Farm To Fork, A CSA Series: Relying On Basics During A Busy Week

This is part 5 of a summer long series about our CSA boxes and what we do with them. Recipes for silky simmered cabbage, roasted baby potatoes, Mexican elote and Pasta with tomatoes and breadcrumbs follow.

I knew it was a bad week when the only thing getting me out of bed at 4:45 a.m. one morning was the promise of indulging in a fast food breakfast on the way to work. 


A fast food breakfast? I rarely eat fast food...let alone for breakfast.  


My introduction to working in the corporate world gives me an admiration for those who still find ways to remain healthy in spite of weeks filled with too much sitting and an ever accumulating workload. While some weeks are bearable, others feel insurmountable. I must push myself to make choices that strengthen health in all its facets, from nutrition and exercise, to that which sustains mental and spiritual vitality.


Since I last wrote about my stretch of overwrought food debacles, I have simplified my CSA vegetable creations. This change has resulted in less food fails. Even better, I have solidified methods of quickly preparing vegetables on weeknights with minimal time or effort. There are weeks when I must rely on the simplest of preparations to avoid the pitfalls of turning towards instant or takeout foods or even worse, wasting food. Extra kudos if the simple preparations are as satisfying as the complex.   


Our latest CSA boxes have been so massive that I asked my fiancé if he’d accidentally been picking up the family share boxes instead of the small ones. “Nope,” he replied, describing to me how tightly the boxes were packed with produce. Somehow, our CSA managed to fit in to our most recent box a variety of ears of corn, purple potatoes, green cabbage, green beans, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes and sweet onions. This week, our favorite dishes were humble preparations of cabbage, corn, squash, and ripe tomatoes. 


The Simple Food!

Last St. Patrick’s Day, Jake and I were smitten with the boiled cabbage served as part of a $6 bar meal. We never imagined that cabbage would have trumped craft beer and corned beef. This silky and buttery cabbage shone as the highlight of our St. Patty’s day and I made my own version that we enjoyed so much we ate it for two dinners in a row.  


On another evening, I quartered a bag of our baby purple potatoes and roasted them until they were as crisp as French fries on the outside, and creamy on the inside. One summer’s eve, years ago, I caught my roommate making a dinner of just roasted potatoes seasoned with basil. I thought she was odd until she shared them with me. Roasted potatoes after a long day at work are satisfying and only need a little protein or greenery to round out a meal. I also like to baste mine in lemon juice. 


When I noticed corn first appear in our baskets, I immediately thought of the "elote" I ate in Mexico last spring. My friends and I spent much of our time wandering Queretaro’s cobblestone Zocolos shaded in perfectly manicured shrubbery. One evening, my friend ordered me elote from a street vendor. He skewered a fat cob of corn and lathered it with mayonnaise scooped from an industrial sized tub. Then, he sprinkled it with crumbled cheese and seasoned it with chili and lime. My home version of elote wasn’t quite as magical as the one I ate that evening as we wandered beneath the glowing lights of Queretero’s ancient aqueduct, but it was good enough to bring me back for a moment.  


Ahhhh, summer squash. I actually didn’t think I was that fond of squash until I tried roasting it, which evaporated some of the squashes’ water content. This might make squash more palatable for those who don’t enjoy its mushy, watery qualities. Try thickly slicing squash and tossing with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast at about 420 degrees until the slices starts to caramelize and shrink. It also can be grilled on the BBQ with excellent results.


The tomatoes in our basket have been stunning. As many know, when comparing a mealy grocery store tomato to one that is vine-ripened and free of chemicals, the flavor difference is eye opening. Our surprise revealed that we must have forgotten what a real tomato tastes like. I made a knock-off of the tomato and cucumber salad I used to order from Noodles & Company. To make your own, cut tomatoes into bite-sized pieces. Combine them with half moons of cucumber and sliced onion. Then, toss with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and honey.


Lastly, I added the plump tomatoes to a simple pasta dish. It was a pleasing counterpoint to my last, 10-ingredient-too-many carbonara fail. The concept of adding toasted bread crumbs to pasta may have been inspired by an episode of Molto Mario I saw many years ago. I tossed freshly cooked pasta with a mixture of breadcrumbs toasted in olive oil and scented with anchovy, garlic, and lemon zest. Then, I sprinkled in tomato wedges and mozzarella cheese. The result was an ooey, gooey, yet delicious mess.


Enjoy these simple recipes as I daydream ways to enjoy our next blessing of CSA veggies. 


Silky Simmered Cabbage


  • Cabbage, I used green
  • Chicken or vegetable stock
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Sweetener (honey, sugar, brown sugar, agave, etc.)
  • Butter


-Core cabbage. Cut into manageably sized pieces and rinse.  

-Simmer in enough chicken stock to equal about a third of the cabbage’s height in the pot.  

-Season with salt, pepper, and something sweet like sugar or honey. Melt in a knob or two of butter.

-Cook until the cabbage is tender and silky.  


Roasted Baby Potatoes


  • Potatoes, washed and cut into wedges
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Herbs.  I’ve used basil and chives but any fresh or dried herb would do.  
  • Lemon juice

 Preheat oven to 420 degrees. 

-Place potato wedges on a pan.

-Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and your herb(s) of choice.

-Bake until crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Once the potatoes were crispy, I let them bake a little longer at about 350 degrees until we were ready to eat. 


Mexican Elote-inspired corn


  • Corn on the cob
  • Mayonnaise
  • Cotija cheese
  • Fresh lime wedges
  • Red pepper. I use cayenne but you could use less spicy varieties

-Skewer cooked corn on the cob.

-Spread with mayonnaise, spritz with fresh lime, and sprinkle with cotija cheese and red pepper. In Mexico, the ground red pepper was not spicy. I used cayenne.  

Esquites: A less messy version eaten by the spoon: Remove kernels of corn from the cob (can use uncooked corn and briefly sauté). Mix with crema or mayonnaise, spritz with lime, and sprinkle with cheese and chili.  


Pasta with Toasted Breadcrumbs


  • Spaghetti
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 Anchovies or a good squirt of anchovy paste
  • Garlic, thinly sliced or minced
  • Breadcrumbs (I used about a cup per four servings)
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Lemon Zest
  • Small cubes of mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • Grated Parmesan
  • Optional: Fresh lemon wedges

-Heat a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.  

-While the water is heating, prepare your other ingredients.

-In a preheated pan, sauté your anchovies in the olive oil until melted. Add breadcrumbs and stir until toasted. Add garlic, and stir until fragrant. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon zest.  

-Cook spaghetti in salted boiling water until al dente.

-Toss with the mozzarella cheese, and fresh tomato. Stir in the toasted breadcrumbs. Shower with parmesan cheese and add extra salt or pepper if needed. Garnish with lemon wedges for some acidity.


Jeni Hill grew up in the Twin Cities and recently moved to Fargo. Her two sustaining passions are food and writing and she combines the two whenever she gets the chance. Jeni believes food is never just about the food and considers it the finest medium to connect with others. When she is not crafting contributions to Simple Good & Tasty, she may be posting to her blog An Herbalist Eats20food, or Fargo's High Plains Reader. Her last non-CSA article for us was: An adopted Korean makes her first batch of lefse.