Your CSA Box: Local Potatoes, Global Flavors

There were other things in last week's Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm-share box: basil, green beans, turnips, chard, tomatoes, onions. But the giant pile of potatoes kind of eclipsed everything else. The suddenly cooler weather plus those potatoes seemed to cry out for something warm and comforting. I glanced at my cookbook shelves, in search of recipes that would honor these humble midwestern spuds. Eureka, I thought, stew! Or, as it transpired, stews! Bland? Mushy? No way. These stews were going to be stars.

The first recipe is based on a recipe for Lebanese stew in Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Using canned beans and tomatoes, it's a great, easy weeknight recipe. With cooked chickpeas and fresh tomatoes, it becomes even more flavorful. This is a great dish for vegans and vegetarians, plus it's gluten free. Since it tastes good warm or cold, it is good for potlucks and packed lunches.

Chickpeas with Potatoes and Tomatoes
(Serves 6 to 8)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped fine

6 red potatoes, scrubbed and diced into cubes about the size of chickpeas

4 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch rounds

1 small dried chile, or 2 pinches red chile pepper flakes

4 garlic cloves, minced, mixed with 1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, or 2 cups diced fresh tomatoes

6 cups cooked chickpeas*, or two 25-ounce cans, drained and rinsed

1 cup water or chickpea broth

1 teaspoon salt

ground pepper

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional, as some people hate cilantro)

Garnishes: lemon wedges, black olives, pita bread


1. Heat oil in wide skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until lightly colored, about five minutes.

2. Add potatoes, carrots, chile and garlic and cook for five minutes more.

3. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, water, salt and ground pepper to taste, scraping up any brown bits in the pan. Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

4. Stir in chopped fresh herbs. Serve with garnishes.

*To cook chickpeas from scratch, take 2 cup dried beans, soak in 3 quarts of water overnight. Place chickpeas and 3 quarts fresh water in medium saucepan. Boil for 10 minutes. Skim off surface foam. (Optional: add a peeled garlic clove and strip of kombu or wakame seaweed.) Lower heat and simmer, partially covered, until beans are tender, about 45 minutes. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and cook for five minutes more. Strain, reserving broth for soup.

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Next for my potatoes was a recipe that honored one of the places they're most associated with, Ireland. I pulled out the slow cooker for a hearty beef stew adapted from Cook's Country magazine. This is a one-dish meal, but you can serve salad, rice or bread alongside if you like.

Guiness Beef Stew
(Serves 6 to 8)

2 pounds boneless beef chuck stew meat, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces

4 teaspoons vegetable oil, separated

1 large onion, chopped fine

4 cups chicken broth

1 1/2 cups Guinness Draught, separated

1 Tablespoon light brown sugar

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped

2 bay leaves

5 carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch chunks, halved if thick

1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch chunks, halved at thick end

1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 3/4 to 1-inch chunks

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley


1. Pat beef dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook beef until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker insert.

2. Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil, onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt to skillet ad cook until onions are lightly browned, about five minutes. Add broth, 1 1/4 cups Guinness, sugar, thyme, chocolate and bay leaves and bring to boil, using wooden spoon to scrape up browned bits. Transfer to slow cooker insert.

3. Add carrots, parsnips, and potatoes to slow cooker insert. Cover and cook on low until meat is tender, 9 to 10 hours (or on high for 6 to 7 hours).

4. Set slow cooker to high. Whisk flour and remaining 1/4 cup beer until smooth, then gently stir mixture into slow cooker. Cook, covered, until sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Stir in parsley, season with salt and pepper to taste, and remove bay leaves. Serve.

Make ahead: You can prepare the recipe through step 2 the night before the ingredients go into the slow cooker. Refrigerate the beef and onion mixture in separate containers. In the morning, transfer both to the insert and proceed with step 3.

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For my final few potatoes, I headed south and east to Africa for a vegetable stew over injera, a thin, pancake-type bread. The stew is served on the injera, and scooped up with it; no utensils needed! In addition to the vegetable stew and injera, I found recipes for the greens and lentil stew pictured in this piece on making a vegetarian feast at Thrifty Fun.

Yetakelt We't (Ethiopian Vegetable Stew)
(Serves 6 to 8)

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

pinch (1/16 teaspoon): cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cardamom, nutmeg

smidgen (1/32 teaspoon): cloves, allspice

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped fine

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup green beans

2 carrots, chopped

2 potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 3/4 inch chunks

2 tomatoes, chopped, or 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 cup frozen peas

1/4 cup tomato paste

2 cups water or broth

salt and pepper to taste


1. Combine spices in small bowl. Heat oil in large pan over medium high heat.

2. Add onions, spices and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, about 5 minutes.

3. Add beans, carrots, potatoes, and saute for ten minutes.

4. Add tomatoes, tomato paste and water, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

5. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

Injera (Ethiopian flat bread)
(Serves 6 to 8)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 cups club soda


1. Mix dry ingredients, then add enough soda to get a thin batter.

2. Ladle batter into hot nonstick pan, tilting pan to cover evenly.

3. After bubbles appear and top looks set, remove from pan. Do not flip. Repeat until batter is gone.



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 "Your CSA Box: Delectable Dips."