Monthly Archives: January 2012

Kale and Kohlrabi

A Tanaka Farms fan had posted an idea to use kale and the ever-puzzling kohlrabi together in a combo of raw and cooked, crisp and savory. The Epicurious.com recipe was pumped up with lots of zingy lime and luscious pistachios, and I tweeked it a bit with a bit of orange and shredded golden beets from the weekly farm box, and ended up with a crunchy and satisfying lunch. This dish could accompany a grilled protein, or become a meatless main course by folding in a bit of steamed quinoa.

Sauteed Kale with Kohlrabi, Golden Beets, Citrus and Pistachios

Adapted from Gourmet Magazine

Serves 4 to 6

1  pound kohlrabi, bulbs peeled

3 golden beets, peeled

1 lime, zested and juiced

1 orange, zested and juiced

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 pounds kale (2 bunches), stems and center ribs discarded

5 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/3 cup salted roasted pistachios, chopped

Use a mandoline to julienne slice the kohlrabi and golden beets.

Whisk together lime and orange zest and juice, 2 tablespoons oil, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss kohlrabi and beets with dressing.

Finely chop kale. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add kale by the handful, turning and stirring with tongs and adding more kale as volume in skillet reduces. Add sliced garlic and turn with the kale. Season with salt and pepper, and continue to cook until kale turns vivid green, about 5 minutes. Toss warm kale with kohlrabi and pistachios and serve, or hold for no longer than a few hours.

Cilantro

I’m all about having a couple of go-to, simple sauces that transform basic meals. Chimichurri is one of those sauces. Designed as a topper for grilled meats, it can also be used as a dip, dressing, or marinade. The chimichurri I’m whipping up this week is topping off roasted chicken drumsticks that I’ve seasoned with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Make this chimichurri your own by swapping out whatever fresh green herbs you have, amping up the chile heat, changing the vinegar, or using citrus juice. If you can find the white balsamic that I use from Trader Joes, you’ll enjoy the slightly sweet but clean flavor. Make a big batch, you can store it in your fridge for about a week in a sealed container.

Farm Box Chimichurri Sauce 

1 cup (packed) fresh Italian parsley

1/4 cup (packed) fresh cilantro (sometimes I use mint instead, whatever is in the box or garden)

1/2 cup olive oil

1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar

2 garlic cloves, peeled

3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

 Place ingredients in a food processor or blender, and mix until smooth.

Spinach

When the farm box came in, I needed to fortify myself with a quick lunch before I broke it down. Lively spinach captured my attention; with the eggs I had gotten from the Redondo Beach certified farmers market, the quart of homemade chicken stock I had just defrosted, and some good cheese, I could whip up a 10-minute soup that is as humble and elegant as its Italian roots. Stracciatella (translated as “torn apart) soup is a classic Roman soup that is a wonderful showcase for fresh spinach.

Just a few words about breaking down the farm box though. I made it sound arduous, but I was really just famished. All it entails is washing the produce within reason (some items, like fresh herbs or strawberries, shouldn’t be washed right away, it causes them to soften prematurely), storing it appropriately, and applying some thought into the cooking process.  But farm-grown spinach, unlike your store-bought, bagged spinach, needs to be triple washed. I do this in a salad spinner, first putting it in the basket inside the bowl, covering it with water, and allowing all of the sand to fall to the bottom. Then I fish the spinach out of the water, rinse it in a fresh stream, spin it, and repeat. After this process, you shouldn’t have any silt.  

Here’s the recipe for my 10-minute, super-nutritious and easy-peasy lunch:

Spinach Stracciatella Soup

Serves 4 to 6

4 cups good-quality or homemade, low sodium chicken stock

Grating fresh nutmeg on a microplane gives this soup depth of flavor

2 cups water

1 bunch fresh spinach, triple washed and torn into bite-sized pieces

pinch of fresh grated nutmeg

2 eggs and 1 egg white, beaten

salt and pepper

grated Parmesan cheese

Heat water and broth to a boil, reduce to a simmer and add spinach and nutmeg. Cook until spinach is wilted, then slowly pour in eggs while stirring. Season with salt and pepper, top with as much cheese as you like, and eat!

Farm Box Day

It’s our farm box delivery day, chock-full of emerald-green spinach, funky kohlrabi, the always welcome carrot and kale bundles, crunchy bok choy, “wildfire” salad mix, cilantro, sweet and crisp fuji apples, satsuma tangerines, navel oranges, broccoli and gem-like golden beets. I decided to tear into the spinach right away, and make something quick and satisfying for lunch. I whipped up a ten-minute Spinach Stracciatella Soup. I’ve been craving really clean foods since the excess of the holidays, and this soup delivered with depth of flavor, nourishment and simplicity.

Here’s how I am going to tackle the rest of the box:

Kohlrabi, Apple and Potato Mash with Seared Pork Tenderloin  This is a dish I’ve made a few times when kolhrabi showed up, and it was a hit with my family, especially my daughter, who liked the sweetness of the mash.

Sauteed Kale with Kolhrabi, Citrus and Pistachios  On the Tanaka Farms Facebook page, I followed a thread about kohlrabi, and one fan raved about a recipe that she had found on Epicurious.com, with sauteed kale, shaved raw kolhrabi, lots of citrus and pistachios.I think I’ll grate the raw golden beets in this as well, and make it my lunch tomorrow. 

Bok Choy, Broccoli and Beef Stir Fry  I’ll get a skirt steak and either do a soy-based or red curry sauce, then serve it with black rice.

Chicken Drumsticks with Chimichurri Sauce  The cilantro will become chimichurri, which we love to have on hand to accompany any kind of grilled meat. Here’s my tip when you are cooking for picky eaters like my daughter, but want to enjoy full flavors at every meal: Master a few sauces that can be served along with “plain” food. Chimichurri is one of those sauces. I’ve already grilled some drumsticks, seasoning them with salt, pepper and garlic powder (not to constantly sing the praises of Trader Joes, but I love their California Garlic Powder. There’s nothing in it but garlic, no preservatives or stabilizers), that I will reheat later, serve with chimichurri and some cauliflower “mashed potatoes.”

For the salad greens, I’ll use the navel oranges, sliced fujis and some kind of dried fruit, cheese and nut to accompany my weekly roasted chicken. Another tip: Hold on to the bones of the roasted chicken after you’ve carved the meat. Maybe even freeze them. I will post later on how you can turn it into easy and delicious stock that will transform your soup. My daughter, in fact, has claimed the carrots for her favorite chicken soup, made with this stock. She also hoarded the tangerines for her school lunch box. That zips up our farm box, neat and tidy! I’ll be adding recipes to the blog before the weekend, hope you come back to check them out!

Farm Box Soup

Tomorrow afternoon, I pick up my CSA box, and I’m so excited to make my favorite meal from the contents: farm box soup. It doesn’t matter what is in the box, anything works to make a soul-satisfying, warming fusion; supplement whatever veggies you get with a basic mire poix of carrots, onion and celery, a few pantry items, and just add broth.

Farm Box Soup

Serves 6 to 8

1 medium onion, diced

3 carrots, sliced

3 celery stalks, sliced

1 bay leaf

3 sprigs thyme

4 cups vegetables such as summer squash (diced), potatoes (peeled and diced), kale (cut into thin strips), green beans (trimmed and halved), cauliflower (cut into florets), kohlrabi (peeled and diced), or whatever is in season

1 can organic diced tomatoes in juices (I love the Trader Joes or Whole Foods 365 brand)

8 cups good-quality, low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock (Trader Joes Organic Free Range Chicken Stock is a favorite)

Olive oil, salt and pepper

6 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips

In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil to a shimmer and add onions, carrots and celery. Cook until slightly browned, then add bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Add remaining vegetables and cook until softened. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes in juice and stock,  and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until vegetables are tender and flavorful, about 30 minutes. Drizzle with a splash of olive oil, season to taste with salt and pepper, and top with fresh basil just before serving.

Romaine Lettuce

The romaine coming from the farm has been so seductive; creamy white with light green tips, crisp and succulent. I’ve enjoyed the whole leaves as a crisp counter point to rich and spicy flavors, like these meatballs with an Asian splash.

Spicy Hoisen Chicken Meatballs with Romaine Leaves

Serves 4

1 pound lean ground chicken

1 egg

1 cup Japanese Panko breadcrumbs

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/4 teaspoon chili flakes

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup hoisin sauce

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 cup grated carrots

8 large romaine leaves, washed a trimmed

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix together the ground chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, onion, half of  the garlic and half of the hoisin sauce in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, and mix to combine. Roll mixture, about 2 tablespoons, into balls, and place on a baking sheet. Bake in oven for about 5 minutes, until meatballs start to become slightly firm.

Meanwhile, mix together the remaining hoisen, garlic and ginger.Remove meatballs from the oven, and using a pastry brush, lightly brush the sauce on the partially cooked meatballs. Return to oven and continue to bake for another 5 minutes, or until meatballs are very firm to the touch and cooked through.

Place meatballs on romaine leaves, top with grated carrots and cilantro, and enjoy right away.

Beets

Roasting brings out such lovely components in root vegetables, and with beets, it’s also one of the simplest (and least messy) ways to prepare them. Just cut the greens off, and be sure to save the leaves for a salad or sauteed side dish. Place the beets, skin on, on a sheet of foil. Drizzle them with olive oil, salt and pepper, then throw in a fresh sprig of thyme or rosemary. 

Seal the foil into a package, and roast in a 400-degree oven. The amount of time in the oven depends on the size of the beet, you can start to check them with the tip of a paring knife for tenderness around 20 minutes.

Once the beets are easily pierced with the paring knife, it’s time to rub off the skins, once they’ve cooled a bit. Use a paper towel to hold the beet in the palm of your hand, then cradle paper towel around the beet with your opposite hand, gently pulling pulling the skin down from top to bottom.

 That’s the best less-mess tip about peeling your beets with a paper towel after they have roasted: the skin easily slides off, and your hands don’t turn pink. I also slice them with a paring knife while holding them in the same paper towel, then I store them in an airtight container until I’m ready to use them in a salad. For a quick, easy salad that helps you follow the philosophy of eating from root to greens, wash your saved beet leaves, stack them up on top of one another, and roll them into a large cigar. Cut them into a fine slice, or chiffonade, then toss them with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Top them off with the roasted beet slices and some crumbled goat cheese. Such a lovely combination of flavors; sweet, earthy, bitter, creamy and tart.