Back in my culinary school days, we used to get at least one “mystery box” assignment per term. I always kind of enjoyed them, because it required me to come up with something beautiful and delicious on the fly, without relying on specific recipes. (Of course, sometimes it was stressful, like when I drew strawberries, chocolate, and mint, plotted out an elaborate dessert, and then went to the walk-in only to discover that there were no strawberries! Luckily, blueberries made an easy substitution.) Anyway, I like to think of my CSA panier as a weekly, stress-free mystery box. So far, I’d say it’s been working out pretty well.
One of the more esoteric vegetables we’ve been getting lately is the topinambour, or Jerusalem artichoke. These knobbly tubers have the look of dark pink or purplish overgrown ginger roots. I took the time to peel them the first time I cooked them, then determined (with a little help from my friend, Joël Robuchon) that it wasn’t worth the effort. After baking them into a savory clafoutis and puréeing them into a spicy curried soup, a box of unused lasagna noodles idling on the shelf inspired me to try a topinambour lasagna. Fresh béchamel sauce, sautéed leeks (also from the panier), some grated Comté, and a handful of toasted pine nuts completed the picture.
You know you’ve done something right when you tell your husband “We’re having the same thing we had for dinner last night,” and the response is, “Oh, cool!”
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Speaking of CSAs, I have written another article for Secrets of Paris, this time about some of the various organic produce delivery options available in Paris. The information should be useful for residents and visitors alike!
Originally published on Croque-Camille.