Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Inspiration - Week 2/2011

In this week's box: Carrots, green garlic, asparagus, salad mix, red oak leaf lettuce, spinach, radishes, rhubarb

It is almost 9:00 p.m. as I write this.  The outdoor temperature is hovering around 90 degrees and the first day of summer is still two weeks away.  Lighter meals sound appealing.

After I brought my box home today, I spent some time dealing with it.  Nothing to be gained by putting off those little jobs.  While our dinner pasta boiled, I whacked off the carrot and radish tops (they will be composted) and bagged up the carrots and radishes.  Then I washed and dried the spinach and oak leaf lettuce - bagged those too.  I put the asparagus in a vertical container with a little water and covered it with a bag. Now everything is bagged and in the refrigerator - I can think about what we can eat this week.

If the name of a dish is in italics, a recipe is below. I also have included a few links to recipes.

Special dinner
Red oak leaf lettuce tossed with simple vinaigrette (walnut oil and sherry vinegar would be very good, along with just a few toasted walnuts)
Roast or grilled chicken (Make some extra so you will have leftovers.  And save the bones to make a little chicken stock - use the green tops and some of the stems of the green garlic in the stock)
Rice pilaf or potatoes or bread  (I am eagerly awaiting the first new potatoes of the year!)
Glazed carrots with mint
Rhubarb sundaes

Soup and sandwich
Green garlic and semolina soup with spinach
Chicken and lettuce sandwiches  (Or make sandwiches with hummus or egg salad)

Not your usual lasagne
Tossed salad (with mixed salad greens)
Asparagus lasagne  (save a few asparagus tips for a composed salad)
(Note: if you don't want to mess with lasagne noodles, you could make this recipe with penne or similar pasta and serve as a casserole.)
Fresh fruit and a few nuts for dessert

Flavors of the Mediterranean
Spinach rice dill gratin (bring leftovers to work for lunch)
Moroccan carrot salad
Pita bread, olives and feta cheese
A few dates or dried figs

Composed Salad and rhubarb cobbler
Salad greens dressed with oil and vinegar
Arrange toppings of your choice on top of the greens. Some possibilities:   smashed radishes;  white beans with olive oil, garlic and parsley or a scoop of hummus; shaved Parmesan or crumbled feta; leftover grilled or roasted chicken; leftover Moroccan carrot salad - you get the idea.
Rhubarb cobbler
Green garlic and semolina soup (with spinach)- This recipe is adapted from one in Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food
Ingredients: 2 quarts chicken stock, 1/2 cup semolina (coarsely ground durum wheat, often used to make pasta), 3 green garlic stalks - chop fine the white bulbs and stems and save the green trimmings for stock), herbs such as fresh parsley, chives or thyme.
Bring stock and about 2-3 T. chopped fresh herbs to a boil.  Slowly add semolina, stirring constantly with a whisk.  Lower heat and cook about another 5 minutes, stirring often.  (You want the semolina suspended, not sinking to the bottom)  Add chopped garlic and simmer another 20 minutes.  Salt to taste.
Optional additions - add some spinach leaves in the last few minutes of cooking.
You can also serve a poached egg in each soup bowl and/or place some shaved Parmesan on each serving.

Glazed carrots with mint
glazed carrots with mint (you could use parsley, dill or chives, too)

The inspiration for this recipe came from Elizabeth Davids' classic - Summer Cooking
I highly recommend you get your hands on a mint plant or two and find a place in a pot or your yard for them.  A small amount of mint, strategically used, can really improve a dish. I will be recommending it often as we go along this summer, I am sure.  Watch out if you plant it in your yard - it can be invasive.
Scrub a pound of carrots (your Featherstone young spring carrots do not need peeling), cut into pieces and cook in a small amount of boiling salted water about 6 minutes (depends on size of pieces - they should still be a bit firm)  Strain (save cooking water for stock) and put into a heavy pan with 2 T. butter.  Simmer gently for a few minutes and then add about 1 T sugar and simmer some more until liquid is reduced and carrots are glazed.  Season with salt and fresh ground pepper and stir in a tablespoon of chopped fresh mint.

Spinach rice dill gratin
Per serving, you will need the following:
1 cup cooked rice (brown is most nutritious.  You could also use another cooked grain like quinoa or barley)
1 cup gently packed fresh spinach
1/4 cup chopped onion - plus a little garlic if you want
1 t. dried dillweed (more if you are using fresh)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese or cottage cheese (optional)
Saute onion until soft, add spinach and saute a few minutes until wilted.  Stir in all other ingredients.  Pour into shallow, greased baking dish (large or individual sized) and bake at 350 degrees until firm in the center.

Morrocan carrot salad
Cut 4 large carrots into matchsticks (large julienne) and boil until they are almost tender.  They should still be a bit crisp in the center.  Drain.
1/2 t. ground cumin, 1/2 t. ground cinnamon, dash of cayenne pepper, 2 T. fresh orange juice, 2 t. honey, 2 T. olive oil, salt to taste.
Pour the marinade over the warm carrots.  Marinate at least a few hours before serving.  Can be refrigerated several days.
Serve with a garnish of chopped fresh parsley and or mint.

Rhubarb cobbler 
This dish is easy.  First make some rhubarb sauce.  See recipe here:  http://cookoutofthebox.blogspot.com/2010/06/tried-and-true-rhubarb-sauce.html
Put about 3/4 cup rhubarb sauce per person in a baking dish.  Make a simple biscuit dough, adding a little extra sugar.  Drop spoonfuls of dough on top of the sauce.  Bake at 400 degrees until sauce is bubbling and biscuits are browned and cooked through. Serve with whipped cream, ice cream, yogurt or plain.
If you need some help with the biscuit part - check this link.  http://cookoutofthebox.blogspot.com/2011/02/hands-on-bakery-in-your-kitchen.html

Smashed radishes
Whack a dozen radishes, one at a time, with a board, mallet or other heavy object - just hard enough to slightly split the radish.  Pour over the following marinade:  1/4 c. rice wine vinegar, 1 T. sugar, 1 T. soy sauce, 1 t. toasted sesame oil.    Marinate at least several hours before serving.

1 comment:

  1. Just to share - I felt guilty thinking about throwing the beautiful carrot greens in the compost. I eat the beet greens, as well as so many other greens. So I did a google search - people eat the carrot greens. So I have put some in the omellete filling (spinach, mushrooms, onion and the greens) - very good. I also tried substituting for parsley in tabouli - also good. And I added the filling for the Russian carrot pie recipe from THe Enchanted Broccoli cookbook - a favorite recipe of mine.