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Embracing the Unexpected: Recipes for Unique CSA Produce

June 26, 2024

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Embracing the Unexpected: Recipes for Unique CSA Produce

A Culinary Adventure Awaits

I still remember the excitement I felt when I signed up for my first CSA (community-supported agriculture) share. After years of contemplating it, I finally took the plunge, eager to explore the world of locally grown, seasonal produce. Little did I know the culinary adventure that awaited me.

As I excitedly picked up that first box from the local farmers market, I marveled at the tender asparagus and fought my boyfriend for the soft, buttery lettuce – the best I had ever tasted. But as the summer progressed, the contents of my CSA box became increasingly unfamiliar. Suddenly, I found myself staring down a bounty of strange vegetables I had never cooked with before. Turnips, bok choy, kohlrabi – the list went on.

At first, I’ll admit, I was a bit intimidated. How on earth was I going to use all of these unique ingredients? But rather than let them go to waste, I embraced the challenge, determined to learn how to transform these unexpected treasures into delicious, nourishing meals. And let me tell you, the journey was filled with delightful discoveries, both in the kitchen and on the plate.

Celebrating the Unexpected

One of the stand-out moments of my CSA experience happened when I found myself with an abundance of blueberries and plums, an unlikely pairing that ended up being a match made in culinary heaven. As I stood at the farmers market, sorting through the battered and broken “seconds,” I couldn’t help but be inspired. Blueberries and plums, I thought, what a fantastic flavor combination.

Without further ado, I scooped up my haul and headed home, eager to put my newfound produce to use. After a bit of experimentation, I landed on a dreamy Blueberry Plum Pie, the sweet-tart fruit mingling together in perfect harmony, cradled by a flaky, golden crust. One bite, and I was hooked – blueberries and plums truly are a “tour de force” in the world of baking.

This unexpected flavor pairing was just the first of many delightful discoveries I made during my CSA journey. As I dove headfirst into unfamiliar vegetables, I found myself expanding my culinary repertoire in ways I never could have anticipated. Who knew that I would develop an affinity for kohlrabi or that roasting turnips with potatoes would become a weeknight staple?

A Produce-Lover’s Paradise

But my CSA experience wasn’t just about the food. It was also about exploring the vibrant community that surrounds local, seasonal eating. And let me tell you, Lancaster, Pennsylvania is a true produce-lover’s paradise.

From the bustling Roots Country Market and Auction, where I marveled at the array of Pennsylvania Dutch specialties, to the historic Lancaster Central Market, brimming with the freshest local bounty, this city proved to be a veritable foodie’s playground. I wandered the aisles, my senses alive with the sights, sounds, and smells of regional produce, from the pungent scrapple to the sugary shoo-fly pies.

But the real gem of my Lancaster experience was discovering the Amish farmer who not only raised a staggering variety of livestock – dairy and beef cows, goats, sheep, chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese – but also tended to a herd of camels. Camels, in the heart of Amish country! It was a delightful reminder that even in the most traditional of communities, there is always room for the unexpected.

Recipes for the Unexpected

As I reflect on my CSA journey, I’m filled with a deep appreciation for the unexpected. Those unfamiliar vegetables that once intimidated me have become beloved staples in my kitchen, their unique flavors and textures adding a vibrant layer to my cooking.

Take, for example, the humble kohlrabi. Once a complete mystery to me, this bulbous vegetable has now become a go-to ingredient in my repertoire. Whether shredded into a fresh slaw, roasted to crispy perfection, or incorporated into a hearty stew, kohlrabi has proven to be a remarkably versatile and delicious addition to any meal.

Kohlrabi and Carrot Slaw

– 2 kohlrabi bulbs, peeled and shredded
– 2 carrots, shredded
– 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
– Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large bowl, combine the shredded kohlrabi and carrots.
2. Add the chopped parsley, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar.
3. Toss to coat the vegetables evenly.
4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Chill the slaw for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.

Serve this vibrant slaw as a crunchy side dish or atop grilled meats or fish for a refreshing contrast.

Roasted Kohlrabi Wedges

– 3 kohlrabi bulbs, peeled and cut into wedges
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 teaspoon garlic powder
– 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
– Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
2. In a large bowl, toss the kohlrabi wedges with the olive oil, garlic powder, and smoked paprika. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Arrange the coated wedges in a single layer on a baking sheet.
4. Roast for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway, until the kohlrabi is tender and lightly browned.
5. Serve hot as a side dish or add to salads, grain bowls, or your favorite protein.

The natural sweetness of the kohlrabi pairs beautifully with the earthy spices in this easy roasted preparation.

Kohlrabi and Potato Stew

– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 onion, diced
– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– 2 kohlrabi bulbs, peeled and cubed
– 3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
– 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
– 1 bay leaf
– 1 teaspoon dried thyme
– Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
2. Add the onion and garlic, and sauté until fragrant and translucent, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the cubed kohlrabi and potatoes, and stir to coat with the onion and garlic.
4. Pour in the broth and add the bay leaf and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Bring the stew to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
6. Remove the bay leaf before serving.

This hearty, comforting stew is a wonderful way to showcase the unique flavor of kohlrabi. Serve it with crusty bread for a satisfying meal.

As I’ve discovered, the key to embracing the unexpected produce from my CSA is to approach it with an open mind and a willingness to experiment. By challenging myself to step outside my comfort zone, I’ve not only expanded my culinary repertoire but also discovered a newfound appreciation for the bounty of the seasons.

So, if you find yourself staring down a box of peculiar produce, don’t be intimidated. Embrace the unexpected, get creative in the kitchen, and let your taste buds embark on a delicious adventure. Who knows, you might just stumble upon the next blueberry and plum – a match made in culinary heaven.

And if you’re ever in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, be sure to stop by the local markets and keep an eye out for those elusive Amish camels. After all, in the world of CSA produce, the unexpected is always just around the corner.

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