Your CSA Box: Delectable Dips

I opened my latest CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box to find tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, onions, jalapeno...

You can see where this is going, right? Sometimes what to make with the ingredients inside that weekly (or bi-weekly) box is pretty obvious, and this box was shouting SALSA! I bought some Whole Grain Milling Company corn chips in preparation. Then I went to work.

Easy Tomato Salsa
(adapted from Cook's Illustrated)

(makes about one cup)

1/2 small jalapeño. Remove ribs to reduce heat. Wear gloves to cut by hand.

1/4 small onion, peeled, root removed

1 small garlic clove, minced

2 teaspoons packed fresh cilantro leaves*

1/4 teaspoon salt

ground black pepper to taste

2 teaspoons juice from 1 lime

2 ripe tomatoes, cored, cut into eights

1. To make by hand: finely chop jalapeno, onion, garlic and cilantro. Roughly chop tomatoes. Mix. To make in food processor: pulse all ingredients except tomatoes until finely chopped. Add tomatoes and pulse a few times times until roughly chopped.

2. Transfer to a sieve for excess moisture to drain, about 1 minute. Serve. (Salsa is best served fresh, as tomatoes lose flavor when refrigerated.)

*Know your audience; some people, like my husband, hate cilantro. It's more authentic with it, but still tasty without it.

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I still had lime juice, onion and jalapeno; what to do? If you thought, "buy ripe Haas avocados from the grocery co-op," then we're on the same page. Now, I know that avocados are not a local food by a long shot. But given the choice of eating them in season, moving south, or giving them up entirely, I choose the first option every time.

Easy Guacamole
(adapted from Cook's Illustrated)

(makes about one cup)

2 small ripe Haas avocadoes

1/4 small onion, minced

1 small garlic clove, minced

1/2 small jalapeno chile, minced. Remove ribs to reduce heat. Wear gloves to cut by hand.

2 teaspoons packed fresh cilantro, minced* (see above)

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon fresh-squeezed lime juice

1. Halve 1 avocado, remove pit, and scoop flesh into medium bowl. Using fork, mash lightly with onion, garlic, jalapeño, cilantro, and 1/8 teaspoon salt until just combined.

2. Halve and pit remaining avocado. Using a dinner knife, carefully make 1/2-inch cross-hatch incisions in flesh, cutting down to but not through skin. Using a soup spoon, gently scoop flesh from skin; transfer to bowl with mashed avocado mixture. Sprinkle lime juice over and mix lightly with fork until combined but still chunky. Taste for salt, and serve.

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There was no need to refrigerate the salsa or guacamole because there were no leftovers. Yet I still had some chips! So I noticed the eggplant, and a plan began to come together. It involved roasting, so I was glad the weather had cooled.

Paolo's Green Olive and Eggplant Dip
(makes about 4 cups)

1  large eggplant, about one pound

1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 10-ounce jar pimiento-stuffed green olives, drained

1 4-ounce jar sliced pimientos, drained

2 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

2 teaspoon. minced garlic

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

1. Preheat over to 450 degrees. Oil heavy large baking sheet. Cut eggplant in half lengthwise then arrange cut side down. Roast until soft, about 35 minutes. Cool.

2. Using spoon, scrape eggplant pulp from skin into food processor; discard skin. Add garbanzo beans and oil to eggplant; puree until almost smooth. Transfer mixture to large bowl.

3. Add remaining ingredients to processor. Using on/off turns, process until mixture is coarsely chopped (do not overchop). Mix olive mixture into eggplant mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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This time, we ran out of chips before we ran out of dip. Pita bread from Holy Land seemed the obvious answer. But wouldn't you know, when the eggplant dip was gone, we still had pita left over! I went back to the CSA box, and stared at the potatoes for a while. Potato salad felt too obvious. And it's not a dip, so it wouldn't fit into this week's theme. Luckily, inspiration was not long in coming. Pita goes with... skordalia, the garlicky Greek potato dip like they serve at Gardens of Salonica!

Skordalia (Greek Potato Dip)
(makes about 3 cups)

Use a ricer or food mill to break down the potatoes. These keep more of the starch molecules intact. Electric mixers, blenders and food processors forcefully break the molecules, releasing amylose, which traps water and gives potatoes a gluey consistency, rather than a light and smooth one.

1 pound waxy potatoes (red or Yukon Gold) peeled and cut into 3/4 inch chunks

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1. Place potatoes in medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Over high heat, bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer until tender, about 30 minutes.

2. Mix oil, garlic and salt together in bowl to steep while potatoes cook.

3. Drain potatoes, then process in food mill or ricer. Stir in olive oil mixture, then thin with lemon juice to desired consistency. Add more salt or lemon juice to taste.

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The skordalia brought us, finally, to a place where the dip and the dip vehicles came out even. The dips made great appetizers, snacks, and one night, even supper. Best of all they didn't involve much cooking when it was hot, or utensils when it came time to eat.



Kristin Boldon is a frequent contributor for Simple, Good and Tasty, who also writes for the Eastside Food Cooperative's newsletter on health and wellness, and for her own blog Girl Detective. Her last post for us was "Best Fair Food: Peaches and Cream!"