This is an ongoing series that spotlights the freshest ingredients—and what to do with them.
Spicy Salmon Noodle Bowl with Rainbow Chard and Sugar Snap Peas
Beer Can Chicken with Roasted Radishes, Sugar Snap Peas, and Greens
Mushroom Crostini with Creme Fraiche
Grilled Peaches, Cabrales Crostini, and PX Sherry Reduction with Lettuce
Tea-poached Salmon with Soba Noodles, Radishes, Peas, and Broccoli
Quinoa with Sautéed Japanese Turnips and Rainbow Chard
Radishes on Buttered Bread
Beet Greens with Pine Nuts, Parmesan, and Lemon Juice
Grilled Rack of Lamb with Pea Puree and Japanese Turnips
Lentil Soup with Bacon and Swiss Chard
Marinated Beet Salad
Beet Greens with Risotto
Frozen Breakfast Burritos with Mixed Greens
Baby lettuces with pork, feta, and plums
Flatbread with marinated green beans and turnips
A turnip stem waits pickling
Pita pockets stuffed with pork patties, kale, cucumber, and minted yogurt sauce
Carrot top salsa
Between hail storms and early-season heat, your garden may look a little rough. We know: Our veggie boxes look weather-beaten, too, which is why we're excited to see more and more local, fresh produce in stores and farmers' markets. We're doubly stoked that we had the foresight to sign up this winter for a vegetable and flower CSA from Pastures of Plenty. Our first bag was loaded with greens, mushrooms, sugar snap peas (we had to eat a few immediately), and radishes. As CSA veterans know, though, cooking through the week's bounty is a challenge, which is why food editor Amanda M. Faison and digital editor Natasha Gardner are splitting a share. Throughout the summer, they will update this slideshow with recipes and tips on how they use the freshest Colorado ingredients in their own kitchens. Bonus: Check out the "Fresh Picks" Pinterest board and last year's series for even more recipe ideas.
WEEK SIX: Baby lettuces, kale, rainbow chard, golden beets, baby carrots, and mint (Amanda's picks)
1. Plum, Mint, Kale, Beet Greens, and Lemon Juice
- Used: mint, kale, beet greens
- How: I'm not including a photo of this juice because it was brownish, reddish, and not pretty. It didn't look like anything you want to drink—except it was terrific. One of my favorite ways to begin the day is with a fresh juice or a green smoothie. For this combination, I added handfuls of kale, beet greens, and mint to overly ripe plums and a lemon. The lemon and the mint rounded out the greens' earthiness and the plums added sweetness.
2. Pork Patty Pockets with Kale
- Used: kale, mint, and dill (from last week)
- How: I discovered this simple Emeril Lagasse recipe in Everyday Food several years ago. The dish is built for easy weeknight dining and my kids love it. You mix the patties with onion, spices, and breadcrumbs; broil them; and serve them in toasted pita pockets lined with fresh veggies. Note: The patties call for two large eggs beaten into the mix. My youngest daughter has an egg allergy so I omit them and the dish still works perfectly. In fact, that's one of the best things about this recipe: it's flexible. You can use any kind of ground meat, change up the spices, omit the onion, add more garlic, whatever works. The same flexibility goes into stuffing the pockets: I used torn kale leaves and sliced cucumber instead of the called for tomato, lettuce, and cucumber. The kicker is the fresh, minted yogurt sauce (I added dill too) that takes two minutes to make.
3. Carrot Top Salsa
- Used: carrot tops, mint, garlic (last week)
- How: Most people don't know you can eat the green leafy tops of carrots. But you can, and you should. The fronds, which taste vaguely like the root ends, can be chopped into salsa or whirled into pesto or salsa verde. Think of it as making the most of the carrot. This salsa is bright, lemony, and herbaceous (I swapped the fresh oregano for mint), and it's delicious with roasted meats, fish, or over goat cheese.
WEEK Five: Beet Greens, baby lettuces, japanese turnips, kales, beans, garlic, and dill (Amanda's picks)
1. Salad with Baby Lettuces, Pork, Feta, and Plums
- Used: Baby lettuces
- How: I was on my home from picking up the CSA when I began thinking about lunch. Whatever it was going to be, it had to be quick enough to fit in between a conference call and a phone interview. The easy answer was a salad that would use up the carnitas we'd had the night before. When I got home, I washed a couple handfuls of lettuce, added feta and the pork, and sliced one of the plums I'd bought from Red Barn Farm at the market. I drizzled De Carlo extra-virgin olive oil from Giuliana Imports and sherry vinegar over the top. A pinch of Maldon salt and lunch was served.
2. Flatbread with Marinated Green Beans and Turnips
- Used: Green beans and turnips
- How: I needed to test Grateful Bread's whole wheat pizza dough recipe for the pending 5280 cookbook but I didn't want pizza. So, I made the crust, par-baked it, and topped it with fresh mozzarella and an assortment of green beans and turnips marinated in Osteria Marco's red wine vinaigrette (also from the cookbook). Then I grilled the flatbread and drizzled the top with Acorn's miso-ancho-cumin vinaigrette (another cookbook recipe). I made this up on the fly with the hopes of utilizing the CSA and using up leftover ingredients in my fridge. The result was summery and fresh, and it's a dish I'll make again.
3. Pickled Turnip Stems
- Used: Turnip stems
- How: In preparation for the next Food Lover's Book Club (Date: August 20, Subject: Pickling), I bought Hugh Acheson's book Pick A Pickle. The clever swatchbook makes use of many of the items that might land in your compost. Case in point: turnip stems. I didn't have the four cups of stems called for so I downsized the recipe. Now I have a jar of briny stems just waiting to add zing to a cheese plate, pulled pork sandwiches (Acheson's suggestion), or grilled meats.
WEEK Four: Beets and Greens, rainbow chard, baby lettuces, apricots, and cherries (Natasha's picks)
1. Marinated Beet Salad
- Used: Beets
- How: I grew up in an area settled by plenty of Eastern European immigrants. Translation? I've eaten a lot of beets, and this simple prepartion (from Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food; recipe can be found here) is one of the best preparations I've found. You roast, peel, and dice the beets, toss with a dash of vinegar, and then mix with a swig of extra-virgin olive oil.
2. Beet Greens with Risotto
- Used: Beet Greens
- How: I love recipes that sound more complicated than they are, like risotto, which is my go-to Friday night meal. It feels fancy, but only takes about 30 minutes to prep and cook. Inspired by this recipe, I threw together a quick risotto with bacon and sautéed beet greens. The beet greens stain the rice, so make sure to cook them separately and place on top of the plated rice.
3. Frozen Breakfast Burritos with Mixed Greens
- Used: Baby lettuces
- How: I don't want to give out the false impression that I have oodles of time to spend toiling over a hot stove. No, I look for shortcuts, too, which is why I'm a big fan of keeping a well-stocked freezer. On Sunday, we had plans for a family bike ride, zoo tour, and to watch the World Cup final in the afternoon. There was no way that I had time to cook something from scratch, so I grabbed some homemade breakfast burritos (eggs, three types of peppers, onions, cheese, bacon, and potatoes), popped them in the microwave to defrost, threw some lettuce on a plate, and, boom, I had food on the table in less than five minutes.
WEEK THREE: Beets and Greens, Japanese turnips, rainbow chard, English peas, and cherries (Natasha's picks)
1. Beet Greens with Pine Nuts, Parmesan, and Lemon Juice
- Used: Beet Greens
- How: As my husband isn't a big fan of beets, I was at a loss for how to use up a whole bag of beet greens. So, I cheated and prepared them just like I do kale (with toasted pine nuts, sautéed shallots, a splash of fresh lemon juice, and a dash of sriracha sauce). The result was tangy, spicy, and oh-so fresh.
2. Grilled Rack of Lamb with Pea Puree and Japanese Turnips
- Used: English peas and Japanese turnips
- How: The photo doesn't do this meal justice, as it was one of the best things I've made in recent memory. I sliced and sautéed the turnips with shallots (here's a similar recipe). The pea puree was simple: Throw a good splat of butter, shelled blanched peas, and some fresh mint from the garden in a food processor and let it whirl. This was one of those rare moments when the timing was perfect; I was just scooping the puree onto plates when my husband took the rack of lamb off the grill.
3. Lentil Soup with Bacon and Swiss Chard
- Used: Swiss Chard
- How: The chard was looking a little pathetic by the time I was ready to cook with it, so I tossed it in an ice bath to revive the leaves. As I waited for the greens to perk up, I starting cooking a lentil stew inspired by a recipe from Tender by Nigel Slater, which is a handy reference for using up produce. (Find a similar recipe here.) Next time, I'd use more stock, but the stew-y concoction makes for an ideal take-to-work lunch.
WEEK TWO: Lettuces, Japanese turnips, rainbow chard, sugar snap peas, and summer savory (Amanda's picks)
1. Grilled Peaches, Cabrales Crostini, and PX Sherry Reduction with Lettuce
- Used: Lettuces
- How: I'm in the midst of recipe testing for 5280's first-ever cookbook so I'm looking for ways to pair incoming CSA ingredients with the recipes on my docket. This recipe, which is from chef Jennifer Jasinski of Rioja, calls for a half-pound of arugula; I used Pastures of Plenty's beautiful, multicolored lettuces instead. The dish is a terrific blend of savory, sweet, and earthy flavors. It's also easy enough that, with a little advanced planning, I was able to assemble it at the pool for an alfresco dinner (hence the ugly paper plate). Shameless plug: Look for the cookbook to come out in October.
2. Tea-Poached Salmon with Soba, Radishes, Peas, and Broccoli
- Used: Radishes and sugar snap peas
- How: My husband is a runner and when race day approaches, I know I'll be on tap to make his favorite power-up meal. This tea-poached salmon and soba dish is easy and flavorful, and it provides a good balance of protein and carbs (which translates to sustained energy on the race course). The recipe calls for roasted broccoli, but I often toss in other vegetables for additional crunch. In this case, I added Pasture of Plenty's sugar snap peas and a few thinly sliced radishes.
3. Radishes on Buttered Bread
- Used: Radishes
- How: A few weeks ago, I professed my love for the classic combination of radishes and butter. So when the CSA delivered a small bunch of the root vegetable, I knew just what to do with it. I cut a round of levain bread, spread the pieces with butter, and arranged sliced radishes on top. The kicker: a sprinkling of Maldon salt, chives, and fresh lemon zest. Paired with a glass of wine, the combo makes an ideal summer appetizer.
4. Quinoa with Sautéed Japanese Turnips and Rainbow Chard
- Used: Japanese Turnips and rainbow chard
- How: Not totally sure what to do with the turnips, I turned to Google and found this recipe. The turnip greens were beginning to go by so I composted those and used rainbow chard instead. The resulting meal was healthy, earthy, and just right for a quick weeknight dinner.
WEEK ONE: Radishes, sugar snap peas, rainbow chard, mushrooms, and mixed greens (Natasha's picks)
1. Spicy Salmon Noodle Bowl
- Used: Rainbow chard and sugar snap peas
- How: My family eats noodle bowls at least once a week, and I'd already planned to make a grilled salmon one (inspired by this Jamie Oliver recipe) when I picked up my CSA package and found fresh sugar snap peas inside. I tossed in a few handfuls of chard, too, which added a sharp tang to offset the chile's heat in the salmon marinade.
2. Beer Can Chicken with Roasted Radishes, Sugar Snap Peas, and Greens
- Used: Radishes, sugar snap peas, and greens
- How: With guests in town and two toddlers playing in the backyard, I needed a hearty meal that wouldn't involve a lot of effort. The solution: My beer can chicken recipe with a make-your-own salad. I put the chicken on the grill, placed radishes tossed with olive oil in the oven to roast, whisked up a mustard vinaigrette, set timers on my iPhone, and spent the rest of the time with my guests.
3. Mushroom Crostini with Creme Fraiche
- Used: Mushrooms
- How: Pastures of Plenty sends out a weekly newsletter with recipe suggestions, including one for mushroom crostini (similar to this one). I toasted the sliced baguette early, and 10 minutes before my guests arrived, I tossed the mushrooms in a pan with butter, olive oil, and garlic (I added a little white wine after two minutes). While that cooked, I slathered creme fraiche on the bread slices. When the doorbell rang, I was just topping the bread with the cooked mushrooms. Talk about perfect timing.