Produce Tips and Recipes

Do you have a few good cookbooks with seasonal recipes? You’ll want one that isn’t going to mix ingredients from different seasons. From Asparagus to Zucchini is a FACSAP favorite and a good resource to add to your culinary library. The book can purchase directly from the source, FairShare CSA Coalition, formerly the Madison Area CSA Coalition (MACSAC), and Amazon also sells the book. They have a new cookbook available now as well, Farm-Fresh and Fast which is intended for both seasoned and beginning CSA members and is packed with strategies, techniques and more than 300 new recipes.

Make sure to subscribe to the FACSAP Blog, where we feature seasonal recipes. For additional online resources for produce post-harvest care and preparation, follow the bold green hyperlinks below:

- How to bring 12 kinds of vegetables back to life

- How to revive wilted produce

- Storage and use Guide

- Tips for preserving just about any fruit or vegetable

BASIL

Basil can be used for more than pesto (but that is my favorite way to enjoy it). Check out all the benefits that basil tea offers.

Storing fresh basil: Store basil at room temperature, as refrigeration can turn it black.  Trim the stems like you would cut flowers and place in a cup of water on the counter away from direct sunlight.  For extra longevity, cover the entire bunch in a large plastic bag. If you won’t be able to use all of the basil fresh, this link provides guidance for various methods of freezing. When done with care, the thawed basil can still be used as whole leaves for garnishesFor something different, try one of these recipes for basil lemonade here and here.

BEETS

Check out these recipes for some great ideas for your beets! 

CABBAGE

Raw (unpasteurized) sauerkraut combines the health benefits offered
by cruciferous vegetables with the probiotic advantages derived from
the fermentation process. You can make your own, following
Sandor Katz's technique

Just don’t think you’ll get around to using all of your cabbage in time
and not tasting more sauerkraut? Cabbage freezes well with a
quick blanching first. Keep in mind that once thawed, the cabbage’s texture will only be suitable for cooked dishes.

CORN

Fresh sweet corn is a favorite summer vegetable treat. Unfortunately, most people overcook it and miss out on the milky sweet juices fresh corn has to offer. It should be eaten as soon as possible after harvest. If you must store it, leave the husks on and keep it chilled and stored in a plastic bag to prevent it from drying. Peel away the husks and silks just before cooking, and cook for no more than 5 minutes in boiling water. Eat immediately (rubbed with butter and sprinkled with salt!).

Did you find any cornworms in your corn? We like to say that if the corn didn’t kill that worm then you know it is safe for you to eat. It is common to find a small worm at the top of an ear of corn grown without pesticides. Before cooking, just cut out the part of the ear around the worm. It’s not a reason to throw out the whole ear.

CUCUMBERS

According to the UC Davis Dept. of Post Harvest Technology,
you should store your cucumbers at room temperature for optimal taste, texture, and shelf life.

There are many online recipes for making your own pickles. I enjoy them the most when they are lactofermented dills. Check out Alton Brown’s recipeThese taste just like the kind Grandma used to make.

Don’t feel like waiting?  This recipe for refrigerator pickles sounds quick and easy.

EGGPLANT

Eggplant is best stored at room temperature. Read more and find some recipes ideas. More of our favorite eggplant combinations:

Martha’s grilled eggplant

Curried Eggplant with Tomatoes and Basil 

Eggplant Caviar (for dipping, like hummus or salsa)

FENNEL

To store your fennel and carrots in the fridge: first remove the fennel bulb from the stalk/fronds and the carrot greens from the root, then store all in separate plastic bags. This way the greens don’t steal moisture from the fennel bulbs and carrot roots. Be careful not to let fennel get too cold. Like lettuce and celery, fennel’s high water content makes it prone to freezing in overly-cold fridges. For a non-plastic option, try storing fennel upright in a cup of water on the counter. Either way, try to use your fennel within a few days—any more than that, and it starts to lose flavor. However, fresh fennel will keep in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. 

While raw fennel is great when chopped and added to a salad, it has a wide range of uses, and the stalks and fronds are edible as well as the bulb. Caramelized fennel?  Yes, please! Here are 24 other tasty possibilities, and more information about how to identify and use each part of the fennel plant. 

GARLIC

Garlic is best stored in a dark spot where there is a good amount of air circulation. Find many other storage tips here

GREEN BEANS

If you aren’t going to eat them all right away, we would recommend freezing green beans. They take just a little bit of prep, as they do need to be blanched before freezing. A popular way to enjoy green beans is with tomatoes stewed in olive oil, Turkish style

HOT PEPPERS

Jalapeño Madness! You'll find a great source of inspiration for the jalapeños hereIf you’re worried about the heat from the jalapeño peppers, try removing the seeds before adding them to dishes using this great tutorial. Hot peppers sweeten, and therefore balance the heat, when roasted.

KOHLRABI

Is kohlrabi new to you? It is related to cabbage and broccoli, and the entire plant is edible. I like the “bulb” raw and grated in salads or fresh rolls, or fermented like sauerkraut. The leaves can be cooked like kale or turnip greens.  Get some more ideas here.

LEAFY GREENS (Kale, Chard, Turnip and Beet Greens)

Did you get home and wonder “Oh my, what to do with all these great looking leafy greens and veggies?” Spring brings us a lot of greens which help us detoxify the body after a long winter of heavy foods. We had a member ask about how to prolong the life of the greens you receive. You can soak the greens (lettuces included) in a cold water bath with either apple cider vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. Simply add 1 tablespoon of either per gallon of water, or about 1/4 cup to a sink full of cold water. Let them soak for about 20 minutes then dry by blotting off the excess water or spinning in a salad spinner. You can then place the greens in a storage container in the refrigerator.

Chard can wilt while waiting for you to pick up your share and get it home. If this happens, just remove the rubber band and give the entire bundle a soak in a sink full of cold water. Add a splash of hydrogen peroxide or vinegar for an added boost. Then just spin or blot the chard until dry and store it in a plastic bag in your refrigerator until use.

Looking for some new recipes for your chard? Check out this list.

One of our members mentioned that she had been roasting the chard and loved it prepared that way. You may want to roast the stems a little longer, so placing them in the oven for 5-10 minutes before the greens will help get everything evenly roasted.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Chances are, there will be plenty of kale and other greens headed your way over the first several weeks of the harvest season. Try cooking them in browned butter and onions, with a little bit of crushed red pepper flakes for kick. For a different take on greens try Kale Chips.

We're including the link for one FACSAP organizer's favorite recipes for using up kale—it's great with chard as well. (She notes, "It isn’t pretty, but the combination of flavors is crave-able. This recipe was tested on my 17 month old and was a hit served over couscous.")

The tender spring kales are perfect in a raw kale salad. I like Whole Food’s recipe, but with a few additions. I add chopped nuts and dried cranberries, and sometimes a touch of honey if the kale has any bitterness.  

Did you try eating your turnip and beet greens yet? Here are more reasons to eat your turnips from root to leaf! 

If you are getting tired of kale and other greens, you can always freeze them for use in smoothies and other dishes later. Wash and drain the greens and remove any woody stems or damaged pieces. Then blanch the greens by placing them in a pot of boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove the greens and immediately and plunge them into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain the greens and then pack them into airtight bags before placing them in the freezer. 

LEEKS

New to leeks? Tired of finding grit or sand in meals you’ve prepared using leeks? Watch this short video for a demonstration of how to clean your leeks. Leeks can be used in more than just potato leek soup. 

LETTUCE

Grilled romaine is an unexpected way to serve this classic green. 

PEAS

Mange–tout is the French name for fresh sugar snap peas, which can be eaten entirely. You also can shell them. They are great raw or lightly steamed, and can be enjoyed with vegetable dips or humus. Here are 5 ways to eat them. 

PEPPERS

Find 5 creative uses for banana peppers here, and here is a unique take on stuffed peppers. This recipe calls for red bell pepper, but would be delicious with any variety.

POTATOES

Potatoes are great fresh from the field as well as for storage. If you keep them in a cool, dark, well-ventilated space (but not the refrigerator) they should last for quite some time. Find more information here

Fingerling potatoes are naturally smaller. They are best roasted (whole or halved length-wise) or can be cooked for use in salads. If you don’t want to heat up your oven, try stove-top roasting as described in this recipe.

RADISHES

For longer radish storage, cut off the tops and the bottom near the root and place them in a bowl of water, covered, in the refrigerator. They should stay nice and crunchy this way. To eat your radishes like the French do, spread a good unsalted butter (preferably a cultured butter) on slices of baguette. Top with thin slices of radish and a sprinkle of sea salt. Alternatively, you can skip the bread and spread the butter directly on a halved radish then sprinkle with salt. The heat and crunch from the radish are balanced by the sweet creaminess of the butter—a perfect lunch dish or picnic basket treat for a hot summer day. Check out all of these radish recipes, you’re sure to find one you’ll like.

SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS

Your mushrooms continue to live after harvesting, even when stored in the refrigerator. Please give them some air. We may pack them in plastic if it is raining, but they will do best in a paper bag.

SWEET POTATOES

You can eat them now in, but sweet potatoes generally will get sweeter and tastier if cured and stored properly. Do not put them in your refrigerator, as they will just get hard and will not be enjoyable to eat. Please review these curing and storage recommendations.

Becky at Blenheim Farm recommends this recipe for Paleo Roasted Mustard White Sweet Potatoes.

TOMATOES

Please unpack your tomatoes as soon as you get home; they should not be left in the plastic bag. Store them at room temperature, in a single layer, out of direct sunlight. If you’re looking for ways to save your tomatoes into winter, small batch canning might be for you; how about tomato jam?

Many people are surprised to learn that you can freeze tomatoes. You can preserve them in the freezer if it is too hot for canning or if you only have a few that are not going to get used fresh before spoiling. Tomatoes are  best peeled, and seeds removed first (just as if you were canning tomatoes). Toss them in a zip-top bag or vacuum seal them in a freezer bag. These are great for making sauces, soups, and chili over the winter months.

Looking for an easy way to preserve a small amount of tomatoes? You can roast them and then freeze them for later. To roast, cut in half and remove the core and seeds—try combining with chopped onion, garlic, and a generous drizzle of olive oil topped off with salt and pepper in a 450° F oven. Roast until onions are fully cooked and the tomatoes have started to brown and caramelize.  Puréed roasted vegetables can be added to a broth with basil for soup, tossed with pasta, or frozen for use later. More tasty tomato ideas:

Garden-busting Roasted Tomato Sauce (a great way to use up lingering share items—enjoy now or freeze for later) 

Roasted Ratatouille Tart (cornmeal crust makes it gluten free)

Looking for a new way to enjoy your tomatoes? Check out this recipe for Stuffed tomatoes.

WATERMELON

Most folks eat their watermelon as is, often cutting into it before leaving our FACSAP distribution site. If you are looking for a fancier way to serve and enjoy it, try granitaYou also can enjoy your watermelon in a salad with microgreens and feta drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

WINTER SQUASH (Butternut, Acorn, Cushaw, Seminole, Pumpkin)

Butternut squash stores best in a dark, cool, dry area (not the refrigerator). They should keep for a few months when properly stored. Try roasting squash for delicious squash soup or risotto. Just cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast until the squash is tender and sweet. Mash or purée the cooked squash and stir into prepared risotto instead of parmesan cheese. The puree freezes will for later use as well.

Member Amy passed along a very simple method of cooking acorn squash that keeps it tender, not mushy. Cut the squash in half vertically, scoop out seeds. Place cut side down on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes (check along the way for desired consistency, cooking time may vary  by the size). By placing the cupped part face down, it kind of steams itself! This will work for butternut squash and pie pumpkins as well, but may take just a bit longer.

Visit this online field guide to help you identify the different squashes you may receive in your produce share.

Roasted Spiced Acorn 

Red Kuri Squash Soup (will work with any winter squash, and is just as good without the roasted fennel) 

Smoky Black Bean and Butternut Ragou

Butternut Squash Pasta 

Acorn Squash with Parmesan