This is part 7 of a summer long series about our CSA boxes and what we do with them. Recipes for Citrus Beet Salad, Stuffed Peppers, German Sausage Chowder, and Apple, Cheddar, and Walnut Quick Bread follow.
It’s finally starting to feel like fall in Fargo.
Just as in Minnesota, here in North Dakota, we spent our summer sweating while the heat rose well into the 90s. But during the past month, the temperature has dropped from 90 degrees to the occasional sweater-weather day. I’ve typically preferred overly warm to overly cool climates, but even I can’t help but welcome the cool fall air despite my disdain for the inevitable snow. Fall makes me yearn for root vegetables and soup. The first taste of local apples makes me seek more. Autumn overrides my preference for salty flavors and makes me crave baked goods from anyone’s grandmother.
Our latest CSA box update stated that we would receive six more boxes, carrying us well into October. The last two boxes brought us a lot more of the familiar corn, cabbage, kohlrabi, tomatoes, sweet peppers, onions, and double the potatoes. I was excited to find tiny beets, bok choy, and a few small parsnips. I was less excited to find that the bok choy and beets perished in my refrigerator when its temperature accidentally switched to “frozen tundra.” Still, even though we were stocked with many of the same vegetables that brought on vegetable fatigue just a few weeks ago, I was reinvigorated by the chilly morning air.
The baby beets made me think of Broders’. My first year out of college, I worked at Broders’ Cucina Italiana in Minneapolis. Working at Broders’ was a stark contrast to the part-time jobs I had previously held at retail stores. Broders’ gave us opportunities to learn about the products we sold, encouraging us to taste everything firsthand. I discovered my love for beets through their beet salad, an item I still order to this day. Though I never saw it prepared, I tried to make my own version at home, based upon the combination of citrus, red onion, and earthy beets.
My fiancé Jake was also excited about our beet bounty. Strange as it may sound, he was even more excited about drinking the beets than eating them. Each week, Jake scouts the CSA boxes for beets to juice. He shared that his Internet research described beet juice as “detoxifying”; apparently, they also enhance athletic performance. (Drinking beet juice was also described as causing lightheadedness.) Jake juices the beets along with apples and other veggies such as cucumber. Although I enjoy eating beets, the taste of beet juice makes me gag. Plus, I don’t enjoy feeling dizzy. I’ll leave the beet juice for Jake.
Stuffed peppers and hearty soup are handy opportunities to use almost any vegetables and serve as comfort foods on any chilly day. Since our box contained several colorful bell peppers, I wanted to try baking stuffed peppers, a dish I have never tried before. They are typically stuffed with beef, but I created a vegetarian version that is just as filling and equally warming. Any combination of vegetables can be used in this recipe. I enjoyed the lightness quinoa lent to my stuffing, but you could use your grain of choice, or substitute Greek yogurt or ricotta for cream cheese. Those who are gluten free could omit panko breadcrumbs.
The stuffed peppers were lovely, but the most exciting dish that I cooked from this week’s CSA was German Sausage Chowder. Before I started culinary school this fall, I worked full-time in a hospital. With the exception of the cafeteria’s salad bar, most of its food was deep fried and covered in gravy, or griddled in butter-flavored grease. A loaded plate from their salad bar cost less than a grilled cheese. Only in Fargo, right? Every once in a while, the cafeteria served German Sausage Chowder, a creamy soup filled with bacon, sausage, potatoes, corn, and cabbage. Employees lined up for the chowder and the cafeteria could never keep up with the demand. I tried to be clever by taking especially early lunches on German Sausage Chowder day only to wait in line with the other clever folks. The soup made me feel like I was being especially indulgent because of its rich broth, hardly thickened with anything except cream. My Internet search easily landed several variations of the recipe, and I was surprised to see that they all included Swiss cheese. In my version, I used CSA cabbage, onions, and potatoes and lightened the broth by omitting bacon and gently creaming the broth. The Swiss cheese, however, remained.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with a bite of fall dessert. Technically, apples are not included in our CSA baskets, but they are everywhere. My apples came from my culinary instructor’s backyard, and he shares them with the students by the bucket. I found an old church cookbook focused on apples alone, and I adapted a recipe for a sweet apple, cheddar, and walnut bread. The original recipe yielded overly crumbly bread, so I enhanced the recipe with additional moistness, resulting in a cake-like texture. If you do not have or prefer not to use sour cream and heavy cream, yogurt would probably make an appropriate substitution.
Not Quite Broders’ Beet Salad
Beets, cooked and cut into bite-sized strips
Orange or grapefruit segments (I used a blood orange)
Red onion, thinly sliced into half moons
Resulting juice from segmented citrus fruit
1. Roast or boil beets until tender. Peel and cut.
2. Toss beets with segmented citrus fruit and red onion.
3. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, to taste. Season with salt and sugar. Garnish with your choice of herbs or greens.
Recipe makes enough stuffing for about six large bell pepper halves
Peppers, halved, stemmed, and de-seeded (I used both sweet peppers and hot banana peppers)
2 small-medium carrots, diced
1 small onion, diced
Mushrooms, diced (I used about five button mushrooms)
*Add or alternate with other vegetables like corn or diced kohlrabi
2 small stalks of celery, diced
1-2 cloves of garlic, finely minced or grated
Olive oil and/or butter
Herbs, to taste (I used basil, marjoram, and parsley)
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 block firm tofu, drained and crumbled (To remove excess moisture, press tofu between two plates stacked with a heavier object. For a sponge-like texture, freeze tofu and defrost, squeezing out extra water)
1 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
¼ block of cream cheese, cut into small cubes
Grated parmesan cheese. Enough to flavor the stuffing, reserving some to sprinkle on top of the peppers.
Bread crumbs (I used panko, a variety of crispy, Japanese bread crumbs)
1. Cook quinoa.
I cook quinoa like rice, using equal parts quinoa to liquid. Rinse quinoa. Toast briefly in pan with a drizzle of olive oil. Add stock (or water) and bring to a boil. Cover. Turn heat to low and steam until cooked and liquid is absorbed.
2. Sweat vegetables in a little olive oil or butter, until tender. Add crumbled tofu. Season with salt, pepper, white pepper, hot pepper, and herbs. Add garlic, and sauté until fragrant.
3. Combine vegetables and tofu with cooked quinoa and toasted walnuts.
4. Stir in cream cheese and parmesan. Taste often and adjust for seasoning. If it’s not salty enough, try drizzling in soy sauce, to taste, plus a small touch of sugar to round out the flavor.
5. Lightly coat a baking dish with olive oil. Place halved peppers in dish, skin side down.
6. Fill with stuffing.
7. Sprinkle a little breadcrumbs and parmesan on top of the stuffed peppers. Lightly drizzle with olive oil.
8. Pour a little stock into the bottom of the pan and bake at 350 degrees until the peppers are tender, about 45 minutes-1 hour. If the tops aren’t brown enough, broil after baking.
9. Enjoy with your favorite tomato sauce.
My Easy Tomato Sauce
Sautee chopped onion until the edges caramelize, seasoning with a little salt and pepper. Add chopped garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add canned tomatoes, plus any fresh diced tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper, red wine (or red wine vinegar), sugar, and herbs like basil and oregano. Simmer until the flavors mellow and the canned tomatoes don’t taste “canned.”
German Sausage Chowder
Inspired and adapted from Sanford Hospital, Fargo, ND and Party In My Kitchen
Note: Adjust stock and water ratios depending on the saltiness of your stock and sausage. The soup will reduce slightly. I used mostly water and a little stock since my stock was not low-sodium.
2 ½ cups of potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 ½ cups of diced onion
4 links of kielbasa, sliced
1 small head of cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
2 cups of sweet corn
½ cup milk (I used skim)
3 Tablespoons flour + a couple tablespoons of butter
Heavy cream (I used about 1/3 cup)
1 cup of grated Swiss cheese
Hot pepper flakes
1. In a large pot, briefly sauté potatoes, onions and kielbasa. Cover with enough water, stock or a mixture of water and stock to rise about an inch or two above.
2. Simmer until the potatoes become tender (about 15-20 minutes).
3. Add the cabbage and sweet corn. Cover with stock (or water). Simmer for about 10 minutes.
4. To thicken the soup, smush together flour and butter. Add to the soup along with milk and simmer until slightly thickened. I like my chowder rather thin, but add more flour for a thicker texture.
5. Add cream and grated cheese. Stir until smooth.
6. Season with Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, hot pepper flakes and salt, all to taste.
7. Recipe produces about six dinner servings of soup
Sweet Apple, Cheddar, and Walnut Quick Bread
Adapted from Winnifred C. Sargisson’s recipe in Apple Cook Book, Keene United Methodist Church, Keene, OH, 1979
6 Tablespoons of butter
½ cup of granulated sugar
½ cup sour cream (I used low fat)
¼ cup heavy cream
1 cup of grated cheddar cheese
1 ¾ cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ginger
½-1 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
1 cup of grated apple, peeled, cored, and grated
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in eggs. Add sour cream, cream, and cheddar.
3. In a smaller bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and ginger. Add salt. Combine.
4. Add half of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, alternating with the grated apples. Gently fold to combine.
5. Evenly spread batter into a greased pan and bake until a toothpick can be cleanly removed from the center.
6. The original recipe specifies baking in a loaf pan for an hour. I used a square cake pan and baked for about 45 minutes.
7. Remove cake from pan and cool on a rack.
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 Eats, 20food, or Fargo's High Plains Reader. Her last CSA article for us was on Vegetable Fatigue.