Between Seasons, Look to the Pantry

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In this week's share: potatoes, grapefruit, salad mix, lettuce, bok choi, kale, apples, sweet potatoes, celeriac, and onions. To try the recipes mentioned in this post, click here for chana masala and here for roasted potatoes with garam masala.

The seasons here in New England are turning from winter to spring—or perhaps "lurching" is a better way to put it. "Turning" sounds so calm and sure, and the alternating days of warm sun and freezing rain are anything but.

This tug-of-war between winter and summer means, among other things, that I have another potato recipe to offer you this week. Last Thursday, after a few days of sun, rain, and cold came back to Boston, I called Maggie to plan a CSA dinner. She said, "All I can think about is soup." In the early March chill, that was all I could think about myself.

When I opened our share, though, nothing particularly excited me. There were plenty of salad greens, but it was too cold for salad. I contemplated celeriac soup and thought about a stir-fry with bok choi, but neither offered the kind of sustenance I was craving. We needed something to warm us and wake us up after a day of braving the freezing rain and wind. What we needed, I realized, was spice. Chana masala over rice, and roasted potatoes with cumin seeds and garam masala, would be perfect.

As someone who subscribes to a CSA, I know I should be telling you of all the joys of vegetables, but honestly, early spring is one of the best times of year to cook from the cupboard. As winter vegetables seem less and less appealing, and spring's asparagus and artichokes still hover out of reach, I turn to lentils and chickpeas and canned tomatoes. Chana masala is a great example of the pleasures of pantry cooking: just caramelize an onion, add an array of spices, pour in a can of tomatoes, then add a can of chickpeas. It is warming and spicy—and, once you've laid in a store of spices, extremely economical.

I pitched the idea to Maggie, and she agreed. I caramelized onions as I waited for her to come over. She walked in the door brandishing cilantro for a garnish and coconut-milk ice cream for dessert, and immediately got to work slicing potatoes and coating them with olive oil and garam masala. Half an hour later, we sat down to a thoroughly satisfying meal.

Recipe: Chana Masala
Recipe: Roasted Potatoes with Garam Masala

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Anastatia Curley is the former Communications Coordinator of the Yale Sustainable Food Project. More

Anastatia Curley is the former Communications Coordinator of the Yale Sustainable Food Project. She now lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she writes, cooks, and caters local and sustainable meals.
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