Week 4 of our summer CSA has come and gone, this week bringing some of the usual staples (garlic scapes, herbs), but also some new vegetables (mariachi peppers! the most fabulous, crunchy, earth-shatteringly delicious spinach I’ve ever tasted).
Here’s a shot of this week’s box:
2. Cippolini scallions
3. Red komatsuna
5. Bok choy
6. Bell peppers
8. Garlic scapes
11. Mariachi peppers*
*Kasha snuck the Mariachi peppers into my bag with firm instructions to make myself a spicy Paloma.
Which I did, immediately after I got home. She was right, damn delicious – tequila, spicy simple syrup, grapefruit, a match made in heaven.
To make the spicy mariachi pepper Palomas:
Make the mariachi pepper simple syrup by bringing a cup of sugar and a cup of water to a simmer. When the mixture is simmering and the sugar has dissolved, add 1 sliced mariachi pepper (I included the seeds), and let steep off heat for 30 mins. Strain and then use part for the cocktail. To make the roasted grapefruit garnish, roast some brown sugar-coated sliced grapefruits in the oven at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, flipping halfway in between. For one Paloma, rim a glass with a cut lime, and kosher salt. Combine 1/3 cup grapefruit juice with a squeeze of lime and 2 tablespoons of mariachi pepper simple syrup. Add ¼ cup of tequila, stir, and top the glass with club soda. Double, triple, or quadruple as needed.
We get a newsletter each week from Bialas which makes recommendations on how to use the vegetables in our box. One idea that I kept seeing (and wrongfully ignoring) is to make the scapes into a butter for standout garlic bread. Seeing that I had a pile of scapes from this week’s box, and a few left over from last week, I took matters into my own hands, and made a big batch of scape butter. I’ve used this on everything but dessert.
To make the garlic scape butter:
Pulse 2 garlic scapes in a food processor until finely chopped. Add a stick of softened butter, and blend, adding a pinch of salt if the butter is unsalted. Optional: flavor the butter with herbs like tarragon or sage. Use the butter on anything from grilled steaks and fish to grilled / toasted bread, pasta and everything in between.
The butter played center stage on the dinner table that night with grilled steak and grilled bread – delicious on both. Served on the side was a fattoush salad that used up just about every green that I got in my box that week, including the carrot tops!
To make the CSA fattoush:
Pulse 2 garlic scapes in a food processor and add to a large bowl. Finely chop an entire bunch of parsley and add to the bowl. Add more chopped vegetables such as celery greens, carrot greens, romaine, mint, tomatoes, sweet onion greens, and cucumber. Tear 2 pitas into chunks and toss them in a large sautee pan that’s been coated with olive oil- adding a little more oil if necessary to make sure that the torn pieces come out crispy and golden. Season with salt and add to the large bowl of vegetables. When ready to serve, dress the fattoush with olive oil and red wine vinegar or lemon juice, some more salt, and cracked black pepper.
The garlic scape butter proved to be useful when I was ravenously hungry and needed a quick snack – a little toast, a swipe of garlic scape butter, some Jersey tomatoes, a glass of iced rose as they do in Provence…summer food at its finest.
And one of my favorite uses was to make it into a light sauce. I finished this simple Asian-style sautéed bok choy and celery side dish with the butter and it gave the dish just the right amount of body without having to depend on typical thickeners like cornstarch.
To make the bok choy:
Slice a head of bok choy crosswise along with 2 sliced celery stalks, and add the vegetables to a large heated sautee pan with olive oil. Sautee until starting to soften, and add the juice of half an orange, 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, and let simmer. The vegetables will release a lot of liquid, so you’ll have to simmer for at least a few minutes to thicken the sauce. When you’re getting ready to serve the bok choy, finish the sauce with a tablespoon of the garlic scape butter. Serve topped with sliced green onions and some purple basil. If you want more of an authentic Chinese feel, you could thicken the sauce with a cornstarch slurry, but I like to leave it on the thin side and use steamed rice to soak up some of the flavorful juices)
I’ve been finding sneaky ways to get my CSA into more of my meals, starting with breakfast. The spinach ended up on my morning egg sandwich…
And celery and sliced Cippolini scallions were mixed into a spicy Sriracha egg salad…
To make the sriracha egg salad:
Peel a hard-boiled egg and smash in a bowl with ¼ cup of mayonnaise, and a heaping tablespoon of Sriracha. Add 1 chopped celery stalk, and 1 chopped green onion, reserving a few of the greens for plating. Season with salt if necessary, and then heap onto a toasted English muffin half.
Although we ate these as a snack one day, these roasted potatoes would be perfect as breakfast food. And while nothing here is from this week’s box (last week’s potatoes, my herb garden’s rosemary) I had to share the fact the summer heat, I love to roast all kinds of things – even my herbs…
To make the roasted potatoes with spicy mayo:
Slice 4-5 potatoes crosswise and place in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and coat the potatoes with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Add a few sprigs of rosemary, thyme or oregano (massage a little oil into these as well), and roast in a 350 degree oven, flipping halfway through, for 45 mins to an hour until crispy. To make the spicy mayo, just blend a little mayonnaise with a touch of Sriracha, and place in the middle of the potatoes when serving.
Lunches with my CSA vegetables are always easy – salads are the name of the game, and tomatoes are often involved.
To make the tomato, watermelon and feta salad:
On a big plate, pile 2 tomatoes, diced, some cubed watermelon, and a few halved cherry tomatoes. Crumble some goat cheese over the salad, and top with a few slices of mariachi pepper and some torn cilantro. Dress with a little olive oil and lime juice and a touch of white wine vinegar plus some flaked sea salt and freshly-ground pepper.
And that spinach. Wow….I don’t think I’ve had crunchier spinach, even though it had been sitting in my fridge for a few days. That’s the difference between grocery store produce and straight from the farm vegetables.
To make the spinach salad:
Rinse and dry a large bunch of fresh spinach and place in a large serving bowl. Add to the bowl 2 peaches, chopped, a few slices of cooked bacon, crumbled, ½ cup of blue cheese, crumbled, and a handful of halved cherry tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and grapefruit white balsamic (or other light vinegar), and finish with Maldon salt and freshly-ground pepper. Delicious with a few torn purple basil leaves as a garnish.
You’ve seen me do it before, but I wanted to share it again: brown sugar cumin roasted carrots make everything taste better. It’s so simple to make the carrots, and bake ‘em once, and you’ve got a great ingredient for salads or side dishes stocked in your fridge and ready to go.
To make the roasted carrots:
Peel 5-6 large carrots, and slice in half lengthwise. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle them with some salt, brown sugar, and ground cumin. Roast in the oven at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes (or longer depending on the size of the carrot), flipping them at the halfway point.
I used them in a really delicious (and super healthy) red quinoa salad, which had my mum diving in for seconds. OK, thirds, maybe there was a fourth, I stopped counting. It’s that good, especially with a dollop of harissa yogurt on top.
To make the quinoa salad:
Prepare a 12-oz box of red quionoa according to the package directions. Let cool. When the quinoa is cool, chop and add the roasted carrots, a cup of chopped broccoli, 2 stalks of celery, 2 green onions, and a handful of chopped cilantro. Drizzle olive oil and grapefruit-infused white balsamic (or regular white wine vinegar), and toss. You can serve the dish vegan, or do what I like to do, which is thin some Greek yogurt with lemon juice and a little milk, season with a pinch of salt, and streak some harissa through it. Add a dollop of the harissa yogurt to the salad for some heat.
But I must admit that dinners are my favorite meal of the day. It gives me a chance to put a range of dishes on the table and work through that big pile of vegetables more meaningfully.
One night it was ribs with a homemade blackberry sauce, with a simple spinach and raspberry salad, and our quinoa salad….
I know, I know, these ribs don’t have an ounce of CSA magic in them, but it wouldn’t be fair to keep this recipe from you because they’re so easy and so delicious….
To make the blackberry ribs:
These ribs are easy when they’re made a day ahead of time, and lacquered before serving with the blackberry barbecue sauce. To make the ribs, take 3 racks (approx 5-6 ribs per rack), season with salt and pepper and cover tightly with foil. Roast in a 300 degree oven for 3 hours until the meat is tender and falling off the bone. If serving right away, proceed to the saucing; alternatively, the ribs can be cooled and placed in the fridge overnight. While the ribs are roasting, make the barbecue sauce: mix the following in a bowl: 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/3 cup ketchup, 1/4 cup robust molasses, 1/4 dark brown sugar, 1/3 cup blackberry preserves, 1 tsp garlic salt, 1 tsp onion powder. When ready to coat the ribs, boost the oven temp to 325, open the foil at the top, and baste the ribs every 5-10 minutes for the next half hour – flipping the ribs over with each baste to make sure that all surfaces are coated. When ready to serve, cut the ribs into pieces, and pile high, serving any leftover barbecue sauce on the side.
And talk about easy – one dish meals are sometimes the only way I can get dinner on the table. This coconut chicken uses all kinds of goodies from the box, including the green peppers, some cilantro, and the remaining mariachi peppers. Plus I got to finally use my fruit fly-infested pineapple that was facing an eat or die situation.
To make the green pepper and pineapple salsa:
Combine the following: 1 pineapple, 1 red onion, and 3 green peppers, all finely diced, as well as 2 mariachi peppers, minced. Add the juice of a few limes and some salt and pepper, all to taste.
To make the coconut chicken:
Make a few cups of rice according to package directions. While the rice is cooking, heat a large sautee pan on medium-high heat, and sear eight salt & pepper-seasoned chicken thighs on both sides in a little vegetable oil until golden. Drain most of the fat and then pour a can of shaken coconut milk around the chicken. Add the dish to a 350 degree oven and bake uncovered for 20 minutes (if you’re impatient like me, which results in a thinner sauce), or 45 minutes for a thicker sauce. The meat won’t dry out – there’s enough moisture in the coconut milk to keep the bird juicy, even for hours at a low heat. I’ve tried it before, it works. When you’re ready to serve, spoon the rice into a large serving dish, place the chicken thighs on top, and spoon some (or all) of the remaining coconut milk onto the rice. Top with the salsa and serve.
…incidentally, the salsa is fantastic on grilled halibut.
Hope everyone had a great week. Next week’s post may be short (or on another topic completely) since I’ll be in Alabama visiting family for the week, with only two days to cook my Week 5 share. But I’m hoping that I can still sneak in a few dishes for you guys. Stay tuned 🙂