Monthly Archives: February 2010

Cilantro Pesto

A few months ago, I read an article about how pesto was the ultimate 90s food, though it was so good and such a crowd-pleaser that it’s not going away anytime soon. I’m inclined to agree.

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While basil won’t be in season for a few months, cilantro is a great way to enjoy pesto during the wintertime. It’s bright, vibrant green and fresh flavor makes it a great pick-me-up on a cold winter day. This pesto is also a bit lighter than basil pesto, so don’t feel bad about eating it by the spoonful. I enjoy eating it not only on pasta, but also on pizzas and as a dip for veggies. Anyone have any other ideas for it?

I do have a confession to make though: Greenling has included 1 bunch of cilantro in each delivery for the past few weeks, and because it takes a few bunches of cilantro to make a batch of pesto, it’s taken me a few weeks to make it. The cilantro stayed fresh and perky though because I stored it in my Prepara Herb Savor. I love that thing — I’ve ruined countless batches of herbs by storing it in the crisper and I’ve spilled cups of water in the fridge after keeping the herbs soaking in there. It’s essentially the same thing as the cup of water method, but in an airtight compartment that fits in the fridge door. I highly recommend it! (And no, they didn’t pay me to write this. But I would take another one if Prepara offered. My only complaint is that it’s a bit small.)

Adapted from Simply Recipes

Ingredients:

  • 3 c. cilantro leaves, stems removed
  • 1/4 c. almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 c. red onion, roughly chopped (I used the bottom of the red and white spring onions that Greenling also sent)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon (though save the other half in case you taste the pesto and it needs more acid)
  • 1 tsp. salt (I ended up needing more, closer to 1-1/2 tsp.)
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1/4 c. olive oil

Directions:

  • Pulse the cilantro, almonds, onion, lemon, salt and pepper in a food processor until combined.
  • Scrape down the sides, then with the food processor running, drizzle in the olive oil.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

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Eat however you like. I spread it on a pita pocket and topped with goat cheese to make a quick “pizza” for lunch.

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Local Box Meal Plan: Feb. 22-26

This week, we’re getting sweet potatoes; broccoli from Farm Patch; yellow onion and swiss chard or spinach from Naegelin; Meyer lemons from G&S Groves; salad pack with dill, cilantro, and mixed radishes from My Father’s Farm; crimini mushrooms from Kitchen Pride; and spring onions from Acadian.

So I’m making:

  • Broccoli and mushroom casserole with onion (without a cream of whatever soup! Blech!) with sweet potato biscuits (recipe to come in the Greenling box)
  • Gouda and spinach-stuffed pork chops (recipe to come in the Greenling box)
  • Lemon and chili fresh pasta (we ended up getting oranges, not lemons last time, so I’m anxious to try this)
  • Green salad with cilantro, radish and green onions

Quick Chicken Noodle Soup

I can’t seem to get enough soup in the winter, and with the beautiful turnips and carrots that came in our Greenling Local Box last week, I thought that a big bowl of chicken noodle soup was in order. I’ve made this a number of times before, as it’s really yummy and so quick and easy to make. While it’s not the same as soup that’s been cooking for hours, it’s way better than anything out of a can, it uses plenty of veggies and only takes about 20 minutes. It’s hearty and filling, with a good ratio of stuff to soup (I prefer stuff to soup). Note that using good quality chicken stock is important; because you’re not cooking the soup for hours, you want the best flavor possible.

Adapted from Rachel Ray

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 turnips, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 c. chicken stock
  • 4 c. water
  • 1 lb. chicken, chopped into 1/2″ chunks
  • 1/2 lb. extra-wide egg noodles
  • Salt and pepper
  • Handful of chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

  • Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Chop the carrots and turnips while the olive oil is heating, then put them in the pot.
  • While the carrots and turnips are working away, chop the onion. Put them in the pot with the carrots and cook until the onions are translucent.

  • Turn the heat up to high and add the water and chicken stock to the pot. Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces, making sure to remove the tendon.

  • When the water and chicken stock start to simmer, add the chicken pieces.
  • Wait a minute or two, then add the pasta to the simmering soup. Cover and cook until the pasta is tender (about 9 minutes).
  • Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with the parsley and serve.

Sweet Potato-Carrot Soup

I hate this weather. It’s been dreary, gray and cold for a few weeks now and I’m not a happy camper. Luckily, we got some bright and hearty veggies in our Greenling box last week, so I took the opportunity to make a stick-to-your-ribs, warm-your-bones soup.

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Soups are insanely easy to make, and if you use stocks, don’t take forever either. Saute your aromatics, deglaze the pot, then add your main ingredients and enough stock (or water, if you’re in a bind) and simmer until the main ingredients have cooked through. It’s a pretty standard formula that can be adapted to whatever you have on hand.

Sweet potatoes and carrots are already pretty sweet themselves, so I decided to saute the onions almost to the point of caramelization to add another underlying layer of sweetness. I also like adding ginger to my veggie-based soups. The soup is hot already, but the ginger gives the soup another degree of warmth.

I also added a dollop of plain yogurt for some creaminess. Though you could add cream to make it extra rich, I just like to puree it beyond belief and stir in a bit of yogurt. An immersion blender aerates the soup a bit, so you get that same richness of the cream without the fat. You could also use a food processor or blender to puree the soup, but I’ve found them to be so fickle with hot liquids (take it from me — soup on the wall? Not fun to clean.).

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1″ fresh ginger root, grated
  • 4 c. vegetable stock
  • 2 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ chunks
  • 1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2″ chunks

Directions:

  • Saute the onion in the olive oil over medium-high heat until the onions are just starting to caramelize. You don’t need a deep brown here; just a bit of color is fine.
  • Add the ginger and saute for another minute.
  • Deglaze the pot with a bit of the vegetable stock, then pour the rest of the stock into the pot and bring it to a boil.
  • Once the stock is boiling, add the sweet potatoes and carrots and reduce the heat to a simmer.
  • Simmer the soup until the sweet potatoes and carrots are tender (about 15 minutes), then remove from the heat and puree.

Carrot Spice Muffins

I had originally made these last year, and I loved them! The texture was perfectly muffin-like, yet tasted like carrot cake. When we got all those carrots in our Local Box last week, I knew I had to make them again.

Adapted from Baked Alaska

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 2/3 c. vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 c. milk (I used skim, but the original recipe called for whole. Skim was fine.)
  • 1/4 c. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. shredded carrots (about 3)
  • 2/3 c. chopped walnuts (The original recipe toasted them, but I was lazy.)
  • Pam spray

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar.
  • In another bowl, mix the oil, eggs, milk, maple syrup, and vanilla.
  • Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and fold together to combine.
  • Stir in the carrots and nuts.
  • Lightly grease the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan with Pam spray and divide the batter evenly among the muffin molds.


I like oversized muffins (the tops are the best part!), so I fill each muffin mold pretty high with batter. Consequently, the recipe only made 11 muffins.

  • Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.
  • Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.


See? HUGE muffin tops. Yum.

Local Box Meal Plan: Feb. 8-12

I tried making a turnip puree last week, and while the flavor was good, it seemed a bit like eating baby food. So I think I’ll stick with roasting them for now. Anyone have any great turnip recipes?

This week, we’re getting a huge head of Napa cabbage from Farm Patch; spinach from Naegelin; lettuce from Bluebonnet Hydroponics; meyer lemons from G&S Groves; turnips, cilantro and green shallots from Acadian; baby bok choy leaves from My Father’s Farm; and mushrooms from Kitchen Pride.

So I’m making:

Dinner:

Side dishes:

Spinach Pasta

I have awesome friends. They figured out exactly what I wanted for my birthday — a kitchen scale!

Yes, folks, I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I didn’t own a kitchen scale up until a week and a half ago. And to be honest, I have no idea how I lasted that long. Now I’m trying to find excuses to break it out at every meal. My only problem is that most of my recipes are measured in cups and teaspoons, rather than pounds and grams. So I took the opportunity to find a recipe that utilized both my new kitchen scale and a huge, beautiful bag of spinach.

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I’m not sure if it was the scale, the freshness of the spinach, or the fact that fresh pasta is plain old awesome, but this pasta was the best I’ve ever tasted. THE BEST. The best. It wasn’t heavy at all, despite the use of almost 7(!) eggs. It was tasty and flavorful, and the color (the color!) was a beautiful neon green with bright green specks of spinach running throughout each piece. And it only took an hour or so, making it do-able on a weeknight. I tossed the pasta with good olive oil (do I sound like Ina Garten yet?) and pecorino romano, as I didn’t want a sauce to compete with the pasta (yes, that’s how good it is).

If you’re thinking of wising up like I did and getting a scale for your kitchen, mine is the Cuisinart WeighMate digital scale. It’s got a digital (duh) display that converts between pounds and grams, a tare button so you can put measure all ingredients in the same bowl, and touchpad buttons so you don’t have to worry about getting flour particles in the mechanics. It’s also glass, so it looks pretty. Can’t get much better than that! And in the interest of full disclosure, Cuisinart is not paying me for this endorsement, but I would definitely try some products if you would like to send me any (hint, hint).

From Emeril Lagasse

Ingredients:

  • 5 oz. spinach
  • 1 lb. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 large egg, plus 6 egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

  • Blanch the spinach by dunking it in well-salted boiling water for 30 seconds, then immediately removing it to an ice bath. Drain and set in the bowl of a food processor.
  • Add the flour and salt to the spinach in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times, then turn the food processor on and add the eggs and olive oil through the feed tube. Keep the food processor running until the mixture resembles coarse, wet cornmeal (~2 minutes).
  • Divide the dough into 4 balls and work the pasta into the desired shape with a pasta machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions (I use the pasta attachment for the KitchenAid mixer). Boil for ~3 minutes, then serve.