The local produce challenge we undertook last week turned out to be a little complicated. My original idea was that all the produce we ate during the week should be locally and sustainably grown, but that didn't quite work, because when we picked up the CSA box on Sunday, we still had a couple of items left over from the previous week—an avocado, a nectarine, and a banana or two—that still needed to be eaten.
So then I thought, well, maybe all the produce we buy during the week can be locally grown. The problem there was that we made a trip to Trader Joe's yesterday, and they had their usual $3.49-a-pound deal on fresh Brussels sprouts. Now, roasted Brussels sprouts are one of my very favorite dishes—possibly my absolute favorite vegetable dish—and our own plants, although they're big and healthy, haven't even begun to form recognizable sprouts yet, let alone ones big enough to harvest. So even though the sprouts were plainly labeled "product of Mexico," I just couldn't pass them up.
So my current plan is to count our week of eating local produce not from Sunday to Sunday, but from Tuesday evening to Tuesday evening. That takes us past the point at which we'd disposed of all the leftover non-local produce, but it still allows us to roast up some Brussels sprouts on Tuesday or Wednesday. Thus, I can't report on the final results of the challenge yet.
To complicate matters further, we were right in the middle of this week of local eating when I realized that time was running out for us to try a new Soup or Salad of the Month for June. Between the CSA box and the plants in our garden, we had everything we needed to make a Couscous Salad, one of our perennial favorites from The Clueless Vegetarian, but that wasn't a new recipe, and my New Year's resolution specifically called for trying a new soup or salad each month to expand our repertoire. But as it happened, I'd been toying for a while with the idea of trying this recipe with kasha (otherwise known as buckwheat groats) in place of couscous to make a version we could serve to our gluten-free friends. So I decided that this was a significant enough modification to the existing recipe for it to qualify as a "new" salad for the month of June.
The original version of this recipe calls for 4 scallions, 2 medium cucumbers, 2 medium green peppers, 1/2 cup fresh parsley, and "whatever else you like" in terms of veggies. The CSA box contained two cucumbers—not really big enough to be called "medium," but enough to supply the necessary cucumber presence in the salad—and our own pepper plants supplied one very large frying pepper, big enough to fill in for the two medium green peppers the recipe called for. To make up the extra volume, we also threw in a bunch of sugar snap peas (the Cascadia variety we tried this year has proved to be very productive indeed) and a small bunch of broccolini, one of the completely new crops in our 2015 garden.
Brian prepared the kasha in the usual way, mixing the kernels with a beaten egg and browning the coated grains in the pan to seal them before adding the water to cook them with, which means that this version of the salad is gluten-free but not vegan. Once the kasha was cooked, he simply tossed it together with all the copped-up veggies and a simple dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, and ground cumin.
This variant worked out better than either of us had expected. The nutty flavor of the buckwheat was not only compatible with the other flavors, it actually made a more interesting contrast to the cool, crisp veggies and the light, lemony dressing than the couscous does. Brian said he liked it better than the original Couscous Salad, and I thought it was at least as good. So I don't know whether we'll be making this recipe with kasha in place of couscous by default from now on, but it's at least an alternative that we'll be keeping in our salad collection for the future.