Friday, September 30, 2011

Fingerling Potato Salad

Potato salad is like a blank slate. There are so many flavors that work well with potatoes, there are literally hundreds of variations on this classic dish.

Let's start with the potatoes: Fingerlings retain their shape, while Russets are inclined to break apart resulting in a creamier texture. However, you can mash the Fingerlings a little and end up with exactly the amount of potato chunky-ness you prefer. Redskins are more like Fingerlings in that they retain their shape, but they mash up well too.

I like to leave the potatoes in their jackets because it provides a little more nutrition and fiber. I also like the look of it. But if you want to peel your potatoes, I suggest doing so after you cook them. You'll find it easier to remove their papery skins. Wait until they're cool enough to handle, though.

As for additions, a classic version of potato salad includes chopped celery, chopped onion, mashed hard-boiled eggs, sweet pickle relish, and of course, mayonnaise. However, you can add peppers, both sweet and/or hot, fresh English peas (in season), fresh corn kernels, grated carrots, grated zucchini, or chopped kale. And you don't have to use a mayo-based dressing. Vinaigrettes are lovely on potato salad.

Salt, pepper, and paprika are classic seasonings. But you can get adventurous and season your potato salad with cumin or curry powder. I adore smoked paprika, both sweet and hot. Lemon juice and/or grated lemon peel will add a little zing. For even more zing, try Dijon mustard, horseradish, or wasabi.

I made my potato salad today with the Fingerlings in our box, as well as sweet onion, red onion, grated carrots, chopped celery, pickle relish, and mayo. Here's my recipe, but don't hesitate to try your own variations. Potato salad is such a popular dish at my house, I'm sure I'll be postiong more variations in the future.

1 lb. Fingerling potatoes
1/2 small sweet onion, finely chopped
1-2 T finely chopped red onion
1-2 ribs celery, trimmed and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1-2 T sweet pickle relish, or dill relish, if you prefer
4 T mayonnaise, or more to taste
salt, pepper and paprika to taste

1. Scrub the potatoes. Put in a pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until potatoes are just tender. The cooking time will vary with the size of the potatoes.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, place the chopped onions, celery, grated carrots and relish in a large bowl.

3. When the potatoes are done, drain them and allow them to cool. When they're cool enough to handle, remove the skins, if desired.

4. Cut the cooked and cooled potatoes into small chunks. For a slightly creamier texture, use a potato masher to mash the potatoes lightly.

5. Stir in the mayo. Add more, if desired. Season with salt, pepper, and paprika to taste.

Potato salad tastes even better after a few hours of refrigeration, so it's a great make-ahead dish.

Today's bounty included:

From Underwood Family Farms: Artichokes, Cherokee tomatoes, green bell peppers, jalapenos, yellow carrots, yellow wax beans, bi-color corn, Romaine lettuce, and yellow summer squash.

From Sage Mountain Farm: Hybrid tomatoes, eggplant, sweet candy onions, zucchini, Fingerling potatoes, and melons.

From Silver Lake Farms: cilantro, arugula, and mustard microgreens, lemons, and sunflower seedlings.



Friday, September 23, 2011

Massaged Kale Salad

Jennie Cook, a local caterer who catered our July 4, 2010 party for the Food & Flowers Freedom Act, recently introduced me to Massaged Kale Salad. What a revelation it was! By simply spending a few minutes literally playing with your food, you can create an amazingly delicious raw kale salad which serves as a blank slate for any number of additional ingredients.

A little crumbled blue cheese, toasted walnuts, and diced fresh apple or pear adds up to one tasty version. Vegans might prefer chopped sun-dried tomatoes and toasted pine nuts. Sprinkle in a bit of garam masala and toss in peeled and sliced mango and a handful of raisins and you've got something with Indian flavors. Whatever you decide to do, it won't take more than a few minutes to pull the whole salad together.My recipe uses another of today's CSA bounty - grapes.
Their sweetness is a nice counterpoint to the tartness of the lemon juice and the slight bitterness of the kale.

1 bunch kale (6 large leaves or more)
2 t extra virgin olive oil
scant 1/2 t salt
1 generous t lemon juice
1/2 C halved grapes, or more to taste
3-4 T shelled toasted pistachio nuts
pepper to taste

1. Wash and dry the kale leaves. Remove the leaves from the stalks. Slice the leaves crosswise in approximately 1/2 inch pieces. [This is called a chiffonade.] Compost the stems.

2. Turn the kale leaves into a large bowl. Add the olive oil, salt, and lemon juice. With clean hands, gently massage the salt, oil, and juice into the kale leaves for 1-3 minutes, until the kale is approximately half the volume it started out. You can massage a little more or less to your taste.

3. Toss in the sliced grapes and nuts. Grate in a little fresh pepper. Add the salt, if necessary.

That's it! You can add a little crumbled goat cheese if you'd like. This recipe makes 2 very generous servings or 4 smaller ones.

Today's bounty included:

From Underwood Family Farms: Romaine and red leaf lettuce, red and purple bell peppers, Brandywine tomatoes, green cabbage, bi-color corn, kale, Easter radishes, Galia melons, round carrots, and raspberries.

From Sage Mountain Farm: Cucumbers, collard greens, Cherry Belle radishes, heirloom melons, and mixed heirloom tomatoes.

From Sweet Tree Farm: Red Flame grapes, white nectarines, and yellow peaches.

And from Silver Lake Farms: Mustard and basil microgreens.



Friday, September 16, 2011

Cheese-y Stuffed Summer Squash

I love the patty pan squash we've been getting lately. It's so pretty, I hate to cut it up and ruin its attractive scalloped edge. If I must cut it, I prefer to slice it crosswise, that way at least some of the slices retain their distinctive scallop.

This recipe is great because the squash is kept whole, maintaining its lovely shape. The squash is scooped out, stuffed and cooked until tender. While the recipe may sound complicated, it's really quite easy and the finished dish looks like something special.

I like the combination of vegetables in the recipe below, but one of the wonderful features of stuffing is you can add whatever you like. Vegans can replace the cheese with quinoa or bulgher; carnivores might like to include a little crumbled bacon, sausage, or chorizo. Whatever your tastes, I encourage you to try this delicious recipe with patty pan squash or any other summer squash such as zucchini.

Cheese-y Stuffed Summer Squash

2 medium patty pan squash
1 T butter
2-3 T chopped red onion
3-4 leaves finely chopped chard
1/4 C chopped shiitake mushrooms
1/4 C grated cheddar or jack cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degree. Wash and dry the squash.

2. Using a sharp knife, slice a very small piece (crosswise) off the rounded bottom of the squash so that it is stable when standing. Then, with the squash standing, using a melon baller or a small ice cream scoop, cut into the top of the squash and scoop out the flesh (and seeds) leaving about 1/2 inch along the sides and bottom.

3. Finely chop the squash flesh that you've removed. There's no need to peel the skin. However, you may want to cut away and compost any tough stems.

4. Place the hollowed out squash in a small saucepan, bottoms down. Fill with about 1 inch of water. Cover and bring to a low boil over medium heat. Cook the squash in the covered pan until barely tender, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

5. While the squash is cooking, melt the butter in a small skillet. Add the onions and saute over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the chopped squash flesh and saute 1 minute. Add the chopped chard and shiitake mushrooms and saute until tender and dry.

6. Spoon the cooked vegetables into a small mixing bowl and add the grated cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Stir until the cheese is well combined. It's fine with the grated cheese melts from the heat of the cooked vegetables.

7. Divide the stuffing into two portions and spoon it into the hollowed out, parboiled squash, mounding it into a nicely rounded top.

8. Place the stuffed squash on a slightly greased, small cookie sheet and place in the hot oven. Bake until the top is well-browned, about 10 minutes. Serve whole, or using a sharp knife, slice in half lengthwise.

If you'd like, you can season the stuffing with a little sage or oregano. A little parsley is also nice.

Today's bounty included:

From Underwood Family Farms: bi-color corn, Blue Lake green beans, golden beets, Japanese turnips, green bell peppers, chard, Valencia oranges, patty pan squash, red and green leaf lettuce, and Orange Gem tomatoes.

From Sage Mountain Farm: heirloom melons, white carrots, cucumber, collard greens, garlic, and hybrid tomatoes.

And from Silver Lake Farms: parsley, cilantro, arugula, and mustard microgreens.



Friday, September 9, 2011

Baba Ghanouj

I love eggplant. It's shiny blackish purple skin and curvaceous shape are enticing enough. But its delicate flavor and super creamy texture make it a wonderfully versatile vegetable.

Eggplant is delicious simply sliced and grilled, then brushed with a little balsamic vinaigrette. Prepared this way, it makes a great veggie sandwich with some roasted red pepper, red onion, a little arugula and goat cheese. Eggplant is great in stews such as Ratatouille as well as in layered casseroles such as Eggplant Parmesan and Moussaka.

Today's recipe for Baba Ghanouj is a delicious and easy eggplant and tahini dip. It's wonderful served with fresh pita bread or chips. You can also eat it in a sandwich. Try spreading a thick layer of Baba Ghanouj on whole wheat bread or in a pita pocket. Add sliced tomato, a few cucumber slices, thinly sliced red onion, and some microgreens or sprouts for a tasty meal.

Baba Ghanouj

1 1 lb eggplant
1-2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped and pounded to a coarse paste
4-5 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
2-3 T tahini (sesame paste)
1-2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 t salt, or to taste
1/4 t pepper, or to taste
2-4 T chopped fresh cilantro or Italian parsley

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Using the tines of a fork, prick the skin of eggplant in a couple of places. Place on a baking sheet and roast the whole eggplant in the oven until it is very soft. About 45 minutes. Set aside to cool. [If you're firing up the grill, roasting the eggplant on the grill is a delicious alternative.]

3. When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, cut it in half and scoop out the soft flesh into a bowl. Compost the peel.

4. In a food processor, or with a fork, mash the eggplant until smooth. If you prefer to have your eggplant a little chunky, that's fine, too.

5. Stir in (or process in) all of the remaining ingredients. Stir until well-combined and smooth.

6. Adjust the seasoning. Add more lemon juice ir tahini, if you prefer. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

I like to use a food mill for step 3 as it grinds the eggplant to a coarse texture, but food mills aren't common kitchen utensils anymore. If you have one, do try it with this recipe.

Using roasted garlic instead of fresh garlic is a nice way to mellow out the strong garlic flavor of this dish. Sometimes I like to add some smoked paprika, too.

You can find tahini in the Middle Eastern section of most markets. If yours doesn't carry it, there are dozens of little Armenian markets in Hollywood and Glendale that are very likely to carry tahini.

Today's bounty included:

From Underwood Family Farms: blackberries, Valencia oranges, romaine, red leaf lettuce, carrots, Cherokee heirloom tomatoes, Hass avocados, yellow wax beans, eggplant, bi-color corn, and Blue Lake green beans.

From Sage Mountain Farm: Roma tomatoes, mixed heirloom tomatoes, green scallions, Russian kale, and cucumber.

From Sweet Tree Farm: Nectarines and pluots.

From Weiser Family Farms: French Fingerling potatoes.

And from Silver Lake Farms: Basil, arugula, and mustard microgreens.



Friday, September 2, 2011

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Tomatillos are making their first appearance in our box this week; and if you've never had them, you're in for a treat. These pleasingly tart fruits make a wonderful salsa that's great with chips and as a condiment for grilled fish or meat. I like to serve it with carne asada, grilled chicken, and grilled salmon or mahi mahi. It's also wonderful with all kinds of Mexican foods such as tamales, enchiladas, chiles rellenos, and taco

I like to roast a couple of serrano peppers for this recipe, but I don't always use both of them. Unless you really like it hot, start with about 1/2 serrano pepper when you mix up the salsa. Then add more to your taste until you achieve the desired level of hotness.

1 lb tomatillos
1 medium onion
2 serrano peppers
1 T olive oil
1 bunch cilantro (about 1 C loosely packed leaves)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Remove the papery skins from the tomatillos and set aside for the compost. Wash and dry the tomatillos and place them whole in a large bowl.

3. Remove the papery skin from the onion and set aside for the compost. Quarter the onion and place in the bowl the the tomatillo.

4. Wash and dry 2 serrano peppers. Add to the bowl.

5. Drizzle olive oil over vegetables and turn out onto a baking sheet. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes until the skins of the tomatillos are slightly blistered and the edges of the onions are slightly browned.

6. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.

7. Place the roasted tomatillos, onions, and about 1/2 serrano pepper in a blender or food processor and process for about 15-20 seconds. Taste and process in more serrano pepper, if desired. Then add cilantro and process until salsa gets to the desired thickness.

8. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve or store in the fridge.

If you're firing up the grill, you can roast the tomatillos, onions, and serranos in a grill pan over a charcoal or gas flame. In fact, I think it's even better this way. But the oven is fine, too.

Today's bounty included:

From Underwood Family Farms: Seedless yellow watermelon, red leaf lettuce, green romaine lettuce, golden beets, Easter radishes, Brandywine heirloom tomato, bi-color corn, Blue Lake green beans, summer squash, yellow bell pepper, and Hass avocado.

From Sage Mountain Farms: tomatillos, green scallions, Cherry Belle radishes, Russian kale and mixed heirloom tomatoes.

From Sweet Trees Farms: White nectarines and pluots.

From Silver Lake Farms: arugula, basil and mustard microgreens.

And lemons from the garden of Silver Lake Farms farmhand, Susie.