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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CSA Week 3: Creamy Kale Fusilli (with Bacon!)

Got my third farm box and it was a doozy! The head of lettuce was almost 2 feet in diameter and when washed and stowed, took up two large storage containers. I don’t know what they feed this stuff, but I will be eating lots of salad this week.

CSA Box #3. Enormous leaf lettuce, kale, parsley, kohlrabi, sweet onions, zucchini, a weird squash, blueberries, fava beans, and a purple basil plant.

CSA Box #3. Enormous leaf lettuce, kale, parsley, kohlrabi, sweet onions, zucchini, a weird squash, blueberries, fava beans, and a purple basil plant.

Since I had so much lettuce for salads, I decided to get more creative with the kale (I still have some kale left from last week too, yikes!). For this recipe I took some inspiration from creamed spinach. I’ve always loved the rich creamy flavor and how the cream and garlic and onions mellowed the flavor of the greens, but I’ve never liked the mushy texture. But hey, grind that stuff up like a pesto and toss with some springy pasta and now you’re talking! My daughter actually hates creamed spinach and she’s not such a big kale fan either, but she really liked this. Of course, you toss bacon into just about anything and she’ll eat it.

Creamy Kale Fusilli

Creamy Kale Fusilli

Creamy Kale Fusilli (with Bacon!)

5-6 strips of bacon
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 bunch kale, ribs removed and coarsely chopped (I used the flat leaf “dinosaur” kale)
3 cloves garlic, minced
Crushed red pepper, just a pinch
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper
1 package fusilli or rotini

Chop bacon and cook it in a pan until crisp. Drain on paper towels and wipe pan clean.

Cook pasta until al dente.

While pasta is cooking, heat large skillet over medium heat, add a drizzle of olive oil and toss in the onion. Cook for a minute or two and then add the kale, garlic and crushed red pepper. Sauté until veggies are soft. Add cream and heat through. Put mixture into a food processor or blender and process until it’s creamy, sort of similar to a pesto consistency (if you like your pasta a little more chunky and rustic you can skip this step).

Drain pasta (reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water). Combine pasta, bacon, parmesan and kale mixture and toss to combine. If needed, add some pasta water a little at a time until it’s the consistency you like. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

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CSA Week 2: Broccoli and Goat Cheese Soup

I have been told that summer is not the time for soup. I say phooey on that. Anytime is the time for soup, and summer is the perfect time for light, zingy soup made with the freshest veggies. This take on broccoli soup was satisfying but not heavy and a great way to use up a bunch of produce. It also freezes quite nicely if you don’t feel like eating it all at once.

I had the broccoli already, but from my CSA box, I added the spring onions and parsley. The goat cheese also came from farmer’s market, from one of my very favorite stands, Briar Rose Creamery, manned (womanned?) by the beautiful Jenny (a.k.a. goat cheese gal). She reeled me in with her amazing goat cheese chocolate truffles (I know, they sound weird but think chocolate cheesecake rolled up in a little ball), but I keep coming back for the cheese. You could use any cheese you like in the soup, but the tangy goat cheese offers a really nice balance with the earthy broccoli and herbs.

Broccoli and Goat Cheese Soup

Broccoli and Goat Cheese Soup

Broccoli and Goat Cheese Soup

1 head broccoli, including stems, chopped
2 spring onions, white and green parts (about 1 cup chopped – sub other onions if you don’t have spring onions)
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
3-4 oz. goat cheese
Salt & pepper to taste

In a large saucepan or soup pot, saute onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil for 3-4 minutes, until softened. Add broccoli and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook about 10 minutes until broccoli is tender. Add parsley and cream and cook 1 more minute. Puree with a stick blender (or a regular blender) until there are no big chunks. I made mine pretty smooth, but if you like it chunky, that’s your call. Add salt & pepper and goat cheese. Stir until cheese is melted and incorporated into the soup. Taste and add more seasoning if needed. Remove from heat and serve hot.

Starts with the good stuff. Broccoli and Spring Onions

Starts with the good stuff. Broccoli and Spring Onions

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CSA Week 2: Drink Your Greens!

I picked up my second CSA farm box from Sun Gold Farms this weekend and my fridge is once again overflowing with produce. In this box: A huge head of leaf lettuce, a big cabbage, fava beans, sugar snap peas, curly kale, parsley, five zucchini, spring onions and a basil plant. I used almost all of last week’s produce but still have a partial cabbage and some mint, plus some broccoli that I picked up somewhere. I also bought blueberries and tomatoes at the market. Obviously there is plenty of salad on the menu this week, plus some broccoli and spring onion soup and probably some slaw and at least one other thing involving cabbage. But yesterday, it was all about the smoothies.

Yesterday I was having some issues. Issues with being a total klutz, to be exact. Every time I turned around I was knocking something over or dropping something or running into something. You would think smoothie making would be a pretty safe choice, since chopping and/or major cooking could lead to disaster on days like this. So I threw everything in the blender, and pressed go while I scrambled a couple eggs to go with it. As I’m beating the eggs, I noticed that as the blender is blending, it’s sort of traveling along the counter top with the vibration, and out of the corner of my eye I see it start to tip off the counter. In a flying leap I lunged over there and caught the floor-bound blender (as it’s still blending) one-handed (!) and as I’m setting it safely back on the counter I bumped the bowl of scrambled eggs and further scrambled them as they fell to the floor, splattering everywhere. I turned off the blender (yay, me!), cleaned up eggs, rescrambled, cooked eggs, and then poured my smoothie into glasses, dribbling a bit down the sides, but happy with the consistency, which was no doubt improved by its brief flight. I don’t recommend trying any of that at home.

If you don’t like to cook your greens, and you’re sick of eating salad, stuff those greens into a smoothie and drink them instead. You can change up the recipe to your liking depending on what fruit you have available, but I find the berries usually mask the taste of the greens, some stone fruit or banana adds sweetness and adding some herbs or citrus adds a bit of brightness as well. My kids love these and never complain about the bits of greenery I add to them. With some of the more hardy greens, be sure to have plenty of liquid and blend a little longer than usual. If you have a wimpy blender I’d probably go with spinach instead of kale since it liquifies much easier. I usually freeze all the fruit, but if your fruit is not frozen, add some ice cubes to give it that smoothie texture.

Blues and Greens Smoothie

Blues and Greens Smoothie

Blues & Greens Smoothie

2 big leaves of kale, ribs removed
1-2 cups blueberries, frozen
2 nectarines (fresh or frozen)
Mint – a couple of sprigs, stems removed
1 big scoop of plain yogurt
A few ice cubes if you want it extra cold or if your fruit isn’t frozen
1-2 cups sparkling water, juice, coconut water, regular water or milk (I like the sparkling water because it makes it just a tiny bit fizzy!)

Blend everything together thoroughly. Kale is a pretty hardy green, so I usually add some extra liquid and let it blend a long time to really pulverize it so I’m not chewing my smoothie, because nobody loves that. Add a little more liquid if needed to make it a drinkable consistency. Pour into glasses and enjoy while it’s cold. This made enough for 2-3 servings.

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