Each week, a CSA box shows up at my door, and each week I am delighted with the goodies I find inside. My Community Supported Agriculture (or CSA) box is one of the few things making my life easier – and one of the few deliveries I don’t feel guilty about upon arrival (I may or may not be indulging in a bit of online shopping these days, oops!). In fact, I feel the opposite of guilty – I feel like I’m doing my part to help keep small, local businesses afloat as the produce that arrives would have otherwise gone to waste either to it not being beautiful enough for grocery store shelves or simply a surplus of the product. The farmers get paid a fair price for their harvest (perhaps because we’ve cut out the middleman), and I get a box full of fresh, seasonal produce for far less money than I would have spent on the same hull at the store.
For the past 3 years, once a week – every week regardless of season or dreaded supply chain delays during early COVID days – my delivery from Hungry Harvest has been a constant source of excitement for my family. What will we receive? And in turn, what great recipes will I come up with? It’s like receiving your own version of the secret ingredient unveiling on Iron Chef. And while technically you can look online and see what you’re going to get (you can even add items and customize each box), I tend to keep it a surprise because again, times are weird and this provides a little bit of entertainment.
All that to say, for the next five weeks, I will be sharing a recipe once a week created from the local produce I receive in my CSA box. As an added challenge to myself (because, why not?) I will also see if I can create a five-course meal over the next five weeks for you. This week I have made an appetizer, in the following weeks I will be looking to create a soup, an entrée, a side dish, and a dessert.
With my delivery this week, I could have actually made all five courses from just this box. It contained versatile juggernauts, spinach, cauliflower, tomatoes, potatoes, and apples, among a few other items. The contents are not always as familiar, however, and in the past, I have discovered items such as dragonfruit, rambutan, and tangelos. I’m excited to see what the next boxes bring and what I can come up with. For this week, I made a leek, mushroom, spinach dip (think Spinach Artichoke dip’s slightly more exciting cousin).
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp oil
1 Large leek, chopped and rinsed
1 8oz. Clamshell mushrooms, chopped
1 Tbsp garlic, minced (approx. 2-3 cloves)
1 Bunch spinach, chopped
1 8oz. Package of cream cheese
1 8oz. Container of sour cream
Salt, Pepper, Worcestershire sauce to taste
- Melt butter and oil in a pan together. If you only have one or the other, that’s fine too. The combination simply adds a layer of flavor.
- Chop the leek, white and green parts, and let sit in a bowl of cold water to rinse. Leeks are particularly dirty between their layers and if you don’t have a leek or simply don’t feel like doing this extra step, use an onion.
- While leek is being cleaned, roughly chop mushrooms, garlic, and spinach. Cutting all vegetables to around the same size will help them cook evenly as well as ensure an “even bite” when your guests dig in.
- Sautee leek in a pan, for a few minutes, stirring a bit but not constantly.
- As the leek softens and caramelizes, add chopped mushrooms.
- As mushrooms cook down, after a few minutes, add the chopped garlic.
- Finally, add chopped spinach. Spinach cooks quickly and will only take a few minutes at most.
- Let vegetable mixture cool for a few minutes in the pan, before adding to bowl to hand mix with cream cheese and sour cream.
- Add salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce as desired, to taste. No worries if you don’t have or like Worcestershire, it simply adds a layer of flavor but it not vital
- Serve with chips, bread, or cut veggies of your choice.
I’m bringing this to a brewery picnic with friends this afternoon so as a little extra flair, I hollowed out a pumpkin and served the dip inside. No need to be as “extra” as I am…but it’s a simple step that is guaranteed to impress. Bon Appetit!
About Chef Gina Veneziano
Hailing from a long line of chefs, Gina spent much of her early childhood at her family’s restaurant. Always wanting to make a career of it, she has spent the last 15 years doing everything from interning at a butcher shop to concepting food trucks to catering sales to most recently, recipe development and culinary innovations. She prides herself in being the only person to successfully recreate her grandmother’s famous meatballs – you can usually catch her, apron on, and a glass of prosecco in hand – cheers!