CSA Challenge; Are you up for it?

17 Jun

On Wednesday night, our first CSA boxes from Circle M Market Farm arrived! The anticipation was killing us; we were like kids on Christmas morning opening up our box! This year, along with your boxes of delicious fresh produce, we have a challenge for you: to use everything in your box. We know it can be hard to use something you’ve never heard of before (like lovage) or something you didn’t even know was edible (like nettles), and that is why we are here. Nutritionists to the rescue! We will be blogging about every box to help you identify what you’ve got, give you some great usage and storage information and pass along tons of yummy recipes, as well entertain you with a video of us getting excited about vegetables. For those of you who get a CSA box from a different farm or don’t get a CSA at all this blog and video still has useful information for you! Maybe your CSA sent you some of these items or maybe you saw some of these things at the farmer’s market; challenge yourself to try something you’ve never heard of or something you think you don’t like — you might be surprised.

Here is what you got in your box this week:

  • salad mix with Johnny Jump Ups and Bachelor Button Confetti
  • pea shoots
  • nettles
  • turnip greens
  • watercress
  • rhubarb
  • salad turnips
  • radishes
  • winter scallions
  • chives
  • lovage
  • oregano
  • chocolate mint
  • cinnamon basil

Here’s the video:

And here’s a little more on nettles:

Nettle leaves have a very high protein content for a leafy green and are also high in vitamins D, K, A and C, iron, potassium, manganese and calcium. So you can see it’s a nutritional powerhouse. Nettles are edible when cooked; and can be used similarly to spinach in cooked dishes. You just have to be careful when handling them raw because they can give a mild stinging rash. So wear your gloves! Nettles have a wide variety of medicinal applications. The most touted property is it’s anti-inflammatory power which makes it useful in lessening allergy symptoms and arthritis. You have to actually sting yourself with the nettles to relieve arthritis pain though. Nettles also nourish the endocrine system to help keep your hormones in balance.

And here are the recipes for your CSA items. For tons more of our favorite recipes check out our recipe collection or the blog archives for some of our favs.


Nettles Pesto (uses nettles and basil)
2 cups stinging nettles leaves, packed
1 cup basil leaves, packed (unfortunately your teeny basil plant won’t give you enough leaves to make this recipe while your nettles are still fresh, but if you enjoy this recipe and plant your basil you could try making it again!)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

  1. Place nettle leaves, basil, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until almost smooth.
  2. Serve on cucumbers, yellow peppers or crackers.

Baked Radish Chips (uses radishes)
10 radishes
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika

  1. Thinly slice radishes. Steam in microwave for 5 minutes. Put in a bowl with spices and stir.
  2. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Flip and bake another 10 minutes.

Turnip Green Chips (uses turnips)
1 bunch turnip greens
1 tablespoon oil
a sprinkle of sea salt
a sprinkle of crushed red pepper

  1. Tear or cut up the greens into bite sized pieces.
  2. Drizzle with oil and toss with crushed red pepper and sea salt to coat.
  3. Spread them evenly on a pan so they are not touching, and bake at 500 for 4 minutes; until crispy but not brown.


Turnip Salad (uses radishes, salad turnips and chives)
12 small radishes, thinly sliced
3 small salad turnips, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
juice of half a lime
1 tablespoon chopped chives
kosher sea salt, to taste

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, stir gently but thoroughly combine.
  2. Season to taste with salt.

Chickpea, Avocado and Pea Shoot Salad with Orange Dill Dressing (uses scallions, radishes and pea shoots)
1/2 a small red onion (or substitue a few scallions here)
1 large carrot, finely grated
2-3 red radishes, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
4 cups water
1/2 red bell pepper
2 avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
1 cup pea shoots
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
zest of 1 orange
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  1. Place onion, carrot, radishes and chickpeas in a large bowl. Bring water to a boil and pour over vegetables. Let sit 2-3 minutes to soften vegetables. Drain well and set aside.
  2. In a small skillet over medium heat, prepare dressing by whisking together olive oil, vinegar, orange juice and zest, lime juice and dill. Season to taste with sat and pepper and simmer until heated through.
  3. Add red pepper, avocados and pea shoots to salad, and drizzle dressing over top. Toss to coat.

Sweet and Sour Rhubarb Salad (uses rhubarb and salad mix)
4 stalks rhubarb, cut diagonally into thin slices
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons agave nectar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
16-20 spinach leaves (or substitute your salad mix)
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil

  1.  Place rhubarb in a wide saucepan. Add agave and enough water to cover by 1 inch. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Cook uncovered exactly 2 minutes. Remove from heat and pour though a large sieve into a bowl.
  2. Return liquid to the pan. Stir in the vinegar, salt and pepper, and place over high heat. Cook, uncovered, until the mixture is reduced to 1/2 cup.
  3. Meanwhile, divide up the greens among 4 salad plates. Arrange rhubarb over the greens. When the liquid is reduced, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the oil. Pour over salads and serve.

Rhubarb Salad Dressing (uses rhubarb, you could serve this over your watercress, yum!)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup water
2 cups sliced rhubarb
2 cups chopped fresh strawberries
2 shallots, diced
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 cup olive oil

  1. In a medium sauce pan, stir together honey and water. Bring to a boil and add rhubarb, strawberries and shallots. Continue to boil for another 5 minutes, stirring often. Reduce heat and stir in the vinegar and lemon zest. Simmer for 10 minutes or until reduced by half and rhubarb is tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  2. Place mixture in a food processor along with mustard and process until smooth. Add the oil in a steady stream while the processor is running. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or cold.


Turnip Apple Slaw (uses salad turnips and scallions)
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise or veganaise
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon honey
1 apple, quartered, cored and thinly sliced
2 turnips, peeled and coarsely grated
1 scallion, finely chopped

  1. Combine the yogurt, mayo, pepper and honey in a large bowl.
  2. Mix in the apple, turnips and scallion.
  3. Chill before serving.

Chile Vinegar Turnip Greens (uses turnip greens)
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound turnip greens, chopped
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 teaspoons chile paste with garlic
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  1. Heat oil in a stockpot over medium high heat. Add garlic, and saute for 30 seconds.
  2. Add the greens, and saute for 5 minutes, until wilted.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and cook for 45 minutes.

Citrus Radish Confit (uses radishes)
9 ounces radishes, trimmed, cut into slices
1/2 orange, zest and juice only
1 ounce butter
1/2 lemon, zest and juice only
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon agave nectar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
water, to cover

  1. Place all ingredients in a wide shallow pan along with enough water to almost cover the ingredients. Bring up to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 30 minutes, stirring from time to time, until all liquid has reduced down to a few tablespoons of rich buttery syrup, and the radishes are very tender.
  2. Serve warm.

Main Dishes

Nettle Lasagna (uses nettles, oregano and basil)
20 lasagna noodles
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups fresh nettles
3 cups ricotta cheese
2/3 cups grated romano cheese
1 teaspoon each: salt, dried oregano, dried basil to use your fresh oregano and basil substitue 1 tablespoon each, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 egg
3 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 cups tomato sauce

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Cook lasagna noodles according to instructions.
  3. In a skillet on medium-high heat, cook mushrooms, onions and garlic in oil until onions are tender. Drain excess liquid and cool.
  4. Steam nettles for 5 minutes, drain, squeeze out excess liquid and chop.
  5. Combine ricotta, romano, nettles, salt, oregano, basil, pepper and egg in a bowl. Add cooled mushroom mixture. Beat with an electric mixer on low for one minute.
  6. Lay 5 lasagna noodles in bottom on a 9×13 baking dish. Spread 1/3 of the cheese/nettle mixture over noodles. Sprinkle 1 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/3 cup parmesan on top, then spread 1 cup tomato sauce over cheese. Repeat layering 2 times.
  7. Cover dish with foil and bake for 1 hour.


Ginger Lime Mocktail (uses mint)
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon zested ginger
6 drops stevia
9 ounces sparkling water
1 mint sprig

  1. Muddle stevia, ginger and mint.
  2. Fill glass with ice, pour juice and sparkling water over top.


Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies (uses mint)
2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour (Bob’s Red Mill does not work)
1/2 teaspoon celtic sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 cup dark chocolate chips
5 – 7 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

  1. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Combine wet ingredients in a smaller bowl.
  3. Mix wet ingredients into dry.
  4. Form into 1-inch balls and press onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  5. Bake at 350 for 7-10 minutes.

Chewy Chocolate Macaroons with Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce (uses rhubarb)
2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup coconut milk
¼ cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon almond extract
6 ounces 100% dark chocolate

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine coconut with salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together coconut milk, maple syrup and almond extract. Add to coconut and stir until evenly moist.
  3. Melt chocolate chips or chocolate in double boiler or in small pot over very low heat and pour into coconut mixture. Fold until evenly combined. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Scoop batter by the tablespoonful and place on cookie sheet in equal-size mounds. Gently press to make each mound of the mixture stick together. Bake 18-20 minutes or until tops appear dry.
  4. Let cool then drizzle with sauce. 

Rhubarb Sauce
2 cups rhubarb
2 cups strawberries
pinch salt

1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup – 1 cup agave nectar (to taste)

  1. Cook down rhubarb and strawberries over medium heat.
  2. Add the salt and vanilla. Mash and mix to desired consistency.
  3. Stir in agave and serve.


2 Responses to “CSA Challenge; Are you up for it?”

  1. kriss June 17, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

    Girls, this is just amazing!!!!! Well done – fabulous recipes, info, and personality!

  2. Nic Schilling June 22, 2011 at 5:16 pm #

    Great information! You are very creative. I’ll have to taste the nettles to believe it, however unfortunately we did not get a box. :>(

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