Monthly Archives: November 2012

Zucchini, Tomatoes and Basil

Fall is here, but in sunny So Cal, we’re still getting the last of the summer crops. I love how easily this pasta comes together, making it a perfect weeknight family meal.

Whole Wheat Rotini with Chicken Sausage, Charred Tomatoes, Zucchini and Basil

Serves 4-6

4 cups (dried) whole wheat rotini (Trader Joes has a good organic selection)

4 chicken mild Italian sausage links (Trader Joes has a nitrate-free, natural choice) casings removed

1 zucchini, cut into large dice

2 beefsteak tomatoes, cut into large dice, seeds removed

8 basil leaves, torn into small pieces

Olive oil, salt & pepper

Grated Parmesan cheese

Fill a large pot (6-8 quart) with water and 1/4 cup salt. Bring to a boil, add pasta and stir with a wooden spoon. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente. Reserve a ladle of pasta water, then drain pasta in a colander.

Heat a large cast iron skillet to medium high heat, then add a splash of olive oil. Put sausage into the pan and cook while breaking up into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook sausage until completely browned, then remove from the pan. Bring pan up to high heat, then add zucchini. Allow zucchini to cook without stirring for a minute, until it is browned, then turn and cook until zucchini is browned all over and softened slightly. Remove the zucchini from the pan, then bring up to a high heat, adding another splash of olive oil. Put tomatoes in the pan and cook without stirring until tomatoes brown and blister. Turn the heat off, then add sausage, zucchini and basil back to the pan and stir together. Add pasta to the sauce and a bit of the reserved pasta water until sauce becomes thick and coats the pasta. Put on serving plates and serve with Parmesan cheese.

Japanese radish, cucumber, Meyer lemon

I finally did use up all 15 of the Meyer lemons that I impulsively purchased at the farmers market, and they make this zingy dish sing. 

Grilled Greek Drumsticks with Grilled Meyer Lemons and Red Quinoa Greek Salad

Serves 6

12 chicken drumsticks

Olive oil, salt and pepper

1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano, plus additional for garnish

1 tablespoon lemon zest

2 Meyer lemons, cut into 1/4-inch slices

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup cooked red quinoa

4 radishes, cut into cubes (I used white Japanese radishes)

1 cucumber, peeled and cut into cubes (no need to peel if you are using hothouse cucumbers)

1/4 cup Kalamata, Feta and Meyer Lemon Dressing

Season the drumsticks with olive oil, salt and pepper, then toss with the oregano, lemon zest and garlic powder until coated. Allow seasoned drumsticks to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Heat a grill or grill pan to medium high heat. If using a grill, leave one section of the grill off, or if using a grill pan, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the drumsticks on the grill and cook without moving until char marks form, then turn to continue marking with char marks. When the drumsticks are completely browned, after about 15 minutes, move to the cool side of the grill and bring the lid down, or place on a sheet pan and put into the oven. Continue to cook the chicken until cooked to 165 degrees using an internal probe thermometer and juices run clear, about 15 to 20 more minutes.

Get a good char on the drumstick before turning, but don’t overcook it on the high flame, you’ll move it to a lower temperature to finish cooking it.

Meanwhile, season the lemon slices with olive oil, salt and pepper, and place on the hot section of the grill and cook until light char marks form and juices start to glisten. Quickly turn and cook on the opposite side.

Toss the red quinoa, radish and cucumber with the Kalamata, Feta and Meyer Lemon dressing, and serve with the grilled drumsticks topped with the grilled lemon slices and fresh oregano.

Kalamata, Feta and Meyer Lemon Dressing

Makes one cup

1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons kalamata olives

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3/4 cups extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Salt & pepper

In the cup of a blender, add lemon juice, vinegar, olives and Dijon mustard. Turn on blender to combine, then slowly drizzle the olive oil in as the blender runs. Dressing should become thick and creamy. Add feta cheese, then pulse blender quickly to just combine, cheese should be chunky in the dressing. Taste for salt and pepper, and season if desired. Stir dressing just before using if it separates. Dressing can be made up to 3 days in advance.

Basil, Carrots and Broccoli

This is a versatile recipe that you can sneak just about any vegetable in, useful for my picky 7-year old, and also as we approach cruciferous vegetable season (I’m thinking of sneaking lots of cabbage in.)

Basil Turkey Meatballs with Hidden Veggie Sauce

Serves 4-6

1 pound lean ground turkey

2 garlic cloves, grated

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs

2 tablespoons chopped basil

1 bell pepper, stem, membranes and seeds removed, roughly chopped

1 carrot, peeled, roughly chopped

1 cup broccoli, tough stems removed, cut into florets

1 cup chopped onion

2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

One 15-ounce can peeled whole tomatoes with their juices

1 teaspoon sugar

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

In a large bowl, mix together the ground turkey, garlic, eggs, bread crumbs, and basil, and season generously with salt and pepper. Using lightly moistened hands, roll the mixture into 8-10 meatballs, about 3 tablespoons each.  

Add the bell pepper, carrot, broccoli, onion and parsley to the bowl of a food processor and run until the vegetables are chopped very fine. Add the tomatoes and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.  

In a Dutch oven or cast-iron skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the meatballs and cook over moderate heat, turning, until golden but not quite cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add the tomato sauce and sugar to the skillet and simmer until slightly thickened, about 10-15 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if desired. Return the meatballs to the skillet and simmer, turning, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer to a bowl and serve.

Farm Box Day

I’m two weeks late in posting our pre-Thanksgiving farm box contents, which included rainbow chard, zucchini, tomatoes, Fuji apples, Japanese white radish, cucumbers, basil, Russet potatoes, red leaf lettuce, cilantro, carrots, broccoli and poblano chiles. I cooked up a storm, as I had four families to deliver to, and had very little time to take photos, but I will post these delicious recipes:

Grilled Greek Drumsticks with Grilled Meyer Lemons, Red Quinoa and Greek Salad with Kalamata Feta Meyer Lemon Dressing

Basil Turkey Meatballs with Hidden Veggie Tomato Sauce and Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

Whole Wheat Rotini with Chicken Sausage, Charred Tomatoes, Zucchini and Basil

Mexican Tortilla Soup with Veggies and Black Beans

Meyer Lemons

I found these Meyers at the farmers market, and I couldn’t resist buying far more than I needed…the word for that is greed, right? I did, however, resist the urge to tie a feedbag around my nose, drop a lemon in it, and walk around the market inhaling their floral sweetness. Just barely.

Chicken Provencal with Tomatoes, Green Beans, Roasted Meyer Lemons and Olives

Serves 6

Olive oil

1 pint of green beans, stems removed

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs

2 tablespoons flour

Salt and pepper

1 shallot, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup white wine

3 sprigs of fresh thyme

2 large, fresh tomatoes diced, or 1 15-ounce can of whole tomatoes with juices

1 cup of homemade chicken stock or good quality boxed chicken broth

1/4 cup black cured olives, such as kalamata or nicoise

2 Meyer lemons (or regular lemons), ends trimmed, cut into thin slices

Heat a Dutch oven over medium high, and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat olive oil and add green beans to the pan, allowing them to sear, then stir to turn. Season with salt and pepper, then cook for an additional 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the green beans from the pan and hold.

Add another splash of olive oil, then add chicken thighs to the pan.  Sprinkle the chicken with flour, salt and pepper, and sear until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Turn the chicken and brown, another 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and hold. Add the shallot and garlic to the pan, stirring and cooking until softened and slightly browned, then add the wine to the pan and stir, scraping the bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook wine until it is reduced by half and slightly syrupy. Add the thyme springs, tomatoes and chicken stock, then add the chicken back into the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, then cover with a lid slightly cracked, and cook for another 20 minutes, until liquid is thickened. Remove the thyme sprigs.

Heat oven to 350 degrees, and place lemon slices on a parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes, until lemons are soft, juicy and have slightly browned edges. Lemons can be roasted 3 days in advance.

Stir green beans, roasted lemons and olives into the chicken and season with salt and pepper, then serve.

 

Meyer Lemon Stone Ground Mustard Dressing

1/2 shallot, minced very fine

Zest and juice of one Meyer lemon (or a standard lemon)

1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar (Champagne, white balsamic, rice wine will all be fine here)

2 teaspoons of stone ground mustard

1 teaspoon of honey

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt & pepper

In a large bowl, add the shallot, lemon zest and juice, vinegar, mustard and honey. Whisk together to incorporate, and then drizzle in the olive oil slowly while continuing to whisk. Season with salt and pepper.

Alternately, put all of the ingredients in a container with a lid that seals tight. Shake the dressing until it has thickened and season. Store dressing in the refrigerator for up to a week, stirring before use.

Rainbow Chard, Carrots, Summer Squash

Soup is my zen, the weekly ritual that makes me feel centered, balanced and restored. Making a great pot of soup made makes me confident that at least one meal for my family will be wholesome and nurturing.  Usually, it is stocked with a variety of vegetables for nutritional value, sometimes a grain or legume, and always, homemade stock.

This week I started with carrots, zucchini, patty pan squash and stunning rainbow chard from my farm box. I sauteed these up with  Trader Joes sweet Italian chicken sausage for some robust flavor without much fat, and added white beans to give the soup a solid protein base. Serve this soup with some homey, warm bread spread with herbed ricotta (a cup of ricotta cheese, a tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs, a hit of extra-virgin olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and a crank of freshly ground pepper.)

Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage, Rainbow Chard, and White Bean Soup with Rosemary

Serves 6-8

Add the sliced ribs of the rainbow chard, they will be tender and rustic in the soup.

2 sweet Italian chicken sausages, casing removed

4 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds

4 celery stocks, cut into slices

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 onion, diced

1 zucchini, diced

1 patty pan squash, diced

1 bunch rainbow chard, ribs sliced, leaves cut into thin ribbons

1 sprig rosemary

1 pinch of chile flakes

1 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes with juice

1 15-ounce can of white cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

16 ounces of homemade vegetable or chicken stock, or good-quality, low-sodium store-bought broth

Olive oil, salt & pepper

Heat a large Dutch oven or stock pot over medium-heat and add a splash of olive oil. Put chicken sausage in the pot and break up with a wooden spoon until crumbled. Add carrots, celery, onions and garlic to the pot, and cook until softened, about 5. Add the zucchini, squash, chard, rosemary sprig and chile flakes. Season with salt and pepper, stir to combine and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices, white beans and stock (or broth) and stir. Raise heat to bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, unocovered, for 30 minutes, and then taste for seasoning. Add a dash of olive oil, salt and pepper to balance, and remove rosemary sprig to serve.