Tag: lettuce

CSA Box: Many meals

I’m giving up on the day-by-day post idea, but still intend to post photos and formal and informal “recipes” or meal descriptions as I work through our CSA box contents.

Salmon, sweet potato, and potato leek soup.

Using up the remaining items from our first CSA box, I made potato-leek soup using a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook with Farmer’s Market potatoes and all the CSA box leeks from last time’s box and this box. This is one of my favorite soups, especially when made with with homemade chicken broth. The recipe instructions have you “sweating” the leeks (cooking for a longish time) before adding the diced potatoes, broth, and thyme.

I had two sweet potatoes left, so I baked both and made a brown sugar-butter glaze to go with them. Unfortunately I don’t think I baked the potatoes long enough so they were a little bit firm, but they were still tasty. I made a mustard-brown sugar-cider vinegar spread for the salmon and baked it in the toaster oven to complete our meal.

Carrots, pink lady apples, and grilled cheese sandwich

I recently rediscovered the sweetness and flavor of “real” carrot sticks after years of munching on bland baby carrots (which I think I used to like when they first came out), so I was really excited that our second box came with a bunch of carrots. For lunch, I made a grilled cheese sandwich and shared a carrot and Pink Lady apple with Steve. Delicious!

Spinach, garlic bread, and shrimp scampi

We got to experience crocodile spinach, a different variety, which is supposedly harder to wash but well worth the effort. I found that this bunch of spinach was actually a lot cleaner than the last bunch, so it didn’t seem like it took as long to clean although I did still check each leaf individually to make sure there was no more dirt. We had a deliciously yummy meal of shrimp scampi, garlic bread, and spinach over rice. With the exception of the rice, everything else had garlic and butter in it! I used a basic shrimp scampi recipe from The Best Recipe, but here are my favorite ways of cooking spinach and making garlic bread…

Garlic Bread

  1. Cut a loaf of French or sourdough bread in half, lengthwise. (I use one french sandwich roll for two of us.)
  2. Put a chunk of butter in a small bowl. If necessary, soften just slightly in the microwave. For the french sandwich roll, I use about 3 tablespoons of butter, microwaved at 10 seconds.
  3. Mince two cloves of garlic or run them through a garlic press. Stir into the butter.
  4. Spread the bread generously with the garlic butter.
  5. Turn on broiler (I use the toaster oven) and toast, watching carefully, until the bread is your ideal shade of brown.

Spinach with garlic and butter

  1. Wash a bunch of spinach well, separating leaves from stem base. Clean stem bases well if you like to eat those as well.
  2. Melt 1-2 tablespoons of butter in non-stick skillet.
  3. Add 1-2 cloves of minced garlic and the stem bases (if using). Cook, stirring occasionally, to start softening the stems.
  4. Add all the spinach leaves. Cook, tossing and stirring, until the greens have wilted down and the stems are tender. Add more butter if you think it looks a bit dry (depending on how large your bunch of spinach is).
  5. Serve immediately.

Superbowl Sunday salad

We went to my in-law’s house to watch the Superbowl. I made a whatever-we-have-in-the-fridge salad with romaine lettuce (all that was in our box), green leaf lettuce (from the store), sliced carrots, the one watermelon radish in our box, canned mandarin oranges, and hard-boiled eggs from our box. At first, I was going to make a basic vinaigrette, but after tasting one of the spicy pieces of radish, I decided to look for a creamy, sweet dressing in one of my standby cookbooks, Lettuce in Your Kitchen. I modified one of the recipes and put together a mayonnaise, ketchup, sugar, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar dressing with a tiny smidgen of prepared horseradish.

I love the box subscription thing because probably never in my life would I have thought to look for or purchase watermelon radish! These baseball-sized radishes have a white-green exterior and a surprisingly red-pink-purplish interior. Very fun.

Rice bowl

Finally, I tried out a rice bowl recipe from In My Box, using wild rice, kale, onions, garlic, and a bit of dried serrano pepper flavored lightly with a yummy dressing and topped with a poached egg and toasted sesame seeds. (I didn’t have nori on hand; the recipe has you top it with toasted nori bits as well.) I don’t think I’ve had a comparable dish with this mix of flavors and found it quite tasty! I ended up with a lot of leftovers; unfortunately Steve doesn’t like crunchy rice, so I’ll be working through the rest of the rice over the next few days!

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CSA Days 4 – 7: Salad, broccoli, pasta, and baby bok choy

Day 4: Sunday

Grilled cheese sandwich and salad

For lunch, I made another quick salad with produce box lettuce and mushrooms and oranges from the Farmer’s Market and some pieces of leftover steak. I made a basic vinaigrette with olive oil, sugar, white wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and a dash of dried oregano. Then I made grilled cheese sandwiches with bread from a local bakery… although I did use Kraft processed American cheese singles. I must admit a fond weakness for processed cheese singles!

My favorite way to make grilled cheese:

  1. Butter two slices of bread.
  2. Slice real cheese OR unwrap a cheese single.
  3. Heat small skillet on medium heat until a little warm.
  4. Put one slice of bread, buttered side down, on the skillet. Immediately put cheese on the unbuttered side and top with the other slice of bread, buttered side up.
  5. Gently cook until the bottom side is toasty brown, then flip with a spatula.
  6. Finish cooking the other side.
  7. Slice on diagonal for cute triangular pieces.
  8. If making more sandwiches, turn the heat down just slightly so that the others don’t overcook.

Day 5: Monday

Baked potato with broccoli and cheese

I felt like cooking myself a “real” lunch (instead of my usual fare of leftovers or whatever’s-in-the-fridge), so I decided to bake a Farmer’s Market potato and steam some produce box broccoli.

Having been forewarned about the strong possibility of aphid-infested broccoli, I gave the whole heads of broccoli a good rinsing. But then I realized that the now-dead aphids (dead from being in the fridge for several days, probably) were stuck inside the tiny crevices of the broccoli. Some people might not care about eating an aphid here or there, but once I saw them, I had to do something about them! I ended up spending about 15 or 20 minutes cutting off each floret and painstakingly washing off dead aphids, using a small paring knife to scrape out the little crevices. A bit ridiculous, perhaps, but I think I ended up with the cleanest broccoli I’ve ever had in my life!

And washing the broccoli did give some time for my potato to bake. I used the quick-bake method: Poke a few holes in the potato and microwave for 6-8 minutes until slightly softened, then finish off in the toaster oven for another 15-20 minutes at 450 degrees.

I only ate half the potato, sprinkling it generously with shredded pepper jack cheese, piling broccoli on top, and adding a heaping spoonful of sour cream. I packed the rest of the potato with some broccoli and cheese for Steve’s lunch the next day.

We had a light dinner; I made a repeat salad with grilled cheese sandwich, but adding mustard to the vinaigrette.

Day 7: Wednesday

Pasta with arugula

One of the recipes that came with the Eatwell Farm newsletter was for pasta with arugula. I’ve never cooked with arugula before and didn’t know what to do with it besides including it in salads, so I decided to try out the recipe. Based on previous experience with longer veggie washing times, I washed the arugula in the morning and stored it in a salad spinner. I did end up rinsing the arugula leaf by leaf in a big bowl of water, but it went a lot faster than washing spinach or broccoli.

The recipe instructs you to cook pasta, then make a simple sauce of sauteed garlic in olive oil with some salt, pepper, lemon juice, and white wine. (The white wine turned my garlic green!) Tossing the hot sauce, hot pasta, and raw, chopped arugula helps the arugula to wilt down slightly. Very light meal and pretty tasty; I ended up adding some shredded parmesan cheese for some extra flavor.

The picture above shows the leftovers, packed with steamed broccoli for Steve’s lunch.

Beef short ribs, bok choy, and broccoli

For dinner, I made asian barbecued beef short ribs (a new recipe I found online). I’ve never made short ribs before; since I was working with one pound of ribs instead of the six pounds that the recipe calls for, I only baked them for 45 minutes, afraid of overcooking them. I probably should have baked them for longer as the meat was still pretty chewy. The sauce was delicious spooned over the rice and steamed broccoli, though!

I cooked the baby bok choy with my standard soy-garlic recipe. I also made some homemade chicken broth and made a small side of egg drop soup with one of the larger free-range eggs from my box but forgot to take a picture of it.

Bok choy with soy-garlic sauce

  1. Chop the lighter stems into half-inch pieces, then chop the green leaves coarsely.
  2. Heat olive oil over high heat until quite hot and then brown the stems.
  3. Add some minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds to toast.
  4. Add the leaves and a soy sauce/sugar mixture (about 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of sugar).
  5. Toss until the leaves are wilted and serve.

Free range egg drop soup for two

  1. Smash a clove of garlic and a small piece of ginger and combine with two cups of homemade chicken broth or stock. Simmer for several minutes on low-ish heat, then remove the ginger and garlic.
  2. Pick out your largest free-range egg and beat in a small bowl.
  3. Use a utensil to slowly stir the soup in a circular motion and slowly pour the egg in a thin stream into the moving liquid.
  4. Mix together a small amount (1/2 to 1 teaspoon) of cornstarch and an equal amount of water and add to the soup to thicken.
  5. Add chopped scallions and chopped cilantro. Serve immediately.

What’s left from our box?

  • Several mandarin oranges
  • Leeks
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Kale
  • Turnips
  • Remaining washed arugula, stored in salad spinner in fridge to keep fresh

This is a short week for me — going on a short vacation starting this afternoon until Saturday, but I have plans for all the veggies (except possibly two of the leeks) in yummy-sounding dishes before our next box gets picked up on Wednesday!

CSA Day 3: Spinach, salad, and salmon

Day 2 passed with more mandarin oranges and the last Pink Lady apple. Saturday night, I made a late dinner with more goodies from our Eatwell Farm box.

First, I spent half an hour rinsing off the polar bear spinach. Here’s a close-up picture of what I was working with:

Dirty spinach

I found it best to tear off the leaves and rinse them under running water one at a time, gently brushing off the dirt with my fingers so as not to bruise the leaves. Not very water-conservation-y of me, but simply rinsing in a bowl wasn’t doing much! Then, I scrubbed the stem bases with a vegetable brush under running water. (I like cooking the stems, too; I like the way they squeak in my teeth.)

When the spinach was finally clean, I lined the toaster oven pan with foil and greased it with olive oil. I sprinkled salt and squeezed some lemon juice over a wild salmon fillet, laid a few sprigs of dill on top (from the freezer), and cut a few slices of lemon to lay on top. I stuck it in the toaster oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

While the salmon was baking, I washed off a few leaves of the romaine lettuce from our produce box. The lettuce had a lot of dirt on it as well but it came off much easier. I had just gotten some mushrooms and oranges from the Farmer’s Market that morning, so those got sliced into the salad along with some leftover red onion. I mixed together a quick dressing of olive oil, orange juice (from the end pieces of the orange), salt, pepper, and sugar to drizzle over the top.

With the salad ready, I mixed up some softened butter with minced garlic and spread it generously on two slices of french bread from a local bakery.

The salmon was nearly done so I started cooking the spinach. In a non-stick pan, I melted a generous chunk of butter, then added the spinach stems and let them cook down just slightly. I added minced garlic and the rest of the spinach and salted it lightly, then let it all cook down while I pulled out the salmon and quickly broiled the garlic bread.

Did the food taste better because we knew we were supporting local farmers, weren’t eating any pesticides, were getting more vitamins and antioxidants and other good stuff than with conventional produce, and had painstakingly washed the spinach with love? I’m not sure, but we both had very happy tummies at the end of the night…

Yummy dinner!