Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Inspiration - Week #4

The landscape is green, green, green right now in Fillmore County.  Though we are tired of all the rain and it makes farming a lot more complicated  - the river mist, lush vegetation, and low hanging clouds are quite beautiful.  Kind of like living on King Kong's island.   Your CSA box is green, green, green too.   (Except for some white onion and some boxes will have beets)   In your box this week:  romaine lettuce, spinach, sugar snap peas, broccoli,  Orro Blanco sweet white onions, parsley, and garlic scapes.  I predict some excellent meals in your future.

I continue to choose meal ideas that mostly do not require a lot of extra ingredients or vegetables that are not in your box.   I hope this way you have no trouble making use of everything and you can spend less time shopping and more time chopping.  And it is nice to be able to taste and appreciate each vegetable in its own right.  I say if you have A+ broccoli - then let it be the star of the show, not just a bit player.   You probably will have to pick up some extra garlic and maybe a sweet red bell pepper and some potatoes and a fresh lemon depending on what you decide to try.  If you don't have fresh ginger at home, don't forget to put that on your list.  Sooner or later you will need it.  For me it has become a staple like olive oil and garlic.

Make sure you have rice on hand, too.  Two of the meal ideas for this week include rice.  If you do both, make extra rice the first time to save time another day.  Reheated rice is just fine I think.  (Certainly ten times better than Minute Rice!) Add a little water and heat gently. Fast food.

Don't forget omelets or frittatas as an option this week.  For a weekend brunch or quick easy supper, eggs with vegetables like spinach, onion or broccoli are a lifesaver.  Add a little cheese and herbs and some good bread on the side and life is good.

The parade of lettuce continues.  If you have a salad story, recipe or picture to share, join the discussion on the Featherstone Facebook page.  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rushford-Village-MN/Featherstone-Fruits-Vegetables/80513594952?v=app_2373072738

Meal ideas:  As usual, dishes with recipes included at the end of this post are marked with an asterisk.

Caesar Salad*(no need for bread since the salad includes croutons).  I think I would have ice cream for dessert after this meal

Stir Fry - with sugar snap peas, onion, garlic scapes and choice of meat or other protein; Korean Romaine*
This is a "snap" - Highly recommended to add a few teaspoons each of minced fresh garlic and ginger to almost any stir fry.  Oyster sauce would be good with these veggies.

Long-cooked broccoli with pasta*; Simple lettuce side salad;  Fruit and cheese for dessert (a few nuts would be nice, too)

Grilled or broiled marinated beef, pork or chicken; chimichurri sauce*, steamed new potatoes, simple lettuce side salad; steamed sugar snap peas or broccoli or spinach

Curried chickpeas with spinach and red bell pepper*; rice; raita*

Caesar Salad
If desired, you can add a broiled chicken breast just like they do in the restaurants.  Or some broiled salmon or other fish.  There are a lot of bad Caesar salads to be found in restaurants.  Sometimes they think that if you just pile shredded parmesan and croutons on romaine and maybe squeeze on a little lemon then you can sell it as a Caesar.   Too bad.  You owe it to yourself to make the real thing.  This recipe has good instructions for coddling an egg - which is an important step in an authentic Caesar salad.  http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/caesar-salad-i/Detail.aspx  If you hate anchovies you could leave them out.  A compromise would be to use a bit of anchovy paste.  A hint of anchovy flavor is most desirable in a Caesar salad.  I am not crazy about anchovies but I do like some in a Caesar salad.

Korean Romaine 
Note - the head of romaine in my grande box was quite large.  You might be able to divide your romaine and make both caesar salad and Korean romaine.  Find recipe here:   http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Korean-Style-Romaine-351894

Long cooked Broccoli with pasta
This recipe is from Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food.  If you follow this link you will find the recipe as it appears in the cookbook.  The recipe is printed after some blog commentary, including a nice riff on the beauties of broccoli stems.  (Aren't I confident - linking you to the competition?  I am not worried.  I know something about what you have in your refrigerator.  They don't. ) Anyway, I suggest throwing in a handful or two of chopped parsley into the broccoli before or after you cook it.  And some chopped garlic scapes wouldn't hurt either.  I would cook those along with the broccoli.  http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2009/12/alice-waters-long-cooked-broccoli-recipe.html

Chickpea and spinach curry
Saute some chopped onion (add some carrot or potato or both if you have some) and red bell pepper in clarified butter or oil for a few minutes, then add your favorite curry spices.  You can use a plain generic curry powder or a curry paste (can be found in cans in Asian markets).  Many cookbooks have lists of various spices that can be combined in a curry, including things like turmeric, coriander, mustard seed and cayenne.  After spices have cooked in the oil for 5 minutes or so, add fresh spinach. You can include stems and leaves, whole or coarsely chopped.  Add chickpeas - about 1/2 cup per desired number of servings.  If you have coconut milk, it is a great addition to a curry.  If not, water or stock will also do.  Add your chosen liquid.  Cover and cook over medium low heat until flavors are blended and vegetables are tender.  Serve over rice with raita on the side.  You can garnish with some chopped peanuts for extra protein and flavor (and calories!)

Raita (rah-ee-tah)
Combine plain yogurt with finely chopped sweet onion and parsley.  Peeled and chopped cucumber (remove seeds if they are large) is also a good addition to raita.

Chimichurri sauce
I will be talking about parsley- and chimichurri -  in Friday's Focus post.  If you can't wait, here is a short discussion about chimichurri and a good basic recipe.  http://www.asadoargentina.com/parsley-garlic-chimichurri-recipe/This is a great way to use a lot of parsley.  Traditionally served with beef and is to Argentina what ketchup is to America.

Bonus recipe - Sugar snap peas with asian dressing
Wash and prepare snap peas by breaking off the little stem end and pulling off any tough "strings".  Bring water to a full boil, add peas and boil for 30 seconds.  Drain and rinse with cool water.  Set aside.
Dressing (double the recipe as long as you are doing this.  Then you will be ready for another meal.  This is a good all purpose dressing)
Mix together: 2 T. rice vinegar, 1 T soy sauce, 2 t. toasted sesame oil, 1 T (packed) light brown sugar, 1 t. (maybe less) salt, 1/2 t. fresh ground pepper. (optional  - red pepper flakes, 1 t. grated fresh ginger, a few tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro)
Pour dressing over snap peas.  About 1/4 cup dressing to 2 cups snap peas - but that is a personal preference.  Serve on a bed of torn lettuce if desired.  Or serve over rice noodles, add chopped peanuts or some other protein and you have a meal.

Tomorrow:  Dig In - Pesto

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