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The Latest From Cultivating Community

Goodbye and thank you to 2015 CSA members!

Hussein-MuktarThank you to our CSA members.

This marks the 16th and final week of Fresh Start Farms’ CSA. Thank you so very much to all of our members. Your support through CSA participation is invaluable to us and has provided a market for the hard-working 15 farmers who have supplied CSA produce this season.

Our CSA program means these farmers have a market they can count on every year, and one that pays a portion of their earnings upfront so they can start their season off with needed seeds, seedlings, tools, soil amendments, and other supplies. By participating in CSA, you have shared in the risks and rewards of small-scale farming and have made sustainably grown, chemical free, and local food a reality in your community.

We are so grateful for you and hope you will consider farming with us again in 2016. In the meantime, you can learn about local and regional farm, food, and ag happenings on our Facebook Page. Please also read our newsletters to keep up with Fresh Start Farms and Cultivating Community’s work.

If you would like to participate for 2016 email me at [email protected]. Remember, CSA shares make great holiday gifts!




The lovely winter squash at fresh start farms

Fresh Start Farms’ CSA is in full swing with 30+ locations in Cumberland and Androscoggin Counties where members are picking up locally grown, chemical free food. As the CSA marketing coordinator, I provide you with updates from our largest farm site in Lisbon. I’ll be sending along cooking tips and recipe suggestions to help get you out of your cooking rut and inspire flavorful home cooking all season long. I’ll also keep you posted about organizational events–opportunities for our supporters like you to gather and share meals straight from our gardens and fields. Email me with questions at [email protected].

Upcoming events

Good Food Bus – mobile produce market in Lewiston/Auburn

For L/A area members, check out our recently launched Good Food Bus. This is a mobile produce market with stops at several locations around L/A and also for folks at BIW and Central Maine Medical Center. Click here for a schedule of locations and times or check out the facebook page here.

Cultivating Community’s Harvest Celebration at Boyd Street – Portland

Please come to our Harvest Celebration at the Boyd Street Urban Farm in East Bayside. This event takes place Tuesday October 20 at 4-6p. Come celebrate the harvest in East Bayside’s beautiful garden and enjoy free food, garden demonstrations, prizes, t-shirts and more.

Member share—caramelized winter squash

This week’s member share is from a member at the Animal Refuge League. She told me she caramelizes her squash (both delicata and butternut) by peeling and placing on a metal pan (she emphasized metal and I agree that my metal pan is better for roasting in my experience) with coconut oil. She bakes the squash but every five minutes, pulls the pan out and flips the squash over. She does this until the flesh is cooked and swears this is the best way to roast squash. I can’t wait to try!

The world of winter squashes (or at least those we grow)

Folks have been finding a rainbow of winter squashes in their CSA bags.  Here is a description of each with a photo so you can ID the various types you receive as well as fun facts and my cooking tips for each. Be sure to share your own cooking successes with us by emailing them to me at [email protected].

Butternut butternut

butternut is a celebrated favorite and what many associate with winter squash. I love butternut because it’s easy to peel and thus, is easy to add to many many recipes. I generally use it in soups and stews as well as in pies and breads.

Butternut will also store fairly well through the winter if you have the right storage spot for it. If you are storing squashes, I recommend storing different varieties separately in a cool (ideally around 50 degrees), dry, and dark location. Check on your squash every two weeks or so and pull out any that have soft spots, mold, etc. Once one squash in your pile starts to decay, it will increase the decay of those it’s stored with.

Buttercup buttercup squashbuttercup squash 2

this is another traditional New England favorite. Its flesh is dry (as opposed to watery like some squashes). I like baking this and adding to curries because it soaks up flavor and doesn’t fall apart too much.

Acorn acorn squashorange acorn squash

Acorn squash are just so darn beautiful and also store well throughout the winter (see butternut above for storage suggestions). I love the shape of this cucurbit variety–the ridges, and the contrast of dark green with the deep orange flesh when cut open.

I prepare acorn by simply slicing in half, scooping out the seeds, and drizzling with coconut or olive oil, and finally adding a dash of salt and half teaspoon or so of maple syrup into the cup. Bake until soft. I also like to make a more savory dish by baking the acorn until soft and then stuffing with wild rice, lightly sautéed brussel sprouts, and blue cheese crumbles.

Note: some members also received orange acorn squash. Cook these as you would acorn. They are just orange on the outside instead of dark green.

Delicata delicata

Once you’ve had delicate squash, it will likely top your list of squash favorites for many reasons (it does for me at least :). I love delicata because it’s extremely sweet, and also is easy to prepare because the skin is edible when baked (there is no need to peel it!).

I simply cut the oblong squash in half, scoop out the seeds (and save them for roasting), slice into half-moons, and place on an olive-oiled pan, and bake for 40 minutes or so in the oven. I then use these slices to top my salads (with the roasted seeds and a little bit of goat cheese) for the next few days. Balsamic dressing adds a lovely tang too.

In my experience, delicata doesn’t tend to store as long as some of the other winter squash varieties so keep an eye on it if you have it tucked away. Last year I forgot to check on my delicatas regularly and some got mushy and moldy. As you can imagine knowing my love of veggies, I was quite sad.

Sweet dumpling sweet dumpling

this is another squash that will store well and has edible skin. According to Fedco seed catalog, which often gives great descriptions of the produce their seeds produce.  “New York Times food writer Regina Schrambling calls them the “avocados of squash” for their inherent buttery richness and sweet-tangy taste.” What more of an endorsement do I need?

Carnival carnival squash

this squash is a cross between acorn and sweet dumpling. Fedco calls its flavors “nutty” and “sweet”. I also love carnival squash because they are just so darn beautiful! I put mine on the kitchen table to let my carnivals show off the bounty and beauty of Maine-grown produce!

Pie pumpkinpie pumpkin

though these look like mini-Halloween pumpkins, they are great for making pumpkin pie as the name suggests. Use a pie pumpkin (also called sugar pumpkin) to replace canned pumpkin this year and wow your friends with fresh pumpkin flavor. While I’m no expert baker, I found using fresh pumpkin for my pies makes a huge difference with only slightly more work. As a note, most squashes can be used for making pumpkin pie. I often use butternut or buttercup for pies if my sugar pumpkins have gone mushy (pie pumpkins don’t generally store too well).

Don’t forget to roast and eat the seeds of all squash. Mmmmmm :).

After I took the time to write this post, I found that Epicurious had an almost identical idea (I really should have checked on that), which includes links to recipes for each variety of squash. It’s a great resource so check it out here. Their winter squash guide also includes baby blue hubbard and red kuri squashes, a few of which were grown on the farm this year and may have ended up in a few CSA shares.

baby blue hubbard

Baby blue hubbard

red kuri squash

Red kuri


Cooking tips for the unsung heroes of cold-weather crops

Upcoming events

Good Food Bus – mobile produce market in Lewiston/Auburn

For L/A area members, check out our recently launched Good Food Bus. This is a mobile produce market with stops at several locations around L/A and also for folks at BIW and Central Maine Medical Center. Click here for a schedule of locations and times or check out the facebook page here.

Cultivating Community’s Harvest Celebration at Boyd Street – Portland

Please come to our Harvest Celebration at the Boyd Street Urban Farm in East Bayside. This event takes place Tuesday October 20 at 4-6p. Come celebrate the harvest in East Bayside’s beautiful garden and enjoy free food, garden demonstrations, prizes, t-shirts and more.


Fresh Start Farms’ farmers featured!

Check out Batula and Habiba Noor featured in the Portland Food Coop’s newsletter:


Celeriac – my favorite root vegetable (if I had to choose)


Celeriac is, in my very humble opinion, and underrated vegetable and one of my all-time favorites (I know you are probably thinking I say that a lot but I mean it every time :). Don’t let its humble looks fool you, celeriac is a superstar in the kitchen! It’s also a great storage crop and will last a long time in your fridge and even longer if root cellared. I add celeriac to soups, stews, and pot pies for amazing umami flavor. It’s also great roasted with other cold season veggies. I often shred celeriac and fry it with shredded potatoes for a breakfast hash (may favorite way to enjoy it if I have time). Many folks eat this root veggie raw and shredded or finely sliced atop a salad, though this is not my personal favorite way to prepare it. Let me know if you have an amazing celeriac cooking tip to share because this veggie deserves some hype and fanfare.

Hakurei turnips give radishes and turnips a run for their money


Hakurei turnips are also called “salad turnips” and are (again) one of my favorites as they can be eaten raw or cooked. They are like radishes but mild and a little sweet instead of spicy. I love to snack on them plain but they are great on top of salads and add a great crunch to a sandwich or veggie dipping plate. I also like to cook the tops like braising greens. If you want to try cooking salad turnips, this recipe from Epicurious looks interesting, though I have never done that myself.

Parsnips – oh so many delicious possibilities


Parsnips are another flavorful and easy to use root veggie. Similarly to celeriac, parsnips can be roasted (my favorite), put into soups or stews, pureed, etc, though I wouldn’t eat parsnips raw in the way you can with celeriac (though maybe some of you folks have/do in which case let me know how J). Here are just a few recipes that are marvelous to get you going.  Parsnips are a rare veggie that Maine farmers can overwinter in the ground without a high tunnel and dig up in the spring. These are known as ‘spring-dug parsnips’ and some say they are even better tasting than those harvested in the winter. I love ‘em no matter the season and we hope you will too!

Rutabaga – how come this turnip-like veggie tastes like cabbage?

Turnip v rutabaga

Interestingly, rutabaga is thought to be a cross between turnips and cabbage, which is exactly how it tastes to me and how it smells when cooked. Maybe this is common knowledge to many, but with heritage from the Middle East, I had no idea of rutabaga’s origins and had thought it was just some type of large turnip. My mom doesn’t know what to do with rutabagas (or turnips for that matter) so I’m still learning the wonders of cooking this winter storage crop. All of this newfound knowledge comes from the Wikipedia page, which has more info than you may ever want or need on the rutabaga, but I learned that it’s an important culinary ingredient in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and also popular in the UK. In fact, rutabagas may have predated pumpkins as the item to carve to ward off evil spirits around Halloween. Ok I’ll let you dive in for more interesting facts.

Over the past few years since beginning to cook with rutabaga (part of my commitment to eating as much and as many local foods year round to eliminate buying produce from far away during the winter), I’ve realized how good it can be. There really is a world of possibilities because it’s almost as versatile as potatoes and can be flavorful substitute for potatoes in many recipes (for those who don’t like the starch and carbs from potatoes, a quick google search told me that rutabagas are quite a bit lower in carbs and calories than potatoes, though I would fact-check that rather than take my word for it), but do note that rutabaga generally takes a little longer to cook. I personally like making rutabaga into a pureed soup with whatever else I have around (onions, celery/celeriac, potatoes, carrots, leeks, etc.) but there are many other ways to enjoy it. Want a little inspiration? Check out my Epicurious search results for rutabaga here. If you’re already a rutabaga pro and have an amazing recipe or cooking tip, send it to me to feature on our blog for other members.

Fresh tomato sauce is lovely no matter what ingredients you choose!

Upcoming events

Twilight Dinners

This year Cultivating Community’s Twilight Dinners are held on Sundays at The Well (at Jordan’s Farm) in Cape Elizabeth. These are fun, delicious, and casual farm-t0-table events featuring local chefs, locally brewed/crafted libations, and of course locally grown produce from Fresh Start Farms and other nearby farmers. Join us for our final Twilight Dinner held October 4. Click here for details and to buy tickets.

Veggie-packed tomato sauce

Roma tomatoes

Roma tomatoes – a common variety of paste tomato

Many members are receiving paste tomatoes (and fresh herbs like oregano and thyme) in CSA shares while others likely have some lying around from past weeks shares or even their own gardens. It certainly is easy to end up with an abundance of paste tomatoes this time of year so I thought I’d pass along some ideas for tomato saucing. A friend who was visiting this past weekend and who helped me can some tomato sauce noted my not-so-traditional additions. Basically I add more veggies than just tomatoes to the sauce, depending on what I have around.

These additions can be made to almost any traditional sauce recipe you may have, and some may even call for some of these. I add minced celery, parsley, and carrots quite often. Carrots add some sweet and celery and parsley add a touch more umami savor. I add these at the very beginning when I’m sautéing the onions and spices in olive oil and cooking until the veggies are soft. You can also add other fresh herbs such as oregano, thyme, sage, etc.


ID your fresh herbs

This weekend in addition to celery, carrots and herbs, I also added some shredded beets.  Like the carrots, I found the beets added some sweetness, so I omitted the refined sugar and found this to be a wonderful substitute that also gave my sauce a gorgeous color. Other healthy veggies to try are summer and winter squashes, green and mild peppers, and eggplant (cubed if you want chunks). I find it’s fun to experiment with the textures and flavors. Sometimes I leave veggies in chunks and other times I blend or mash smooth.

My husband, who is less conventional in the kitchen, added tomatillos to his tomato sauce. We grew a TON of tomatillos his year and so he’s throwing them in everything he can think of. The tomato-tomatillo sauce came out better than I anticipated with a complex and versatile flavor. He added approximately  1 – 2 tomatillos per tomato.

Hope you enjoy no matter what sauces you make, whether it be a new concoction or a tried and true hand-me-down.

CSA member recipe share

recipe photo from Cady Molloy

Tomato Basil Chard Crostata with Lemon Cashew Creme

A Munjoy Hill CSA member sent a great looking recipe for Tomato Basil Chard Crostata with Lemon Cashew Creme as well as a Raw Carrot Fennel Soup. Check it out here.

Lovely lovely leeks, the wonders of Thai basil, and lacto fermented beets


Lacto fermented beets, cabbage and more

lacto fermented beets

Lacto fermented beets from:

I started my own culinary adventure experimenting with lacto fermenting beets and carrots. I purchased airlocks and plugs similar to these and followed basic instructions online. Because beets have high sugar content, I read the trick to success with ‘em is not leaving them out to ferment too long (cabbage, for example, ferments out of the fridge longer). I added sea salt to shredded beets and let them set until the salt drew out the natural liquid. Once that occurred, I added some coriander seeds (whole), pushed the shredded beets under their own liquid, and secured a mason jar with an air lock lid (this is important for food safety!). I left the jar out of the light (in a dark corner or under a dish towel) at room temperature in my kitchen for two days until putting it in the fridge. It came out amazingly well and I’ve been enjoying my pickled, shredded beets on top of salads, with eggs at breakfast, and even as a snack on its on (because it’s very yummy and savory). Though these instructions are basic, please find a trustworthy recipe source for the specifics as I am certainly no expert.

I’ve also had great success making lacto fermented cabbage (both sauerkraut and kimchi). So far, this has been a great way to use up extra cabbage and now beets. I’m going to try other veggies as well because it’s just so darn easy, yummy, and healthy!

If your beets, carrots, cabbage, scallions, radishes, turnips, etc. are starting to pile, up, this may be something to try. Lacto fermenting foods is not only a great way to preserve extra stuff that may otherwise get squishy and ignored in the bottom drawer of your fridge, it’s also a super healthy way to enjoy veggies and is good for digestion. There are many articles online describing the benefits of lacto fermented foods. This one is written by a friend from way back and, I think, does a good job summing it all up–it’s a quick read.

Leeks – delicious in potato leek soup but also in so much more!


Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE potato leek soup (mostly because I’m a potato addict), but there are many other ways to use leeks to dress up your cooking that are amazing too but for some reason just don’t get the hype. If you don’t feel like potato leek soup this time around, here are some additional ideas.

I like adding sautéed, chopped leeks to frittatas and scrambled eggs, as well as just roasting them cut in half lengthwise in the oven drizzled with olive oil. There are tons of recipes that look amazing on Epicurious, it was hard to choose just one that perked my interest, though I will say, I’m planning to try this savory leek bread pudding recipe.

Good luck choosing!

Thai Bail – an easy-to-use delight 

Thai Basil

Thai basil. Photo from:

Some members received Thai basil in their CSA shares this week. Thai basil is a wonderful treat and one of my all-time favorite herbs to cook with. I always find my friends are impressed by my cooking when it includes this fresh and delightful herb, mostly because Thai basil is an amazing ingredient and less because of my cooking skill (or lack thereof J).  I liked this article that gives Thai basil some cred, but also includes recipes that look easy and yummy. If you don’t feel like following a recipe, try throwing Thai basil in a stir fry at the very end (so it just wilts).


Making Salsas and More…


Wondering what to do with tomatillos, tomatoes, hot peppers and cilantro?

tomatillos (from internet)

Why not make some salsa fresca!​
Find lots of recipes for salsa with tomatillos/salsa verde on Epicurious here. I personally like to add tomatillos to my tomato salsa. Click here for such a recipe.

Salsa fresca is wonderful but can also be preserves if you have more than you can eat in a week/to prevent spoilage. Canning works by creating a tight vacuum seal in the container, keeping out oxygen and other bacteria and yeasts that naturally break down your vegetables. Safety and cleanliness is essential when canning foods; if proper sanitation isn’t used when canning, you run the risk of botulism, a deadly form of food poisoning. Luckily, keeping safe and clean is easy by following some basic rules!

To get serious about canning, I recommend buying a book (there are many good ones online so I’ll let you choose one that suits your style)​ as this will give you directions and recipes for canning various types of fruits, veggies, jellies, etc. If you want to get your feet wet with a few jars of salsa, check out this video to get started.​
This webpage is also a good starting point for thinking outside the tomatillo salsa box (not that tomatillos salsa​ isn’t SUPER delicious in many forms​, but just in case you’d like some inspiring new ideas :). I also have cooked down the tomatillos (they become soft very easily) and substituted it for liquid called for in corn bread recipes. If doing so, also add minced onions and red and green peppers–adds delicious flavor and looks pretty!​

Try this great website for pickling an assortment of veggies!

Because I have recently realized you can pickle much more than just cucumbers with great success (try beets, cauliflower, carrots, summer squash/zucchini), here is a wonderful basic pickling recipe from a food blog I love love love (full disclosure, the author is my childhood friend).

I’ve also started doing some of my own lacto fermentation. More to come on that soon!

What to do with loads of veggies and herbs


August/September Cooking Tips

One quick and easy meal to use up many different veggies (lettuces and greens, scallions, summer squash, carrots, radishes, cabbage, celery, kohlrabi, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.) and herbs (mint, cilantro, and basil are particularly good but I also like dill and parsley), is to make spring rolls.

You can find the wrappers cheaply at an Asian market or even at Hannafords. They are large, circular noodles (see image). My sister also found brown rice spring roll wrappers at Whole Foods, if you are so inclined.

Spring roll wrappersSpring rolls prep

I chop up a wide variety of raw veggies and herbs to roll in. This makes a quick and easy meal and from my experience, always goes over well (even with kids).

Once you have things chopped, submerge a large, circular noodle in a large bowl of hot water for about 5 seconds (until it become flimsy). Lay it out on a plate and fill and wrap similarly to how you would a burrito. Don’t be tempted to overfill as the noodles break if overstretched.
I make a peanut sauce for my spring rolls by mixing two heaping tablespoons of peanut butter with 1/8 cup of balsamic vinegar, 1/8 cup soy sauce (or Bragg’s liquid aminos), minced garlic and some olive oil (as much as you want for desired consistency) You can add water to thin out as well. I also sometimes add the sauce directly inside or use for dipping (or both :).

I also had “spring rolls” wrapped in collard green leaves at a restaurant a few weeks ago. This is an even healthier alternative to the spring roll wrappers and I thought to be a great idea. Collards may be too tough for this at this point in the season; however, lettuce leaves would be just as tasty and tenderer.

There are many many ways to dress up the spring rolls too including adding tofu (organic or non-GMO), seitan (I fry it in a pan with olive oil to get a good texture, raw peanuts, etc. etc.

What To Do with Lots of Tomatillos (not just salsa)

Husk cherries and tomatillos

Husk cherries, tomatillos and cherry tomatoes

This webpage that’s a good starting point for thinking outside the tomatillo salsa box (not that salsa with tomatillos isn’t SUPER delicious, but just in case you’d like some inspiring new ideas :). Find lots of recipes for salsa with tomatillos as well as for salsa verde on Epicurious here. There are some other types of recipes there too.

Husk Cherries and How to Use Them

If you can resist eating your entire pint of husk cherries as a tasty snack, here are some ways you can incorporate them into your meals to really give your plate a zap of flavor.

I discovered that I’ll need to find other uses for my husk cherries now that I have them coming out of my ears (and probably will continue to for the next few weeks). For all of your gardeners out there, husk cherries are in the tomato family and are very easy to grow (no staking involved) and withstand heavy pest pressure.

Last week I began tossing husk cherries in my salads and discovered these little babies make a wonderful addition, especially to salads with other tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil (if you can find sacred basil or holy basil, this flavor with husk cherries is a delight). Try this website for a bunch more recommendations.

Many uses for cabbage and lemon balm


Early August Cooking Tips

Check out this amazingly comprehensive website for some great smoothie recipes and much more. Scroll down to #5 to find smoothies.



(This depicts lacinato kale, a common flat leaf variety. There are many types of curly leaf and flat leaf kale grown by Fresh Start Farms farmers including red bor, red Russian, Siberian, and green curly). 

A CSA member recently asked me what to do with kale. I find kale to be one of the most versatile of all the green veggies because of its mild flavor. The more I experiment, ther more I realize kale goes with everything! I sauté it as a side dish, add it to soups and stir fries and bake it into chips. I massage it with olive oil and put it raw in salads. Kale is an internet celebrity and many many recipes exist if you google. I personally like

Most of all, I use kale in my smoothies. My favorite basic healthy smoothie recipe is as follows:

  • 2 – 3 cups of kale (or spinach, romaine lettuce, beet greens, etc.),
  • 1+ tsp chia seeds
  • 1+ tsp flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp hemp protein
  • 1 frozen banana (or dates) for sweetness
  • 1 – 2 cups of fruit (fresh or frozen)
  • I use half water, half carrot juice as the liquid base as needed for blending
  • 1+tbsp lemon juice.

*You will need a decent blender to blend the kale into liquid

There are many many delicious and health modifications to be made. Check out this amazingly comprehensive website for some great smoothie recipes and much more. Scroll down to #5 to find smoothies.


Cabbage is one of my most favorite veggies because it’s so versatile and lasts a while in the fridge. I often add it to green salad and chop salads (salads with lots of hard, crunchy veggies). I also often put cabbage in softshell tacos with cilantro, beans, cheese and etc fixings.

The fermented food trend has also been gaining popularity. Try making your own sauerkraut (or even kimchee) if you have an abundance of cabbage. There are many DIY suggestions if you google, including this one. I’ve been surprised by just how easy this is to do!

Recently at a friend’s house, I ate the most delicious cabbage pot pie with onions, hardboiled egg and cream cheese. She made it with a yummy, buttery, whole wheat crust. This recipe looks pretty close and includes mushrooms, which I also love.

Lemon Balm

Image result for lemon balm images

Some folks also received lemon balm in their CSA shares this week. I generally use this fresh or dried for tea. Lemon balm has been used to relieve stress and enhance sleep so it’s nice to drink a cup before bed.

To dry lemon balm (and herbs in general), hang the bunch upside down and covered with a small brown paper bag / out of direct sunlight. Once dry, store the leaves in a mason jar with a tight-fitting lid. Check out this website, which also had some other great ideas.

Happy Cooking!

Oh so many ways to eat Chinese cabbage


Even More July Cooking Tips

Chinese Cabbage/Napa Cabbage

chinese cabbage

Chinese cabbage isn’t the most well-know of veggies but it sure is a winner based on this article in TIME magazine (and reported widely), where it receives second place for top healthiest leafy greens. I include this for fun and to support this under-recognized food, though I’m not sure how I feel about ranking veggies in this way since I love them all so much :). I personally believe eating a diversity of whole foods is healthiest, as we (as a society) seem to be forever changing our concepts around what is/isn’t healthy and how to decide such.

Here are some suggestions for cooking Chinese cabbage.

Eat it raw. The tender inner leaves are yummy and add great texture to salads! This is perhaps my favorite way to eat this brassica’s leaves!

Sauté or stir fry it. Stir frying is perhaps the easiest way to prepare your cabbage as well as some of those other veggies from your bag. Another easy meal is buying rice wrappers and making fresh spring rolls with herbs and veggies. Make a quick peanut sauce with balsamic vinegar, peanut butter, soy sauce, and olive oil (if you eat garlic raw, you can also add minced garlic). This Asian noodle, mushroom and cabbage salad recipe also sounded good.

Add to soup. Chinese cabbage holds its texture well so add it to soups. I’m definitely going to try this Udon with mushroom broth, cabbage and yam recipe.

Slaw for your potlucks and picnics. Our wholesale manager, Sarah Bostick who is an excellent cook, also suggested making it into slaw, which I myself have not yet tried. Check this slaw recipe out.


What to do with all those radishes, summer squash, and cooking greens


Additional July Cooking Tips (see prior post for more)

Here are simple and varied cooking tips for crops that grow abundantly this time of year and are often found in your CSA share bags more than once or twice.



Being on a few farms and working with folks who grow radishes has given me a new appreciation for them. I’ve learned you can do much more with radishes than merely eat them as a crunch raw snack. There are many ways to primp and dress up raw radishes, as well as cook both the radish itself as well as the greens. Here are a few easy ways I incorporate radishes into my cooking. If you find these ideas inspiring, a google search

Radishes in soft shell tacos. I chop radishes, cabbage, avocado, cilantro and other herbs to dress up rice and refried beans in soft-shell tacos (for a quick meal buy a can of refried beans and corn or flour/corn small, round tortilla. If you have some time, making your own tortillas and refried beans is best). Add a little sour cream and/or lime juice on top at the end. For non-vegetarians, add white fish to your tacos too!

Radishes in soup. I use the radishes and sometimes even the tops if they look green and fresh (wash the greens very thoroughly to avoid grit) in a variety of soups. I particularly like adding radishes to miso-broth soups, which I then spruce up with other veggies and flavors (I like adding sesame oil). Those peas would make delicious additions too. Here is a basic recipe to use for miso soup broth.

Radishes in your veggie sandwiches. I add thinly sliced radishes to sandwiches and wraps of all kinds. I also like to chop it very small with celery and add to chicken salad (or vegan chicken salad).

Radishes in a chop salad. For this you can use any combination of crunchy veggies (celery, peppers, cabbage, kohlrabi, broccoli stalks (peeled) carrots, etc. etc. Chop and dice the veggies of your choosing and mix together. I often make a dressing with diced shallot, mirin (Japanese rice cooking wine), tamari, brown rice vinegar, and olive oil. Another easy dressing is tamari, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and oregano.

Salted radishes as a side dish. Slice radishes as thin as possible. Dress with olive oil, sea salt, and course-ground pepper. Garnish with cilantro for a savory accompaniment to a summer meal.

Summer Squash and Zucchini



Pakoras - Natural Health Cookbook

Over the course of CSA, members generally receive a lot of summer squash and zucchini (depending on the weather conditions and the season of course). As someone who is not a huge fan of either one on its own, I’ve found plethoras of ways to cook and bake with both that are delicious.

Besides baking the squash into breads and muffins (millions of recipes exist if you google for both sweet and savory), I often make squash pakoras. Here is a photo of the recipe from my Natural Health cookbook (highly recommended for super healthy and yummy recipes, many of which are vegetarian).

You can of course slice summer squash (especially the smaller ones) and eat raw on top of a salad. If you like to grill veggies, try coating large slices in olive oil and balsamic (salt and pepper) and roasting alongside your burgers, veggies burgers, etc. I even put them on top of my veggie burger/dog inside the bun so I can smother with ketchup and mustard :).

Jessie Delaney-Edwards also sent some of her favorite summer squash recipes. I can’t wait to try these!

Baked Parmesan Zucchini – From Jessie at Dingley Press

Zucchini Parmesan – from Jessie at Dingley Press

Collard Greens

Here is a photo of my favorite collard greens recipe from New Soul Cooking by Tanya Holland. This can be modified for vegetarians too by replacing the chicken stock with veggie and omitting the turkey leg. I’ve added various types of veggie sausage (field roast, smart dogs, etc.) when I add the greens and cook for a while so the faux-meat absorbs the flavor.

Collard greens from New Soul Cooking


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