Thinking inside the farmbox: Lettuce leaves and shelling peas

Sometimes it’s a challenge to figure out what to do with the vegetables and fruit that come in my CSA. Other times, it’s easy. The second share contained two large containers of strawberries and a big bunch of rhubarb. Clearly these two go together like peanut butter and jelly. I sliced them up, mixed them together with a little sugar, and sprinkled crumbly, buttery oats on top before baking. Easy, summery, and delicious.

This year, I plan to do a little more research about the different types of vegetables I’m receiving.  Several years of CSA shares have taught me that all potatoes aren’t even close to the same—some are better for roasting and others are better boiled and then slathered in herb butter.

As a result of the first research project, I learned Salanova lettuce is a leaf lettuce that grows in head form. According to Winslow, Maine-based Johnny’s Selected Seeds, a privately held, employee-owned seed producer, Salanova lettuce is "a new innovation in salad mix" that’s harvested as mature heads. It’s structure releases individual leaves with one cut, giving Salanova the benefits of leaf lettuce, but it’s easier to harvest.

While picking up the ingredients to make a green garlic, tomato, and arugula pasta (both the green garlic and the arugula were in the box), I spied some figs in the grocery store. They looked so good, I decided to use the lettuce for a salad with figs and prosciutto, which accompanied the pasta.


Sometimes the CSA share requires its recipient to be more hands-on with his or her food—such as when there are spring peas. Shelling them adds a half-hour onto prep, but the fresh-tasting results are worth the extra work. My favorite thing to cook with spring peas is risotto, and this batch of a spring peas went into a risotto with speck.

Finally, a recipe for stuffed red peppers caught my eye. It was in the August 2015 edition of Cuisine at Home, which recently showed up in my mailbox. The peppers were stuffed with a quinoa and black bean mixture. I added chopped chard from the CSA, and they were delicious.

The South Loop farmer’s market started on Thursday, June 25th, and we walked down the street to check it out. I picked up a jar of delicious local Chicago honey from West Side Bee Boyz and a loaf of multigrain bread from Pleasant House Bakery. I stood at my kitchen counter munching on the bread as a pre-dinner snack the same night, and the next day, I put smoked salmon and cream cheese on toasted slices. It was so good that I ate it for breakfast and lunch two days in a row.

Next week: tart cherries and my first attempt at baking a cherry pie from scratch.