Thursday, July 9, 2009

Kale Lovers' Pizza! (Adventures in CSA: Week Four, Part 1)

CSA: Week 4

It's week four of our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share, and I am hoping it's a turning point away from "mostly greens" to "greens and other vegetables." This week's produce, trucked in from Norwich Farm, was diverse and delicious. I picked up:
  • 1 lb kale (CHALLENGE VEGETABLE!)
  • 1 head lettuce
  • 1 bunch broccoli
  • 2 oz mint
  • 4 beets
  • 4 spring onions
  • 4 oz sugar snap peas
What came out of this, you ask? I am, as usual, more than happy to share. Here's what we've made during the first half of this week:

CSA Stir Fry
(photo by Dan)

1. Stir-Fried Broccoli and Sugar Snap Peas with Shiitake Mushrooms. Wanting to create a stir fry with produce from the CSA (along with other items I had in the kitchen already), I went to the computer looking for stir fry sauce recipes that could be realized without my making a supplementary shopping trip. Once again, I found myself turning to the Chowhound site for ideas. I should be looking in my numerous cookbooks, I suppose, but there are so many clever, casual receipts on the internet. And Chowhound users did not let me down. I adapted a stir fry sauce recipe found in this thread, creating the following mix:

1/2 c. chicken stock
3 T. soy sauce
1 T. white wine
1 T. brown sugar
1 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
1/2 tsp. white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. Chinese cooking wine
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1 T. peanut oil
a quantity of thinly sliced spring onion stalk
1 glug of orange juice

('twas brilliant!)

Finishing the Fry
(photo by Dan)

To stir-fry:
Mix up sauce (above). Set aside.
Cook some cellophane noodles. Set aside.
Heat a tablespoon of peanut (or vegetable) oil in the wok over medium heat.
Add a pile of peeled, grated fresh ginger, 3 or 4 thinly-sliced cloves of garlic, one sliced large spring onion (stalks and bulb), and a number of shakes of crushed red pepper flakes. Heat until garlic and onion are beginning to brown (but not burn).
Add sauce to garlic, ginger, and onion. Turn heat up to medium-high and cook until sauce starts to thicken.
Add a quantity of broccoli (chopped small). Turn to high and cook a few minutes, stirring in sauce, until broccoli approaches tenderness (but hasn't quite reached it). Then add shiitake mushrooms (roughly chopped).
After a minute or so, throw in a quantity of chopped peanuts and whole sugar snap peas (de-stemmed).
Cook a minute or two more on high, then throw in the wad of cooked cellophane noodles. Stir with tongs to combine and break up the noodle wad nad distribute sauce throughout.
Eat and relish.

I am a stir-fry convert. It is exciting to make up a meal with things one already has on hand. Normally I have to choose a recipe and go to a store -- or more than one -- to round out my ingredients. But there doesn't need to be any extra shopping for a stir-fry, and it does not have to taste like I've cleaned out my fridge into a pan. This dish was savory and tangy and spicy and true. It made me happy (and full).

Tisane of Mint

2. Mint Tisane. Our mint was looking a bit wobbly after waiting a day or two to be used, even though I stored it with its stems in a jar of water in the refrigerator. To disguise its ugliness but capture its flavor, I boiled a pot of water, turned off the heat, and threw the mint in to steep.

Then I forgot about it while I watched three episodes of Extras (and all the special features on the DVD).

Then I strained out the mint and poured the tea into a couple of pitchers, threw the pitchers into the fridge to cool the brew...and forgot about it again.

When I finally did drink some the next day, it was clean and minty and refreshing as a breeze.

Kale Lovers' Pizza
(photo by Dan)

3. 5-Cheese Pizza with Kale and Roasted Garlic. I ran across this kale-utilizing recipe by chance. I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of turning some of my CSA bounty into homemade pizza yet. This recipe was perfect, especially if one takes into account how much I swoon over roasted garlic (*sigh*).

The suggested (four) cheeses in the recipe linked above are fontina, asiago, provolone, and mozzarella. Fancy choices, and I imagine they're extraordinary together, but I was all about cutting corners, cheaper options, not going to Whole Foods, and faster pizza. I bought a $2.49 bag of pre-shredded mozzarella and one of a "Mexican" four-cheese mix at the corner store. The cheeses I actually used were mozzarella, queso blanco, asadero, cheddar, and monterey jack.

To cook our pound of kale before arranging in on the pizzas, I adapted a recipe emailed to my CSA listserve by another shareholder. She found it on The Food Network's website.

Basically, I cooked 4 cloves of garlic and a big, sliced spring onion in a few tablespoons of olive oil, stirring it over medium heat in a large pan until it began to soften but wasn't yet brown. Then, I turned the heat up to high and added 1/2 cup of chicken stock (you could also use water), the kale (chopped into bite-sized pieces), and salt and pepper. Covered, this cooked 5 minutes. After that, I uncovered it, added a few splashes of red wine vinegar, and continued cooking until the liquid had evaporated.

Once everything was cooled, we layered cheese, roasted garlic, and kale onto the dough (two layers of each), as directed in the recipe. Each pizza (we made two) was confined for 8 minutes to a 500 degree (F) oven, and voila -- the best pizzas we've ever made.

I'm sure a large part of the pizzas' success was the dough we bought pre-made ($3.50 for two big pizzas' worth of dough) at Carmine's, a pizza place down the street. The crust was perfect -- flavorful, light and puffy, crispy and soft. But the toppings were also amazing. The garlic was smoky and melted, the cheese was thick and rich, and the kale was slightly tangy and vegetal. We're going to have no problem eating these leftovers.


Speaking of leftovers, there are still some CSA items (lettuce, beets, a few spring onions) in my fridge from this week's share, so this is just part one of week four's experience. I'll see you in a few days for the wrap-up!


Heather Williams said...

Jenny, it looks amazing! I will try it soon. I will have to leave the greens off of half because Terry is vegetable challenged. Apparently you do not need to eat your veggies to grow into a monster! I will let you know how it goes!


Jennette said...

You're very generous! I think if I had to live with someone who doesn't eat vegetables, he'd be making his own food most of the time! :)

Let me know if you like the pizza!

grasshopper said...

Great article!

now i feel like pizza somethin' fierce, tho.. thank goodness my favorite place around here delivers...

Jennette said...

Thanks, Grasshopper! I hope you got your pizza.

Anna said...

I am definitely making that pizza tomorrow, and I'm sad that I did not see this post until now. Think of all the kale pizzas I have missed!

Jennette said...

Anna -- hope you liked it!

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