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Swiss Chard

27 Mar

Rainbow Chard 3

I’m hearing from many CSA members that they are reaching chard saturation, but I’m only getting started. From a tasty bread pudding that is sublime with a perfectly roasted chicken, to a luscious chard lasagna, I have enjoyed every jewel-hued frond. This soup highlights the best of chard, with its earthy flavors and sweet undertones. Make a giant pot, eat some, freeze some, repeat when the next farm box comes.

These green lentils from Trader Joe's cook up beautifully in this soup.

These green lentils from Trader Joe’s cook up beautifully in this soup.

Roasted Garlic, Lentil and Rainbow Chard Soup

Serves 6-8

2 garlic heads

Olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 fresh thyme sprigs

1 bay leaf

1 ½ cup green lentils

8 cups chicken stock

1/2 large bunch Swiss chard, chopped

Salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the garlic in half horizontally, drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil and wrap in aluminum foil. Roast for 1 hour and set aside to cool. Squeeze the garlic from the skins and discard skins. Chop the garlic into small pieces.

Coat the bottom of a large Dutch oven or stockpot with olive oil. Add the onion to the pot and sauté until fragrant and translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the carrots, thyme sprigs, bay leaf and cook for 5 more minutes.

Add the lentils, roasted garlic and chicken stock, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and gently summer for 25 to 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft.

Add the Swiss chard. Simmer on low heat until the chard is just wilted, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

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Rainbow Chard, Carrots, Summer Squash

4 Nov

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.

Tomatoes, Zucchini & Cucumber

1 Oct

What a treat to find the makings of gazpacho in my CSA box today. I hadn’t prepared it all summer long, and the sun-kissed tomatoes, hearty cucumbers and zucchini were all the reminder I needed to stretch the season out a little longer. I’ve prepared this chilled soup recipe for so many years as a chunky puree, but discovered a new way to enjoy it from The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, who holds aside some of the diced vegetables to stir back into the soup, making it eat like a crunchy, soupy salad. You can top this with avocado or grilled shrimp, but I like crispy, garlicky croutons and a hit of cilantro almond pesto to add even more body and brightness.

 Chunky Gazpacho with Almond Cilantro Pesto

5 vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into chunks

2 garlic cloves

2 stalks celery, cut into a small dice, divided into two portions

2 cucumbers, peeled and cut into a small dice, divided into two portions

1 zucchini, cut into a small dice, divided into two portions

1/2 red onion, cut into a small dice, divided into two portions

2 cups organic, low sodium tomato juice

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

dash of hot sauce

salt and pepper

toasted croutons made from French bread

For the pesto

1 bunch of cilantro

2 garlic cloves

1/4 cup of toasted almonds

1/4 cup of olive oil

salt and pepper

Place all of the tomatoes and garlic, and half of the remaining vegetables into the bowl of a food processor or blender. Add tomato juice, olive oil, vinegar, hot sauce and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Puree until slightly chunky, with small bits of vegetables evident. Stir in the remaining vegetables, taste for seasoning, then chill in fridge for a half hour.

For the pesto: Using a small food processor, blend together the cilantro, garlic, almonds, olive oil and salt and pepper. Taste the pesto for seasoning, then add on top of the gazpacho before serving, along with the crispy croutons.

Farm Box Day

25 May

Such a gorgeous day to open up the farm box, which included a collection of vegetables perfect for a Summer Minestrone soup. I immediately got them prepped for the pot, dicing a crunchy Maui onion, nipping the ends of crisp green beans, and cubing tender, golden sunburst squash. Ribs of rainbow chard sautéed in the mixture, along with their curly ribbon-cut leaves. In went fennel seeds that I crushed in a mortar, dried oregano and thyme, a can of organic tomatoes and homemade chicken stock. I left it bubbling away on the stove top, making my house smell like a walk through Tuscany. White beans, pasta, a splash of olive oil and a zip of fresh basil will finish it off.

As my daughter and her friend blew bubbles and squirted water guns in the backyard, I started preparing Farm Box Meals for a few families. In addition to the summer minestrone, I’ll deliver Grilled Thai Chicken, utilizing a leafy bunch of cilantro, and Asian Red Cabbage, Radish and Peanut Slaw. I’m jazzing up Crunchy Lemon Tilapia with a zingy Radish and Greens Salad Dressed with Brown Butter. I’ll also prepare my favorite Farm Box Veggie Enchiladas with the remaining rainbow chard and the giant Maui onion. As for the picture-perfect blueberries and strawberries, I’ll make breakfast parfaits with yogurt and granola.

The Memorial weekend promises good food and lots of fun. Enjoy your family and your farm box!

Summer Minestrone Soup

Serves 6

Olive oil

1 onion (or use half of the sweet Maui from the farm box)

4 carrots, peeled and sliced

4 celery stalks, trimmed and sliced

3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

4 cups of summer vegetables, such as summer squash, chard, green beans, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons dried thyme

1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds

1 bay leaf

1 15-ounce can organic diced tomatoes in their juice

 8 cups of homemade or good quality prepared chicken or vegetable stock

1 can white or red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

2 tablespoons of chopped basil

2 cups prepared pasta, such as penne or fusilli

Grated Parmesan cheese and olive oil

Heat a large stock pot or dutch oven over high heat, then add olive oil. Add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic, and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the 4 cups of summer vegetables, and cook while occasionally stirring, until vegetables start to wilt, about 10 minutes. Add dried herbs, salt and pepper, and cook for another 3 minutes. Add diced tomatoes and stock, stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until vegetables are tender. Add beans and basil cook until heated through. Portion prepared pasta into individual bowls, then add soup. Top with grated cheese and olive oil just before serving.

Cilantro and Carrots

9 Mar

With huge, beautiful parcels of cilantro and carrots, I made Mexican Chicken Soup. Two things really make this soup shine, using a homemade chicken stock and jam-packing it with fresh cilantro. Don’t be shy, use up that entire bunch!

Mexican Chicken Soup

Serves 8

Olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, chopped

6 carrots, peeled and sliced

6 celery stalks, sliced

4 Roma tomatoes, diced

1 tablespoon oregano

2 teaspoons ground cumin

salt and pepper

8 cups homemade or good-quality chicken stock

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts 

1 bunch cilantro, leaves removed from stems, coarsely chopped

2 cups frozen organic corn

1 15-ounce jar good quality salsa

1 to 2 juiced limes

Tortilla chips, shredded jack cheese or avocado slices for garnish

Shave the cilantro leaves from the stems holding your chef's knife at an angle.

In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat, then add onions and garlic, cooking while stirring until slightly brown. Add carrots, celery, tomatoes, cumin, oregano and salt and pepper, cooking until vegetables are soft. Add chicken stock and chicken breasts, and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. After chicken has cooked for about 10 minutes, remove from the stock and shred into small pieces. Return the chicken to the soup, and stir in cilantro, corn, salsa and lime juice. Heat soup to a simmer, then season with salt and pepper, if needed. Serve with tortilla chips, cheese or avocado, if desired.

Kale, Potato and Linguica Soup

3 Feb

My husband makes this soup for me when I’m getting sick, just like his vovo, grandmother, used to make for him as a boy in Brazil, where it is called calde verde. It is so warm and filled with love, I can’t wait to make it for my family for our Saturday lunch. I published this version of the soup in Bon Appetit magazine in 2004. Here it is from epicurious.com:

Portuguese Green Soup (Kale, Potato and Linguica Soup)
Bon Appétit | November 2004

by Diane Brown Savahge

“One piece of advice I always share with my students is to keep the ingredients list short — you don’t need to empty out your refrigerator to make a great meal. You just need a few quality ingredients with bold flavors.”

Yield: Makes 4 main-course servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch kale, center stems cut away, leaves thinly sliced
1 pound fully cooked linguica sausage, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
5 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 3/4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, diced
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

Heat olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic. Sauté until onion is soft and golden , about 5 minutes. Add kale and sauté until wilted, about 4 minutes. Add sausage and sauté 5 minutes. Add broth and potatoes. Simmer soup uncovered until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Transfer 2 cups soup (without sausage) to processor. Blend until smooth; return to pot of soup and bring to simmer. Mix in crushed red pepper. Season with salt and black pepper.

Spinach

20 Jan

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!