CSA Love + Deconstructed Pesto Salad

by - 4:29 PM

Deconstructed Pesto Salad

We joined a CSA again this year and I am SO excited about it. We received our first box last night and I was pleasantly surprised and the large quantities we received, since we are so late this year in our growing season.

What is a CSA?

Community-supported agriculture (or CSA; sometimes known as community-shared agriculture) is a locally-based economic model of agriculture and food distribution. Members buy or "pledge" to support one or more local farms, with growers and consumers sharing the risks and benefits of food production.

As a member of a particular farm, I paid a flat rate at the onset of growing season for a share of the anticipated harvest; once harvesting begins, I receive weekly shares of fruits and vegetables. My farm also does weekly egg shares.

This year I chose to split my share with a friend, since the quantities given are more than enough to feed the two people in my household.


I went with the same CSA as last year, Rare Earth Farm out of Belgium, Wisconsin. The farm is only about 40 minutes or so from my house, and they have 12 different pick up locations.

There is one less than 10 minutes from my house, so every Thursday starting this week all the way until the end of NOVEMBER (yes, November!) I go to the house, pick up my box of fresh, beautiful, just harvested vegetables and go home to cook.

Every week my farm puts out a newsletter with what is contained in that week's box, how to best store the produce and recipes that use the items together! It's like Chopped, but not so random, and from a farm down the road. Amazingness.

Why Join a CSA

After supporting local farmers (thumbs up!) it's great to get fresh produce every week. I love hitting up local farmers markets, but there is something extra - a sense of community, belonging - that I like from our CSA. Not to mention, its fun to see what you get every week.

A CSA forces you to cook with new things and expand your boundaries. I had never eaten a turnip in my entire life and had no idea what kohlrabi was until I joined my CSA last year. Every week, I try to make meals from what is given to me - rather than picking and choosing. It's a fun challenge.

A CSA is cost-effective. Last summer, I only went to the grocery store for protein - meats, fish, eggs and grains. I paid $290 for my half share that goes for 21 weeks. So for $13 a week, I get an entire week's worth of produce.

A CSA is FRESH. Sustainable. Organic. LOCAL. My spinach I had last night didn't get picked on a farm in California three weeks ago, and was then shocked, processed/bagged, stored, shipped, stored again and shelved. It was picked less than 48 hours ago and then it went right into my stomach. Believe me when I tell you - you can TASTE it.

It also keeps for WEEKS because, well, it didn't do all the other stuff I mentioned above.

Why not just have a garden and grown your own?

Because I have black thumb. I kill everything. (kidding but not really, I did not inherit my mom's green thumb). I also don't have the knowledge, skills or time that these guys do.

I have an herb garden that works great for now; maybe in the next several years I'll give it a harder try.

So last night I made one of the freshest salads of my life. It was so good I almost cried. (I think I was also very very tired.) It wasn't anything crazy - just stuff from the CSA box - but I decided to make another version for lunch today.

Deconstructed Pesto Salad

Our farm gave us a recipe for spinach-basil pesto this week, and I decided - why not make a deconstructed pesto salad with the remainder of my farro? (I heart farro right now)

So alas, I give you the simple, delectable...

Deconstructed Pesto Salad 

2 handfuls fresh, torn spinach leaves
Torn fresh basil leaves (to taste; I used about 6 large ones)
3/4 cup cooked farro
Zest from 1/2 a lemon
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1-2 tbs pine nuts
Salt & pepper to taste
Basil infused olive oil found here (or make your own by sticking some basil leaves into an olive oil pourer)
Grated Parmesan (I used Trader Joes shaved cheese blend)

Deconstructed Pesto Salad

Combine all fresh ingredients in a large bowl.

Deconstructed Pesto Salad

Deconstructed Pesto Salad

Deconstructed Pesto Salad

Mix in olive oil, lemon juice. Mix in cheese. Season with salt & pepper. EAT.

Deconstructed Pesto Salad

Deconstructed Pesto Salad

So good. Happy cooking!

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  1. We've been growing spinach and basil so I'm going to give this a go. Sounds yummy x

    Also, I use sunflower seeds sometimes when I don't have pine nuts handy and it works really well. Also for roast vegetable dips I blend bbq beet, peppers and onions with sunflower seeds and flavoured olive oils and some parmesan if it needs it.

    1. Oooh I love sunflower seeds. Great call!

  2. Made your salad last night with quinoa instead of farro, and it was delish!

    1. Love it! Thanks for sharing I'll have to give that a try