Dinner of collards, acorn squash and farro

When your CSA gives you collards and acorn squash, here is a nice way to combine them and call it dinner in very early fall (resistant to summer ending!)

Truth be told I was not pleased to see acorn squash in my CSA bag because I am not a fan. The traditional way it has arrived on my plate has been cut in half and roasted with perhaps a knob of butter and some brown sugar. Boring and regrettable texture. Turns out slicing and roasting makes them palatable. Are they crave-worthy? Hardly! But if you want a nutritious orange vegetable, it’s a fine contender, especially when there is honey (maybe try maple syrup?) and salt. And other ingredients.

Ingredients:

Acorn squash

Collards

Farro

Onion

Garlic

Optional: sage and/or njuda or sausage (to add to collards), 

pepitas, feta

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Get the collards going — fill sink/bowl, shred and swish and let sit to drain any soil

If you want to use vegetable stock to braise the collards, get it out now if frozen to defrost the container in a bowl of water, and then dump frozen stock into pan to thaw/heat.

1. Collard greens, one bunch — soaked/rinsed and torn or cut into ribbons (rolling leaves after cutting in half and slicing)

2. Farro — 1 c rinsed with 3 c water, bay leaf and pinch of salt. Bring to boil covered, then simmer covered for 30 mins. Drain. This can sit and wait for the other components.

3. Acorn squash — ends cut, then cut in half lengthwise, then into slices and de-seeded

Collards:

onion, 1/2— cut into half moons

Garlic, 2 cloves, sliced thin

Heat large-ish sauté pan that has a lid, add olive oil, and when hot add onion and salt and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook several minutes until softened, and then add garlic and cook for a minute or so. 

Add collards, S&P and some stock. Cover and cook for several minutes. Then stir around and perhaps add more stock. Cook for around 20 minutes until softened. A splash of apple cider vinegar or perhaps lemon juice is a good idea to brighten.

Squash: 

Mix in bowl: Honey, olive oil, S&P — mix about 1 T honey with 2 T olive oil. Stir with whisk to combine. Put in sliced squash and spread mixture onto slices.

Take out baking pan and smear on some olive oil thinly. Drop on squash slices. 

Bake about 20 mins, flipping mid-way approx, until tender. 

Assemble in bowl:

Farro

Squash slices

Collards

Feta 

Pepitas would be nice

sources: 

Skillet collards and squash

Collard greens with farro

Honey-roasted acorn squash

Fish and cabbage on an early September eve

I procured a beautiful piece of cod at my food coop, and then picked up Napa cabbage as part of my CSA share the same day. I wanted the flavors of both to merge. So I went in a Thai-ish direction with lemongrass, lime and ginger.

Compound butter for fish:

butter, softened to room temp

Grated lime zest

Lemongrass

ginger, grated

Lime juice

Izak — sweet pepper flakes and cumin

Cabbage:

ginger, grated

Garlic, grated

Sweet chili sauce, optional

Fish sauce

Sweet red pepper, cut in julienne

Hot pepper, finely minced

Napa cabbage, rinsed and cut into thick slices or shredded

Directions:

Heat sauté pan and add peanut oil. 

Add sweet peppers and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally for a few minutes. Next add hot pepper, then garlic and ginger and stir for one minute. 

Add cabbage, salt, stir and add chili sauce and fish sauce, a good splash of water, stir and cover to cook for a couple minutes. Uncover and stir and cook for a few minutes more until just softened. 

To cook fish:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees or slightly higher. When ready to cook, put baking pan in oven with a knob of butter and let heat up a few minutes.

Add fish, season with S&P, top with a knob of compound butter, and cook about 10 minutes, or until cooked through. It’s a nice idea to remove fish periodically and baste fish with melted butter in pan with a spoon.

Serve with wilted cabbage and rice.  Muy bueno!

Roasted Ratatouille, or how to make a dent in your August vegetable bounty

In August when your CSA share is overflowing with late summer produce, the perfect solution is to throw it all in a pan and roast in the oven. It’s passive and easy and uber-delicious. Here’s how:

Cut up:

Eggplant

Onions — preferably fresh onions — sweet and juicy

Peppers — mostly sweet, cut hot peppers more finely

Tomatoes — cut up and push out seeds to leave only the meaty part

Garlic cloves

Pile up in a large roasting pan. Drizzle on olive oil; salt in layers as you go. 4E50A176-480E-4057-A2DB-210C8CAEED4E

Roast at 400 degrees. 

First for about 40 minutes.A77C50FF-0F15-4ADD-9455-79487954C186

Then stir and put back for another 30 minutes. Toss in sprigs of fresh thyme or marjoram.

Then again and another 30 minutes until reduced and somewhat jammy. 

This is uber-delicious! A vegetable powerhouse okay with, ok, a fair amount of (delicious!) olive oil.

Serve over pasta with basil chiffonade and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve over farro cold. Pile up on good bread toasted, perhaps grating garlic clove onto bread and drizzling olive oil before piling on ratatouille. 

Thanks Ali!
E5D58AE6-C05F-4FEC-A945-BBEF482F7AD8578FAD25-24B5-43B0-BEC8-C8451D23BFF7Last photo is reheated ratatouille (in a pot with a splash of water) sitting atop toasted bread that was scraped with a garlic clove and drizzled with olive oil. A dusting of pecorino would not be amiss. B1E497E7-E497-49C7-BB78-B75B3E68572E

Impromptu vegetable stir-fry

Under the banner of cooking dinner does not have to be a big deal, let’s say you have some rice already cooked from an earlier day, and some vegetables and you are hungry for dinner and don’t want a big production. Devote a half hour of pleasant, non-stress vegetable and sauce prep and you can eat well. Only sweet and hot peppers, green beans and celery. Cabbage would have done fine instead of green beans. Here’s how I did it in August:

Sauce:

Soy sauce

Mirin (or sugar)

Toasted sesame oil

Sambal Oleek, or other hot chile sauce

Tofu, pressed, and then cut into cubes

Sweet red peppers, cut into large-ish pieces, larger than medium dice

Hot peppers, minced

Garlic cloves, grated

Ginger, grated

Green beans, washed, cut tips and tails, and cut in half

Celery, sliced, perhaps on a slight diagonal — adds crunch and vegetable bulk

Rice

Directions:

Heat large sauté pan or wok. Add peanut oil and perhaps also sesame oil (untoasted only) and when hot, add tofu cubes. Let sit for 30 seconds or so to brown. Scrape up with spatula and turn, letting sit again but this time a little less time. Scrape up with spatula again, and repeat until tofu is slightly browned — for me, golden and then it all started sticking, so I declared it done. Remove to a plate. 

Add oil and when hot, add: green beans, then peppers and celery. Drizzle on sauce and stir around. (You’re stir-frying!) Last add ginger and garlic and stir around, then add rice and tofu and stir fry it up with some more sauce. 

Perhaps you would like to top with sesame seeds and/or chiffonade basil.  A delicious bowl of protein and fresh vegetable.

Here’s a prior stir fry for winter.

Nicoise-ish Salad with farro

When you want a substantial dinner salad in August, Nicoise is the way to go. Feeling like farro rather than lettuce, I put this together. I boiled eggs and green beans in the morning and made dressing. Anchovies in the dressing makes for less bracing eating. 

Vinaigrette:

Shallot, small, diced and macerated in red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar for 10-15 mins

Garlic, 2 cloves, grated

Mustard

Anchovies, minced

Lemon juice and perhaps some zest as well

S&P

Olive oil

Components:

Cook ahead:

Farro

Hard boiled egg

Par-boiled green beans

new potatoes, boiled I salted water, peeled after boiling, and sliced — let them sit in some dressing ahead of time

Tomatoes, cubed or cut however you want; cherry tomatoes are also fine in addition

Tuna — Ortiz jarred in oil is very good

Oil-cured or nicoise olives pitted

Optional:

Red peppers, julienned, or even green if they’re not bitter

Capers, rinsed

Basil, chiffonade or perhaps some parsley on top of salad

Pesto!   With spaghetti, new potatoes and green beans

This is Marcella Hazan’s Pesto presentation with “the full Genoese treatment” of adding potatoes and green beans. Perfect in August with basil, new potatoes and green beans freshly harvested!

Make pesto in the usual way. My usual way is to put basil leaves in a mini-chopper with some rough chopped garlic, sea salt (Maldon), olive oil and pine nuts. Process and add more oil if needed. Put into bowl and mix in 1 T softened butter and a few T water from pasta water later.

Ingredients:

Pesto

Grated cheese

Small new potatoes, washed

Green beans, tipped and tailed

Spaghetti

Directions:

1. Put up a big pot of water to boil. 

2. Boil potatoes until just tender. Remove and let cool. Then rub off skins with kitchen towel. Slice thinly.

3. Add salt to water. Boil green beans until tender. Remove.

4. Cook spaghetti al dente. Scoop out 1/4 or so of water. Drain when cooked.

5. Mix together: Spaghetti, potatoes, green beans, pesto, cheese and a bit of reserved pasta water.

Thanks Marcella!

Swiss chard, fresh onions, pasta and lots more in a summer bowl

Chard is a handy vegetable because it grows continuously throughout the growing season so when it is too hot for spinach and kale is not around, here are some leafy greens to cook and eat. Best when very, fresh, like from your CSA. I never buy it in the supermarket — I avoid like off-season tomatoes and zucchini. I tried the Sundays at Moosewood ziti and chard recipe but was underwhelmed and I lowered my regard for chard. But then I thought about it, and realized it needs some flavor accompaniments — a bass note and some high notes, which I did with ndjuda (which makes everything it touches better!) and lemon juice, and threw in some nuts for texture contrast.

Here is what I made on a mid-summer eve in late July, when there was chard, fresh red onions and smaller onions/scallions, and some early season eh tomatoes. I will do this again. Mangia!

Ingredients:

Fresh red onions & scallions — maybe 1 onion and greens and 2 scallions?. Sliced.

Chard — 1 bunch, rinsed and torn leaves, stems cut into smallish-pieces (if you want stems which I rarely do)

Garlic — several cloves, minced

Hot pepper flakes

A few small tomatoes if available, cut

nduja or perhaps anchovies (for a bass note), about 1 oz nduja or 3 anchoves

Lemon juice — about 3 T

Roasted garlic oil, if available — from this recipe.

Parmesan

Penne

Pine nuts or walnuts, preferably toasted, or not

Directions:

Wash and lightly drain chard. If you like, cut up stalks to use also. 

Sauté onions in olive oil in a large sauté pan (that has a lid) for a few minutes with salt and add half scallions, especially white parts. Add hot pepper flakes and kosher salt. Then add nduja or anchovies and cook for a couple minutes, mashing and smashing, then add garlic, cook for a minute. Stir in chard, sprinkle on salt, add a bit of water, stir around and cover and cook for about 5 minutes. 

You can let this sit while you cook pasta — penne or perhaps ziti.

In between stirring pasta, add some cut up tomatoes and stir into chard mixture to cook and break down for a few minutes. Toss in remaining scallions.

Grate cheese, and squeeze lemon. Add a few T of lemon juice to chard mixture. 

When pasta is just al dente, drain and add to chard mixture in sauté pan, and stir to combine. 

Serve:

Pasta mixture

Drizzle olive oil, preferably the roasted garlic oil(!)

Parmesan

Nuts

Yum!

Farro salad with zucchini and onions

In July the zucchini and summer squash is starting to come in full-bore and you’re going to want to figure out uses. It’s fairly flavorless in my view and unexciting. One option would be to make fritters because everything fried this way is good. Another would be to grill or roast some zucchini slathered in a modified pesto of basil, garlic and oil. In July there is: basil, fresh onions, zucchini, parsley and beets. Put them together with farro for a satisfying salad, as follows.

Ingredients/Parts of the whole:

Farro

Lemon, shallot, mustard vinaigrette and maybe some garlic too.

Roasted zucchini and fresh onions

Basil, garlic, oil topping — whizzed in mini chopper

Toasted walnuts

Roasted beets

Feta

Oil-cured black olives

Parsley, chopped

Directions:

  1. Beets. Roast beets. 400° in foil for 1 hour. Place packets on oven rack and baking pan underneath to catch drips.. Check with knife (through file) that they are tender. Open packets carefully to not get burned on steam. Peel when cool.
  2. Farro. Rinse 1 c farro and place in medium saucepan with salt, bay leaf and 3 c water. Bring to boil and cook at simmer for 30 mins. Drain. Spread out on baking sheet to cool.
  3. Soak zucchini in water 1/2 hour — to remove grit from laying on top of soil.
  4. Toast walnuts on sheet pan in oven for 6 mins. (Longer if lower temp.)
  5. Mix in mini-food processor: basil, garlic, oil, S&P.
  6. When beets are done, turn up oven temp to 435°. Slice zucchini lengthwise, and lay on oiled sheet pan. Cut onions in half or into thick slices. Layer on basil mixture. Roast for 20 minutes, checking after 15 to see that they are not burning underneath; move in pan if need be. Roast for another 5 mins or so; maybe more for the onions. 
  7. Shred feta. Smack olives with knife and remove pits. Place walnuts in parchment paper, and roll rolling pin over them to crush somewhat. 

Assemble in large-ish bowl:

Farro, sprinkled with parsley

Zucchini and onions on one side of bowl. Beets on another, olives have another spot. 

Sprinkle all with feta and walnuts, and spoon vinaigrette over all. Not too much — there’s lots of oil in the zucchini and onions. 

Sautéed sugar snap peas

When super fresh, you can eat ’em raw, cut up in a salad. Or you can make ’em for dinner — in a snap(!) — as follows:

Chop up some fresh mint.

Tip and tail pea pods, pulling strings on both sides. 

Heat small sauté pan and add water and knob of butter.

Add peas and sauté for a few minutes covered with salt, then uncover to let water boil off.

Add mint. 

Can hold at room temp with lid off for the rest of the meal to finish. Good with fish or barbecued chicken, or Asian whatever.

Creamed spinach

Buy more fresh spinach than you can possibly imagine eating and serving, because steaming it shrinks the volume a huge amount.

Ingredients — for about 4 people:

fresh spinach, 1 #, pick over to remove and discard large stems
Heavy cream, 1/2 c (I only buy NON ultra-pasteurized)
Garlic cloves, 3, peeled and smashed with side of knife blade
Nutmeg, freshly grated
S&P

Directions:

Pick over spinach, pinching off and discarding long, thick stems.
Put spinach in a large-ish pot, sprinkle with salt, and pour on a healthy splash of water. You’re not going to get all the spinach in at once.
Cover and steam a few minutes until it reduces in volume. Add more spinach on top, and continue steaming, covered. Continue adding more until all the spinach is in the pot. Cook until well-wilted but not mush.

While the spinach is cooking: Put cream in small saucepan with garlic cloves. Cook over low-medium heat to reduce, and infuse cream with garlic. Add S&P while cooking. Keep warm/keep on low. Cover to hold and wait for spinach.

When spinach is done, drain it well, and return to the pot. Stir in cream and grate fresh nutmeg on top — not too much. Serve in a bowl and make everyone happy.

This is ideal as part of a stereotypical “meat and potatoes” dinner — perhaps London broil and roasted potatoes.