Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What I've Learned from my CSA: Moroccan Root Vegetable Stew

As I mentioned, this past weekend marked the last delivery of the season from our CSA.  I have mixed feelings about it: on the one hand, I'll miss the fresh produce, and knowing exactly where my food comes from, down to which plot of dirt it was grown in.  Heck, I probably walked by my own heads of lettuce and cauliflower more than once while I was visiting the pick-your-own fields.  On the other hand, I won't miss the frenzied Friday search for recipes using oddball ingredients before my late night Friday shopping trips (which have become a ritual for me since Ian was born).

Here are some things I learned from my CSA this year:
    1. What they say about the effect of weather on crops is absolutely true, and can be felt by the end consumer, provided that the end consumer doesn't have the option of buying the Guatemalan version of the produce in question.
    2. Things really do have harvesting seasons.  Some are short, some are much too long.
    3. Fresh cut flowers really are lovely, especially when you pick and arrange them yourself.
    4. I like fewer vegetables than I thought I did, and the vegetables I do like tend to be heavy: zucchini, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, tomatoes, pumpkin.  
      1. Corollary: I could probably never be a full-time vegan.
    5. I really don't love chard.  But I like radicchio and other bitter greens even less.  
      1. Corollary: there are more varieties of greens than I thought there were, and I was pretty well-studied in greens (including several Asian varieties) even before this summer.
    6. You can turn almost anything into soup.
    7. Spinach and kale and collards and chard are actually fairly interchangeable when you're faced with cooking a mountain of them.
    8. Have I mentioned that I don't love chard?
    9. I like the challenge of cooking new things; I dislike feeling pressured to cook them.  (Hm, maybe no Iron Chef competitions in my future, eh?)
    10. We eat more curry than I thought we did, and my four year old seems to be most amenable to eating new things when they have curry in them.

      The last box had a bunch of root vegetables in it, so you can expect to see them featured over the next week or two.  There was rutabaga, turnips, carrot, celeriac.  We were having some friends over this past weekend, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to get "back to my roots."  This stew was hearty, fragrant, and nice for company without being terribly fussy; I also made it ahead of time, and it reheated well.

      Here's to eating local, but also to the freedom of choice.

      Moroccan-Style Root Vegetable Stew

      1 T. olive oil
      1 lb. boneless skinless chicken (or two cans chick peas)
      1 1/2 c. chopped onion
      3 garlic cloves, minced
      1 T. curry powder
      1 T. ground cumin
      1 cinnamon stick
      2 c. 1/2-inch pieces peeled red-skinned sweet potatoes
      2 c. 1/2-inch pieces peeled parsnips
      1 1/2 c. 1/2-inch pieces peeled turnips
      1 large carrot cut in 1/2-inch pieces
      1 c. 1/2-inch pieces peeled rutabaga
      4 c. low-salt broth (vegetable or chicken)
      1/4 c. dried currants or raisins
      1 14-oz can diced tomatoes, drained
      Juice and zest from one lemon
      Chopped fresh cilantro

      In a small pot, bring broth to a boil, continue to boil until reduced by half, then set aside.

      Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. If using chicken (otherwise, proceed to the onion step below): Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to pot and sauté until light golden but not cooked through, about 1 minute. Transfer chicken to bowl.

      Add onion to pot and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and stir 1 minute. Add curry powder, cumin and cinnamon stick and stir 30 seconds. Add sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips, carrot, rutabaga, broth and currants. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Add tomatoes, lemon zest with juice, and chicken (or chick peas) to pot. Simmer until flavors blend, about 5 minutes longer. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve over couscous.
      Pin It


      1. You're right about produce having a season and that season being short. Having lived some years in a place where there were outdoor markets and not a lot of supermarket options, it was incredible how different those markets looked month-to-month. Strawberries only at a certain time. Wild asparagus at a certain time. It meant going without certain foods for months at a time, but then when we ate them, they tasted so much better.

        In terms of the chard, have you ever tried this?: boil it together with some potatoes. When potatoes are soft mash the whole thing up together, add garlic, lots of olive oil, salt and pepper. It tastes good (I promise!).

      2. So you really liked the chard, eh? :)

      3. It's cool, more chard for me then.

      4. Hello, visiting from Stirrup Queens :) I myself just signed up for a CSA a couple weeks ago and just got our second box yesterday. Last night I figured out what on Earth to do with a Daikon. It was actually pretty good! The best part is my kids (almost 5yo and 13 months) already love the box and my older son wants to figure out what everything is, where it came from, what kind of veggie it is, how to cook it, what it tastes like, etc. Definitely totally worth it! Our area actually has several CSAs to choose from and 3 farmer's markets in our city alone so we're pretty lucky. Now I just need to find a nice dairy CSA... (I too could never be vegan, but I find being vegetarian very easy!)

      5. Blog tag is fun! Wheeee!
        Thanks for visiting my blog :) Also, I made a Daikon salad. I peeled it like a carrot then shredded it using a cheese grater, though you could obviously still use the peeler for that. Then I tried a bite and gagged. The internet told me to wash it in cold water a bit to get rid of the bitterness. The internet does not fail me :) So I washed it in a colander, put some sea salt on it and mixed that in, washed again, drained and strained really well, put in a few squirts of lemon juice, then made a very simple salad using the Daikon as a base. I just covered the bottom of a bowl with daikon, sliced up an avocado, sliced up half a fresh bell pepper (also from the CSA) and arranged those slices all pretty-like on two different salads. I saw a recipe online that included all this plus pomegranate and edamame (shelled).
        Looks like there are several things to try with a daikon but it wasn't exactly so startlingly tasty that I want to try a new recipe right away :)


      Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...