april 12 weekly menu | spring table

Farm Fresh

beets, braising greens, carrots, chivescollard greens, kale, kale raab, leeks, micro greens, mushrooms, potatoes, radishes

What’s for Dinner?

Well, there’s something new and red to hollar about…radishes!  If you see them at the market, they could be in lots of gorgeous shades of white, purple, or pink as well.  There are so many possibilities for this first-of-the-season peek at the radish.  Crunchy, peppery, and really perfect with nothing more than a sprinkle of sea salt.  Use them in their raw state for a bit of sass and zing –  salads, sandwiches, on a crudite platter; for a mellower flavor, simply roast or stir-fry.  And don’t forget the radish greens…nutritious, delicious, and farmers market  green, full, and fresh.  Enjoy the continued sneak peek into spring!

Friday –  TV trays, movie, & homemade pizza

double radish salad (Portland Farmers Market)
pizza with fennel sausage, braising greens and rosemary

Saturday – south-of-the-border veggie fest

strawberry mojitos (The Berry Bible)

rustic jicama and radish salad with red chili and lime (Rick Bayless)
roasted beet salad with red onion, poblano, & lime (Rick Bayless)
quesadillas with leeks, kale, mushrooms, and poblano cream sauce (Dona Tomas)

Sunday – farm fresh biscuits

roast chicken with kale raab, potatoes, & garlic parsley jus (Bon Appetit)
chive biscuits (Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Family Style)

Monday – worth every stir

spring leek risotto (Deborah Madison, Local Flavors)
microgreen salad (The Crankin’ Kitchen)

Tuesday – collard greens, for the hal-ib-ut

collard greens miniera (Gourmet)
simple baked halibut

Wednesday –  more bacon (if you please)

white cheddar polenta with braised greens, spring mushrooms, & pancetta (SIO Blog, Emily Thomson)

Thursday – honey & harissa, yes please!

honey and harissa farro salad (Deb Perlman, The Smitten Kitchen)
baguette

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Friday –  TV trays, movie, & homemade pizza

double radish salad (Portland Farmers Market)
pizza with fennel sausage, braising greens and rosemary

IMG_1084

Super fun, interactive, and delicious way to use those veggies –Pizza Night!  Let this prior post be your inspiration and step-by-step instructional for pizza making. Friday is the perfect night for this, not only as an end-of-the-week celebration, but because I can literally pick and choose veggies off my table to top the pizzas!  We’ll start with the liveliest of radish salads, taking full advantage of the peek of freshness radish leaves.  Any vinegar will do here.  For the pizza inspiration, I looked no further than the Lovely’s Fifty Fifty menu – one of our favorite local pizza joints.  They take full advantage of all of our local farm fresh produce, not only for their salads, but for their creative and inspiring pizzas as well.  Saute up some fennel sausage (or any favorite,) as well as some of our chopped braising greens and garlic.  With a sprinkling of rosemary, it just sounds fabulous!  Other recent pizza creations:

winter squash and wild mushroom 
potato and rosemary 
leek, crimini mushroom, and prosciutto
kale, sundried tomato, & feta
portabella mushroom & roasted red pepper
shitake mushroom
leek, sundried tomato, and goat cheese
caramelized leek, mushroom and Italian sausage pizza
pizza with kale raab, leeks, and olives 

Saturday – south-of-the-border veggie fest

strawberry mojitos (The Berry Bible)

rustic jicama and radish salad with red chili and lime (Rick Bayless)
roasted beet salad with red onion, poblano, & lime (Rick Bayless)
quesadillas with leeks, kale, mushrooms, and poblano cream sauce (Dona Tomas)

Mexican feast, part two.  I’m eeking out the last bits of fresh mint from my prior week HRO delivery.  I wrapped it loosely in a moist paper towel, stored it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, and it still looks and smells minty as ever.  Combined  with some of those California strawberries that have been sweetly reminding us of our local ones just around the corner, this wonderfully tasty and fresh drink is a perfect way to begin our Saturday Mexican feast.  I mentioned last week the fun I had in this “research project” for a gathering-with-friends Mexican feast.  Although sometime I’d sure like to be the go-to for the homemade guacamole or churros, I’ll gladly step in reaching for that Mexican magic from my CSA box.  I couldn’t believe my luck – radishes – the perfect inspiration for many things Mexican!  Because I was on a Rick Bayless kick, and I’m still inspired, I’m going to make this amazingly fresh sounding jicama and radish salad.  It also has oranges, cucumbers, and pickled red onions, all sliced up very thinly and tossed together in a simple chile lime dressing.  Skip the pickled red onions, and use a smattering of fresh thinly sliced ones, if you’re not into pickling (but it does look fun and easy!)  And my luck continued…two types of beets for this roasted veggie salad.  Poblano chiles, manchego cheese, lime juice, cilantro…classic Mexican flavors that will take our beets deliciously in a south-of-the-border direction.  And then, an appetizer that could easily turn entree, these amazing-sounding mushroom-inspired quesadillas.  I’ll slowly caramelize my leeks (instead of a shallot,) use all of my crimini mushrooms, and substitute the asparagus with sautéed kale.  It’s green, has a great texture, and will also be perfect with the poblano cream sauce.  I do know asparagus is making big spring appearances, so go for it if you see it and want it!  Some simple sautéed shrimp, chopped into pieces and sprinkled into the quesadillas, would be an incredible addition that surely would satisfy those in search of a meaty entree. Salud!

Sunday – farm fresh biscuits

roast chicken with kale raab, potatoes, & garlic parsley jus (Bon Appetit)
chive biscuits (Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Family Style)

My go to quick and easy add to your homemade veggie dish item is a roasted chicken.  And usually, I say pick it up from someone who’s done it for you.  But, since it’s Sunday, since it looks like the weather will be a bit chilly and drippy, I’m going to fill my house with the wonderful aroma of a home cooked one!  This recipe incorporates our kale raab (substituting for the broccoli raab) and potatoes; the raab stalks will be nicely tender, and the leaves lightly toasted and crisped.  Skip the simple pan sauce if it seems too fussy (and just sprinkle heartily with fresh chives!), but it’s really just a little broth, lemon & wine stirred with the pan juices to make decadent-sounding jus to drizzle over the sliced chicken.  If I had to choose between fussing with a sauce, or fussing with biscuits, the biscuits would win each time.  More fresh chives, more Sunday night biscuits that you’ll be oh so glad you spent ten minutes whipping up!

Monday –  worth every stir

spring leek risotto (Deborah Madison, Local Flavors)
microgreen salad (The Crankin’ Kitchen)

Risotto is another wonderful way to experiment with whatever spring is giving us.  I don’t buy into the “it’s too much work, that stirring, stirring, stirring…” complaint.  From stovetop to table, doesn’t seem to be any longer than any other relatively quick weeknight meal.  You just need to not venture too far from the kitchen for too long – do the other dinner time essentials (table setting, newspaper reading, homework managing, and wine drinking) while you occasionally add a little broth and give a little stir. And really, whatever you get from your CSA or strikes your fancy at the market works well in a risotto.  Asparagus tips or spring peas would be a fabulous modification.  This simple one will let the fresh flavors of leeks and green garlic shine (don’t worry if you don’t have that – regular garlic is fine, just quite not as spring-special).  Slice some of that leftover chicken from Sunday supper for a fabulous side.  And I’ll serve my micro greens in their simplest state, with an easy garlic (forget the cooking!) and mustard vinaigrette.  Sprinkle with a few chopped nuts, your favorite cheese and some of our farm fresh chives – delicious and beautiful.  Especially since my micro greens have truly been looking just like these in the photos – gorgeous, vibrant edible flowers and all!

Tuesday – collard greens, for the hal-ib-ut
collard greens miniera (Gourmet)
simple baked halibut

Yes, halibut is expensive.  Oh, but when it’s the first-of-the-season, so sweet and mild, direct from Alaska, it’s worth every penny.  And New Seasons has it featured this week at an extra-special price.  Go get some  – quick!  I usually just rub it with a bit of olive oil, some salt & pepper, and maybe a sprinkling of lemon juice and fresh herbs.  My chives will be perfect here.  Bake it at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes – that’s it.  My collard greens will stay fresh and bright and green in this miniera dish – collards cut into thin ribbons, then truly barely cooking them in a beautiful bacon flavor – just until they are bright green and barely wilted.  You could add a little garlic to the pan with the bacon, and I usually sprinkle my collards with lemon juice when I think they’re done.  Slightly bitter, perfectly tangy, bacon-ey bliss!

Wednesday more bacon (if you please)

white cheddar polenta with braised greens, spring mushrooms, & pancetta (SIO Blog, Emily Thomson)

Polenta…no longer fuddy duddy peasant food, that’s for sure.  It is a super versatile, humble cornmeal dish that can be baked, fried, grilled, or simply cooked gently on the stovetop with some butter & parmesan for a wholly satisfying, rich and delicious dish.  This week’s braising mix lends itself wonderfully as a polenta “topping” – any greens would work beautifully.   I modified this recipe, just slightly, for a potluck, last week – doubling the polenta portion and making it in a wide bottomed pan suitable for serving as well.  When the polenta seemed “done” (not grainy or hard to the bite), I let it settle in the pan after mixing in the not-to-leave-out butter (the essential rich and creamy part of the best polenta!)  The lightly sauteed and braised mushrooms, greens, and garlic were then spread over the top, with the grated white cheddar adding a finishing touch.  I left out the pancetta, knowing vegetarian dishes are often in high demand.  Just before serving, I warmed it in the oven, letting the cheese get just barely browned.  I’m having a semi-repeat in my house this week, as I heard raucous cries from my family of “why are you taking that away?!?” as I walked out the door with this dish in hand.  This time I’ll use the same basic ingredients, but try the creamy version – the only difference being that the cheese is mixed into the warm polenta, and it is served in a low, wide bowl immediately while the polenta is still soft, piled high with the greens, mushrooms, and parmesan. You could skip the pancetta and mix in some white beans with the greens and mushrooms for a wonderfully rich and satisfying full meal deal.  See where your taste buds and diners take you.  A little Italian bacon is hard to pass up.

Thursday – honey & harissa, yes please!

honey and harissa farro salad (Deb Perlman, The Smitten Kitchen)
baguette

Somehow I’ve got parsnips left…just possibly one too many dinners out.  But let me tell you, I’m happy I do!  I came across this carrot, parsnip, farro salad using harissa (an amazing Tunisan hot sauce), counterbalanced with a bit of sweet honey.  Although it seems a bit reminiscient of those earthy, autumn root vegetable dishes, I think it will be fresh and wonderful with our spring carrots and last-of-the-season parsnips.  A perfect hello, and good-bye!  If you don’t have parsnips, add another favorite vegetable to the mix.  Beets (already roasted and at-the-ready) would be delicious!  And to make it just a bit more spring-ey, peruse your farmers market or grocery store for the perfect cheese.  I see a farmers market sampling in order here – salty feta, fresh goat, subtle blue.  Whatever will crumble nicely over the finished salad, and add just right bit of rich deliciousness to your own creation!  I’ll serve this salad with my warmed HRO baguette – yum!

“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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