CSA Spectacular: Turning Roots & Tubers Into Gourmet Treats

Achievement: #51. CSA Cooking

Last summer, we began our first foray into the world of CSAs – that’s Community Supported Agriculture, if you’re unfamiliar. Basically, instead of buying all of our produce and dairy from the grocery store, we picked up a farm share box once a week from a location near our house. We suffered and celebrated along with the farmers: what was in season was what we got, and what crops were struggling that summer were less available to us. Sometimes, we got too many greens. Sometimes, we got vegetables we’d never heard of before. But all summer, we ate fresher, more delicious food than ever before, and we had a blast doing it. So this year, we’ve decided to bring back the CSA Achievement in a regular installment:

CSA - January

Once again, we’ve signed up with Penn’s Corner as our CSA provider. I really like the way that Penn’s Corner uses multiple farms from all over the area to bring us our shares, and I LOVED the accessibility of recipes on their blog. We decided to sign up for their winter farm share, which is a bi-weekly share, and we’ve also pre-registered for the weekly summer share beginning in April.

Since these sub-zero temperatures we’ve been having in Western PA are not exactly conducive to growing lusciously leafy green things, the winter share is a little different than what we got over the summer:

CSA - January
We’ve gotten some maple syrup, a few types of cheese, honey, salsa, and canned tomatoes in addition to the fresh fruit and veggies. Much of the veggies are tubers: potatoes, rutabagas, parsnips.

CSA - January
Full disclosure: I didn’t know WHAT the hell to do with a rutabaga.

CSA - January
I wound up using them in a mashed potato recipe: instead of doing all your mashed potatoes as, well, potatoes, do a 3:2 ratio of potatoes to rutabagas. It makes the mashies taste a little sweeter, and it cuts down on some of your calories. Paired it with dijon pork and green beans.

CSA - January
We also got some fresh pasta (pro-tip: fresh pasta has to go in the fridge or freezer, or it will spoil quickly). I made dinner for us and my parents in a one-dish chicken and mushrooms in garlic white wine sauce dinner. My fellow diners were all about it (me, personally? always forget that despite my love for white wine, I’m not that fond of white wine sauce).

In one box, we got this mysterious Mars-like specimen:

CSA - January
After further investigation (i.e. peeling and chopping), I found out it was a ginormous sweet potato.

CSA - January
We’d also gotten a little brown bag full of these guys, so I made a double-batch of baked potato chunks.

CSA - January
No real recipe on this one: just a couple of scoops of garlic, some rosemary, thyme, and maybe half a tablespoon of olive oil to keep everything together. Toss in a Ziplock bag (my favorite type of recipe!), dump it in a shallow baking pan, and bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Super easy as a side.

CSA - January
I paired it with some panko-breaded cod, lemon-garlic asparagus, and a crisp glass of Alapay Cellars Viognier.

CSA - January
Something I’ve really developed a love for throughout our CSA journey is winter squash. We had an acorn squash in one of our January shares.

CSA - January
And I found this mind-blowing recipe for garam masala scallops over roasted acorn squash. We made it ‘surf & turf’ with a steak seasoned with some Indian spices. I would absolutely make this recipe again – the flavor was wonderful (garam masala is an Indian spice that’s used in a lot of dishes) and the scallops were so, SO tender. It did make a lot more sauce than we needed, but that sauce could be used with some basmati rice, even as a leftover.

CSA - January
Our most recent CSA box had these strange characters in it. On the outside, they’re hard to tell from a rutabaga or parsnip.

CSA - January
But inside, their namesake becomes clear: these are watermelon radishes, a giant version of their regular selves.

CSA - January
I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. The Penn’s Corner blog suggested pickling them, but I wanted to make them that night for dinner. I found this recipe for watermelon radish and carrots with sesame viniagrette. Although the recipe says you can eat it immediately (and you can), I found that the flavor of the viniagrette intensifies overnight.

CSA - January
This was a great side dish with one of our Spark Solution recipes for buffalo chicken casserole, and it was a great, easy side dish to take to work for a snack.

CSA - January
Finally, I had some leftover potatoes and these two hearty parsnips to use.

CSA - January
I went to Cooking Light for this one and found parsnip-potato latkes with horseradish cream. As you can see, these are rather sad-looking latkes, and I sustained a minor injury shredding the parsnips (pro-tip: shredding potatoes, not so bad, shredding parsnips, quite a workout), but the flavor was awesome. Being a little healthier, there’s less oil and that contributes to the not-sticking-together business, but if you made the same recipe and simply fried it in the pan as a hash instead of trying to mold them as latkes, I think you’d be just as happy.

CSA - January
I paired those latkes to this honey sesame mahi mahi (because mahi mahi was on sale at Giant Eagle, woohoo!), and it was awesome, and well under 500 calories!

While I kind of miss the surplus of greens that June brings in the farm share, I’m loving the options we’ve gotten so far. I would never have sought out watermelon radishes (or even known what they were!) or rutabagas, but now that I’m familiar with them, I’d definitely cook with them again. Have you had success with a winter CSA share? We’d love to hear what you’ve tried!

1 Comment

Filed under #51, #51-14, cooking, CSA, dinner, garlic, indian food

One Response to CSA Spectacular: Turning Roots & Tubers Into Gourmet Treats

  1. Woubbie

    Cool! One of the paleo principles is to eat seasonal. Strawberries do not grow in PA in January, so tubers and preserves are the way to go!

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