Make a fresh farm-to-table primavera with the help of Sage Vegan and CropSwap
By Amy Watsky
Going to the grocery store has become intense. Gearing up with gloves and masks, weaponizing the grocery cart to maintain a proper six-foot distance from others, and sanitizing your credit card after rushing to check out has become the unfortunate new normal. No more are the days of carefully scouring the produce aisle to hand-select the perfect avocado or staring into the freezer door to read all fifty ice cream flavors before making that crucial final decision; you want to get out of there — fast. For those of you craving fresh and delicious fruits and veggies without the stress of your dreaded weekly grocery trip, pair up with Crop Swap to form a deliciously mutualistic relationship that gets you the best nutrient-dense local foods while keeping our precious local farms afloat during these precarious times.
CropSwap is a nationwide food delivery service that connects you to nearby farms. To trade in that grocery trip for a CropSwap delivery, download the CropSwap app on the App store (for free!), and use the map to see what’s growing around you. On the Westside, boxes filled with a variety of everything from flowers to microgreens to fruits and vegetables are readily available from multiple different urban growers ranging in price from $13 to $50. Not only could this be a great way to avoid the grocery store, but also a fun way to send delicious food or beautiful flowers to friends and family in a safe, socially-distanced way — all while supporting local businesses!
For a heftier delivery to feed your family for a week, order a 40-pound box ($50), filled to the brim with close to twenty different kinds of fruits and vegetables that’s delivered straight to your front door with instructions for how to store and use everything. With all that time saved at the grocery store, you can now skip straight past the produce aisle and spend that extra time in the ice cream aisle!
Earlier this summer, I participated in a collaborative online cooking class organized by CropSwap, Culver City’s Sage Vegan Bistro and Sow A Heart Farm. Led by Chef Mollie Engelhart of Sage Vegan Bistro, the class was designed to educate recipients on how to store, eat and prepare each ingredient in the produce box delivered by CropSwap. Coordinated through the CropSwap app, each participant received a large box of ingredients with fresh herbs such as rosemary and bay leaves, plums and clementines at the peak of their season, and an array of fresh vegetables including cauliflower and zucchini from Sow A Heart, a carbon negative farm committed to environmentally healthy production that delivers all across LA.
To start off the Sage Vegan Zoom cooking class, chef Mollie took the time to go through each type of produce, advising participants on shelf life and storing tips to make the box last the whole week, making this delivery service something families of all sizes can comfortably enjoy. The recipe she prepared was an easy-to-follow, flexible one-pot primavera combining ingredients from the box and pantry staples such as pasta and jarred sauce of any kind — the perfect way to showcase the vibrant colors and flavors of the vegetables provided.
The dish itself came together quickly, yet packed a wide range of flavor and texture. Despite the fact that we were following her recipe, the class felt entirely personalized. All in one large pot of boiling water, Chef Mollie instructed us to add “whatever kind of pasta you like!” A couple of minutes before the pasta was cooked through, she encouraged us to choose “whichever vegetables you want!” from the CropSwap box to chop up and throw into the pot. After draining the water out of the pot, she chuckled as she once again had us customize the dish, exclaiming “any type of sauce works for this!”
After stirring for a minute, the dish came together. I customized my bowl by using rigatoni pasta, broccoli, cabbage, kale and tomato sauce. Topped off with parmesan cheese and some microgreens, the dish brought out all of the unique flavors of each vegetable into one cohesive pasta dish. I’m entirely un-embarrassed to admit that I devoured all of the leftover veggies straight from the pot immediately after logging out of Zoom. The accessibility of using the local produce box and staple items with the added ease of flexible customization made this dish the perfect crowd pleaser.
For our environmentally conscious foodies residing in West LA, download the CropSwap app and explore the map to find a farm or urban grower near you!
Download the app at cropswap.com. Learn more about Sow A Heart Farm at sowaheart.com and Sage Vegan Bistro at sageveganbistro.com.