Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

CSA Challenge: Recipes Inspired By This Week’s Delivery

Earth Eats is taking the CSA Challenge. We find creative uses for six cucumbers, a bunch of sage, and a whole slew of potatoes.

box with the text

Photo: erin.kkr (Flickr)

This week's CSA box includes tomatoes, zucchinis, cucumbers, potatoes, and a bunch of sage.

Social Connections In The Urban Soil

Cruising down Market Street in downtown Saint Louis, you’re going to zip right by it.

But, if you can’t beat the light just before the I-55 overpass you’ll see a patch of green, filled with farmers wearing neon green T-shirts busy tending to the grounds and filling wheel barrels with fresh mustard greens.

At its heart, City Seeds is a local food system built to tackle everything from addiction to unemployment to homelessness. Funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the program was created by Gateway Greening in 2006, a 27-year-old non-profit focused on community gardening in Saint Louis.

“It gives me a sense of belonging, that I can actually do something,” says one of the farmers Robert Reed, who is homeless and jobless.

It’s tough to know for sure if there’s a link between harvesting local food and recovery from things like addiction or depression. Nevertheless, Ann Rotermund’s gut instinct says yes. She’s senior director of mental health at the St. Patrick Center, whose clients work the farm.

“We have long thought that there was a link with kind of early recovery from drugs and alcohol and mental health issues with putting something in the ground,” she said.

More: Read more about the City Seeds program at Harvest Public Media.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

table at farmers market with tomatoes, eggplants, and cucumbers

Photo: Annie Corrigan/WFIU

LIFE Certified Organic Farm (LIFE stands for Local Indiana Food Enterprises) is a family owned operation that farms about 14 acres in Morgan and Monroe County.

“People who are really dedicated to supporting small, local farms sometimes join CSAs,” explains Bobbi Boos, crew leader and CSA coordinator for LIFE Certified Organic Farm. “They pay us in the spring when we need money for seeds and fertilizer and labor before we get to start harvesting and selling our food. We provide a weekly delivery of food, so that’s their share.”

Boos says the CSA boxes get a priority for the produce they sell. “We’re not selling green beans because [the CSA boxes] got all the green beans. We also have watermelons in some of the shares, green peppers, garlic, basil… So, not everybody gets everything. We switch it up because we don’t have enough for all of our members – watermelons go here one week, they go here the next week.”

The CSA box in the Earth Eats office this week is a little different: a couple tomatoes, a bunch of sage, five cucumbers, and a whole slew of potatoes.

We knocked out the tomatoes in no time, but the other ingredients have given us pause. How can we creatively incorporate cucumbers, sage and potatoes into this week’s meals?

Cucumbers

One can only eat so many raw cucumbers slices with hummus! With six cukes to eat in one week, we needed a better solution. This recipe uses all the cucumbers and plenty of fresh herbs to transform a traditional gazpacho recipe into something new.

green gazpacho with herbs and tomatoes

Photo: Jessie Wallner/WFIU

Garnish the cold soup with some tomato bits and fresh herbs of your choosing to use even more produce from your CSA box.

Green Gazpacho

Serving Size: Serves 8-10 folks

Ingredients

  • 6 cucumbers
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 5 scallions
  • 1 cup assorted herbs (basil, dill, chives, mint, parsley, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional Garnishes:
  • 1/2 cup cucumbers, diced
  • 1/2 cup herbs, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup sweet potatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup scallions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon green chilies, minced
  • 1 cup crab or shrimp

Cooking Directions

  1. Combine the cucumbers, garlic, ginger, scallions, herbs, olive oil and yogurt in a blender and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt, pepper and hot sauce. Chill well, Fold in remaining ingredients just before serving and adjust seasoning.
  2. Garnish bowls with cucumbers, yogurt, herbs and other condiments of your choice,
  3. Serve the gazpacho at the table from a large decorative tureen.

Sage

Fresh juices are a great way to cool down in the summertime and enjoy the bounty of the season, but this is certainly not your everyday glass of apple juice. We’re using cayenne pepper, lemon, and sage.

Sage Plant

Photo: moto browniano (Flickr)

Sage is a member of the mint family and is perhaps best known as a seasoning for stuffing. It is also great with fatty foods like pork and sausage.

Sage And Apple Infusion

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts apple juice
  • 1 bunch sage, washed and lightly bruised
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads (or turmeric)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 small lemons, thinly sliced into rounds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Cooking Directions

  1. Heat 1 quart of the juice to a boil and pour over the sage, saffron, honey, lemon, and pepper. Allow to infuse 10-15 minutes.
  2. Add the remaining juice and chill well. Strain.
  3. Serve over ice with an apple wedge and safe leaf garnish.

Potatoes

Finding uses for potatoes isn’t especially difficult, but coming up with a recipe that hasn’t been prepared a couple dozen times can be tricky.

So, we dug through the Earth Eats archive to find this recipe for potato pancakes. The recipe for these Old Fashioned Potato Latkes is a favorite in the Jewish food tradition, and they are often enjoyed around Hanukkah.

Old Fashioned Potato Latkes

Photo: Adam Schweigert/WFIU

Just like the drink recipe, these Old Fashioned Latkes also use an apple product: applesauce.

Old Fashioned Potato Latkes

Ingredients

  • 5 large russet potatoes, about 2-1/2 lbs total
  • 4 scallions, chopped fine
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour or more as needed
  • 2-3 teaspoons salt (potatoes need a lot)
  • freshly ground pepper
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • applesauce
  • sour cream for serving

Cooking Directions

  1. Peel the potatoes and grate them on the large holes of a hand-held grater.
  2. Transfer them to a sieve set over a bowl and, using your hands or the back of a wooden spoon, press out as much moisture as you can. Starch will collect under the potato water.
  3. Some cooks pour off the water and add the starch back to the potatoes, as a binder.
  4. Grate the onion on the same grater and combine it with the potato in a clean bowl. Add the potato starch, if you like.
  5. Beat the eggs in a small bowl.
  6. Add them to the potatoes, then stir in enough flour to make a light batter.
  7. Add the salt and the pepper to taste.
  8. Fry a nugget of the potato mixture, then taste it to make sure there’s enough salt.
  9. In a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, warm enough oil to come 1/8 to 1/4 inch up the sides of the pan. It should be good and hot but not smoking.
  10. Drop the batter by tablespoonfuls or 1/4 cupfuls into the hot oil.
  11. Gently press on them to flatten them out. Don’t crowd the pan or the latkes will become soggy.
  12. Fry until golden on the bottom, about 3 minutes, then turn and brown the second side.
  13. Remove to paper towels to drain briefly, then serve as soon as you can, with the applesauce and sour cream.

Annie Corrigan

Annie Corrigan is a producer and announcer for WFIU. In addition to serving as the local voice for NPR's Morning Edition, she produces WFIU's weekly sustainable food program Earth Eats. She earned degrees in oboe performance from Indiana University and Bowling Green State University.

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