It’s been a couple of weeks since I have done a CSA post and we’ve almost had a full turnover in produce since last time. Here we are now, in the midst of summer in North Carolina. That means tons of tomatoes. This particular combination of made me think of Ratatouille. We make this versatile vegetable stew quite often and most of the key ingredients are already here. I am particularly fond of the recipe in the New Moosewood Cookbook. This week we were able to use fresh tomatoes instead of canned. Try it for lunch, as a side dish or with fresh scrambled eggs at breakfast.
The full list this week included:
3 bell peppers
1 pint sungolds – these are extraordinarily sweet and a great on their own or on top of a salad.
1 baggie of fresh basil
I used the peppers, eggplant and some of the tomatoes in the Ratatouille. The fresh basil and tomatoes are a can’t-miss duo. I decided to use the basil to make pesto and create a dish to pair it with the tomatoes. I came up with Grilled Bruschetta Chicken with Roasted Squash and Pesto Sauce. I really wanted to use spaghetti squash to make this a “pasta” dish but it was not to be had at the grocery store this week so I had to work with what I could get. I will post the full recipe soon.
Here is the perfect paleo side dish for your summer BBQ. It has all of the things in a normal pasta salad except the noodles are replaced with thinly sliced zucchini. The key is to blanch the zucchini to cook out some of the rawness. Fresh raw bell peppers add some sweetness and crunch. Pepperoni, cheese and olives add a good amount of saltiness. The salad is dressed with a simple Italian vinaigrette. You can vary the amounts to your liking and add any other veggies you have on hand such as carrots, onions, broccoli or cauliflower and the meat/cheese could be cut out to make this vegetarian as well.
1 bell pepper, sliced thinly.
Cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered. I like Trader Joe’s mini heirloom tomatoes.
Pepperoni, cut into small cubes.
Cheese, cut into small cubes. I used grass-fed cheddar but whole milk mozzarella would be good here too.
Olives, chopped finely. I used Trader Joe’s jalepeno-stuffed green olives for an extra kick.
5 T olive oil
2.5 T red wine vinegar
1-2 tsp each of dried oregano, basil and red chili flakes
Cut the zucchini into very thin broad slices using a mandoline. Cut the slices lengthwise several times so they resemble noodles. Add the zucchini “noodles” to a pot of boiling water for about 5 minutes. Drain and immerse the “noodles” into an ice bath to stop the cooking. Once the zucchini is chilled, drain well and add the peppers, tomatoes, pepperoni, olives and cheese. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar and spices and dress the vegetables. Chill before serving.
Here’s a recipe for a quick pickle; no cooking or waiting. A great way to use fresh cucumbers which will be plentiful now that summer has arrived. These are also salt-free, unlike those dubious jars from the grocery store. I can remember eating these growing up, so I have to thank my Mom for the inspiration on this one. Try them at your next BBQ.
Slice three medium-sized fresh cucumbers very thinly using a knife or mandoline. Add them to a mixture to 1 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 tbsp each of sugar, dill and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine and refrigerate until you are ready to eat them, which could be immediately.
So I’m liking this posting with a week delay. Rather than speculation, I have results. This week (last week) was sort of a transition week. More summer veggies and a really great variety. Spinach and lettuces are less frequent. Summer squash is plentiful. This week included:
1 lettuce. Instead of salads this week we did chicken lettuce wraps. We cooked skinless chicken thighs in enchilada sauce I had frozen with a dash of homemade hot sauce. I would say this was a marginal success. The chicken was really good but it was too messy. I have yet to find a good paleo tortilla. I’ve tried coconut flour but they were too fluffy and fell apart easily.
3# squash. This was mostly the yellow summer squash and 1 large green zucchini. We incorporated this into “meatless Monday” by making a squash “pasta bake”. Essentially this was cooked sliced zucchini, onion, garlic, diced tomatoes and italian seasonings topped with fresh mozzarella and baked until brown and bubbly.
Swiss chard. We made Jacquie’s breakfast casserole again using local sausage and sweet potatoes. Went really well with the homemade hot sauce and yielded breakfast for four days this week.
Beets. One of me and Jacquie’s favorite veggies. Nothing better than roasted beets with a little olive oil. There weren’t many so we also made roasted parsnips to go with them. Both were a great side dish for chicken Kiev.
Cucumbers. Made some quick pickles with these to serve with a marinated and grilled flank steak.
So Morley and I just went to pick up our CSA box and it’s like Armageddon in Chapel Hill, NC. We had thunderstorms roll through this evening and some of the traffic lights lost power. There were car horns and sirens everywhere (which Morley likes to imitate by howling at them). To be fair this is how it gets every time there is weather down here; North Carolinians can’t handle it. Or maybe it was just a free-for-all mob-style protest of the passing of Amendment 1, I can’t be sure…
But anyway, Morley and I did manage to eventually get our veggies home. You can tell this stuff is fresh. It was dirtier this week than the last couple of weeks, probably because of the rain today.
I didn’t do a Week 4 post because everything was a repeat of something we had previously. I still have some lettuce and spinach from last week that I am trying to quickly finish up now that the stocks are replenished. I’m also super-excited that we just bought a food dehydrator. I can’t decide what to dehydrate first! Looks like there are some possibilities here. So here’s a list of the contents. Quite a bounty this week.
1 pint of strawberries – Still strawberry season here in NC. No complaints from this guy. I might try dehydrating these.
1 head of cauliflower
1 bunch of turnips – The onions and turnips are easy. I was really excited to see these. I see a breakfast casserole in our future made with grated turnips, diced onions, eggs and farm sausage.
3 green/3 yellow squash – Another option for dehydrating. I want to try me some zucchini chips.
3/4# spinach – I’ve been eating a lot of spinach lately. Will have to think about this one a little more.
Vegetables are often overlooked when grilling. And with beer in hand, grilling is what I like to do on warm Sunday afternoons. So next time you throw those steaks on the grill, consider grilling some veggies to go with it.
I used to make this salad with red potatoes or yukon golds. Since going paleo, I decided to try it with sweet potatoes and it came out great. I used to add some honey to the vinaigrette but I left it out of the sweet potato version. For even a bit more bite (a little less sweetness) I might try replacing the cider vinegar with red wine or rice vinegar. For our non-vegetarian friends, may I also suggest some bacon?
Grilled Sweet Potato Salad
For the salad…
4 sweet potatoes
1 red onion
6 green onions
~1/4 c. parsley + more for garnish
salt and pepper
For the vinaigrette…
6 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp whole grain dijon mustard
Wash the sweet potatoes and slice about 3/4″ thick. Boil the sweet potatoes until they are barely fork tender. Don’t overcook them since they will be going on the grill. I think if I could cook a vegetable medium-rare, that’s about where these would be.
While the sweet potatoes cook, trim the ends from the green onions and peel and slice the red onion about 3/4″ thick. Don’t go too thin with them since all of this is going on the grill. I get about 3-4 slices per onion.
Prepare the vinaigrette by mixing all of those items well.
After the sweet potatoes have cooked drizzle all the veggies with a little bit of oil and season them with salt and pepper. Throw them all on the grill. Pull the green onions off after a quick char (that will go pretty quickly). Cook the sweet potato and red onions on each side until they have a nice char as well. Turn the jalapenos frequently until the outside skin is blistered and charred. The jalapenos, onions and sweet potatoes take about the same amount of time, about 6-10 minutes total.
After the veggies are done dice the jalapenos and onions. Cut the sweet potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Combine the veggies and dress with the vinaigrette while everything is still warm. Mix in the fresh parsley and serve while still warm or at room temperature.
It’s week three of the CSA and holy lettuce! We just finished our salad from last week and here comes round two. What I’m really excited about is the swiss chard though. I’m not sure that I’ve ever eaten this particular vegetable much less prepared it. It looks like it could be good sautéed and Eric recommended trying it in a raw salad.
Two more pints of delicious strawberries this week. The bad news it looks like the rain and cold have hurt the ripening strawberries. The good news is that the rain helps the blueberries and blackberries and those have survived the cold so far. I’m looking forward to both! For the first time the farm is also growing mushrooms. An email update says they’ve cleared some trees and shrubs where the mushroom logs are incubating and preparing the area for production.
In last week’s CSA box we received some field onions. I use onions in recipes almost every day but I wanted to try to create something that made the onions stand out on their own. I decided to make a grilled seasoned bone-in pork chop paired with roasted onions with a balsamic vinegar reduction. There was rain in the forecast so I decided not to venture out to the grill and broil it instead.
4 bone-in pork chops
2 c. sliced sweet onions
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
Season both sides of the pork chops and bake at 375 F or grill until internal temperature reads 145 F, turning once about halfway through cooking.
Spread the sliced onions on a baking sheet, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Place the onions in the oven and roast until they are soft and golden. I put them in about the same time as the pork and both took in the neighborhood of 30 minutes.
While the pork and onions are cooking pour balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan. Stirring often, simmer about 15-20 minutes or until the vinegar reduces about half. Remove from the heat and let cool. It will thicken up more as it cools.
Plate the onions over the pork and drizzle with the balsamic reduction. I served ours with steamed broccoli. Enjoy!
For the seasoning:
2 parts each of salt, pepper, dried onion
1 part each of dried parsley, coriander, granulated garlic
Every weekend Mary and I take a trip to one of two farmers markets near by. This week there was some awesome looking leeks, cabbage, and chives. Not knowing exactly what we were going to get keeps us on our toes for cooking exciting and different meals each week.
Here are some things that might come out of this week’s bounty: