I’ll be honest, I was considering skipping a post altogether after last week. With all of our guests visiting Wednesday through Sunday, I cooked pretty much non-stop with last week’s share and was burnt out by Monday. Burnt out to the point where my meals consisted of leftover See’s peanut brittle for 36 straight hours, which gave me a pencil eraser-sized canker sore and convinced me that I needed to resume eating vegetables again.
So that’s what I did. I attacked Week 3’s CSA box with all of the passion I could muster…
1. Green pepper
2. Tuscan Kale
3. Sugar snap peas
6. Red beets
7. Fresh onions
9. Summer squash*
11. Golden beets*
12. English peas
13. Italian Parsley
*not in the box and purchased separately from the farm stand
Starting with some scape and beet green pesto. I made so much of it, that in addition to using it to coat some zucchini noodles for dinner that night, I had enough left over to freeze in an ice cube tray for future soups, stews or pasta sauces. I’ve never done this before, but I can only imagine how excited I’ll be when I uncover my stash in the dead of Winter when I’m needing a dose of Summer the most.
To make the scape and beet green pesto:
Pulse two garlic scapes in a food processor until finely chopped; add a handful of pumpkin seeds (or pine nuts if you prefer), and pulse again until chopped; next, add the greens from two bunches of beets (will nearly fill the processor) and blend until chopped. With the motor running, slowly add a ½ cup of olive oil to the pesto, then ½ cup of Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Note, this makes a ton of pesto, and if not sealed well, the top will darken. Use one part for your meal, and save the rest by freezing the pesto in ice cube molds – if you want to use one down the road for a soup or dressing, just pop and thaw or throw the frozen cube directly into something warm like a soup or stew).
Also included in the mix this week was a blue cheese and tarragon dip, perfect for those perfect sweet carrots that I’ve been receiving each week. I usually make my blue cheese dip with a combination of garlic and thyme, but my new bunch of tarragon was calling my name. The match was perfect.
To make blue cheese dip:
Mix one 6 oz container of Greek yogurt with an equal amount of sour cream. Whisk in the juice of half a lemon, and grate a clove of garlic into the bowl (I find that using a microplane works best here). Stir to blend. Add a cup of crumbled blue cheese, and a ¼ cup of chopped fresh tarragon. Season to taste.
Have you ever heard the recommendation that you should include a rainbow of colors in your diet? I’m fortunate that my CSA box makes that possible every week; sometimes I get too excited and have to eat them altogether.
Sometimes you make so much food for one night that you’re left with a pile of leftovers in your fridge. I know there are people who hate leftovers, but I love them and put out plates of leftovers with freshly-prepared food for a next-day feast. From last week’s box – the roasted carrot quinoa and the red, white & Adirondack blue potato salad. And new for the evening, we had a watermelon & queso blanco salad + some beautiful roasted beets & goat cheese.
To make the beets & goat cheese salad:
Cover the beets in foil and roast at 350 degrees for 60-90 minutes, depending on size. I like to use a combination of colors, in this case, red beets, and golden beets. Cool the beets in their foil, and when ready to handle, slip the skins off. Thickly slice the beets and scatter on a plate. Dress the beets simply with salt & pepper, olive oil, and white balsamic vinegar. Crumble goat cheese over the top. Optional: add some segmented pieces of orange or grapefruit and some torn mint.
One bunch of kale came with my CSA box this week, but knowing that I wanted to make some kale chips, I added a second bunch to the mix. They were scarfed down so quickly that I didn’t have time to snap a picture. I’ll make sure to snap one for a future post. But in case you need a recipe, I rubbed some olive oil into the kale, seasoned with salt and pepper, and roasted them for 20-25 minutes until crispy.
Wondering what other vegetables could be eaten in chip form, I tried my hand with beet chips, which were fabulous. Earthy and sweet, but crispy and salty enough to satisfy my biggest chip craving; I’ll definitely be making these again…
To make the beet chips:
Peel the beets and slice them thinly with a mandoline. Massage some olive oil into the beets, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the beets in a single layer on a pan, and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Flip the beets and cook for another 20 minutes, if any are still really soft in the middle, add another 10 minutes; when the time is up, turn off the heat, but let the beets rest in the oven for another 30-60 minutes.
You may know by now that I hate to throw away any usable part of a vegetable, so I’ve been going a little crazy with the onion greens that I removed from the sweet onions last week.
Starting with this spring onion mac ‘n cheese. I made it simple to remember so that you can commit it to memory, and then add whatever vegetables you like, whether it’s spring onions or lobster mushrooms. It uses a roux-free sauce, all you have to remember is the 3/4 measurement and you’re on your way to mac ‘n cheese heaven.
To make the 4-cheese green onion macaroni:
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, and when boiling, add a 1 lb box of macaroni or ziti noodles. Cook until al dente, and then drain, and run under cold water to remove some of the starches. While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce. In a medium pot on medium heat, add 3/4 cup of heavy cream and heat until warm. Add 3/4 cup of the following 4 cheeses (but feel free to pick your own): shredded sharp orange cheddar, goat cheese, Havarti, and Parmesan, along with 3/4 cup of crème fraiche. Stir the cheeses and creme fraiche into the cream until melted, and then add as many sliced spring onions as you can tolerate. I love them, so I added, you guessed it, about 3/4 cup. Mix the pasta into the sauce, and let stand for 10-15 minutes so that the sauce has a chance to absorb into the pasta. While the pasta is standing, sautee some fresh breadcrumbs in butter, add another small handful of green onions, and when the pasta is ready, scatter the breadcrumbs overtop. This makes a nice oozy runny mac ‘n cheese; If you’d a thicker version, bake it in the oven at 350 for another 10-15 minutes and serve.
I served this mac ‘n cheese to rave reviews from the kids alongside some chicken with a tarragon & English pea cream sauce. Which was heavenly on its own…
…but made for fabulous leftovers- I kept spooning the cream sauce over my lunch and dinner for the next few days.
To make the chicken with tarragon & English pea cream sauce:
In a large sautee pan, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil on Medium-High heat. Add the Chicken and sautee until golden on each side. Remove the chicken to a baking sheet, and roast in the oven at 350 degrees for another 5-10 minutes until no longer pink inside. Here’s another tip- if you want to make dinner way in advance like I did, you can sautee the chicken and leave in a 225 degree oven for a few hours. It’s just about impossible to dry out a chicken thigh…To make the tarragon and pea cream sauce, just drain most of the leftover oil from the chicken pan, add a 1/3 to a ½ cup of heavy cream and the peas, and let simmer for a few minutes. If you want a softer pea, just cover the pot and let the sauce cook a few minutes more. When ready to serve, season and add a handful of chopped tarragon.
Although corn wasn’t in my CSA box, I did go hog wild with it this week, using some of my the planted sage that I received in last week’s box. So for those of you who are looking for some corn inspiration, I’ve got a few good recipes for you.
Starting with this fabulous creamed corn & egg breakfast. The corn is so creamy that it acts as the perfect bed for some runny eggs, and it takes no time to prepare. Just sautee some corn kernels in butter, and when they’re soft, season, and add a few tablespoons of heavy cream, then some chopped herbs. With my herb garden, I can never decide which herbs to use, so that usually means all of them!
By the way, add some toasted bread, and with or without eggs, it’s delicious…
If you read this post from last year, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of corn chowder. Corn chowder is a spectacular way to use up lots of leftover corn, as well as the corn cobs + the onion greens. This version is vegetarian, and uses lentils for some extra nutritional punch; it’s perfect for cooler nights (or freeze it for the Fall). I love to use homemade stocks as opposed to packaged varieties, and this makes a flavorful corn stock.
To make the corn and lentil chowder:
To make the corn stock, add to a Dutch oven 8 corn cobs, 1-2 medium onions, chopped, peppercorns, thyme, salt and a whole bunch of spring onions or onion greens. Cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer for 1-2 hours. With a spider strain out vegetables.
To make the soup, add 2 medium peeled and cubed Yukon Gold potatoes and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 20-30 minutes until soft. Smash the potatoes in the soup with a potato masher, and add the corn that’s been removed from 2-3 ears of corn, along with a cup of yellow split lentils. Boil and simmer for 30 minutes until the vegetables have cooked through. Add a splash of cream, and serve, topped with chopped herbs.
I’ve gone a little pea crazy over the past few weeks, getting them as part of the CSA box, but also buying extras. Clearly I’m a glutton for punishment as I’ve spent more than a few nights up by myself, drinking wine and shucking peas once the kids have gone to bed. But I can’t get enough. Here they are smashed and served with crostini with a variety of toppings, including Parmesan, tarragon, goat cheese, mint, and dill flowers.
Did I mention I can’t get enough? I’ve been eating them at every meal, including breakfast, straight front the pod.
And another item I clearly can’t get enough of: pesto. This one used my beloved (untossable) carrot greens. Yes, you can eat pesto on pasta or zucchini noodles, but don’t forget about breakfast and lunch:
Eat it alone on toast…
Buried under eggs…
Covered with more pesto (thinned with a little white wine vinegar)…
Or mixed into tuna salad…
To make the scape and carrot green pesto:
Pulse two garlic scapes in a food processor until finely chopped; add a handful of pine nuts, and pulse again until chopped; next, add two handfuls of carrot tops, and blend until chopped. With the motor running, slowly add a 1/3 cup of olive oil to the pesto, then 1/3 cup of parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Note: because of Lauren’s nut allergy, I usually make my pesto with pumpkin seeds, but had run out and had to go with pine nuts – if you want a nut-free version, try it with pumpkin seeds or as one reader mentioned – sunflower seeds).
Lastly, it wouldn’t be a blog post without mentioning cocktails. And we’ve been drinking a lot with market-inspired simple syrups as a foundation. I fell in love with this version that uses lemon verbena and mint – great for lemonade (kid-approved or spiked with booze), margaritas, anything that needs a little sweetening.
If you need more info on how to make simple syrups, read this post.
So that’s it for this week – a busy week as usual, but with so many delicious meals, I really can’t complain.
Hope everyone had a great week!