Vegetables Every Day

Vegetables Every Day
Carrot Tarator with Beets

Monday, January 19, 2009

I never knew Kale was so good!

Here’s what I got this week in my CSA box from Love Grows Farms:

Kale, beets, one huge (and one normal size) turnips, tomatoes, cilantro, apples, and green onions  (although somehow the apples and green onions didn’t get into the picture). I love getting something new  like the kale;  the pink - purple leafy thing in thing on the left(although I am becoming dependent on good tomatoes every week).    One of my go-to sources on vegetable is Alice Waters  Chez Panisse Vegetables:  "Kale comes in a lot of shapes, sizes and colors, and is in the  mustard family ... (includes broccoli and cabbage) ...   It’s best after there has been some cold" (remember those frigid temperatures around Christmas where it ALMOST froze? ), anyways…  it was excellent!  I made this tonight, along with some Pasta Carbonara.  Surprise:  it keeps its color when cooked!   

Sautéed Kale with Garlic and Vinegar
1 Bunch of Kale
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, smashed and chopped
1-2 teaspoons sherry or red wine vinegar
Cut the tough stems from the kale, coarsely chop, and wash in plenty of water.  Drain, but don’t spin dry.
Heat oil in a large sauté pan.  Add enough kale to cover the bottom of the pan.  Allow the greens to wilt a bit before adding more. When all the kale has been added, season with salt, stir in the garlic, and cover the pan.  The greens will take anywhere from just a few minute to 15 minutes to cook (mine took about 10 minutes over relatively low heat),  When they are tender, remove the lid and allow any excess water to cook away.  Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar.  Serves 2-3 (original recipe was double this).

Other ideas for the week:
Roasted Turnips – peel, cube, toss with a bit of olive oil and roast in a hot (450F) oven. Expect they will take 20 minutes or so depending on cube size, finish with a bit of salt and pepper.
Beets (and cilantro) – I came across a recipe for a beet and carrot salad in one of my favorite food blogs, Zucchini and Chocolate and will try it this week.   The beets are used raw… seems like a lot less bother than roasting or steaming. [edit: not recommended!]
Beet and turnip greens – into some soup… either bean or lentil – vegetable.
Tomatoes, cilantro, green onions - sounds like a great start for salsa (luckily I have a chili pepper left from Crooked Sky Farms  from last week).

Green onions – have already gone into Pasta Carbonara (translation: pasta with bacon and eggs.  Let me know if you want the recipe.)

One of the challenges of getting all your vegetables once a week is to keep everything fresh the week or so until it’s used.   I try to do some work when I get home from the farmers market to keep everything fresh and to make it a bit easier to cook later in the week. 

Tender greens (lettuce, cilantro, arugula) get a wash and spin dry, then spread on paper towels. I pick out any bruised or otherwise undesirable leaves,  then place in a plastic bag (with the paper towels), and into the crisper.

Root vegetables that are dirty get a wash (sometimes outside if really dirty), left on the counter to dry, then into plastic bag and into the fridge. I also remove the tops from things like beets, turnips, and carrots.   I wash the greens, spin, and wrap.   Here are the beet and turnip greens from this week.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

New Feature: Eating seasonally in Phoenix -- ideas for this week's CSA box

I am going to try to do a weekly update on my Love Grows Farm CSA box , with ideas and recipes to use the weeks bounty.  Plus identify unusual items. I am hoping that other customers of Love Grows Farm and other Phoenix-area CSA participants will read, comment, and share their ideas as well.  Please don’t be shy!  I think we can all use some inspiration; it seems that most of the food magazines and web sites are talking about making stew, braised short ribs and bread, not how to use wonderful tomatoes and greens!  Not to mention what to do with the pile of citrus we seem to be getting from friends, family and our own tree.
Last week’s box included salad greens, spinach, arugula, green onions, kohlrabi, lemons and oranges, and of course, tomatoes.

New is the box this week was kohlrabi, something I had never had before.  Kohlrabi is German for “cabbage turnip”, and is a member of the cabbage family.   They can be eaten raw or cooked.  Most recipes I saw called just to use the bulb part (trimmed and peeled), but the leave can also be eaten.   I ate mine raw, in a salad (I didn’t use the leaves, it was mid week by the time I got too them and they were wilted.  It’s similar to very tender broccoli stems.   I’m hoping to get more, to try cooked as well.   I think the leaves would go good in soup.
My recipe for this week (and inspiration to try to do this weekly) was a salad I made on Sunday for friends.  It was quite wonderful..  I wish I had remembered a picture (so much for my New Year’s resolution to take more pictures).
I actually used 4 things from the box for this one simple salad – greens, scallions (green onions), lemons and oranges.  I served on my new stainless steel platter I got for Christmas, and it looked marvelous as well.

Orange Salad 

Serves 4

1/3 cup walnuts (slightly broken up)
Two oranges
Large bowl of greens (guess about 8 cups, or 1 bag of baby greens)
Lemon – oil dressing (see below)

Toast walnuts. (I use the toaster oven – place on a piece of foil on tray, and 1 cycle through toast, or you can do in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, will take just a few minutes… whichever way, keep an eye on them - you want a light toast, not too brown).

Prepare the oranges:  cut of the ends, then cut off the peel.  You can either cut out the segments, or for a faster prep, just slice.  Remove any seeds.

Assemble:  toss the greens with the dressing, it should only take a few tablespoons.  Place greens on a platter.  Arrange orange segments (or slices) over top, and sprinkle walnuts over top.  Serve immediately.

Lemon – Oil DressingI adopted this from a Julia Child recipe (from the Julia and Jacques cookbook, unfortunately, its out of print)

1 tablespoon minced scallion
Zest from 1 small orange (optional)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 - 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 to ½ cup excellent olive oil

Put scallions, mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk until blended (or use immersion blender).  Pour in the oil slowly, droplets at first, then in a thin stream, whisking constantly until the oil has been completely emulsified and the dressing has thickened.  Taste and adjust the seasonings.  Best used immediately,  store remainder in the refrigerator for a few days at most.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Holiday Splurge

We have had a lot to celebrate this holiday season, in addition to Christmas and New Years, one of my loyal blog followers celebrated her 75th birthday. For the birthday, we had a little family get together for dinner, with rack of lamb, roasted squash, and orzo. The hardest part of the dinner was peeling butternut squash… which was good since I made a trip out to the Phoenix Botanical Gardens (along with my visiting sous chef), and didn’t get home until 4:40 (and people were invited over at 5-ish for a 6-ish dinner). A quick digression -- the Chihuly exhibition in the garden is really worth the trip, I will be going again (after the bowl games and during the week). Thankfully, one of the guests brought some yummy appetizers (including chopped liver, which I didn't even know I liked).

Butternut squash is easy to roast once the peeling is done.  After peeling, removing the seeds, and cutting into cubes, just put on a large sheet pan prepared with a piece of parchment paper, add some olive oil (not too much, maybe a tablespoon per medium/ large size fruit), salt and pepper, and pop into a hot oven (425/450) for a half hour or so.

The orzo is even easier… just cook like rice.  I use 2 parts liquid to 1 part orzo, (the liquid can be water or broth or a mix… just remember to add salt if you use mostly water). After bringing the liquid to a boil, add orzo and cook (covered) until it’s done, most of the liquid should be absorbed. Finish with a sprinkle of herbs and olive oil (alternately, butter or Parmesan cheese could be added).

The star is the rack of lamb. I did 2 1/2 racks for 7 of us (which worked just right, there were a couple of chops left for a salad the next day).  Warning… if you spend more than $100 on one package of meat at AJ’s, the cashiers screen flashes red, with a note to the effect “are you sure this is correct?”

The only trick on the lamb is to cook to the right point.  The lamb should still be nice and rosy pink inside. If your racks are on the small side (or – if doing for 2 and splitting one rack to still allow interlacing the bones), pull a couple of minutes early and check the temperature. If you don’t have a instant read thermometer (or like me, don’t trust the one you have), the “squishy-ness” of the meat is also a good indicator, just like when you are grilling a thick steak. They are quite pretty on a platter, with a few sprigs of rosemary tucked around. My New Years resolution -- take more pictures!

Roast Rack of Lamb with Herb Coating

Serves 4 - 6

2 racks of lamb
1 cup fresh French bread crumbs (put big cubes of bread in the Cusinart)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Place the racks in a roasting pan with a rack, facing each other with the meaty chops on the bottom.  Interlock the bones to support.  Roast in a preheated 450F oven for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix together the bread crumbs, herbs, and salt and pepper. Pull the roasting pan out of the oven. Paint all sides of the lamb with mustard. Turn the racks so the meaty side is facing out, with bones together at the top. Press the bread crumb mixture onto the surface. Put back into the oven for another 10 minutes*. The outside crumb coating should be lightly browned and the meat rosy. Internal temperature should be 135 – 140 F.  Let rest for 5 minutes. Cut into chops and serve.

* plus or minus a couple of minutes.  Pull early and check the temperature.