Monthly Archives: June 2015

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.

 

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

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

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

CSA Week 1: Rice Bowl with Slow Cooker Short Ribs, Snap Peas and Pickled Carrots

This is one of those recipes where you can mix and match components according to whatever you have on hand. I really like the pickled carrots (or radishes, daikon, cucumber) for an extra tangy crunch on top. It ties it all together and adds a great zip of flavor to balance the salty, rich ribs and sweet peas.

In my CSA box this week (see my post here) there were A LOT of snow peas and sugar snap peas. If you’ve bought those before you know they are delicious but they don’t have a long shelf life. So I wanted to use a bunch of them quickly and this was the perfect place to stick them. I cooked a little extra just for snacking the next day or throwing in a salad.

You could probably use just about any kind of meat for this. I happened to have some short ribs and they cooked up beautifully in the crock pot, but chicken or pork would work equally well. You could even use leftovers if you have some or leave out the meat altogether for a vegetarian option.

Rice bowl with Slow Cooker Short Ribs, Pickled Carrots and Snap Peas

Rice bowl with Slow Cooker Short Ribs, Pickled Carrots and Snap Peas

Rice Bowls with Slow Cooker Short Ribs, Snap Peas and Pickled Carrots

1 package short ribs
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup brown rice
5-6 carrots, julienned
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tbsp. mirin
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups snap peas or snow peas (I used a bit of both)
1 clove garlic
Pinch of crushed red pepper

Combine teriyaki and soy sauce. Put short ribs in the crock pot and pour teriyaki mixture over the top. Cook 6-8 hours until tender. Remove from crock pot and pull meat apart using two forks. Set aside.

In a zip lock bag or shallow bowl combine vinegar, mirin, sugar and salt. Add carrots and toss. Set aside and stir or turn every once in a while.

Cook rice according to package directions.

Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add a bit of oil and stir fry veggies, garlic and crushed red pepper, until crisp-tender.

Build your bowl with a bed of rice, topped with short ribs, pickled carrots and snap peas. If desired, drizzle with a bit of rice vinegar, soy sauce or sriracha.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

CSA Week 1: Bowties with Fava Beans, Morels and Mascarpone

We loved this recipe from this week’s CSA box (see this post for this week’s box contents). The morels were not in the box, but I bought them at farmer’s market the same day. I had never tried them, and they are not always available, so I thought it would be a fun treat. Yeah, I’m a little strange that way. If you don’t have morels, you can substitute shiitakes or crimini mushrooms instead. Although there is no meat in this one, the mushrooms really gave it a meaty quality and using the beef broth (feel free to sub veggie if you are not into beefiness) lended an almost beef stroganoff flavor when combined with the mascarpone. Thumbs up all around.

One thing I’m fairly competent at growing is herbs. I have a nice little start to an herb garden in my back yard. For this recipe you could use whatever fresh herbs you like or have. I happen to love thyme with mushrooms, the earthiness of both just go so nicely together. I also threw in a little basil and chives, because hey, why not?

If you haven’t worked with fava beans, they can be a little more labor intensive than some veggies. They come in big giant pods, so you shell them like peas. Then you blanche them in boiling water for a minute, rinse them with cold water, and then each bean (mine were about the size of nickel) needs to be peeled. It doesn’t take long (the skins come right off due to the blanching), but if you’re in a hurry, feel free to substitute shelled edamame or green peas.

Bowties with Fava Beans, Morels and Marscapone

Bowties with Fava Beans, Morels and Mascarpone

Bowties with Fava Beans, Morels and Mascarpone

1 small onion, diced
1 1/2 cup fresh or rehydrated morel mushrooms
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup fava beans (after shelling)
3/4 cup beef broth
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp. fresh basil, sliced in ribbons
1 tsp. fresh chives, snipped
1/2 cup mascarpone
Salt & pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add fava beans and cook for 1 minute. Drain and rinse with cold water. Remove outer skins from beans. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet to medium heat. Add a bit of olive oil and add onions. Saute for 3-4 minutes until tender. Add mushrooms and garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add fava beans, beef broth and herbs. Turn down heat and simmer for about 5 minutes until liquid is reduced but not gone. If it dries up add a bit more broth or water so there is 1/4-1/2 cup of liquid in the pan.

Add mascarpone, salt and pepper to pan. Drain noodles and add to pan. Gently toss until everything is combined and mascarpone is melted.

Serve with parmesan to sprinkle on top.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

CSA Week 1: Asian Chicken Chopped Salad

I like to eat seasonally, and when possible, locally as well. In my opinion, veggies taste best when they are fresh and ripe, not shipped halfway around the world or grown against their will in the middle of a different season. We’ve all eaten tomatoes in winter and there is a reason they don’t taste like much, they really aren’t supposed to exist! Eating seasonally is also more economical. It’s pretty simple, if you buy whatever is coming out of the fields at any given time, it’s more plentiful, and perishable, so it’s going to be cheaper. A nice side effect in addition to being more tasty and more nutritious.

Every year, I make a sad, mostly unsuccessful go at growing some sort of garden. I like to try. I enjoy getting my hands dirty and seeing things grow and eating veggies fresh off the plants. But reality is harsh. I am a terrible gardener. I am neglectful and ignorant and ungifted in this area. For the time and money I invest, I get a very low yield in return. So this year I wised up and joined a CSA – Community Supported Agriculture. Basically, you sign up with a farm for the growing season and receive a weekly share of whatever happens to be getting picked that week.

When I did the math, it added up to a lot less than I would normally spend at farmer’s market or planting my own veggies. Another positive was that I would receive a variety of things that maybe I wouldn’t normally choose. I think most of us tend to get in food ruts where we eat the same things over and over. This will force me to try some new things and get creative and it will also require me to actually eat a lot of vegetables, which is something I’m always trying to do. Plus it’s hard to justify eating out all the time when you have a kitchen full of fresh produce that needs to be used. So many good reasons, and you can probably tell I’m just geeking out over my weekly mystery boxes. It’s going to be like Chopped in my kitchen every week!

So I thought I would share my CSA boxes with you and a few of the things I’m making with mine. Maybe you are a member of a CSA yourself, or maybe you are a good gardener, or maybe you just like to shop seasonally at your local farmer’s market. If so, then you’ll probably be coming across some of these same ingredients.

In my week 1 package from Sun Gold Farm, I received a huge head of leaf lettuce, kale, spearmint, a stevia plant, cabbage, fava beans, snow peas and sugar snap peas. Most of this I’m pretty familiar with, except the fava beans (tried them once before) and the stevia plant (not really sure what to do with that – for now I just planted it).

Want other week 1 recipes? Check out Rice bowls with slow cooker short ribs and snap peas, or Bowties with fava beans, morels and mascarpone.

 

Week 1. I was told this was going to be the "lightest" week, both in quantity and weight.

Week 1. I was told this was going to be the “lightest” week, both in quantity and weight. It was still a lot of stuff!

I started off with something easy and familiar that would use several ingredients. I find that the kids (and myself) are more likely to eat kale when it’s mixed with other things, and cut small. Slicing it into thin ribbons here worked very nicely! I tried to chop just about everything a similar size so when you scoop it up you get a little bit of everything on your fork.

Asian Chopped Chicken Salad

Asian Chicken Chopped Salad

Asian Chicken Chopped Salad

6-8 cups chopped cabbage
6-8 leaves of kale, sliced or chopped into thin ribbons
1 pound chicken thighs
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
1 cup snow peas (remove strings and chop into bite sized pieces)
1 can mandarin oranges (drain but reserve juice)
2-3 carrots, shredded
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
2 tbsp. soy sauce or tamari
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 cup crunchy chow mein noodles (optional)

Combine chicken thighs and teriyaki sauce in a zip lock bag or small bowl and let marinate at least 30 minutes.

In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup reserved mandarin liquid, soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine cabbage, kale, snow peas, carrots, oranges and almonds.

Heat a large skillet or grill pan to medium high. Cook chicken thighs 4-5 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Remove from pan and dice into bite sized pieces. Add to the big salad bowl. Pour in dressing (start with about half of it and add more as needed) and toss together until everything is lightly coated. Top each serving with crunchy chow mein noodles for garnish.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,