Have you ever heard of a CSA? It stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Basically, people buy a share of the produce harvest that a farm produces all season. They are nationwide, and there is one here in Bradenton – Geraldson Community Farm. Even though I’m not a shareholder, I’ve been the recent recipient of their bountiful harvest.
Last week was the final pick-up of the season at Geraldson (it runs from November through May – this is Florida after all), and the Vidalia onions were overflowing. How do I know this? It turns out that I have two different friends who are members of the CSA and passed along about three pounds of sweet onions, each. (One friend also gave me this wonderfully fragrant bunch of sweet basil that I turned into a pesto sauce and parked in my freezer. I’ve tried all sorts of prepared pesto sauces from the grocery store, and absolutely nothing compares to homemade. I’ll be able to work off of the two cups of freezer pesto for a few months.)
So, back to the story: six pounds of onions and two people in the house – what do you do? Well, I started playing with onion recipes, of course. The first one up is a real winner: an Onion and Arugula Tart. The filling is composed of sweet onions that have been caramelized with a little balsamic vinegar, mixed with peppery arugula, and combined with ricotta cheese. That all goes into a homemade pie crust that’s been seasoned with dried herbs. It was a total experiment, and turned out better than I ever thought it would. I think the only thing I might do differently next time is add a little heat to the filling. I thought the sharpness of the arugula would cut through all the sweetness of the onions, but it needs a little help.
As for the crust, I don’t know where I picked up this basic pie crust recipe, but it’s all I ever use. It takes about 2 minutes to put together and is just about foolproof. I usually add a little sugar to it when I’m making dessert, but when I’m using it for a savory dish, I try to spike it a little that way as well. The addition of dried thyme to the dough really adds a complexity of flavor that I thought was lacking when I left it out. Of course, you can certainly use a refrigerated pie dough from the grocery store, if you want (I won’t tell anyone), but when it’s this easy, why would you? Besides, the 30 minutes that you need to park the dough in the fridge is about the same amount of time that it takes to caramelize the onions, so it’s not like you’re gaining that much time anyway.
So I’m starting to think that this CSA idea is a pretty good one. I’ve been contemplating it for the last couple of years, and I think it’s time to pull the trigger and sign up for next fall’s harvest. Either that, or make friends with more people who are already members.