Tuesday, October 16, 2012

CSA Gems

Two years ago my husband and I decided to join a local CSA, so we could support a local farm and also to get some fresh organic vegetables and the occasional fruit. It has been quite a culinary experience for us since  we have joined.

Like I mentioned in a previous post, before marriage and children I wasn't much of a cook and didn't really care too much about learning how to cook either. But now I care much more about what I am feeding my children so have taken cooking more seriously and am always looking for new recipes to try.

With the CSA we get to try quite a lot of "new" vegetables that I wouldn't normally buy at the supermarket or farmers market. Most of these vegetables come out during the end of summer and fall. Today I'm going to share with you some of these vegetables and the recipes I used for them.

Celeriac aka Celery Root
*Picture from Lee Court Farms

This is by far the weirdest looking vegetable we have come across from our CSA. When my husband came back with it last year, I was like "What the heck is that? It looks like a brain!" I had to do some searching online through images to figure out what it was. Quite a lot of people add it to their mashed potato and say it's pretty good but I wasn't too sure. Some people make soup with it and I thought that would be a better way to go. I ended up using a recipe that actually originally calls for Fennel, the vegetable that I will talk about next, and it turned out pretty good. One thing to note, while cutting the root after the ugly skin is removed, it leaves a cool feeling on your hands, pretty interesting. Overall though I can't say I'm crazy about it and wouldn't buy it myself if I saw it at the supermarket or farmers market.

*Picture from healthfulpursuit.com

This one looks a bit like a heart. I wasn't quite sure what to do with it or what it was called when my husband first brought it home. Our CSA does post all the vegetables we get at each pick up but my husband doesn't always pay attention to it or just can't remember everything. So I did a search online to figure out what it was and then saw that on the CSA newsletter they actually shared a recipe for it--White Bean Fennel Soup. I went to pick up some white beans which I didn't have at home and set out to make the soup out of this unusual looking vegetable. Let me tell you, it was AMAZING! Perfect for a cool fall evening. I hope we get it again this year!

Delicata Squash
*Picture from foodsubs.com

I've seen this at the supermarket or farmers market but never bought it since I had no idea how to cook it. My husband and I both think it's an Asian thing that we just don't usually eat squashes so we are not familiar with it and don't usually like it too much. So when we got a few with our CSA share, I searched online for some recipes that sounded like something my husband and I would like. I found Chili Brown Sugar Delicata Squash with Pears. A few things caught my eye about this recipe, it wasn't the usual just cut the squash in half, brush some olive oil with salt and bake recipes. Because I knew my husband would never eat that and I would try it but definitely wouldn't love it. It had other ingredients such as chili and brown sugar as mentioned in the recipe name and it had bacon! Both my husband and I love bacon so I thought the fact that it had it would give the recipe a chance. So I made it one night for dinner minus the pears since I didn't have any at home and didn't want to just buy some for the recipe. I thought it was pretty good and would eat it again but my husband didn't quite like it. He said the only good thing about it was the bacon! Oh well, it was worth a try.

*Picture from agricultureguide.org

I've heard of leeks before but always had an image in my head that they looked like turnips for some reason. So when we got leeks in our CSA share, I had no idea what it was. For a time, my mom was around and she just cut them up and sauteed them with some olive oil and garlic and they were pretty good. But when my mom left, I wanted to see if I could find another recipe for it and realized then that they were actually leeks! I found an easy Leek and Potato Soup recipe and decided to give it a try. I couldn't believe how good it tasted! I wasn't quite sure if my husband would like it but when he got home and tried it he loved it too! It is creamy yet light and not heavy like some soups. I will definitely be making more of this soup.

Acorn Squash
*Picture from gastronomersguide.org

I knew what this was when we got it in our CSA share but usually only see it used as fall decoration and have never really eaten it. Again going to the internet to do some searching, I found this recipe--Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash. Like I mentioned above, we are not big squash eaters, so I thought the sausage in this recipe should help it do better in our household. But again, I liked it but my husband not so much. Don't get me wrong, I loved the stuffing part of it that had the sausage but didn't really enjoy the squash part. Oh well, I guess we won't ever be big squash eaters.

Though some recipes weren't as well received, I was glad that my family and I got the chance to try some of these more unusual vegetables and broaden our horizons. There were a couple, like the leeks and fennel, that I would get in the future even if we are not part of the CSA anymore.

Here are links to all the recipes I mentioned above:
Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash
Chili-Brown Sugar Delicata Squash With Pears
White Bean Fennel Soup
Potato Leek Soup

Have you tried any of these vegetables or any other more unusual vegetable before? Please share your experience and your recipe.



  1. I tend to stay away from these "exotic" vegs at the supermarket, like the way some ppl avoid bok choy. Haha. It's great to be part of a CSA just so you can try-out new foods. I remember a friend who fell in love with beets because of the CFA! Great ventures into new cooking, Zi!

    1. Thanks Lisa! We get bok choy with our CSA and I love it that I actually know what it is and other people are the ones that need a recipe for it!