CSA 2010: Week 7, plus a farmer's market visit

Phew! This week was broccoli-free. But they did have 4 heads of lettuce for us, and since we're going to be away for a few nights this week (and I'll admit we still have some lettuce in the fridge from last week), I only took two and placed the others in the donation box for the local soup kitchen.

We also made a stop at the Montgomery farmer's market, where we picked up a few ears of sweet corn, some tomatoes (local, but greenhouse-grown), basil, snap peas, a delicious walnut-blue cheese fougasse, and tart cherries (cobbler tonight, woo!).

The farm haul for this week:

4 heads of lettuce
Kale (I am approaching my kale saturation point for the year)
Chard
Garlic
Cucumber
Basil
Spring onions

Our newsletter said they're hoping to have summer squash and tomatoes in time for July 4th...yeah! Meanwhile, this will be another salad-filled week.

Making a dent in the broccoli

Six heads of broccoli is, well, a lot. And I'm sort of dreading the possibility of receiving more in tomorrow's CSA share. We ate one head steamed, as a side dish with dinner. Another (very large) head got chopped up, sauteed with some extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper, and served over spaghetti. Then I used two more heads to make a broccoli salad.

You know the broccoli salad I'm talking about, right? It always seems to turn up at potlucks and barbecues. Basically, it's chopped raw broccoli tossed in a tangy mayo and vinegar dressing, usually along with some red onion and raisins. Often you see sunflower seeds tossed in, maybe some shredded cheddar, and sometimes crisp crumbled bacon. I've quite liked some of the versions I've tasted, but there's a lot of mayo-induced guilt to be found in that dressing. One version that I found online calls for 1 cup of mayonnaise in a salad containing 6 cups of broccoli. That would make for a one gloppy salad! And all that mayonnaise also made the salad a no-go in our house since the mayo-hating Mr. H. wouldn't eat it.

Until last year, I'd never actually made a broccoli salad myself. Then one day I happened across a recipe printed in a magazine ad for Cabot cheese. I was intrigued by their version of the dressing: plain yogurt stands in for most of the mayonnaise, and honey replaces the sugar. So I went ahead and tried their recipe, and I really liked it. The dressing has a great tangy sweetness, and the combination of crunchy raw broccoli, red onion, dried fruit and sharp cheddar is delicious. Even better, Mr. H. ate it...and had seconds, despite the very small amount of mayo in the dressing!

Here's a link to Cabot's recipe. It calls for either raisins or cranberries; I prefer the flavor and bright color added by the cranberries. It also gives an option of sunflower seeds or walnuts, and I chose walnuts. I skipped the crumbled bacon, but honestly that salty flavor would be a welcome addition here. This is a great summer salad, because you don't have to cook anything. Just chop chop chop, and you're good to go. It's also pretty served in a clear glass bowl. See?

Pre-dressing:


Post-dressing and topping (hmm, not a great photo, but you get the idea):


And another two heads of broccoli bite the dust! Four down, two to go...

Friday night sandwiches: Nutella and banana panini

9:30 AM by Stephanie 0 comments

It was Ryan's turn to choose tonight's sandwich, and he went for gooey chocolate-y goodness. Okay, okay, I'll admit it- he got the idea from me. I've made these sandwiches before. And I certainly can't blame him for wanting to have them again, as they're delicious.

This is an easy one (everything I make these days is pretty easy). Slice some sourdough or french bread about 1/2" thick. Spread one side of each piece with Nutella. Cover one slice w/ sliced banana, and place another Nutella-covered slice on top (Nutella-side down, of course). Brush the outsides with a little softened butter and place in a panini grill till the bread is crisp, and the Nutella is nice and melty. No panini grill? Just cook them like you would a grilled cheese sandwich, in a skillet.

Yeah, it's like eating dessert first. But don't worry, I served the sandwiches with a side of veggies and some fresh fruit!

Next week, it's my turn to choose again- we'll be picnicking at our town's annual fireworks show, so I'll have to pick something portable...

CSA 2010: Week 6.

In this week's share: broccoli galore!

I had the day off today...sort of. It was closing day at Ryan's co-op preschool, which meant lots of cleaning. My job was cleaning all of the cubbies of a year's worth of cracker crumbs, glitter, sand, dried mud and I-don't-want-to-know-what-else.

Anyway, Jason did the honors and picked up this week's share while I was off vacuuming and scrubbing. He even managed it with both boys in tow! And what a share it was:

-Cabbage
-Kale
-Arugula
-Lots more lettuce
-Fresh garlic
AND
-6 heads of broccoli!

You read that right, SIX heads of broccoli! Fitting it all in the fridge was a real chore. I don't even want to know what the people who get family-sized shares did with their 12 heads of broccoli! I have a plan for some of it, but I think some will just get chopped and blanched and stowed in the freezer. Jason's going to be out of town for a few days and there's no way the boys and I can eat that much broccoli by ourselves!

Friday night sandwich night: Island Wraps

7:18 AM by Stephanie 0 comments
Aw, man, I forgot to take a picture!

This week it was the husband's turn to pick our Friday night sandwich. Ryan presented him with a sandwich cookbook and told him he could pick anything except the veggie burgers since that's what Ryan wants to pick on his next turn. So, Jason chose a recipe called Island Wraps, which consist of a quick homemade black bean hummus spread on flour tortillas, then topped with some baby spinach, sauteed plantain slices, and salsa.

Have you ever had sauteed plantains? They're delicious! They're my favorite part of having dinner at our local Cuban restaurant, Martino's. (Well, second-favorite, behind the incredible tres leches cake.) The first trick is finding plantains at the grocery store, and the second trick is letting them get really, really ripe. If you're lucky, your grocery store will carry both green AND ripe plantains. This week, I was lucky, and my store had some that were ready to use: almost all black with just a little yellow left on the peels. To peel them, you simply cut off both ends, then make a slit down the side and gently pull the peel off. I sliced the plantains into 1/4" rounds and let them cook for a few minutes on each side in a hot skillet coated with vegetable oil. Once they are nicely browned on each side, they're removed from the pan and sprinkled with salt.

While the plantains were cooking, I pureed a can of black beans in the food processor along with some tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Very quick and simple. If I'd had good fresh tomatoes and a jalapeno on hand, I'd have made a salsa fresca. But alas, no tomatoes, so I used jarred pineapple salsa. Not bad, but I think fresh would have been better, and the kick from the jalapeno would have been a welcome flavor addition.

I thought these were pretty tasty and definitely a change of pace for the taste buds. Jason liked them too and Aiden enjoyed his baby-sized serving of plantains, while Ryan wouldn't even try the plantains. I should have lied and said they were bananas. Regardless of the rejection by Ryan, I'd definitely make these again.

Chard tacos eaten w/ a fork


(I could've sworn I blogged this non-recipe before, but I don't see it in the archives. I'm happily posting it now regardless, because it's that good.)

Chard is one of the many vegetables that never really made its way into my kitchen until we joined a CSA. Then we began receiving huge bunches of all kinds of leafy greens- chard, kale, collards- that seemed daunting just on the basis of the amount of space they took up in the fridge. (Ever try to stuff an enormous bunch of chard into your crisper drawer? Not happening in my fridge.) So, over the years, I've learned how to use these nutritional powerhouse veggies in a variety of ways. And one of those ways is chard tacos.

I mentioned that Jason just brought me a big bag of fresh corn tortillas. Onions on the counter, chard and a chunk of salty feta in the fridge? Check, check, and check. You don't need much else. Here's what I did:

I sliced up a few onions and put them in a skillet to caramelize. While the onions cooked down, I crumbled the feta into a small bowl. I rinsed the chard and tore the leaves from the ribs, then coarsely chopped the leaves. When the onions were done, I scooped them out of the skillet and into a bowl. Then I heated some olive oil in the same skillet, added some minced garlic and crushed red pepper, and let it sizzle just long enough to flavor the oil. I dropped the still-damp chopped chard into the skillet and tossed it with tongs until it was wilted.

Then I ran into a problem. We like soft corn tacos, rather than crisp shells. I heated my tortillas the way I usually do, in the skillet with some oil, just a few seconds on each side...and the tongs I was using kept tearing holes in them, making them rather useless as taco holders. Who knew there could be a downside to super-fresh and super-moist tortillas? Next time I might try steaming them or just wrapping them in foil and putting them in the oven instead. No big deal though- instead of filling the tacos and eating them out of hand, we just piled pieces of warm tortilla on our plates, mounded some chard and onions on top, and sprinkled with the feta.

This would also be a great dish with the addition of some warm pinto beans, either on the side or as part of the taco, and of course any salty cheese would be welcome here.

The husband brought me a sack of tortillas


...and I feel like such a lucky girl. Jason travels to New Mexico a few times a year for work. Because he is a smart and sweet sort of husband, he brings me stuff when he comes back. Sometimes green chiles, sometimes delightful piñon candy-with-a-kick from Señor Murphy in Santa Fe, sometimes pistachios (red or green chile flavored, of course). And usually tortillas, too. Really delicious freshly made corn tortillas.

Somehow, the corn tortillas I get in the stores here are always dry, and usually pretty thin. But the ones Jason brought home are much more moist, thick, and tender, with a true fresh corn flavor. They're wonderful right out of the bag. Later on we'll make some great tacos and enchiladas with them.

But this day was warm, and by late afternoon it was also quite humid. We'd spent a good portion of the day outside and I was feeling hot and tired. Time for a beer on the deck. And to accompany that beer- homemade chips with salsa. They're so quick to make.

While the vegetable oil heats in a cast iron skillet or pot over medium-high heat, you cut or tear the tortillas into pieces. Set a large plate lined with a paper towel next to the stove and get out a pair of tongs, too. When the oil is hot enough to sizzle a piece of tortilla on contact, carefully slide a batch of tortilla pieces into the oil. After a minute or two, use the tongs to flip the chips over. You want to see them change color by a shade or two, but don't let them get brown. It's a very short distance from brown to burned. When the chips are golden and crisp, use the tongs to remove them to the paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle lightly with salt. It takes just a few minutes to do several batches, enough for a small bowlful of chips.

Few things are better than a cold beer, crisp chips, and salsa. Very few things.

CSA 2010: Week 5

5:13 PM by Stephanie 0 comments

Keeping it green! Not pictured: LOTS of lettuce, kale.

This week's share:

Kale
Chard
Broccoli
Snow peas
Green garlic
Fennel
Lettuce

Really excited about the fennel and broccoli- yum! Looking like the last week for peas- the plants were pretty picked over and sad.

I'm thinking about some garlicky chard tacos for dinner tonight, a gorgeous stir-fry tomorrow night, and my favorite greens and potatoes dish later this week. And salad, of course. Lots of salad.

Pasta with chickpeas and chard


Another dinner that combined pantry staples with our CSA bounty to yield a nice healthy dish. You have to love pasta for the way it's just a blank canvas, waiting to have its bland but toothsome carb-y goodness sparked with whatever flavors you choose. I had a big bag of chard from the CSA, and I needed a quick dinner.

A glance into the pantry led me to a box of rotini and a can of chickpeas. While the pasta cooked in salted water, I cleaned and trimmed the chard. I poured the cooked pasta into a colander, the put the pot right back on the hot stove. Poured in a little olive oil, let it warm up, then added some garlic and crushed red pepper. Waited another minute or so, then dropped in the chard and tossed with tongs until it was wilted, and good and garlicky. Added the drained chickpeas and dumped the pasta back in, then tossed some more, until everything was heated through. A squeeze of lemon, a shower of grated parmesan, and that was that.

Simple snow peas

8:57 PM by Stephanie 1 comments

Between our CSA share and the pea patch in our backyard, I had over a pound of snow peas to work with this week. Everyone should be so lucky, right?

Some of them were slivered and tossed, raw, with slivered radishes, olive oil, salt, pepper, and shaved parmesan. They made a delicious fresh and crunchy salad. And the rest became tonight's super-simple dinner. I blanched the peas for just 30 seconds, then rinsed them in cold water to stop them from cooking any further. Scallions, ginger and garlic sizzled in a mix of peanut and sesame oil in my skillet. Then I tossed in the peas, some diced Soy Boy tofu lin (a favorite fridge staple), sesame seeds and a drizzle of sriracha sauce. Ta-da! Add a side of rice, and you have dinner!

CSA 2010: Week 4

Well, I was wrong when I guessed that we'd see larger quantities of strawberries soon! It sounds like strawberry season is winding down, and the biggest amount we got in any one week was only a pint. So disappointing! In past years we often got 1-2 quarts a week as part of our share. Wonder why the amounts were so much lower this year. Ah well. That's part of being a CSA member- what you get varies from year to year. And I can't complain about the quality- the berries were as sweet and perfect as always.

Our share this week:

1/2 pint strawberries
1 pint peas
1 bunch kale
1/4 lb. arugula
2 heads lettuce
2 bunches scallions
1/2 lb. chard

The berries and lettuce are gone; I'll use the chard tonight in a pasta dish along with some chickpeas and lemon, and maybe make an arugula salad on the side. Thinking about a scallion pesto with some of the scallions...