herbed summer squash and potato torte

September 17, 2010

We’ve regretted not joining a CSA this year, so we were pretty pumped when our friends offered us theirs this week as they travel out of town.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food, direct from a farmer.

Per the Local Harvest website, here are some of the benefits of CSAs:

Advantages for farmers:

  • Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16 hour days in the field begin
  • Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm’s cash flow
  • Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow

Advantages for consumers:

  • Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits
  • Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking
  • Usually get to visit the farm at least once a season
  • Find that kids typically favor food from “their” farm – even veggies they’ve never been known to eat
  • Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown

One of the really wonderful things to me about a CSA is that it encourages (nay, forces) you to be creative in the kitchen. Rather than trying to dream up recipes and then buy the goods, you have to work recipes around what you’ve got.

Plus, it’s a great learning exercise in what is in season in your region at different times of year. I’ve learned so much about eating locally and in season in the last couple of years from going to the farmers’ markets in my area and shopping at my local food co-op.

I was pretty over-excited when our friends offered us theirs for the week. In the share:

  • Tomatillos
  • Basil
  • Kale
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Broccoli
  • Summer squash
  • Hot peppers
  • Peppers
  • Onions
  • Potatoes

If you’re interested in finding a food cooperative in your area or a CSA then Local Harvest is a truly great resource!

For the first of several CSA-inspired meals, we looked to smitten kitchen and found this recipe. It turned out even better than I imagined. As noted in the original,  it may not be the prettiest thing around and it sounds a little unexciting but it is anything but. Note to self after devouring this (first for dinner, then for the most amazing breakfast with buttery toast and fresh CSA tomatoes): get more fresh thyme in my life. The smell of it cooking is ridiculous and it makes this torte go from average to bloody lovely.

Herbed Summer Squash and Potato Torte

from smitten kitchen

Makes 8 servings


  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
  • 12 ounces yellow summer squash, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
  • 6 teaspoons olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter two 8-inch-diameter cake pans. (Note: we don’t own two cake pans so we made one giant torte in a frying pan. Worked a treat.) Set aside 1/4 cup sliced green onions. Toss remaining green onions, cheese, flour, thyme, salt and pepper in medium bowl to blend.
  2. Layer 1/6 of potatoes in concentric circles in bottom of 1 prepared pan, overlapping slightly. Layer 1/4 of squash in concentric circles atop potatoes. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with 1/6 of cheese mixture. Repeat with 1/6 of potatoes, then 1/4 of squash and 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with 1/6 of cheese mixture. Top with 1/6 of potatoes. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with 1/6 of cheese mixture and press gently to flatten. Repeat procedure with second cake pan and remaining potatoes, squash, oil, and cheese mixture.
  3. Cover pans with foil. Bake until potatoes are almost tender, about 40 minutes. Remove foil; bake uncovered until tortes begin to brown and potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes longer. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cool. Cover with foil and chill. Rewarm, covered with foil, in 350°F oven until heated through, about 30 minutes.)
  4. Cut each torte into wedges. Sprinkle wedges with 1/4 cup green onions; serve.

Just a couple of notes: I left the majority of the instructions as they appeared originally since if you own two cake pans then I’m sure this would work wonderfully. We don’t and so instead made one big torte. Even so, this yielded four servings for us. Nowhere near eight. So, if you have a hearty (read: normal) appetite then bear that in mind.

I served this with a simple CSA salad of greens, green pepper, and tomatoes tossed in salt, pepper, fresh lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil and it was right on the money with the softened potatoes and squash and fragrant thyme.

If you have an abundance of late summer squash on your hands, I think you know what to do…

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