The following items were in week two's CSA farm share allotment, which R. kindly retrieved for me while I was out of town:
- 1/3 lb spinach
- 2 heads of lettuce
- 3/4 lb mizuna (CHALLENGE VEGETABLE!)
- 3/4 lb swiss chard and ruby chard (CHALLENGE VEGETABLE!)
- 2 green garlic bulbs, with stalks
- 1 bulb plus stalks of fennel (CHALLENGE VEGETABLE!)
I admit I was a little overwhelmed by all the greens. Matt C. got asparagus plus sugar snap peas and Willow got radishes in their CSAs, so there may have been some mild jealousy at play, too. But, seriously, can Dan and I eat two heads of lettuce in a week? I was looking forward to a good stir-fry but it seemed salads were my destiny...or were they?
These ingredients became:
1. Sauteed Fennel with Crispy Fried Lemon, adapted from Mollie Katzen's The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without. This is a super-simple recipe (Sautee the fennel bulb, sliced thin. Fry paper-thin slices of lemon dredged lightly in flour with a little salt and pepper added while the fennel stays hot in a low oven. Serve together), but I found the rind on my lemon to be bitter, so I punched out the crispy bits from the center of each fried lemon slice and just ate them with the fennel. Next time, I would zest off most of the peel first.
I don't like licorice, but I did like fennel (which has a licorice flavor) prepared this way. I stuck the stalks into the freezer to use in making vegetable stock later.
2. Salad of Mizuna, Spinach, and Lettuce. Dan created a giant salad using these three types of greens, cucumbers, feta cheese, red onion, toasted pine nuts, and croutons he made from a leftover jalapeno cheddar bagel. I made a creamy, dreamy dressing with this recipe, substituting dill for the chives.
Mizuna is a spicy green that is not unlike Arugula, but I found the former to have a less biting flavor. The croutons were inspired, by the way. Yum.
3. Ruby Chard Decorated With Itself, adapted from this recipe, which I found in the same Mollie Katzen cookbook I mentioned above. For this preparation, the red stems are diced and stir-fried with red onion in olive oil and salted. Then, a sauce of 1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar is reduced (after bringing to a boil) over low heat for 10 minutes and poured over the stems/onion mixture. Finally, the green leaves of the chard are wilted in a hot, oiled pan. Everything is combined and toasted pine nuts go on top.
Delicious! It actually tasted something like roasted beets, which I love.
4. Tangy and Herbed Lettuce Soup. While looking for a non-salad lettuce recipe, I ran across The Nourishing Gourmet's recipe for lettuce soup. I liked the idea that I could customize it to the herbs I had on hand, which in this case happened to be remaining dill from the salad dressing I'd made for Dan's big salad. I also used the green garlic bulbs in this soup. Someone had suggested they might be spring onions, which they resembled, but when I cut them open both were definitely garlic. The scent and flavor were amazing and fresh.
This soup was a lovely speckled green, like paler broccoli soup. Tastewise, the dill covered most of the lettuce flavor, if there was much flavor to the lettuce once simmered, leaving it tasting like a pleasing dill, onion and potato soup. To finish the soup and brighten the flavor, I used a very nice artisan red vinegar made by monks and given to me by Ian and Christa after the most recent time I cat-sat (cat-sitted?) for them. Lemon would also have been tasty.
The completed soup was well received by all adults in the room, served hot and garnished with a drizzle of that leftover salad dressing from item #2. I topped my bowlfull with chopped green garlic stems.
This soup is also good cold, which is how Dan and Melanie ate some of the leftovers.
5. Swiss Chard and Mizuna with Beans, served over pasta. Here's an idea I got from someone on the Chowhound Home Cooking board: saute onion, garlic, sweet smoked paprika, and cayenne in olive oil. Add greens and cook until tender. Add 1 can white beans (with liquid) and cook, keeping it partially covered, until it reaches the desired consistency. Add liquid from the cooking pasta if you need to thin it out at all (or if you used drained beans). I sauteed sliced cremini mushrooms (bought at the Union Square Greenmarket) with the onion and garlic before I added the greens.
The finished dish was thick, tasty, and satisfying. It needed a lot of salt and was very filling. The next day, confronting the leftovers, everything seemed a little too thick and bland. I added a can of crushed tomatoes, warmed with garlic, which brightened everything up and made it new again.
6. Lettuce salad with goji berries, chickpeas, pepitas, and blueberries. The final leaves of lettuce and remaining creamy dill dressing made for a fine side salad.
(photo by Dan)
p.s. Dan also made "Viet-Thai" (sorta) chicken hot dogs as a homemade alternative to Asia Night at Trophy Bar. They were so fab! These used no CSA ingredients, so they don't really belong in this post, but I loved them, so yes they do. They did use Trader Joe's chili-lime cashews, which are entirely too delicious for words.