The Charleston Grill serves diners from all over the world, including a local following, but executive chef Michelle Weaver is never far removed from her mother’s vegetable patch back in Decatur, Ala.

Three years running, Weaver has put together an all-plant dinner dubbed “Vegstock” each August during Woodstock’s anniversary week. It’s a sellout, even as the dinner has expanded to two nights.

She happily took on the challenge of cooking from Ambrose Farm’s Community-Supported Agriculture box. When it was delivered, she took it all out for organizing and immediately got to thinking.

“I put it all on the table so I could see everything in one fell swoop. Then I started moving vegetables together, what I wanted to cook together.”

She put the greens in a pile and decided a bell pepper would be good with them. She put the radishes to the side, then placed her one zucchini and one yellow squash alongside. She grouped the corn, pole beans and tomatoes together.

“That’s the way my head works: What would be good together,” she says.

And although she had the restaurant’s kitchen at her disposal, she tried to put herself in the shoes of a home cook and what he or she might do with all the vegetables.

“I was thinking, if I had gotten this on Friday or Saturday and had Sunday to cook it all, how many meals could I get out of this? I got a lot of meals here. If I get it all prepped and organized, I could have the green gumbo and cornbread, and that’s dinner one night. And the succotash ... oh, if I have some fresh shrimp that could be dinner the next night with the salad with the radishes. I had one tomato left over, and you could do another salad with tomatoes and radishes the next night.”

She made liberal use of herbs in her dishes, and encourages others not to be too timid with them.

“A rule of thumb, now that we’re getting into the cooler months, I tend to go toward more earthy herbs, the thymes, sages and rosemary. But the succotash, because I was thinking it would be great with shrimp, I didn’t want those earthy overtones to overwhelm it, so I went with dill and chives. ... Usually, the hardier the veg, the hardier the herb; the lighter the vegetable, the lighter the herb.”

Green Gumbo


2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups small-dice onions

1 cup small-dice green bell pepper

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 pound andouille sausage cut in 2-inch rounds

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 quarts chicken stock

2 bunches (14 stems) collard greens, washed and chopped

1 bunch (45 stems) kale, washed and chopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons hot sauce

1/2 cup chopped scallions


In a medium Dutch oven add butter, olive oil, onions, peppers and garlic. Cook over medium heat until onions are translucent, about 10-15 minutes. Add sausage and cook another 5 minutes.

Sprinkle in the flour and stir. Cook for 5 minutes and add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer and add the collards, kale, thyme and bay leaves. Simmer until the greens are tender (about 30-40 minutes). Stir in the hot sauce and garnish with the scallions. Remove bay leaves before serving.

Fall Succotash

“This is great as a side dish or top with sauteed shrimp as a main dish.” — Michelle Weaver


4 tablespoons butter

½ cup medium-dice smoked bacon

1 cup small-dice onions

1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced

4 cups chicken stock

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 pound pole beans

2 cups corn kernels

2 cups tomato, peeled, seeded, medium dice

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives


In a medium Dutch oven, melt the butter. Add the bacon and cook until lightly crisp. Add the onions and garlic. Continue to cook until onions are translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the stock, thyme and the pole beans. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Then add the corn and cook another 15 minutes. Next add the tomatoes and cook for 10 more minutes. Stir in the dill and chives and serve.

Radish & Squash Salad


1 zucchini

1 yellow squash

3 radishes

8 to 10 mint leaves

8 to 10 basil leaves

1½ tablespoons lemon juice

21/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons lemon zest

½ teaspoon cracked black pepper

½ teaspoon sea salt


Using a mandoline or vegetable slicer, thinly slice (paper thin) zucchini, squash and radishes. Arrange in a bowl or serving plate and add the mint and basil leaves. Drizzle lemon juice and olive oil over the salad. Sprinkle with zest, pepper and salt. Serve immediately.