Surprises in a box

I’ve subscribed to different community-supported-agriculture—or CSA—boxes for many years, but I finally hit the big time with the Del Rio Botanical box. As a cookbook author, editor and all-around food nut, I’m pretty well-versed in types of produce.

But farm owner Suzanne Ashworth promised me I’d get at least one item a week that was new to me. My first box (only $20 a week!) contained umeboshi plums, nopals (cactus paddles), green tomatoes, red garlic, basil, amaranth greens, apricots, raspberries, lemon verbena, stevia and fennel flowers! While I’ve heard of all of them, I’ll admit to never having tried amaranth greens.

According to Ashworth’s very educational insert, you can eat them like you would spinach, but they’re best braised or stir-fried. I’ve also never seen unfermented umeboshi. I’ll look for a simple recipe and stash them in the fridge until Ashworth sends the perilla leaves she says they need. Tonight’s dinner is likely to be pasta with homegrown yellow squash and a pesto of the Del Rio basil and garlic, topped with some diced green tomatoes.