Monthly Archives: September 2015

Roasted Veggie Salsa

Salsa is my favorite condiment. It goes way beyond chips for me. It goes in omelets and frittatas, it goes in salads, it lands on top of chicken and fried potatoes. It gets eggs poached in it like this. I almost always have a batch of it in my fridge. You never know when you’ll need some.

It may be the first week of fall, but the weather is still nice and farmer’s market (at least here in Oregon) still has beautiful tomatoes. All of the ingredients for this showed up in one of my weekly farm boxes and on the grill and into the fridge it went immediately. This is a great way to use up ripe tomatoes if you have a bunch. After you turn them into salsa they last for weeks. If you don’t happen to have fresh tomatoes, or if you read this in the middle of winter when there are no good ones available, just use a can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes instead. It works like a charm, and best of all, you can always have one hiding in your pantry for when the salsa monster rears its head.

This recipe is very similar to my normal, un-roasted veggie version, but kissing those veggies with a little heat and getting that char flavor in there does add more depth and oomph. Take the extra few minutes and give it a shot!

I need more chip to dip.

I need more chip to dip.

Roasted Veggie Salsa

1/3 – 1/2 red onion, cut in big wedges
1 jalapeno (or less if you don’t like it spicy)
4-5 tomatillos, peel husks and wash
3-4 tomatoes (or you can use a can of fire-roasted tomatoes)
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
A handful of fresh cilantro (1/3-1/2 cup or so)
1-2 tbsp. fresh lime juice

Veggies on the grill pan. You could also do them on an actual grill, or under the broiler.

Veggies on the grill pan. You could also do them on an actual grill, or under the broiler.

Heat a grill pan (or grill, or broiler) and coat with cooking spray. Lay out all your vegetables. Let them grill until they are starting to turn black. Turn once or twice to cook on other sides. Your onion may stay in a wedge or it might fall apart. It will be fine either way. Put everything in a blender. Add seasonings, lime juice and cilantro. Blend until everything is chopped and combined. If you prefer a coarser salsa, pulse in a food processor instead of using the blender.

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Marinated Veggie Pasta Salad

The potluck is big in my family. At every family gathering there is a tasty spread, sometimes more varied than others. There was the year of six potato salads. All very similar since we all use my grandma’s recipe with our own little twists. But that’s another story. While I love potato salad, I usually opt to bring something for potlucks that is a little more temperature friendly. Call me paranoid, but mayonnaise-based food sitting out in the sun or at room temperature for hours makes me nervous.

This pasta salad is the answer to all of your potluck questions (or what to eat for your midnight snack questions). It tastes great hot cold or in between. It can be made ahead. As the veggies and noodles marinate in the beautiful vinaigrette, they just improve with time. And you get to use up all the extra veggies in your fridge. There is no downside here. Make this. Make it today. Don’t wait for the next potluck. You will love having this in your fridge.

Marinated Veggie Pasta Salad

Marinated Veggie Pasta Salad

Marinated Veggie Pasta Salad

1 or 2 summer squash or zucchini, diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup sliced red onion
1/2 cup olives, halved
1 tbsp. capers
1-2 banana peppers or sweet peppers, sliced or diced
2 tbsp. pesto
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 package rotini

In a large bowl combine pesto, olive oil, red wine vinegar and capers. Add salt & pepper to taste. Add all veggies, stir to coat and let sit for at least an hour.

The veggies. Marinate at least an hour for the most flavor.

The veggies. Marinate at least an hour for the most flavor.

Cook pasta until al dente. Rinse with cool water to stop cooking. Add to bowl with veggies and cheese, toss to combine. Check seasoning and adjust if necessary. Eat!

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Pear and Poppy Seed Bread

As you can see I’ve lost track of what CSA week I’m on. I’m still getting boxes and barely keeping up with using it all (but doing pretty well!). Overall I’ve been really happy with the box contents, especially the recent addition of melon, pears and apples! The only problem with pears is they ripen quickly after they are picked so we had a few heading over the hill before we had a chance to eat them. To solve that problem, I made a triple batch of this bread, which I turned into two loaves and a dozen muffins. Although I liked the loaves, the muffins went like hotcakes so I will probably make more of those next time. Hotcakes? Hmmm… yes.

Pear and Poppy Seed Bread

Pear and Poppy Seed Bread

Pear and Poppy Seed Bread
(slightly adapted from Cooking Light)

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped peeled ripe pear
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine first 7 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in pear; make a well in center of mixture. Combine buttermilk and next 5 ingredients (buttermilk through egg) in a bowl; stir well with a whisk. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Spoon batter into an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray.

Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

For muffins, spray a muffin pan and bake 20 minutes. Remove and cool on a rack or serve warm.

Breakfast of champions.

Breakfast of champions.

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I Pickled Some Beets and Made Many Salads

Many beets came my way this month. I’m not complaining. I’m a fan of the humble beet, although I know there are many who don’t agree. To use a number of these all at once, and to spare the beet haters in my household from having to eat them, I decided to pickle some.

I have not really ventured into the canning realm, so for me, a quick-pickle was the perfect solution. This was a really simple preparation and made a small batch (although it’s easy to double or triple as needed). Plus the added benefit – they are ready to eat in just a few days!

These two salads are pretty typical in my house. I like sweet and sour and salty together and for me, a salad is only dinner if it is not boring. These are far from that. You can make either with simple roasted beets (or even raw ones sliced thinly) but I really enjoy the pickled beets for some extra zip. They pair well with the sweet pears and salty feta for a very satisfying and balanced bite. Since these are pretty strong flavors on their own, opt for a simple dressing of oil and vinegar to bring out the flavor of the ingredients.

Pickled Beets
(adapted slightly from Alton Brown’s recipe)

2 pounds beets, scrubbed
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
1 cup water
1 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt

On a large piece of foil, put beets in the center. Sprinkle with salt & pepper, drizzle with olive oil and wrap up. Bake at 400˚ for 40 minutes until tender. Remove from oven, let cool, peel and dice or slice. Fill mason jars (I filled two with the beets I had).

In a saucepan, combine water, vinegar, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil. Boil one minute. Pour liquid over beets in jars. Put lids on and put in the fridge. Let them pickle for 3-7 days before eating. They will last about a month in the fridge.

Beet, Pear and Feta Salad

Beet, Pear and Feta Salad

Beet, Pear and Feta Salad

Mixed salad greens
1 fresh pear
1/2 cup pickled or roasted beets
1-2 oz. feta or goat cheese
2 tbsp. walnuts, toasted
Drizzle of olive oil and red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper

Layer ingredients on a plate, drizzle with oil and vinegar, sprinkle with salt and pepper and dig in!

Or change it up ever so slightly for a more hearty dinner version:

Fall salad with mushrooms, beets and pears.

Fall salad with mushrooms, beets and pears.

Fall Salad with Mushrooms, Beets and Pears

Mixed salad greens
1 fresh pear
1/2 cup pickled or roasted beets
1-2 oz. feta or goat cheese
1/2 cup mushrooms (I used shiitake mushrooms but any kind will work)
A few green or black olives
Drizzle of olive oil and red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper.

In a small sauté pan, cook the mushrooms in just a tiny bit of olive oil until slightly softened and warm. Layer the other ingredients on a plate. Top with mushrooms. Drizzle with oil and vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Yum.

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CSA Week 9-12 – Thai Green Curry with Shrimp, Eggplant and Mushrooms

Eggplant. My heart lifts at the pretty sight of them in my CSA box because I think they are beautiful. But then it plummets when I remember that I don’t like them very much, and that even so, I love them compared to the rest of my household. But, part of the challenge with these weekly farm boxes is getting creative and finding recipes that we like despite ingredients that, sometimes, are not our favorites.

So. I decided to use recipes we like as a launching point and just work in some eggplant. Some made their way into Freaking Awesome Quinoa Burgers (largely unnoticed by the masses), and I made a huge pan of Eggplant Parmesan, since that has been our one true eggplant recipe success thus far. Although others ate some without complaint, I’ll admit to eating the majority of that pan by myself over the course of several days. Still my favorite eggplant recipe, and it’s a good one.

While wracking my brain for something new and exciting to do with eggplant, I remembered a Thai cooking class I took a while back where we made green curry with eggplant. We all love Thai food so I thought that would be the perfect thing to try. The homemade green curry paste is the star of this dish and just about anything you throw in with it is going to be delicious, even the dreaded aubergine. The other great thing about this recipe is that it is delicious with or without the eggplant. If you absolutely don’t like it, just leave it out and double up on the mushrooms instead. Personally, I think they both have a similar texture when cooked, and they both really absorb the flavor of the sauce, so I liked it just fine with the eggplant. I also threw in some shrimp just for the heck of it. This was a winner (although yes, I found a few eggplant chunks left at the bottom of Claire’s bowl. I’ll keep working on it).

Thanks to my most recent box, I already have another one of these suckers to cook.  Any ideas?

Green Curry with Shrimp, Eggplant and Mushrooms

Green Curry with Shrimp, Eggplant and Mushrooms

Green Curry with Shrimp, Eggplant and Mushrooms
(Slightly adapted from Hipcooks)

Curry Paste:
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
1/4 tsp. black peppercorns
1/2 thumb-sized piece galangal (or sub ginger), peeled and chopped
2 tbsp. finely chopped lemongrass
3 lime leaves, stems removed
1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves removed from stems, reserve both parts
2 small shallots (or 1/2 red onion)
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. shrimp paste (or sub fish sauce)
1 thumb-sized piece fresh turmeric (or 1 tsp. dried)
5-6 thai green chiles (or more or less to taste)
1 large bunch Thai basil, stems removed
Juice from 1/2 lime
3-6 tbsp. fish sauce
2-4 tbsp. grapeseed oil

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (or chicken, or just leave out the meat)
2 Thai or Japanese eggplants (I used Thai eggplants, but any kind will work, although I think the texture of the smaller ones are nice), cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups mushrooms, sliced or quartered
1 can coconut milk
Additional lime juice, brown sugar, or fish sauce to taste

Homemade green curry paste is where it's at.

Homemade green curry paste is where it’s at.

Make the curry paste: Toast the coriander seeds, cumin seeds and peppercorns. I do this in a small skillet over medium heat until fragrant. Grind the spices in a food processor or spice grinder. Add the galangal, lemongrass, 2 lime leaves, cilantro stems, shallots, garlic, shrimp paste, turmeric, chilies, and most of the Thai basil, reserving some for garnish. Puree until smooth. Add the lime juice and 3 tbsp. of fish sauce to start. You may need to add a tablespoon or two or grapeseed oil to encourage a smooth paste. Taste and adjust the flavorings as needed – more salt from the fish sauce, more sour from the lime, more spice from the chilies. This will make enough paste for this and probably at least one other meal (it freezes great).

Shrimp and veggies. Obviously feel free to mix this up if you don't like these ingredients. Really, you can use just about any combo of meat and/or vegetables you like.

Shrimp and veggies. Obviously feel free to mix this up if you don’t like these ingredients. Really, you can use just about any combo of meat and/or vegetables you like.

Add a bit of olive oil or grapeseed oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add shrimp, eggplant and mushrooms. Stir fry until shrimp start to turn pink. Add one can of coconut milk, bring to a boil, then lower heat. Stir in the green curry paste, a little at a time, until you’ve reached your desired color and taste. Simmer until veggies are soft. Taste for seasoning and add a bit of sugar, lime or fish sauce to adjust the sweet, sour and salty levels to your taste. Just before serving, garnish with reserved cilantro and Thai basil, and a finely sliced lime leaf, if desired.

Serve with rice to soak up that lovely sauce.

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