October CSA Ideas

I don’t have a recipe to post this week, but wanted to share some ideas for CSA cooking. My full Potter Hill Farm share this week included tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, husk cherries, shishitos, turnips, lettuce, chard, perpetual spinach, and mustard greens.

Got tomatoes? Red and green? The recipe booklet at the bottom of this post has an excellent tomato and chickpea curry with coconut milk (plus many other great ideas for tomatoes). Roasted tomato and eggplant soup is a dream, even if the color makes you think otherwise. I’ve been eyeing these fried green tomatoes, mostly because the sauce looks incredible (and every sauce needs a vehicle!). Charred green tomato salsa is also an excellent option.

Greens on your mind? I have big plans to make this spanakopita pie with my wealth of greens (I always use couscous, and it soaks up the extra liquid perfectly). Bok choy rice bowls are so easy and flavorful.

Root vegetables have your heart? This roasted carrot and farro salad is excellent as is, or with other root veg mixed in. Celeriac and apple slaw is refreshing and crunchy – a perfect side with roasted chicken or grilled pork chops.

What fall delicacies are you cooking?

Grilled Zucchini Bowls with Chickpeas and Pesto

Now is not the time for turning on the oven or storage vegetables, but I was craving my winter root veg bowls so an update to the cooking method and vegetables was in order. I love this concept though – a ton of vegetables, chickpeas for heft and texture, plus a vibrant green sauce to tie everything together. This version has the “it” vegetable of July, summer squash, and any variety works – zucchini, yellow summer squash, pattypan squash. Grilling summer squash is my favorite summer preparation, but you can pan fry or roast.

This meal is easily scale-able – in my house one can of chickpeas is two servings, so you can easily halve or up it. The pesto should make enough for 6+ servings, and you can serve it on toast with eggs, over tomatoes and burrata, or on pizza.

My full share this week was two heads of lettuce, summer squash, rainbow carrots, fresh onions, cabbage, young leeks, kale, broccoli leaves, and purple basil. I used rainbow carrots, some of the cabbage, and the purple basil in a slaw I served atop rice noodles and some grilled BBQ tofu for a summer cold noodle situation. I used grilled extra squash while I was making these bowls to use in my favorite enchiladas (forgive the low-light photo – they are great!!) that I also stuck some chopped kale and onion tops into. Salad options for alllll that lettuce include: BBQ chicken peach, tzatziki with marinated lentils, chipotle ranch. I’m thinking about cooking the broccoli leaves and tougher, outer cabbage leaves a la collards for this dish, or in collards with peanut butter (don’t knock it til you try it). Hot, humid days call for cool beverages like these herbal citrus refreshers.

Grilled Zucchini Bowls with Chickpeas and Pesto

Serves 4

  • 2 large summer squash (mine were 40 oz total)
  • 2 cups packed soft herbs, such as basil, parsley, cilantro, dill and scallions (I used 1/4 cup of each of the above except basil)
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more if needed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas
  • 3 fresh onions (or 1 large onion), thinly sliced

Heat up a grill on high. Thickly slice the summer squashes, and coat with olive oil (3-4 tablespoons), salt, and pepper. Grill for 10-15 minutes, until they are thoroughly charred an soft all the way through (the flesh turns from an opaque white to more translucent). Let the squash cool, and then chop into 1/2″ pieces.

Thinly slice the onions. Heat up a large, deep skillet on medium high and pour in 1/2 cup olive oil. Add in the onions, and cook for 7-10 minutes, until they start to brown at the edges. While the onions are cooking, drain and rinse the chickpeas. After the onions are browned add the chickpeas, plus a few pinches of salt and grinds of pepper. Cook 10-15 minutes, until the chickpeas are visibly darkened and have a nice, crispy outside.

Turn on a food processor with the S blade in and drop the garlic cloves through the opening at the top. When the garlic cloves stop bouncing around they are fully minced. Turn the food processor off and scrape down the sides with a spatula. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper, herbs, pine nuts, and lemon juice. Turn the food processor on to puree everything, then drizzle in 1/4 cup olive oil so a smooth sauce forms (more if needed). Alternatively, very finely mince the garlic, herbs, and pine nuts (or mash in a mortal and pestle), then stir in the salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil.

Build the bowls by dividing up the summer squash and chickpeas into 4 bowls then topping with a big spoonful of pesto. Serve with more pesto and olive oil for drizzling.

(Crumbled feta like I use in the winter version of this dish would be delicious on top.)

Chipotle Ranch Salads

My full Potter Hill share this week is two heads of lettuce, perpetual spinach, chard, kale, fresh onions, scallions, carrots, parsley, dill, and summer squash (what a bounty!!!). Since making 6 servings of the salad below only used up 1 giant head of lettuce, more salad is still in my future!! I’m planning to make chicken caesar wraps with this dressing, but this barbecue chicken salad with peaches is another excellent option. On Monday I went the classic easy dinner route, and make quesadillas with some sauteed chard, leftover grilled zucchini, and leftover grilled chicken and steak. I used the kale, perpetual spinach, and onion tops to make beans and greens, a perennial favorite (funnily enough I joked in that post about no one being able to leave the house without a salad that week…a familiar feeling). You can never go wrong with onion dip, but know that making your own will change you forever.

Now that we’re in the heart of zucchini season, here are a bunch of favorites: zucchini carbonara, zucchini herb salad, zucchini and corn enchiladas, summer quinoa salad, and pasta with zucchini, feta, and fried lemon (NYT). Whenever in doubt, cut long thick slices, coat them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and throw them on the grill with whatever else you are grilling. Finish with some lemon juice and a shower of herbs, or maybe even some pesto.

Chipotle Ranch Salads

Serves 6

This kind of salad works with whatever you’ve got. Leftover cooked meats and vegetables, or any other raw veg are great toppings. Mix it up!!

Dressing

  • ¼ cup plain yogurt or mayo (I used 2 tablespoons of each)
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon liquid from chipotles en adobo
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill (or 2 teaspoons dried)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper

Salad

  • 1 head of lettuce, chopped
  • 1 summer squash, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage (1/4 of a large head)
  • 2 15-ounce cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup crumbled cotija or feta cheese (not pictured, because I forgot in this photo)
  • 1 small fresh onion, diced (pickled would be even better)
  • 2 cups crumbed tortilla chips

Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake to combine. Ideally you will do this before you prep the rest of the salad ingredients so it has time to mingle (at least 30 min). Refrigerate until ready to serve. Taste after it has time to rest and adjust the seasoning (but remember that you want the flavor to be strong because it will be diluted by the salad).

On a large platter (or on separate plates) build your salads with lettuce, cabbage, summer squash, beans, cotija, onions, and tortilla chips. Serve with dressing.

Pasta with Sausage, Zucchini, Kale, and Garlic Scapes

I think I can safely say this is my favorite pasta. A fun pasta shape, sausage countered with bitter greens, slight heat from the red pepper flakes, and loads of garlic is just my idea of heaven. I make versions of this fairly regularly, with the pasta and sausage staying consistent, but switching up the green veg, maybe adding sauteed onions, and always garlic. This is essentially just an adapted version of the classic Italian dish orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe. If you don’t eat meat, I would add another tablespoon of olive oil to start and add in a couple 15-oz cans of creamy cannellini beans when you’re done cooking the veg.

My full share this week was lettuce, garlic scapes, carrots, zucchini, cabbage, radishes, parsley, and cilantro. I will admit I didn’t use up my basil from last week, but since it came with the roots I just stuck the bunch in a jar of water on the counter and it was still looking great at the time I made this pasta. Here is a great guide to washing and storing fresh produce to make your share last as long as possible. I do the same thing and plan my meals based on what needs to be used up first – always lettuce early in the week and sturdy veg bringing up the rear.

On Monday I made a Spanish tortilla and served it with a simple side salad of lettuce and radishes using the same dressing as last week. Another night I adapted a kofta recipe (Turkish meatballs) by adding shredded zucchini, and served them with bulgar, grilled carrots, garlic yogurt sauce, and cilantro. The kofta were almost a grilling disaster as they were too delicate to be flipped, but I managed to salvage them and dinner was still delicious. If you’ve never grilled carrots, these early ones are perfect for the grill – just scrub them well, halve them, give them a toss in olive oil and cook until charred, finishing with something creamy like yogurt or feta, and herbs. Tomorrow I’m planning on grilling some chicken thighs and zucchini for tacos, topped with radishes, onion, shredded cabbage, and cilantro. I made a chocolate zucchini bread this week, and I’m already eyeing this cake for my next giant zuke.

What are you cooking?

Pasta with Sausage, Zucchini, Kale, and Garlic Scapes

Serves 6-8

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more if needed
  • 1 lb Italian sausages (either sweet or spicy)
  • 1 large zucchini (mine was 25 oz)
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 bunch garlic scapes (mine had 6)
  • 3 cloves garlic (or the white bottom section of fresh garlic)
  • 1 small bunch basil (about ½ cup chopped)
  • A large handful parsley leaves (about ½ cup chopped)
  • 1 lb short pasta (I used girelle)
  • Salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (more if you like!)
  • Fresh grated parm for serving

Chop the sausage into bite sized pieces if using links. Heat a large, heavy bottom pot over medium heat (keep in mind the entire pasta dish will be finished in this pot so err on the large side). Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to heat up, then add the sausage. Cook until it is cooked through and browned.

While the sausage is browning, chop the zucchini into 1/2″ cubes. Remove the stems from the kale and roughly chop. Mince the garlic and chop the garlic scapes into 1/2 inch pieces (just do your best – they are hard to tame).

Using a slotted spoon remove the sausage from the pan and add 1 tablespoon more olive oil. Add in the zucchini, plus a big pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is soft and browned (about 10 minutes).

Put on a large pot half filled with water and a large pinch of salt to boil (not filling the pot with water means the water that is leftover is much more concentrated with pasta starch – essential for good sauce building). Cook the pasta until al dente. I find the cooking times on pasta vary wildly, so I set a timer for 5 minutes to start, taste it then, and then add time as needed.

Add in the garlic scapes, garlic and red pepper flakes to the zucchini pot and stir to combine. Cook for 1-2 minutes (the garlic should become fragrant), then add the kale in and toss to wilt. Add the sausage back to the pot.

When the pasta is done, use a slotted spoon to put it directly into the pot with the other ingredients. Add a half a ladle-full of pasta water to the pot, and stir to combine. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Roughly chop the herbs. Finish the pasta with the herbs, and serve with grated parm, and more red pepper flakes.