Posts Tagged ‘CSA’

Yesterday I steamed my arugula, since a 2nd bunch had arrived in the farmshare before we finished the first. I’m not sure what I’ll do with it, but now it won’t wilt and spoil before I get there. I’m thinking pureed into some kind of chilled soup, maybe with potato and a little fruit for sweetness.

That still left a rather full salad drawer. But today was my annual day of forgetting to wear sunblock while spending several hours in midday sun. It was probably even in the bag we brought to the pool, but somehow that didn’t help my sun exposure much. So by dinner time I had that slightly sleepy feeling I get from sun exposure, and I did not require any convincing at all when the youngest family member voted for pizza.

But those greens in the drawer! Could I neglect them for yet another day? While waiting for the pizza I got a plentiful bunch of greens into the salad spinner and placed them in two of our bowl-shaped plates, chopped up a small orange tomato into half-wedges and sprinkled them on top of each plate, and sliced one of the plentiful cucumbers onto the salad plates as well. Last came slices of goat cheese from the farmers’ market, and some vinaigrette dressing with basil. (Picky eater’s version: some lettuce and some cucumber slices, undressed.) The salad, in a dinner-sized plate, wasn’t really a side, but the meal felt more substantial accompanied by some pizza.

So remember to ask yourself, even if it’s takeout – would you like a salad with that?


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I wait for this every summer

I don’t mind gazpacho, but I don’t love it enough to even make my own – so many other things I love my tomatoes for.

Here’s one of them – panzanella, aka Italian Bread Salad – also well suited for a no-cook dinner for August. I’m sure this one was invented
for similar reasons as gazpacho, although maybe with kids who are less entertained by all the fine chopping – this one you can zip through quite
quickly between requests for Mama.

My version:
for the dressing/marinade:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic
1 minced shallot
salt and pepper

2 ripe tomatoes, cubed, with all their juice
1/2 cup or so shredded basil
other leftover non-crunchy vegetables of choice – cooked zuchinni, peppers, eggplant, etc (or you could cook them just for this, if you want!)
red onion slices, if you want
chopped black olives – I like oil cured
4 cups or so cubed bread – either stale, or lightly toasted. I love to use supermarket-issue Italian breads cut into thick slices, then cubed, and then toasted. But I’m sure it would be great with a heartier, denser bread if you prefer that.

First mix up the dressing, and put the tomatoes, basil, and other vegetables in it to marinate for a bit. Meanwhile, toast the bread if you haven’t already. Toss the bread in with everything else, let it soak up the flavors and liquid, put it in the fridge if you are doing it early in the day or serve (ideally wait to serve it for at least 15 minutes or half an hour.) Tomatoes do not always benefit from time in the fridge, but actually this is quite good and still tastes like super-fresh tomato even the next day, if you can keep it around that long. Maybe it’s the vinegar?

This makes a big bowl, but 2 adults (at least 2 adults like us) plus a picky child who gets the components before they all sit in each others’ juices can still finish it off for dinner.

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Today it’s cool out, and I’ve got some free time for cooking, though I’m also a bit scatterbrained. I was tired enough at lunchtime that I almost called for takeout instead of figuring out what to eat from our fridge – but then I came to my senses and remembered that a) I feel better when I actually cook things; b) we have a farmshare that needs to get cooked…. oh, and c) the takeout place we were thinking of calling seems to be closed today.

Since Pasta Pisa is excellent at of chicken/eggplant parm subs on really good bread, and since my search for protein that could defrost and cook quickly yielded some more of the humanely-raised local veal cutlets, I decided to make lunch be some locavore-inspired “veal parmigiana” sandwiches :

round white bread from the bakery down the street
melted Asiago cheese from the farmers’ market, made in Foxboro
a small quickly sauteed veal cutlet
slices of tomato from the farmshare
plus a little sage from the plant on the back porch

The rest of lunch was a quick sliced cucumber salad from a small cucumber and a half of another one that needed salvaging, and leftovers of the bean salad I made over the weekend. I purposely made the sandwiches on half a giant slice of bread, rather than using twice as much meat/cheese/tomato etc.

Meanwhile, since it was cool out, I also roasted some fennel using a simple recipe I’d made note of recently (coat fennel in olive oil, salt, balsamic vinegar, roast 15-20 minutes until starting to caramelize – done.) And stuck some barley into the rice cooker to cook till later.

So now in addition to having cooked something yummy for lunch, I can add to the fridge: 5 or 6 cooked veal cutlets of various sizes, a container of roasted fennel, and a container of cooked barley, all to become components of meals later in the week, in some combinations that will occur to me later when I think about what I feel like making for those other meals.

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Today’s lunch, which I always feel brilliant for remembering each summer, was fresh vietnamese spring rolls which each of us could make ourselves.
Ideal for picky eaters, or at least the picky eater in our household, who loves just about every form of raw vegetable, loves to eat with her hands, and hates
sauces. Also, ideal for using up some raw vegetables while getting a break from salad, and making an entree out of foods you don’t have to cook.

The rice paper wrappers “cook” one at a time in a shallow bowl of hot water that you can heat up in the microwave.

The rest of the fillings can be entirely raw, though we also cooked some matchsticks of zucchini and spring turnip because they seemed like they’d go nicely but would be better cooked. It did add 5 minutes of frying pan heat to the kitchen, but that wasn’t so bad. (Guess who needed some zucchini raw for her plate, though?)

Our ingredients, spread out on several plates:
* sauteed matchsticks of zucchini and spring turnip
* plain tofu cut into thin rectangular strips
* Chinese cabbage cut into ribbons
* chopped scallion
* mint leaves from the backyard

We made a sweet sauce based on a jar of black bean sauce for the inside, and a sweet and sour sauce based on garlic, fish sauce, sugar, and rice vinegar to dip in, though we mostly poured that over our bites too because we’re not so great at rolling things up neatly. Tastes good anyway, and it’s fun to make your own rollups at the table!

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I think I’m finally getting better at figuring out what to do with those boxes that are nearly all stuff you eat raw in a salad. I don’t want to speak too soon – it’s harder to eat all that lettuce when you’ve been getting it for several weeks than it is when you have been eagerly awaiting fresh vegetables for months. But I’m turning my box into more substantial meals so far this week, and I haven’t even gotten very far into to the cooking greens yet.

Last year I figured out that I love those little white spring turnips sauteed in butter, even though they say they’re good enough to eat raw. And I do. I love them sauteed even more than I love the fall/winter turnips sauteed, which is a lot. They’re gone now.

We have been eating a lot of salad, too, but I managed to make a meal out of salad and more greens vegetables by serving the salad alongside a green fritatta. (That wasn’t from the farmshare box, though, I still had some farmers’ market spinach and broccoli to use up.)

And today I was quite pleased with my raw not-salad lunch – a sandwich of melted cheddar cheese (would have been even better if it was *nice* cheese rather than a supermarket brick, or really nice bread…) with a thinly sliced radish, a little honey mustard salad dressing from a bottle, and about as many leaves of arugula as I could fit and still eat the sandwich.

Tonight’s plan will be either swiss chard and potatoes with some protein (maybe very old fish in the freezer), or komatsuna and rice and maybe some tofu or beans.

I’m also hoping to make quick pickles with the remaining radishes to serve with leftover tongue sandwiches, and to try making fresh pasta with assorted cooking greens based on an idea I found over at A Bushel of What? (a blog I’ve just started following – yup, everybody else has a blog about cooking yummy things with local food, too. Her tastes seem to match mine.)

And that is how I hope we will get through the week without eating “cooked greens with a side of salad” every day. What about you?

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frozen vegetable stock

I like to make vegetable stock when I have more vegetables than I know what to do with, or something that’s getting a little long in the tooth.
I usually make 3-5 quarts at a time – once in a while a little more or even a little less.

This is my first batch where I planned for some of the vegetable scraps came from the freezer – leek greens, parsley stems, and celery tops, primarily. I’ll definitely be continuing to save these things in the freezer so I don’t need to have the full mix of vegetables on hand! Add some parsnips that I had a few too many of (I didn’t realize that was even *possible*, last year!), and some carrots, brown in the bottom of the stockpot in some oil, and then add plenty of water to make the stock. I also added a leftover cooked butternut squash half we weren’t going to eat. Transfer to the freezer and make matzoh ball soup later, or add to stews and sauces.

Simple Vegetable Broth

  • 5 carrots
  • 3-4 parsnips
  • celery greens
  • leek tops
  • parsley stems
  • any other vegetable that’s getting tired or even already cooked
  • 5 quarts of water
  • salt
  • 2 Tb oil

Brown the vegetables in the oil, letting them develop some good brown spots. Then add about 5 quarts of water and let simmer for 2 hours or so until it tastes good. Spoon broth into containers through a sieve, refrigerate, and freeze. You can reserve the parsnips and carrots to eat – they’ve given a lot of their flavor to the broth, but still have a bit and I presume a bit of nutritional value, so why throw them out?

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Switching my weekly menu

I used to have two aunts, The Aunts, who were old-school homemakers, back when you could get a Masters degree in homemaking. I wish I’d had enough sense to grill them when they were alive because I feel certain they could have taught me some things.

One of the things that they did was have a meal for every night of the week. Which meant that on Fridays, they had hamburgers and iceberg-lettuce salads, and on Mondays they had (I think) spaghetti, etc. I’ve never been able to do that, but I have adopted the idea and adapted it for my own use.  Instead of having a strict schedule, per se, I tend to have a rhythm.

Since Jen was speaking of that recently, I thought I’d let you know what I do.

Monday, I like soup. Fast soup, not long-simmered braises. Often lentils with bacon sprinkled on top. Sometimes butternut squash soup. Occasionally, if I’ve thought ahead, bean soup, like pasta fagioli.

Tuesdays, on the way home from preschool, I pick up some sort of pasta from Dave’s Fresh. Usually some sort of ravioli — often butternut squash in the fall or sweet pea in the spring — but not always. Served with some sort of green, maybe some bread, it’s a pretty good dinner. Sometimes, I do carbonara. I love carbonara and have the waistline to prove it.

On Wednesdays in the fall, I get lamb sausage from Marianne and roast some orange vegetable (sweet potato or winter squash).

On Thursdays, Wang’s Fast Food delivers. Sometimes, RedBones delivers.

Weekends are pretty mixed around here, but autumn Sundays often find me with a long, slow braise that I start after breakfast. That braise serves for lunch for my husband for much of the week.

With the close of the Farmer’s Market, the menu shifts somewhat. It’s going to depend, I think, on the new winter CSA. I didn’t buy nearly enough lamb sausage to keep that going throughout the winter, so I’ll need a new Wednesday meal. (Lamb sausage may be making an appearance in the lentil stew, though, because it’s actually cheaper than the local bacon I can buy starting in a week or so.)  I think I may try to add a homemade pizza on Friday nights, with lots of veggies and a salad. If I do that, though, I’m going ot have to find Lourde’s mozzarella or start making my own. I’ve got a book on how to do that….

I may add a torta to the lentil soup, too. And maybe I’ll stretch the braise by putting it in a pot pie on Sundays. I’ll let you know.



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