Monthly Archives: October 2009

Calzones with Grape Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzerella, and Basil Pesto

I love a good calzone. My favorite ones are loaded with fresh veggies, and when we got a huge bunch of basil and a pint of sweet grape tomatoes in our Local Box last week, I knew exactly what I was going to make.

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A calzone loaded with fresh mozzerella, sliced grape tomatoes, and fresh basil pesto. I’ve already shared my pizza recipe with you here, so I’m sharing my basil pesto recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large bunch of basil (~2 c. of leaves), stems removed
  • 1/4 c. pine nuts
  • 1/8 c. parmesan cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • Heavy pinch of salt and pepper
  • 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil

Directions:

  • Process all ingredients except for the olive oil in the food processor. While the food processor is running, drizzle in the olive oil until the pesto comes together in a paste.
  • Scrape down the bowl and taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Process again to ensure all ingredients are well-combined.

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Verdict:
Homemade pesto is infinitely better than storebought pesto, so I really encourage you to try it. It’s so easy, and you can control the oil and salt content all you want. And it tastes fresher, too! When eaten with fresh mozzerella and grape tomatoes, it’s hard to go wrong.

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Local Box Meal Plan: Oct. 26-30

The last okra of the year? Say it isn’t so! And I haven’t even made a stew in the slow-cooker yet. Now that it’s getting cooler, I think it’s about time.

This week, we’re getting bell peppers from My Father’s Farm or Walnut Creek, yellow/red onions and red potatoes from Naegelin, yellow/dragon tongue beans from Animal Farm, gala apples from Top of Texas, turnips, dill and red radishes from My Father’s Farm, Bibb lettuce from Bella Verdi, crimini mushrooms from Kitchen Pride, and okra from Walnut Creek.

So I’m making:

Lunch:

  • Chicken salad with apples on Bibb lettuce

Dinners:

  • Cheesesteaks with sauteed mushrooms, onions and peppers
  • Slow-cooker beef stew with okra and tomatoes

Side Dishes:

  • Turnip and radish greens with sauteed garlic
  • Apple-turnip compote
  • Mashed potatoes with buttermilk and dill
  • Yellow beans with dill and quickly pickled onions

Eggplant Rollatini

I will readily admit (and I think I have done so before) that I am not the biggest eggplant fan. Let me set the record straight — as long as it’s breaded and sauteed, rolled up, and stuffed with cheese and prosciutto, I’m a happy camper.

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Adapted from Vintage Victuals

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 large globe eggplants, sliced lengthwise 1/8″ thick (You’re going to need 12 slices.)
  • 1-1/2 c. flour
  • 3 large eggs (I actually needed 4.)
  • 1 tsp. salt, plus additional to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper, plus additional to taste
  • 1 c. breadcrumbs
  • 1 c. vegetable oil (I used much less, as I sauteed the eggplant slices instead of frying them. I would say I only used ~2 Tbsp. oil total.)
  • 1 c. whole milk ricotta cheese, drained overnight (I used skim milk ricotta and didn’t drain it. It worked fine.)
  • 2 Tbsp. Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese, divided (I used closer to 1-1/2 c. total.)
  • 1/4 lb. thinly sliced prosciutto (I was 2 slices short with 1/4 lb. Make sure you get at least 12 slices.)
  • 1-1/2 c. marinara sauce, divided

Directions:

  • Put the flour in a shallow dish. Beat 3 of the eggs in another shallow dish. In a third shallow dish, combine the breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Dip the eggplant slices in the flour, then into the eggs, then into the breadcrumb mixture.
  • Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet until hot but not smoking. Place the breaded eggplant slices in the hot oil and fry for 2 minutes on each side until golden. Remove from the skillet and place on paper-towel lined baking sheets to drain until cool enough to handle.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour 1 c. marinara in the bottom of a 9×13″ baking dish and set aside.
  • Combine the ricotta, parsley, the last egg, 1/2 c. mozzerella, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl and mash it with a fork.
  • When the eggplant slices have cooled, place 1 slice of prosciutto on 1 slice of fried eggplant. Drop a heaping tablespoon of the ricotta mixture on top of the prosciutto at the wider end of the eggplant slice. Roll the eggplant slice top to bottom, then place bottom side-down in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices. (I found that 12 rolls fit perfectly in a 9×13″ baking dish.)
  • Pour the remaining 1/2 c. marinara over the rolls and sprinkle the remaining mozzerella over the marinara. Bake for 25 minutes or until it’s bubbly around the edges. Let cool for 2-3 minutes before serving.

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Verdict:
Cheesy and gooey with a fried component? There’s so much to like here. The eggplant has a crunchy crust so the typical mushy texture isn’t even an issue. The cheese and sauce give it a comfort food, lasagna-like feel, while the prosciutto adds an unexpected salty bite.

Apple Cake

[Printable Recipe]

Apples and honey are traditional when celebrating Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish new year). My favorite Rosh Hashanah food (aside from plain ole’ apples dipped in honey) is apple cake. It has the same flavors of apple pie, but in a dense cake that’s not too sweet.

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Deb on Smitten Kitchen calls for this to be baked in a tube pan, but the last thing I need is another piece of bakeware (just last night, I opened the cabinet and a round cake pan bonked me on the head). Instead, I baked this in a 10″ springform pan. It worked perfectly. I probably wouldn’t use a bundt pan for this. The idea is that you can get it out easily without destroying the apples on top.

From Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 6 apples (Deb uses McIntosh apples, I used Galas.)
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 2 c., plus 5 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2-3/4 c. flour, sifted
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. vegetable oil
  • 1/4 c. orange juice
  • 2-1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 eggs

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan (or a springform pan, like I used) with butter and set aside.
  • Peel, core and chop the apples into chunks. Toss with cinnamon and 5 Tbsp. sugar and set aside.
  • Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, 2 c. sugar and vanilla. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.
  • Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Spread half of apples over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top.
  • Bake for about 1-1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean. (Mine took closer to 2 hours. I’m not sure if it’s because I used a springform pan or what. I’d check at 1-1/4 hours, then at 15 minute increments thereafter. If your cake isn’t done and the apples are starting to brown — as you can see mine did in the photo below — cover the pan loosely with tin foil for the remainder of the baking time.)

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Verdict:
Don’t feel like you have to be Jewish to make this recipe! It’s very similar to a coffee cake, but has a distinctly fall feeling to it with the cinnamon and the apples. Cory likened the dense, moist texture to that of zucchini or pumpkin bread, which is probably a result of using oil instead of butter. It’s a great fall dessert, but that didn’t stop me from having a piece in the morning for breakfast either!

Local Box Meal Plan: Oct. 19-23

This week, we’re getting: Corno di Toro sweet peppers, bell peppers, an assortment of herbs, cucumber, Meyer lemon, gala apples, Thai eggplant, lettuce, cherry tomatoes and either baby bok choy or sweet potatoes, depending on your delivery day.

So I’m making:

Lunch:

Dinner:

  • Roasted turkey breast stuffed with lemon, garlic and herbs
  • Grilled shrimp with Romesco sauce (a traditional Spanish sauce made with garlic, chiles, almonds, tomatoes and peppers)

Side Dish:

Dessert:

Plenty of produce that’s perfect for fall!

Tomato-Mushroom Tart

[Printable Recipe]

We’ve been so busy lately, so I’ve been looking for quick meals that can be prepped ahead of time or made in Rachel Ray-style speed.

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Greenling had passed along a recipe for a savory veggie tart a few weeks ago, and I thought a tart would be perfect for one of those hectic nights. It would come together quickly and allow us to use more than 1 veggie from our Greenling box (which is always a plus, as it’s hard to make it through the huge box with just 2 of us!).

Adapted from Food Network

Ingredients:

  • 1 pie crust, either storebought or homemade (here is my pate brisee recipe)
  • 5 roma tomatoes or 2 large tomatoes, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 lb. criminis, sliced thinly
  • 1-1/2 c. mozzerella cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Press the pie dough into a tart pan with a removable bottom. Bake the tart shell for 7 minutes.
  • Remove the tart from the oven when it’s lightly browned and sprinkle 1 c. of the mozzerella cheese in the bottom.
  • Toss the tomatoes and mushrooms with the olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper, then add the tomato-mushroom mixture to the tart on top of the cheese. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 c. of mozzerella cheese on top, then bake the tart for an additional 15 minutes until the cheese is bubble and the tart shell is golden brown.
  • Cut the tart into wedges and serve warm.

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I served this alongside a green salad with candied pecans and blue cheese. It felt very much like we were eating at a French bistro!

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To candy pecans, just toss the pecans in corn syrup and brown sugar (~1 Tbsp. corn syrup and 1 tsp. brown sugar for a 1/2 c. of pecans) and a pinch of salt. They can be baked at whatever temperature your oven is at, but they do best at 350 for 8-10 minutes. I baked these with the tart at 400 for 5-6 minutes.

Verdict:
Gooey and bubbly from the cheese, juicy and sweet from the tomatoes: this tart was quite reminiscent of pizza, which is never a bad thing. I really liked the thyme with the mushrooms. While the original recipe called for basil, I thought the earthiness of the thyme and mushrooms would go really well together, and I wasn’t let down.

Fresh Pasta with Roasted Shrimp and Cherry Tomatoes

I have no idea why I haven’t been making homemade pasta more frequently. Perhaps it’s because the last time I tried, my KitchenAid stand mixer conked out, leaving me worried that I didn’t have a mixer powerful enough to handle pasta. Or perhaps I thought it was harder than it actually is. Probably both. I was wrong on both accounts though.

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I made this on a weeknight and it took about an hour and 15 minutes from start to finish. It’s definitely more work than hard pasta, but the reward is definitely worth it.

This is sort of a 2-part entry: the pasta part and the roasted shrimp part. I’ll split the recipes up, so if you want to make one or the other, it’s easy to follow. These recipes make 4 servings of shrimp and pasta.

The Pasta
[Printable Recipe]

From Bell’ Alimento

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 c. bread flour
  • 3 eggs
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

  • Spread the flour out onto a work surface and make a well in the middle of the pile of flour. Crack the eggs into the well and whisk them, incorporating the flour into the egg mixture as you whisk.
  • Work the dough into a ball and knead until it’s smooth (5-7 minutes). Add flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to the work surface.
  • Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for 45 minutes.
  • After the dough has rested, divide it into 3 equal pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time (leaving the remaining pieces in the fridge while you’re working with the first), knead the dough a few more times, flatten it out with your hands, then run it through the pasta maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Let the pasta dry (my fettucine took about 20 minutes; I don’t have a rack, so I laid the pasta flat and covered it with a kitchen towel), then boil for 2-3 minutes until the pasta is al dente.

The Shrimp
[Printable Recipe]

From Real Simple

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. peeled and deveined shrimp (You can get them peeled and deveined already at the grocery store to save some time.)
  • 2 pints grape tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced finely
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped finely
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the shrimp with the rest of the ingredients. Spread the shrimp and tomatoes out on the baking sheet in an even layer.
  • Roast until the shrimp is cooked through, about 17 minutes. Squeeze the lemon juice over the shrimp before serving.

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Verdict:
We’ve been getting really sweet tomatoes in our Greenling box for the past few weeks, and this sweetness was fantastic in this dish. I did, however, need to add the lemon juice for some acid before serving (the lemon juice wasn’t called for in the original recipe). While you could also saute the shrimp, roasting them gave it a great dimension of flavor.

Fresh pasta is a completely different animal from hard pasta. It’s hard to describe the differences, but I’ll try. =) It’s got a fresher taste (obviously) and a much different texture (smoother, maybe?) after it’s cooked. It also tastes like pasta, and the hard pasta I’ve had sometimes doesn’t taste like much at all. It’s a dish in itself, rather than just a vehicle for a sauce or topping.