Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pasta with chicken, pesto, and tomatoes

I've made pesto only once before, the summer after my first year of college when I first discovered Mollie Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook. I was living in an apartment off-campus with a big kitchen and spent that summer making a lot of things from that cookbook (ratatouille, pita bread, pesto...) that were not part of my food experience growing up. It was a lot of fun, but a LOT of work to chop up all this stuff by hand.  Now that I'm all grown up and have a food processor, I'm finding that these recipes I tried once years ago are SO MUCH EASIER. I made this pesto in about 10 minutes; no chopping required. 

I used this recipe from the Food Network.  (I tend to use online recipes a lot for two reasons: I don't have to make a shopping list because I can just refer to the recipe on my iPhone while I'm in the store, and I like reading users' comments and suggestions for improvements/variations.)  I sauteed the chicken in some olive oil in the cast iron skillet (and used a tad less olive oil in the pesto to balance it out). When it was cooked, I added the cooked and drained pasta and the pesto, stirred to coat everything with the pesto, and added some chopped tomatoes. (The tomatoes don't need to be cooked -- just let them sit in with the pasta for 5 minutes to warm up if they've been in the fridge.)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Farm share week 13

In this week's box:
  • Watermelon: 3.25 lbs
  • Beets: 1.25 lbs
  • Cucumber: 1 lb
  • Green pepper: 0.75 lb
  • Tomato: 1 lb
  • Salad greens: 0.75 lb
  • Eggplant: 1.25 lb
  • Callaloo: 0.75 lb
  • Basil: 0.25
Here's this week's newsletter (PDF).

It turned out that keeping the basil with the stems in a container of water in the fridge did NOT keep it fresh any longer, so I think a big meal of something basil-related is in our future...

Happy to get another watermelon -- they're the perfect size to cut up and eat the whole thing standing over the sink. Only complaint is that they're full of seeds.

I now have FIVE green peppers to use up. Halp.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Farm share week 12

In this week's box:
  • Watermelon: 4.5 lbs
  • Eggplant: 2 lbs
  • Green peppers: 1.25 lbs
  • Lemon cucumbers: 0.75 lb
  • Tomatoes: 1.5 lbs
  • Collard greens: 1 lb
  • Green beans: 1 lb
  • Avocado: 1.5 lbs
 This week's newsletter (PDF) alerted members about the inclusion of avocados in the box -- avocados are certainly not native to this area, but the farm did some kind of tradeoff with a farmer in Florida for some of their own produce that is now out of season there. They asked for feedback and I'm sure they will get some negative responses from the hardcore locavores.  Myself, I love avocados, and this keeps me from having to buy one at the store. Also, this is the largest avocado I've ever seen! I'm used to getting the dark-skinned Haas variety that are about half this size (from California, I guess) -- these seem more similar to the ones I see at Latino markets and restaurants.

Happy to get collards this week instead of kale (the collards seem to last longer in the fridge, and it's a nice change, as much as I love kale!).  Also pleased to get a baby watermelon!  (And you'll notice that they didn't skimp on the rest of the stuff they put into the box because of the weight of the watermelon -- the total box weight is 13.25 lbs by my calculations.)

As you might remember, we got bunches of celery the past two weeks. I chopped them up the other night and as a result had a huge pile of celery greens. I posted a photo of them on Facebook and within a few hours had connected with a coworker whose two bunnies were more than happy to take the greens off my hands. Waste not, want not...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Farm share week 11

In this week's box:
  • Corn: 1.75 lbs
  • Celery: 1 lb
  • Cucumbers: 1.75 lbs
  • Eggplant: 1.5 lbs
  • Green pepper: 1 lb
  • Tomatoes: 1.5 lbs
  • Tomatillos: 0.75 lb
  • Canteloupe: 2.5 lbs
  • Parsley: 0.5 lb
  • Basil: 0.5 lb
This week's newsletter (PDF) announced the inclusion of another new item for me -- tomatillos.  They're used a lot in Mexican cooking, so I guess that means some enchiladas are in our future. :)

I learned this week that I've been storing my fresh herbs incorrectly. I thought they should go in perforated bags in the crisper like the other leafy things we get, but according to Joy of Cooking, that's only the case for herb leaves that aren't on the stem. If they're bunches of herbs still on the stem, they should be stored with their stems in water (like a bouquet), outside the crisper. Hoping this means that this parsley and basil will last longer... I'll keep you posted.

Remember last week, when I got a ton of stuff that I knew Carl wouldn't eat?  Well, it happened to be the annual picnic at work this week, and everyone was tasked to bring a salad or a dessert.  I love baking, so usually that would be a no-brainer for me, but I decided to veer off course this year and roast up some veggies instead. I sliced up beets, zucchini, squash, eggplant, and green pepper; marinated them on baking sheets in some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and roasted them at 375° for 30-40 minutes.  Cooled 'em, dumped 'em in a Tupperware, and brought to picnic. Came home with empty Tupperware, hooray!


Okay, this is really kale-ikopita, because we don't have spinach, but we sure have kale. I figured one leafy green could be substituted for another without too much trouble. I think the kale definitely gives it a stronger "greens" flavor, but it was still really good! And I used up two entire bunches of kale, which is such a satisfying feeling. :)

I used the recipe for spanikopita in The Joy of Cooking (my first stop for recipes). It was my first time working with phyllo dough sheets, and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was. It's time-consuming, though -- I don't see this dish making it into the regular rotation, but it's great for "special."  It certainly gives me respect for the cooks who make tons of this and cheese pies on a daily basis in all those cafes in Greece. (And some of them probably make the dough by hand, too, which boggles the mind...)

...Think I'm going to go finish off the leftovers of this now!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Farm share week 10

In this week's box:
  • Celery: 1.5 lbs
  • Yellow squash: 2 lbs
  • Tomatoes: 1 lb
  • Green peppers: 1.25 lbs
  • Kale: 0.75 lb
  • Lettuce: 0.5 lb
  • Lemon cucumbers: 1.75 lbs
  • Eggplant: ... (apparently I forgot to weigh it)
  • Currants: 6 oz
Super-excited to see the first of the tomatoes... I'm sure we'll be drowning in them soon enough, but nothing says late summer to me like tomatoes. The celery is interesting -- much darker green than the kind I'm used to seeing in the supermarket.  Speaking of celery, this week's box is full of things that Carl doesn't like -- eggplant, green pepper, squash, celery... not sure what I'm going to do with all this stuff.

I was reading this week's newsletter (PDF) and noticed that several of the recipes that are included have to do with vegetables that were in last week's box, rather than the usual recipes that are for the current week's box. I thought that was a good idea, because usually that's around the time when I start thinking, what am I going to do with all this stuff from last week?  Then I noticed that THREE of the recipes were written by my friend Jen! She lives in Arlington, on the other side of the city, and I had no idea that we were members of the same farm. Fun.

Halfway through the week, the farm sent out a special e-mail about the currants. I guess they were worried that people wouldn't know what to do with them!  They photograph beautifully, that's all I know...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sesame-peanut noodles

It's been so hot here lately that cold dinners are really appealing. This week I made this sesame-peanut noodle dish -- it can be served hot or cold, or somewhere in between (which is what happens when you put it in the fridge to chill but then get too hungry to wait until it's completely cold).

I used soba noodles for this dish -- they only need to be boiled for a few minutes because they're thin. I tore up a head of kale (remove the leaves from the stems and the thick rib that goes up the middle, tear leaves into bite-sized pieces) and threw that in with the noodles. Since the noodles only take a few minutes, the leaves will turn bright green and not be cooked completely into mushy oblivion, which is nice for this dish.  Drain the noodles and kale and let them sit in the colander in the sink while you prepare the rest: heat up a tablespoon or two of sesame oil in the same pot you boiled the noodles in. Throw in some tofu cubes, chopped up scallion if you have it, and a tablespoon of sesame seeds. After a couple of minutes, add the cooked noodles and kale back in, and stir fry it for a few minutes. As you can see, I also had some purple cabbage that I added at this point. While this is happening, soften a tablespoon or two of peanut butter in the microwave. Some people add milk to make it more saucy, but I didn't. Stir this into the noodles. Season with cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Put the whole mess in the fridge and cool for as long as you see fit. Top with chopped cucumbers if you like. (Can you tell I'm not a rigid recipe follower?)

Cool, colorful, and tasty!