October 31 weekly menu | fall table

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Farm Fresh

beets, carrots, gourmet greens, kale, leeks, cabbage, potatoes, winter squash

What’s for Dinner?

I’m starting with a Friday Fright Night menu that features my cute little pie pumpkin. The rest of the week’s dinners are packed with deep-into-autumn goodness…some crackly mustard potatoes, a retro revival of cabbage rolls, and a Thai dinner featuring the beloved pumpkin. Next thing you know, it’ll be time for pumpkin pie!

Friday – pumpkins, beyond the front porch

roasted pumpkin seeds (Simply Recipes)
blue corn chips & Frontera chipotle pumpkin salsa

balsamic roasted beet salad (Ina Garten, The Food Network)

pumpkin & black bean chili (Bon Appetite)
simple beef chili (Cook’s Illustrated)
winter squash cornbread (Frugivore)

Saturday – pizza, TV trays, & movie

roasted red potato pizza with taleggio, roasted leeks & pancetta
gourmet greens with oil & vinegar (Marcella Hazan)

Sunday – crispy, crackly, tart…potatoes?

mustard roasted potatoes (Deb Perleman, The Smitten Kitchen)
roasted salmon & leeks with butter (Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything)

Monday – goin’ retro

stuffed cabbage rolls (Deb Perleman, The Smitten Kitchen)

Tuesday - thai style tuesday

pumpkin peanut curry bisque (Melissa D’Arabian)
thai chicken skewers

Wednesday – hump day made easy

fusilli with kale & sausage (Serious Eats)

Thursday – sammie night, it’s a wrap

elephant’s shelly wraps (Elephant’s Deli)
potato chips

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Friday – pumpkins, beyond the front porch

roasted pumpkin seeds (Simply Recipes)
blue corn chips & Frontera chipotle pumpkin salsa

balsamic roasted beet salad (Ina Garten, The Food Network)

pumpkin & black bean chili (Bon Appetite)
simple beef chili (Cook’s Illustrated)
winter squash cornbread (Frugivore)

My not-so-ingenious solution to Halloween chaos? Make-ahead, and that goes for everything. What a relief to finally have this holiday fall on a Friday. No matter how you slice it, it’s a devilish day of rushing around, chasing scattered costume bits and pieces, and wardrobe, hair, and make-up duties. This year’s theme is flexibility…with a casual and comforting buffet-style dinner set out, I can just sit and enjoy the festivities. This will allow for trick-or-treaters, young and old, to stop in for some snacks and a hearty bowl of chili as they wish. I’ll have two chili versions…one festive and fit for the veggie-lover, the other more traditional. This vegetarian chili recipe is similar to my tried-and-true, using bulgar as a healthy filler. I’ll use my pumpkin – any winter squash will do. I find it easiest to pre-cook the pumpkin a bit, just until it is easy to slice, peel, and cut into chunks. If you’re in a rush, skip the dried beans and substitute a couple cans of your favorite kind, decreasing the cooking time just until the flavors and melded and the squash is soft. The other chili I’ll make is this traditional packed-with-ground-beef-and-kidney-beans variety. I’ll use lots of chopped sweet pepper I’ve still got. It’s cooked low and slow until it’s rich, dark, and delicious. Both of these chilis improve with an overnight or two in the fridge – perfect for my make-ahead mantra. I do hope to bring this homestyle winter squash cornbread right out of the oven. I’m using kabocha squash I’ve got pureed; pumpkin would be a knock-out, and fit right in with our pumpkin-fest. For the salad, a classic beet salad, dressed in a balsamic vinaigrette. It can be prepared and dressed well ahead of time, just sprinkling with nuts (or roasted pumpkin seeds!) and goat cheese before serving. Dessert? Skip it, and head straight for the giant bowl of minis.

Saturday – pizza, TV trays, & movie

roasted red potato pizza with taleggio, roasted leeks & pancetta
gourmet greens with oil & vinegar (Marcella Hazan)

Ready for a little at-home r & r after Friday Fright Night? Pizza Night’s your answer, and this week inspiration came from the Lovely’s Fifty-Fifty pizza menu. Their northwest seasonal pies are always creative, but not so much that they’re downright weird. In this one, just roast some thinly sliced potatoes and leeks with a little IMG_1084olive oil in a hot oven, stirring occasionally, until everything seems lightly golden and soft. Taleggio, a highly stinky but mild-flavored cheese (produced only in the autumn and winter when the cows are tired!) is the perfect Italian match. Plus pancetta…pizza heaven! Make it ultra-simple by picking up pre-made dough from any number of markets or pizza restaurants. Or, relish in the dough-making process, and follow this previous Pizza Night post for a no-fail dough recipe I rely on each week. It makes enough for two pizzas, even three if rolled out in the super thin, best-for-crispy-pizza style. Add the purest of Italian salads, then sit back and watch anything but a Halloween movie.

Other pizza combinations:

pizza bianca with goat cheese & chard
zucchini, sliced tomato, & leek pizza 
grilled pizza with kale, mushroom, & sausage
fresh ricotta and red onion pizza
sweet onion pizza
pizza with grilled fennel and parmesan
eggplant & tomato pizza
caramelized onion, kale, & corn flatbread
classic margherita pizza
potato & rosemary pizza
pizza with red and yellow peppers
fennel sausage & onion pizza 

Sunday – crispy, crackly, tart…potatoes?

mustard roasted potatoes (Deb Perleman, The Smitten Kitchen)
roasted salmon & leeks with butter (Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything)

Mmmm…a combo of crispy roasted potatoes with delicious whole grain mustard. Dishes highlighting mustard definitely feel fall-ish to me, but usually it’s in the form of a marinade or sauce for meat or fish. The veggie twist is really great! A simple sauce is made, using a yummy whole grain mustard, a little butter and olive oil, lemon juice, and just a couple other seasonings. The chunked potatoes are coated in this, spread on a pan, and roasted until crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside, and the mustard grains darken and become crackly. I’ll be halving this recipe, which will allow (in my small oven) one pan for the potatoes, one pan for the salmon – compromise on the temp (hotter is probably better to get those potatoes nice and crunchy!). A butter roasted salmon will be a simple and delicious accompaniment; I’ll think my leeks could fit right in here too. Use just the white and light green parts, quartering them lengthwise, and maybe then cutting them crosswise. I’ll use half butter, half olive oil, toss the leeks in this melted mixture, and roast first (maybe for 10-15 minutes), before adding the salmon for another ten or so minutes. The leeks just need a little head start on the fish; when they’re a bit softened, give them a stir, and push them to the side before adding the salmon to roast.

Monday – goin’ retro

stuffed cabbage rolls (Deb Perleman, The Smitten Kitchen)

Although cabbage rolls seem a bit dated, I’ve tried many versions and they seem to be a hit across the board. The general idea is always a filling with meat, onions, rice, and seasonings. This gets wrapped up (burrito style) by the boiled cabbage leaves, then the whole kit-and-kaboodle is cooked together, and usually covered with a sauce.  I’ll use my Napa cabbage, just fiddling with the rolling process with this leaf shape. Nothing needs to be perfect. For the veggies, I’ll use leeks, extra carrots, and some chopped kohlrabi I’ve got hanging around. Cook with your favorite jarred tomato sauce. Meat, veggies, and rice…a full meal deal, rolled up into nifty little packages.

Tuesday – thai style tuesday

pumpkin peanut curry bisque (Melissa D’Arabian)
thai chicken skewers

I’ll use pumpkin puree from my cute little pumpkin, but have at the canned. This pumpkin bisque looks fall-ish and fabulous. With onions (I’ll use leeks), potatoes, and apples, it’s chock full of autumn bounty. The added Thai flavors of peanuts, curry, and cilantro sound amazing. With an immersion blender to puree the soup right in the pan, it’s even an easy weeknight contender. Especially if you add some pre-made asian chicken skewers from your favorite market. Just broil or grill, and serve alongside this flavor-packed soup.

Wednesday - hump day made easy

fusilli with kale & sausage (Serious Eats)

Dishes like this are the reason I keep my pantry stocked with sun-dried tomatoes. They can turn a somewhat blah, minimal- ingredient dish into something wonderful and complex. This dinner is a one-pot wonder. I tweak the instructions a bit, sautéing the sausage, and kale (plus all other ingredients) in a large stock pot. When the sausage is browned, and the kale is softened, transfer to a plate and use the same pot to boil the pasta. Return everything together, mixing in some freshly grated parmesan. This has become a year-round standby for me, altering the greens for what I’ve got, and using sun-dried tomatoes when fresh are out for the season.

Thursday – sammie night, it’s a wrap

elephant’s shelly wraps (Elephant’s Deli)
potato chips

This veggie wrap is an ideal Thursday night choice, at least in my house, where these dinners are often a hodge-podge of veggies, desperately trying to clear out the fridge before the Friday CSA delivery. They lend themselves perfectly to that frenzy. The greens, hazelnuts, and apple are key ingredients, with the fruit pieces adding just the right sweetness. Use the veggies they list as a guide, adding what you have and love. I’ll use cabbage, kale, and bits and pieces of whatever I’ve got left. Shredded carrots and beets would be fabulous. Buy some of those giant spinach tortillas, watch a YouTube instructional on how to wrap the perfect wrap, and go for it! Just make sure that all of your veggies & fruit are chopped very small. I put everything into one big salad bowl, toss it with dressing, and have roll-your-own-wraps. A key ingredient is Elephant’s own Stackhouse dressing – with a friendly phone call, you can order this yummy dressing and they’ll have it in their store for you the very next day! Ingredients are:  mustard, tamari, agave, tahini, cider vinegar and oil. If you prefer not to bother with Elephant’s pre-made (although I think it would be a worthwhile purchase, good on many a salad and sandwich!) then create your own vinaigrette with these flavors in mind. With all of that healthy salad goodness, what better side than some delicious Kettle Chips!

“What the Kale?!?”

Don’t panic and get out the compost bin if all of the sudden you have a giant veggie delivery coming your way, and you still have a fridge full.  Here are a few suggestions for preserving the bounty!  (Soups and stews freeze wonderfully in those gallon zip lock freezer bags.)

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