To CSA or not to CSA

 

 

This last week, work and life have been quite complicated. So many work obligations, children’s extra curricular activities. Life has been busy, to say the least. My husband, who was hesitant  about joining a CSA at first, a few years ago became a staunch supporter in the last couple of years.

Last week, my fridge was overflowing with produce. I couldn’t keep up. Then, he uttered the dreadful words, “Hey, let’s cancel our CSA for next year.” That tore me up. It made me feel like I wasn’t holding my end of the bargain, using up all the vegetables and making the most of all the bounty we received every week. I had to think fast. SO, this past week, I became even more creative with new recipes for the numerous vegetables I had on hand. There are many options- you could split a share where you share every week or pick up alternative weeks with your partner.  I am determined to be quite resourceful with my entire share.  Every tomato that I can’t use I freeze, I make many greens into my APP.  I give away some to friends and family and then some gets composted.

This week, I made eggplant 3 ways. Eggplant and mushroom thoren( South Indian dish with grated coconut and mustard seeds and garlic).  Panko breaded eggplant, and eggplant& lamb ratatouille. I will share recipes soon.

I made a Thai red curry with chicken last night. It’s pretty easy and a great way to use many greens and things in your pantry.  The best part of cooking is trying new things, putting flavors together that work for you and your family. Play in the kitchen.  I use ingredients that I have on hand, if it calls for spinach,  and I have kale, that’s what I’ll do.

SO I SAY, CSA all the way!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. of coconut oil
  • 2 lbs. of boneless chicken thighs cut into small chunks(typical size found in Chinese take out)
  • 10 shishito peppers(optional)
  • 5 pieces of kale( ribs  removed) chopped
  • one small red onion chopped or one large leek chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic finely chopped/minced
  • 1 tbsp. galangal or ginger
  • 2 -3 green peppers( you can use any color you have) sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp. red curry paste
  • 1/2 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp. of fish sauce
  • salt to taste( 1 tbsp.)
  • soy sauce(optional)
  • a dash of toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp cilantro chopped

Instructions:

1. Take a large sauté pan and heat coconut oil in pan.

2. Sauté chopped leek/onion, garlic. When slightly translucent, add galangal.

3. Add salt to soften further, and then add chicken. When chicken is almost cooked( about 10-12 minutes)

4. Add red curry paste. Stir.

5. Add kale, green peppers and shishito peppers. Typically, 1 in 10 shishito peppers can be hot, otherwise they are as mild as green peppers.

6. Sauté further for 2 minutes. Add coconut milk.

7. Cover and let cook for 10 minutes.

8. Add fish sauce and sesame oil and stir.

9. Garnish with cilantro. Serve over jasmine rice or quinoa.

 

 

 

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Easy like Sunday morning Frittata

In a household with two working parents and kids who seem busier than the adults, easy Sunday mornings are such a treat.   Usually, my husband and I wake up and catch up over chai. This is super special because my husband makes the chai. Some Sunday mornings, we all congregate in our kitchen.  Our kitchen table was made for a family of 3. So in our family of 4, three  people sit and one stands. Not the best way to have a four person conversation. For the last two weeks, Rachel went away to a 2 week pre-college program. It was the first time for her to be away by herself  for an extended period of time. We had a lot to talk about. Today, we all spent the morning chatting and catching up as a family. We all sat on the sofa over chai. What a great way to start the day!

After our leisurely catch up, it was time for breakfast. We needed something quick , filling and nutritious. A frittata is just that! Frittata  is basically a crustless quiche. What you put in a frittata depends on what it is that you have/want. I make a frittata based on ingredients I have on hand. So the ingredients listed are based on what I have from the CSA or what’s in my fridge. It’s really a nutrition packed meal. It’s so easy and filling too. Always make in a cast iron pan. If it’s seasoned correctly, it’s better than non stick and you don’t take the risk of ingesting those harmful non-stick chemicals. It’s a great way to get kids to eat veggies. you can add different types of vegetables, peppers, spinach, mushrooms. Today’s frittata includes kohlrabi, kale and corn. Kohlrabi is a vegetable that was selectively bred by farmers years ago from wild mustard. Crazy to think that one plant could be selectively bred to produce cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and kohlrabi. The idea of kohlrabi was scary to us. Never ate it , let alone never saw it before our CSA adventures.  According to  Food facts, Kohlrabi is rich in vitamins A, C and K, as well as B-vitamins. It also contains copper, manganese, iron, potassium, dietary fiber and calcium, and is rich in antioxidant compounds like phytochemicals and carotenes as well.Simply put, kohlrabi  tastes like a potato that has a hint of sweetness. Erica loves tortilla española, which is  a Spanish frittata made with potatoes. Substituting potatoes with kohlrabi is a sneaky and creative way to get kids to eat cool foods like kohlrabi. It does taste a bit different from potatoes but not much.

Food always brings families together. Usually we are eating and running.  Sunday morning breakfasts always get us to sit together and connect over that meal. Farm fresh frittata, chai, family, fellowship and love- a perfect Sunday morning.

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 kohlrabi( peeled and chopped) ( optional or use potatoes instead)
  • 1 cup lacinato kale chopped finely
  • 1 small onion ( or two shallot stems the flowers)
  • 1 garlic scape/2 cloves garlic
  • 3 strips of uncured nitrate-free  bacon(optional)
  • 1/2 cup sweet organic corn
  • 4-5 basic leaves finally chopped/julienned(ribbons)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 5-6 eggs beaten
  • paprika- a few dashes for color(optional)

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 365ºF.
  2. In a cast iron pan(there’s no other way to make an amazing frittata) on medium heat on stove. When pan gets hot, place chopped bacon into pan. When fat is rendered,  and bacon is crisp, remove pieces from pan.
  3. You may remove all the bacon fat and cook with EVOO or leave bacon fat to cook the vegetables.{ There are many schools of thought, animal fat should be eliminated. Animal fat consumption should be limited. I am of the second school of thought- limit the consumption. Know how the animals are treated and buy locally.} If you don’t want bacon or its fat, just use EVOO and eliminate bacon altogether.
  4. In the oil/bacon fat, add onions and garlic( shallot flowers and garlic scape). Add two pinches of salt to mixture to accelerate browning.
  5. Next add, chopped kohlrabi and saute( 2-3 minutes).
  6. When browning of kohlrabi has started, add chopped kale. Saute and cook down vegetables.( 3-5 minutes)
  7. Add sweet organic corn, I had in the freezer. I used the corn after defrosting.
  8. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Add paprika( optional).
  10. Add eggs into mixture in cast iron pan. Sprinkle basil , mix in. Sprinkle cooked bacon on top. Turn off heat in 5 minutes.
  11. Place pan into oven for 15 minutes until center of frittata is set( doesn’t jiggle).
  12. ENJOY! ( I like a little hot sauce drizzled over it)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garden green chicken pasta

It’s a warm summer day, and my nephew has come over to hang out. He is definitely a picky eater. Doesn’t eat alot and is distracted by childhood play.  He loved sushi when he was young. He would always talk about pumpkin sushi. I never tried it but he would rave about it, even at the young age of 3. But despite all this talking about food, he never really ate much or enjoyed eating. Now, he is definitely growing a more refined sophisticated palate but talks about food in a way that makes me think he would try something new and different.

So our task for today is to make a healthy, quick, tasty dish that can satisfy my nephew’s palate and also ours. At home, we prepare meals based on what we have available. We definitely buy items based on what we want to cook. But if I want to make a pasta dish that includes maybe spinach and parmesan but  I only have kale, I’ll substitute. Say I have no parmesan cheese at home but I have Asiago, then that’ll do.  Waste not want not. Ingredients do make the dish and any herbs and spices you add can transform a dish to your liking.

So, using what we had from our weekly Hilltop Hanover Farm share and items in our fridge and pantry… Green garden pesto emerged. We were running low on time and within 20 minutes, lunch was on the table. And by the looks of the bowls, we all LOVED it. Easy, simple,resourceful, yummy!

Ingredients:

  1. Box of whole wheat penne pasta(or any shape you like).
  2. One large garlic scape and one long shallot flower including green stem(sub with two cloves garlic and one shallot).
  3. 4-5 sun dried tomatoes
  4. 5-6 lacinato kale leaves (use any green leaf- spinach is great here)
  5. 1 lb of boneless chicken thighs chopped into 1 inch pieces.
  6. 1/4- 1/2 cup of heavy cream/half half or whole milk
  7. paprika
  8. 1 cup of Asiago cheese( you can sub for parmesan cheese)
  9. fresh oregano( optional)
  10. salt and pepper to taste
  11. olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Boil pasta according to box directions.
  2. Chop sun dried tomatoes into thin strips.
  3. Finely chop garlic scapes and shallot flowers.
  4. Peel the kale leaves off the rib
  5. Roll the leaves together and finely chop the leaves to get a ribbon like appearance.
  6. On a separate cutting board ( you may use the same one if you are done with all the vegetable prepping). cut chicken into 1 inch pieces.
  7. Pour 2-3 tbsp of oil in to pan. Place pan on medium heat on stove. Add shallot flowers and garlic scape to pan and stir to saute.  Add a few pinches of salt.
  8. Add sun dried tomatoes and stir to saute.Add 2 dashes of paprika. This is more for color and a smoky flavor(perfectly optional)
  9. After this is softened, add the chicken to pan.
  10. Saute chicken until is white on the outside and it is more seared . Note: If the pan is not hot enough, the chicken will boil/steam rather than sear.  this should take 5-7 minutes to cook completely.
  11. Add chopped kale, stir for 30 seconds.
  12. Add fresh oregano( optional). You may chop the leaves or just pull some off from stem and throw into dish.
  13. Add 3/4 cup of Asiago cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.
  14. Add milk( If you add cream, you get a thicker sauce). I had milk and so used that.
  15. Add pasta. Stir completely.  Close with lid, place on low-medium heat for another 10 minutes. When done. stir one last time.
  16. Serve pasta dish in bowl and sprinkle some Asiago cheese on top.  Enjoy!

APP- All Purpose Pesto (Bitter green pesto)

Living in a home where everyone in the household needs or wants to eat something different on a daily basis can be a daunting task. Making sure all meals are healthy(-ish) is just as difficult. Using all the greens that come in your weekly share is tricky… now, really, how many greens can you eat in a day and how many ways can you prepare them?

So, this week’s CSA share included red mustard greens, mizuna, garlic scape and shallot flowers etc. Mizuna is an Asian mustard green that can be used in stir fry or eaten raw in salad.  Mizuna is almost always found in the swap box. People don’t like it or just don’t know to use it.

 

I have learned  to appreciate the art of pesto making  through my weekly share of the many bitter greens.  Pesto can come in many forms, but it’s usually basil  pulsed in a food processor with garlic, nuts, EVOO and Parmesan cheese. I make pesto with whatever greens I have at home and use it in pastas, rice, ground turkey and now….chicken curry. I usually don’t add nuts or cheese because that can’t cause it go rancid quicker. If I want cheese or nuts in pesto, I can always add later. You can make YOUR own rules around food, it’s what works for you and your family. Cooking should not be a task that becomes burdensome. If you have it at home, you can make into something delicious. All you need is a stocked spice box. The right spices can transform any dish.

Bitter Green Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches of mizuna
  • 5-6 pieces of red mustard greens
  • garlic scapes (2-3 stalks)
  • salt to taste
  • EVOO
  • chili pepper( jalapeño or other preferred) optional

Instructions:

  1. Chop off the ends of the mizuna bunch, maybe 1-2 inches from root end.
  2. Wash mizuna, red mustard greens( 5-6 pieces) , and garlic scape(2-3) . Vegetables from local organic CSA shares are the healthiest and tastiest but can also be dirtiest. Welcome to the CSA life.. lots of dirt!
  3.  In a food processor, place mizuna, drizzle EVOO as you process the mizuna, then slowly add the mustard greens, garlic scapes, 1 tsp of salt( to taste, you can always add more later), pepper. If you want extra heat( I always do), add a chili pepper, you could add half a jalapeño. Go as mild or as bold as you like…
  4. Pulse in the processor ensuring it has a pesto consistency, drizzling in olive oil as needed( approx. 3/4 cup).

This will yield you maybe a 1.5 cups of pesto. You could add mint or cilantro to this making it even more aromatic and flavorful. I use it if i have it.

 

miz