Friday, July 24, 2015

Simple Summer Salad

What could be simpler than chopping up some fresh garden vegetables with basil and a little vinegar and agave marinade for a refreshing meal on a sunny summer evening?  If you still have basil, here is a quick and delicious way to use it up.  This is a very flexible "use what you have" recipe.  Every vegetable in here is replaceable with whatever you have or like - tomatoes, red onion, zucchini you name it.

Simple Summer Salad

1 can cannellini beans (white kidney beans), drained and rinsed
3 scallions, chopped
2 sweet banana peppers, seeded and chopped
1/2 cucumber, chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbs agave nectar
salt and pepper to taste

Place all vegetables in a medium to large bowl.  Drizzle vinegar and agave over the vegetables and add a little salt and pepper.  Stir to combine everything.  This salad is even better after it has marinated for a few hours.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Cauliflower Steaks

This might just be the finest looking cauliflower I've ever received from Clarion River Organics.  When you see a specimen this big and beautiful you've got to think cauliflower steaks.  Yes.  You read that right.  I did say cauliflower steaks.  This is a very simple idea that I read about in the paper a few years ago.  It requires just a handful of ingredients and a grain to go along with it.  I chose buckwheat because I love the texture (a bit like couscous) and the nutty flavor. The toothsome texture of the buckwheat with the soft roasted cauliflower is a terrific combination.  Also try rice, quinoa (technically not a grain), millet, or freekah.  The leftovers the next day make a nice cold plate lunch topped with some of the heirloom tomato slices, a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and more fresh cilantro.  

Cauliflower Steaks - Serves 2-3

1 head CRO Cauliflower
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp chopped or grated fresh ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
chopped cilantro, for garnish, optional
2-3 cups cooked grain of your choice (about 1 cup dry depending upon the grain)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Remove outer green leaves from the cauliflower.  You can save these to make cauliflower chips (see my previous post about Beet Green Chips for the technique).  Rinse cauliflower and pat dry.  Slice the cauliflower down from top to bottom into 1/2 to 3/4 inch slabs so they will lay flat in a pan.  Reserve any florets that break off from the edges for another use.  Heat 1 tbs of the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Brown the cauliflower slices for 2 minutes on each side.  Meanwhile combine remaining 1 tbs olive oil, ginger, cumin, and turmeric in a small dish.  When cauliflower has browned on each side remove slices to a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper.  With a spoon for brush spread the olive oil mixture on the top side of each slice.  Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.  They should then look like this:
Roasted Cauliflower Steaks
While the cauliflower is roasting in the oven, cook your grain of choice according to package directions.  When cauliflower is done, place a generous portion of the cooked grain on a plate and top with a cauliflower slice or two and chopped cilantro.
Cauliflower Steaks over Buckwheat with Cilantro
Leftovers topped with heirloom tomato slices,
olive oil, and cilantro

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Beet Green Chips

This is my third season as a Clarion River Organics CSA subscriber. I have blogged the previous two summers about my experience as a subscriber and how I have used the produce including recipes.  I don't plan to post nearly as much this summer as I have in the past two for a couple of reasons.  First, I already have more than 60 recipes on this blog giving CRO subscribers lots of ideas for how to use the items received.  Just search in the upper left on any item and you will most likely find what you are looking for.  Second, an illness in my extended family is requiring much of my time at the moment so I am simply not cooking as much or I just use my "go to" recipes already shared on this blog.  For example, given the great bounty of rhubarb we have received I simply made these rhubarb muffins and this rhubarb salad dressing so I wouldn't have to take the time to find new uses.  

That said, I thought I'd pass along this simple idea to use up some of the greens we have been receiving recently.  I have been making simple kale chips since last summer when I devised a fabulously easy way of preparing them based on an appetizer I had at a Marriott hotel in Atlanta (see that post here Kale Chips in Atlanta ).  But given that I am a bit overwhelmed with greens right now and don't like to waste anything I thought I'd use the same prep technique using the beet greens we received last week.  The result?  Fantastic!  They have a richer flavor than the kale chips but take just a bit longer to get crisp.  The patience pays off.  If you like kale chips, then you'll like these!  You can use this same technique for any greens - spinach, collard greens, even the broccoli leaves.

Beet Green Chips 

Beet Greens from the tops of one bunch beets, center  rib removed and torn into 2 inch pieces
Olive oil cooking spray (or 1/2 tbs olive oil)
Salt, pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 275.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper to make clean up easy (optional).  Spread torn beet greens on two cookie sheets.  Don't worry about overcrowding them.  They will shrink as they bake and will not stick together.  Spray beet greens with olive oil to coat (or toss with the olive oil).  Sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste.  Bake on cookie sheets for 18 minutes switching the sheets on the oven racks half way through cooking time.  Serves 2 as a snack/appetizer.

Spread beet greens on two cookie sheets.  

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Ginger Curry

I have to give a shout out to my beautiful daughter, Hannah.  This recipe is entirely her creation, and while it doesn't use up a ton of our recent vegetables, I just love it because it is really easy and delicious.  Since she is a college student, this recipe only serves 1-2, but you can up the quantities of everything to serve more people.  Instead of the carrots, you could use sweet potatoes or any of the squashes we have received recently, but they have to be cooked first.  You can also substitute raisins for the dried currants. 

Ginger Curry

1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp chopped ginger
1/2 cup onion, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric  
dash of cinnamon
2 medium carrots, sliced
1/2 cup coconut milk (do not use light, it's just not the same)
1/2 cup canned chick peas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup dried currants
pepper to taste
cilantro leaves for garnish, optional
cooked rice, noodles, quonia or grain of choice

Heat oil over medium heat in a frying pan.  Saute ginger and onion in oil for 30 seconds to one minute.  Add turmeric, cinnamon and carrots.  Saute an additional 30 seconds.  Add coconut milk, chick peas, currants, and pepper.  Cook 5-6 minutes and serve over grain of choice.  Garnish with cilantro leaves if desired.  Serves 1-2.  

Monday, September 15, 2014

Green Bean, Tomato and Olive Salad

The Fannie Farmer Cookbook has been around since 1896, originally published under the name The Boston Cooking School Cook Book.  It has had more than a dozen printings, but my copy is from 1979.  It was the first cookbook I owned, purchased for me by my mother one Christmas.  So when talking to her yesterday about this great big bag of green beans I received this week from CRO, she suggested that I go to the tried and true Fannie Farmer for ideas.  I did and do you know this is one of the best green bean salads I think I've eaten. With just a few changes, most of this recipe came from my 1979 edition originally titled "Raw Green Beans, Tomatoes, Olives, Scallions, and Celery Salad".  I changed it only to reflect what I had on hand and what we like.  Sometimes the old cookbooks have simple things that are timelessly tasty!  This is one of them. 

Green Bean, Tomato and Olive Salad

1 bag CRO green beans, ends trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup CRO grape tomatoes, halved
3/4 cup Greek olives
1/2 cup CRO red onion, chopped (about 2 slices)
1 red or green pepper sliced very thin (like matchsticks)
2 Tbs chopped parsley
2 Tbs chopped cilantro

1/4 cup grape seed or olive oil
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Fill a large bowl with ice water.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the beans 2 minutes.  Immediately drain and rinse the beans in cold water and transfer to the ice water for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, prepare your other ingredients.  Drain the beans, pat dry and transfer to a large bowl.  Add tomatoes, olives, onion, peppers, parsley, and cilantro.  Toss to combine.  Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl until emulsified.  Pour over the salad and toss again to combine.  Serves 4-6 generously.  

Friday, September 5, 2014

Minestrone in Summer? Not exactly...

I saw a recipe in the paper recently for a "Minestrone Pasta Salad".  Basically, it used many of the same ingredients you would use to make minestrone soup and put them together in a pasta salad.  I made a few modifications to use what I have and make it vegetarian (if you want to make it non-veg, just sub salami for the tofu).  The CRO beans, tomatoes, and red onion all get used in this salad and it feeds a crowd.  Interestingly, purple beans turn green when cooked!

On another note, if you are feeling overwhelmed by the tomatoes received this week, check out my post from around this same time last summer for a traditional spaghetti sauce that is very easy to make.

Minestrone Pasta Salad

8 oz small pasta of choice (I used orecchiette)
1/2 cup diced CRO red onion
4 ounces CRO purple beans, ends trimmed and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
2 medium carrots, diced
1 CRO heirloom tomato, diced
1 cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped out, and diced (I do not peel my cucumber)
3/4 cup canned chick peas, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup canned great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 7-oz package flavored tofu, diced (I used Trader Joe's Teriyaki Tofu)
3 TBS chopped fresh basil

For the dressing:
5 TBS olive oil plus a little extra for cooking onions
2 TBS balsamic vinegar
1 TBS red wine vinegar
1 tsp dijon-style mustard
1 tsp dried oregano, crushed (or use 1 TBS fresh, chopped)
1/8 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat.  Cook pasta according to package directions.  Remove pasta with a slotted spoon to a colander to drain and rinse with cold water.  Set aside.

Return the pot of water to a boil.  Meanwhile, heat a small skillet over medium heat and spray with olive oil (or drizzle a little olive oil into the pan).  Cook onion for 2 minutes and set aside.  

Prepare a medium sized bowl of water and ice.  When the pot of water is boiling, add the bean pieces to the water and cook 3 minutes.  Add the carrots to the water and cook 3 minutes.  Immediately drain the beans and carrots in a colander and then transfer them to the ice water bath.  After 10 minutes, drain the beans and carrots and place on paper towels to dry. 

Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a large bowl until emulsified.  Add all other ingredients and stir to incorporate.  Makes 8-12 servings depending if you are using as a main dish or a side.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Dahl of the Day

Indian Dahl
Eating a plant-based diet can present problems when going out for dinner.  Scan any restaurant menu and you will likely find that every entree will either contain meat, poultry, seafood or cheese. That is with one exception – the ethnic restaurant.  Asian, Indian, Caribbean, Mediterranean and just about any other ethnic type of establishment you can think of will have vegan options aplenty.  One of our favorite such places is The Mintt, an Indian restaurant on Banksville Road in the South Hills of Pittsburgh.  The herbs and spices in this type of cuisine are strong, but we have grown to really like them.  One of our favorite dishes there is called simply  "Dahl of the Day".  Dahl (also spelled Dal) is a dried pulse, or legume as we would refer to it, that has been split.  Pulses are high in protein as well as B vitamins.  The word "Dahl" is also used to refer to a thick stew or soup made with pulses.  The "Dahl of the Day" at The Mintt is an Indian soup made with red lentils and simmered with greens, tomatoes, and a variety of spices. Interestingly, according to Wikipedia, "[a]rchaeologists have discovered traces of pulse production around Ravi River (Punjab), the seat of the Indus Valley civilization, dating circa 3300 BC."  India is the largest producer of pulses.  So here is my take on The Mintt's dish using this ancient legume and swiss chard from Clarion River Organics.

Dahl of the Day

1 1/2 cups split red lentils, rinsed
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth or water (or a combination)
1 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 tbs curry powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala (see Note)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (less or leave out if you don't like spicy heat)
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, drained (see Note)
1 bunch Clarion River Organics swiss chard, center rib removed and leaves chopped (see Note)
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the lentils in a colander or fine sieve.  Transfer the lentils to a medium-sized bowl of water to soak for 20 minutes.  Drain the soaked lentils and add to a soup pot with the broth or water.  Bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce heat so that the lentils are just simmering.  While the lentils cook, heat the oil in a fry pan over medium heat.  Add the onion to the fry pan and sauté until translucent (about 5 minutes).  Add curry powder, garam masala, ginger, and cayenne (if using) and cook 1 minute.  Add tomatoes to the onion/spice mixture and continue cooking about 5 more minutes.  Add the onion/tomato/spice mixture and the swiss chard to the lentils in the soup pot and continue to simmer until lentils are soft - about 15 more minutes.  Serve over brown basmati rice.  Serves 6 as a first course or 4 as an entree.  

• Garam masala is a spice blend used in Indian cooking.  If you can't find it, use cumin and/or coriander.
• With just a bit of extra work you can use fresh Clarion River Organics tomatoes.  Use 2 fresh tomatoes that have had the skins and seeds removed.  See procedure to do that here: Tomato Time.  Chop the tomatoes after removing the skins and seeds.
• Instead of swiss chard, you can also use spinach, kale, or any other green you like.
• To complete the Indian theme, serve with naan bread available in the frozen foods of many grocery stores and at Indian grocers.