In an effort to avoid the grocery store and use up my CSA from last week, I quickly threw together this salad for lunch. Upon the first bite I realized:
This salad is amazeballs!!!!
If you find that term annoying then substitute any non-cloying superlative in its place that means “rocktastic” rather than “sucktastic.”
It’s super stellar qualities were further elevated by the ease with which I threw it all together.
- 1/2 head romaine lettuce
- 1 orange
- 1/4 Cup almonds
- Feta Cheese
- Balsamic vinegar
- Wash and chop up the romaine. Stick it in a bowl.
- Roughly chop the almonds. Throw them on top of the lettuce.
- Peel the orange. Cut each section into bite size pieces (I cut it into three pieces each). Throw the orange bits on top of the almond bits.
- Squeeze a zig zag of honey across the top of the salad.
- Sprinkle some feta on top.
- Drizzle a little balsamic vinegar on the salad.
- Stick a fork in it and shovel into mouth. Feel the “OMG amazeballs” love.
Yesterday evening I arrived home from a long day at the office to discover a HUGE mound of fresh veggies on the counter. The CSA season has begun! For those not in the know, CSA stands for “community supported agriculture.” I have me a CSA share, which means for the next 20 weeks I’ll receive a delicious bounty of fresh vegetables every single Wednesday compliments of my farmer man who I paid a sum several moons ago to be one of his “shareholders.”
This is my fourth year with my farmer man- Steven Parker of Parker Farm. It’s hard to believe it’s been so many years now. D thought this was year three, but an email search set the record straight.
Anyway, back to the food. Delicious delicious mass quantities of food. The first week of the 2012 CSA season didn’t disappoint. We got: pea shoots, arugula, bok choy, swiss chard, turnips, carrots, romaine, and cilantro. It’s been a while since I’ve had to strategize and menu plan, so I’m a bit rusty. Last year I was gone for most of the veggie season, so my share was eaten by others.
The arugula and cilantro will both be turned into their own respective pestos, which I’ve written about before. The cilantro pesto I’ll freeze for later use. The carrots were nearly devoured the day they were delivered and will continue to be eaten raw until gone. As I type, I’m roasting the turnips for tomorrow’s lunch. They’ll become the piece de resistance of a pea shoot salad. The bok choy and swiss chard’s days are also numbered. They’ll become a stir fry Friday night, cooked up with the steak I’m defrosting. That leaves me with romaine and turnip greens, which hopefully will also find their way into my belly. I just may get around to posting recipes.
My CSA is in full swing with delicious veggies coming in every week from Parker Farm. It’s always a challenge to figure out how to use up the goods before they go bad. Tonight’s menu included home made pizza (made with a little rye, a little flax, and unbleached flour) topped with my pesto creation listed below and sliced cherry tomatoes also compliments of the farm. It was deliciously amazing. My husband and I enjoyed it as we sat and discussed the additional promo/web presence work he needs to take care of for ensuring visibility of his band, The Globs‘ latest album “Hit You With Your Own Fantastic.” (That’s a shameless unnecessary plug if you weren’t sure).
Anyway, this pesto is wonderful. Mizuna packs a peppery punch much like arugula so I think the walnuts help temper that very well. This pesto was great slathered in big globs on our pizza and I expect I’ll use the other half either on sandwiches or tossed with some pasta.
- Medium bunch of mizuna
- 1/4- 1/2 Cup parmesan cheese
- 2 Garlic cloves
- 1/2 Cup walnuts
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4-1/2 Cup Olive oil
- Toss all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until all are well combined.
I blew my monthly grocery money gallivanting around Peru. The food there was fantastic and cheap. I now have dreams of perfectly marinated chicken, soups, and chica morada. Girding for lean times ahead, I replenished staples – flour, oil, butter, sugar – and went on a cooking frenzy this past weekend. I made pumpkin bread and roasted seeds, bagels, and vegetable soup.
The soup was a blessing from the gods. A volunteer gig left me with a veggie platter worth of leftovers. Coupling its remains with a few ingredients I had on hand, soup now serves as sustenance for several days.
This basic “kitchen sink” vegetable soup is so named because I like to think myself witty sometimes (it’s an everything but the kitchen sink type soup), nearly any veggie combo will work. My ingredient list recounts what I had on hand that went into this rendition of vegetable soup. Since I did not have any stock on hand, I slowly simmered the veggies so that they would create a flavorful broth.
A mid-assembly shot of the veggie-rific soup
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 potatoes, diced
- 1 head roasted garlic
- carrots, hand full, chopped
- celery, several stalks, chopped
- 1 parsnip, chopped
- 1 can chick peas, rinsed and drained
- bell pepper, hand full, diced
- 1 zucchini, chopped
- corn kernels, hand full
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- several shakes red pepper flakes
- dried basil
- fresh ground pepper
I am a big fan of doing food prep as I start cooking to speed the process along. I yank everything out and turn on the pan before I bother to chop anything. Then I start chopping on a “who’s needed first” basis, chopping and adding to the pot as I go to conserve counter space, dishes used, and time required until food reaches my belly.
- Heat on low the 1 tbsp olive oil in the bottom of the soup pan. Dice the onion and add to the pot. Begin cutting the potatoes and other veggies as the onions cook.
- Once onions are translucent, add the potatoes and the roasted garlic cloves. Continue chopping and adding the vegetables, beginning with those that need the longest cook time (parsnips, carrots, celery). Do not add the quick cooking veggies like bell peppers, zucchini, and corn at this time. Add the chickpeas and cover the vegetables with water, adding 1″ or more over the tops of the veggies.
- Add red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
- Cook on a low simmer for about 30-40 minutes until potatoes are tender.
- Add the remaining veggies and basil flakes and continue to cook another 10-20 minutes until zucchini and peppers have the desired bite.
- For a thicker soup, strain out a cup or two of the veggies and puree in a blender or food processor and then add back to the soup.
- Taste, adjust seasoning as needed and enjoy.
My CSA is over, but I still have a coffee table piled high with squash and root vegetables in my fridge. Fall in Boston settled in while I was vacationing the past week in Peru. Inspired by the sudden crisp air and mounds of dried leaves that signal a New England fall, the first curcubita to fall under my knife was my cute little sugar pumpkin. I turned him into two loaves of bread and am roasting his seeds as I type.
Pumpkin bread is in the same bread family as banana bread and zucchini bread. The pumpkin adds moisture and a little bit of flavor to a loaf that is endlessly customizable. I wanted an intensely spiced bread, easy on the sugar, with no nuts this time. My results were not as spicy as I would have liked, so I upped the amount of cinnamon, cloves, and ginger listed in the recipe (I used tsp cinnamon, 2 tsp ginger, and 1/2 tsp cloves). D thought the bread needed to be sweeter, and one of the recipes I based this upon did use 3 cups for two loaves, but I think it was sweet enough. Slather it in butter or devour it plain, this bread is always a good snack.
Sugar pumpkins are almost to dear to hack open
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup canola oil
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cups pumpkin puree
- 3 cups flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp cloves
- 3 tsp ginger
- 1 cup nuts (optional)
One sugar pumpkin will yield 2-3 cups of puree. Cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp (set aside if saving the seeds). Place cut side down on a baking sheet and cook for 30-50 minutes at 350 degrees until tender. Scoop out the cooked flesh and puree in a blender or food processor.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl: flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and all the spices.
- Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl. Add the oil, water, and pumpkin. Stir to combine.
- Pour the bowl of dry ingredients into the wet and stir to combine.
- Pour the batter equally into two lightly greased bread pans.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Enjoy warm or cold!
Filed under Bakery, Sweets
This recipe took care of several problems for me all in one fell swoop: I had two fistfulls of green beans from my CSA and about 6 cups of plain cooked rice sitting in my fridge, a leftover accompaniment to a curry made earlier in the week. Thus, a beautiful marriage was born. The eggs add protein which justifies calling a bowl full of this dinner. It would of course make a tasty side to almost anything. Fried rice works best with pre-cooked rice that’s been sitting in the fridge for a while, hence this is a perfect type of dish to use up leftovers.
Introducing the green beans to the cooked onion and garlic
Scrambling the eggs
Ready to be served
- 4 cups of cooked rice (any kind will work, I used basmati)
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 large fistfulls of green beans
- 2 eggs
- soy sauce
- fresh ginger
- crushed red pepper flakes
- Use the side of a knife to crush the peeled garlic cloves.
- Dice about a 1/2 cup of onion.
- Snap the ends off the green beans. Break into 1″ to 1 1/2″ pieces. (It’s a nice meditative experience to use your hands to snap the ends off and to snap the green beans rather than using a knife. Fresh beans “pop” a bit like bubble wrap when you snap them.) Rinse the beans.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil on low in a large fry pan or wok. Add the garlic and onions; cook for a couple of minutes.
- Add the green beans and stir to combine. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes and black pepper. Cook, covered, for 5 to 6 minutes; stirring every minute or two.
- Move the vegetables to the side of the pan. Crack two eggs into the cleared portion and scramble until runny, but almost set. Push the green beans back to coat the pan evenly.
- Add the 4 cups of rice and pour 2 tablespoons of soy sauce over the top. Stir for a minute or two until everything is mixed together well.
- Grate approximately 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger over the fried rice. (I keep fresh ginger lobes whole in the freezer. Whenever I need fresh ginger, I pull out a chunk, peel a small area of it and grate only what I need. It keeps in the freezer for months.)
- Stir the ginger into the rice. Let it cook another minute or two while you stir.
The time it takes you to grate the ginger allows the rice on the bottom to brown a little bit, making it extra delicious. Serve and enjoy!
The contents of my CSA share a few weeks ago were screaming to make Ratatouille, a dish that highlights the taste of fresh summer vegetables. I adapted Ginette Mathiot’s Ratatouille recipe from I Know How to Cook. It was supposed to be slowly simmered for 2 hours, but I was starving so I cooked it at a high simmer for about an hour. Then I scooped out the cooked vegetable rounds and cooked the remaining liquid on high until it reduced into a dense oily glaze to pour on top of the vegetables. Since that endeavor I made a baked ratatouille and I prefer the taste of this version. I was hesitant to post as I still wonder how the taste would be different if I had more dutifully followed Mathiot’s directions to simmer for two hours, but my results were also worth replicating.
My 5 quart pot filled to the brim with fresh veggies
The cooked veggies waiting to be topped with the reduced liquid glaze
Reducing the liquid
The specific quantities needed depend upon the size of your pan and what you have on hand. This is what I used to fill a 5qt pot to the brim.
- 1 1/2 bell peppers
- 1 medium eggplant
- 2 zucchini
- 1 1/2 onions
- 1 1/2 large tomatoes
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- salt, pepper, basil
- Slice all the vegetables into 1/4″-1/2″ rounds.
- Heat 1 tbsp olive oil to a low simmer in a large pot. Add the crushed garlic cloves and cook a minute or two until fragrant.
- Begin adding the vegetable rounds in alternating layers. I first added all of the cut pepper, then a layer of eggplant rounds, followed by onion, zucchini, and tomatoes. Repeat layers if you have additional vegetables. My ingredients and my pan size made one solid layer of each type of vegetable.
- Sprinkle the top with salt, pepper, and basil. Drizzle the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil on top of the vegetables and add 3/4 cup of water to the pot.
- Mathiot says to cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours. ***the additional steps detail my variation on her method***
- I have an electric turn dial stove, numbered Min-Max with 1-8 listed as the numbers between these two settings. I began with the burner on “2”, a medium-low simmer. After 40 minutes of cooking the vegetables covered, I peeked and it looked like there was still a lot of water in there. I notched the burner to “3”, a medium-high simmer.
- At 1 hour and 10 minutes, everything was a nice mushy soft edible texture, but there was still lots of water. I used a spatula to scoop out the cooked vegetables and place them in a bowl.
- I turned the burner to high heat, and boiled the remaining liquid to reduce it. Twice I tilted the bowl of scooped out vegetables to drain their water back into the pot of liquid I was reducing. Once the liquid had reduced to a oily glaze, I poured it on top of the cooked vegetables.
Whether a low simmer for 2 hours, or a rushed simmer, the moral of the story is that this recipe is the quintessential simple summer dish that is hard to mess up so long as you begin with nice in season flavorful vegetables: cut, assemble, and leave it to do its thing for an hour or two while you do your thing (read a book, watch tv, clean your house, solve world peace).
The taste of the vegetables is heavenly. It can hold its own as the main fare if accompanied by pasta, rice or bread and serves as an excellent second fiddle to a meat entree.