Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Inspiration - Week #11

In this week's grande box:  sweet corn, tomatoes (yellow pear, red cherry, big and small slicers,  Roma type), zucchini, cucumber (slicers), bok choy, honeydew melon, cilantro, eggplant, leaf lettuce

Corn and tomato season is truly upon us. Embrace it.  I hope you and yours lap up every little drop of red and golden juice and flesh and swallow every toothsome corn kernel.  Compost the cobs and any tomato skins and seeds that you don't eat.  Help build soil somewhere.  It is always a good idea.

I am again recommending BLT's and corn as a menu idea.  Just like last week.  I hope that is not a problem for you.  I personally think that meal repetition is acceptable.  It is comforting.  It is relaxing.  And tell the truth now - how many times has your family had pizza three or four or more weeks in a row?  Or macaroni and cheese?  Or hamburgers or hot dogs?  Or carry out roasted or fried chicken?  And nobody minds.  In fact, most people like to eat the same things over and over. When it comes to food,  most of us are definitely creatures of habit. (Why do you think Saturday morning TV is so full of food commercials aimed at children?)

LEFTOVERS - a challenge
Have you noticed the trend of increasing numbers of retail stores that specialize in "gently used, previously owned, repurposed, reconditioned, vintage (that means old), or recycled" clothing, furniture or household goods?  Buying new is so 20th century.

So why can't we get more excited about cooking our food twice?   The word "leftover" has such a bad connotation.  I think this needs to change.  Until I coin a better word I think I will try "repurposed".  As in "We had some great fried rice last night with some repurposed chicken that we roasted three days ago."

This is all about attitude.   Do not furtively or apologetically heat up leftovers.  Repurpose them.  Think of the leftovers as a platform upon which you will build a whole new taste sensation!  With food just sitting around your kitchen!  You are an artiste!  An innovator!  An imagineer!

If I can do it so can you.  Remember the recipe for roasted cherry tomatoes from last week's Inspiration post?  Well, we still had about a cup of roasted garlic and tomatoes in the refrigerator last night and I needed a meal for three.  So  I repurposed the tomatoes and garlic.  I added about a cup of fresh chopped tomatoes (which also happened to be "leftovers"), a tablespoon or so of olive oil, 1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil and a small amount of salami, sliced into thin strips.  Stirred it all together and voila -- enough pasta sauce for three servings.  We each had a cup of gazpacho for a starter, a simple ear of boiled corn and then the pasta with roasted cherry tomato sauce.    I saved the corn boiling water for cooking the spaghetti, so that was repurposed too. 

See how this works?    I just know you have a cup or two of this or that sitting in your refrigerator - waiting for you to breathe new life into it.  Sometimes you don't need to change the dish itself.  You just need a different context.  Maybe a frittata?  And don't forget soup -- many foods can be repurposed that way.  Wine, broth, perhaps a blender?  Add a little grated cheese and homemade croutons and no one will even know they are eating (sshhhh) leftovers.

Menu ideas for this week (items marked with an asterisk have recipes below)

BLT's Again.   BLT; corn on the cob; cucumber salad.  Since you have fabulous slicing tomatoes AND leaf lettuce in your box - then by all means eat some more BLT's.  You could even get creative.  How about a CLT?  (cheese, lettuce, tomato)  Or a HLT? (hummus, lettuce and tomato)  Or even a TLT?  (turkey, lettuce and tomato)  Or a CBLT?  (Canadian bacon, lettuce and tomato)  Maybe add some fresh dill or cilantro to plain mayonnaise.   Or add a generous dollop of caramelized onions.   Try different kinds of breads.  Toasted, of course.

Summer veggie cooperation.  Cold cucumber yogurt soup (make a double batch - enough for two meals); Mediterranean style vegetable medley* on rice or polenta; sliced honeydew melon.  (If you make rice - make a double recipe so you can reheat it for stir fry another night)

Stir fry of the week.  Chicken (or other favorite protein) and Bok Choy Stir Fry with rice  (Note - To prepare the bok choy, first wash and shake dry - separate leaves to get at any dirt hiding on the lower inside stalks.  Separate stalks and cut diagonally into 1/4 inch slices.  Slice the leaves into strips.  Add the stalks first.  Add the leaves near the end of cooking time - they will cook quickly.  That great big bunch of bok choy in your box will cook right down - don't be afraid to use it all.  Use plenty of fresh ginger and garlic in the stir fry.  Good quality soy sauce and a bit of toasted sesame oil will add good flavor.  I will be talking more about soy sauce tomorrow and about bok choy on Friday.)

If you end up with more cooked bok choy than you can eat - Repurpose it!!  Add some chicken broth and cooked rice or wheat noodles, some chili paste and lime and maybe some fresh bean sprouts and basil or mint and you will have a whole new meal.

Ole.  Refried bean and cheese burritos or tacos or enchiladas,  fresh corn-tomato salsa*; sliced honeydew melon

Kabob Night.  Marinate some cubes of meat in a little oil, garlic and vinegar and lemon juice - overnight or a few hours at room temperature.  Thread on skewers with 2 or 3 inch chunks of corn on the cob, chunks of zucchini and cherry or pear tomatoes.  Chunks of onion are good too. Grill until done over medium coals or flame.  Serve with cold cucumber yogurt soup and rice, barley or bulgar (wheat) pilaf.


Mediterranean style vegetable medley - serves about 6, with rice.  Proportions of vegetables may be varied according to taste or availability.
2 - 3 cups tomatoes, 1-2 cups zucchini squash, 1 cup onion, 1- 2 cups eggplant, 2-3 t. minced fresh garlic, 2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed, parsley, salt and pepper to taste.  (add fresh basil or a spoonful or two of basil pesto if you have it.  If not, some dried Greek oregano would be good.)

Chop fresh vegetables into uniform medium sized chunks (no need to peel). Saute onion, eggplant, squash and garlic in about 1/4 cup olive oil until softened.  Add tomatoes and chickpeas.  Simmer covered in oven (350 degrees) or on top of stove until vegetables are very tender - about 1 hour. Add fresh parsley, salt and pepper to taste.   Can be served hot or at room temperature.  Even better served next day. Garnish with feta cheese if desired.

Fresh corn tomato salsa
Ingredients (amount and size of each to be decided by cook - according to taste and availability)
Chopped fresh tomatoes (squeeze out most of juice and seeds - save for soup)
Chopped onion
Chopped cucumber, peeled and seeded (optional)
Chopped fresh cilantro - about 1/2 cup per 2 cups vegetables
Finely minced jalapeno pepper - more or less depending on desired heat intensity)
Corn kernels (Boil or steam ears of corn, cut off kernels when corn is cool)
Fresh minced garlic (about 1 t. per two cups of vegetables)
Red wine vinegar, lime juice or lemon juice - about 1/4 cup per two cups of vegetables
Salt to taste

1 comment:

  1. I like ALTs, personally (avocado). We also use up both cukes and tomatoes in a greek-ish salad with feta, red wine vinegar, and a pepper or red onion if they're around.