Gluten-Free Meyer Lemon Bars with Coconut Shortbread and CSA Meanderings


As I mentioned before, I am participating in a local CSA with Rexcroft Farm this summer. It has been a great experience thus far and I have found the vegetables and fruit to be of exceptional quality. However, I am continuing to freelance in the test kitchen at Bon Appétit and as such, have found it a bit difficult to come home after a full day of cooking and start creating new recipes.

I’ve been eating a lot of the produce as snacks in their simple and beautifully fresh raw states and have sliced some up and thrown them into my regular recipes as add-ons or substitutes for basic ingredients. This week, I thought it would be fun to break down the items we received and share some recipe inspiration with you. I’m also going to post a delicious Meyer Lemon Bar recipe I created which has nothing to do with the CSA but was so good and would be a great dessert to bring along with you for a 4th of July celebration or any summer BBQ.

This week’s bounty:

Red Ruffled Kale – This stunning member of the kale family has curly leaves lined with red and beautiful deep reddish-purple veins. You can use it in any kale recipe however, I prefer to eat it raw. Remove the ribs, chop it finely and either massage the leaves with some olive oil or dress them with your favorite vinaigrette. Unlike most salad greens, raw kale needs to sit in acidity for a little bit of time to break down. It won’t get too soggy, just don’t over-dress it. Try this tasty Quinoa with Sweet Potatoes, Candied Ginger, Kale and Apples.

Broccoli – I loved these bright green bunches we received from the farm. Great in any of the millions of ways you can prepare broccoli. Steam or blanch the florets and stems, then sauté them with some thinly sliced garlic, olive oil, crushed red pepper and top with fresh grated parmesan or pecorino romano. Alternatively, if you’d like to make a stir-fry, try this General Tso’s Chicken recipe I learned in culinary school.

Cabbage – The first thing that came to mind when I saw this in the pick-up basket was fish tacos. Slice the cabbage thinly, season generously with salt, fresh ground pepper, a couple of tablespoons each of lime juice and olive oil and some chopped cilantro. Cover and refrigerate for about 20 minutes while you grill off some mahi mahi or other white, flaky fish. Serve the fish tacos on corn tortillas with slaw, mango salsa, guacamole, sour cream and some lime wedges.

Spring Onions – These are basically functioning as an onion substitute in all of my dishes each week that we get them. Tomorrow, I’m going to grill a couple whole along with other vegetables and meats to garnish and add flavor.

Bonita Squash – These beauties were a late addition to our CSA pick-up and I absolutely loved them. So pretty, crisp and fresh! I did not want to cook these little guys. I just sliced them raw and dipped them into a minted labne I made at Bon Appétit this week. You can serve or eat them with any of your favorite dips.

Papalo – I struggled with this herb the most. I even brought it into the test kitchen to get some ideas from my co-workers. Paplalo seems to inspire a very strong feeling from people; either like or dislike, similar to cilantro. I absolutely love cilantro and can’t understand when people describe the flavor as “soapy”. However, that is pretty much just how I would describe papalo.

In my research I found it is grown in Mexico and used often in their local cuisine. I lived in Mexico for a few summers and while the scent of papalo seems familiar to me, I strongly dislike the flavor. My feelings are similar to the ones shared in this post and recipe from the Homesick Texan. How did you feel about it?

Strawberries – Just eat these quickly, preferably before anyone else in your family gets to them! Or, I suppose you could get a little more creative and whip up some heavy cream with a teaspoon of sugar and dip them in it. Want to impress someone? Make this Fresh Fruit Tart.

Overall, another great week with our Rexcroft CSA share. I am really glad we did it and I hope this post gives some inspiration to other’s of you who participated or who are shopping your local farmer’s markets.

As for these Meyer Lemon Bars. Wow! I have tried over and over to come up with an acceptable shortbread cookie since going gluten-free a few years ago. It’s pretty difficult to do so since the star ingredient in any shortbread dough is flour. However, by toasting some coconut and including it in the dough, I’m pretty sure you will agree that I finally nailed it. So delicious and a perfect compliment to the tanginess of the meyer lemon curd on top. You can definitely substitute in regular lemons as well. Enjoy and have a very happy holiday weekend!

{Gluten-Free} Meyer Lemon Bars with Coconut Shortbread and CSA Meanderings
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
  • Shortbread
  • 1¼ cup gluten free flour blend (King Arthur's, Cup4Cup or Bob's 1 to 1)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup sweetened, flaked coconut
  • 8 tbsp chilled, salted butter (I used Kerrygold), cut into ½ inch cubes
  • ½ vanilla bean, split and seeded
  • Filling
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • zest and juice of 2 meyer lemons (1/3 cup juice and 1 tbsp zest)
  • 1 tbsp all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • Powdered sugar for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Spread coconut on a baking sheet and toast until golden brown, about 5-7 mins
  3. Line a 8x8 square metal baking pan with foil or use and easy-slice brownie pan and grease with cooking spray or butter
  4. Pulse flour and sugar together in a food processor until combined
  5. Add coconut, butter and vanilla bean seeds and process until mixture begins to come together
  6. Gather dough into a ball and spread out evenly over the bottom of your prepared baking pan
  7. Bake until crust is golden at edges, about 20 minutes
  8. While baking crust, combine ¾ cup sugar, eggs, meyer lemon juice and zest, flour and baking powder in processor and blend together until smooth
  9. Remove crust from the oven and pour filling evenly over the top
  10. Return to oven and bake until filling begins to brown at the edges and is just set in the center, about 25-30 minutes
  11. Transfer pan to rack and cool completely
  12. Once cool, lift carefully, if using foil-lined pan, or pop out bottom, if using brownie pan, and transfer to a board and cut into bars
  13. Sift powdered sugar on top and store in a single layer in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve


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