Summer CSA Series: How to meal plan with veggies as your guide


It’s easy to get stuck in a rut going to the grocery store! This is especially true for my relationship with the produce section. Every week I go, it seems I buy the “staples” like apples, bananas, carrots, onions, cucumber, etc., and shy away from the veggies I’m not as comfortable cooking or eating like kohlrabi, radishes, turnips, etc. This problem, and my desire to support and eat local produce, prompted us to purchase a CSA membership this year! In another segment of this series, I’ll outline how we decided to go with the CSA farm that we did (Driftless Organics), but for now I’m going to focus on how to dig deep in your fridge and pantry to create stunning meals from obscure fruits and veggies.

Summer CSA Vegetables- Purple Potatoes, Radishes, Green Onion, Kohlrabi

I’m putting myself out for the world to make fun with this statement, but knowing that our CSA started the week we got back from vacation actually made me super excited to come home and get back to real life! When I picked up our white cardboard box of veggies on my way home from work yesterday, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride knowing that everything had been picked from the ground in the last day and now it was in my hands and ready to be feasted on.

This week in our box we got: Asian Greens, Green Butterhead Lettuce, Green Garlic, Green Kohlrabi, Oregano, Purple Potatoes, Red Radishes, Salad Turnips, Spring Onions, and Spinach. I’ve cooked with 5 of the 10 ingredients. Of course I’ve cooked with classic onions, garlic, and potatoes, but these were just different enough to make me reassess my meal options.

Side note: aren’t the bright colors to die for?? I’m currently holding out on fixing my purple potatoes, because I’m just going to be too excited to have a bright purple vegetable on my plate…

Summer CSA Vegetables- Purple Potatoes, Radishes, Green Onion, Kohlrabi 1

So, what do you do when you have never worked with a vegetable before?

#1. You research. I found myself in google, pinterest, and foodgawker looking for recipes with these vegetables as the featured item. In times like these, I’m super glad we live in the age of the internet with so much information and resources at our disposal! Here are some suuuper tasty recipes I found while looking around using some of my CSA ingredients.

Russian Korean Kohlrabi Salad

Deconstructed Samosas in Lettuce Cups

Sauteed Turnip Greens with Green Garlic

Summer Italian Orzo Salad with Grilled Marinated Vegetables and Chicken

Whipped Purple Potatoes with Goat Cheese

Chorizo Avocado Toast with Sliced Radishes

#2. You ask friends. When I posted a picture on instagram of my CSA box, I asked for specific suggestions on what to do with my kohlrabi and salad turnips! Chances are someone in your circle has experience making something that you don’t, and will be able to offer suggestions.

#3. You sniff, touch, lick, taste, nibble, and feel your vegetables to see if you can compare them to something you’re familiar with. For example, the green garlic just smells like regular garlic but in a more mild form, so you should understand that you can use it in a similar manner! The salad turnips have a similar crunch and taste to red radishes, so you can assume that you may use them sliced in a salad or on an avocado toast, or as a roasted side dish.

Summer CSA Vegetables- Green Onion, Kohlrabi, Cat Summer CSA Vegetables- Green Onion, Kohlrabi, Cat Summer CSA Vegetables- Green Onion, Kohlrabi, Radishes, Cat Summer CSA Vegetables- Green Onion, Kohlrabi, Radishes, Cat

#4. You throw caution to the wind and create something!! This is my personal favorite. Generally what I’ll do is spend time researching and curating recipes, then I’ll shut my computer and head to the kitchen with a head full of potential ideas. Last night’s end product was a spicy peanut chicken stir fry with kohlrabi, green garlic, and spring onions. This was created by starting with my protein of choice (chicken), creating a spicy asian peanut sauce from pantry items, then chopping up the kohlrabi, green garlic, spring onions, and some red onion from my fridge. For a side dish, I used some pre-made brown rice from Trader Joe’s, added some spring onions and peas, then threw in a scrambled egg for fried rice!

Spicy Peanut Chicken Stir Fry with Green Garlic, Green Kohlrabi, and Spring Onions Spicy Peanut Chicken Stir Fry with Green Garlic, Green Kohlrabi, and Spring Onions

It can be intimidating at first to cook with unfamiliar vegetables, but what you come up with could be ultra delicious!! Have a little confidence, pick up those dandelion greens, and create something yummy!