Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Salsa Three Ways

Fresh salsa is a versatile dish that takes only minutes to prepare. Sure, salsa tastes great as a dip and is a standard accompaniment to Mexican food, but why stop there? Salsa can also be used to add a burst of flavor (and a serving of veggies) to a myriad of dishes. I like adding mine to sandwiches and salads,  mixing them in with grains like brown rice or bulgar, topping off a bed of steamed greens, with seafood, or simply mixed with legumes to make a filling dish.

Here are three salsa recipes from around the web featuring ingredients from this week's CSA:

Salsa Fresca:

Photo Credit:!lightbox/0/


  • 4 ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 8 cilantro sprigs, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients together. Toss thoroughly. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Recipe from the Food Network 

Salsa Verde: 

Photo Credit:


  • 1/2 pound fresh tomatillos
  • 1 large garlic clove 
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh serrano chile with seeds
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro 
  •  2 tablespoons water
Directions: Coarsely chop tomatillos, then purée with remaining salsa ingredients and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a blender until smooth.

Recipe from Epicurious 

Watermelon Salsa:

Photo Credit:


  • 3 cups finely diced seedless watermelon, (about 2 1/4 pounds with the rind) (see Tip)
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced (see Ingredient note)
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro, (about 1/2 bunch)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion, (about 1/2 small)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Directions: Place watermelon, jalapenos, cilantro, lime juice and onion in a medium bowl; stir well to combine. Season with salt. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Recipe from Eating Well

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fresh vegetable spring Rolls

This week's CSA bounty from One Straw Farm had several familiar vegetables - corn, green beans, Roma tomatoes, red leaf lettuce, and Anaheim hot peppers - as well as a few unexpected surprises including cantaloupe and Thai basil.  Many people were unfamiliar with the Thai basil, an aromatic and sweet basil that carries warm notes of anise and pepper.  Although it works well in any curry, stir-fry, soup or salad, having Thai basil on hand is a wonderful excuse to find some rice paper wrappers and make fresh Vietnamese spring rolls.

Photo credit:

Preparing spring rolls can seem like a daunting task, but after making them once you may be surprised at the simplicity of this versatile recipe. They are substantive yet refreshing, and they make for great pot luck dishes or dinners when it's too hot to cook.  Rolling spring rolls is also a great way to gather family and friends around the table.  The key to success with spring rolls is to prep all ingredients before you commence with the rolling, and to give yourself plenty of space to spread out.

This recipe has been adapted from an excellent photo tutorial by Todd Porter and Diane Cu at the blog "White On Rice Couple,"  Their step-by-step photo instructions are definitely worth a look.

Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients
Once you get the hang of making spring rolls you can vary the ingredients according to your tastes and what you have on hand, but the essential ingredients are 1) rice paper wrappers 2) vegetables 3) herbs and 4) optionally, hearty fillings such as vermicelli noodles, grilled mushrooms, or cooked shrimp.

A sample ingredients list for 15 simple vegetarian spring rolls would look like this:

  • 1 packet of rice paper wrappers, found in the international section of your supermarket or at Asian grocery stores. They come in dry sheets and will be soaked in water to become pliable before rolling. 
  • 1 packet of vermicelli noodles. You may see these packaged as rice vermicelli noodles or bean thread noodles, and they can also be found in international sections or Asian grocery stores. These will need to be cooked before rolling, and you can omit them if you prefer rolls with more vegetables.
  • 1 head of large-leaf lettuce (such as the bunch of red leaf lettuce that came with this week's CSA)
  • 2 large cucumbers
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 cup of fresh mung bean sprouts (not necessary if you can't find them, but they add a nice crunch)
  • 1 bunch of Thai basil 
  • 1 bunch of cilantro or mint
Step 2: Prep your cooked and cold ingredients
If you've recruited some friends to help you, this is a good time to divide and conquer. Set each ingredient into its own bowl or plate and lay the bowls out on the large kitchen table or counter where you will roll. 
  • Vermicelli noodles: These are so thin that they barely need to be cooked.  Bring a pot of water to a near-boil, add the noodles (half or a quarter of the package will be enough) and cover, turn the heat off, and let the noodles soak in the hot water for 5-10 minutes. Once they are soft, rinse and drain them under cold water to prevent clumping, and then take a pair of kitchen scissors and cut the noodles into 2-3 inch sections.
  • Lettuce: Wash and tear the lettuce into medium-sized pieces.
  • Cucumbers and carrots: Peeled or unpeeled is your decision. Cut these into thin matchsticks.
  • Bean sprouts: Just rinse these and leave them whole.
  • Herbs (basil, cilantro, and /or mint): Rinse the herbs and then pinch off the leaves so that they are ready to be placed in the rolls.
Step 3: Roll!
Todd and Diane's photo tutorial is helpful here when you're first learning.  The steps are 1) soak the rice paper 2) load up your ingredients and 3) roll!

The trickiest part is soaking the rice paper wrappers.  Todd and Diane recommend soaking each wrapper in warm water for 2 seconds before rolling. It may take longer - up to a minute - for your wrappers to become pliable and translucent.  A pie plate or other flat-bottomed dish works well here to hold the water.

Once you soak your wrapper and lay it out, load up your ingredients: a little bed of lettuce, a thin line of vermicelli, a few matchsticks each of the cucumber and carrot, a few bean sprouts, a few leaves each of the fresh herbs, and any other ingredients you're using.  Lay the ingredients out in a thin rectangular shape close an inch or two away from the bottom of the wrapper (whichever edge is closest to you). 

When you're ready to roll, tuck the bottom of the wrapper up and over the filling. Then tuck the left and right sides of the wrapper in so that the filling is in a little rice paper packet, and roll the filling away from you.  The stickiness of the soft rice paper can be tricky to work with, but this is what helps to keep the roll closed. 

Step 4: Enjoy!
Spring rolls can be eaten plain, but are also wonderful with hoisin sauce or a sweet chili sauce.  You can buy a decent sweet chili sauce at most grocery stores, but if you're feeling adventurous you can also concoct your own.  Fresh spring rolls are best when eaten right away but will last for a day or two in the fridge, making for easy leftover lunches.  Try to leave a little space between rolls if you're storing them for any amount of time, as they can stick together. And if you have leftover rice paper wrappers and vermicelli, you can make these rolls again with the fresh vegetables and herbs from your next CSA share!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Curried cauliflower

Many thanks to Joan from One Straw Farm for sharing this with me a season ago! It has quickly become my go-to cauliflower recipe.

Joan holding One Straw Farm cabbage, 2011

Cauliflower, cut into florets
Olive oil
Curry powder
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss cauliflower, a few glugs of olive oil, as much curry powder as you like (it's hard to add too much here!), a few dashes of sea salt and pepper. Transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet (or forget the parchment paper if you don't have it) and roast for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so until florets are soft and have browned a bit. Boom. Cauliflower candy.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Potato-Leek Hash with Swiss Chard and Eggs

Freshly washed chard
Swiss Chard is a nutritional powerhouse and versatile green that goes well in many dishes. According to WebMD, chard is an excellent source of vitamins K,A, and C as well as Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, and Fiber. Because this week's chard looked so amazing, I decided to try out this hash recipe. It was my first time using leeks and they are now one of my new favorite vegetables to cook with! They gave the dish a subtle onion flavor without being too powerful. The thing I love about this recipe is that it is so customizable. You can easily substitute ingredients that you don't care for. This dish is perfect for brunch but it is so delicious that really any time of day works for me!

This recipe was slightly adapted from Cooking Light.

Makes 4 servings

  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups of sliced leek (about 2 large)
  • 2 cups of pearl or fingerling potatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 cups of sweet potato (about 1 large)
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 1/4 tsp paprika, divided
  • 1/2 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper, divided
  • 4 cups thinly sliced trimmed Swiss chard (about 1 bunch)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded Gruyère cheese
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil to pan. Add leek; cook 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add potatoes. I decided to add a mixture of sweet and pearl potatoes, and I loved the combination of sweet and savory. Add garlic. Cook for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1 teaspoon of paprika, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add chard. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Using a spoon, push potato mixture aside to make 4 egg-sized spaces. Crack 1 egg into each space. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of paprika over eggs. Cover and cook for 3 minutes; sprinkle cheese over potato mixture. Cover and cook for 2 minutes or until egg yolks are lightly set. Immediately enjoy!

Leeks: my new favorite cooking veggie
All chopped and ready to be cooked!


Monday, September 24, 2012

Butternut squash soup

It's starting to feel like fall! Time to put that 10-liter soup pot to work.

2 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
1-2 tbsp fresh ginger (optional)
4 small-medium butternut squash, seeded, peeled & chopped
Salt + pepper
2 cups vanilla or plain almond milk
Cinnamon, to taste

Photo from WikiMedia Commons
Heat olive oil in a large soup pot on medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring often, until they soften a bit (5 min). Add butternut squash, ginger, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until squash begins to soften (10 min). Add almond milk and enough water to just cover the veggies. Bring down to a simmer and cover for 20-30 min or until all veggies are tender. Add cinnamon and more salt + pepper to taste. Blend with an immersion blender if you have one, or let the soup cool a bit before pureeing it in a blender or food processor. I like to puree this soup just enough that it gets creamy, but not enough that it loses all texture. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Summer squash frittata

6 eggs
grated cheese
salt + pepper + red pepper flakes
butter or oil for pan

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion
1 - 2 yellow squash / zucchini, sliced thinly
3 - 4 small potatoes, sliced thinly
4 cherry tomatoes
handful or two of basil, chopped
more grated cheese
balsamic reduction, if you're feeling fancy

I don't have a cast iron skillet (yet), so I make frittatas by baking them - without starting them on the stovetop. Bear with me.

Preheat oven to 450 and grease a small baking dish or pie dish. Beat the eggs, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes in a small bowl and mix in some grated cheese. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add onions and salt. Saute until tender, 5 minutes or so. Add yellow squash / zucchini, potatoes and tomatoes (and whatever else you want to use up, of course). Cover and cook for another 3-5 minutes, until vegetables are tender. 

Pour eggs and veggie mixture into baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, top with basil and grated cheese. Return to oven and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven, drizzle with balsamic reduction, and serve. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Corn & black bean salad

Sweet corn! How sweet it is. I had some dried black beans on hand and (after soaking and cooking them on Thursday), tossed this up last night. All the veggies I used were from my CSA share, except the jalapeno I picked fresh from my container garden(!) I usually finish this off with some chopped cilantro but didn't have any on hand. Chopped bell peppers are a nice addition, too. Happy August!

6 ears fresh corn
2-3 cups cooked black beans (1 can drained & rinsed is fine)
few handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 jalapeno, diced
1 bunch scallions (and/or some diced onion)
juice of 2-3 limes
1 tbsp cumin
salt & pepper, to taste
(optional) chopped avocado, if you want to get really serious

Cut corn (raw) off of cobs. Toss all ingredients in a large bowl and enjoy. This is especially delicious after it marinates in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Delicious the next day for lunch!