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Farmers' Favorites: Veggies & Recipes


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Ever wonder what veggies farmers really dig, from most versatile to weirdest? And, what about tasty recipes that put them to good use? We sure did, so we went out and got the scoop from our farmers. We think you'll head right to the kitchen!

SWISS CHARD (Versatile Veggie)

Amy Baron, CSA Manager at Weir River Farm

We grow the "Bright Lights" rainbow variety, so it's a beautiful and colorful part of any meal. I love that you can use the entire thing, stem and leaves, and that it is really healthy for you – it has a huge amount of potassium, which is harder than you think to get enough of daily. I like to add it to egg dishes (great in quiches or just scrambled), in soups, sauteed with lots of garlic and cannelini beans, or my favorite, making a sweet and savory dish that is great as a side or completely on its own served with some quinoa or other grain. My favorite recipe is based off of this one below, but I add whatever citrus juice is around (lemon or orange are great) or some apple cider vinegar, use different kinds of raisins, and use whatever type of nuts I have (walnuts, almonds, and sunflower seeds).

Chard Catalan Style
From Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

1 lb. bunch chard, stems removed, leaves blanched
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large clove garlic, sliced
1/3 c. dark or golden raisins
1/3 c. pine nuts
Salt and pepper

Coarsely chop the cooked spinach. Warm the oil with the garlic in a wide skillet over medium heat. When the garlic is golden, remove it. Add the raisins and pine nuts and cook until the raisins are plumped and the pine nuts are golden. Add the greens and cook until they're heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

HUSK CHERRIES ("Weird" Veggie)

Lise Holdorf, Assistant CSA Manager at Appleton Farms

Though a new addition to Appleton’s pick-your-own last year, husk cherries quickly gained an enthusiastic following. This fruit belongs to the same family as tomatoes, but they have a sweetly acidic (I might even say tropical) flavor that is completely unique. They look like miniature tomatillos, with a brown papery husk surrounding a yellow berry-like fruit. I like to snack on them raw, but they also make a really tasty jam.

Husk Cherry Jam
Makes 1 ½ pints
4 cups husk cherries (with husks removed)
4 tbsp lemon juice
½ cup honey
2 tsp  low methoxyl pectin
4 tsp calcium water (calcium water is a solution made from a  mixture of ½ tsp monocalcium phosphate and ½ cup water. It helps activate the pectin so that your jam jells properly)
Mix fruit, lemon juice and calcium water into a pan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile mix the honey and pectin in a separate bowl. Once the fruit is boiling, add the pectin-honey mixture. Stir vigorously for 1-2 minutes and then remove from heat.

To can the jam for preserving all winter long, sterilize three ½-pint sized mason jars, lids and rings  in a boiling water bath. Ladle the husk cherry jam into the sterilized jars, filling to ¼” from the top. Wipe the jar rims clean and screw on lids. Place the filled jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove from water and let cool. Check that the lids sealed properly (they should be sucked down once they cool).

TURNIPS ("Weird" Veggie)

Amy Baron, CSA Manager at Weir River Farm

I guess I am getting pretty familiar with most vegetables at this point, but the one I am still working on actively loving more (read: I used to say I didn't like them) are turnips. Purple-top turnips are beautiful purple and white globes but often are overcooked, resulting in a super cabbage-y smelling mush. If you are not a turnip fan and can find young turnips bunched with their greens, eating this amazing soup will probably change your opinion of turnips. It worked for me!

Turnip Soup
By Deborah Madison
See turnip soup recipe online.

RADISHES (Versatile Veggie)

Meryl LaTronica, CSA Manager at Powisset Farm

I love pickles and I love radishes. These radish pickles are quick and easy and make a great snack all season!

Bread-and-Butter Radish Pickles
Adapted from

1 bunch red radishes (about 13 radishes)

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup granulated sugar 

1/4 cup water

2 teaspoons kosher salt 

1/2 teaspoon yellow or brown mustard seed 

1/4 teaspoon whole coriander seed 

1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns 

1 medium dried bay leaf

Slice radish roots into thin disks and set aside into fridge. Combine all other ingredients into a saucepan and simmer over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Let liquid cool for 5 min then pour over radishes. Let it all sit at room temperature for 20 min, then cover and refrigerate – they will last for weeks!

KALE (Versatile Veggie)

Lise Holdorf, Assistant CSA Manager at Appleton Farms

It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that kale found its way onto my plate for the first time. I never heard of it growing up. Now I can’t imagine not eating it regularly when it’s in season. Luckily, because it’s one of the hardiest vegetables we grow here at Appleton, it is in season quite often. It is delicious in soups like a nice hardy kale and white bean soup during the brisk fall months, or as a side dish sautéed with a little olive oil and salt. My favorite kale preparation, though, is simple and addictive: kale chips.

Kale Chips
See kale chips recipe online.
(The one thing I adapt is this: Cook only 5-10 minutes and keep an eye on them, because they burn fast.)

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