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.

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.

Watermelon, Tomato, and Cucumber Salad with Feta and Lemon Basil

IMG_6336What is more summery than this salad? Ripe berries eaten off the bush? Kids running through a sprinkler? Fireflies? There may be a few contenders, but the list is short. One step further than eating each of these ingredients straight (which is a wonderfully summery thing to do as well), this simple salad plays up each component’s attributes by contrasting with the others. Crunchy cucumber, meaty tomato, and sweet watermelon, are excellent foils to fragrant lemon basil, slightly pickled onions, and salty/creamy feta bound together with fruity olive oil.

This is my Potter Hill CSA recipe for the week, and everything in the salad except the cucumber is in the share (the cucumber is also from Paul, I just bought it separately). The rest of the share was 2 pints of cherry tomatoes, husk cherries, purple potatoes, and savory. I’m going to use the rest of the lemon basil and red onion in these soba noodles (and I’m going to sub nectarines for the mango). I used the cherry tomatoes and leftover bok choy from last week in a Thai curry with tofu from Dinner (which is almost identical to this recipe, but with shiitake mushrooms instead of crimini, and cherry tomatoes and bok choy instead of the snap peas). The husk cherries just got eaten as a snack, and I’m not sure what the fate of the purple potatoes is yet. Maybe potato salad? Or over Dijon lentils?

Watermelon, Tomato, and Cucumber Salad with Feta and Lemon Basil

Serves 6

I listed quantities for each ingredient, but don’t worry about sticking to them too strictly. Use what you have, and just try to balance the ingredients.

  • 1/2 a small watermelon (~4 cups once chopped)
  • 1 lb of tomatoes (I used one monster yellow tomato, but 2-3 normal sized ones would be plenty)
  • 1 small cucumber (1/2 lb)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion (1 very small onion)
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (this is the time to bring out the good stuff)
  • 4 ounces of feta, cubed
  • a large handful of lemon basil (regular basil or cilantro would also work)
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt

Put the sliced red onion in a small bowl and top with the vinegar. Stir to coat.

Cut the tomato and watermelon into 1″ cubes. Chop the cucumber. Arrange the watermelon, tomatoes, and cucumber on a platter. Scatter the red onion on top, and sprinkle the leftover vinegar over the salad. Top with the feta and basil, and then drizzle the extra virgin olive oil over the whole salad. Finish with the salt and serve.

Crostini with whipped feta and garlic collards

20160709_174408Collards get a bad rep. They are a vegetable that most consider married to one dish, and if that’s not a dish they cook, they don’t eat them. But I happen to know that collards are not married, or in a relationship of any kind. They are single as can be, and very experimental. Willing to partake in any meal of the day, and mix with a variety of ingredients.

This is my first year growing collards, and they’ve sprung up like weeds (even quicker than the kale!). If you want to make collards into a full meal, try them with peanut butter (really, it makes a quick peanut sauce!). Or make them into a salad (or try them in place of kale in any other salad). Or this cobbler I just discovered and will have to try soon. I’ve made this crostini for a couple parties recently, which is easy to transport, quick to assemble, and just another way to eat whipped feta. The leftovers have been enjoyed with scrambled eggs for breakfast.

See – collards are great! And versatile. Grow them, eat them, love them. People eating this appetizer won’t even realize they’re collards with all their predetermined baggage, and will fall in love with them too. Which is okay, because collards play the field.

Crostini with whipped feta and garlic collards

  • 1/2 lb collard greens (or 1 large bunch)
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 baguette or loaf of another crusty bread

Remove the stems from the collards and chop the leaves into bite sized pieces.

Put the feta and cream cheese in a bowl of a food processor. Turn on the blade for a few seconds to combine, then pour in the 1/3 cup of olive oil. Process until smooth and uniformly combined.

In a large saute pan that has a cover, heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the whole, peeled garlic clove and allow it to brown slightly in the oil, flipping a few times so it doesn’t burn. When it is golden, remove the garlic clove and add the collards. Cover, and cook for 2 minutes.

Remove the cover, toss the greens, add the red pepper flakes, and continue to cook for a few minutes more uncovered until the extra liquid has evaporated.

When read to serve, slice the bread and toast under a broiler or on a grill. Slather with whipped feta, and top with the greens.

Last week I cooked…

Last week I cooked - Vegetal MattersTakeout-style sesame noodles with cucumber. I saw this posted on Tuesday, didn’t have a firm plan for dinner that night, and had all the ingredients for this in the pantry, plus cucumbers in the garden and it was the greatest. I’ve had trouble cooking rice noodles, but I watched these like a hawk and then drizzled them with sesame oil as instructed, and they didn’t turn out gummy or all stick together (hallelujah!). I always love a nutty, creamy, slightly sour sauce like this (which tastes strong on its own but mellows nicely with the noodles). After running around all day I knew I would need a more substantial meal, so I roasted some tofu a la Thug Kitchen (page 77 of the cookbook….that’s how often I use this method). Because of the tofu addition I served the noodles still warm and they were everything I hoped for.

Last week I cooked - Vegetal Matters

Braised cabbage with fried potatoes, feta, and dill (from Vegetable Literacy). Very fancy feeling. The creamy fried potatoes were nicely balanced with wilted buttery cabbage, salty feta and herbal dill (which I don’t cook with enough).  This would have made an excellent course at an Irish mid-summer farm dinner. Unfortunately I made just this for dinner, and Madison’s serves 4 definitely meant as a side not a meal.

Corn bread salad. I have to admit this did not turn out, but it was entirely my fault as I let the cornbread go south (I thought toasting it up again would save it…I was wrong). Even if I had done everything according to recipe, it probably would not be my favorite dish. I already don’t like croutons in salad, and then getting them all soggy just makes everything that much worse. But I tried it, and I think most people without soggy crouton aversions would like this, so have at it.

Last week I cooked - Vegetal Matters

Zucchini ricotta fritters. I’ve been on the hunt for the best zucchini fritters for a while now…and these still aren’t quite them. The ricotta made them super moist, but to the point of being hard to cook through. They stayed together really nicely, browned quickly, and then sat in the oven for a bit and still were super soft in the middle. Most zest and more salt next time, higher heat, and longer in the oven.

Last week I cooked - Vegetal Matters

Potatoes with kale and a fried egg. This remains one of my absolute favorite breakfasts. This time I cooked the potatoes cubed in the cast iron, and added some diced onion halfway through cooking. The potatoes aren’t quite as decadent that way, but they do cook faster.

Last week I cooked - Vegetal Matters

Toast with ricotta, honey, and peaches. My favorite breakfast, lunch, and coffee spot in Worcester is also a bakery, and most of their breakfast menu is just their incredible breads toasted with various spreads (like country bread with homemade raspberry jam, and olive and herb bread with whipped feta and olive oil). After eating there Sunday I wanted nothing but toast for breakfast all week, and did different renditions of ricotta with jam or honey and fruit.

 

Purple Cauliflower, Kale and Feta Quesadillas

Purple Cauliflower, Kale and Feta Quesadillas - Vegetal MattersI went to visit a nearby farm stand (Foppema’s, if you happen to live in central MA) this week on a hunt for garlic scapes and green beans. They grow a really impressive array of vegetables and fruits, and I had to do a few laps before deciding what should come home with besides my sought out items. They had a beautiful pile of cauliflower in white, yellow, orange, and then one single, strikingly vibrant purple head. I already had plans for some feta and kale quesadillas for dinner, but as I turned over ideas for my magic cauliflower these charred cauliflower quesadillas came to mind and a hybrid dream was born. (The kale I picked up from a different farm I visited last week for raspberry picking. And did I mention I work on a farm? I may have a problem.) Thus the Vera Bradley of quesadillas in all its purple and green glory was born. I spend so much time anticipating the greatness of summer produce and planning meals, that I sometimes forget how great it is to pick up whatever looks good and see what happens. These quesadillas are seasonal and spontaneous cooking at its finest, and could be easily adapted with whatever must-have farm stand produce or garden bounty end up in your kitchen.

DSC00925 Purple Cauliflower, Kale and Feta Quesadillas - Vegetal Matters

Purple Cauliflower, Kale and Feta Quesadillas

Serves 4

I really cleaned out the cheese drawer with this one and used a mix of Monteray Jack, Mexican blend, and manchego. If I was buying cheese specifically for this, I would just buy a block of Monterey Jack. You could certainly use any color of cauliflower, but purple is pretty darn fun.

  • 8 oz cauliflower (which was half a medium head for me)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, dividing
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 4 oz kale, finely chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon chives or scallions
  • ½ a lime, juiced
  • 2.5 oz feta (about ½ a cup)
  • 8 oz shredded melting cheese (about 2 cups)
  • 8 10″ flour tortillas

Separate the cauliflower into large pieces (about 1.5-2″) and coat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt. Heat a cast iron (or other heavy) pan over medium high heat. Add cauliflower and the jalapeno to the pan, and char for about 10 minutes. They should be slightly blackened but not soft. Remove from the pan and allow to cool slightly. Then chop the cauliflower into ½” pieces and mince the jalapeño.

In the same pan heat the other tablespoon of olive oil and add the kale. Toss to coat in oil, and cover with a lid. After  minute uncover and toss, and then cover for 1 minute more. The kale should be bright green, shiny all over and just cooked through.

If you are serving these all at once, turn on the oven to 200F and place a baking sheet in these before you start the final assembly.

Toss cauliflower, jalapeño, kale, chives, feta and lime juice in a bowl. Put that same pan back on the heat over medium (no oil necessary) and bring on over your filling, shredded cheese, and tortillas. Place a tortilla in the pan, and allow to head for a minute. Flip it over, sprinkle with an eighth of the cheese, a quarter of the filling, and another eighth of the cheese (so a quarter of the cheese per quesadilla). Place the second tortilla on top, and check the bottom one for char. When it is lightly toasted and the cheese is melting, flip the quesadilla. Cook for another 2 minutes, and then remove from the heat and into the oven if you are keeping them warm.

For serving: I happened to have half a head of red cabbage and some sour cream as well, so I kept the green and purple theme going and went with Smitten Kitchen’s slaw and crema as suggested here. I barely strayed from those recipes, except perhaps with less precise measurements.