This is the week when our summer CSA ends and our winter CSA begins. That’s two pick-ups. In two days. Let’s just say, I could open a farm-stand at the end of our driveway and still have plenty to serve my family for the week.
Tuesday’s pick-up alone included 4 pounds of potatoes, a half pound of garlic, a bunch of kale, a dozen ears of corn and 24 squashes! Plus much, much more. So I am trying to figure out a storage solution. I have my eye on this. But I am sort-of hoping my husband will build me something custom… Honey if you’re reading this, hint, hint.
So with the bounty of two shares this week, I am tucking vegetables into every single dish I make. This Macaroni and Cheese recipe for example, has a whole butternut squash in it. There is both mashed Butternut squash in the cheese sauce and chunks tossed with the noodles.
Let me back up. I am always talking about “Our CSA this” and “Our CSA that.” Some of you may be wondering what is a CSA anyway?
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Here’s how it works: A farm can choose to set one up, so that member’s of the community can buy a share of their upcoming crops in advance. Usually this is really helpful to a farm because they will get the money for the membership, in say February, when they don’t otherwise have any other source of income. It is like an insurance policy for the farm in a way.
Members will come to a pick-up spot each week during the growing season, and take their portion of the week’s harvest. It is a benefit to the members because they are supporting a sustainable local food system. And usually, in terms of money spent, a member will actually get more value in produce than their original contribution. Some say the best part is that members will get to experiment with some vegetables they’ve never seen before. I know I had never had a pineapple tomatillo before I got my first pint from a weekly pick-up at Arcana.
There are also year round CSA’s like this one or this one. Those are often supplemented with locavore items like cheese, eggs, bread and flour that come from the farm itself or a nearby producer. Some even offer meat shares. During the winter months here in Vermont, we get a lot of great storing crops like potatoes, cabbage, onions, carrots and other root vegetables. We also see greens from the green house through much of the colder months. Read more about what a CSA is all about or find one in your area.
This macaroni and cheese with butternut squash is a make over of the classic recipe filled with whole grain pasta and healthy winter squash! It's the perfect winter comfort food casserole.
- 4 cups cubed butternut squash, about 1 ¼ pounds
- 2 cups whole-grain macaroni, 8 oz.
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon canola oil, divided
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 3 cups low-fat milk, divided
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
- 6 ounces shredded Gruyere cheese, about 2 cups
- 3 tablespoons whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs, such as Ian’s
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray.
- Meanwhile, bring several inches of water to a boil in a large saucepan fitted with a steamer attachment. Add squash and steam, covered, until very tender 8 to 12 minutes. Mash about half of the squash in a small bowl and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook macaroni 2 minutes less than package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallot, and cook, stirring often until softened and starting to brown, 1 to 3 minutes. Add 2 cups milk and bring to a simmer. Whisk the remaining 1 cup milk, mustard, rosemary, white pepper and the remaining ¾ teaspoon salt in a small bowl until smooth. Whisk the flour mixture into the simmering milk, whisking constantly. Continue to cook just until the mixture bubbles and thickens. Remove from the heat.
- Whisk the Gruyere cheese into the thickened milk mixture until it is melted. Add the mashed squash and whisk until combined. Stir in the macaroni and the remaining squash. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish.
- Mix breadcrumbs with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil. Add the paprika and stir until evenly moist and bright orange. Sprinkle over the macaroni. Transfer to the oven and bake until bubbling hot and browned on top, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.
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