Help! What do I do with all this fresh produce?!

It's a propitious problem and an unexpected question asked by many members of Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. Faced with all the fresh, local (and sometimes unfamiliar and dauntingly copious) produce of summertime shares, it can be a challenge to figure out how to put it all to creative and delicious use.

Fellow blogger and food writer Heather Lalley was pondering this very predicament when she approached us with her idea for a Cooking Away My CSA Challenge. She invited CSA members and bloggers web-wide to share the contents of their weekly deliveries and their best ideas for cooking through it all.

Editor-in-chief Mary Kay Culpepper's response: Sign us up!

That same week we joined a local CSA and recruited volunteers from our staff who'd be up for Heather's challenge. You'll read more about our doings in a future post, but we're going to turn over the floor to the gal with the plan. 

     --The editors at Cooking Light

Guest post by Flour Girl's Heather Lalley:

When I signed up nearly a year ago to get a box of fresh produce each week this summer from a local farm, I didn't fully consider the ramifications.

Sure, I'd be supporting a local grower – Angelic Organics, a farm about two hours northwest of downtown Chicago – through my CSA share. And our diets would get a nutritional boost from all of those organic vegetables.

But I didn't think about cooking with kohlrabi or sautéing with scapes or learning to love leaf after leaf after leaf of lettuce.

I decided I needed serious help.

So I called on food bloggers and other creative locavores to join me in the Cooking Away My CSA Challenge to find inventive uses for all of this beautiful, fresh, local produce.

So far, 150 CSA-ers from around the world have joined me. They've inspired me to try “green” smoothies – my new favorite breakfast. They've introduced me to the salty, crunchy, addictive goodness of kale chips. And they've encouraged me to get over my beet phobia. (I'm still working on that one.)

Here are just a few of the great posts from group members:

And here's a recent entry from me, Flour Girl, which includes recipes for “Unstuffed” Skillet Cabbage Rolls and Kohlrabi-Beet Hash

If you're getting a CSA box and are looking to branch out beyond salads and stir-fries, I hope you'll join us. Post your links here and check out our Google Group, Cooking Away My CSA.


Heather Lalley is a former newspaper reporter who is currently studying baking and pastry in culinary school. She is blogging her adventures at Flour Girl and is also working on her first book – a collection of profiles and recipes from Chicago chefs who work closely with local growers. She lives in Chicago with her husband and young son.