CSA Box of Fun.

I don’t get a CSA box because I work for F.H. King and my boyfriend works for a farm, and usually we can obtain whatever vegetable or herb it is we are craving.  We are super lucky.  I am definitely not complaining, but one thing I feel like I’m really missing out on is the randomness of certain vegetables people get in their CSA boxes.  You know, those odd products like garlic scapes or celeriac that intimidate or terrify you, but that you have to learn how to cook anyways because you are a conscientious CSA member who cannot toss valuable produce in the trash.  An article published last month in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel summed it up perfectly, produce boxes give CSA members challenges and delights.  I’m fortunate to be receiving all the delights of an average CSA share for free with none of the challenges, but when it comes to eating seasonally and locally, who doesn’t want a challenge!?

Last week, however, a friend’s boyfriend was out of town and she knew there was no way she could finish a full CSA share on her own, so she brought over some of the items she knew she wouldn’t use: swiss chard and garlic scapes.  They aren’t the trickiest vegetables, but they are definitely outside of my everyday cooking comfort zone.  Already bogged down with zucchini, summer squash and onions, I knew I had enough produce on hand to make something incredible.  Concerts on the Square was that night, so I also knew I had enough mouths to feed to really make a dent in my stash of veggies.  My game plan?  A zucchini, caramelized onion and tomato flatbread with a swiss chard, garlic scape and goat cheese pesto.  It succeeded on all fronts: fed a lot of months, utilized all my vegetables (obscure or not) and was absolutely positively, incredible!

Post your favorite CSA box-inspired, seasonal recipes in the comments section below!!

Zucchini, Caramelized Onion & Tomato Flatbread with a Swiss Chard, Garlic Scape & Goat Cheese Pesto

This recipe definitely feeds a group. It makes two large pizzas.  You can definitely freeze half the pizza dough and half the rest of the recipe if you don’t need so much food.

Pizza Dough:

  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups bread flour, plus more for rolling (bread flour is great for making a crispier crust, but all-purpose flour will do just fine if that is all you have)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 packet instant dry yeast (or 2 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water (at approximately 110 degrees)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Pesto:

  • 1 bunch swiss chard, stems removed
  • 5 garlic scapes
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese (I used Dreamfarm Italian Blend for some extra delicious Italian flavor; you can skip the goat cheese and add an extra 1/4 cup olive oil for a vegan option)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Pizza Toppings

  • 2 red onions OR 1 bunch walla walla onions, halved and sliced thinly
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 zucchini, sliced thin
  • 1 summer squash, sliced thin
  • 4 tomatoes (preferably a mix of red and orange, for vanity alone)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (you could definitely use fresh mozzarella here and it would be tasty, I just didn’t have any on hand; you could also definitely skip the cheese if you’re vegan)

Begin with the pizza dough: Combine the bread flour, sugar, yeast and kosher salt in a large bowl and combine.  Add the water and 2 tablespoons of the oil and beat until the dough forms into a ball.  If the dough is sticky, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together in a solid ball. If the dough is too dry, add additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time.  Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead into a smooth, firm ball.

Grease a large bowl with olive oil or cooking spray, add the dough, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in a warm area to let it double in size, about 1 hour.

While the dough is rising, you can prepare your pesto.  First, blanch (cook quickly in boiling water) swiss chard leaves in boiling water for 30 seconds, just to remove chalky taste.  Rinse under cold water and squeeze out the water.  Put blanched swiss chard, garlic scapes, goat cheese and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor or blender and process until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.

While the dough is still rising, caramelize your onions in 1 tablespoon olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Add the brown sugar after 5 minutes and continue caramelizing until onions have the flavor and consistency you prefer.

Once the dough is sufficiently risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cover each with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let them rest for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, let the oven preheat to 400 degrees.  Once ready, roll out the dough into the shape you desire and put on a baking stone or cookie sheet.  Spread pizza with desired amount of pesto.  (I used about half the pesto and saved the rest for future use.)  Top pesto with caramelized onions followed by zucchini, summer squash and tomatoes (they will overlap quite a bit!).  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  Top with mozzarella and bake for another 10 minutes.  Let rest for 5 minutes before cutting.

 

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