CSA Spring Cooking Class

We’ve been holding seasonal cooking classes for awhile now, and we’ve loved sharing knowledge about the bounty of Nova Scotia.  Spring can be a tough time to eat local though – a lot of farmers are almost at the end of their winter root vegetables, but it’s still too soon for springtime favourites like asparagus, fiddleheads or strawberries.This last Monday, we decided to embrace the season head-on by building a menu around a CSA (or Community Shared Agriculture) produce box from Taproot Farms.

A lot of folks who get a CSA share for the first time are occasionally at a loss as to how to work with the veggies you GET, rather than the veggies you FEEL like buying.   We thought we could try to promote truly creative meal planning by building a cooking class around using the veggies in a typical CSA produce share.   This was out of necessity as much as it was an exciting plan… it can be hard to plan a menu in March for a class in April when you don’t know what produce is going to be available to you!

Our intrepid volunteer instructor, Lori Cadelli, came up with a few basic vegan, gluten-free recipes that would be easy to adapt to whatever deliciousness we’d find in our veggie share.  The menu would feature a lentil stew with seasonal veggies, a shredded salad, and some gluten-free scones.  We figured that whatever we’d end up getting in the box would be easy to incorporate into our menu.

When we picked up our box last Saturday, here’s what we got:

2 cabbages, a bag of small beets, two cucumbers, about a dozen apples, about 3.5 pounds of potatoes, about 2 pounds of carrots, and a bag of spinach.

After we saw that we’d have exotic things like greenhouse cukes and spinach, and a whole bunch of lovely apples, we decided to switch things up a bit so we could highlight these things a bit.

Cucumber-Apple Salad:

Grating beets with a food processor keeps your hands stain-free!

We had planned on making a shredded slaw-type salad, but those cucumbers were too good to pass up.  We ended up making a Cucumber-Apple Salad with a honey vinaigrette, on a bed of shredded raw beets for colour and contrast.

Dressing:
¼ cup Olive Oil
¼ cup Apple cider Vinegar

2 tbsp honey
Salt & Pepper to taste

Salad:
6 or 7 Apples
2 seedless cucumbers

10 little beets

Directions

Whisk together dressing ingredients up to 2 days ahead of time.

Scrub beets well, and grate with the peel on. Toss with ½ the salad dressing.  Finely chop apples and cucumber.  Toss with the rest of the dressing up to 2 hours prior to serving.  Lay the grated beets on a serving platter and scoop salad on top.

Main Course:

Our lentil stew recipe was ready to incorporate our carrots, spinach and cabbage, and we decided that making some garlicky mashed potatoes to accompany it would be divine.

Lentil Stew

– 2 cup lentils
– 2 diced onion
– 4 cloves of garlic
– 2 tablespoon olive oil
– 5 carrots
– 1 small cabbage, coarsely chopped, core removed

– 4 bay leaves
– 1 cup rice
– 4 tablespoons miso

-1 bag spinach, chopped and stems removed
– salt and pepper

Prepare lentils according to package instructions.

Saute onion and garlic together for 2 minutes in a large skillet. Add remaining vegetables and bay leaves and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.

Add rice and 1 cup of water and continue to cook for 30 minutes. Add more water if required.

Add lentils and miso to the stew. Cover and simmer another 15 minutes.

Add chopped spinach 5 minutes before stirring, and let wilt.

Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve over garlic mashed potatoes.

Mashing potatoes is vigorous work!

8 big potatoes, peeled and halved

4 cloves garlic

Almond milk

Boil potatoes in plenty of salty water with garlic.  Process cooked potatoes and garlic with potato ricer.  Add a splash or two of almond milk and a few more cloves of minced raw garlic.  Add freshly ground pepper and minced herbs.

Finally, for dessert we made some gluten free scones made with brown rice flour with raisins and pumpkin seeds.  The recipe for the scones needed applesauce, and luckily we had lots of fresh apples to make some up!  The leftover applesauce was delicious on the warm scones for dessert!

Pumpkin Seed and Raisin Scones
– 4 ½  cups any gluten-free flour (we used brown rice flour)
– 1 ½  cup soy, almond, or rice milk
– ¾  cup applesauce (two small apples, diced, with ¼ cup water. Simmer until soft, then mash. Eat any leftover sauce with baked scones!)
– 1.5 teaspoon salt
– 6 teaspoons baking soda
– 6 tablespoons sugar

– 1 cup raisins

– ½  cup pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven 350 degrees Fahrenheit /180 Celsius.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, sugar and salt and mix well.

Add milk, applesauce, and raisins and pumpkin seeds. Knead until dough forms.

Drop spoonfuls of dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  (Scones will not expand too much during baking, so the size of your spoonfuls will determine the size of your baked scone.)

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until scones are golden brown on top.

~~~~~

If you’re interested in joining a CSA for summer, now’s the time to sign up!  Check out this blog post for a list of Nova Scotia CSAs:

2012 CSA List

For some more tips on how to plan menus around your CSA box, check out these blog posts from our archives:

The Little Box That Could

Making the Most of Your CSA Box

A Week of CSA Meals

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2 thoughts on “CSA Spring Cooking Class

  1. You really covered a lot of ground in that cooking class. I’m particularly interested to try the lentil stew. I am always looking for ways to incorporate miso.

  2. What a fun idea! I wish we had something like this where I live.

    I have been a subscriber of my CSA for over a year now and I love getting my fresh fruits and veggies delivered to my door weekly.

    Looking forward to trying some of these awesome and yummy recipes!

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