CSA Week 8: Spiralized Cucumber and Beet Salad

Week eight brought many goodies, including corn, zucchini, summer squash, green beans (including a weird flat variety that was a little fuzzy), tomatoes, tomatillos, basil, potatoes, eggplant, and lemon cucumbers.

In addition to this I still have a ton of cucumbers and beets from the previous week. In a stroke of serendipity, as I was pondering this dilemma, I came across this recipe from Skinny Taste. I used it more for inspiration than anything else, but it was a great idea, with a little Greek flair, and it gave me a reason to pull out my seldom-used spiralizer.

My spiralizer. A strange little contraption that is pretty simple. Stick the veggie on the little peg, crank the handle and end up with curly veggie ribbons.

My spiralizer. A strange little contraption that is pretty simple. Stick the veggie on the little peg, crank the handle and end up with curly veggie ribbons.

A spiralizer is a fun little machine that turns veggies into curly little ribbons. If you don’t have one, this recipe works just fine if you just dice the veggies or cut into julienne strips instead. I enjoy using this thing, although looking at Gina’s photos made me think perhaps I should have bought the kind she has instead. Mine is not bad, but it works much better on firmer veggies. My beets made perfect little ribbons, but since my cucumbers were a week old, they were a little soft, so I struggled a bit getting good spirals, but in the end it worked fine.

Spiralized salad, before mixing.

Spiralized salad, before mixing.

Spiralized Cucumber and Beet Salad

2-3 cucumbers
2-3 beets
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup kalamata olives, halved
Juice of half a big lemon or a whole small one
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper
Pinch of dry or fresh oregano
1/2 cup feta cheese

Trip ends from cucumbers and beets and spiralize, dice or julienne. I peeled the beets but not the cucumbers. Add to salad bowl. Keep in mind that once you mix this all together it will all turn pink because of the beets so for a pretty presentation, you can keep the elements separate in the bowl and then mix right before serving.

Add tomatoes and olives. Squeeze lemon juice and drizzle olive oil over the veggies. Add seasonings and give it all a quick toss. Top with feta if desired.

And now it's all pink! But delicious!

And now it’s all pink! But delicious!

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CSA Week 7: Mexican New Potato and Summer Squash Sauté

Summer of squash continues at our house. To be honest, I’ve learned to enjoy it. But to keep it interesting, I keep finding new ways to cook it. This one was pretty good. I made it as a side dish for taco night and it was even eaten by my lovely little squash hater. Most summer types of squash are so mild that they take on whatever flavors you cook them with. The mexican spices and cheese in this gave it a great zip, while the squash added crunch and texture. And you know me, if you add potatoes to anything, it just makes it better!

Feel free to twist this one to fit the contents of your fridge or your particular preferences. Add hotter peppers, more lime, more seasoning as you see fit, or switch up the veggies to your tastes. Forgive my lame measurements in the recipe. For dishes like these, I tend to just throw things in without much notice to how much. I used about the same amounts of squash and potatoes and started with a little seasoning and added more to taste. Feel free to adjust as you like.

The leftovers from this made their way into breakfast tacos the following day, after being scrambled with a couple of eggs. Or pile onto an impromptu taco salad with a scoop of salsa on top for lunch. So versatile and good!

 

Mexican New Potato and Summer Squash Sauté

Mexican New Potato and Summer Squash Sauté

Mexican New Potato and Summer Squash Sauté

A handful of new potatoes, diced (about the same amount as squash)
2-3 pattypan squash, yellow summer squash or zucchini, diced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 jalapeno, minced (optional, adjust to your heat preference)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Juice from half a lime
1/2 – 1 tsp. cumin
1/2 – 1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 cup queso fresco, crumbled
Salt & pepper

Heat large skillet over medium heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil. Add potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally for abut 10 minutes. Add onion, jalapeno and garlic, cook another 2-3 minutes. Add squash and tomatoes. Cook another couple of minutes until squash is tender (I like mine on the crunchier side so if you like it softer keep cooking for another minute or two). Add cilantro, lime, seasonings. Stir to blend and cook for another minute or so to let the flavors meld. Top with crumbled cheese and serve hot.

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CSA Week 7: Sweet Corn and Summer Squash Soup

I am rolling in squash. Last week was pattypan and zucchini, this week LOTS of zucchini. I made two batches of zucchini bread and didn’t even scratch the surface. Luckily I like zucchini. The pattypans, eh, not as much. They have a bit of a spongy texture I don’t really love. But I took care of that problem with this recipe.

Week 7’s CSA box included, as previously mentioned, MANY zucchini (7 or 8 large ones), a huge bunch of beets, lettuce, parsley, Thai eggplants, five cucumbers, new potatoes, sweet corn, and green beans. And I still have quite a bit left from last week. Obviously I have my work cut out for me this week. I don’t think I’m even going to bother buying meat.

Then today, I came across inspiration in the form of a recipe from Cooking Light. I did not follow their recipe, but the basic flavors sounded great so I threw this together based on what I had in my kitchen. The wonderful thing about this recipe is that you blend up the squash. Since for me (and I think for many people), the texture is what I don’t like sometimes (especially with some varieties), blending it into a soup was the perfect solution. The sweet corn was the leading flavor and honestly, if I didn’t know the squash was in there, I would not have guessed. Blending it gave the soup a lovely silky texture without the squashy taste. Since I have so much zucchini on hand, I diced one up and added it just a few minutes before serving to add a little crunch. If you don’t like the texture of the zucchini, add it earlier and blend it up with the others or just leave it out.

Sweet Corn and Summer Squash Soup

Sweet Corn and Summer Squash Soup

Sweet Corn and Summer Squash Soup

2-3 pattypan squash, diced
1 zucchini
1 small onion
4 ears of corn (or you can use 2 cups frozen corn kernels)
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
1-2 tsp. chives, chopped
2 cups chicken or veggie broth
2-3 cups milk
Salt & pepper
Cheddar cheese (optional for garnish)

Heat up a soup pan over medium heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil. Add onions and squash. Sauté for a few minutes until tender. Add half the corn. Cook a minute more. Add 2 cups of milk. With a stick blender (or in a regular blender), blend until smooth. Add the rest of the corn, thyme, broth and zucchini. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let soup simmer a few minutes until zucchini is tender and soup is hot. Add extra milk if you want it a little thinner in consistency. Serve immediately. Top with cheese if desired.

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CSA Week 6: Kale and Eggs Breakfast Skillet

My farm box this week included lettuce, green beans, Japanese eggplant, cucumbers, pattypan squash, new potatoes, sweet peppers, blueberries, broccoli, beets and basil. I don’t even want to think about all the stuff still left from last week. You can bet on one thing though. There’s still some kale.

Out of all the kale recipes I have tried over the last couple of months – and there’s quite a few – this is actually my favorite way to make it. Which is a little odd considering that instead of hiding it, blending it, or otherwise disguising it, it is actually the star of this dish. I use a tiny bit of olive oil, but not much, making this more like a dry sauté. You get a little char on the edges and the texture, instead of wilted and limp, is almost a little crispy. When the yolky egg breaks and blends with it, well, it’s just pretty darn good. I make this a couple of times a week (not always for breakfast), sometimes tossing in a few mushrooms or other veggies, and sometimes just by itself.

I have the hardest time cooking sunny side up eggs, and I think it all comes down to being impatient, a quality that is especially present when I’m hungry. The key (I do learn eventually) is to turn down the heat and allow them to cook slowly. This way the bottoms don’t burn or overcook before the tops get done. It will also keep your veggies from burning or needing to be stirred as well. If you are having trouble getting those tops to set, or if it’s just taking too dang long, simply stick a lid on it for a minute or two and you’ll be good to go.

Kale and Eggs Breakfast Skillet

Kale and Eggs Breakfast Skillet

Kale & Egg Breakfast Skillet

2 cups kale, coarsely chopped
4-5 button mushrooms
4 eggs
Olive oil
1 small clove garlic
Salt & pepper

Heat skillet over medium heat. Drizzle with just a bit of olive oil (1-2 teaspoons). Add kale, mushrooms and garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5-7 minutes, until veggies are tender. Turn down heat to low. Make little wells in the vegetables. Break eggs into wells. Cook on low for about 4-5 minutes or until tops of eggs are set. You can cover if you want them to cook a little faster, but resist the temptation to turn up the heat, you’ll just overcook the bottoms of the eggs and veggies. Take it slow you’ll be happy you did.

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CSA Week 5: Cannolicchi alla Caprese

Lately I’ve been trying and trying to use all my CSA ingredients before I use the next batch. And overall I’ve been really successful. In fact, I don’t think I’ve had to toss anything that went bad before I could use it, although I’ll admit to taking a couple of weeks to get to some items. I don’t blog about everything I use since some of it just gets snacked on (I’m looking at you blueberries) and so much of it gets tossed into side salads or breakfast scrambles. That being said, I was afraid if I tossed kale and/or squash into one more recipe this week, there would be a revolt in my household.

The first three or four farm boxes included an herb plant, which has contributed to quite a nice little herb garden in my backyard. My basil in particular has been doing great and was absolutely delicious in this. Later in the summer when I’m trying to figure out what to do with an overload of tomatoes, this recipe will definitely be making another appearance. For the best flavor, use an assortment of vine-ripened tomatoes, or cherry tomatoes (I used a combo). With so few ingredients, quality really does matter!

This recipe combines my favorite flavors of all time in symphony of simplicity and deliciousness. I love basil, tomato and mozzarella together. Give it to me in salads, sandwiches, pizza, or just sliced up together on a plate and I am a happy camper. I’ve made a few different versions of this from time to time, but this one really was nice. The big difference with this recipe is combining the ingredients ahead of time and letting them marinate for several hours before tossing with the pasta. Mmmm. Perfect.

Cannolicchi alla Caprese. Use whatever noodle your heart desires, but these twirly ones were a great choice!

Cannolicchi alla Caprese. Use whatever noodle your heart desires, but these twirly ones were a great choice!

Cannolicchi alla Caprese
(from The Pollan Family Table – the original recipe is Conchiglie alla caprese, I just used a different noodle)

2-3 cups chopped vine-ripened tomatoes, or cherry tomatoes (I used a combo of roma and cherry tomatoes)
1 1/2 cups diced fresh mozzarella (or buy the little balls, which I had on hand)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade (little ribbons)
2 cloves garlic, minced
A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper
1 pound pasta, either shells or a spiral shape to catch all the little bits and flavors

In a large mixing bowl, combine the tomatoes, mozzarella, oil, basil, garlic, red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt and black pepper to taste. Cover with plastic wrap and let the sauce marinate at room temperature while you prepare the pasta, or for up to three hours to enhance the flavors. I highly recommend letting it sit a while, it did make a big difference.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente, about 1 minute less than the directions on the package. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, the drain the pasta.

Add pasta to the tomato mixture. Add 2 tablespoons of reserved pasta water, or as desired, to moisten the sauce. Season with sea salt and pepper as needed. Sere hot or at room temperature.

 

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CSA Week 5: A Kale Salad I Actually Like

Kale is not my favorite. Unfortunately, it has shown up every week so far in my CSA box. But the good news is we’ve been talking a lot lately, and we’re starting to build a rapport. I’ve found I really like it sautéed with a little garlic and olive oil and scrambled eggs for breakfast. It’s not bad sliced into ribbons and mixed with salads or pasta or thrown into a veggie medley. I have hidden it here and there in various fritters and patties and smoothies. It’s a good one to hide since other people in the household are even less enamored with it than I am.

But this salad. Kale is the star and lo, and behold! I actually really liked it. No, really! Bright, chewy, salty and sour and creamy. Good stuff. I’m not even kidding. I topped mine with a little parmesan, but if you leave that off this salad is not only tasty, it’s dairy free, gluten-free and sugar-free. The creamy texture all comes from the lovely marriage of avocado with lemon and olive oil, scrunched through the crunchy kale with your hands to coat every little ribbon.

I paired this with a couple of pan-fried slices of polenta, left over from the previous night’s herbed polenta. A little fresh tomato rounded out the plate nicely.

Lemony Avocado and Kale Salad

Lemony Avocado and Kale Salad

Lemony Avocado and Kale Salad

4 cups of kale, sliced into ribbons
A drizzle of olive oil, about a tablespoon
1 avocado
Juice of 1 lemon
Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
Parmesan cheese for garnish, if desired

Put kale in a large bowl. Drizzle a bit of olive oil, add the avocado, lemon juice and salt & pepper to taste. Using your hands, scrunch everything together until all leaves are evenly coated. Top with cheese if desired.

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CSA Week 5: Stuffed Zucchini and Herbed Polenta

My weekly farm boxes are getting bigger and heavier! As summer squash and root vegetables start to ripen I’m going to need to get myself a pack mule (or just take my teenagers so they can carry the load)! My CSA box for week five included lettuce, kale, beets, NINE (!) zucchini, three cucumbers, blueberries, green beans, cabbage, and japanese eggplant. My new favorite breakfast has become sautéed mixed veggies with scrambled eggs. This uses up a lot of veggies, but there are still plenty left!

While I’ve never been a huge fan of squash in general, I’m starting to like it more and more, which is a good thing, since it seems to be a plentiful ingredient in my weekly mystery boxes. I’ve come to really enjoy zucchini, mostly because it’s just so darn versatile! It’s got a very mild flavor of its own, which makes it perfect for cooking with other things with stronger flavors. It just takes on the taste of whatever you cook it with. By cooking these in “boat” form instead of chopping them up, the zucchini stays nice and firm and absorbs all the yummy tastes of whatever you stuff it with. I had some salami on its last legs and wonderful feta and those big flavors paired so nicely with the more mild zucchini. You could stuff yours with whatever meats, veggies and/or cheeses you have on hand or try this combo. I made a nice creamy polenta to go with it. You can keep it plain and simple, or mix in a bunch of fresh herbs and veggies to bump up the flavor.

Stuffed Zucchini and Herbed Polenta

Stuffed Zucchini and Herbed Polenta

Stuffed Zucchini

3-4 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 cup chopped salami or pepperoni
1/4 cup chopped feta
1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
Salt & pepper

Cut eat zucchini in half, lengthwise. Scoop out some of the seeds, making a boat to hold the filling. Chop up some or all of the scooped zucchini. Put in a small bowl with salami, feta and tomatoes and lightly mix. Heap the filling into the zucchini boats. Sprinkle with a bit of salt & pepper. Bake at 375˚ for 10-15 minutes, until zucchini is tender.

Herbed Polenta

1 cup dry polenta
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup mushrooms
1/4 cup red onion
1/4 cup fresh herbs, chopped fine (I used a mixture of chives, parsley, basil & thyme)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. butter
Salt & pepper

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add polenta. Turn heat down to low and cover. Cook 5-10 minutes until liquid is absorbed. While polenta is cooking, saute onion, garlic and mushrooms in another pan. Remove polenta from heat and stir in mushroom mixture, herbs, cheese, butter and salt & pepper. Mix well. Serve immediately.

Note: After cooling, polenta will solidify into a block, which you can then slice and pan fry or bake or broil. I usually save the leftovers and pan fry it with eggs for breakfast.

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CSA Week 4: Two Bean Salad with Lemony Vinaigrette

I’m still working my way through my week four basket, although I picked up week five this morning. I’m in the weeds…literally. For dinner last night I whipped up this quick and bright bean salad. Perfect for a summer evening. I’ve had so much lettuce and kale on hand lately that I was really craving a salad that had no greens.

If you don’t have fava beans, substitute another bean of your choice or just use all green beans. This one is even better after it sits a while.

Two Bean Salad with Lemony Vinaigrette

Two Bean Salad with Lemony Vinaigrette

Two Bean Salad with Lemony Vinaigrette

2 cups fresh green beans
1 cup shelled fava beans
Juice and zest of one lemon
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt & pepper
1 tsp. chives
1 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. dijon
Parmesan or feta (optional)

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Shell fava beans and add them to the water. Cook 2-3 minutes. Fish them out with a slotted spoon and rinse in cold water to cool. Pinch off outer skins and set the beans aside.

Add green beans to water and cook for 3-5 minutes, until tender but still crisp. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together lemon juice and zest, olive oil, dijon, herbs and seasonings. Add beans and toss. If desired, top with parmesan or feta.

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CSA Week 4: Kielbasa and Cabbage with Potato Kohlrabi Hash

Week four’s basket was filled with broccoli, green beans, blueberries, lettuce, a boatload of summer squash and cucumbers, kale, and parsley.

This week a summer cold hit my household, along with a nasty heat wave. This meant minimal cooking and even more minimal effort. However, veggies needed to get used, not only this week’s veggies, but the last of last week’s veggies as well. I’ll spare you all my weird recipes but let’s just say there was kale & eggs, zucchini & eggs, spaghetti that featured summer squash instead of meat (not so popular with the troops, but I thought it was tasty), mac & cheese from a box mixed with broccoli, and salad, salad, and a little more salad. The blueberries just got snacked on til they were gone.

From last week I still had the last of my kohlrabi, and half a giant cabbage. This week I visited my Czech grandma, so I think I was channeling her when I decided to make kielbasa and cabbage, with potato and kohlrabi hash. While perhaps not classically Czech food, it seemed like something she would like, with a little Eastern European flair.

This was the first time I had cooked kohlrabi and I really liked it! It had a very similar texture to the potatoes, with a slightly more turnipy sort of taste. It was a great combo.

Kielbasa and Cabbage with Potato Kohlrabi Hash

Kielbasa and Cabbage with Potato Kohlrabi Hash

Kielbasa and Cabbage

1 kielbasa or other sausage
1 small head or partial big head of cabbage (6-8 cups)
2-3 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. sugar
Salt and lots of fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. caraway seeds

Slice up the cabbage and kielbasa. Add the sausage to a large skillet and cook for a couple of minutes. Add cabbage, vinegar, sugar and seasonings. Turn down heat to medium and cook about 8-10 minutes until cabbage is tender, stirring occasionally. Some people like to cook this longer until it’s super soft, but I prefer it with a bit of crunch. Taste it as you go and stop when it’s the texture you like.

Potato Kohlrabi Hash

1 tbps. butter
5-6 red potatoes, diced
1 kohlrabi, peeled and diced
1 large shallot, sliced
Salt & pepper
Paprika

Heat a skillet over medium heat, add butter. When it’s melted and bubbly, swirl to coat the bottom of the pan and add all ingredients. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often. You want the pan hot enough to give a little color but not so hot that your veggies burn as they cook. Uncover and cook about 5 more minutes, until veggies are tender and delicious. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. I like mine with a little splash of hot sauce at the end.

 

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CSA Week 3: Spiced Steelhead Salad with Herby Ranch

This week’s farm box brought a strange and new gift – kohlrabi! I had never tried this and didn’t have a clue as to what to do with it. A quick Facebook post yielded lots of advice. Since I had two big bulbs of it, no reason not to try it several ways. Raw, it reminds me a lot of jicama. Crisp and crunchy, somewhat radish-like, perfect for salads. I decided to use one bulb raw in salads, pickle a bit of it for rice bowls, and cook the rest with potatoes. So far, I’m a fan!

This salad used a ton of veggies and herbs I had on hand, but feel free to change it up according to your fridge’s contents.

If you don’t have steelhead available, salmon is a great substitute.

Spiced Steelhead with a Big Salad

Spiced Steelhead Salad with Herby Ranch

Spiced Steelhead Salad with Herby Ranch

Fish:
4 Steelhead or salmon fillets
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. paprika
Salt & pepper

Salad:
Lettuce
Kohlrabi, peeled and diced
Zucchini, diced
Cherry tomatoes, halved

Dressing:
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup fresh herbs, finely chopped (I used a mixture of chives, parsley, basil & mint)
Salt & pepper
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of paprika
1 clove garlic, finely minced

Mix dressing ingredients and put in the fridge to chill until everything is ready.

Rub fish with spice mixture. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add fish to the pan, skin side up (if there is skin on it). Cook a few minutes and then flip and cook 3-4 minutes on the other side, until fish flakes easily with a fork.

While the fish is cooking, toss together salad ingredients. Serve fish on top of salad (I removed the skin first since I don’t like to eat it), drizzle with dressing and you are good to go! Refrigerate any leftover dressing, it will keep for about a week.

CSA Box #3. The kohlrabi is that funky bulb thing with the tentacles!

CSA Box #3. The kohlrabi is that funky bulb thing with the tentacles!

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