Appetizers

Green Lentil Soup with Spinach, Cilantro and Lemon

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I received the highest compliment today: “The lentil soup is so so good. I was shocked that even Hudson ate it! He is the pickiest eater ever. I would love the recipe for the soup.” You see, Hudson is 4 years old, and if I can help get a few bites of whole, nutritious goodness into a young man that age, and maybe even change how he feels about vegetables, then I have done my job. Here’s that recipe, Mom!

Green Lentil Soup with Spinach, Cilantro and Lemon

Serves 6-8

1 onion (yellow, white or brown), diced

4 stalks of celery, sliced

4 large carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 bunch of fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

1 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes with their juices

2 cups of green lentils

8 cups of chicken or vegetable stock or broth

4 cups of baby spinach

1 bunch of cilantro, stems removed, chopped

Juice of 1 or two fresh lemons

Olive oil, kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large stock pot, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to cooking temperature. Add the onions and cook for a bit, stirring, then the celery and carrots, seasoning with a bit of salt and pepper. Stir and cook the vegetables until they start to sweat, and then add the garlic. Stir frequently to keep the garlic from burning, and continue to cook until the vegetables soften a bit. Add the thyme, bay leaves and tomatoes, season with a bit more salt and pepper, and stir, cooking the tomatoes for about 3 minutes.

Add the lentils, a bit more salt and pepper, and the stock and stir it all together. Bring heat up to high, and bring the soup to a boil. When it boils, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook the soup until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. When the lentils are done (you can tell by tasting them, they should be tender with a slight firm bite), season with additional salt and pepper to taste, stir in the spinach, cilantro and lemon. Taste again, adjusting any seasoning or lemon juice. Add additional olive oil if desired and serve or store in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Tomato & Basil Mini Tarts with Mozzarella and Pinenuts

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Ahh, summer parties. White tents, breezy dresses, a lemon drop or rose in a frosted glass. Tapas, simple to nibble on, just one or two perfect bites. What sings summer? Garden fresh tomatoes and basil.

Tomato & Basil Mini Tarts with Mozzarella and Pinenuts

Makes about 24 miniature tarts

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Ingredients:

1 portion of prepared pie dough

4 ounces of mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes

1 pint of cherry tomatoes, cut in half

6 basil leaves, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

2 tablespoons toasted pinenuts

Olive oil, salt & pepper

Instructions: Heat an oven to 350 degrees. Coat two mini muffin pans with olive oil or vegetable spray. Roll the prepared pie dough into a flat round, about 9-inches in diameter. Using a 2-3 inch round cookie cutter, cut the dough into 24 small disks, re-rolling the pie dough if necessary to cut more rounds. Place the dough rounds in each cup of the mini muffin pan. They don’t need to be perfect:

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In each pastry cup place a few cubes of mozzarella and two or three cherry tomato halves. Mix together the basil, garlic and pinenuts with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, then put a portion of the mixture on each tomato tart.

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Drizzle each tart with a bit more olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until the pastry dough is browned and the tomatoes are soft and bubbly. Serve immediately, or at room temperature.

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Green Cabbage & Cilantro

For 15 years, I worked almost every Sunday in a restaurant, rising early after a crushing Saturday night in the same said restaurant, weary to the bone. Sunday morning diners don’t particularly understand the concept of bone-weary restauranteurs, they are aggressive and cranky, demanding to rise above the mob for immediate coffee service.

Sunday on the Boat2

This is my Sunday now. Except it doesn’t always look like this. Sometimes I walk down to the fish market, and never without a tad of flirtation with the plastic-aproned fishmonger, my Sunday looks like this:

mussels with cabbage and cilantro

cilantro and cabbageOr perhaps this. Just add cabbage and cilantro from the farm box, possibly a chilled glass of wine, and you’re on your way to a perfect Sunday.

Mussels, Clams and Cockles with Green Cabbage, Cilantro and Coconut Curry

Serves 4

1 can coconut milk

2 garlic cloves, grated

1-inch section of peeled, fresh ginger, cut into slices

1-2 tablespoons green curry paste

4 cups of shredded cabbage

Small bunch of cilantro stems and leaves

1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce

3 pounds live shellfish, such as mussels, clams or cockels

Juice and zest of one lime

In a Dutch oven or skillet with a fitted lid, heat 2 tablespoons of  the fat cap of the coconut milk (when you open the can, there is a thick layer of coconut oil that has risen to the top.) Reserve the remaining coconut milk. Add the garlic and ginger, heating until fragrant, about a minute, then add the curry paste, cabbage and half of the cilantro stems and leaves. Cook until the cabbage starts to wilt, then add the remaining coconut milk, fish sauce and shellfish. Cover the pan and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer (liquid should still be moving) and cook the shellfish for about 3 minutes. Use a large spoon or ladle to stir the bottom layer of shellfish to the top, and cover again, continuing to cook until the shellfish starts to open. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice and zest. Eat immediately, discarding any shellfish that didn’t open.

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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.

Kale

I love kale! I love that Farmer Kenny has crops and crops of it! There are times, however, when I daydream that I have a secret life as the New York Times bestselling cookbook author of Fifty Shades of Kale. In this popular tome, kale is transformed from a staple in soups, smoothies and “hand-massaged raw salads” and turned into something surprising. Fifty totally unique recipes, not a kale chip in the bunch. When I saw that Trader Joe’s had a “reduced guilt” Spinach & Kale Greek Yogurt Dip, I thought, “Wow, that’s different!” I had a of parcel of kale in my cold drawer at home, so I did what any sneaky creative home cook would do…I took a photo of the ingredient label and bought what I needed to copycat the recipe at home.

Of course, I added my own spin on the TJ’s dip. I didn’t do anything dehydrated, left out the canned water chestnuts and frozen chopped spinach, omitted the xanthan gum (where the heck would I get that?) and added white wine. This makes me more of a copykitten than cat and, as a result, “reduced guilt.” I hope you love it and your kale!

Farm Box Kale Greek Yogurt Dip

Serves 6

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 cup chopped red pepper

1/4 cup grated carrots

1/4 cup chopped green onions, green and white portions

1 bunch kale, stems removed, chopped, about 3 cups

1 stalk celery, chopped

Olive oil

Sea Salt

Pinch red chile flakes

1/4 cup white wine

1 cup strained Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons natural mayonnaise

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat and add a little olive oil. When oil heats, add garlic, red pepper, carrots, onion and kale, and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and chile flakes, and add wine. Cook wine until reduce slightly, about 1 minute, then remove the kale mixture from the pan and cool.

Put kale mixture into the bowl of a food processor, then add yogurt, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Process the mixture until combined but chunks of vegetables are visible. Taste the mixture for additional seasoning, if needed, and serve with bread, crackers or vegetables.

Cilantro

I mashed up a batch of guacamole with our tender, fragrant bunch of cilantro. It was a flawless clear and warm day with a tickle of a breeze that whispered for margaritas on the deck. California avocados, Roma tomatoes from the farmer’s market, lots of citrus and a crispy bag of tortilla flax chips made the day taste like the best things to come this summer.

Cilantro-ey Guacamole

Serves 4 as an appetizer

4 ripe avocados (slightly yielding to gentle touch at the neck of the avocado)

4 Roma tomatoes, cored, seeded and cut into a small dice

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 bunch cilantro, leaves picked from the stems (discard or repurpose stems), chopped

1-2 lemons, juiced

Kosher salt and pepper

Cut the avocados in half and remove pits. Using a paring knife, cut the avocado flesh while in the skin, scoring into cube shapes. Use a spoon to scoop the flesh from the skin into a medium bowl. Add tomatoes, garlic, cilantro and the juice of one lemon. Stir to combine and soften the avocado chunks, and then taste for acidity. Add additional lemon juice if needed, then season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, or refrigerate with plastic wrap sealing the top of the guacamole to prevent oxidation. I like to keep an avocado pit in until I serve the guacamole, I swear it keeps the guacamole from browning.

Romanesco Cauliflower

I’m giddy when Romanesco cauliflower, or broccoli, comes in the farm box. It’s just so stunning with its bewitching pattern of lime-green florets, and a change of pace from ordinary cauliflower, with its sweet, nutty flavor. It is delicious raw, but I love it roasted. This is a dip that I like to eat with Akmak crackers or warm pita bread.

Romanesco Cauliflower, Carrot and Feta Dip

1 head Romanesco cauliflower, or a half head of regular cauliflower, cut into 2-inch pieces

4 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

4 whole cloves peeled garlic

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon fresh oregano, or 1/2 teaspoon dried

1 pinch chile flakes

salt and pepper

4 ounces of feta cheese, crumbled

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, plus more for garnish

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place the Romanesco cauliflower, carrots and garlic on a baking sheet, and coat with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with oregano, chile flakes, salt and pepper, and roast in oven until vegetables become very soft and browned around the edges, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly.

Place vegetables and remaining olive oil in a food processor and process until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add feta cheese and pine nuts and process until combined. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper, if needed. Remove from food processor and top with pine nuts. Serve with crackers, bread or vegetables to dip. Can be stored in refrigerator for a week.