Monthly Archives: September 2010

Local Box Meal Plan: Sept. 27-Oct. 1

This week we’re getting:

Radishes – My Father’s Farm
Portabella mushroom caps – Kitchen Pride
Beet greens – My Father’s Farm
Assorted sweet peppers – Acadian
Lady cream peas – Just Peachy
Basil – Tecolote
Apples – Apple Country
Green shallots – Acadian
Eggplant – Acadian
Sweet potatoes – Naegelin
Zucchini – Naegelin

So, I am making:

Red chile rubbed sweet potatoes with green shallot vinaigrette – Use your shallots in place of the green onions (they taste very similar). The ingredient list for this one looks long, but it’s mostly pantry staples.

Roasted veggie pasta sauce – This looks really customizable. I’ll be using eggplant, zucchini, sweet peppers, and basil.

Sauteed beet greens and peas – This recipe is just for the greens, but I like to add extra veggies when I have them and I think the peas would be nice here. Toss them in for the last 15 minutes and simmer until tender.

Balsamic chicken cutlets over spinach salad with mushrooms, bacon and warm shallot dressing – I’m going to slice some of the apples and add them to the spinach salad. Also, note that scallions = green onions, which can equal green shallots, as I mentioned earlier. So, use any you have leftover from the sweet potato recipe above. Finally, this recipe calls for small white mushrooms, but you can just dice your portabella caps to use here.

Eggplant Bolognese

Looks like meat sauce, doesn’t it? That’s kind of the point. And to be completely clear, this sauce does have ground beef in it – but only a half pound. The sauce gets the rest of its meaty texture from chopped eggplant, which makes a fine complement to the beef.

I adapted this recipe from Mark Bittman’s Cooking Light column, where he modifies popular recipes to use less meat and more veggies. Eggplant is in season right now and I had a ton in my fridge, so when I saw this bolognese recipe that used 1.5 pounds of it, I was in. Traditional bolognese is a very rich sauce made with ground beef, ground pork, spices, and whole milk. This recipe, as you can imagine, is much lighter but still retains a ton of flavor. I used a jar of pasta sauce I had instead of the 28-oz can of whole tomatoes he calls for (I’m not a big fan of the texture of whole canned tomatoes), but either would be fine.

I imagine that crumbled tempeh would make a fine substitute for the beef if you want to make this completely meatless.

Eggplant Bolognese (adapted from Cooking Light)

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/2 pound ground sirloin
8 cups chopped eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, undrained, OR 1 (26-ounce) jar pasta sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
10 ounce uncooked whole-wheat fettuccine
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, sliced

1. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and beef; cook 10 minutes or until beef is browned, stirring to crumble beef. Add eggplant, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook 20 minutes or until eggplant is very tender, stirring occasionally. Add tomato paste; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add wine; cook 1 minute, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add tomatoes or pasta sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking up the tomatoes as necessary. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and red wine vinegar.

2. Cook pasta according to package directions, adding 1 tablespoon kosher salt to cooking water. Drain. Toss pasta with sauce; sprinkle with basil leaves.

Local Box Meal Plan: Sept. 20-24

This week, we’re getting:

Butternut squash – Massey
Onions – Naegelin
Potatoes – Naegelin
Black-eyed peas – Naegelin
Sorrel or lettuce
Lentil sprouts – Groovy Greens
Okra – Bradshaw
Sweet Italian peppers – Lundgren
Limes – G&S Groves
Rosemary – Pure Luck
Indian cucumber – My Father’s Farm

So I’m making:

Lentil sprout spread – Looks like a good dip.

Potato squash casserole – This has sausage to make a hearty one-pot meal.

Okra and black-eyed pea saute – Use some of last week’s hot peppers here if you still have some, or just use the sweet peppers we’re getting this week if you want a milder dish.

Indian cucumber soup with mint – This recipe calls for regular cukes, not the Indian one we’re getting, but I’m going to try using the Indian one here because they taste pretty similar.

Rosemary roast pork loin – Make this on the weekend and you’ll have plenty of leftovers for sandwiches and whatnot throughout the week.

If you get lettuce, try this sweet pepper salad with lime dressing (use your lettuce in place of the arugula). If you get sorrel, this tabbouleh with sorrel and lime looks tasty. Add chopped sweet peppers to up the veggie content.

Roast Chicken with Potatoes and Butternut Squash

This recipe caught my eye for two reasons. First, it doesn’t use many ingredients, and I happened to have all of them on hand. Second, it reportedly comes down to $1.62 per serving, which is pretty darn cheap. Roasting a chicken takes a while, so this is a good fit for a Sunday meal. Then, you can use the leftovers all week, just as you would a rotisserie chicken.

Because this recipe comes from Cooking Light, they instruct you to discard the skin at the end, but feel free to ignore that if you want to munch on its crispy, browned goodness. Also, it’s important to let the chicken stand for 10 minutes after you take it out of the oven, before you cut into it. This lets the juices soak back into the chicken as it cools, leaving you with deliciously moist meat.

Roast Chicken with Potatoes and Butternut Squash (from Cooking Light)

2 tbsp minced garlic, divided
1 tsp salt, divided
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/2 tsp dried rubbed sage
1 (3 1/2-pound) roasting chicken
12 oz red potatoes, cut into wedges
1 1/2 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (about 8 ounces)
2 tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and sage in a small bowl. Remove and discard giblets and neck from chicken. Starting at neck cavity, loosen skin from breast and drumsticks by inserting fingers, gently pushing between skin and meat. Lift wing tips up and over back; tuck under chicken. Rub garlic mixture under loosened skin. Place chicken, breast side up, on rack of a roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Place rack in roasting pan.

Combine potatoes, squash, butter, 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Arrange vegetable mixture around chicken. Bake at 400° for 1 hour or until a thermometer inserted into meaty part of thigh registers 165°. Let stand 10 minutes. Discard skin.

Local Box Meal Plan: Sept. 13-17

This week, we’re getting:

Grape tomatoes – Pedernales Valley
Fresh pinto beans – Just Peachy
Baby squash – Animal Farm
Mixed lettuce – Bluebonnet
Basil – Urban Roots
Jalapenos – Acadian
Eggplant – Acadian
Mixed radishes with tops – My Father’s Farm
Bell peppers – Acadian
Herb – Pure Luck
Sweet potatoes – Naegelin

So I’m making:

Radish top soup – Someone posted this on our Facebook page this week — looks like a tasty way to use the whole radish. The soup base looks pretty neutral, so you can probably throw in whatever herb you end up with from Pure Luck.

Pinto bean, jack cheese, and jalapeno quesadillas – This calls for pickled peppers, but your fresh ones will be fine. You’ll probably need to use less, though, because fresh peppers are hotter than pickled ones.

Roasted baby squash – Toss in your basil or whatever herb you get.

Ratatouille – I’m adding some diced smoked sausage to this to up the protein content and make it a meal. Add it with the garlic and onion in the first step so it has time to brown before you add the rest of the ingredients. Chop up your grape tomatoes here instead of the large/diced ones the recipes calls for.

Chef Dave’s Seared Ham Steak Salad with Bibb Lettuce, Warm Sweet Potato-Bourbon Dressing and Candied Pecans – Ok, I’ll admit that this salad looks like a lot of work. Especially considering it’s a salad. But aren’t you fascinated by the idea of a sweet potato-bourbon dressing? And you can use your regular lettuce instead of the Bibb the recipe calls for. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of making the whole thing, you could just make the sweet potato dressing and use it on salads for the week.

Creamy Mushroom Stroganoff

Creamy mushroom stroganoff is one of my favorite comfort foods. Using just a bit of butter, reduced-fat sour cream, and whole wheat fusilli (corkscrew pasta) makes this one of the healthier versions you’ll find. The fusilli is kind of unusual, but it holds onto the thick sauce really well.

I came across an online version the other day that I wanted to try until I saw that it was missing two ingredients that I consider key to a good stroganoff: dijon mustard and beef broth. I liked, however, the addition of a little white wine, so I incorporated that into my version. I love the rich flavor beef broth gives the stroganoff, but if you’re a vegetarian, vegetable broth would work fine as well.

Creamy Mushroom Stroganoff

1 tbsp butter
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 lb white mushrooms, sliced
2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup white wine
1 heaping tbsp dijon mustard
8 oz reduced-fat sour cream
1 tbsp flour
Salt and pepper to taste
8 oz cooked whole wheat fusilli pasta (4 oz dry)

Melt butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds. Add onion and saute another 2 minutes or so, until it starts to soften. Add mushrooms and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat a little and cook about 10-15 minutes, until the broth has reduced quite a bit. Add wine, mustard, and sour cream and stir to combine. Add flour and stir often for another 2-3 minutes, until mixture is thick. Add fusilli and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Makes two large servings.

Poached Apples with Vanilla Cinnamon Syrup

You know how some people like to play Christmas music in July? Well, this time of year I like to pretend it’s a lot cooler than it is and whip up something wintry. I hear all my friends up north discussing how they’re wearing coats already and I get kind of jealous. Anyway, the vanilla cinnamon syrup is divine, and you’ll have enough left over to use in banana smoothies (like I did today), or as pancake/waffle syrup. If you don’t want to mess with vanilla beans, I’m sure a teaspoon or two of vanilla extract would work fine.

Serve these little guys after dinner with a nice cup of coffee and pretend it’ll be out of the 80s before November. You just might fool yourself.

Poached Apples with Vanilla Cinnamon Syrup (adapted from Tyler Florence)

6-8 small tart apples, like Galas, peeled with the stem on*
3 cups sugar
2 vanilla beans, split and scraped (you’re just using the pods here)
4 cinnamon sticks
2 quarts of water
Juice of one lemon (a couple of tablespoons)

Place peeled apples, vanilla, cinnamon, sugar, and lemon juice in a large pot. Cover with water then bring to a simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes (longer for bigger apples, about 20 minutes) until you can easily pierce with a fork. Remove the apples with a slotted spoon to a holding plate. Bring poaching liquid to a full boil and cook about 25 minutes to make a light syrup. This won’t be really thick like maple syrup, but it’ll be really nice and sweet.

Place one or two apples in a bowl for each serving. Pour warm syrup over apples and then garnish with cinnamon sticks and vanilla beans.

*You can really use as many or as few apples as you have here. There’s a ton of syrup, so feel free to fill up the pot.