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!

Oven-Roasted broccoli

Roasted broccoli, y’all!

I have hitched my wagon to this roasted-vegetable train and am on board with most but broccoli just didn’t seem to work for me. It burned and yet did not soften.

Then into my life came wacky Tyler Kord — yes that’s a person’s name — the genius behind the No. 7 Sub shop on Broadway on the east side of Manhattan with the powerhouse deliciousness of the wacky broccoli sub. It has broccoli, lychee nuts and ricotta salata and is a powerhouse of flavor. Craving flavor- level. I still remember it though I have not been staying nearly across the street from the closet of a sub shop for several years. Turns out Kord has a cookbook. And in it he confesses to a wild mad love of broccoli. He has a technique for roasting broccoli, which actually works.

Take out a big stalk of broccoli. Cut off the lower end of the stem (my direction). Peel the stem with a vegetable peeler. Then, started at the bottom of the stem, slice stem into 1/4” slices, all the way up to the florets and into the florets. Cut any florets wider than 2” in half.

Toss broccoli with olive oil, S&P and roast in a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, stirring sometime in the interim. Pretty darn good! And look Ma! No butter!

Served with roasted (marinated) chicken thighs, and roasted garlic potatoes. A low stress, wait-for-you dinner.

My favorite potato salad

I had a college roommate Elizabeth who taught me a high-fat way of eating toasted bagels: spread the hot bagel with butter and *then* smear with cream cheese. That way the bagel part is not dry, since it has the melted butter in it. That’s the idea behind my potato salad method. I combine the German potato salad method of dousing the just-boiled, hot potatoes with white wine vinegar and olive oil. The hot taters soak up the vinegar/oil. THEN I add a mayo mixture to the taters once they are cooled in refrigerator, which coats and gloms onto the outside. A winner!

Ingredients:

3 # potatoes — new, Yukon Gold, or other delicious, preferably organic potatoes, scrubbed, cut into large pieces and boiled with onion if you like until just tender when pierced with knife, usually under 20 minutes cooking time. Drain in colander. While sitting in sink in colander, drizzle over potatoes white wine vinegar and then olive oil. Let sit, and then later put on plate and put into refrigerator to chill.

3 T mayo (I like Hellman’s regular, not healthy, but I’m used to the taste)

2 T sour cream

1 t mustard — Dijon only

shallot, 1 T, chopped, perhaps macerated for up to 15 minutes in white wine vinegar

S&P

Herbs:    garlic scapes, chives and/or tarragon — fresh from the garden, chopped.

Directions: Chop up shallot and herbs. Whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, salt and pepper and mustard. Whisk in herbs. Test by dipping piece of potato into dressing. Does it need more salt? A splash of vinegar to brighten? Let mayo mixture sit in refrigerator a bit to blend nicely ahead of time, such as while potatoes cool in refrigerator, or simply mix into cooled potatoes.

 

Vegetable Soup

Easy, nutritious, very delicious with your fall CSA share!

vegetable stock or water, 3 c
Onion, diced
carrots, 6 small, diced
Celery, 1-2 stalks, diced
garlic, 1-2 cloves, minced
Potatoes, 5 or more, peeled and large dice/small pieces
Turnip, peeled and cut up
optional:
Thyme
tomato paste
Harissa
Parmesan
green vegetable such as spinach, steamed
olive oil for drizzling

Directions:

Cut up onion and sauté in large soup pot in olive oil for at least 8 mins until soft. Add butter and sauté carrots and celery; add salt and sauté another 5-10 minutes until soft. Add garlic and cook one minute. Add tomato paste and Harissa — less than 1 T each; stir and cook a minute. Next add potatoes and cover with stock. Boil for 10 minutes. Add S&P. Add turnips and more stock to more than cover, and cook uncovered at gentle boil until tender, which may take another 20 minutes. OPTIONAL: add chunks of carrot, parsnip and/or potato with turnips. Add green beans after pureeing.
Purée with immersion blender.
Serve in bowls topped with steamed spinach, drizzled olive oil and parmesan cheese. Pass the salt.
Bread is good with this. Focaccia: perfection!

Oven-roasted (marinated) chicken thighs & vegetables dinner

So it’s Fall and a great time to turn on the oven and cook a meal there. Warmth and wonderful aromas, both.

When you want something other than a whole roast chicken, and want to amp up the flavor, choose chicken thighs and go strong on spices, including cumin, paprika, cayenne, thyme and perhaps za’atar and/or sumac.

Here’s a guide on how to proceed:

Marinate chicken thighs in Greek yogurt — or buttermilk — to which you have added juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 t turmeric, S&P and cayenne. Leave out for 1/2 hour or refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temp before cooking, or at least 1/2 hour.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Put chicken thighs into roasting pan skin side up, wiping off some of the marinade, if desired. Sprinkle with paprika and cayenne (or picante paprika) and roast for 45 minutes or so, turning after half an hour or more; baste occasionally if desired.

Prepare potatoes by scrubbing, cutting into large chunks, drizzling and rubbing with olive oil, S&P. Put into a metal baking dish with a few garlic cloves, peeled, and sprigs of thyme, or rub dried thyme with your fingers, sprinkling into potato baking dish. Put potatoes with one cut side down. Add a splash of water, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove cover, and if you like, turn potatoes with tongs to place down on another cut surface. Continue roasting for another 20 minutes. Then remove and let sit. Serve warm or room temp.

Roasted vegetables: Cut up fennel and red onion into large-ish chunks and place in roasting pan with oil, S&P, fennel seeds, cumin, then pitted olives at end. Maybe add sumac, or use za’atar instead of all other spices. Roast uncovered for about 35-40 minutes, turning occasionally especially near end of time. Add olives about 5 minutes before removing from oven. IMG_5388

Here’s where I got this from — can add chick peas to pan.

https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1018910-sheet-pan-chicken-with-chickpeas-cumin-and-turmeric

 

 

Fall Vegetable Soup

I have been putting off making soup, thinking it’s a big production — to figure out components AND spices. Thinking: Tunisian, Thai, etc. which got too complicated and became an unproductive dead end (Are dead ends *ever* productive?)

So I had some lovely vegetables from my CSA share, and it being my Sunday night, I decided it was time to make some plain soup. Well I’m here to say that once again having good quality ingredients makes ALL the difference! I used no spices beyond salt and pepper and this soup was delicious! I had: carrots, potatoes, leeks, turnips, garlic and onions. So that was my soup!

I didn’t have vegetable stock handy to use as a soup base, so at Deborah Madison’s guidance I figured I would start with a “quick stock”, and I ended up making a full stock — which is still quick because 40 minutes is fine for vegetables. Also I found making stock is not such a big production if you use a regular size pot I realized last night. I had my base stock simmering while I prepared the ingredients for soup.

Make vegetable stock with onions, celery, carrots, leeks, garlic, bay leaf, peppercorns.

Soup Ingredients:

3 carrots, peeled and large dice
2 leeks, cut in half, rinsed and large dice
Turnips, peeled and cut into large dice
4-5 potatoes, peeled, quartered and thin slices

Turnip greens

Directions:

Prepare vegetables and then put 2 T butter into soup pot, heat on medium heat and add carrots, leeks, turnips and potatoes. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, add S&P. Add stock to cover by 2” or more. Cover partially, and cook at simmer for 20+ minutes

Separately boil greens for 3 minutes or less. Mustard greens are good here; boil for 10 minutes, drain and add to soup at end of cooking time. (Optional with greens: red pepper flakes and parmesan in bowls.)

A lovely soup that you can keep in your refrigerator for two days.

Oven-roasted dinner! (salmon, asparagus and taters)

No stove-top used!  Nutritious, delicious fish dinner ready in 45 minutes.

Menu:

Oven-roasted salmon filets with shitake mushrooms

Roasted baby potatoes with garlic and thyme

Oven-roasted asparagus

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Scrub taters, cut in ½ or thirds, and put into baking dish with a few whole peeled garlic cloves and a few sprigs of thyme (or dried, crumbled by hand), S&P. Add drizzle of olive oil, and mix around. Pour in a splash of water (steam will help taters cook). Place potatoes cut side down, cover with aluminum foil and put in oven. Your dinner is now 40 minutes away. Bake for 20 minutes.
  3. Prepare asparagus in usual manner (breaking off bottoms; rinse). Place on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil (if desired for easy clean-up). Sprinkle on soy sauce and olive oil. Mix around, then spread out.
  4. After 20 minutes, remove cover from potatoes. Increase oven temp to 425 degrees and continue roasting potatoes, cut side down.
  5. Prepare fish: Cut mushrooms in half. Take out another baking pan and line with foil. Put in a little oil and place cut mushrooms tops down in a line. Season fish with S&P. Place fish good side down on mushrooms, with skin side up.
  6. When timer is at 15 minutes, put asparagus into oven.
  7. About 12 minutes out, or however degree of doneness you like your salmon (and depending on thickness of filet), put fish into oven.
  8. Go set your table, pour yourself a nice glass of seltzer, and RELAX. Dinner is almost done.
  9. Check your potatoes by sticking a fork in ‘em to see if their done. They can sit out of the oven waiting for the rest of the meal, or not. (Ditto with asparagus.) Turn taters with a spatula if you’re worrying about them sticking or getting too brown (they’re probably just fine)
  10. Remove fish from pan with a spatula, trying to flip over to serve with mushrooms on top.

Voila! Dinner is served!

Another salmon option: Prepare a compound butter by mashing together room-temp butter with lemon zest and some seasoning or herb mixture, such as Izak (cumin, sweet red pepper flakes, garlic). Place on top of fish when going into oven. And some on the way out. Preheat pan with butter to coat bottom of pan before laying on fish. Mmm

Boiled potatoes

Buy your best new potatoes — fingerlings if available, or like I did, new Maine Yukon Gold (in later April).  This is an excellent accompaniment to a highly-flavored meat roast (like pork shoulder with garlic and rosemary).  Very handy technique for a dinner party since it does its thing pretty much on its own while you cook other parts of the dinner or chat with your friends.  When done, you can cover the pot and hold them for a bit.

Scrub and place taters in big pot with water to cover by an inch or more.  Cut in half or more if large.  Add salt.  Bring to boil and cook uncovered until barely tender.

Drain most of the water from pot, leaving 1/2 inch or more.  Add several cloves of garlic and slices of butter.  Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until water evaporates.

Winter vegetables

You may at this point be wondering if you’re ever going to get vegetables back in your diet, since the green vegetables shipped from California look not so good for the travel and/or questioning nutritional value after a week or more out of the field.  I hear ya and am here to pique your interest in vegetables to see you through winter.

I frankly do not understand why people buy cucumbers in the dead of winter, or heaven forbid dreadful styrofoam tomatoes.  Me, I’m not looking to recreate deficient summer salads.  So I leave the summer produce alone — see you later zucchini! — and reacquaint myself with winter staples.

Carrots.  Braised with water and butter, and then lift the lid to let the water evaporate and then — voila! — you have cooked carrots with just a bit of butter.  Add some thyme or other fresh herb, even parsley or cumin. Splurge on organic; they’re not expensive.  Adds color to your dinner plate, and they’re delicious (and nutritious!).

Cabbage.  Cabbage need not be vile.  Just don’t boil it and you’ll be fine.  I like it sautéed with olive oil and oyster mushrooms and maybe some pancetta.  Just quarter head, cut out core, and cut into thin strips. Savoy is good for this.  Napa cabbage makes an excellent cole slaw, such as Wolfgang Puck’s Chinois Chicken Salad (sans chicken).

Parsnips.  Julienne them with carrots and roast in olive oil in a hot oven of about 400 degrees tossed in olive oil and thyme.  Fantastic side dish.

Broccoli rabe.  This bitter green survives the trek from CA well, and is just the thing for green leafy vegetables mid-winter.  (Contra swiss chard which is too delicate to not wilt one week out of the field.)  Braise it with garlic (natch!), olive oil and red pepper flakes and you have a very delicious and somewhat bitter green.  Add beans and/or sausage (andouille is what I like) and you have yourself a one-bowl dinner.

Escarole.  This green too survives the cross-country trek well.  It is also on the bitter side but not as strong as broccoli rabe.  It is a perfect foil for the fattiness of pork, as in pork tenderloin with prunes and escarole I made years ago.  Escarole does well braised with beans.

Potatoes.  Roasted.  Boiled.  In a gratin.  These are winter standbys.  And there are some good ones to be had, either a framer has them in storage or seek out some interesting varieties.  Or make soup.  It’s the easiest soup to make, and is a recommended starter soup to make as your first soup.  It is delicious, easy (you can simply use onions rather than leeks), and will build your confidence to trek further into soup-dom.

Sweet potatoes.  Yes, these are just fine scrubbed, poked, rubbed with oil and baked in a hot oven, and smothered in butter.  Even better is to roast them in wedges with olive oil and then some chipotle peppers near the end of the roasting time.  Or if you’re having a crowd, make my friend Deb’s sweet potato salad.

Winter squash.  I confess I am not a big fan of acorn, etc.  I find the texture too stringy and not welcoming, and the flavor, meh.  But I am fond of butternut squash.  Steam or roast wedges, and puree and stick into a quesadilla.  Or add maple syrup and butter and serve in a bowl.

Cauliflower.  A fine vegetable to eat in the winter, and shines in flavor when roasted.  If you’re feeding picking kids, put steamed cauliflower in a pan, dot with butter and lay on grated parmesan and heat until cheese is melted.  Adults like it too.  It makes a fine soup, either as the main ingredient, or as part of a vegetable soup.

Avocados.  These happily high-fat wonders have seem a resurgence (did they ever surge?) in popularity, carried on the shoulders by health afficienados.  They are good in guac.  Even simpler to cut up, sprinkle with lemon, and smush or place onto a piece of toast and call it breakfast.  And if you’re making a salad, they have a fine place there.  I like the bumpy ones from California, and avoid the smooth larger ones from Florida.

Celeriac.  If there is a farmer in your midst that stores, celeriac is a welcome relief.  A gnarly root crop related to turnip (at least taste-wise) it carries a cheery celery flavor too.  (Am not pausing to google to see if it is in fact what some refer to as “celery root.”  I don’t think it’s a common celery plant root.)  Grate it in your food processor or by hand (as I did when I –yet again — snapped off a crucial piece of plastic comprising the safety latch) along with a carrot or two and make celeriac remoulade.  (I prefer to grate it, and add wine vinegar to mayo.) I hear you can make a gratin with celeriac and potatoes.

And don’t despair.  Buy some citrus fruits, which are getting into their peak season now.  Have you tried a Cara Cara orange?  They will make you happy — sweet, juicy and very flavorful.  For dessert, try slicing them as follows: Cut in half from tip to tip.  Lay flat insides down on cutting board.  With blossom tips facing you east and west, cut the end, then make three thick slices and cut off other end.  Repeat on second half.  Serve on a plate for dessert.  I like mine room temp.