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by Marni Fogelson

Opening your CSA box and unpacking fresh fruits and veggies is one of life’s simplest pleasures. That is, until you realize you have no idea what some of the elements are and even less how to actually cook with them. Or perhaps some of the offerings are among your family’s faves, but you want to break free of tried and true recipes like fresh corn salsa and strawberry pie. We found refreshing (and some refreshingly unconventional) recipes to get you fired up about using up all the goodies in your CSA box, not just the ones that you are most familiar with. Don’t hide those beets, rutabagas, cabbage, and rhubarb away until they are limp and tasteless-try out some of these delicious, seasonal recipes while your produce is just picked. Many of the recipes combine summer staples (corn, tomatoes, squash) with some of the more unusual CSA finds, so you can gradually add the new flavors or embrace them on their own.

grilled squash, corn, and kale salad with sunflower seed vinaigrette The quintessential tastes of summer in salad form. Grilling the squash and corn adds a hint of smokiness, kale and shredded bring in a little freshness, and a creamy sunflower seed vinaigrette gives this salad enough heft to have it considered a light meal on its own.

honey and beet frozen yogurt Greek yogurt, honey, beets, olive sea salt-that’s all. But who needs more than that when you can use these humble ingredients to make an unusual and satisfying frozen yogurt. Roasting the beets gives them a sweeter, more complex flavor; the vibrant color will entice even beet-phobics to give this dessert a try.

fried mozzarella, basil, and nectarine stacks with balsamic glaze A fun and inventive twist on the typical caprese salad, these stacks benefit from the creative addition of thin slices of nectarine. Lightly breading and frying the mozzarella also changes the flavor and texture profile, making these appealing appetizers more substantial.

rutabaga fries If the harvest for rutabaga has passed in your area, hold on to this recipe for when it gets cool again. If not, indulge in these fries tonight! Starchy rutabaga is a great alternative to the typical potato and is a playful way to experiment with an underused veggie. Vitamin C and fiber-filled rutabaga crisps in the oven so nicely you’ll wonder why you haven’t baked with this root vegetable before.

cucumber strawberry limeade We had to include a refreshing mocktail in the recipe mix because summer is really just an excuse for drinks on the rooftop or the porch swing or by the pool… Make a few large batch of this cucumber strawberry limeade. It’s just the kind of drink you can’t help but sip and sip and before you know it, it’s refill time!

raspberry rhubarb crumble bars If your only experience with rhubarb, a gorgeous, stalk-like fruit, has been in strawberry rhubarb pie, you are in for a much more portable and picnic-friendly treat with these crumble bars. Strawberries can also be substituted for raspberries to sweeten up this gluten-free treats. If you want a simpler rhubarb concoction, try this: heat a little maple syrup in a pan until bubbling. Add a diced stalk or two rhubarb and cook until the rhubarb softens and breaks down a bit. Sprinkle with fresh mint and serve over a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

tomato okra corn cakes with roasted garlic aoli Okra, we love you, but you can be a little slimy sometimes. Not so with these corn cakes: okra gets tossed with tomatoes, scallions, fresh herbs, and corn flour and then has a quick fry to stay crunchy. The fritters are at the same time substantial but not heavy or greasy; we’d make them into a main by serving them over a bed of just picked fresh greens.

glazed strawberry muffins We can eat gallons of strawberries just out of hand, but sometimes you want a special breakfast to-go. These muffins pack a double dose of strawberries: some in the muffins themselves and more in the glaze. And–their pink hue is irresistible!

spring salad with asparagus, goat cheese, lemon, arugula, and hazelnuts If the summer heat took a little longer to reach your town, here one’s thing to look forward to: you’ll likely be enjoying some of the typical late spring veggies like asparagus and peas in your June CSA box. This salad is fresh and lively, combining the roasted asparagus with a few raw veggies and adding some goat cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano, and hazelnuts for added tang and crunch.

cherry clafoutis Cherry clafoutis has that classic French “I didn’t try too hard, yet I somehow managed to create something beautiful” vibe about it. Sweet cherries stud a thick, custard-like batter and stay juicy after being baked. We love that this can be made a day in advance (or the morning before, when our kitchen is still cool) and refrigerated as well as its rustic, fuss-free preparation.

thai sweet chili green beans Hot, quick, easy: after a long day of work or play, those are all words that sound good to us. You can practically make this dish in the time it takes to order take out. Even if you do order take-out, you should still make this dish to get in a spicy serving of greens.

ratatouille If summer came early for your region, you may be already experiencing the bumper crop of tomatoes, zucchini, and eggplant. Veggies can quickly overwhelm your fridge, but this ratatouille makes quick and delicious work of them. The flavors continue to mingle and deepen after baking, making any leftovers a meal you will actually look forward to.

grilled asparagus in tomatoes in a kalamata and feta vinaigrette If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s our motto when it comes to preparing asparagus: it almost always goes on the grill because it’s as delicious and quick as it is easy. Topped with fresh tomatoes and a salty, tangy vinaigrette, this asparagus dish will be a lovely accompaniment to a simple pasta dish, panzanella, or some grilled fish.

cabbage and pea salad So fresh and so green, green. Just because you have a produce surplus doesn’t mean you have to spend hours in the kitchen making elaborate and heavy dishes. This cabbage and pea salad also includes cucumber and green onions or chives (aka all things you will likely find in your CSA box), and is tossed with a simple vinaigrette. We’ll be serving it as a fresh alternative to coleslaw.

scallion pancake rolls We always make kid-friendly scallion pancakes when bunches of these green onions appear in our weekly produce assortment, and we love how this recipe goes a step further, turning a side into the main dish. Fill and roll these up with seasonal veggies to pack a ton of plant-based goodness in a delightful wrap that’s also picnic-appropriate.

egyptian fava beans and herb dip Fava beans often get tossed into salads or soups as an afterthought; they get a starring role in bessara, an Egyptian dip. This hummus-like spread gets a giant flavor boost from fresh parsley and cilantro and a crunchy onion topping. If you are using fresh beans from the CSA, you can skip the initial soaking phase and reduce the simmering time as well-you just want the beans soft enough to blend into a smooth, soothing dip.