Kathy Gunst Explores Community Supported Agriculture

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Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become hugely popular in the food world as a way to eat local. Consumers pay farmers in advance, and in return receive "shares" or boxes, usually of produce that that farmer has harvested.

Here & Now resident chef Kathy Gunst wanted to find out more about how people use their produce so she accompanied Keith Dresser, executive food editor of Cook's Illustrated Magazine, to his CSA which is run by Red Fire Farm in Granby, Massachusetts.

As Gunst tells Robin Young, the benefit is getting extremely fresh produce that lasts a long time. However, there's also risk involved.

"If it's a really crummy season and there's no rain, let's say, you fall with the farmer," Gunst said. "You've made an investment, and Mother Nature has not cooperated, so you're not going to get the food that everybody ideally would like."

(View/print a PDF of these recipes)

Kathy Gunst’s Leek Gratin

Kathy's note: Leeks are like the queen of the onion family—delicate, subtle but full of power. Here they are made into a rich gratin that cooks slowly in the oven. This makes a great side dish (think Thanksgiving) or can be served with a fall salad and crusty bread.

Serves 4. 

1 pound leeks, about 3-4
1½ tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1½ tablespoons flour
1/2 cup low fat milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 cup grated Parmesan, gruyere, or your favorite hard grating cheese

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Trim the ends off the leeks and discard the dark green part of the leek. Cut the white and light green section of the leek down the middle and clean. Cut the leeks into 1½ inch pieces.

Place the leeks in a single layer in a medium gratin dish or ovenproof skillet. Pour the oil on top and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the flour and pour the milk and cream on top. Sprinkle with the herbs and bake on the middle shelf for 45 minutes.

Remove and sprinkle the cheese on top. Bake another 10 minutes and place under broiler for 3 minutes until bubbling and hot.

Keith Dresser’s Swiss Chard and Chickpea Tagine

Keith's note: To make this dish vegetarian substitute vegetable broth or water for the chicken broth. Serve over couscous.

Keith Dresser at the CSA pickup in Boston, Mass. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)
Keith Dresser at the CSA pickup in Boston, Mass. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

Serves 4

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
1 pound Swiss chard, stems chopped fine, leaves chopped coarse
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon garam masala*
pinch cayenne pepper
2 14-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4cup chopped dried apricots
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Heat the oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until just shimmering. Add the onion, chard stems, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until just softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, garam masala, and cayenne pepper and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the chickpeas, tomatoes, chicken broth, and apricots and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover the skillet, and gently simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove lid, spread chard leaves on top of chickpea mixture. Return cover, remove skillet from heat, and let stand until chard leaves are wilted, about 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

*Garam Masala, a common Indian spice blend, can be found in the spice aisle in most supermarkets. A mixture of 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, a 1/4 teaspoon each of ground cardamom and coriander, and 1/8 teaspoon each of ground cumin and cinnamon can be substituted.

Kathy Gunst’s Carrot Slaw with Sun-Dried Cranberries

Kathy's note: Raw carrots are grated into a quick slaw with sweet, chewy sun-dried cranberries.

Serves 4.

4 large carrots, about 1 1/2 pounds, ends cut and peeled
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup sun-dried cranberries
1½ teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh chives
2 1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil

Grate the carrots on the largest hole of box grater. Mix the carrots with the parsley and the cranberries.

In a small bowl mix the mustard, salt, pepper, chives and vinegar until smooth. Whisk in the oil and taste for seasoning. Pour almost all the dressing on the carrots and mix well. Add additional dressing if needed. Season to taste.


This segment aired on September 16, 2014.


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