News & Blog

Welcome to the blog.
Posted 7/28/2011 2:35pm by Vicki Phillips.

Brimming with bounty

With summer at full tilt and the Chatfield gardens likewise, our veggie bags runneth over. This week’s distribution included the usual salad mix, a variety of greens and herbs … plus beans, cauliflower, cukes, carrots and an onion. In addition, we received an array of potential roasters: purple potatoes, beets, pattypan squash, peppers, turnips and eggplant.

Three nights this week are dinners out, plus there’s still leftover Thai lamb curry and a bit of leftover pesto in my fridge. My only plans so far are cucumber soup (great summertime fare); Rachael Ray’s sausage, greens and lentil soup (to freeze for cooler temps); and another Thai dish using the beans, peppers, onion and some of the herbs.

I find I’m not doing as much night-by-night planning as I did at the beginning of the CSA experience. It’s tedious to keep up such a high degree of specificity. Besides, I tell myself, whim is good.

Instead, I bring home the vegetables and spend about an hour washing, green-bagging and labeling everything. By spending time together, we – me and the produce, that is – get to know each other, as weird as that sounds. My mind starts to think of all the possibilities. I find that "becoming friends" like this mitigates the anxiety of having a fridge full of stuff and no ideas for what to do with it.

Simply herbed

Last week I made a yummy lemon drop martini using simple syrup infused with lemon balm, one of the CSA’s specialty herbs. This week’s lime basil, with its equally luscious scent, invites me to go the infusion route again.

Simple syrup is useful to keep on hand in the fridge not only for the occasional decadent cocktail but also for lemonade, and infusing the syrup with herbs makes it really special. Just simmer 1 cup of sugar in 1 cup of water until the sugar dissolves, then add the herb and let it sit. I’ve done this with basil, tarragon, mint and now lemon balm. Lime basil is next up.

Basil tip

I was glad to receive CSA manager Leigh Rovegno’s suggestion for basil pesto: make a big batch of pesto without nuts or parmesan, freeze in ice-cube trays, then thaw just before serving and add nuts and parmesan. Although my mother was Italian, she never made pesto and I suspect she never even had it growing up. Pesto originates from the northwest of Italy in the coastal region along the Ligurian Sea, whereas my mother’s family came from the southern regions of Campagna and Puglia.

But pesto is one of those flavor-packed recipes that everyone seems to love, and we CSA shareholders do have an abundance of basil to use up, so pesto is a natural. I just saw on the web that pesto makes a great lasagna, substituting pesto for red sauce in a typical lasagna recipe. Will definitely try this.

 

Posted 7/26/2011 11:27am by Vicki Phillips.

Cooler full of veggies

While at my son and daughter-in-law’s house in Lincoln last weekend, we made full use of our road-trip veggies. The vegetables had been washed and green-bagged, then gingerly packed in coolers with ice bags. Everything kept well for the long journey to Keith and Amber’s.

Upon arrival, all us foodies swung into action unpacking, planning, chopping and cooking. We grilled steak and had a salad of mixed greens, arugula, beets and goat cheese. For breakfast one day we made good use of the basil for a pesto omelet. And for the finale we made an elaborate Thai dinner using the Napa cabbage, carrots, jalapeno, bell pepper and Thai basil.

Salad days

This week it’s too hot to cook much, so simplicity is key. So far this week I’ve made good use of our distribution dining on braised kale and beet greens; salads with the mixed greens, arugula and our little cutie-pie cucumber and carrots; a pasta salad with salmon, dill and green beans; and cauliflower gratin following Ina Garten’s winner-every-time recipe.

Besides some salad fixings, the main things I have left to use up this weekend are potatoes, beets and cabbage. That sounds Eastern European to me, another favorite cuisine of mine, so I’ll probably head in that direction for ideas. Those Thai recipes are also beckoning. Perhaps a bit too much cooking for the heat; thank goodness for A/C.

Luscious lemon balm

We received a new herb this week, lemon balm, which has a scent so delicious and intoxicating I may just keep in on hand to smell every now and then. Apparently it has a calming effect and has been used since the Middle Ages for insomnia and anxiety.

A member of the mint family, lemon balm can be found in lots of recipes for tea and lemonade. I may make a lemon-drop martini with it, infusing simple syrup with this delectable herb.

Can’t think of a better way to cool down … cheers!

 

Posted 7/22/2011 9:37pm by Josie Hart Genter.

Dear CSA Shareholders,

Simply Colorado! Now that our monsoon season is here the plants really love the rain and sun mixture. The farm has never been so beautiful with more wildflowers this year than anyone can remember. The tomatoes are literally six feet tall, due to the beautiful trellis work by our CSA grower Elizabeth Mullen. Our potatoes this year are amazing as well, with many fun varieties and sometimes 20 potatoes connected to each plant.


this week's
produce (july 25- 29)

• salad mix
• arugula
• spinach
• snap beans
• chard/kale
• squash
• cucumbers
• peppers (green bell and hot)
• cauliflower
• cabbage
• carrots
• beets
• turnips
• basil
• Thai basil
• parsley
• dill
• purple potatoes (new!)
• onions (new!)

*Please note this is a tentative list and is subject to change


bushels of basil:
making it last

During distribution last night, someone watched me while I measured my "bushel" amount of basil into a bag.  The father, with his daughter in line, looked at me almost in horror and said "What in the world are you going to do with all that?"  At that point it occurred to me that not everyone knows what to do with that much basil!  Here is what I do with a load of basil – taught to me by my mom. 

I make small batches of pesto that do not contain nuts or parmesan cheese. I food process the basil together with oil and garlic.  Then I load the mixture into ice cube trays and put a freezer bag around the whole thing and put into the freezer. When I feel like having pesto, I pop out two frozen squares of pesto into a skillet. Under low heat, I fold in some shredded parmesan cheese and some nuts so they are fresh and full of flavor.  Volia!  That is what you do with a bushel of basil, you eat it all winter!

Note: The amount discussed is not a real bushel!

 
this week's recipe
By Brien Darby, CSA member

Crunchy Cabbage Salad
1 head of cabbage (if you are only use a half a head, cut the other ingredients in half), finely chopped
1 handful of snow/snap peas or green beans chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 bunch of green onions
3 Tablespoons (or enough to coat) of Annie’s Ginger dressing
1 Tablespoon Sesame oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger

Mix all of the above ingredients and allow the cabbage to chill for an hour or so before serving.

2 Tablespoons of sesame seeds
2 Tablespoons of sunflower seeds
½ cup of almonds—slivered or chopped

Lightly toast the above ingredients in an un-oiled pan.  Don’t add these ingredients until you are ready to serve to keep the ‘crunchy’ feel.


farm topic –
fun for all ages

This week down at the farm we have two very fun events worth talking about. Our first Chatfield concert of the year, on Sunday the 24th, still has tickets available.  Bring a picnic, relax and listen to Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers and Béla Fleck & the Original Flecktones.

You can still purchase tickets from our website, just follow the above link, or you can purchase them at the ticket booth down here at Chatfield starting at 3 p.m. Please note that our our Chatfield gardens will be closed from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. on the 24th to prepare for the concert.

The other event geared toward our younger community is very exciting and new! We have our first-ever Farm Camp for children ages 8-12.  There are still a few spaces left for this camp next week, so if you are interested, check it out. The kids who attended this week’s camp had a fantastic time!


food safety
note

Please note that although we have washed our produce once after harvesting it in the field, members should wash the produce at home again before eating. Our farm produce should be treated the same way as grocery store produce: always wash before eating! The best way to wash produce is by running it under cool water. Cleaning products are not necessary.

 

Posted 7/20/2011 3:58pm by Josie Hart.

Dear Shareholders,

If you missed out on your share last night at York St. due to the weather, we have another opportunity for you to pick up your share.  We have added extra portions to our harvest schedule for tomorrow down here at Chatfield. 


Chatfield distribution hours are 4:30 - 6:30 p.m.

Please let us know by 8 p.m. tonight if you would like to pick up a share. We apologize for the longer drive you may have, but there will not be space for a distribution tomorrow night at York St. due to the concert.

We thank you for your e-mails and phone calls but please understand we don’t have the time in mid-season to address every query regarding last night.  We do our best to provide you with delicious veggies despite the extreme weather.

We hope to see you down at the farm Thursday evening!

Thanks for your support.

Posted 7/15/2011 7:43pm by Josie Hart.

Dear CSA Shareholders, 

You may have noticed a change in the veggies you are seeing on a weekly basis now that we are moving into the end of July. Our greens are being replaced by root crops such as carrots, beets, turnips, and radishes. We will continue to grow greens, but we may not have them on a weekly basis. We find that both the plants (and the members) need a break from greens this time of year!  Our harvesting gears have fully shifted towards squash, potatoes, peppers and yes tomatoes in the next few weeks! 


this week's produce (July 18- 22)
                           
• Potatoes
• Chard and Kale
• Squash
• Arugula and or Salad Mix
• Spinach
• Broccoli/Cauliflower and Cabbage
• Possibly onions
• Herbs: Dill, Parsley, Basil and Thai Basil
• Carrots, Beets, and possibly Radishes

*Please note this is a tentative list and is subject to change


root crops:
 love at first roasting

Now that our root crops are ready for harvest get ready to do some roasting in the oven! Slice or cube your roots and combine with fresh herbs, oil, salt and pepper.  Roast them in the oven for a delicious and colorful flavor sensation. Too hot to turn on the oven? Use your grill! Grilled squash is one of our favorites at the farm. Try all of our different varieties of squash to see which one is your favorite.


recipe
 resource

If you don’t go to our website regularly, try it out! We have some really great recipes that highlight your current CSA produce. When we add a new recipe to the website, it will appear right on the home page for your convenience. All you have to do is click on the link, read it over and go from there! If you missed our newsletter and would like to read it again you can always access our old issues under the “about us” and “news and blogs” section on our website.

 

this week's recipe 
This recipe is from Josie Hart-Genter, CSA Community Coordinator

Arugula Pesto

2 cups packed arugula, washed well and spun dry
1/4 cup pine nuts, walnuts,or crushed almond - toasted golden and cooled
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 - 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup hot water plus additional if desired 

In a food processor pulse together all ingredients except oil and water until arugula is finely chopped. With motor running (if possible) add oil in a stream, blending mixture until smooth. Sauce may be made up to this point 1 week ahead and chilled, its surface covered with plastic wrap. Bring sauce to room temperature to continue. Stir in 1/4 cup hot water plus additional for thinner consistency if desired.


Add pesto to:

grilled squash
goat cheese and polenta
morning toast
gnocci
eggs Benedict

food safety note

Please note that although we have washed our produce once after harvesting it in the field, members should wash the produce at home again before eating. Our farm produce should be treated the same way as grocery store produce: always wash before eating! The best way to wash produce is by running it under cool water. Cleaning products are not necessary.

Posted 7/15/2011 6:48pm by Vicki Phillips.

That kooky kohlrabi

Having never met a roasted vegetable I didn’t like, I decided to roast together the kohlrabi bulb, broccoli and squash. Roasting the broccoli and kohlrabi bulb was definitely an experiment, and I didn’t know if these three very different veggies would complement each other on the palate. I employed the typical roasting method of cubing the vegetables, giving them a light bath in olive oil, and sprinkling liberally with kosher salt and pepper. Into the oven they went, at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

This dish was ok but not great. In retrospect, I should have sautéed or steamed the delicate broccoli and squash to allow their fresh flavor to emerge. The high temperature and long cooking time was just too much for these young, tender babies.

As for the kohlrabi, I actually liked the greens better than the bulb. Judging from how the leaves felt when raw, I didn’t think they’d ever get soft. But cooking low and slow for a long time, these greens added a slight bitter taste and paired well with the kale and chard.

Experiment!

In fact, I’m on a veritable "mess o’ greens" kick. This week our distribution included even more greens, and yesterday I cooked them all together. Confidence intact, I didn’t feel the need to cook them separately as I did last week. I just melted some olive oil and a little bacon grease in a pot, threw in the greens and cooked them slowly, covered, for about 40 minutes. Four different kinds of greens! Kohlrabi greens, beet greens, turnip greens and kale ... delicious and so healthful.

Another experiment involved all the stalks from two weeks of greens, which I used to make a big pot of broth flavored with bay leaves, oregano, salt and pepper. I froze nine bags of two cups each. Typically I find vegetable broth really bland and prefer chicken broth instead. So we’ll see how my greens broth turns out when used to make soup.

Also in the vein of trying new culinary methods, I finally decided to use the oregano I’ve been collecting and drying for a few weeks now. It didn’t smell very pungent so I didn’t have high hopes. But when I crushed it and added it to pizza sauce, the flavor really came alive. It tastes different from dried oregano you buy at the store, with a slight hint of anise.

Veggies on the road

This weekend Ray and I are going out of town again, this time a road trip to Lincoln to visit my son and daughter-in-law. Keith and Amber are foodies, too, and I’m giving Keith a chef’s knife for his birthday. So I’m packing up all my vegetables and herbs in a cooler and will look forward to a fun weekend of cooking. I’m anxious to see what ideas they have.

If they don’t suggest it, I’ll put in a vote for a mixed greens salad with the beets and goat cheese. Also a brunch egg dish using the peppers, squash and carrots. And then I’ll suggest pesto with the ton of basil we got. Hmmm, micro-managing? Maybe I’ll just hand over everything and sit back and let them make all the decisions!

Posted 7/8/2011 6:08pm by Josie Hart.

Dear CSA shareholders,

We hope you all are enjoying the fresh herbs we have been harvesting. Now is a great time to make up a batch of cilantro-basil pesto, invite some friends over for a BBQ and enjoy life. Send your friends home with a little extra cilantro that they can enjoy, too and embrace the community that good food can create.

this week's produce (July 11 -15)
                          
• Salad greens
• Spinach and Chard
• Squash
• Arugula
• Kale
• Broccoli/Cauliflower and Cabbage
• Beets
• Herbs: Dill, Cilantro, Parsley, Basil and Thai Basil
• Carrots, Beets, and Radishes

*Please note this is a tentative list and is subject to change

cooking kohlrabi and other crazy things

Susan Evans cooked up some amazing kohlrabi slaw for our members this past week and it was very well received! Please note that we are changing the time of her tasting/demo to 4:30 p.m. – right at the start of distribution. So if you have missed her in the past, you will be able to taste her next treat, gazpacho! She will be at Chatfield on August 4 and possibly at York St. in August as well.

recipe resource

If you don’t go to our website regularly, try it out! We have some really great recipes that highlight your current CSA produce. When we add a new recipe to the website, it will appear right on the home page for your convenience. All you have to do is click on the link, read it over and go from there! If you missed our newsletter and would like to read it again you can always access our old issues under the “about us” and “news and blogs” section on our website.
 
this week's recipe easy!
This recipe is from Brian Gandy, Chatfield CSA grower

Mashed Cauliflower

Mashed cauliflower tastes similar to mashed potatoes but with fewer carbohydrates - which can make you feel very sluggish in the heat of the summer. Top with chopped herbs and grated cheese if you like.

Ingredients
1 medium head cauliflower trimmed and cut into small florets (about 6 to 7 cups)
1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add cauliflower and cook until very tender, about 10 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid and then drain well and transfer cauliflower to a food processor. Add oil and reserved water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and puree until smooth. (Or, mash cauliflower with a potato masher). Season with salt and pepper and serve.


farm topic – a day in the life of a CSA grower

Welcome to harvest day at the Chatfield CSA! We hope you’re ready to get up at 4:30 a.m!

We thought it would be interesting to take a look all the details that go into our day before we see you all at distribution. Here is a little timeline so you can get a picture of farm life.
      
5 - 5:30 a.m. – our growers arrive and prepare materials for volunteers and harvest.

5:30 a.m. – our highly esteemed early morning volunteers show up to begin harvest.
 
5:30 – 8:30 a.m.  - the team works as fast as they can to cut, pull, dig and pick each crop before the heat sets in and causes any wilting. While people work, they often are deep in the mud, bent down in a hedge or raised bed and on their knees for many hours.

After each crop comes in, it is placed in cool water and stored in the walk-in immediately.

8:30 a.m. – the next team of volunteers arrive to help wash and sort the produce. Every item is washed thoroughly in giant ice cold tubs, while weeds, mud or anything else is removed.

After produce is sorted, washed, labeled and organized the CSA staff weigh all their crops and divide the harvest into individual allotments.

The volunteers go home and the staff set-up for distribution.

Noon – everyone from the harvest team goes home for much needed rest and relaxation.

3:00 p.m. – everyone arrives back at the farm to get ready for distribution.

4:30 – 6:30 or 7 p.m. – distribution at York St. on Tuesday and Chatfield on Thursday.

7:00 p.m. - the staff clean up and prepare the left over produce for a donation pick-up on the next day.

Wow! As you can see this is a very long day for many people dedicated to getting you the freshest vegetables possible! We do acknowledge that a few members would like to come early to pick up the share. We would love to accommodate everyone’s busy schedules, but starting at 4:30 p.m. is the earliest we can have our produce ready. We thank you for being patient while we set up for distribution and appreciate all your wonderful feedback.
 
food safety note

Please note that although we have washed our produce once after harvesting it in the field, members should wash the produce at home again before eating. Our farm produce should be treated the same way as grocery store produce: always wash before eating! The best way to wash produce is by running it under cool water. Cleaning products are not necessary.

Posted 7/8/2011 2:59pm by Vicki Phillips.

Overcoming the CSA Jitters

Three of my initial reservations about joining a CSA have indeed materialized. First, what to do with all the vegetables when you go out of town? That turned out to be easy. Our friends Alan & Deb came by and picked everything up before we left for Atlanta for a week.

Deb reported a marvelous veggie experience: “We are still eating it! Alan made the most delicious steamed vegetable dish with the spinach, kale, peas and cauliflower, adding onion and spices. Next we had a fabulous egg omelet with a mix of the veggies. Best omelet I’ve ever had. P.S. Lettuce is great on a sandwich. I think I want to check into this co-op!”

Vegetable anxiety strikes

The second concern hit me after I got back home on Tuesday with this week’s big beautiful load of produce. Yikes, I thought, as it all lay on the counter looking at me. How on earth will we eat all this? And the third cause of CSA jitters was the kohlrabi, which I’ve never before seen nor eaten, much less cooked.

Returning from Atlanta, Ray and I had stopped on the way from the airport to pick up our distribution. By the time we got home and unloaded luggage — and then spent 40 minutes washing and green-bagging all the vegetables and herbs — I was too tired to cook so we went out to eat. Moreover … once again … we already have dinner plans with friends this coming Fri. and Sat. nights, leaving only four dinners to use up everything. Some items will be used for lunches, too, but all in all I began to experience my first twinge of vegetable anxiety.

Don’t bruise the lettuce!

It’s now Thursday and already I’ve made a good start. Yesterday for lunch I did an easy skillet Napa cabbage with Polska kielbasa, with enough sausage left over for another meal. Last night I made shrimp salad using the head lettuce and dressed it with an Asian dressing using Thai basil, cilantro, lime, fish sauce and a few other ingredients. Wow, an excellent, high-flavor, low-cal weeknight dinner.

The only thing I did wrong was to cut up the lettuce too small and then bruise it during tossing. The tender young lettuce we’re getting from the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield's garden is a lot different from what’s typically available at the grocery store in that it’s far more delicate. You have to use a light, gentle touch with it.

Last night’s salad was so good — and I had extra shrimp and cilantro left over — that I made it again today for lunch, this time with the mixed greens.

Tonight we’re having the leftover Polska kielbasa with a “mess o’ greens,” as they say in the South. Often, Southerners mix different types of greens together, which I decided to do with the kale, chard and kohlrabi greens. But I’ll cook them individually in case they don’t all get done at the same time. I also want to sample them separately before combining them, since I’ve never tasted kohlrabi greens and only once or twice have I ever cooked chard.

Changing the way we eat

We may just eat everything this week, after all! I’m noticing one really positive change in my meal-planning strategy: more focus on vegetables and less on meat. Determined to use everything up from the CSA distribution, I’m approaching the vegetables as the main attraction and meat the side thought.

I also like using sausage, not only because it pairs well with greens but also because it’s already highly seasoned so preparation is simple. Furthermore, its intense flavor means a little goes a longer way, so we end up eating less quantity.

The Polska kielbasa worked great, and I plan to cook Italian sausage with the spinach for an upcoming meal. I want to experiment more with different kinds of sausages I’ve never cooked with before, like chorizo. Recipes, anyone?

Posted 7/1/2011 11:58am by Josie Hart.
Dear CSA shareholders, Wow, what an amazing week of vegetables we have lined up for you! We hope you are ready to do some serious cooking, because we have a beautiful bounty of delicate baby squash, lush broccoli and most likely one or two vegetable varieties you may have never seen before!


this week's produce (July 4-8)
                           
• Salad greens
• Spinach
• Lettuce
• Arugula
• Kale
• Broccoli
• Baby Squash
• Beets
• Herbs: Basil, Dill, Parsley, Cilantro 
• Possibly - Radishes, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Kohlrabi and carrots

*Please note this is a tenative list and is subject to change 
  
 
  

cooking kohlrabi and other crazy things 

This week Susan Evans of Chrysalis Herbs will be providing a tasting and recipe to take home using some of the more rare vegetables this week at distribution. If you have any questions on how to prepare a certain vegetable please feel free to ask her. She will be at York st. Tuesday, July 5 from 5-6 p.m. and also at Chatfield from 5-6 p.m. on Thursday, July 7.


recipe exchange

If you haven’t already signed up for our recipe exchange at your weekly CSA distribution, please do so. We will be taking turns sending a recipe to each other utilizing at least one CSA veggie to help generate good ideas for cooking at home. Look for a clipboard at the check in table at your weekly distribution or feel free to ask a CSA staff member for more details.
 

this week's recipe
This recipe is from Liz Tanner, Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield horticulturist

Cilantro Verde Enchiladas

1 bunch cilantro (a small amount of parsley is nice too)
2 cups salsa verde (green salsa or fresh tomatillo sauce)
1 medium to large onion, quartered
1 jalapeno, seeded and sliced (keep some seeds if you like heat)
1 Tbsp chopped garlic (1-2 large segments)
1/4-1/2 tsp salt or to taste (this will depend on the salsa verde you use)
1  8-ounce container of cream cheese
10 tortillas
2 cups monterey jack cheese, shredded
4-5 cups diced or shredded cooked chicken (I used six pre-frozen breasts. If using fresh chicken, three or four large ones would probably be plenty.)

• Cook chicken in the oven or crockpot with salt, pepper, garlic powder, lemon juice and a little olive oil to add another level of greatness to the enchiladas. Preheat your oven to 350°
• In a blender, combine onion, salsa, cilantro, garlic, jalapeno and salt. Blend until smooth. Stir in softened cream cheese. Pour half of the sauce over the chicken and stir until well coated. Reserve remaining sauce to pour over top of the enchiladas.
• Scoop about 1/2 a cup of chicken mixture in each tortilla, roll up and place side by side in a lightly greased 9×13 pan. Pour reserved sauce over finished enchiladas and cover with tinfoil. Bake for about 30-35 minutes remove foil and sprinkle evenly with shredded cheese. Bake uncovered for 10-15 more minutes.
• Tastes great with black beans, tomato and olives on top


farm topic - fun with kids

Not all kids love eating beets, but they may love a craft project with them! 

• Buy one pair white cotton kids socks and rubber bands ahead of time. Tie the rubber bands around the socks in stripes (like tie dying). 
• After you boil or steam your beets, save the heated colored water. Add half a cup of vinegar and half a cup of salt to the water.
• Add 4 tablespoons of alum or cream of tartar to the pot. Bring the red water to a very soft boil once again. While the water is barely boiling, add the socks to the mixture. 
• Your kids will love doing this, because you are making sock soup! Yuck!
• After 1 ½ hours, pull the socks from the mixture using tongs and let cool. 
• Rinse slightly in cold water.  
• Remove rubber bands and lay socks out to dry.
• Enjoy having pink tie dyed socks!! If you want them to be red, cook them for at least three hours and remove, making sure the water is not boiling too much (don’t throw these socks in the washer - hand wash instead). 
 

food safety note

Please note that although we have washed our produce once after harvesting it in the field, members should wash the produce at home again before eating. Our farm produce should be treated the same way as grocery store produce: always wash before eating! The best way to wash produce is by running it under cool water. Cleaning products are not necessary.

 

Posted 6/27/2011 5:03pm by Vicki Phillips.

Clearly Abundant

My yoga teacher talked about abundance last Friday, urging us to observe the abundance within ourselves. But later, after returning from the grocery, what I observed was abundance upon the kitchen counter. A couple of red tomatoes, yellow cherry tomatoes, an avocado, red onion, yellow onion, apples, new potatoes, a lemon – all huddled together for a real homey, rustic, colorful look of abundance.

Add to that all the fresh-picked, green produce from the CSA, and it’s enough to make one feel abundant indeed. Because when you start with great produce, you cook great meals. It’s that simple. And with last week’s fresh greens, lettuces and herbs, I nailed three great dinners.

Well, almost. User error came into play on Friday night, when I fixed butternut squash ravioli with sage brown butter. Taste: exquisite. Appearance: hmm. I used wonton wrappers instead of making my own ravioli dough. This was lots easier, but you still have to assemble the raviolis individually, which is quite time-consuming. After carefully assembling 25 raviolis, I proceeded to boil them all at once (mistake #1, as they were too crowded in the pot) and then dumped them en masse into the colander like it was a big pot of spaghetti instead of 25 individual, delicate pillows (mistake #2). They all stuck together and I had to spoon them out like mashed potatoes. Also I got started too late for such a labor-intensive project (mistake #3). Ray and I finally sat down to eat our ravioli and salad at about 9:30. Still, I would prepare this Emeril Lagasse recipe again in a heartbeat because it was THAT delicious. And Ray didn’t mind the carbs – he said the dish was restaurant quality. I’m fairly certain he was referring to its taste, not its funky appearance.

On Sunday I made salmon topped with lime and dill in foil packets. I popped them in the oven for about 20 minutes – so easy! – and served the salmon with sautéed spinach. The salmon was pricy at $6.99 per fillet, but wow, was it worth it.

And finally the kale dish suggested by Susan Evans in her cooking demo. Simple recipe: Saute some garlic and onion with pancetta in nice big skillet. Remove the cooked pancetta and set aside, then cover so you won’t nibble at it. To the skillet add coarsely chopped kale and a cup of chicken broth. Season with salt, black pepper and crushed red pepper. Braise slowly, covered, for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cook some whole-wheat spaghetti. When done, remove spaghetti with wire skimmer and add to skillet along with about half a can of white beans (e.g., garbanzo, cannellini, Great Northern) and reserved pancetta. Stir it all together, heat for a few minutes and adjust seasoning. If too dry, add a little pasta water. Serve with a sprinkling of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. A healthful, tasty, one-pot meal. And the freshness of the kale made it a star ingredient rather than a side thought.

Adding peas and herbs to salads, eating lots of salads throughout the week, I was able to use up nearly everything. By the time of the second distribution on Tuesday, the only things left were a bit of lettuce, which I ate that evening, and the oregano. Stumped, I finally decided to take my friend Rob’s advice and dry the oregano by hanging it upside down over a jar in the pantry. This week we received more oregano, which has joined last week’s batch in the drying jar. If this herb-drying project turns out well – what can go wrong? – I plan to use the oregano in a big batch of pizza sauce for freezing.

Also in this week’s distribution were lettuces, spinach and kale; cilantro, parsley and dill; and both sugar snap and shelling peas. Having devised a plan for it all, I’m especially eager to make a dish I saw Jamie Oliver prepare on TV. It was potato salad with smoked salmon, dill and horseradish crème fraiche, which I’ll serve with peas and arugula. Abundance galore.