Thursday, July 10, 2008

Zesty wholegrain squash fritters

These hearty pancakes are packed with vegetable goodness, varied textures, and the flavorful kick of feta and sundried tomato. They're so good, they can be enjoyed naked - sans dipping sauce, that is; I recommend wearing pants while you eat them.

These were actually the result of a derring-do kitchen venture - my chard was starting to look droopy, and a lot of it was waiting to be eaten. Since I had been spending a lot of time away from home, I needed something I could pack for the road that wouldn't spoil.
  • 1 yellow squash, chopped
  • swiss chard*, chopped
  • sundried tomatoes, softened (soak overnight), chopped
  • whole wheat flour
  • 1 egg
  • water
  • milk
  • oil
  • feta cheese chunks
  • sprinkle** of organic flax seeds
  • sprinkle of salt
Put on some Count Basie, Buddy Rich, or Sinatra. This is crucial to bring out the flavor. Add ingredients, roughly in the order listed above, to a large mixing bowl. Stir, adding flour or water as necessary to achieve a sticky texture. Mixture should be about 1/2 dough and 1/2 vegetable chunks - don't go stingy on the veggies! Fry in a bit of oil. Once pancakes are golden brown on one side, flip, then squash with spatula to cook the insides well. Once crispy on both sides, serve with good company and a nice Malbec. Save some for work the next day.

Everytime I enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of my labors, I thank the dirt I signed up for this CSA. Without a fridge full of previously unknowns (orange beets? Never seem 'em before), I'd nary venture to concoct so many culinary Michaelangelos. Kudos (or kudzu?) to Leana and Joan for putting this together!

*Fun veggie facts:
Swiss chard, beta vulgaris, is of the same species as the common beet. Vulgaris sounds vulgar (crass), doesn't it? But vulgaris just means "ordinary," from the Latin vulgus, meaning "a crowd."

**How much is a sprinkle? More than a pinch, less than a pound.

Too many greens?

Could one ever truly have too many greens? For those of us who like to glean our energy from foods only once-removed from direct solar power (alas, if I only had cholorphyll), the answer is a resounding "No!"

...But what to do when those greens start turning into mushy browns?

Thankfully, this sneaky decomposition process has only crept up on my beloved kale but once. Withered, soggy limbs were quickly amputated to save the body - though this little green soldier quickly found itself frying in a pool of olive oil only moments later; indeed, had it known its ultimate destiny, would it have chosen the slow demise of withering rot over a sizzling fate in my frying pan? Regardless of the preferences of my produce, I prefer them crispy over mushy.

So does anyone have any tips worthy of Dr. Frankenstein on how to preserve, prolong or resurrect dying or withered greens? Might you know of some macabre concoction - a bread, perhaps - in which my uncooperative young vegetables might be infused for later consumption?

Greens and cheese quiche

This is a sort of ad hoc recipe, but I made it, tasted it, and proclaim it good enough to share. A result of too many veggies last week, since I got most of the share due to the long weekend. It is a version of a spinach and cheese quiche, but uses assorted greens instead, and a "crust" of shredded red potatoes instead of time consuming dough making - I suppose you can make it in any pan, but I used an 8 inch nonstick pie pan.

Trim and steam any and all greens on hand. I used the Kale, Chard and beet greens of last week. Let cool, squeeze out the water, and chop coarsely.

Cook 4 slices of bacon or turkey bacon in a pan, and then saute 1/2 an onion and 1 tsp of chopped garlic in the same pan, to get that extra flavor.

Shred 4 small red potatoes, with the peel, into a bowl. Add a 1/2 tsp of salt, mix well, and then squeeze out the water with your hands. Season the shredded potatoes with whatever is on hand - I used some grill seasoning. Pat into the bottom of the pan, and bake at 400 for about 8 minutes.

Crumble bacon, and spread over the potato crust. Mix the greens with the onions, add 1/2 cup of shredded cheese (cheddar, parmesan, mozzarella...anything tasty), and spread on top of bacon. Beat 4 eggs, add a bit of pepper and more grill seasoning, and pour over the greens. Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes, or until the quiche is set (doesn't jiggle when you shake the pan).

Enjoy, and share. :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

choppin' broccoli

a little shout out to dana carvey's catchy song......and that tastiest of vegetables.....broccoli! it's a great veggie and very good for you. a member of the Brassicaceae family, broccoli is high in vitamin C, soluble fiber and has potent anti-cancer properties. but don't boil for more than 10 minutes or broccoli will lose many of it's health benefits (steaming and stir frying don't seem to have that problem). there are many things to do with broccoli but i think the simpler the better.

tonight we made a tasty side dish of broccoli and orzo....
cook 1/2 cup orzo in 4 cups of water until tender (about 15 mins). drain, reserving 3/4 cup of water. saute 5 cloves of garlic (sliced) and 1/2 onion (diced) in 2 Tbsp olive oil until slightly translucent. add broccoli florets (about 4 cups) tossing in olive oil, garlic and onion. add reserved water, cover and steam for 5 mins. uncover and cook further to reduce liquid until almost evaporated (about 2 mins). combine with orzo. season with salt and pepper to taste and juice of half a lemon. enjoy!

don't waste the broccoli stalks or leaves....peel the tough outer skin with a vegetable peeler and use for soups, stir fry and stocks!

we also received green and red leaf lettuce, swiss and rainbow chard, onions, kale and red cabbage today so post your recipe ideas!

Good, easy greens

Here's something I just this weekend stole from Mark Bittman (New York Times). I tested it, and, ecco!, it's right as rain.

Here's the recipe, in its entirety:
Poach a couple of pounds of dark leafy greens, like kale, collards or spinach. Drain, cool, squeeze dry and chop. Then toss with oil, salt and lots of lemon juice. Serve with more lemon, oil, salt and pepper. Call it horta.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Pesto whole wheat fusilli, with dark greens, carrots, and chicken

I wrote this post on my own blog during week 3 of CSA. However, since the New York Times just did a piece about beets, I thought I'd share it with you all.

"No strawberries this week, but instead we got beets. I love beets, for the nice bloody red color they bleed into the food. I don't roast the beets, just wash well, and then slice the heads into nice half moons and chop the leaves and sautée in a pan with garlic and vegetable oil. This makes a very nice and beautiful side dish, no boring colors on the plate. So this week we'll have a lot of salads again, maybe tomato-less because of the recent salmonella scare, but Maryland tomatoes seem to be ok; Last night for dinner I made Pesto whole wheat fusilli, with dark greens carrots, and chicken. It's as simple as it sounds: sautée the carrots (sliced in nice ovals) and the dark greens in oil, with red hot pepper flakes and garlic, add a quarter cup of white wine (or however much you can spare from that glass you've been sipping from while cooking...) and let it cook until the carrots are almost done, still a bit crunchy (I don't like mushy carrots). When it's almost ready add the cooked chicken ( I had leftovers from a whole chicken that Tim barbecued on Sunday). Season with salt and black pepper. The pasta cooks in salted boiling water in a different pot, and when it's al dente , drain, add to a serving dish, mix in a bit of pesto and chopped herbs . Serve right after salad. Speaking of pasta, we had an authentic Italian dinner recently with A&L and L's Italian parents. It started with pasta (Pesto linguine) , the second course was a slice of roast with bread and cheese, and we ended with salad. This (salad ending) was most surprising , but then it makes sense, you sort of clean your palate, get it ready for desert. Then I remembered that I grew up in Romania and had salad only as a side dish to the meat course. I still remember my surprise my fist lunch at Marlboro College, when I saw people had salad for lunch (as lunch, with maybe a cookie as desert). I think people's eating habits and cultures are fascinating. Bon Appétit!"