Friday, July 6, 2007

Real Simple

Sometimes, the best thing you can make is a salad. This is especially true when your refrigerator is bursting with CSA produce. I made a valiant effort to clean it out today, and ended up with this variation on a favorite salad of mine. Sometimes I throw in avocado, if I have it; the turkey is optional, or could be replaced with roast chicken, beef or even good ham; and it really is just about your personal tastes. It's not even a recipe. But I am writing it down to remind myself that there's nothing easier to make for lunch than a greens-based salad, so why not do it more often?

1 head romaine
1 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 c. whole raw almonds
4 oz smoked turkey, sliced
2 small kohlrabi, peeled, sliced thin, and cut into 1/2 wide pieces
1/2 c. cherry tomatoes

2 t. best quality you can find extra virgin olive oil
1/2 t Maldon sea salt

Put the lettuce et. al. in a big bowl. Drizzle with the oil. Sprinkle with the salt. Toss gently. Devour. Serves two hungry people for a generous lunch.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

High summer

For the first time so far, I managed to pick up my share on time today. This meant that I got to peruse the list of my fellow share-holders as I checked off my name on the list and gathered the farm's weekly newsletter and recipe sheet. Apparently, I'm in good company. A fellow member known only as "Governor's Mansion" had already collected their bounty.

This week, Gov. Spitzer and I will be enjoying:

1 bunch of kale
1 bunch of broccoli
1 head of red leaf lettuce
1 bunch of red scallions
1 bunch of heirloom globe carrots
4 summer squash
6 cucumbers
1 pint of those strawberries--already, the last of the season!
1 bunch of beets
1 bunch of red kohlrabi

Those last two, like the turnips, present a challenge for me. As delicious as the first week's beets were, roasted, then served with a dijon vinaigrette, I couldn't finish them. I still have last week's left, along with the turnips, and I fear a similar fate for the kohlrabi. The irony is, I like these vegetables. Why do I fail to see their potential? Can anyone help?

Sweet Pea

An influx of wonderful old friend (or, as I now prefer to say, friends-of-long-duration) houseguests left me with much less cooking time and energy this week than I would have liked. I was especially disappointed because I have been poring over the latest issue of Gourmet like some kind of Mesopotamian scholar presented with a long-lost cuniform tablet. I want to cook it all, which I think speaks as much to the joy of summer ingredients as to a particularly good issue of my favorite (food) magazine.

For one set of guests, I did make a version of a spinch and strawberry salad, similar to the one in the issue--handfuls of deep green, really flavorful spinach from last week (so much better than the bagged grocery store stuff that even I was surprised), sliced strawberries from our CSA (by way of the inimitable Thompson Finch Farm) the whole drizzed with olive oil from the egregiously expensive but totally worth it David Rosengarten EVOV "club", cheap balsamic (the good stuff, which I am out of--oh Surfas, how I miss ye!--would definitely have taken this salad to a higher plane), sprinkled with Maldon and lots of fresh ground Tellicherry pepper. I was expecting little, and it's definitely a subtle salad (as, I find, all spinach salads are--I'm an arugula junkie) but a delightful one.

Another set of friends inspired me to make the roast chicken stuffed with ricotta and herbs from the magazine -- definitely a repeat-worthy recipe. With it, I concocted an emergency side dish, partly to use up the pounds of peas I had accumulated over the last two weeks' CSA shares.

Italian Couscous with Fresh Peas and Herbs
Serves 4

2 lbs fresh peas in their pods
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup Italian couscous
salt & freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup each finely chopped parsley, dill and mint
1 T sweet butter

Shell the peas. Enlist a friend, or a small child, or both, to help. Pull the string, then use your fingernail (small child) or paring knife (adult) to slit the pea open; pinch the ends and pull the peas out. It's a whole lot of work for seemingly not a lot of reward; two pounds of pea pods gave me around 1-1/4 cups of fresh peas.

Heat the chicken stock to a boil, and add the Italian couscous. Boil between 8-10 minutes, or until the couscous is al dente. You want some of the stock to boil down during this time. Remove from heat.

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and add the peas. Saute three minutes or until just tender.

Add the couscous and some liquid (drain some off if it seems too soupy) to the peas in the skillet and heat through over medium heat. Remove from heat, stir in the chopped herbs and and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve, and receive compliments, probably more than you're expecting, given the simplicity of the dish.