Charred Green Tomato Salsa

IMG_7015 (3)My final (weh!) Potter Hill CSA share this week was leeks, yokatta na, lettuce, parlsey, delicata squash, sweet potatoes, green tomatoes, red tomatoes, and pea tendrils. The lettuce went into a simple salad alongside Spanish tortilla (made with potatoes leftover from last week). I used the yokatta na (instead of chard) and tomatoes in this delightful crispy lamb with chickpeas and garlic yogurt (I LOVE a good garlic yogurt). Some potatoes and leeks are going into this sheet pan chicken with harissa, but you could always go the classic vichyssoise route. At this point in the season the pea tendrils are a little tougher, so I prefer to cook them before eating. They would be great as one of the greens in rice bowls, or sauteed and added into a frittata. When it comes to winter squash I prefer recipes that have an element that contrasts the sweetness, and the peppery arugula and bitter radicchio in this salad make my heart sing. 

It seems silly to give meal ideas to consume salsa with…but this is a substantial amount of salsa. We ate some of our salsa with chips and on of my absolute favorite meals (which happens to be very festive!): burrito bowls. I made the recipe exactly as shown, with the addition of pickled onions. Tortilla casserole, enchiladas, and breakfast burritos are all meals where I can see this salsa making more appearances. 

Even though the CSA is ending, you can still buy produce weekly from Paul by putting an order in over the weekend and picking up on Monday. Thanks for cooking through the season with me!

Charred Green Tomato Salsa

Makes 1 quart.

I didn’t have any fresh jalapeño when I was making this salsa, but if I did I would have cut it in half and charred it along with the rest of the vegetables (you could remove the seeds for less heat). The fresh jalapeño would replace the pickled, but I would still use some of the brine if I had it. If you don’t have any pickled jalapeno brine, you can sub white vinegar or up the lime juice to 3 tablespoons. Please note this is not a recipe intended for canning (but here is one if you’re looking).

  • 2 lbs green tomatoes
  • 1/2 lb white onion (this was 2 small onions for me)
  • 4 garlic cloves (unpeeled)
  • 1 tablespoon minced pickled jalapeño
  • 1 cup roughly chopped cilantro and stems
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pickled jalapeño brine (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice (mine was from 1 lime)

Preheat your broiler on high, and move your oven rack to the setting closest to the broiler.

Quarter the tomatoes (or cut into eights if extremely large). Quarter the onions through the root and remove the skin. Put the tomatoes, onions, and garlic on a baking sheet and broil for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes check on the vegetables and move them around so they char evenly. Keep broiling and checking in 5 minutes increments until they are all nicely charred but not fully black. You may need to remove the garlic, as it will char much faster than the tomatoes and onions.

While the vegetables are charring, put the pickled jalapeño, cilantro, salt, jalapeño brine, and lime juice in a food processor and pulse to chop (but don’t puree).

When the vegetables are charred let them cool slightly. Peel the garlic, and cut the root ends off of the onions. Put the garlic, onions, and green tomatoes in the food processor and pulse until chunky. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt, lime juice, pickled jalapeno, or brine as needed. Make sure to taste before the salsa is at your desired texture, because you will continue to process it as you add more ingredients. Once the seasoning is to your liking, puree to your desired smoothness and get out the chips.

Cheesy Butternut Polenta with Roasted Broccoli and Cabbage

IMG_20191015_192615364 (3)This dish has serious mac and cheese vibes, but with a bit of a makeover. Roasted brassicas (including broccoli, cabbage, broccolini, broccoli rabe, Brussels sprouts), really shine here, because their slight bitterness is a great counterpoint to the cheesy and slightly sweet polenta. I used broccoli and cabbage because I had both, but you could double up on broccoli or mix it up with different brassicas. It is a great vegetarian main on its own, but could be bulked up with a fried egg, beans, roasted chicken, or sausage.

My entire Potter Hill CSA share this week was broccoli, leeks, salad mix, pea tendrils, perpetual spinach, potatoes, onions, acorn squash, and butternut squash. I used the pea tendrils and perpetual spinach to make these rice bowls from a few weeks ago. Leeks and potatoes went on this pizza, where I subbed sauteed leeks for the onion and used savory from a few weeks ago instead of the rosemary.  Your squash could also be used for my absolute favorite butternut soup with coconut milk. Either (or both) squash would be excellent in this bright fall salad.

Cheesy Butternut Polenta with Roasted Broccoli and Cabbage

Adapted from Dinner.

Serves 4.

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 12 ounces peeled and seeded butternut squash, grated (3 cups)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lb broccoli (1 large head or 3-4 small heads)
  • 12 ounces cabbage (about 1/4 head)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Fresh ricotta, for serving

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Melt the butter in the bottom of a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add in the grated butternut squash, and saute for 5-8 minutes, until it starts to brown. Remove butternut squash from the pot, and add in water, milk, and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer, and whisk in polenta and butternut squash. Stir regularly while keeping at a low bubble for 30-40 minutes. The polenta should be completely soft, with no hard grainy bits or raw corn taste.

Chop the broccoli crown, stem, and leaves (if attached) into 1/2 inch pieces (peel the stem first if the outside is tough). Toss on a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Chop the cabbage into 1/2″ pieces, and toss on a second baking sheet with the remaining tablespoon oil and a 1/2 teaspoon salt. It’s ok if some layers of the cabbage stick together while others separate. This will make for a nice mix of soft and crispy bits. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until browned at the edges, tossing vegetables and rotating pans halfway through.

When the polenta is cooked add the parmesan cheese and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper. Serve polenta with roasted vegetables on top and a dollop of ricotta.

Roasted Carrot and Farro Salad

IMG_20191009_121848637 (3)I was flipping through cookbooks for inspiration this week and landed on a recipe in my perennial favorite cookbook, Dinner, for a farro salad with crispy leeks and chickpeas. It sounded delicious, but also made me think of Smitten Kitchen’s Honey and Harissa Farro Salad. For my ultimate fall salad I decided to combine the two for a hearty, one bowl meal that has sweet carrots, robust harissa, salty feta, tangy lemon, and crispy leeks, united with the heft of chewy farro and chickpeas. It can easily be made vegan by omitting the feta and swapping maple syrup for the honey, and is excellent at room temp for lunch on the go.

My full share this week was cucumbers, tomatoes, yokatta-na, leeks, carrots, onions, potatoes, lettuce, basil, and parsley. The cucumbers went into sushi bowls (I just make a quick pan roasted salmon with soy sauce instead of the packets). The yokatta-na is going into a quick noodle dish with tofu and soy sauce. Any mix of roasted an raw vegetables are great toppings for tofu bowls. My absolute favorite leek and potato soup is a great fall meal if all this rain doesn’t have you in the mood for salad. If you’re looking for a grain-free option for dinner, these root vegetable bowls are filling and so bright tasting you’ll forget the days are getting shorter.

Roasted Carrot and Farro Salad

Adapted from Dinner and The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.

Serves 4 as a main, or 8 as a side.

  • 3 small leeks (about 6 ounces/1 1/2 cups sliced)
  • 1/2 lb carrots (3-4 depending on the size)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 cup farro
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (1 15.5 ounce can)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons harissa
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 8 ounces full-fat feta, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  • 1/4 cup minced dill

Preheat oven to 425F. Slice leeks in half lengthwise and then into 1/4″ slices, then wash and dry. Quarter carrots lengthwise and chop into 1/2″ pieces. On separate sheet pants, toss the carrots and leeks each with 1 1/2 teaspoon oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt (the last 1/4 teaspoon salt will go in the dressing). Spread the carrots out on the sheet pan, while keeping the leeks close together in the middle of the pan so they brown but don’t burn. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring the pans halfway through. The leeks should get charred, but not completely burned. If the leeks are starting to burn clump them closer together.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil with a pinch of salt. Put in the farro, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 30-35 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly.

In a large bowl whisk the harissa, honey, extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add the drained farro, chickpeas, feta, leeks, carrots, feta, dill, and parsley. Stir to combine, taste, and add more salt or lemon juice as needed.

Fall Slaw with Lemon Tahini Dressing

IMG_7008 (3)At first I fear the change of seasons. Did I fit in everything I wanted to in the past season> The answer is always no. But sure enough I come to appreciate the change of pace and all the joy a new season brings with it. Autumn is a time to slow down, bake, and drink tea, while still enjoying some warm days and abundant produce. It is the perfect time to make those crossover recipes with summer ingredients and fall flavors.

My full Potter Hill share this week was Tokyo Bekanna, kale, chard, salad turnips, tomatoes, eggplant, lettuce, peppers, onions, and zucchini. I used the chard and white onions in an autumnal soup with mushrooms and quinoa. The salad turnips and lettuce went into a simple salad paired with crispy avocado tacos. The tomatoes, peppers, and red onion were the base of an epic panzanella from Six Seasons (the tomato was my edit).  Panzanella is not usually my favorite dish, but this one had me rethinking my opinion. I finally got around to baking with zucchini (better October than never!!) and made chocolate zucchini muffins from Good and Cheap (page 21). Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Soup is perfect for this time of year.

Fall Slaw with Lemon Tahini Dressing

Adapted from The First Mess

This is a great base for veggie burgers. I made the sweet potato quinoa patties from the inspiration recipe alongside. These quinoa cauliflower patties and these chickpea cauliflower burgers are also great options. Tokyo Bekanna is a light cabbage that adds great crunch to this slaw without being as fibrous as a normal cabbage. You could use cabbage, chard, or more kale in its place.

  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 bunch kale, stemmed and shredded (about 3 cups)
  • 1 bunch Tokyo Bekanna, shredded (about 3 cups)
  • 1/4 cup chopped dill
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley

Put the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, Dijon, honey, salt, and water in a blender or food processor and blend to combine. Taste and adjust to your preferences. It should be very lemony, as it will mellow on the greens. In a large bowl combine kale, Tokyo Bekanna, dill, and parsley. Top with dressing and massage into the greens. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

 

Bok Choy Rice Bowls

IMG_20190925_121921318 (3)When I picked up my share this week Paul handed me two huge, beautiful bunches of bok choy. They are one of my favorite greens to cook with, and are really two vegetables in one. The leaves are tender and vegetal, and the stems have a great, slightly watery crunch (but aren’t nearly as fibrous as chard or kale stems). I often stagger the cooking of the stems and greens as I’ve done in these bowls so the greens don’t overcook. Besides in stir fries, bok choy is great in soup, or can be roasted to up the crispy factor.

These bowls are my perfect weeknight meal. They come together in the time it takes to cook rice, are packed with vegetables, have a flavorful sauce, and are easily adapted at the table to each diner’s personal preference. (Not everyone likes as much chili crisp as my husband…) I love a good tofu bowl, but sometimes draining, marinating, and roasting is just not what I have energy for.

My full Potter Hill share this week was lettuce, bok choy, eggplant, onions, kale, cherry tomatoes, savory, and apples. I used the lettuce and apples in a big salad with cucumbers and lentils with a green dressing very similar to this one. I just snacked on the cherry tomatoes, but they would be great in couscous salad, a big salad with ranch dressing, or pizza. The eggplant is destined for moussaka, but you could go for vegan teriyaki eggplant (double the sauce) or not-at-all-vegan eggplant and roast beef sandwiches. Kale and apples make for a great autumnal salad. Kale is also one of my favorite greens to pair with eggs (exhibits A, B, and C). I just bought some vinegar powder that I’m very excited to experiment with, and I’m going to dust some roasted potato wedges with savory.

Bok Choy Rice Bowls

Serves 4

Adapted from Dinner by Melissa Clark

Notes: The photo above differs slightly from the recipe below. It was dark by the time I finished cooking dinner, so I waited until lunch to take photos. I forgot to bring the kimchi and sauce to work 😥 so those are absent, and I made a 6 minute egg instead of a fried one. What is written below is how I will be remaking the recipe.

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1¾ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil, divided
  • 1 large bunch bok choy (mine was 14 ounces)
  • 4 eggs

Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

For Serving:

  • 1 cup chopped kimchi
  • 1 scallion, sliced
  • Sesame seeds
  • Furikake (optional)
  • Chili crisp or your favorite spicy condiment (optional)

Bring the water and salt to a boil in a small pot with a lid. Add the rice, stir, cover, and reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 40 minutes.

Put all sauce ingredients in a jar and shake to combine.

Cut off the base of the bok choy if it is a single plant. Separate the stems from the greens. Chop the greens and wash. Wash the stems and cut them into ½” inch pieces (slice the stems in half lengthwise first if they are more than 1″ thick).

Heat a large pan over medium high heat. Add 1½ teaspoons oil, and when hot add the Bok choy stems. Cook for 5 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add the greens and stir. Cook for another 5 minutes until wilted. Place in a bowl and wipe out the pan. Heat and add the remaining oil. Fry the eggs to your desired doneness (I recommend over-easy).

Serve bowls with rice, greens, eggs, sauce, kimchi, scallion, sesame seeds, furikake, and chili crisp.

 

 

Gazpacho

IMG_7001 (3)I found it hard to believe that this recipe wasn’t already posted here. I’ve been making this gazpacho for over 10 years, and it remains my favorite. It has classic ingredients, and with a food processor comes together in about 15 minutes. By design it is a chunky gazpacho, but you can adjust the texture by pureeing some and stirring it back into the bowl (or puree individual portions, if like me, some at your dinner table like a completely smooth gazpacho while others do not. I’ve struggled to get excited about a lot of summer soups, but this one is so refreshing and easy I really don’t think I need any others.

What a bounty! My full Potter Hill CSA share this week was lettuce, radishes, yokatta na, chard, peppers, onions, eggplant, savory, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and large tomatoes. Some of the tomatoes and lettuce went into BLTs, the perfect September sandwich. Cherry tomatoes and onions went into these olive oil fried lentils from Dining In that have a Thai spin to them which were slightly weird, but really good. The eggplant and some greens went into this braised eggplant with minced pork. I’ve been eyeing this cottage cheese salad which uses radishes, tomatoes, and cukes, so that might be on the docket this weekend. Alongside this gazpacho, we had tofu shawarma, which might be the sandwich I’ve made most often in 2019.

Don’t forget all my Potter Hill recipes are tagged at the bottom (including the ones from last year!), so there is always inspiration at the ready for cooking.

Gazpacho

Adapted from Ina Garten

Serves 6

  • 1 large cucumber (~1 lb), halved and seeds removed
  • 2 peppers (~1/2 lb), halved and seeds removed
  • 2 large tomatoes (~1 1/2 lbs), cores removed
  • 1 small red onion (~1/4 lb)
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and root removed
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups tomato juice
  • 1 teaspoon koshers salt
  • A few good grinds of black pepper
  • Hot sauce

Chop the cucumber, peppers, tomatoes, and red onion into 1″ chunks (but keep them separate).

Start running a food processor with an S blade and drop in the 3 garlic cloves. When they stop bouncing around, scrape down the sides of the bowl with spatula, then add in the cucumber. Pulse until the cucumber is chopped, but not pureed (it’s ok if there are some larger chunks lingering – texture!). Removed the cucumber and put it in a large bowl, then one at a time process the peppers, tomatoes, and red onion, adding each into the bowl when done.

Add the white vinegar, olive oil, tomato juice, salt, pepper, and hot sauce (if you please) to the bowl and stir to combine. If you like a smoother texture, return some (or all) of the gazpacho to the food processor, puree, and stir back in to achieve your desired texture.

Roasted Eggplant, Cherry Tomato, and Garlic Pizza with Olives and Savory

img_20190829_120039935_hdr-2.jpg

I feel the same way every year, but this is really just the best time to eat. Perfect tomatoes, beautiful eggplant, vibrant lettuce and greens, sweet corn, tender berries, juicy melon, tart stone fruit and so many other bountiful vegetables are at their peak. My kitchen has been a very happy place this week as I try to cook as much as possible.

As it is apparent from this recipe, eggplant and tomatoes are my absolute favorites. I have a big list of recipes that I have to make for it to truly feel like summer, and eggplant pizza is always on there. I’ve made many iterations (two great versions are in that link), but I especially love this one with the sauce replaced with juicy, tangy, and sweet cherry tomatoes plus the briny contrast of olives.

My Potter Hill share this week was eggplant, beets, savory, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, onions, cucumbers, and coriander. I used one of the eggplant and some onions in a noodle dish with coconut broth from Dinner (my perennial favorite). There was no cilantro left at the grocery store when I went shopping, so I just subbed the coriander from the share in (it was going into a spice paste) and it worked great. I made lamb meatballs with the last onion and paired them with a yogurt dill sauce and a cucumber and tomato salad (from, you guessed it, Dinner). If you’ve craving cooler weather you could use the beets and any leftover carrots from last week in roasted root vegetable bowls. Lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers could all go into this Greek-inspired salad I made last summer.

Roasted Eggplant, Cherry Tomato, and Garlic Pizza with Olives and Savory

This is my go-to pizza dough recipe, and I usually sub half of the white flour for wheat. It is a very wet pizza dough which I spread it on a Silpat on a baking sheet and cook it on the lowest oven rack. If this is your first time making pizza dough, I suggest this recipe for a slightly easier to work with dough. I often use pizza making as a chance to use up any random cheese I have in the fridge, so feel free to try others than I listed here.

Serves 4

  • 1 pizza dough, storebought or homemade (see note)
  • 10 ounces eggplant (1 small), chopped
  • 12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 cloves of garlic (do not remove the paper)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ounces kalamata olives, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons minced savory
  • 4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)

Preheat your oven to 400F. Place the cherry tomatoes, eggplant, and garlic cloves on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes, stir, and bake for another 10 until the eggplant is soft and the cherry tomatoes have shriveled a bit. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Turn the oven up as high as it will go (mine goes to 550F).

While the tomatoes, etc. are roasting spread your dough on a baking sheet (I like to use a Silpat, or you could use parchment paper).

Peel the garlic cloves and chop. Build your pizza starting with the roasted cherry tomatoes, eggplant, and garlic, then the olives and savory, topped with the mozzarella and goat cheese.

Place your pizza in the oven on the bottom rack and cook for 10 minutes. The top should have nicely charred bits and the bottom should be crisp. Remove from the pan and place on a cutting board. (If you are using a Silpat you will need to peel it off before cutting. I just tuck one end under and pull it to the other side. It helps to have someone else hold the pizza put.) Cut and serve with red pepper flakes.

Summer Salad with Ranch Dressing

IMG_6988 (2)The oppressive heat and humidity this week means it is time to embrace no-cook dinners. With the abundance of produce right now salads are the way to go. I love a giant salad made slightly indulgent with homemade ranch (but still a pile of vegetables! with beans! so much fiber!). This one is almost all CSA vegetables, but I couldn’t help but add fresh corn for sweetness, beans for protein, and some red onion for bite.

My full CSA share this week was a pint of cherry tomatoes, tomatoes, leeks, carrots, lettuce, eggplant, shishito peppers, microgreens, zucchini, summer squash, and dill. I did get some extra cherry tomatoes so I could use them in this salad as well as a pasta with fresh tomato sauce (from Dinner, but very similar to this recipe, just without the pancetta) that was so good, paired with baked zucchini and summer squash with breadcrumbs from Dining In. I used the eggplant, plus leftover broccoli leaves from last week in a quick stir fry with this sauce. I’ve been eating the shishitos charred in a pan dipped in a simple aioli (mayo, lemon juice, and salt) for a perfect summer appetizer.

This barbecue chicken salad is also extremely summery meal. Least year around this time I made a summery couscous salad that is an excellent picnic meal or barbecue side. If you have some extra prep time put some effort into making some pickled carrots that will improve your sandwiches and salads for many weeks to come.

Summer Salad with Ranch Dressing

Serves 4

  • 1/4 cup full fat Greek Yogurt
  • 1/4 cup full fat mayo
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice (1/2 a lemon)
  • 2 tablespoons minced dill
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 head lettuce, chopped (about 8 cups)
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 2 ears of corn, kernels removed
  • 1.5 cups beans (1 15.5 ounce can), such as chickpeas, cannellini beans, or black eyed peas
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (about 2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion (from 1/2 small onion)
  • 1/2 cup sprouts or microgreens

Combine the yogurt, mayo, lemon juice, dill, parsley, salt, and pepper in a bowl and whisk to combine. Let sit while you prepare the rest of the salad ingredients.

Prepare the salad by layering all the lettuce, cucumber, beans, cherry tomatoes, onions, and sprouts in a large bowl or plate. Serve with dressing.

Athena Bowls

IMG_6979 (3)When I came home with my CSA share I laid the mountain of vegetables out on my kitchen table and started pulling out cookbooks. I was paralyzed with dinner indecision, but after much perusing I saw a recipe in Plenty  for “mixed grill” with parsley oil, that was essentially grilled eggplant and zucchini with a parsley sauce. I loved the idea but knew that I didn’t have quite enough vegetables for dinner and lunch leftovers. That recipe reminded me of my favorite root vegetable bowls with parsley sauce, which combine starchy vegetables and chickpeas to make a bright meal. Plus there was feta in those bowls, which paired with eggplant screams “Greek!”

This all led to the happy invention of what could be called Greek burrito bowls, but that sounded weird, and since there was no exact Greek dish I was turning into a bowl, it needed a whole new name. And thus we have Athena Bowls! Greek inspired, summery, filling, and vegetarian (easily vegan). Perfect for August, when the humidity breaks enough that turning on the oven is a thinkable act.

My full Potter Hill share this week was eggplant, cherry tomatoes, tomatoes, shishitos, broccoli leaves, fresh onions, cucumbers, lettuce, thai basil and scallions. I’ve been eating the tomatoes and cucumbers in the morning over yogurt with Alison Roman’s savory granola from Dining In and it is heaven. The scallions went into a slaw for fish tacos, and the lettuce is went into BLTs tonight (first of the summer!!) with some charred shishitos and aioli alongside. If you need basil ideas I posted a bunch last week.

Athena Bowls

Inspired by The Mediterrenean Dish

Roasted Vegetables

  • ¾ lb eggplant, chopped into 3/4″ pieces
  • ½ lb cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 oz onion (1 small onion), chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Lemon Rice

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 oz onion (1 small onion), diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ cups of water, plus water for soaking
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Parsley Sauce

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¾ cup parsley leaves and soft stems
  • cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon)
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For serving

  • 6 ounces full fat feta, crumbled
  • 1½ cups cooked chickpeas (from one 15.5 ounce can, rinsed and drained)

Preheat the oven to 425F. Toss the eggplant, cherry tomatoes, and onion on a baking sheet with the olive oil and salt. Roast for 20 minutes, then toss. Roast for another 15-20 minutes, until the eggplant is completely soft with some charred bits.

While the oven is preheating cover the rice in water and let soak for at least 15 minutes, then drain. In a small saucepan heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook for about 5 minutes (the onion should star to become translucent). Add in the rice and stir to coat. Add the 1 1/2 cups of water, cover, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, then remove from the heat and let sit for 10.

Turn on a food processor with an S blade and drop in the garlic cloves. Let them process until you can no longer hear them bouncing around, then turn it off and scrape down the sides. Add the parsley and salt and process until minced. Turn on the food processor and stream in the olive oil and lemon juice until it is a uniform sauce. Alternatively, mince the garlic and parsley, then stir in olive oil, lemon juice, and salt.

To serve prepare bowls with rice, chickpeas, roasted vegetables, feta, and parsley sauce.

 

 

Two Herbal Citrus Summer Refreshers

IMG_6963 (3)When I picked up my share this week Paul (friend and farmer at Potter Hill) handed me two bunches each of lemon basil and holy basil and said “Here is your challenge for the week!” Apparently a lot of his customers aren’t sure what to do with these wonderfully fragrant herbs, so challenge accepted! My go-to preparation takes advantage of each of their unique flavors to make quick, but impressive summer refreshers: lemonade and limeade. These aren’t sugar packed, pucker-inducing ades, but truly refreshing summer beverages. They are easily adapted with different herbs, like mint and lemon verbena, or even heartier herbs like thyme and rosemary (for those I would scale back to ¼ cup). For a drink more like a soda use seltzer in place of the water, or turn them into cocktails by adding some gin or vodka. 

My entire share this week was the basils, lettuce mix, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, bok choy, fresh onions, and a bunch of carrots. The cherry tomatoes and bok choy went into a tofu curry from Melissa Clark’s Dinner (a very similar recipe is here). I used the zucchini and peppers in this wonderful, summery pasta with fried lemons (lemon basil would be great here too). The remaining peppers and onions were sauteed and served atop cheddar grits with some Short Creek poblano and cheddar sausage. The carrots are about to go into an Indian stir fry with coconut from Vegetarian India to be paired with dal.

Still looking for basil ideas? Summer rolls are one of my favorite hot weather meals, especially when paired with peanut sauce. Holy basil is an essential ingredient in classic Thai chicken stir fry Pad Kra Pao. Or give your pesto a twist by using lemon basil. And don’t forget to serve a refresher alongside!

Lemon Basil Lemonade

Serves 4

Adapted from Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison.

  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ cup lemon basil (regular basil can be substituted)
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 4 cups water

In the bottom of a pitcher muddle the lemon zest, sugar, and lemon basil until the basil is very fragrant, but the leaves are still intact. Add the lemon juice and water and stir to combine (make sure all the sugar isn’t sitting on the bottom). Chill for at least 30 minutes, and strain to serve.

Holy Basil Ginger Limeade

Serves 4

Adapted from Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison.

  • zest from 2 limes
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ cup holy basil (regular basil or Thai basil can be substituted)
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger (peel before grating)
  • ½ cup lime juice
  • 4 cups water

In the bottom of a pitcher muddle the lime zest, sugar, holy basil, and grated ginger until the basil is very fragrant, but the leaves are still intact. Add the lime juice and water and stir to combine (make sure all the sugar isn’t sitting on the bottom). Chill for at least 30 minutes, and strain to serve.

Charred Onion Dip

IMG_6957 (4)Discovering that onion dip is something you can easily make yourself is life changing. Alton Brown was the first to show me this possibility, and while his recipe is good, it is not fast. When my mom discovered this recipe in Bon Appetit, everything changed. We started requesting it at every family dinner, and she even made enough for 85 people to serve at our wedding. It has all the creamy richness you want to slather on a chip, but tastes fresher than your usual onion dip because the onions are cooked hot and fast instead of low and slow, so they retain some of their bite. I would tell you to double this recipe, but know that people will eat as much of this dip as you put in front of them.

My share this week was leeks, cauliflower, lettuce, basil, cilantro, fresh onions, zucchini, and eggplant. The lettuce went into a giant salad I served with these buffalo veggie burgers and bleu cheese dressing. Eggplant and leftover bok choy from last week went into noodles with sesame sauce and chili oil. If you have any cucumbers, this smashed cucumber salad is both fun to make and delicious. The basil and zucchini went into this easy pesto bean dish.

Charred Onion Dip

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Serves 4-6

I adapted this recipe to take advantage of the fresh onions with their greens attached in my CSA share. If you don’t have fresh onions, you could use a shallot and scallions as the original recipe calls for. I don’t have a grill so I haven’t tried this yet, but I imagine you could halve the leek and onion bulb, and grill them along with the onions greens, then slice everything, instead of the slice first then broil method outlined below.

  • 1 fresh bulb onion, quartered and thinly sliced (3 ounces/¾ cup)
  • 1 ounce (1 cup) thinly sliced fresh onions greens (reserve a few for garnish)
  • 2 small leeks, dark greens removed, halved and thinly sliced (2.5 ounces/1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • ½ cup full-fat mayonnaise
  • ½ cup full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice (this was ½ a small lemon for me)
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Potato chips for serving

Heat your broiler to high. On a baking sheet toss the onion, onion greens, and leeks with the olive oil and season with a hefty pinch of salt. Broil for 5-10 minutes total, checking after 5 minutes and monitoring closely. You want significant char on the onions, but not to turn the whole pan completely black. When the onions are done, remove from the oven and let cool.

While the onions are charring combine the garlic, mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, lemon juice, buttermilk, and pepper in a bowl. Add the cooled onions and stir to combine. Garnish with the reserved onion greens and serve with potato chips (Cape Cod Kettle Chips are my favorite).

 

Green Rice for Burritos or Whatever You Please

IMG_6937 (3)This week feels like such a relief after the hot weekend. I even went so far as to roast vegetables for dinner tonight! I love roasted summer vegetables, but the opportunities to make them seem few and far between so they should definitely be embraced. This side is a great way to add a ton of fresh greens into a colorful side dish.

My Potter Hill share this week was red cabbage, basil, fresh onions, perpetual spinach, bok choy, zucchini, cauliflower, and lettuce. I used the red cabbage and lettuce to make an epic Cobb salad with my favorite bleu cheese dressing. It is the perfect time to make pesto (classic with basil, or mix it up with other herbs/greens!). Its the perfect time of year to make a batch of peanut sauce for the freezer to pair with summer rolls.

I put this green rice into burritos with roasted vegetables (zucchini, cauliflower, and onions), black beans, avocado, sour cream, and hot sauce. It would be a great side for tacos or chile rellenos, or a base for burrito bowls.

Green Rice

Adapted from Rachel Ray

Serves 6-8 as a side

  • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves and stems
  • ½ pound tender greens, such as spinach, chard, young kale, or perpetual spinach
  • ¼ cup chopped green onion tops, scallions, or chives
  • 2 limes, zested and juiced
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 cups of brown rice, cooked (from 2 cups uncooked)

Place the cilantro, greens, chives, lime zest and juice, half a cup of water and a tablespoon of oil in food processor or blender and process into coarse green paste. Stir the green paste into your cooked rice until it is thoroughly coated.

Zucchini salad with herb yogurt dressing

IMG_6902 (3)If you have been slow to accept zucchini as noodles – I hear you. I was too, and I am still very wary of vegetable noodles completely replacing traditional pasta in dishes. But (but!) vegetables noodles have their own place in the world. Especially raw, they have great crunch and can hold dressing well, making a mean summer salad that will have you wishing for more zucchini instead of lamenting another one.

The Sprouted Kitchen salad that inspired this recipe was the first time I accepted zucchini noodles into my kitchen, and here they are to stay. Sara’s recipe calls for an anchovy or capers, and once I decided to use up the two anchovies I had left in a jar (because would 1 more make that much of a difference?). Well, that is now the infamous fishy salad that I will likely never live down. So, capers it is for us.

My full share this week was a head each of cauliflower and broccoli, carrots, two bunches of basil, a zucchini, fresh onions, and pea shoots. I simply stir fried the cauliflower and broccoli to serve alongside this fiery kung pao tofu. The pea shoots, some carrots, and a cuke leftover from last week went into cold Sichuan sesame noodles. If you have leftover broccoli stem this salad is a summer favorite. This is not a CSA related recipe, but since we are heading into a HOT weekend I want to point you towards by favorite popsicles that are just three ingredients (coconut milk, lime, and honey!).

Zucchini salad with herb yogurt dressing

Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen

Serves 4-6 as a side

  • 2 lbs summer squash (I used one large zucchini)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ cup whole milk plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup thinly sliced onion greens or scallions (this was .7 ounces for me, about ½ the greens from one fresh onion)
  • 1 cup chopped basil (this was 1 ounce for me and came from one small bunch of basil)
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers

If using a mandolin, you may want to cut the squash in half and scoop out any of the middle that is especially seedy and spongy. Julienne peelers and noodle makers cut from the outside in, so this isn’t necessary with them.

Using a mandolin with a julienne attachment, a julienne slicer, or a vegetable noodle maker, turn your squash into long, thin, noodle-like strips. Put the strips in a colander, toss with the 1 teaspoon salt, and toss to coat (note that a lot of water will drain off the squash, so you will need to put a bowl or plate under it to catch the liquid). Let sit for 20 minutes.

While the squash is draining, make the dressing. Turn on a food processor with the S-blade and drop in the garlic clove. When the clove stops bouncing around turn off the food processor and scrape down the sides with a spatula. Add in the yogurt, lemon juice, vinegar, onion tops, basil, and capers. Process until smooth and taste for seasoning. Alternatively, finely mince the garlic and herbs, chop the capers, and whisk to combine with the yogurt, lemon juice, and red wine vinegar.

Squeeze any extra liquid out of the squash, and when ready to serve toss with the herb yogurt dressing. Once dressed the salad will last a day or 2 in the fridge, but it is best immediately.

Nose-to-Tail Broccoli and Tofu

IMG_6897 (2)The star of my Potter Hill share this week was a beautiful head of broccoli with the stem and leaves attached. This crown jewel is actually three vegetables in one – slightly vegetal leaves, the crunchy stems, and the meaty florets. All three parts get worked into this recipe along with a rich sauce made with just three ingredients – soy sauce, molasses, and black pepper. Frying tofu does take a bit of time, but it makes for a delightfully crispy addition to this dish. I adapted this recipe from one in Dinner by Melissa Clark, which I’ve mentioned before and still turn to regularly for interesting, easy, and vegetable forward dinners.

My full share was a bunch of fresh onions and their greens, Red Russian kale, cabbage, a bag of lettuce, beets, a whole head of broccoli (leaves attached), cucumbers, summer squash, and basil. I used kale and some cabbage to make a caesar salad, and the broccoli and onions went into the tofu dish below. I used the summer squash and basil to riff off this pasta with fried zucchini, replacing the pasta and mozzarella with tortellini, and adding in some arugula. Lettuce, some cabbage, a cucumber, and some pickled turnips from a few weeks ago went into this salad, which was excellent ( I especially loved the preserved lemon). I haven’t gotten to my beets yet, but my favorite way to eat them is shredded and raw like in this salad or this amazing sandwich with sweet potatoes and feta.

Nose-to-Tail Broccoli and Tofu 

Serves 6

Adapted from Dinner: Changing the Game by Melissa Clark

If you don’t have fresh onions with the greens attached, use the same amount of sliced shallots in place of the bulb and scallions in place of the greens. I wrote this recipe to utilize all parts of the broccoli in our CSA share, but you could substitute another hearty green like bok choy, yokatta na, perpetual spinach, collards, or kale for the leaves. If you’re not into tofu, you could sub chicken, pork, or beef cut into 1 inch chunks, but leave out the cornstarch.

  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 package (14 to 16 ounces) firm tofu, drained, patted dry, and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • ¼ cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 small fresh onions and their tops, bulbs halved and thinly sliced (about 1½ cups/5 ounces) and green tops thinly sliced (about 1 packed cup/1½ ounces) (see note)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 small head of broccoli head with stem and leaves still attached (see note)
  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
  • Cooked brown rice, for serving (I cook ¼ cup per serving, so a total of 1½ cups)

In a large wok or skillet heat the oil over medium-high. Toss the cubed tofu with the cornstarch until it is well coated, then fry in the hot oil until it is crisp, about 10-15 minutes. Stir every 3-4 minutes so the sides brown evenly. When the tofu is crisp remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon onto a plate lined with a towel to drain.

While the tofu is cooking, prep the broccoli. Separate the leaves from the broccoli head, and then remove the stem from each leaf (these are tough and can be discarded). Thinly slice the leaves and set aside. Cut off the stalk from the broccoli crown (the leafy part of the “tree”), and using a knife or vegetable peeler remove the outer layer. To ensure you’ve removed enough, cut off a slice and try it – it should be crunchy but not tough. Quarter and slice the stalk, and cut the head into 1 inch florets (the 1 inch being the width of the top of the “tree”). 

Pour off the remaining oil from the pan, and return the to pan on medium heat. Melt the butter, then add in the sliced onion bulbs, garlic, and ginger. Cook for 5 minutes, until the onion starts to soften. Add the red pepper flakes, stir, and cook for a minute more.

While the onions are cooking, prep the sauce by whisking together the soy sauce, molasses, and freshly ground pepper in a bowl.

Add the broccoli stem and florets to the pan, stir, and cover. Cook for 5 minutes, then add in the greens, stir, and cover again. Cook for another 5 minutes, or until the greens have fully wilted. Add the sauce and tofu to the pan and toss until the vegetables and tofu are thoroughly. Serve over brown rice with extra chili flakes.

Fattoush

IMG_20190701_192719600 (3)Fattoush is a Syrian salad defined by the pieces of fried flatbread in it and sprinkled sumac. Lettuce is the base, with other crunchy vegetables included. I know it seems wrong to turn on the oven to make a salad, but one taste of your fresh, homemade pita chips will convince you otherwise. This seems like a lot of oil for the pita chips, but that is what makes them stay crispy.

IMG_20190701_181040847 (3)My complete share this week included lettuce, parsley, cabbage, Red Russian kale, radishes, turnips, basil, and bok choy. I doubled this salad for 8 meal servings, so I used up all the lettuce (plus some leftover from last week), radishes, and turnips. I used the radish greens, turnip greens, and boy choy cooked with some Short Creek green garlic sausage, served over polenta with parsley and garlic. If you still have any greens around, I finally made this spanakopita which was unbelievably good (I used couscous as the mix in and it worked great). I’ll probably use the cabbage for a classic barbecue slaw, but this lo mein is a favorite (vegan) cabbage dish.

Fattoush

Adapted from Soframiz

Instead of thinly slicing the vegetables you can dice them for a more textured salad. If you don’t have pomegranate molasses and/or sumac, up the lemon in the dressing significantly. It should be very tart when you taste it alone, and will mellow on the salad. I also threw a handful of sprouts in the salad as I wanted to use them up. This is a great salad to use up any vegetables that taste great raw. I added in the chickpeas to make this a more filling meal, but if you just want this as a side salad you could leave them out.

Serves 4

  • 2 pitas (mine were about 8″ across)
  • 10 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons sumac
  • 2 salad turnips, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 3 French radishes, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup chopped parsley (a large handful)
  • 9 ounces of chopped lettuce (about 8 cups, or a large bowlful)
  • ¼ English cucumber, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas

Preheat the oven to 375F. Slice the pita bread into 1″ squares. Place pita pieces in a large bowl and pour 6 tablespoons of olive oil on top. Massage the pita so that all of the oil coats the pieces and is absorbed. Spread on a baking sheet and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Bake for 20 minutes, tossing the chips and rotating the tray halfway through. Allow to cool. (Try not to eat them all.)

In the same large bowl (no need to wash) make the dressing by whisking the pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, and remaining salt, and then slowly whisking in the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the turnips, radishes, parsley, cucumber, lettuce, sumac, chickpeas, and pita chips. Toss to combine.

If you don’t want to serve the whole salad right away, store the pita chips, vegetables, and dressing separately, and combine just before serving.

Chicken Meatballs with All the Greens

IMG_20190626_194153751 (3)Though I won’t, I could easily turn this blog into one only about greens. It’s the category of vegetable I most crave when I want something healthy, and they can improve just about anything. I also happen to love stretching out meals that normally rely entirely on meat with a strategically added vegetable, and these meatballs can handle a surprising amount of greens. They are easy, flavorful, and adaptable, which are the three attributes most important to me in a recipe.  There are a lot of greens packed into these meatballs, which does make them more delicate, but since they are small and cooked quickly under the broiler you really don’t need to handle them much.

My share this week included lots of lettuce, perpetual spinach, yokatta na, Red Russian kale, French radishes, Hakurei turnips, pea greens, dill, parsley. I used some lettuce, and pickled radishes and turnips to go into tofu banh mi. Though beets aren’t around yet, this kale salad would be great with sliced turnips and/or radishes, and this kale salad is always a good idea (turnips/radishes could also be substituted for the broccoli stem). If the meat in this recipe turns you off, I’ve made and loved these Green Falafel Bowls.

Chicken Meatballs with All the Greens

28 meatballs, or 6-8 servings

Adapted from Molly Yeh

This recipe can go a lot of different directions. I changed up the spices to my liking, as can you, and see the inspiration recipe linked above for another take. These could also be made into burgers and grilled. Turkey, pork, or beef could all be substituted for chicken. I served them with the tahini sauce in the original recipe (which I didn’t love) and a salad alongside with lettuce, radishes, salad turnips, and parsley. These would go great with tzatziki or a similar yogurt sauce.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the baking sheets
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 2 cups/8 ounces)
  • 10 ounces of finely chopped greens (I used a mix of perpetual spinach, yokatta na, and turnip greens)
  • 1 handful of parsley, chopped (½ cup)
  • ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 ½ lbs ground chicken (preferably ground thigh meat if you can get/make it)
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat (it needs to be large enough to fit all the greens). Once hot add in the oil, then the onion. Saute for 5-10 minutes, until translucent and beginning to brown at the edges. Add in the greens, in a couple batches if necessary, and stir. Cook for 5 minutes, until the greens have wilted, and let them cool slightly.

Put all of the remaining ingredients in a large bowl, then add in the cooled onions and greens. Mix until just combined (use a light touch, otherwise you will have tough balls).

Coat 2 baking sheets with olive oil, then form the meat mixture into golf-ball sized meatballs (you should have about 28). Space them evenly on the baking sheets, then broil each sheet for 5-7 minutes, until they are nicely browned. Break one apart to check doneness, and pop them back in the oven if the meat in the middle isn’t opaque.

 

 

Red Lentil Coconut Stew with Greens

IMG_20190617_194602370

Hello, summer! This is the second year that I’m writing recipes for Potter Hill Farm‘s CSA. Each week the CSA members will get a bag full of awesome and varied vegetables, and I’ll post a recipe using those exact vegetables. Because I can’t help myself, I’ll throw in some other ideas for what to cook as well. To make the recipes easy to find, they are all tagged Potter Hill. If you weren’t lucky enough to get a spot in the CSA, you can still buy Potter Hill vegetables at Monday pick ups or at the Grafton Farmer’s Market. If you don’t live near Grafton, you can shop at your local farm or farmer’s market.

If you’re new this year, a little bit more about me can be found in last year’s intro post. The short version is I’m a home cook who loves vegetables. I’m not a vegetarian, but I am passionate about all of us finding more ways to incorporate great produce into our diets. Even if you aren’t a CSA member, I hope you come here to find interested and delicious ways to put vegetables on your plate. While it’s great if you want to follow my recipe exactly, I’m just as happy inspiring you to adapt my recipes with what you have or tweak them to your preference. Besides here, you can find me on Instagram and Facebook.

IMG_6803 (2)

This week my share had spinach, radishes, Red Russian kale, Yokatta Na, lettuce (mixed), and perpetual spinach (left to right, top to bottom). Besides this stew, I made Priya Krishna’s Saag Feta (using a mix of spinach, perpetual spinach, kale, and Yokatta Na), used lettuce in Tofu Shawarma Pita Wraps, and made a simple salad with lettuce, dill, and radishes to accompany a frittata. This is the time of year to embrace recipes that use an absurd amount of greens that you would balk at buying the rest of the year. Spanakopita is high on my list, plus old favorites beans and greens and greens with eggs, garlic yogurt, and chili butter.

For this stew I riffed on Alison Roman’s Spiced Chickpea Stew with Coconut and Turmeric. I didn’t have chickpeas, so I used red lentils which could quickly cook in the coconut milk/broth mixture. Cooking the lentils in the broth cut out the initial frying step, so this comes together in about 30 minutes. Though it’s called a “stew,” it is most definitely not a heavy affair.

Red Lentil Coconut Stew with Greens

Serves 6

  • 1 tablespoon coconut or olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 15-ounce cans full fat coconut milk
  • 4 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 1 lb greens, chopped and washed (I used a mix of spinach, perpetual spinach, and Red Russian kale)
  • Salt
  • 1 cup fresh soft herbs (such as basil, mint, or cilantro)
  • 1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced (about 1 cup total)
  • Lime wedges

Put a large pot over medium heat (remember all the uncooked greens need to fit in the pot too). Add in the oil. When the oil is hot, add in the onion, garlic, and ginger. Saute for 5 minutes, until the onion begins to soften.

Add in the turmeric, red pepper flakes, and a big pinch of salt. Stir to combine and cook for 1 minute (it should be wonderfully fragrant). Add in the broth/water, coconut milk, and lentils. Bring to a simmer and cook (covered) for 20 minutes.

Taste the lentils to ensure they are cooked through, and adjust the seasoning if needed. Add in the chopped greens, stir as best your can, and cover. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until wilted (stirring once to help all the greens get in the stew).

Serve with herbs, radishes, lime wedges, and extra red pepper flakes.

Date Night Menu for Anytime

IMG_20190214_080440398Five years ago yesterday, I was on my way home from my fifth date with Will. We had gone to see a free movie screened at a local college, and I kissed him for the first time on top of a parking garage (I know, I am great at romance). During the drive I asked him when he wanted to get together next:

Will: “How about Friday?”

Me: “…..Isn’t that Valentine’s day?”

Will: “Yeah. Who else would I spend it with?”

I’ve never had any particular affinity with this weird Hallmark holiday, but I assumed anyone on their fifth date would be wary of spending a sixth on a high pressure holiday in a forced romantic environment with someone they weren’t sure about yet. But I was wrong. Thankfully, we both had the same vision for a great Valentine’s Day: dinner at home. We could be exactly as romantic (or awkward) as we wanted to be, and not have some terrible and expensive prix fixe meal.

And thus, our first Valentine’s Day together was also the first time I cooked Will dinner. We’ve done something similar every year since. No cards, jewelry, or boxes of chocolate. Just an excuse to enjoy a great dinner at home and each other’s company.

This is the menu I made for that Valentine’s Day. Just to be clear, I don’t make crackers for our date nights regularly (I guess I was just feeling extra that first time). That first year I tasked Will with bringing a bottle of white wine and dessert. I don’t repeat the same menu every year, but I usually make something a little special or different. One year it was steak frites, and this year I’m going to make either these cumin lamb chops of Korean-style fire chicken. Let’s reclaim Valentine’s Day as an excuse to have a great date night in. And if it doesn’t work for you to celebrate this week, there are 51 others in a year so take your pick!

Appetizer:

Dinner:

Dessert

  • 1 slice of chocolate cake and a chocolate bar (both purchased from Wegmans)
  • Rock Art Russian Imperial Stout (we still have the bottle from this, which is pictured at the top)

A Strong Opinion on Nachos

img_20181229_121822870There is a plague upon our nation. It has infected restaurants and homes coast to coast. People, everywhere, are eating terrible nachos. The start with a base of vibrantly tri-colored chips that are red, black, and white, which are always under-salted and have more in common with cardboard than corn. The chip base is piled high and then topped with huge handfuls of shredded cheese, as if the chips are a fire the cheese is trying to smother, so the majority of the chips are cheese-less and then a select few are drenched. Sliced black olives, which always taste reminiscent of the can they came from, are strewn about and cemented to the cheese, so they are impossible to extricate. There may be some protein, like a cup of chili or shredded meat dumped on top. Tiny cups of salsa, sour cream and guacamole are served alongside (or worse, dolloped on top where they create soggy sections and are hard to evenly distribute), but are never in appropriate proportion to the nachos.

Why do we live like this?????????? The concept of nachos is so simple. Perfect, even. Crunchy chips, melted cheese, flavorful toppings. Mix and match sides that can add heat, spice, and more flavor. Infinitely customizable and perfect for crowds.

WE CAN DO BETTER. I am not of the opinion that nachos require a recipe, but following some basic principles can ensure you make great nachos no matter what toppings you choose.

It all starts with cheese: Monterey jack, pepperjack, and mild cheddar are all nice, mild, and melty cheeses. I am not into making cheese sauce for nachos because that’s a big step for a dish I prefer to make out of leftovers, but you could do that too.

Add some heft. Black or pinto beans, beef, chicken, carnitas, and chorizo are all excellent protein options (or go for a combination like chicken and beans). Whatever it is should be precooked and chopped small. This is an excellent time to use something leftover from another meal.  If necessary you could leave protein off, but this is one of the components that really takes nachos from good to great.

Be bright. Have you watched Salt Fat Acid Heat yet? Samin tells us that all foods need to be balanced by an acidic component and she is right. All of that heavy cheese, protein, and chips can fall flat without it. My favorite additions are pickled jalapenos and pickled onions. Canned green chilis could work in a pinch too.

Contrast is good: Crunchy shredded lettuce or cabbage are great additions after cooking. Chopped cilantro is also welcome.

Plain, not mountain. Mountains make it very difficult to get an even distribution of toppings on all chips. Lay this chips in a single, flat layer so they are just slightly overlapping. Two layers of chips if you really must, but there better be cheese in between.

Wet equity. Everyone deserves to top their nachos with exactly the wet toppings they desire. Serve salsa (various heat levels if you can), guacamole, and sour cream or Greek yogurt on the side with spoons. That way the chips don’t get soggy, and all eaters can apply their perfect topping ratio to their own chips.

The nachos pictured above were made with shredded cheddar and leftover carnitas. When they came out of the oven I topped them with chopped pickled onions, pickled cabbage, and cilantro. Salsa, guacamole, and sour cream were on the side. All of the toppings I used were taco leftovers, just add chips and cheese.

 

 

Still More Cookbooks for You and Other People

all cookbooksCookbooks are back. Well, they never left, but popularity waned. It has been oft cited this year that cookbook sales are up over 20%. As you can see from the catalog of links below, I would agree that cookbooks are a valuable use of your funds and shelf space. I love food blogs as much as the next food blogger for the instant gratification, the ease of sharing recipes, and the variety you can find (all available for free!). But, a cookbook is a person and a moment in time committed to paper. Cookbooks are recipes, techniques, and stories literally bound together for both cohesive narrative and lessons. They are beautiful inspiration. The link to your favorite recipe never breaks, and you can keep the page to a recipe open and save your phone from getting caked with raw egg and flour.

Cookbooks can also make wonderful gifts. I have an extensive collection, but have limited my suggestions here to cookbooks I truly use all the time and have also gifted myself. I still own and love all of the cookbooks I wrote about previously, so be sure to look at past year’s lists as well (they are all linked to at the bottom).

But, maybe you aren’t into buying people things, or you don’t have the cash to do so right now. I’ve also given homemade cookbooks with a collection of my favorite recipes. Use a binder, some spray paint or cool paper (purchasing is not necessary, you could just use a brown paper bag and draw/stamp on it!), and fill it with dividers. Print out your favorite recipes and load them in! You could do a specific theme too, like one year I made my mom one with all soup recipes because she makes lots of soup during the winter for our family.

good and cheapGood and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/day by Leanne Brown. Brown wrote this cookbook as part of her masters in food studies to help people on SNAP cook healthy, flavorful, and interesting meals. She released the cookbook as a free PDF (which you can download through the link above), but if you buy a paper copy her publisher will donate a book to someone in need. The book is available in English and Spanish. These reasons alone would seem like enough to earn a recommendation, but what is most important is the book is full of solid, easy to follow, and delicious recipes. She is truly a master of taking cheap basics and reworking them in many dishes.

This book is best for: people who may not be comfortable in the kitchen yet, people who are not into long ingredient lists or fancy techniques, students, people who like saving money.

Favorite recipes: poutine, peanut chicken with broccoli and coconut rice, coconut and lime brown rice pudding.

IMG_6535Smitten Kitchen Every Day by Deb Perelman. I approached this book cautiously when it came out last year. Could I possibly love and cook from it as much as I had Deb’s first book? It is still early to tell (I’ve had her first book for six years), but I think the answer is yes. Like her first cookbook this one has a wide range of types of recipes with everything from breakfast to salads to vegetarian mains to dessert (it is not an exclusively vegetarian cookbook, but many recipes are). Her recipes are always well written, and are interesting but feel very achievable on a weeknight. While I am not in the business of recommending cookbooks for a single recipe, the street cart chicken and rice alone makes the book worthwhile to me. I’ve written about my love for this recipe before, and for my husband’s birthday this year I quadrupled the recipe for a party and it was a huge hit.

This cookbook is best for: busy people with a wide palate, people who aren’t afraid to try a new ingredient or technique, your best friend, bakers, part or full time vegetarians.

Favorite recipes: street cart chicken and rice, skirt steak salad, spaghetti pangratto with crispy eggs, pizza beans.

homemade kitchenThe Homemade Kitchen by Alana Chernila. This book is just so lovely. It is Chernila’s second book (I recommended her first, The Homemade Pantry, in my first cookbook post way back in 2014) and the chapters are based around inspirational mantras, like “start where you are,” “eat outside” and “do your best, and then let go.” The recipes range from simple and perfect for a beginner like roast chicken to more complicated projects like making tofu. Many of the recipes have ideas for other variations to adapt to your tastes or the season. Chernila is empowering, reflective, and an excellent teacher.

This cookbook is best for: people who love cooking and talking about why they cook, beginners who need encouragement, parents, people who like to cook for crowds.

Favorite recipes: quick pickled cabbage, chicken pot pie, kimchi breakfast tata, spoon butter.

IMG_6543Dinner: Changing the Game by Melissa Clark. I got this out of the library last year, and knew immediately it was the perfect book for my mom. The recipes are incredibly varied and vegetable heavy, but each recipe constitutes an entire meal. I bought it for her birthday and she loved cooking from it, and then bought it for me for Christmas last year (how is that for a gift endorsement??).  I’ve been cooking for work more and more, and while I still love planning elaborate meals I’ve found myself with less energy to do that during the week and just needing to figure out something for dinner. This book delivers with straightforward recipes that are never boring. Clark does rely on some more exotic ingredients to get maximum flavor from simple recipes, but just about every one can be found at a well-stocked grocery store.

This cookbook is best for: your mom, people who like flavor-packed ingredients like harissa, anchovies, and vinegar, busy people who like interesting food.

Favorite recipes: olive oil-braised chickpeas, harissa chicken, red curry and coconut tofu.

Are you still not convinced that cookbooks are the right gift for yourself? Or maybe you need to buy a gift for the friend who lives in a shoe box apartment with no room for a cookbook shelf? This year I started subscribing to New York Times Cooking and I will never look back. Sam Sifton has entirely transformed the Cooking section to be an extensive catalog of recipes that is easily searchable and save-able in your “recipe box.” The staff (including the great Melissa Clark and Alison Roman) publish great recipes and long-form pieces regularly. It is $5/month or $40/year.

Past Recommendations: