Your CSA Box: A Mark Bittman Double Header

My last CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box of the year from Foxtail Farm was both a festival of fall and a chock full of vitamins: garlic, bok choi, broccoli, turnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, winter squash, peppers, Brussels sprouts, and onions.

The sweet potatoes were fresh from the field, so they needed my immediate attention, as did the bok choi and turnip greens. I cleaned those promptly, then turned to one of my favorite food gurus, Mark Bittman, for inspiration on what to do with my fall harvest. Bittman recently visited the Twin Cities to talk about his new The Food Matters Cookbook (SGT writer Kristi Hamilton wrote about it here).

Speical bonus: both of the recipes in this post are good cold, warm, or hot, which makes them perfect lunches to pack for work or school. They're also vegan and gluten free.

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad With Black Beans and Chili Dressing, adapted from Bittman's New York Times Diner's Journal.

(serves 4)

4 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 large onion, preferably red, chopped

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 to 2 Tablespoons minced fresh hot chili, like jalapeño (remove seeds and ribs to reduce heat)

1 clove garlic, peeled

1 Tablespoon lime juice

2 cups cooked or canned black beans, drained

1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely diced

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

1 cup frozen or cooked corn kernels (optional, for even more flavor and texture)


1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put sweet potatoes and onions on a large baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil, toss to coat and spread out in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast, turning occasionally, until potatoes begin to brown on corners and are just tender inside, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven; keep on pan until ready to mix with dressing.

2. Put chilies in a blender or mini food processor along with garlic, lime juice, remaining olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Process until blended.

3. Put warm vegetables in a large bowl with beans and bell pepper; toss with dressing and cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature, or refrigerate for up to a day.

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For even more of a protein punch, I turned to Bittman's Food Matters, his 2008 book that Salon described as "applied Pollan."

Pan-Cooked Greens with Tofu and Garlic.

(serves 4)

1 pound firm, water-packed tofu (for a different texture of tofu, freeze it the night before, then set it out to thaw in the morning)

1 1/2 pounds assertive greens (kale, collards, bok choi) cleaned

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

3 Tablespoons fish sauce or soy sauce

1 small chile, minced (remove ribs and seeds to reduce heat) or a pinch of red-pepper flakes

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 Tablespoon lime juice or rice vinegar

2 or 3 garlic cloves, cut into slivers

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Over the sink, gently squeeze excess water out of the tofu. Cut into 4 slabs, lengthwise.

2. Cut leaves from stems. Roughly chop leaves; cut stems into 1-inch chunks.

3. In medium bowl, combine fish or soy sauce, minced chile, sugar, and lime juice or vinegar.

4. Put a tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook tofu slabs until browned, about 5 minutes a side. Transfer to cutting board. When cook, cut into thin pieces, about 2 inches by 1/4 inch.

5. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and increase heat to high. Cook stems, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add greens, stir frequently until wilted. Add garlic and tofu slices and cook about 1 minute more. Remove from heat, stir dressing, then drizzle over and toss. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve with brown rice, in a tortilla, or with pita bread.

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This is my last column this year on CSA produce, which I started back in June. I hope these articles and recipes have been useful. I'll be back in a few weeks with other Simple, Good and Tasty food news.

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 DetectiveHer last post for us was "Your CSA Box: Curing End of Season Fatigue."