Zucchini and Rainbow Chard

15 May
Cooking the rainbow chard ribs and onions to fill the grilled zucchini boats

Cooking the rainbow chard ribs and onions to fill the grilled zucchini boats

Need some inspiration? When you’re cooking seasonally, it can be challenging to see the same ingredients at the farmer’s market, but sometimes you have to think outside of the (CSA) box. The items in this recipe could have easily been a pasta sauce or chile, but turned into a one-dish meal, easy to prepare in advance and throw in the oven on a busy week night.

I made several of these zucchini boats to share with my friends

I made several of these zucchini boats to share with my friends

Grilled Zucchini Boats with Rainbow Chard and Turkey

Serves 4

2 large zucchini (or 3 small)

Olive oil, salt and pepper

1 cup diced onion

1 bunch of rainbow chard, ribs torn from the leaves, well washed

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 pound ground turkey

1 teaspoon each of fresh chopped thyme and oregano

1 15-ounce can of organic diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese

When you grill the zucchini, just lightly char them.

When you grill the zucchini, just lightly char them

Heat a grill or grill pan. Trim the ends of the zucchini, then split lengthwise into halves. Using a spoon, gently scoop the seeds from the center of the zucchini, being careful not to go too deep or break the “boat.” Season with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place zucchini on the grill and cook just to mark with grill marks, then turn to mark the other side. Do not allow the zucchini to soften or overcook. Remove from grill and place in a 9 X 9 baking dish and set aside.

Drizzle olive oil in a large skillet and add onions, cooking at a low heat until onions soften. Meanwhile, slice the ribs from the chard into 1/4-inch slices and add to the onion. Stack the leaves of the chard on top of each other, roll into a cylinder, and slice thinly. Add the chard leaves and garlic to the onion mixture, and cook all of the vegetables together until soft. Add the ground turkey, thyme and oregano, stirring to break up the turkey into small pieces. Season the mixture with salt and pepper, then continue to cook until turkey has browned, stirring occasionally.  Add the canned tomatoes, and stir together, then bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, until the tomatoes start to taste sweet and thicken. Taste for additional salt and pepper.

Drape the turkey sauce over the grilled zucchini

Drape the turkey sauce over the grilled zucchini

Place the turkey mixture on top of the grilled zucchini and top with Parmesan cheese. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to bake the zucchini boats, or heat oven to 350 degrees and bake with an aluminum foil cover for 20 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and continue to bake until the cheese melts and browns, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow the dish to rest for 5 minutes, then serve.

You can turn this into a vegetarian dish by substituting cooked lentils for the ground turkey. Vegan? Leave off the cheese

You can turn this into a vegetarian dish by substituting cooked lentils for the ground turkey. Vegan? Leave off the cheese

Meyer Lemons & Oregano

13 Apr

DSC00622

I don’t truss my chickens. I know that it breaks cardinal rules of roasting whole birds. Long ago, I learned to truss, and never saw a difference in cooking time, tenderness or flavor, so I stopped. Yes, I prepare my birds with lots of love, massaging them with salt and oil, letting them rest before and after roasting, rubbing them with piquant herbs and ample seasoning. But tying them into straight-laced submission stopped making sense. Now I roast in a whole different, flagrant method: First, I cut out the backbone, and the wings, which I freeze to make stock later. Then I place them spread eagle on a flat roasting rack on top of a baking sheet. The only way I can describe this method is by calling it “slutty.” I mean it in the fondest of ways, like the girl who didn’t always follow the norm in high school, but got everyone’s attention and definitely made us trussed up girls wish we were a bit bolder. I can guarantee that its immodest display exposes the bird’s skin in a way that makes it succulent, crisp and golden, a definite goal of the most popular girl in class.

Slutty Lemon & Oregano Roasted Chicken

I use Meyer lemons in this recipe, but if they aren’t available, any other type of lemon is suitable. If fresh oregano is not available, use a good quality dried oregano and reduce it by half. The chicken cut is similar to a spatchcock method, without being pressed flat, search a YouTube tutorial online if you’d like more information. Chicken cut in this method roast more quickly than whole birds. In addition, taking the chicken out of the refrigerator for 15 minutes brings it closer to room temperature and lessens roasting time. You can use any combination of herbs, such as rosemary, sage, or thyme, and any type of citrus zest, like orange or lime that you wish.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 whole 4-pound chicken

Olive oil, salt and pepper

Zest of one whole Meyer lemon

2 tablespoons of fresh oregano

Directions:

Place chicken, breast side up, on a large cutting board (I prefer plastic so I can wash and sanitize it in the dishwasher.) Remove the wings by cutting at the joint, either with a kitchen shears or a sharp chef’s knife. Turn the chicken breast side down, then cut along the backbone, either with a pair of kitchen shears, starting at the thigh and working up toward the neck, or using a very sharp chef’s knife. Put the backbone and wings into a plastic freezer bag and freeze to make into stock at another time. Turn the chicken and cut the backbone out on the opposite side. Place the chicken breast side up on a flat cooking rack inserted into a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil, and season generously with salt and pepper, over the skin and underneath the chicken.  Allow chicken to come closer to room temperature, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oven to 375. Zest the skin of the Meyer lemon, mince the oregano, and distribute over the skin of the chicken, rubbing in to coat the breast, thighs and underside of chicken. Cut the zested lemon into wedges and distribute in the roasting pan. Once oven is heated and the chicken has warmed up a bit, place the chicken in the oven and roast for 75 minutes, or until the skin is brown, the juices between the thigh and breast run clear when pierced with a knife, and the thigh registers at 160 degrees with a probe thermometer.

Remove the chicken from the oven and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Rest for 10 minutes, then slice to serve.

DSC00633

Valencia Oranges, Arugula and Dried Medjool Dates

7 Apr

date salad

Did I mention that I’m a fruit-as-a-savory-ingredient person? When my farm box is packed with greens, citrus and dried fruit, it only makes sense to put them all together.

Orange, Date, Feta and Arugula Salad

Ingredients

5 oranges

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon honey

Olive oil, salt and pepper

¼ sweet Maui onion, cut into slices

1 12-ounce bag of washed arugula leaves

1 cup dates, pits removed, chopped into bite-sized pieces

¼ cup crumbled feta cheese (well drained if packed in brine)

Directions:

Cut four oranges into segments by cutting the top portion (about an inch) of the orange off, then the bottom portion (about an inch) and then cutting the skin away from the sides. Cut the orange into slices crosswise, then cut those slices into quarters, removing any seeds and excess pith.

Squeeze the juice from the fifth orange into a large bowl, then add Dijon mustard, honey, salt and pepper to the juice. Slowly drizzle in ½ cup of olive oil while rapidly whisking the juice, until dressing is combined and thick. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.

In a large bowl, mix half of the dressing with the arugula and onion slices, and gently toss together. Layer the oranges, dates and feta cheese on top, drizzling with more dressing, then serve.

Asparagus, Cherry Tomatoes, Spring Onions & Basil

6 Apr

DSC00577It’s been exciting to see the signs of spring in Southern California. In our 68 degree beach weather, the changes are far more subtle than in other parts of the country, but the night jasmine blooms, citrus blossoms scent the air, pops of color brighten garden planters. We see early harvest tomatoes and strawberries, asparagus and spring onions in the farmer’s markets. And we move from hearty stews and soups to lighter fare, like this quick and easy frittata.

Asparagus, Cherry Tomato, Spring Onion and Basil Frittata

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Olive oil

bunch of asparagus, trimmed

1 pint cherry tomatoes

4 green onions, sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

salt and pepper

8 eggs

8 basil leaves, torn into pieces

4 slices of fresh mozzarella, 1/4″ thick

Directions: Heat the broiler on high heat. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Coat the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of olive oil, and add the asparagus, tomatoes and onions. Cook until the vegetables begin to brown, then add the garlic, and continue to cook for another 2 minutes while stirring. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper.

Crack the eggs in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Pour the eggs over the vegetables into the skillet and mix together. Allow the eggs to set, then using a spatula, lift the edges of the cooked egg up and away from the sides, allowing the uncooked eggs to run under. Continue to cook until the eggs are almost set, then top the eggs with basil and cheese. Season with additional salt and pepper, then set under a broiler until the cheese is melted and the top of the frittata is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow the cheese to set for about 5 minutes, then cut into wedges to serve.

Root Vegetables

21 Jan
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carrots, red beets, white potatoes and parsley

When winter sets in, the best of the local farms, even those with extended growing seasons, will have a predominance of root vegetables to offer. No late tomatoes from the hoop house, no summer squash. In California, all of those crops have gone south to Mexico for the winter. Now we see these earthy, winter jewels in the farmer’s markets and CSA boxes: mature carrots and potatoes, beets of every color, sweet potatoes, parsnips, celery root.  Late winter can be monotonous, after you’ve received box after box of root vegetables, and options for cooking them seem to run out, but truthfully, there is one tried-and-true way to prepare the earth’s tubers: roast them.

Once you get started, the options become endless. The easy part is paring the skin with a vegetable peeler (though that combined with chopping them can be not-so-easy on wrists, power through, they are worth it), then cutting them into chunks of equal size. Douse them in sufficient olive oil and enough salt and pepper to appeal to the eye, then tuck them into a 350 degree oven, turning every 10 minutes or so. For the most part, they will tell you when they are done, with a slight brown edge and a pucker of flesh, but you can also pierce them with a fork or paring knife, or better yet, eat a chunk. Most vegetables take 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of the cut.

Then come the options: Chopped herbs? Thick sliced shallots and garlic? A finish of vinaigrette at the end of cooking? A pesto rub before roasting? How about a honey or sugar glaze?

Use your imagination, go without a recipe, take some time to experiment with roasting, and enjoy the cozy comfort of these earthy winter gifts.

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chioggia beets, turnips and carrots with thyme

Cauliflower and Potatoes

14 Jan

Cauliflower Mashed PotatoesSubbing mashed cauliflower for mashed potatoes is a novel trend, and for all of the right reasons: it has fewer carbohydrates, more fiber and is rich with vitamins C and K. But have you tried the swap on your kids? Not so popular at my dinner table, where I heard a hilarious conversation between my daughter and friend: “These mashed potatoes taste terrible!” “I think they’re that thing that parents do with the cauliflower instead of potatoes to make us eat cauliflower.” I was called out, a little ashamed that I was trying to pull one over, but the truth was, I liked it. In an attempt to meet in the middle, I made a half and half compromise, which won the whole family over. This mash is very light, using olive oil and chicken stock, but if you prefer a richer flavor, you can substitute butter and milk.

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

Serves 4

1 head cauliflower, stem removed, broken into florets

2 bay leaves

1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into equally-sized chunks

1/2 cup of homemade chicken stock, or a good quality, low sodium boxed broth

2 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Fill a large stock pot with water and a generous pinch of salt. Add the cauliflower and bay leaves, and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook the cauliflower until slightly tender, then add the potatoes in with the cauliflower, and cook until the potatoes are tender to the probe of a fork. Drain the cauliflower and potatoes in a colander, shaking off the excess water.

Pass the cauliflower potato mixture through a ricer or food mill, squeezing the mixture back into the hot stock pot to help steam away any excess moisture. Discard the bay leaves. Add the chicken stock and olive oil, then season with salt and pepper, tasting to adjust the seasoning.

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes 2

Spinach & Carrots

11 Jan

DSC00961This is what you need to eat right now.

Green Lentil and Spinach Soup

Serves 4

Olive oil

2 cups sliced carrots

1 cup sliced celery

1 cup diced onion

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 whole fresh thyme stems with leaves

1 bay leaf

1 15-ounce can diced organic tomatoes with juices

6 cups homemade chicken stock or good quality boxed stock

1 1/2 cup dried green lentils

1 bunch fresh spinach, stems removed, triple washed

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Heat a large stock pot, then add olive oil, carrots, celery, onions and garlic. Cook until vegetables soften, stirring occasionally, for about 7 minutes. Add the thyme stems, bay leaf and tomatoes, then cook another 5 minutes, until the herbs and tomatoes are very fragrant. Add the chicken stock and lentils, and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Taste the broth for seasoning, and add salt and pepper if needed. Simmer the lentils for about 20 minutes until they are tender, then stir in spinach leaves until wilted. Pull out the thyme leaves and bay leaves, season with additional salt and pepper if needed, then serve.

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