A Vegetable Filled Tortilla Casserole

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I always struggle with the change of seasons. I feel like I’ve just gotten into my groove in the last season when the new one is upon us. But what about all the eggplant and tomatoes I still need to eat?! The warm nights when I sit on my porch and watch the sunset while the kids across the street debate who should be “It”? Reading for hours on the beach, but stopping to walk out as far as possible at low tide and eating lobster rolls? But, I do truly love each and every season. I suppose I can embrace sleeping better during cooler nights, welcoming the added heat roasting and simmering brings into the kitchen, and the wonder that is fall squash (but get the f*$# away from me with your pumpkin spice lattes and cinnamon-sugar rimmed beers) .

This is really a great point in the season, because there are some summer vegetables hanging on while the fall vegetables start to trickle in. This is the point when you actually want to turn on the oven and make roasted tomato and eggplant soup, which seemed like a hilarious jokes at points this summer. Or you can embrace the fall vegetables entirely, and make this easily adaptable tortilla casserole with kale and butternut squash.

This week my share was onions, yellow potatoes, lacinato kale, salad turnips, French radishes, spicy lettuce mix, mint, parsley, eggplant, jalapeños, and butternut squash. I cooked up some Short Creek tsuga sausage, then removed it from the pan and cooked diced radishes and turnips followed by their greens in the delightful drippings, and then served the whole lot over polenta with pecorino (then we ate the leftovers for breakfast with an egg on top and HOT DAMN). The lettuce went into some end-of-season BLTs. Eggplant and cherry tomatoes (from last week) went into a simple roasted dish with haloumi from Smitten Kitchen Every Day Potatoes, parsley, and a leek leftover from last week went into this sheet pan harissa chicken which may be the absolute highest calling for Paul’s potatoes. If you didn’t get around to it last week, you could pickle some onions and jalapeños to top this casserole (or tacos, burritos, chilaquiles, etc).

I used butternut and kale from my share as the main vegetables for this casserole, but it is easily adaptable. You could use corn and spinach as called for in the original recipe, zucchini, eggplant, sweet potatoes, peppers, or whatever else pleases you.

Vegetable Tortilla Casserole

Adapted from Jennifer Farley via Cup of Jo

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 medium onion (mine was ~1 cup when chopped)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 cups crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, or salsa (maybe dial back the spices if you’re using salsa)
  • 3 1/2 cups black or pinto beans (or a mix), rinsed and drained (2 15-ounce cans, or 1 double can)
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 1 small butternut squash
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 8 large corn tortillas, or 14 small taco tortillas
  • 2 cups Monterey Jack, cheddar cheese or both
  • Accouterments: chopped fresh cilantro, chopped fresh jalapeño, sour cream or plain yogurt, salsa, pickled jalapeño, pickled onion

Preheat your oven to 400F. Peel, deseed, and chop your butternut into 1″ pieces. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Roast for 20 minutes, toss, and roast for another 10 minutes. You should easily be able to pierce the butternut with a fork.

Dice your onion, mince the garlic clove, and thinly slice the kale. Heat a large skillet over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onion, and cook until it is translucent. Add in the garlic and cook for about 1 minute more, until it is fragrant. Add the spices and stir so the onion and garlic and coated in them, and then add the kale. Toss until the kale is wilted, then add the beans and crushed tomatoes. Stir to combine and simmer for 5 minutes so the flavors can combine. If it looks a little dry, add 1/4 cup of water.

Make your casserole by greasing a 9″x13″ dish (I used 1 teaspoon olive oil). Add a spoonful each of the tomato mixture and roasted butternut squash so the bottom of the pan is mostly covered. Add a layer or tortillas (I cut some in half to evenly fill the dish), then top with more of the tomato mixture (about 1/4), a large spoonful of the roasted butternut, and a sprinkle of cheese. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, finishing with a the tomato mixture, butternut, and cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Serve with a variety of accouterments for topping.

 

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Three Quick Pickles (Jalapeño, Carrot, Onion)

IMG_6452For this week’s Potter Hill CSA recipe I’m focusing on one of my favorite ways to brighten up a dish: pickles. I’ve never met a pickle I don’t like. While I am perfectly happy to eat them straight out of a jar, their tang, spice, and crunch can so often turn a bland dish into something exceptional. This is also a ridiculously easy way to use a vegetable you may not have an immediate plan for.

Anything can be pickled, so there is no need to limit yourself to just cukes. Pickling also doesn’t have to be an elaborate process with numerous jars and hot water baths. It can be as simple as chopping up a little extra veg while you’re making dinner, filling a single jar, and topping it with a quick brine of vinegar and salt. Thinly sliced pickles will take on the flavor of the brine in as little time as half an hour, and the flavor will continue to intensify with time.

I made my pickles with jalapeños, carrots, and onions. While I stuck to a single vegetable for each pickle, you could certainly mix and match (just cut them into uniform sizes/shapes). Feel free to sub different vinegars and/or spices, or add a touch of sweetness. I specify kosher salt in all the recipes. If you’re using table salt, I would cut the amount in half and then add more to taste.

The uses for these are endless. They can top tacos and burrito bowls, add crunch to sandwiches (breakfast or otherwise), elevate a cheese plate or grilled cheese, or provide contrast in a salad (green, potato, egg, tuna, or whatever). The fun doesn’t end with the pickles though! The brine is also a great ingredient for salad dressings and sauces (like the green sauce in the burrito bowls linked above).

My entire CSA share this week was purple potatoes, onions, rainbow carrots, cherry tomatoes, tomatoes, thyme, eggplant, celeriac, chard, spicy lettuce mix, jalapeños, and a leek. I used onions, carrots, potatoes, and chard in lentil rice bowls with muhamarra from Bowl + Spoon. Potatoes, tomatoes, and more onions went into a lackluster gratin paired with a spicy salad (the fault of the recipe not the vegetables – I should have just made this again). Eggplant topped my favorite pizza (crispy capers! garlic oil!!). I paired my pickles with these super flavorful Vietnamese-style chicken meatballs, which I’ve made before and according to my husband are “dope” (I concur).

Quick Pickled Jalapeños

Makes 1 1/2-pint

  • 1 cup thinly sliced jalapeños (I used 4)
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Combine vinegar and salt and stir to combine. Let sit until the salt dissolves, or heat gently on the stove top or in 30 seconds bursts in the microwave. Add jalapeños to the jar, and pour brine over. Pickled jalapeños will last for a couple months in the fridge, but will soften over time.

Quick Pickled Carrots

Makes 1 pint

You may notice in the photo I used pickling spice, but I only call for mustard seeds below. I love the flavor of pickling spice, but I learned with such a small pickle it is annoying to have to fish out the cloves and allspice berries.  You could use a different spice in mustard seed’s place such as coriander or celery seed. I used a mandoline to julienne my carrots, but you could slice them into coins instead (there will just be less surface area to be pickled).

  • 2 cups julienned carrots (I used 5 smaller carrots, about 3/4 lb)
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional, or add more!)

Combine vinegar, salt, mustard seeds, and red pepper flakes (if using) in a small pot and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then pour over carrots in their jar. Let cool, and then refrigerate until ready to use.

Quick Pickled Onions

Makes 1 pint

A few years ago I got a book from the library on Mexican food that included this genius recipe for pickling onions with just citrus juice. I, of course, did not write down the book title, but this recipe will stick with me forever. I wrote out specific quantities here, but usually I just chop up the onion and squeeze enough citrus juice to submerge it entirely. Will once suggested we use the leftover pickling liquid for a cocktail, which we haven’t done yet…but we will.

  • 2 cups thinly sliced red onion (from 1 onion, about 1/2 lb)
  • 1 cup of freshly squeezed citrus juice (I used 1 orange and 6 limes)

Pour citrus juice over onions. Let sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.

 

Call me crazy, but I planned the food for my own wedding: what we actually did (Part 2)

IMGP7220(The first post in this series is here.)

When planning a wedding, it is important to accept that your initial vision might not completely pan out. I planned my ideal menu, but taking into account the amount of time, help, and space we had, I realized that I couldn’t execute roasting chickens for 90 people.

When discussing what we would do for our rehearsal dinner, we explored ordering BBQ from a nationally renowned smokehouse that happens to be about 20 minutes from where we live.  Their half pans of brisket, pulled pork, and smoked chicken feed 30-40 people apiece and cost $100-150 each.  So we started thinking about that for the wedding instead of the rehearsal. That would be $365 for the main dish for 90 people. BBQ sides would be easy. I have a standard set of favorite side (many I cooked here) and by nature they are easy to make in bulk and stand up to sitting out.

While my initial plan for appetizers was just meat, cheese, and pickles, my mom volunteered to make a bunch of our favorite dips to include as well. I asked all three of my aunts to make desserts, and planned to make the cake myself.

We revised our menu to look like this:

Appetizers:

Dinner

  • Pulled pork (from BTs)
  • Brisket (from BTs)
  • Smoked chicken (from BTs)
  • Cornbread (2 orders – 90 pieces)
  • Marinated green beans (Mom)
  • Coleslaw (me)
  • Baked beans (without the bacon, so it could be a vegetarian main) (me)
  • Mustard potato salad (Mom)

Desserts

  • Coconut cake (me)
  • Peanut butter balls (Auntie Judi)
  • Black Russian Cake (Auntie Judi)
  • Anise ring (Aunt Sandi)
  • Nut tarts (Aunty Ann)
  • Lemon bars (Aunty Ann)
  • Seven layer bars (Aunty Ann)
  • Forgotton meringues (Aunty Ann)
  • Mrs. Buerschaper’s molasses crinkles (Aunty Ann)
  • Gluten-free brownies (Aunty Ann)

Drinks

  • White wine
  • Red wine
  • Champagne
  • 3cross Ronde apricot blonde
  • Cold Harbor Indian Summer
  • Season of Love Saison (a beer we made at Incredibrew in Nashua, NH)
  • Basil lemonade
  • Water

While the names listed after the recipes were the main orchestraters, there were still a lot of other hands moving behind the scenes. My mom planned, tested, shopped for, and executed all the dishes she made, as well as helped me source and organize all of the serving pieces. My mom’s boyfriend, Ken, juiced 80 lemons for the basil lemonade, rolled up all the silverware in napkins, and prepped all of the cheese and salami for the apps.

Will’s parents, Helen and Dave, were with us in the kitchen for the 2 days before the wedding scrubbing 30 lbs of potatoes, trimming 10 lbs of green beans, chopping up peppers and celery to go with dips, getting everyone lunch while we were setting up, running out for forgotten ingredients (how could I forget the Vermont maple syrup?????), and picking up the BBQ. My aunts from both sides of my family, Judi, Sandi, and Ann, made all of the desserts, but also brought the dishes to serve them on and set them up.

(And just to be clear, this is only a list of who helped with food-related tasks. Many other family members and friends helped us sourcing, lending, and setting up speakers, chairs, tables, flowers, lights, etc.)

We did the majority of the shopping on Wednesday, the meal prep on Thursday and Friday, and then all that was left for Saturday was to frost the cake, pick up the BBQ and keep it warm, and set out all of the sides (which I hired catering staff to do). That’s enough on the menu for now, but in my next posts I’ll talk about quantities we actually made, the timeline for all of these dishes, cost breakdown, and what I would change if I did it all again (not much, but you always learn something!).

Photo by Dean Cerrati.

Turmeric noodle salad with crunchy veg

noodle salad

I’ve written before about my annoyance with seasonal creep. We always seem to move to the next season before the current one is over. I love flannel, apples, and warm beverages as much as any born and bred New Englander, but I can wait to embrace them. Even though the school year has started it is still technically summer, and I’m happy to keep eating cold and crunchy things while I can. This salad is a quick dressing, julienned vegetables, and noodles you don’t even need to cook on the stove. Great for the hottest summer days, or those transitional nights when we’re still holding on to later daylight.

My Potter Hill CSA share this week was 1 bunch salad turnips, 1 bunch radishes, spicy lettuce mix, pea shoots, parsley, arugula, 2 lbs potatoes, onions, and cherry tomatoes. Earlier this week I made a light summer lasagna with roasted zucchini, cherry tomatoes, onions and arugula. The potatoes and remaining arugula, along with the spicy lettuce and pea shoots went into potatoes anna and salad, which so delightfully flavorful for so few ingredients, but definitely let it cool a bit before cutting if you want clean slices. Before I decided on this noodle salad I contemplated making this roasted vegetable bowl using potatoes, radishes, turnips, carrots, onions, and the parsley. It would still be an excellent option if the weather cools off again next week.

Turmeric noodle salad with crunchy veg

Serves 4

Adapted from Molly Wizenberg and Heidi Swanson. All sorts of vegetables would be great here. As Molly did in her original recipe, you could add cucumber or cabbage, or some kind of protein. I love Heidi’s idea of adding turmeric to noodles so they become vibrantly yellow, but you could omit the turmeric if you don’t have any.

Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (or, 1 garlic clove grated and 1 teaspoon sriracha)

Salad

  • 1 bunch of salad turnips (4 turnips made 2 cups of shredded)
  • 1 bunch radishes (7 small radishes made 1 cup shredded)
  • 1 large carrot (1 cup shredded)
  • 2 scallions, sliced (mine were huge, so about 1 cup total)
  • 1/2 cup chopped herbs, such as cilantro or basil (Thai, regular, or lemon)
  • 8 ounces of rice noodles
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup peanuts
  • Optional: 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes (raw or roasted)
  • Optional: minced jalapenos

Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake to combine.

Shred or julienne turnips, radishes, and carrots. Slice scallions and chop herbs. Place noodles, turmeric, and salt in a large bowl and cover with boiling water (the noodles should be totally submerged). Stir to distribute the turmeric and insure the noodles don’t stick together. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes and then drain (definitely check after 5 minutes, because thinner noodles will be done at that point). Roughly chop the peanuts.

Toss drained noodles, shredded vegetables (including the tomatoes if you’re using them) , scallions, and dressing in a large bowl. Top with chopped herbs and peanuts. Serve with extra chili garlic sauce and jalapenos.

Big Salads with tzatziki and marinated lentils

IMG_6419 (2)Most often when we get lettuce in our CSA I just make some version of this giant salad. Lentils are always a good quick legume to cook when I get home from work if I don’t have another precooked or in cans. Canned tuna is great, as if leftover roasted chicken. Farro or quinoa are nice additions. I usually go with a vinaigrette for dressing, but the tzatziki here adds enough moisture that I don’t think you’ll miss regular dressing. If your household likes tzatziki as much as mine, you may want to double the recipe to have on hand as a snack with cucumber slices or pita chips. I didn’t have any pita when I made this salad, but that would also be a great addition (or stick the whole thing in a sandwich/wrap!).

My full share this week was lettuce, chard, salad turnips, purple potatoes, lemon basil, regular basil, 2 pints of cherry tomatoes, 1 pound of large tomatoes, carrots, and jalapenos. I’m eating potatoes and chard like this again because its so good (have you made it yet?!).  I’ve somehow made it this far into the season without making salsa, so that will be remedied this week. The turnips and their greens are going to go into a cold spicy noodle situation inspired by this and this (but using the chili crisp I already have in the fridge). Speaking of chili crisp, the reason I made it in the first place was to make these Vietnamese-style chicken meatballs which were SO GOOD and would be an excellent use of your lettuce, carrots, turnips, and jalapenos this week.

Big Salads with Tzatziki and Marinated Lentils

Inspired by Ina and Sprouted Kitchen

Serves 6

I know cucumber sizes can vary widely, but I used smaller cukes that you would get at a farmer’s market and when grated (before squeezing) it was 2 cups of shredded cucumber. I used lentils because I had some and they are quick cooking, but white beans or chickpeas would be great too. I find the tzatziki to be enough of a dressing, but if you need some more zing toss the lettuce with a drizzle of olive oil and some lemon juice before assembling the rest of the salad.

Tzatziki:

  • 2 small or 1 large cucumber (see note)
  • 2 cups plain (unflavored) Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 chopped dill (and extra for garnish if you like)
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Salad:

  • 1 cup French green lentils (sometimes sold as Le Puy)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 small cucumber, chopped
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 head of lettuce, chopped

Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add the lentils. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until tender and then drain.

To make the tzatziki: Grate the cucumber on the large holes of a box grater and set in a fine mesh strainer over a bowl to drain (don’t throw out the liquid!!!). While the cucumber is draining combine the yogurt, dill, garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper in a bowl. Take small handfuls of the grated cucumber and squeeze out as much liquid as you can, adding the dry cucumber to the bowl with the yogurt mixture as you go. When all of the cucumber has been strained stir to completely integrate it with the yogurt. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

After the lentils have drained toss them in a bowl with the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir to combine. Build your salads with lettuce, lentils, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, feta, an artful blob of tzatziki, and a sprinkle of dill.