CSA boxes always seem like a great idea. You’re supporting local farmers; eating healthy, locally grown food; and experimenting with sometimes new-to-you ingredients. You attack the first few boxes with zeal and then start to notice the vegetable remnants piling up in your fridge. Do not throw them out! We’re here to give you a few ideas and four tasty recipe ideas so you use up every last bite of those tasty veggies. Let’s start with the common culprits …
Kohlrabi is like the third posse member in a movie. The one that isn’t the star, or even the supporting lead, but she’s reliable, flexible and definitely a pleaser. You can use kohlrabi however your heart desires, and it will more or less take on the taste of the other elements in your dish. Kohlrabi roasts beautifully like any other cruciferous vegetable and is even tasty raw, as long as it’s thinly sliced.
What I did with it: I chopped and included it in vegetarian enchiladas (see recipe below) the first week and shaved it into a slaw the following.
Other ways to use kohlrabi: You can puree it into soup, roast it with Parmesan cheese, include it in a mishmash of vegetables and olive oil on the grill, and slice it into little sticks with apples, some herbs and a good glug of olive oil
You may think you know what to do with carrots. Just slice them up and serve them raw with or without a dip. And sure, you can always choose to do that. But the humble carrot has so many more interesting uses.
What I did with them: I cooked them sous vide with butter and herbs, mixed them into coleslaw, and I roasted and included them in veggie tacos as the main meat substitute. And yes, I did eat a few pieces raw with hummus.
Other ways to use carrots: Carrot cake is the most obvious other use. You can also sauté the carrots on the stovetop with butter and herbs, use a vegetable peeler to shave ribbons into salads, make carrot ginger dressing, and roast the full carrots on the grill. Don’t throw away the greens either — they are fantastic in pesto.
Sunflower and Pea Shoots
My favorite item to be included in my CSA box week after week is any type of shoot. Think of shoots as the big cousin to sprouts and the younger cousin to salad greens. They often have more stem than leaf and are generally mild-flavored.
What I did with them: I almost exclusively used my shoots as a topping on my near-daily lunchtime sandwich. On one desperate night, I mixed them into a bowl of ramen. It was so good I promptly declared myself a genius.
Other ways to use shoots: Most shoots are sturdy enough to be included in stir-frys, added to salads as extra greens, used as a topping for any sandwich or toast situation, and they are particularly nice as a garnish for deviled eggs.
A stalwart in CSA boxes around the country, kale is so much more controversial than I originally thought. The green, leafy stalks can evoke the staid fight between cilantro lovers (aka crazy people) and cilantro haters (me). If you’re a kale hater, it’s worth trying again. It is one of the most nutrient-dense foods in existence, and it can also be prepared a million ways.
What I did with it: I used a ton of kale for a base to a green goddess dressing (see recipe below), roasted some leaves for chips (not my favorite, but they do satisfy that crunching craving), mixed it into pasta one night to make it feel healthier, and I finely chopped it for a kale salad with cranberries, lemon, olive oil, Parmesan and shaved almonds.
Other ways to use kale: You can use kale raw in salads or increase the greens quotient in any soup. It’s also one of my favorite homemade pizza toppings and a fabulous substitute for spinach in smoothies. You can also mix it into shakshuka, or chop it up and include it in a vegetable fritter or as the greens in a stir-fry.
Another vegetable with critics, beets can taste like sweet dirty earth. They can also transform themselves to be the best addition to salads and grain bowls.
What I did with them: I poached the beets and mixed with farro, herbs and goat cheese. I pickled the rest — both whole after roasting and sliced thin while raw (more on pickling below).
Other ways to use beets: A goat cheese and beet salad is famous for a reason. You can also chop and mix them with plain yogurt and herbs, shave them into slaws, slice them thin for a salad topping, marinate them and add to a potato salad, or puree them for a hummus-like dip.
4 Easy Recipes
When you’re truly in need of a kitchen cleanout on the eve of your next CSA delivery, try one of these ideas:
Enchiladas: You can use any vegetables in this dish. The broth and cream soak into the tortillas to create an otherwordly experience. These are great as leftovers and can be frozen.
- 4 cups chopped vegetables (peppers, onions, carrots, turnips, kohlrabi, eggplant — anything goes!)
- 1 jar 15.5 oz medium salsa
- 8 oz. sour cream
- 1 packet taco seasoning or 2 tbsp mix of cumin, chili pepper, paprika and garlic powder
- 8-12 flour tortillas
- 1 pint half & half (you can use fat-free, it just won't be as good)
- 1 container chicken broth
- 1 bag Mexican cheese blend
- For serving: salsa, sour cream, and scallions are all optional toppings
- Chop the vegetables and add them to a large heavy-bottomed pot, like a dutch oven.
- Add the taco seasoning and stir to coat.
- Let cook over low-medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, and add water if the vegetables need to soften more.
- Add jar of salsa and container of sour cream. Stir to combine.
- Cook for another 20 minutes over low to medium heat to let flavors combine.
- Fill tortillas with filling and wrap tightly. Place them into a greased casserole dish, packed tightly.
- Top the enchiladas with the cheese.
- Pour about one cup each of the half & half and chicken broth over the enchiladas. You want the liquid to rise barely up to the top of the enchiladas, but not at all covering them on top.
- Cover and bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes.
- Uncover once most of the liquid is absorbed and bake for 15 more minutes.
Pesto: A basic pesto recipe includes something green, a nut of some kind, a hard cheese, and olive oil. This is a great way to use up the leafy tops of your carrots and beets. Do not throw those tops away! Either sauté them, make pesto or use them in a green goddess dressing. You can freeze pesto in ice cube trays so you can enjoy them later, too.
- 6 cups gently packed herbs and/or greens
- ½ cup toasted nuts
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 to 2 garlic cloves
- ½ cup virgin olive oil
- Salt to taste
- Place half of the greens into a food processor with the nuts and garlic.
- Pulse to combine until finely chopped.
- Add the rest of the greens and the cheese, and stir to combine.
- With the motor running, drizzle the olive oil into the food processor slowly in a steady stream.
- Continue to process until you have the desired texture of pesto. It can be thick and a little chunky, or smooth and thin — your choice.
- Feel free to add in additional herbs, cheese, nuts or salt until you get the taste you like.
Green goddess dressing: This is the gold standard for what to do with any leftover greens. Combine the greens (including those in the onion family like scallions and leeks) and other ingredients in a Vitamix and blend. Don’t leave out the anchovy paste! It doesn’t taste fishy, but it does lend some necessary umami to the dressing.
- 1 cup parsley leaves (or any herbs)
- 1 cup packed watercress or spinach leaves, stemmed (or any leftover greens)
- 2 tablespoons tarragon leaves, rinsed
- 3 tablespoons minced chives
- 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
- 2 anchovy fillets, oil or salt-packed
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 generous tablespoon Champagne vinegar or sherry vinegar
- ½ cup canola oil or grapeseed oil
- ½ cup mayonnaise or plain Greek yogurt
- Kosher salt
- freshly ground pepper
- In a blender, combine the parsley, watercress or spinach, tarragon, chives, garlic, anchovies, lemon juice, vinegar and canola or grapeseed oil.
- Blend until smooth, about two minutes.
- Add the mayonnaise or yogurt, and blend again until smooth.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Quick pickle: Pickling is trendy right now, but it’s for good reason. I’m not talking about the kind that requires submerging jars into boiling water and can keep for years on a shelf. I’m talking about quick pickling — my personal favorite thing to do with veggies. Boil some vinegar, water, salt and sugar on the stove. Add herbs or peppercorns, or mix up the veggies in the jar with the liquid. Refrigerate for a day and then use the results on salads, tacos, sandwiches, burgers, cheese plates, grain bowls and avocado toast. OR, when I’m super lazy, try this — the single most important hack in this entire article: I add the veggies to the brine that’s leftover from a jar of pickles, and I let it all marinate for a day. I may even prefer this version for red onions and radishes.
- ½ cup white vinegar
- 2 rounded teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon mustard seed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon dried dill (or any herb)
- 1-2 cups of any chopped vegetable
- Other ingredient options: 1 bay leaf, tumeric, peppercorns, multiple vegetables in one jar, etc)
- 4 kirby cucumbers, cut into 1-inch slices on an angle
- Heat small saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Add vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, salt, and garlic to the pan and cook until it begins to simmer and sugar dissolves.
- Toss the dill, bay leaf (or any herbs), and sliced vegetables together in a heat-proof bowl and transfer to a glass storage jar.
- Pour the simmering liquid over the vegetables.
- Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before eating. The pickled vegetables will last about 2 weeks in your fridge and only get better with time.
More ideas that do not need recipes: You can also make quesadillas, tacos, stir-fry, grain bowls, herbed compound butter, frittatas, soup (lettuce soup is a thing!), fritters, stuffed peppers, pasta or risotto. And when all else fails, toss the veggies in olive oil and roast them in the oven.
BONUS! There’s only one thing you should do with fresh berries right now. Mix half-and-half with truffle honey in a blender until it’s the consistency of whipped cream. Then serve with the raw berries. You can email thank you notes to me at [email protected].
To see more recipes perfect to make this weekend, check these out HERE.