Summer Squash and More in this Week’s CSA Box

The Food Network Kitchen shares tips for the summer bounty in this week's CSA box.

This week’s CSA (community-supported agriculture) box arrived at Food Network Kitchen stuffed with fresh summer produce, and we couldn’t be more excited to start cooking! Fresh summer squash was the real star of our box, with multiple varieties making an appearance. The seasonal offering has been popping up on restaurant menus everywhere, and now, with plenty in our kitchen thanks to Mountain View Farms, we can enjoy the tender vegetable in crisp salads, cold soups and more.

While unpacking our box, like many of you at home, we started to wonder what separates the pattypans from the zucchini of the world. Do they all deserve the same culinary treatment? After doing some quick research, we identified the two varietals of squash in our box as zucchini and zephyr (the two-toned one) squash.

Zucchini has a habit of growing … and growing … and growing, but don’t be tempted to set any world records with your squash. The best zucchini are small, firm and have a mild taste and moderately tender flesh — just like the one in our box. To use your squash, pull out your spiralizer to make a noodle substitute, or toss it in a pan with olive for a quick saute at dinner.

As for the beautiful zephyr squash, it is similar in toughness to the scalloped-edge pattypan squash, so it benefits from a longer cooking time. Use it in soups rather than salads, or roast it at a high temperature, because this summer variety will hold up under the pressure.

Here’s a peek at some of the other items in our CSA box this week:

Fresh onions: These onions, like green garlic, arrived from the farm uncured and with the woody stalk still attached. All this means is they are fresh and have a shorter shelf life (about 10 days) than the cured, papery-skinned variety you see at the grocery store.

Carrots: This is a good lesson in the beauty of fresh-from-the-farm vegetables. The knobby carrots add a little character, and taste just as good as the perfectly shaped ones.

Cilantro: This polarizing herb is the perfect, refreshing garnish to some, but tastes like soap to others. If you like it, add it to pestos, or chop it and use it to top guacamole or a banh mi sandwich.

Red leaf lettuce: This frilly green is a fairly good source of vitamin A, but has a short shelf life of about one week — all the more incentive to start making those refreshing salads immediately upon its arrival.

Cucumbers: Depending upon your CSA, you may find yourself with one cucumber or many, which can drastically change how you will use this vegetable. Just one cucumber will make a refreshing salad with a simple vinaigrette, but many means it’s time to pull out the pickling jars.

Scallions: Less pungent than an onion, scallions make a crunchy addition when added raw to salads. Or, for a little tang, toss them in a stir-fry.

Red cabbage: This densely packed head of cabbage makes a colorful slaw, is hearty enough to withstand braising and is the perfect way to add color to a summer DIY sauerkraut project at home.

Kale: This curly kale is tougher than lacinato kale, but is still delicious. Remove the leaves from the stalk, and consider blanching your kale in salted water before sauteing if the leaves taste bitter.

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