Wednesday, September 27, 2023

September 28, 2023 - This Week's Box Contents Featuring Brassicas


Cooking With This Week's Box

Creamy Onion Dip
Photo from
Sedona Yellow Onions:  

Italian Garlic:  

Green Top Gold Beets:  

Orange Italian Frying Peppers:  
Broccoli & Pepper Stir-Fry
Photo from

Mini Sweet Peppers:  

Jalapeño Peppers:  
Three Cheese Bacon & Jalapeño Pasta
Phot from

Poblano Peppers:  

Large Tomato Variety:

Creamy Cauliflower Potato Soup
Photo from
German Butterball or Carola Gold Potatoes:  

Broccoli and Broccoli Romanesco or Cauliflower:  
Deborah Madison’s Cheese & Broccoli Soup (See Below)
Roasted Cauliflower with Turmeric, Spice & Cilantro (See Below)

Baby Spinach:  

Salad Mix:  

Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli
Photo from
Let’s kick off this week’s article with our featured vegetables—the Brassica family!  In your box this week you’ll find both broccoli and either cauliflower or broccoli Romanesco.  There are so many different ways to prepare these two selections, but this week I turned to Deborah Madison for some guidance.  Deborah Madison is known for simple, yet flavorful, vegetarian recipes. This week we’re featuring her recipe for Deborah Madison’s Cheese & Broccoli Soup (See Below).  While this recipe calls for broccoli, you could also substitute cauliflower and/or broccoli Romanesco with good results. The second recipe is for Roasted Cauliflower with Turmeric, Spice & Cilantro (See Below).  In my book, anything with roasted cauliflower is a winner!

We are blessed with plenty of salad greens this week, so it’s time to pull out some recipes to put simple salads on the table in no time flat!  If you have a few simple dressings or vinaigrettes on hand, you can build a salad quickly. This Sweet Onion Dressing sounds delicious as does this Fresh Tomato Vinaigrette.  I also came across this recipe for Jalapeño Ranch Dressing which would be tasty on a spinach salad.  This Ranch Dressing may also be good drizzled over roasted vegetables such as cauliflower or potatoes. 

Tomato Spinach Frittata
Photo from
Tomato season is coming to a close very soon, but before it does it’s time to squeeze in a few more tomato dishes.  For starters, how about this Tomato Spinach Frittata.  I also included two of my favorite recipes from previous newsletters. This Garlic Scented Tomato Salad is so simple, but so very taste.  I also really like this recipe for Spice Braised Lentils & Tomatoes with Toasted Coconut.  The combination of tomatoes and coconut seemed a little weird to me at first, but it’s actually quite delicious!

I always like to give you something to look forward to, so I’ll let you know that we’ll likely start sending some of our early season winter squash varieties your way next week.  We are also planning to harvest the jicama for next week’s boxes! Sweet potatoes are not quite ready, but it won’t be long.  What other fall favorites are you anxiously awaiting?

Have a great week and we hope you’ll join us at the Harvest Party this weekend!
--Chef Andrea 

Vegetable Feature: Brassicas-Cauliflower, Broccoli & More!

by Andrea Yoder

“Brassicas” is a term we use to refer to a family of vegetables that includes cauliflower, broccoli, broccoli Romanesco, turnips, cabbage, radishes, Brussels sprouts and more! This week we thought it fitting to feature this crop group in a bit more detail with an emphasis on the broccoli, cauliflower and Romanesco crops we are currently harvesting. While we grow broccoli and cauliflower in the spring and fall, fall is the time of the year when these crops typically thrive and usually taste the best with a little touch of cold weather. As with other crops in this family, you’ll notice a bit of sweetness in the flavor of these vegetables once the plant has gone through a bit of a cold snap.  Over the past few years, we have had to adjust the planting dates for our fall cauliflower, broccoli, Romanesco, and cabbage plantings. With climate change, our fall plantings have been coming in too early while it’s still warm!  It’s a delicate balance in that the plants need enough warmth and growing days to produce a full-size vegetable, but the rate of growth typically slows as the temperatures taper off in the fall.  In some years we’ve had trouble with crops like cauliflower reaching full maturity before it gets so cold that the low temperatures damage the product.   While we have not had a frost yet (thankfully!), we have had some cool nights where the temperature dropped down into the 40’s.  How will this fall play out? It’s anyone’s guess!

Broccoli is one of the most commonly consumed vegetables, considered a staple by many households.  We won’t spend much time talking about broccoli other than a reminder to get the full value from broccoli by eating both the stem and the florets on top!  Shifting our attention to cauliflower, white is the traditional cauliflower color, however we also grow purple and yellow varieties in the fall. A common question we are often asked is if the colored varieties taste different. The basic answer is that they all do still taste like cauliflower, however, remember that different color pigments in vegetables indicate the presence of different nutrient compounds.  So, if you pay close attention, you may notice subtle flavor differences between the different colors. The yellow variety we used to grow was named “Cheddar.”  We’ve since switched to a different variety called “Flamestar,” however another common question we get is whether or not the yellow cauliflower tastes like cheese.  While that would be pretty cool to have a built-in cheese flavor, the answer to that question is “no.”  If you want your cauliflower to taste like cheese, you’ll have to put the cheese on it!

Broccoli Romanesco

So where does broccoli Romanesco fit into this conversation? Despite the word “broccoli” in its name, broccoli Romanesco bears more resemblance to cauliflower. It grows on a plant that is more similar to cauliflower and may be used interchangeably with cauliflower in recipes.  But take a moment to really take note of Romanesco’s unique appearance as that is the area where this variety really sets itself apart from the crowd! I’m not a mathematician, so I won’t even attempt to explain the fractal nature of this plant, but it’s a pretty remarkable representation of nature’s perfect design!

I think it’s also important to mention the health benefits of vegetables in this family of vegetables.  Basically, any vegetable in the brassica family is going to be packed with valuable nutrients.  Cauliflower in particular contains glucosinolates, which are plant compounds that help protect our bodies from cellular damage by free radicals and have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral effects.  Broccoli contains a compound called sulforaphane which has anticancer properties. Mentioning just two compounds is a gross underrepresentation of the nutritional benefits you will glean from incorporating brassicas into your diet regularly but trust me—it’s worth it!

Broccoli, cauliflower, and Romanesco are very versatile in their uses. All three may be eaten raw or cooked. They may be roasted, grilled, baked, stir-fried, boiled, or sautéed.  They are delicious in soups, gratins, salads, pickled, and the list goes on! 

Deborah Madison's Cheese and Broccoli Soup

Yield: 6 Cups

1 ¼ pounds broccoli
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 Tbsp butter or canola oil
1 onion, chopped
1 celery rib, celery diced and leaves chopped
½ pound gold potatoes, diced
1 plump garlic clove, chopped
⅛ tsp cayenne, or more to taste
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 bay leaf
1 pinch of dried thyme
1 Tbsp flour
½ cup light cream, milk, or reserved cooking water from the broccoli
2 tsp Dijon-style mustard, or to taste
2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
Rye or whole wheat bread, toasted
  1. Separate the crowns from the broccoli stems, then separate the crowns into florets. You should have at least 4 cups or a little extra.  Peel the broccoli stems, quarter them, and chop them into small pieces, yielding a cup or so. Bring a quart of water to a boil and add 1 scant teaspoon salt and the broccoli florets.  Cook for about 3 minutes, then scoop out the florets, reserving the water. Rinse broccoli under cool water and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a soup pot and add the onion, celery, potato, broccoli stems, garlic, cayenne, and herbs. Cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring now and then. Add ½ teaspoon salt, stir in the flour, then pour in 3 cups of the reserved water from the broccoli, saving any remainder.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, covered, until the potato is tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the cream or additional broccoli water if needed to thin the soup. During the last few minutes, add the florets and allow them to heat through.
  3. Remove the bay leaf and carefully puree the soup using either an immersion blender or a regular blender. Once pureed, return the soup to the pot. Stir in the mustard then taste for salt and season with pepper. Just before serving, stir in the cheese, but don’t let the soup boil or the cheese will toughen.  Serve hot with the toast on the side or broken into the soup.
Three Variations:
  • Make this using cauliflower or substitute Broccoli Romanesco – the flavor will be about the same, but the color will be more lively. 
  • Try another kind of cheese. Gruyere and aged sharp Gouda are other possibilities. 
  • Add a teaspoon of curry powder as a seasoning.

Source: Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen

Roasted Cauliflower with Turmeric, Spice, and Cilantro

Yield: 3 or 4 servings

1 medium to large cauliflower or Broccoli Romanesco
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp paprika, plus more to finish
1 tsp roasted, ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp sea salt
3 Tbsp sunflower seed or coconut oil
Freshly milled pepper, to taste
Yogurt, to finish, optional
Handful cilantro leaves, for garnish
  1. Heat the oven to 425°F. Cut the cauliflower or Romanesco into small florets and slice or dice the stem. Toss with the spices, salt, and the oil until well coated, then turn onto a sheet pan in a single layer and roast until tender, about 30 minutes, possibly longer depending on the size of the florets.  Turn the cauliflower as it cooks so that it browns evenly.
  2. When done, turn the cauliflower out onto a platter. Taste a piece for salt and add more if needed.  Season with pepper, drizzle yogurt all over, add a final dash of paprika, and garnish with the cilantro leaves. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Source: The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

September 21, 2023 - This Week's Box Contents Featuring Leeks


Cooking With This Week's Box

Easy Chicken Fajitas
Photo from
Sedona Yellow Onions:  

Porcelain Garlic:  

Orange Italian Frying Peppers:  

Jalapeño Peppers:  
Tomato and Cream Cheese Turnovers
Photo from
Pineapple-Jalapeño Popsicles 

Variety of Tomatoes:  

Orange Carrots:

Veggie Supreme Egg Bake
Photo from
German Butterball Potatoes:   

Creamed Leeks on Rustic Toast (See Below)
Potato & Leek Gratin (See Below)

Broccoli or Cauliflower or Broccoli Romanesco:  


Fresh Lemongrass Tea
Photo from
Baby Arugula:  

Sauté Mix:  

Green Romaine Lettuce:  

Broccoli Raab:  

Crispy Chicken Milanese
Photo from
This is it! We are in the final week of summer, and we only have 9 more CSA delivery weeks remaining!  We are excited to usher in a new season, along with a new set of seasonal vegetables. In the meantime, let’s talk about this week’s featured vegetable, Leeks! We have two simple leek recipes to share with you this week. The first is Creamed Leeks on Rustic Toast (See Below), a Deborah Madison recipe. She is famous for simple, yet tasty recipes and this one fits that bill!  The second one requires a bit more time, but it’s still pretty simple and straightforward, Potato & Leek Gratin (See Below).  This week’s German Butterball potatoes are a great variety to use for this recipe.

Looking to add more vegetables to your day? Don’t forget to start the day off right with vegetables for breakfast!  This week I included several recipes to include carrots in breakfast. This Mango Carrot Smoothie looks very refreshing and delicious. You could also use carrots in these Carrot Cake Oatmeal Breakfast BarsOr, lastly, add shredded carrots to this Veggie Supreme Egg Bake!
French Onion & Apple Grilled Cheese
Photo from

If you’re looking for a classy dinner recipe, perhaps this Crispy Chicken Milanese with Tomato Arugula Salad will fill that need.  You could also try one of this week’s featured “onion” recipes. The first, French Onion & Apple Grilled Cheese is a keeper!  Or use some caramelized onions to make this Caramelized Onion, Pear & Bacon Pizza!

Tomato season has peaked and now the crop is starting to taper off. While we still have a chance, consider trying one of these recipes for Brown Butter Tomatoes or 

Ok, I’m going to sign off for this week, but rest assured that we’ll be back next week with more delicious recipes to go along with the lineup of fall vegetables!  We may even have a few winter squash to send your way!  Have a great week.


Vegetable Feature: Leeks

by Andrea Yoder

Leeks freshly cultivated in the field.
We continue our journey through the season with yet another selection from the allium family. This week leeks are the selection we’ll be enjoying from the allium family!  We plant them from seed in the greenhouse in late February. We then transplant them in the field early in the season, just after we transplant all of our storage onions.  They need more time to grow than onions, which have already been harvested. We typically wait until later in the fall to harvest leeks, but we have a very large crop this year!  It’s important to understand how leeks are grown as it directly affects how you prep them for use in your own kitchen.  Leeks have a long white shank that turns to more of a bluish green color as you reach the top of the leek. Throughout the growing process, dirt is hilled up on the leeks to cover the shank and block sunlight which keeps it white. As a result of this process, dirt may get between the many thin layers of the shank, which is the portion of the leek most often used. 

Crew harvesting leeks.
While you need to take care to carefully clean the entire leek, the upper portion may have a bit more dirt between the layers and may need a little more attention. I find it easiest to wash the exterior of the leek and then slice them. Place the chopped leeks in a sink of clean, cold water and swish them around to remove any dirt.  Remove the leeks from the water and place in a colander to drain. If there isn’t much dirt between the layers, you may also just place the sliced leeks in a colander and rinse them. If you’ve never cooked with leeks, it’s important to note that leeks are not “just another onion.”  While the flavor profiles are similar for all alliums, each one has its own distinct characteristics and qualities that set them apart. Leeks are much different than the chives and ramps we delivered early in the season or the Sierra Blanca white Spanish onions we delivered in early summer. Leeks are more mild and subtle in flavor. They are best cooked using more gentle methods such as braising, lightly sautéing, or cooking them into soups, sauces, and broths. When cooked using these more gentle methods, the texture of leeks becomes silky and tender.  Leeks have fewer sugars than onions, so they do not caramelize in the same way as an onion. When you are sautéing leeks, do so at a low to medium temperature just until they are soft. Do not try to brown them. 

Freshly washed leeks ready for CSA boxes!
Leeks pair well with many late summer and fall vegetables including tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, celeriac, and other root vegetables such as parsnips and carrots. They are often incorporated into cream soups, gratins, and egg dishes such as quiche. A traditional use for leeks is to make Leek & Potato Soup, of which there are many variations. Many recipes utilizing leeks also include complementary ingredients such as white wine, lemon, cream, cheese, apples, walnuts, chicken, bacon, fish, and fresh herbs to name just a few ingredients. Leeks will keep for several weeks if stored in the refrigerator, loosely wrapped in plastic. We hope you enjoy this delicate allium and appreciate the subtle way it adds flavor to your meals this week! 

Creamed Leeks on Rustic Toast

Yield: 2 servings

4 small or 2 large leeks, trimmed and sliced into ¼-inch rounds
1 ½ Tbsp butter
Sea Salt, to taste
⅓ cup dry white wine
½ cup half-and-half or crème fraiche
2 tsp fresh tarragon, parsley and/or rosemary
¼ cup grated Parmesan, Gruyere, or crumbled goat cheese
2 slices rustic bread, toasted and lightly buttered
Freshly milled black pepper, to taste
  1. Wash the leeks well, but don’t dry them.  
  2. Melt the butter in a wide skillet, add the leeks, and toss with a little salt. Add the wine, cover, and cook over medium heat until the leeks are tender, about 20 minutes. 
  3. Add the cream and herbs and simmer until slightly thickened. Turn off the heat, stir in the cheese, then spoon the leeks over the toast. Add freshly ground black pepper and serve.
Recipe borrowed from Deborah Madison’s book, The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

Potato and Leek Gratin

Photo from
Yield:  8 servings

2 Tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
2-2 ½ pounds gold potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed and thinly sliced
1-2 medium to large leeks, halved, washed, cut into 1-inch segments
2 cups heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
Leaves from 3 sprigs fresh thyme
½ cup plain breadcrumbs
¾ cup coarsely grated Gruyere, Comte, or cheddar cheese
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Generously butter an 8 x 12 inch or 3-quart baking dish.
  2. Arrange small stacks of sliced potatoes on an angle, slightly fanned, in different directions filling the pan loosely. Tuck leeks, halved side up, between potatoes around the pan. 
  3. In a medium saucepan, bring cream, 2 tsp salt, freshly ground black pepper, garlic, and thyme to a simmer, stirring to ensure the salt dissolves. Pour hot cream mixture evenly over the pan, trying to get every potato and leek coated. Cover pan tightly with foil, place on a baking sheet to catch any drips, and bake for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, melt 2 remaining tablespoons of butter.  Add breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper to taste and mix to evenly coat.
  5. At 30 minutes, briefly remove the pan from oven and remove foil. Sprinkle top evenly with cheese, then scatter with buttered breadcrumbs. Return to the oven without foil for 45 minutes, until potatoes are totally tender, the top is browned, and the edges are bubbly.  
  6. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving ahead.
Recipe borrowed from

Late Summer Update

By Richard de Wilde

There is surely an expectation that farmers always talk about the weather…and it’s true, we do!  We check three different weather forecasts daily and plan our work schedule accordingly. The one thing we can say about the weather we’ve had this summer is that it has been pretty consistent…. consistently Hot & Dry! In fact, I think records have been set for both temperature and rainfall…or lack thereof. According to the National Weather service, many parts of southern Wisconsin are now classified as being in a D4 drought given the lack of rain for three months. Thankfully, on Tuesday morning of this week we woke up to the most glorious sound…. RAIN! We received three-tenths of an inch, and while that isn’t that much, we were grateful for every drop! 

Checking the "benchmark" point for one of 
our irrigation sites

The good news is that the dry weather greatly decreases disease caused by wet foliage.  The challenge is to get enough water to keep crops growing. We have seven irrigation permits from the Wisconsin DNR to pump surplus water from the North Fork of the Bad Axe River and two feeder streams. We have very strict rules to follow when pumping and a “benchmark” water level below which we would NOT be able to pump.  Fortunately, the underground aquifer system here is very stable and our benchmarks have remained well above the cut-off! In many states, including parts of Wisconsin and Minnesota, the underground aquifers have become depleted. If this severe drought were to continue for several years, that picture may change in our area as well. At this point we are pumping surplus water at very low rates, not measurable depth from water run-off to the gulf.   Without our ability to irrigate from surplus water, we would be having a very different year.  In years like we are experiencing now, irrigation is the difference between having or not having a crop. 

Jose Antonio, one of our 
irrigation experts!

We are also very much aware of the benefits we are reaping now from the many years we have invested in building organic matter in our soil, which increases water holding ability. As a result, we have been blessed with not only crops, but excellent crops! Additionally, I’d like to acknowledge and extend my gratitude to Manuel Morales and Jose Antonio (our two main irrigation guys) who have worked hard, long hours to try to keep up with our crops’ water needs. 

Manuel Morales making his rounds to set up
and check irrigation pumps, manage leaks, etc.

Throughout the summer we’ve had several extreme heat waves with temperatures in the 90’s and even some days that have topped 100 degrees!  Extreme temperatures presented us with some extreme challenges. In some crops, including melons, peppers, and tomatoes, we have observed that the plants did not set fruit during those extreme periods of heat. We can clearly see a gap between early set fruit and late. It’s really strange to observe healthy, lush plants with no disease that have a greatly reduced production of ripening fruit.  The high heat days were also a challenge for our production schedule and harvest crews. We always schedule harvests for greens in the morning when it’s a little cooler.  This strategy proved to be essential at times when plants were wilting in the afternoon heat! We also had to be cognizant of the impact extreme heat has on the health of our field crew. Even though our crew has a generous supply of drinking water in the field, there were several days when we started late and ended early to the benefit of the crops, but also to maintain the health of our crew members.  There were even several days when we had to cease harvests during the heat of the day, and we started the workday an hour earlier so as to maximize work in the cooler parts of the day.  Thankfully, we invested in air conditioning units for all of our employee housing several years ago, so they have a cool house to retreat to and get a good night’s rest. 

Using sprinklers to water a new seeding of 
fall storage turnips so they'll germinate!

We are now in the busy transition between summer crops and early fall crops. We have made some adjustments to our preseason plan, i.e., later planting in anticipation of warmer late summer and early fall temperatures. Every direct seeding and transplanted crop we’ve planted has had to have immediate water to germinate and survive.  A very challenging task!  We have mostly been successful as your boxes reflect. Our fall crops which have required irrigation from start to finish but are looking good! It has been a strange and challenging year for sure! We have invested in more irrigation equipment, gained three new irrigation permits, and we’re currently in the process of setting up a new well that we’ll be able to use for irrigation.  Despite the investment in time and resources, our efforts have proven to be a life saver!

We have good looking fall crops including lettuce, spinach, radishes, beets, carrots, parsnips, and turnips. We hope to finish winter squash harvest this week and we’ve already started harvesting what I consider to be possibly the best rutabaga crop ever!  All of these crop outcomes were achieved only because of timely irrigation.  We are now in the overlap of finishing up harvest of late summer crops i.e., peppers and tomatoes whilst we are initiating harvest of our fall crops.  It is an extremely busy time of the season and it’s been a challenge to find space in your CSA boxes each week for all the vegetables we have available!

One of our pumpkins ripening
while nestled in a bed of vetch!

Our Fall Harvest Party is coming up on October 1st and we hope you’ll plan to join us!  We have some nice-looking pumpkins for you to choose from this year as well as other crops we’re excited to share with you!  This year we planted the pumpkins in a trial field that we did as no-till, so you’ll have the opportunity to see this farming strategy up close, complete with some hearty vetch cover crop!  As always, we thank you for your continued support of our farm and hope you’ve enjoyed the season so far.  We still have more exciting crops to send your way, so get ready for jicama, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts and more!

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

September 14, 2023 - This Week's Box Contents Featuring Lemongrass


Cooking With This Week's Box

Sausage & Broccoli Raab Rigatoni Pasta
Phot from
Baby Arugula:  

Broccoli Raab:

20 Minute Vietnamese Lemongrass Beef (See Below)
Refer to this week’s Vegetable Feature below for a long list of recipe ideas!

Porcelain Garlic:  

Sweet Corn:  

Orange Carrots:  

Mini Sweet Peppers:  

Jalapeño Pepper:  

Red and/or Orange Italian Frying Peppers:  

Large Tomato Variety:  

Beet Greens Pesto Pizza with Roasted Beets
Photo from


Green Top Red Beets:  

The nights and mornings have had a bit of a chill to them over the past week, which reminds me to savor the final few days of summer. All too soon we’ll be seeing the first frost settling into the valley…. but before that happens, we still have a lot of summer left to enjoy when it comes to vegetables!  This week we’re featuring lemongrass, a unique vegetable we grow every few years.  I only included one very simple feature recipe this week for 20 Minute Vietnamese Lemongrass Beef (See Below).  However, if you take a minute to refer to this week’s Vegetable Feature article (keep scrolling down), you’ll find a list of other recipes and use ideas for lemongrass.  We still have a lot of lemongrass remaining in the field, so we’ll be including it in boxes again…just in case there are multiple recipes you want to try!

This week we've introduced leeks to the mix of vegetables.  While typically thought to be a fall vegetable, they actually pair nicely with some of the late summer selections including sweet peppers and tomatoes.  So scattered throughout the list this week I included a variety of recipes using leeks.  Perhaps you want to kick off the weekend with this Heirloom Tomato, Corn and Leek Quiche or Hash Browns with Leeks & Peppers.  We will be including leeks in the next few boxes, so there will be plenty of opportunities to try a variety of recipes!

Beets are back in the box and just in time to accompany baby arugula!  It's time to resume green salads and this Beet Salad with Arugula and Balsamic Vinaigrette looks delicious!  I also included a link for  Sweet Corn and Arugula Panzanella.

I'm going to close out here, but before I do I'll give you a little glimpse into what's coming soon.  Richard brought a few gorgeous heads of lettuce in this week... a foreshadowing to the next two weeks.  We also have a crop of baby spinach coming on line along with some salad mix (hopefully).  Allison and I checked the jicama yesterday and took a peak under the plastic.  They are getting bigger and it shouldn't be too much longer before we start the harvest!

Have a great week and I'll see you again next week!---Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Lemongrass

by Andrea Yoder

Lemongrass in the field
This week we are featuring lemongrass, one of the unique crops we cycle into our growing plan every few years. Lemongrass is a tropical plant native to southeast Asia, considered an herb by many for its fragrance and the way it enhances dishes with its subtle flavor.  Despite the fact that Wisconsin is far from being a tropical growing region, we are able to grow lemongrass as long as we plant it in the field after the last frost in the spring and harvest it before the first frost in the fall.  We start lemongrass early in the spring using either “seed” pieces of a lemongrass plant that we stick in potting soil or actual seeds. This year we planted lemongrass directly from seeds. We take care of the plants in the greenhouse until we’re well past the last frost in the spring, then we transplant them into the field.   We choose to plant it on beds covered with plastic mulch which helps trap heat and makes the plant feel like it’s growing in a tropical climate!  

Lemongrass bundled and ready for CSA boxes.
There are three parts to lemongrass and all parts of the plant may be used: the leaves, the middle stalk and the bulb.  The bulb contains the most refreshing lemon essence and only needs to be used in small amounts. The stalk has good flavor, but is not as intense as the bulb.  The leaves have a good lemon flavor followed by more of a “grassy” essence. When using the leaves, it takes about three times more product to achieve the flavor intensity of a bulb. You can make a bundle with the leaves and use it to infuse flavor into pasta, rice, soup, or curries during cooking. You can also steep the leaves in hot water to make tea. The middle section can be cut into sections a few inches in length. You’ll find this section to be tough but flavorful.  Add them to sautéed dishes, to marinades and to flavor soups; discard before eating.  You can also use the stalk as a skewer for cooking kabobs or chicken satay or as a stirring stick for refreshing beverages. The bulb is the most tender portion and can be sliced into thin pieces and added to soups, salads, marinades, and entrees where it can be eaten instead of discarded. The secret to cooking with the bulb or the stem is to pound it with the back of a knife to release the oils before using. This will help to release the fragrant oils.

Lemongrass pairs well with ginger, garlic, basil, chilies, coconut milk, cilantro, cinnamon, and clove. It is frequently used in Thai, Vietnamese, African, Indian, and even Mexican cuisine. Soups, curries, marinades, and teas are more common uses, but don’t limit the use of lemongrass to just these.   You can use lemongrass anywhere, a refreshing, crisp lemon taste is desired. You could even get adventurous and use it to make your own homemade curry paste using fresh chiles, ginger, etc. Additionally, lemongrass is often used in body care products. I’ve included a few links to recipes for body care including homemade salt scrubs and a lemongrass facial steam.

In addition to using lemongrass in its fresh form, it may also be preserved for later use. The leafy grass part of the plant is usually dried, either whole and intact or you can cut it into smaller pieces using kitchen shears. Once dried, the leaves may be used to steep in hot water to make tea, or you can grind the dried leaves into a powder. The powder may then be used to make tea or stir it into sauces, etc. You can also freeze the lower bulb of lemongrass. I just tuck them away in the freezer in a Ziplock bag. When you want to use a piece, remove it from the freezer and thaw slightly. 

While lemongrass provides great flavor, this grass also happens to be good for you! Lemongrass is rich in a substance called citral, traditionally distilled from the leaves and stalks. Citral has shown to be helpful in decreasing ailments such as muscle cramps and headaches. It is also a digestive aid. Studies have also shown that the components of the grass when boiled (in a tea for example) create multiple antioxidants that are believed to help prevent cancer. We hope you enjoy this tropical treat, both for its flavor and its health benefits! I’ve included a list of recipe ideas, as well as their links, below.  Hopefully, these will get your creative juices flowing!

Thai Basil Beef & Lemongrass Rice Bowls
Photo from
Coconut Lemongrass Chess Pie
Photo from

20 Minute Vietnamese Lemongrass Beef

Yield:  4 servings
1 pound ground beef (or pork or chicken)
3 stalks lemongrass, peeled and minced
1 shallot or small onion, finely diced
1 Tbsp garlic, minced 
1 Tbsp ginger, minced
2 Tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
¼ tsp turmeric, ground
1 Thai chili pepper, sliced thinly 
1 lime, zest and juice
2 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 Tbsp mint, chopped 
1 Tbsp basil, chopped
  1. Cook the ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through, breaking it apart as it cooks, before draining off any excess grease.
  2. Add the lemongrass, shallot or onion, garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric, and the chili pepper. Mix well and cook for 3 minutes.
  3. Add the lime, fish sauce, and sugar, mix well, taste and adjust the seasoning to taste.
  4. Mix in the cilantro, mint, and basil. Serve over rice, noodles, in sandwiches, lettuce wraps, quesadillas, tacos, etc.
Recipe sourced from