I had let some swiss chard languish in the fridge for far too long, same for a small bunch of arugula and the beet green tops I saved from roasting beets last week. So I grabbed all the dark leafy greens from the fridge (chard, arugula, beet greens) and gave them a good soak, swishing them around, picking out the yucky bits that were too wilty or yellowed, gave them a good shake and set them in a colander while I worked on the next bunch of greens. I put on a pot of quinoa (somehow it felt more fitting than rice and easier than polenta or pasta) and took a second look in the fridge. Thinking of last summer’s bitter greens with sweet onions, I grabbed the remaining 1/4 of a sweet onion too. But then I decided that I didn’t want to use the precious goat feta on this meal. I chopped the onion, the chard stems and several cloves of garlic. Then I chopped up that big colander full of greens and started cooking. The power of the wilt helps prepare my fridge for tomorrow’s share.
Finally I remember the tidbit of goat cheese that remained from last Thursday’s beet salad and grab that. After we plate our quinoa and greens we break the goat cheese in half and crumbled it on top our dinner. From a fridge full of forlorn greens and an impromptu pick of quinoa into a delicious dinner I’d be happy to eat many more times.
Sauteed greens with garlic and onions on top quinoa
serves 3, scale up or down as needed
- big mess of dark leafy greens (a large colander full)
- some onion, sliced into quarter moons
- several garlic cloves (figure 2 per serving), smooshed
- 1/4 water
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
- 2 cups water
- goat cheese
Clean your greens and start the quinoa (2 cups water in a saucepan with 1 cup quinoa; bring to a boil, turn down to simmer and set the timer for 20 minutes). Remove any stems from the greens, chopping those that can be (ie chard stems) – if you are using greens with vastly different wilt times (kale versus spinach for example) separate by cook time. Heat a big pan (with lid) and add some oil to cover the bottom. Saute the onions and chard stems. Add the greens (all at once or starting with the longer cooking greens). Cover the pan. Check after a minute and toss the greens, a pair of tongs works nicely for this. Pour in the 1/4 cup of water and cover the pan to let them steam a bit. Turn a couple more times. Salt and pepper the greens. Once they are cooked to your liking plate everything. I like to start with a base of quinoa, pile on the greens and then finish with a crumble of goat cheese.
I baked both the blueberry-apple muffins and zucchini basil muffins today Wednesday. Then I accidentally ate 6 of the mini zucchini basil muffins (I ate the smaller, slightly burnt ones, and the two that were mauled by my efforts to remove them from the muffin tin, and they are good – I stopped once I realized how many I had eaten). Score 1 for me 🙂 I made two things on my meal planning list.
Zucchini Basil Mini-Muffins
I actually started with the blueberry-apple muffins though, and when they were in the oven I tackled the zucchini basil muffins. I have a kitchen sink muffin recipe, it started as the Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book [basic] muffins and I’ve morphed it several times (bit of leftover spelt flour, toss it in; extra fruit hanging around, in it goes; and so on). For the most part these muffins turn out pretty good with the exception of the time that I experimented with agave syrup instead of sugar – those were just so-so muffins. Today blueberries, apple, vanilla yogurt and slivered almonds were on my “use-up” list. I’ve also been trying to slip a bit of whole wheat flour in here and there (last weekend it was in pancakes, and now muffins). Either the 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour is actually adding some good flavor or I’m just getting lucky.
Blueberry & Apple Muffins
- 1 1/4 c flour
- 1/2 c whole wheat flour
- 1 t baking powder
- 1/2 t baking soda
- 1/4 c sugar
- 1/4 t salt
- 1 c vanilla yogurt
- 1 egg
- 1/4 c oil
- 1/3 c blueberries (that was all I had)
- 1 small apple, peeled and diced
- 1/8 c slivered almonds, finely chopped
bake at 400 until… um golden brown, probably 15 to 20 minutes (today I forgot to set the timer, then set it for 10 minutes, then decided they need a few more minutes but forgot the timer and took them out just in the nick of time, but unknown time) – do the toothpick test.
Last Saturday at the Farmer’s Market (as we charged through, getting there about 15 minutes before it closed) I grabbed a few tomatoes (only 3, I had restraint). I had one big, pinky heirloom looking tomato that I knew I’d use for fresh salsa. And then for some reason it sat all week, first I had to deal with pickles, then we had busy nights and lo and behold a week went by. Luckily that tomato still looked pretty good, the serrano chile however had seen betters days. So we stuck the serrano under the broiler to roast it and went about making salsa. We’d needed just a little bit more something, so we made a couple quesadillas too.
I tried in the past to measure my ingredients, but for some dishes I just don’t work that way. This is one of those dishes, you make it based on a vague sense of proportions, and when in doubt add half, stir, see how it looks/tastes and add more if needed. I prefer to use a regular white or yellow onion in my salsa, but had way too many green onions hanging out in the fridge to ignore.
- 1 very big tomato
- handful of green onions OR 1/2 onion
- handful of cilantro
- 1 serrano (maybe two, if you want it hotter, or perhaps the roasting dulled the heat)
- pinch salt
- 1/2 lime, juiced
Dice your tomato, if it is extra juicy you might consider eliminating some of the juice and seeds, if it is meaty don’t worry about it. Dice your onion, dice your chile (WEAR GLOVES!), dice your cilantro, sprinkle salt over everything and add the lime juice. I think I ended up with about 4 cups of salsa.
Around lunch on Wednesday our dinner plans changed from 2 at home to 4 at a friend’s. I offered to cook so we could stay on top of the CSA veggies (with an upcoming camping trip that I knew wouldn’t use many CSA veggies). At the last minute I decided to add a can of white beans to help bulk up the dish.
Pasta with fresh tomatoes, arugula and white beans
- thin and long pasta
- big bunch arugula
- 4 small tomatoes (or more, but that was all we had)
- 1 clove garlic*
- 1-2 T olive oil
- 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
- opt. tasty cheese for topping
So you put a big pot of water on to boil. When it boils add the right amount of pasta, I think I used 1/2 box for 4 people. While you wait for the water to boil and wait for the pasta to cook prep everything else (so easy if the arugula is already clean). Chop the tomatoes into bite size pieces. Remove the tough stems from the arugula and roughly chop it. Mince a clove of garlic. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Add the garlic and stir until it fragrant (30 seconds, max) and add the tomatoes. Stir it a bit then add the arugula and let it wilt. Just as it wilts add the white beans, stirring occasionally. Before you drain the pasta reserve about 1/2 cup of that starchy pasta water. Drain the pasta and then add it to the skillet with the veggies. Toss everything together, pouring in some pasta water to help everything coat nicely. (If your skillet isn’t big enough add everything to the pan that boiled the pasta). Season with salt and pepper (and tasty cheese) and serve.
* Actually I think this could have used a 2nd clove of garlic, but I tend to err on the overly garlicky side of things.
I finally figured out what to do with my tiny bunch of spinach. It made the perfect amount to fill one omelet which made a great brunch for two. Also, did you know you can spell omelet or omelette? Of course now both look wrong to me.
This past week has really been a cooking by the seat of my pants sort of week (when I’ve cooked at all). It is kind of nice for a change. At 11:30 am [Sunday] we encountered the “I’m getting hungry what’s for breakfast?” of our lazy weekend mornings. I had sort of been tossing around the idea of pairing some ricotta cheese with my garlic scape pesto and eggs for a while but hadn’t gotten around to it – I rarely crave eggs. I wasn’t craving eggs this morning, but an omelet sounded pretty good. Digging in the fridge I realized that the spinach and green onions would make a great addition. And they did, plus it turns out that I had practically the perfect amount of spinach. I remembered to do all my prep ahead of time and it went together nicely, even though I can’t remember the last time I made an omelet I managed to not turn it into scrambled eggs. If you have never made an omelet I’d suggest consulting a cookbook instead of my instructions, there are no amazing omelet secrets in this post.
Omelet filled with spinach, ricotta and garlic scape pesto
- 1 small bunch spinach (probably around 16 full-sized leaves)
- 1-2 green onions
- butter and/or olive oil
Clean and rinse your spinach, shake the water off but don’t worry about leaving it a little wet. Remove the tough stems, make a nice pile and cut into thin ribbons. I like to cut it in half vertically and then stack the two piles and do 1/2″ ribbons from that. Thinly slice your green onions, set some of the green tops aside. Heat a 10″ skillet and add enough butter or olive oil (2 teaspoons or so) to just coat the bottom, let it get hot and add the green onions. Toss the spinach ribbons on top of that and cover for a minute. Uncover and stir, if it has reduced dramatically in volume and is bright green go ahead and remove it from the heat – I just put it back on the cutting board I originally used to chop the spinach. Using your silicon spatula sort of scrape any bits out of the pan. Return it to the burner (turn off the heat if you aren’t quite ready to add the eggs at this point)
- 3 eggs
- 1 T water
- ricotta cheese
- garlic scape pesto
- finely grated parmesan cheese
- remaining green onion tops
Crack open the eggs into a smallish bowl (but enough room to beat three eggs), add the water and beat till nice and fluffy (it would probably be a good time for seasoning with salt and pepper, but I forgot) add a spoonful of garlic scape pesto and whisk to incorporate. Using the same 10″ pan, heat it over medium heat and add a chunk of butter (I’m guessing a tablespoon). Twirl the melting, foamy butter around to coat the pan and as soon as it is all melty and foaming add the eggs to the pan. Let it coat the bottom of the pan, and gently pull up edges with your spatula and tilt the pan so the liquid egg can flow under the cooked bits – not too much or you just get scrambled eggs. Cover the pan and turn down the heat. Check in a minute or so. When the egg is all set dallop the ricotta on one half of the egg, a bit more pesto and then add the cooked spinach on top. Sprinkle a little bit of parmesan on it and gently fold the other half of the egg on top. I like to sprinkle more parmesan and the reserved green onions on top of the folded omelet. And serve, with toast if desired.
Last weekend during our “heat wave” (it got to like 92 folks!, actually I jest, when you live in the land of no central AC, 92 is just barely tolerable) I made bulgar wheat for that chard-feta-beet salad. This is what I did with that leftover bulgar and the two extra zucchinis and a few spare mushrooms. Sometimes I get in the habit of always cooking by recipes and then I break from the mold and feel super proud of myself when it turns out really good. This was one of those times. I’m sure it is a highly flexible recipe since I basically made it up as I went along. It kept nicely in the fridge all week too – great for packed lunches.
Zucchini Mushroom Bulgar Salad
- olive oil (probably about 1-2 T)
- 2 zucchini, diced
- 10 mushrooms, diced
- 4-5 green onions, sliced
- 1 garlic clove, smooshed
- 1/4-1/2 t dried oregano
- 1/4-1/2 c slivered almonds, chopped
- big handful parsley, finely chopped
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups cooked bulgar
Heat the olive oil in a nice big pan (I actually used a 12″ skillet) and saute the zucchini and mushrooms until just barely tender. Add the garlic and green onions and stir until fragrant, then add the oregano, salt and pepper. Add the chopped almonds and give everything a good stir. Remember to taste as you go along. Turn off the heat, add the bulgar and toss everything together. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add in the chopped parsley. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Serve or stash in the fridge to use for lunches throughout the week.
Okay, so nothing was from the CSA this time around – but it could be and I really liked these and want to share this impromptu recipe. It started out as a vague idea to use up some zucchini we hadn’t gotten to yet, some leftover garlic scape pesto and some leftover bread (if it was deemed soft enough, I’m so glad it was). As we started cooking I grabbed whatever sounded promising from the fridge and at the very last minute (post-sandwich assembly) I grabbed some arugula from my mini-garden.
Grilled Zucchini Sandwiches serves 2
- 2 medium (6-8″) zucchini
- canola oil
- salt & pepper
- ricotta cheese
- garlic scape pesto
- kalamata olive spread
- sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
- arugula from my container garden
- 4 thin slices of sourdough bread
Slice the stem end off the zucchini (and flower butt end if it needs it) and slice it into 1/2″-3/4″ thick strips. I sliced ours into fourths vertically, the two middle pieces were perfect, the end pieces were a bit thin. Brush with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss on a hot grill (sorry I don’t do this part and have no clue how to explain grilling veggies or the proper temperature), turn once and remove when cooked. If your sourdough comes unsliced, take some care to get a thin slice, not much thicker than the pre-sliced variety. Brush one side with the oil and quickly toast, oiled-side down, over the remaining coals on the grill (not too much or you will tear the roof of your mouth while trying to eat the sandwich). Now it is time for assembly, I actually did two slightly different sandwiches and we each had half – a favorite wasn’t picked so do whichever appeals to you.
Sandwich #1) Spread ricotta cheese on one piece of bread (non-grilled side), top with some arugula and the grilled zucchini slices; spread garlic scape pesto on the other slice of bread (non-grilled side) and gently top with some kalamata olive spread. Put the pesto’d and olive’d bread on top the zucchini. Slice in half.
Sandwich #2) Spread ricotta cheese on one piece of bread (non-grilled side), top with some arugula, the grilled zucchini slices and some pieces of lightly drained sun-dried tomatoes (sliced if necessary); spread garlic scape pesto on the other slice of bread (non-grilled side) and place on top the first. Slice in half.
Pick a favorite or trade halves so you get to try both variations.
I was asking for ideas to use up my remaining chile-roasted acorn squash from Thanksgiving and burritos was one suggestion (actually it was Tara with yet another yummy food idea). It might sound weird, but I had already tried wrapping some leftover stew that was baked in a pumpkin in a tortilla last month so I was pretty certain squash burritos would be delicious. Also, I’ve heard a few people rave about this Addictive Sweet Potato Burrito recipe from Allrecipes so I took a look at that and came up with the following squash filling:
- Remaining chile-roasted acorn squash (guessing about 1 to 1 1/2 small acorn squashes)
- 1 T oil
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 1 diced bell pepper, diced
- 4 small garlic cloves, smooshed
- 2 t cumin
- 2 t chili powder
- 1/2 t chipotle powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1-3 T water
- grated cheddar cheese
- flour tortillas
Remove the peel from the cubed squash and do any prep needed for the other ingredients. Heat the oil in a 10″ skillet (I think I used my cast iron skillet) and sautee the onion until soft, then add the red pepper and as that brightens and becomes tender-crips add the garlic. As soon as the garlic is fragrant add the squash and spices. Gently smoosh everything to your desired mashed state using a potato masher (or a fork or back of a spoon). Add the black beans and if you are worried the mixture looks a little thick add the water a tablespoon at a time. Stir occasionally while everything heats thoroughly.
Heat your tortillas and add some squash filling, cheese and salsa, wrap and serve.
I was totally craving chinese food on Friday night, and since I was already planning on making egg rolls to freeze I decided to make vegetable lo mein. I found two recipes and went with the easier, I have all the ingredients on hand, recipe. Next time I’ll try the other version since I thought this was a little sweet (considering the source and ingredients I shouldn’t be too surprised). It also didn’t exactly fit the bill for what I remember vegetable lo mein to taste like (of course I don’t think I’ve eaten that in several years so my taste buds might be off too). The sauce was just a little too sweet but overall it was darn tasty – I like all of my additions since both recipes were skimpy on the vegetables.
I used the sauce from Rachel Ray’s Everything Lo Mein recipe in Express Lane Meals, grabbed all the veggies that looked good from my fridge and used whole wheat spaghetti noodles.
- 3 T hoisin sauce
- 3 T soy sauce
- 2 T hot sauce (I used sriracha)
- 4-6 oz fresh shitakes, stems removed and thinly sliced
- 1 bunch broccoli, cut into small florets, and stems peeled and chopped into matchsticks
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped into short fat matchsticks
- several carrot coarsely grated (I think I had about 1 cup)
- 1-2 c mung bean sprouts
- 4-5 green onions, chopped into 2″ lengths and then quartered vertically
- 4 cloves garlic, smooshed
- 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
- 4-5 oz whole wheat spaghetti, broken in half and boiled until 1-2 minutes from done
While I boiled the noodles I did all of my prep: mixing the sauce, chopping or grating the veggies, ginger and garlic. Then I heated oil (a tablespoon or so) in my big 12″ skillet and starting stir-frying the veggies. Start cooking the shitakes then when they are softening add the broccoli and finally adding the bell pepper, carrot and bean sprouts and green onion. When it was all cooked till crunchy-tender I pushed it to the perimeter of the pan and added a teaspoon of oil to the center and added the garlic and ginger and stirred it until fragrant. Then I stirred everything together, added the noodles and poured about half the sauce over everything. More stirring, tasting and adding enough sauce so everything is coated and serve.
One of my tactics for dealing with all this food is freezing some of it (and inviting people for dinner and even sharing leftovers with neighbors). I let all that curly parsley multiply in my fridge so I decided to make more parsley pesto and put it directly in the freezer.
a guide for Parsley-Almond Pesto (with pictures)
I took two bunches of parsley, washed them well, pinched the leafy ends away from the stems and spun them dry. Then I took two very packed cups of parsley and put them in the food processor. The parsley totally filled the 11-cup processor bowl (well supposedly it is 11-cups).
I added two smooshed cloves of garlic, a generous pinch of salt and 3/8 cup of olive oil (I actually started with 1/4 cup and added more when it wasn’t pureeing smooth enough). And hit the “on” button.
That is a big space savings. I tasted it and decided it needed nuts so I added about 1/4 cup of sliced almonds and pureed until I liked the texture. Then I scooped it into a labeled plastic bag and repeated the whole process with the second half of parsley waiting in the salad spinner.
Note: oily hands will remove permanent marker. I tossed both of these bags in a freezer ziplock since I intend on making more pesto (the curly leaf parsley just keeps coming every week).