We picked up our first CSA share of the season on Sunday, and I brought it home with some mix of trepidation and joy. I confess, I've been enjoying creative experimentation with food less than I used to, because sometimes it feels like too much work without enough external positive reinforcement: my daughter doesn't really like anything that isn't noodles / black beans / fish sticks / plain chicken / broccoli / corn tortillas / fruit / marshmallows, my son eats everything indiscriminately (with some complaining when it's particularly offensive), and my husband would be perfectly happy with pasta and bread and eggs and a slab of steak for every meal.
Still, I feel duty-bound to bring the field to the family table, even if I've been short on photograph-worthy creative ideas to cook them.
I know enough about the nuanced shape of the season now to know what to expect when, and I could have predicted the first share with ease: kale, some spicy arugula, young lettuce, kohlrabi, spinach. Peas and strawberries if we were lucky (which we were; those are already gone, eaten just-picked from the cartons).
There's something reassuring about being that close to the earth, about knowing what grows when. About being able to predict the coming of the next share, even if you can't predict the success of the crop. And there's something reinvigorating about trying to come up with some new interpretation of familiar texts. Trying to read the same vegetables in different ways. The spinach will appear every spring and every fall, but what does that mean for my dinner plate?
My CSA both offers the comfort of the familiar and demands that I shake myself out of old patterns. And even if it's risky business presenting my family with halloumi (which none of us particularly liked, myself included), even if those experimentation muscles feel tight, it feels good to flex them.
Lentil Salad with Halloumi
Adapted from In My Red Kitchen
1 c. lentils (French/Le Puy)
2 T. olive oil
1 T. lemon juice
2 t. honey
salt to taste
2.5 oz spinach or arugula
1 cucumber, halved and sliced (English is probably best, but I peeled and seeded a regular one)
1/2 small red onion, diced
8 oz. halloumi
1 T. olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400.
Rinse the lentils and bring to a boil in plenty of water. Reduce the heat to low and cook uncovered for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until just tender.
Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil. Cut the halloumi in bite-sized pieces and bake in olive oil until golden brown, about 10 minutes, turning occasionally.
Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, honey, and salt to taste.
Drain the lentils and stir in the vinaigrette.
Add the spinach, onion and cucumber and stir to combine.
Serve the halloumi on top of the lentil salad.