Chefs take on the challenge: What to do with all those CSA veggies?
Spring and summer vegetables tend to steal the spotlight when it comes to local produce — it’s hard not to be dazzled by a flashy red tomato — but good stuff grows in the Lowcountry all year round.
As demand continues to rise for seasonal veggies that haven’t traveled far from the field to the table, a number of Charleston-area CSA providers are offer- ing fall and winter shares. CSA stands for Community- Supported Agriculture, and the idea is for consumers to pay farmers up front for a weekly “share” of vegetables for a specified amount of time.
Thousands of people have eaten from CSA boxes at one time or another since the concept took root in the Lowcountry about five years ago. For those who participate, and for nearly anyone who shops seasonally at a farmers market or the grocery store, the question inevitably arises: What to do with everything?
Local chefs have some answers.
The Post and Courier asked three CSAs — Ambrose Family Farm on Wadmalaw Island, Rosebank Farms on Johns Island and Thornhill Farm/Our Local Foods in McClellanville — for one box of produce each. We then turned three chefs loose on the veggies to see what dishes they could come up with.
Each chef had one box to work with. Chefs Derek Lathan and Michael Karkut of Graze restaurant in Mount Pleasant took on the box from Rosebank Farms. Executive chef Blake McCormick of EVO Pizzeria in North Charleston received the harvest from Thornhill Farm. And executive chef Michelle Weaver of Charleston Grill got the goodies from Ambrose Farm.
Each was asked to create at least two dishes from the box and to use as many of the vegetables as possible. Each chef also was given the option of using a protein of choice. They were able to draw from their pantries for seasonings, herbs and other needed ingredients to round out the dish.
We also asked the chefs to keep home cooks in mind when developing their dishes — to be inspiring but not too esoteric. The idea was to make the food approachable and give new ideas for fall meals as well as the Thanksgiving table.