Iron Chef Garden Edition: What Would You Do With These?

This week's CSA bag: Swiss Chard, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, cabbage, a red onion, a head of garlic, a beet, cucumbers, lettuce, herbs, and the season's first tomatoes!

This is the beginning of year 3 of Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA for our family.  Every week we get a bag of locally grown and in-season vegetables.  I enjoy it but I have also have had stretches where I was running out of ideas for winter root vegetables, and in the spring when the weather is nice, all we seem to get is greens.

Finally, the real veggies have started to come in!  Yes, I could walk into the grocery store anytime, on any day and buy these and more but it’s not the same.  Aside from the environmental and health issues, these have genuine just-picked flavor.  There’s also a real excitement to see foods we haven’t eaten in almost a year.  Today we got the first tomatoes of the season.

What would you do with these?

I want to hear from you!  Put yourself in my kitchen and tell me what you would do with these veggies.  It doesn’t have to be all one combined dish, just share what, when you look at these, comes to your mind?  What would you need to add?

For my part I see tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic and basil and immediately think gazpacho.

So using the comments section below, consider this your own “Iron Chef basket” and assume you have a modest budget for additional ingredients.  What would you make?  Give as much detail as you like.

And consider this, it’s a simple pleasure to get excited over fresh vegetables!



    1. Oh I agree, the crepe is one of the best vehicles! i’m a big fan of the Italian style of crepe, called crespelle.

  1. Well, I am at the CSA too and here is what I have planned (except that there was no beets left when my husband went to pick up the share):
    – With the Swiss chard: vegetarian quesadillas with the leaves and chickpealess hummus with the stems. I have Swiss chard growing in my garden too as I am addicted to the thing and I have a fabulous recipe for a Provence “Tourta de Blea”, a Swiss Chard pie/tart, with apples which I tried for the first tiem 2 weeks ago and it was a major success in my house
    – Tomatoes and mozarella salad, to use the tomatoes and the basil.
    – Another use for basil, abnd a less predictable one: melt dark chocolate, dip basil leaves in it, dry, serve as a substitute for “After 8”.
    – I put the parsley into a chicken and celery khoresh yesterday night (had to buy the celery): it is an Iranian stew
    – I also steamed the zucchini and yellow squash (which I precut into dices) and served with the stew. I have enough to make a small zuccini/squash curry also.
    -Cilantro: every week during “cilantro season” I do the same popular dish in my home: green chicken curry, a labor of love, but a divine dish!
    – I will use the cucumbers for a cucumber and yoghurt salad (cucumbers have to “drain” first: cut into thin slices into a sieve, coarse salt, 12 hours in the fridge, then pat dry, mix with yoghurt and/or fresh mint and chives, or parsley and chives, or garlic and onion, or fresh dill…)
    – Spinach will be used steamed with a Sesame and sake dressing
    – Kale is my usual “power food”: I prefer it shredded raw as a salad with dried cranberries, walnuts (or any other nut), avocado, tomato, shredded carrot, and Braggs Amino + olive oil + balsamic vinegar. I also add slices of citrus when we have some at the CSA which I sub for the dried cranberries, and in thatc ase I use pistachios and not walnuts. I also make Kale and Leek Flans in individual ramekins
    -Cabbage will end up as a Curried Cabbage Salad, with turmeric and shredded coconut (amongst other ingredients)

    Have fun! (I love your blog)

    1. Sarah this is great, thank you! i love the idea of dipping the basil leaves in chocolate! I love all these ideas and will have to try them!

  2. hmmm…. cucumber salad with rice wine vinegar, sugar, and fish sauce. Sauteed eggplant with basil, thai chiles, and a little ground pork, over jasmine rice.

    next meal, remaining basil and tomatoes with mozzarella and olive oil, toasted on french bread, with a side of sauteed summer squash and zucchini.

    steam the dark greens and toss with a basalmic vinegar reduction and roasted garlic, serve with polenta and scallops.

    then fresh coleslaw with caraway seeds alongside a grilled sausage with grainy mustard.

    By this time, the lettuce has probably started to wilt – I guess I should have made a green salad first thing!

    With any luck, we’ll have a kitchen this week, and I can actually take advantage of the farmers market down the street. Thanks for making me think about all the yummy stuff that’s in season!

    1. Thanks Nancy! I love this approach as it seems to be a culinary trip around the world with ingredients that are all local!

  3. What great ideas…thanks, Tony, for soliciting them. Here are a few others: a salad of finely sliced yellow squash, zucchini, and cucumbers, topped generously with feta cheese and capers and drizzled with a sherry vinaigrette.
    Another week, I made a yellow squash and yellow pepper (cold) soup, adding sautéed onions and a finely diced potato and vegetable broth, everything pureed together.
    For the eggplant, last week I made baba ghanouch; this week, may try ratatouille and use the zucchini and the yellow squash as well.
    Cabbage: have made an oriental salad, similar to yours, but with carrot ribbons, preserved ginger and peanuts, and a sauce that has mostly soy sauce, a little sake, ginger paste or powder, and lime or lemon juice. This week, cooked the cabbage and beets together with caraway seeds, a little vinegar and sugar,
    This eel, I used the eggs for a curried egg salad, and added the cilantro to it.
    The kale: have used it in both a red curry dish with chicken (tofu for the vegetarian among us) and as an ingredient in an oriental stir fry, with onions and marinated chicken (tofu). Using all the greens remains a challenge.

    1. You had me at capers! I am also a huge fan of chilled summer soups. I agree that it is a challenge to use all the greens we have been getting, and now we are beginning to see veggies beyond greens. These are all great ideas! Thanks Laurie!

  4. Jane Trombly

    I have been looking and looking and realize this is why I bake! I see cucumber and tomato salad with some red onion balsamic and olive oil. I would take the garlic and beat and saute it with the stems of the Swiss Chard. Then add the l…eaves at the end until just wilted. The summer squash and Zuchini would probably go out the window as my husband will kill me if I serve it again, but if not I would slice it thinnly lengthwise and baste it with italian dressing and spices of choice and throw it on the grill. the eggplant longs for my mother in law’s eggplant parm so athough I might think about chopping it, roasting it, and mixing it with olive oil, feta and the herbs, I probably would hand it to her! Then I would take the cabbage and shred it, add in any left over veggies shredded and toss with a salad dressing of an asian flare and make a great summer slaw.

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