Week 16: Thinking inside the farmbox

This week and next, I’m planning to use a lot of potatoes. I got a little behind on potatoes during this year’s CSA journey, and I’m storing several varieties in my refrigerator.

First up, wilted kale and roasted potato salad. This recipe roasted the potatoes with garlic and Parmesan cheese and then tossed the hot potatoes and a lemon-tahini dressing with raw kale. It was a tasty addition to pork chops and roasted sugar beets.

The sugar beet I received was huge. I opted to use it alongside the pork to add a sweet note. When planning the menu, I thought it might be similar to pork chops and apples, one of my favorite combinations. I diced the beet, drizzled it with olive oil, sprinkled it with salt, pepper, and chopped fresh thyme, and placed it into the oven to roast alongside the potatoes for the winter salad.

Speaking of apples, there was an interesting tidbit in the weekly email from Nichols Farm. Nichols grows 200 varieties of apples, and most of those have about a two-week period for harvest. If they’re not taken off the trees, they will fall to the ground.

The box also contained eggplant and pak choi, both of which I used in a noodle dish, as well as delicata squash, potatoes, green sweet peppers, cauliflower, and mini pumpkins.

My husband's grandmother emigrated from Hungary to the United States in the early 1950s. Every winter, I cajole him to make her recipe for chicken paprikas. (I could do it, but it’s nice to have the night off from cooking.) The recipe includes making cucumber salad, which he often tries to get out of doing, and nokedli—a soft noodle or dumpling similar to spaetzle.

I try to return the favor by making some of his favorite fall and winter comfort foods, such as stews, chili, and stuffed peppers, another Hungarian favorite. The sweet peppers were delicious stuffed, and I served them over mashed cauliflower and potatoes to catch all the sauce.

Stuffed peppers

Stuffed peppers

And finally, I learned this week that although some are purely decorative, you can eat many of the varieties of cute mini pumpkins that are so ubiquitous this time of year. A couple tips from my research. One: Try to eat pumpkins that are fresh; if they sit around they can become bitter. Two: Avoid squash that are shiny on the outside, it’s likely they have been coated with something inedible. I stuffed my little pumpkins with wild rice, cranberries, and pecans and served them with small potatoes coated in dill butter and garlicky rapini.

Mini pumpkins stuffed with wild rice

Mini pumpkins stuffed with wild rice

Technically, the rapini is part of the next box. I’m working on two at once because I was out of town a couple of weekends ago. I’m almost caught up, but the delicata squash from this week’s CSA will appear in the next post.