’t have to carry them all the way to Williamsburg, where you’re both going to meet some friends for a drink. Realize when you get home alone later that night that you’ve been hoodwinked into keeping the fruit.

Sunday: For breakfast, roast the cauliflower and toss it with some pesto. Eat your friend’s blueberries afterwards, even though you aren’t hungry.

When your neighbor invites you over for a pizza dinner and asks if you can bring a salad, interpret this request loosely: Slice the leftover radishes, salt and rinse them, and then toss them with lemon juice and a minced jalapeño. When your neighbor tells you she’s not in a CSA and says, “When all your friends are in CSAs, you don’t have to be,” laugh knowingly.

Monday: Make pancakes for breakfast—zucchini pancakes. When they fall apart in the skillet because you didn’t add enough flour to the batter to absorb the runny ricotta cheese, scramble them in the pan and eat them half-cooked. Shake it off.

Invite a couple friends over for dinner. Make sure they bring their boyfriends, one of whom is training for a half-marathon. Before they arrive, vacuum, take all of your remaining produce out of the refrigerator, and start peeling and cubing celery root.

When your friends arrive, discuss various ways to combine celery root, corn, leeks, potatoes, pattypan squash, jalapeños, and peaches. Come up with a game plan.

Toss the cubed celery root with olive oil and curry powder and roast it until it browns, or until your remarkably sensitive smoke alarm goes off, whichever comes first.

Sauté the leeks and jalapeños with some ginger, then add corn kernels, cubed potato, and some vegetable stock. When the vegetables are tender, add a cup or so of milk and purée everything with an immersion blender.

Pan-cook the pattypan squash with chopped onion and garlic. Beat the eggs with milk, ricotta, and a little Parmesan, pour them over the squash, and bake until the frittata isn’t jiggly in the middle anymore.

Eat the corn and potato chowder, roasted celery root, squash frittata, and some baguette and herbed cheese one of your friends brought. Drink the Austrian wine another friend brought. Discuss the latest made-up trend piece in the Times and gossip about people you went to college with.

Slice the peaches and sauté them with butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Serve over vanilla ice cream and vegan coconut-milk ice cream.

When your friends thank you for dinner, do your best to explain to them that it is really you who should be thanking them.

Tuesday: And on the seventh day, rest. Eat leftovers. Make iced tea and squeeze your final lemons into it. Get your strength back up. More vegetables are coming your way tomorrow.

Posted in Produce


  1. operagirlcooks said...

    This post is hilarious and spot-on. Love it!

  2. Anonymous said...

    Great post, and very funny. How did the soup taste?

  3. JCGiggles said...

    I took over a friend’s CSA for a month and I was surprised by the increase in my anxiety. I can totally relate to the post!

  4. allgimbel said...

    Ahhh…memories of last summer, when my CSA gave me bounteous quantities of Kale.

  5. cybercita said...

    I’m in the same boat… getting my friend’s CSA share while she and her family are on vacation for the month of August. Frantically chewing my way through mountains of lettuce, zucchini and turnips.

  6. Anonymous said...

    This is great! I similarly scheme up ways to force-feed everyone I know all of my CSA goodies. I feel so guilty if the pretty fruits and vegetables go unloved in my fridge. So far this week two of my closest friends have had peach cobbler, my dog-walker has politely eaten two large hunks of zucchini cake, and my downstairs neighbors have had raspberry popsicles. And now I just need to eat this whole pan of scalloped tomatoes followed by some ratatouille, and I’ll be all set for next Tuesday’s vegetable challenge.

  7. amymlitt said...

    Honey, you are singing my song. I’m a vegetarian, and even split between me and my girlfriend we almost always have to toss some part of our share. I love your (writerly and culinary) approach to making this work.

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