may 3 weekly menu | spring table

Farm Fresh

beets, cauliflower, celery, chives, kale, mushrooms, parsley, pea shoots, radishes, rhubarb, spinach

What’s for Dinner?

With only sunshine in the forecast (what?!?), I thought an outdoor grilling marathon was in order.  I have a week’s worth of menus that take us outside with these lovely veggies.  Outside, to gather maybe a bit of what we can’t resist at the farmers market; outside to grill pizza, bread, meat, fish, and yes, veggies; and outside to sit, relax, and enjoy this amazing local spring bounty.

Friday –  pizza on the grill!

grilled pizza with kale, mushroom, & sausage (Serious Eats)

Saturday – salad for supper, al fresco

warm mushroom salad with hazelnuts (Deb Perlman, Smitten Kitchen)
celery salad with spring’s first herbs (Deborah Madison, Vegetable Literacy)
farmers market cheese and charcuterie selection
grilled baguette, simple or gussied (Bon Appetit)

rhubarb crisp (Mark Bittman, The New York Times)

Sunday – cinco de mayo celebration

strawberry margaritas (Cooking Light)

chips & salsa sampling

beef tacos with radish & avocado salsa (Martha Stewart)
kale salad with cilantro-lime vinaigrette (Cook’s Illustrated, The Best 30-Minute Recipe)

Monday – go green!

very green risotto (Katherine Deumling, Cook With What You Have)
grilled asparagus (Simply Recipes)

Tuesday – pork + rhubarb

pork chops with tangy rhubarb chutney (Real Simple)
spinach & mushroom salad (Martha Stewart)

Wednesday – crunchy cauliflower salad 

cauliflower salad with green olives & capers (Deb Perlman, Smitten Kitchen)
mediterranean-style grilled salmon (The Mayo Clinic)

Thursday –  cheers for chimichurri

grilled steak with chimichurri sauce (Serious Eats)
simple beet salad (Self)

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Friday –  pizza on the grill!

grilled pizza with kale, mushroom, & sausage (Serious Eats)

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!  I have to admit, I’ve never grilled a pizza.  No time like the present, with a cracked-in-half pizza stone, and gorgeous weather, to give it a shot!  This Serious Eats guide seems pretty fool proof.  For a simpler version, grab your dough from Hot Lips, New Seasons, or nearly any favorite pizza place.  Seems like the recommended approach is smaller pizzas – think individual sized, which will be perfect for everyone to design their own.  The ingredients should be at-the-ready, as the dough cooks lickety-split on the grill.  Again, this guide speaks thoroughly to good topping choices for grilled pizzas.  I’m going to sauté some kale in a bit of olive oil and garlic (maybe farm-fresh green garlic?) until tender, then lightly sauté the mushrooms to a golden brown, and finally some yummy Italian sausage.  To complete the line-up, sauce (or pesto?), and cheese of your choice, along with a sprinkling of fresh chives.  Let everyone have a turn at designing their own grilled pizza!

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 
pizza with fennel sausage, braising greens and rosemary
dandelion greens, Italian sausage, and fontina cheese pizza
spinach and chive pizza

Saturday – salad for supper, al fresco

warm mushroom salad with hazelnuts (Deb Perlman, Smitten Kitchen)
celery salad with spring’s first herbs (Deborah Madison, Vegetable Literacy)
farmers market cheese and charcuterie selection
grilled baguette, simple or gussied (Bon Appetit)

rhubarb crisp (Mark Bittman, The New York times)

For this breaking-eighty-degree-Saturday, I’m planning an early trip to the farmers market.  Not to add to my already mighty load of veggies (except I can’t resist the asparagus!), but just to walk with my steaming cup of joe, grab a breakfast nibble (or two), and see what other local goodies might strike my fancy.  I’ll have the night’s dinner in mind – an outdoor salad feast, complete with some amazing market-fresh cheeses, salamis, and the like.  For the mushroom salad, I’ll pick up some Freddy Guys hazelnuts, maybe some gourmet mushrooms to add to the mix, and a hard, sharp cheese (sampling in order!).  I’ll use a bunch of my fresh spinach as the base for this, but many spring greens would work well.  A sprinkling of my fresh chives and parsley will be the finishing touch.  I got to use my brand new, signed Deborah Madison book for this next recipe – a salad where my fresh, crunchy celery gets to star!  Again, my chives and parsley will work perfectly as the herb choices.  And choose your spring green – mache would be lovely, but so would any number of the beauties you’re sure to see at the market.  For the dressing, I’ll use just simple olive oil, and follow my book’s suggestion to add a teaspoon of dijon.  I’ll slice my yummy HRO baguette, give it a brush with EVOO and a sprinkle of good salt, and lightly toast it on the grill.  If you’re intrigued, Bon Appetit has some delicious-looking suggestions to gussy up your basic grilled break.  I may not be able to resist with either the avocados or the radishes!  For the grand finale of this outdoor farmers market feast, (yes another) rhubarb crisp.  Admittedly, I’m a pie girl.  Love to make them, love to serve them, love to eat them.  BUT, a seasonal fruit crisp really can’t be beat in terms of its absolute ease and out-of-this-world taste and texture.  This one looks like an amazing choice for our identity-crisis-stricken rhubarb.  Am I a fruit?  Or, am I a veggie?  (Both – botanically a vegetable, but generally eaten as a fruit so classified as such.) With just a bit sugar and lemon or orange zest, topped with a crumbly topping of rolled oats, nuts (optional), cinnamon, butter, and brown sugar, it really doesn’t matter what it is – just darn good!  I’ll put my kids in charge of this simple dessert…I have a feeling the ratio of fruit (veggie?) to crumble may be a bit off, considering their history of chanting “double the crumble!”

Sunday – cinco de mayo celebration!

strawberry margaritas (Cooking Light)

chips & salsa sampling

beef tacos with radish & avocado salsa (Martha Stewart)
kale salad with cilantro-lime vinaigrette (Cook’s Illustrated, The Best 30-Minute Recipe)

Just our luck!  Cinco de Mayo rolls around, and we get radishes – the root that screams Mexican!  Let’s sip a market-fresh (hopefully!) strawberry marg in celebration!  No one is too macho for this delicious cocktail.  Not a lot of cooking going on in this meal – basically pick up some steak (or chicken or portabellas), throw it on the barbie, and whip up the radish salsa.  I’ll skip the pickled jalapeno, using fresh, and probably double the avocado and mash it a bit so it’s a bit more like a guacamole.  Use your favorite corn or flour tortillas, keeping them warm and the tacos rolling!  I picked up one of those fancy $5 or $10 tortilla warmers recently – works wonders to alleviate trips to the microwave, or the stuck together bunch in the oven.  I’m going to also throw together a Mexican-style kale salad.  This CI recipe is a winner for a quick dressing I use for any salad accompanying a Southwest or Mexican dinner.  Cut the kale into very thin strips, add some Mexican cheese (cotija, queso fresco, manchego…) and some pumpkins seeds for the basic version.  Other possible addition are endless:  radishes, corn, black beans, diced red pepper, thinly sliced jicama, avocado, tomato, etc.  Dress it a little ahead of time to tenderize the kale a bit.

Monday –  go green!

very green risotto (Katherine Deumling, Cook With What You Have)
grilled asparagus (Simply Recipes)

As I’ve said before, risotto is not difficult.  Just a few minutes of stirring and adding broth, stirring and adding broth.  Here, Katherine makes her risotto extra green by adding copious amounts of tender spring greens – pea shoots and spinach, in her version.  Plus green garlic, if you hit the market.  You really could use any spring green –  when you add butter, wine, garlic, bacon, and cheese, it’s hard to go wrong for sure.  Put an egg on it, if you’re so inclined!  And because I’m betting it was hard for others to resist, our featured grilled item this evening is fresh spring asparagus.  Lightly olive oil, salt, & enjoy.  That’s it.  A dinner fit for a Kermit, for sure.

Tuesday – pork + rhubarb

pork chops with tangy rhubarb chutney (Real Simple)
spinach & mushroom salad (Martha Stewart)

So here’s our rhubarb-as-a-veggie dinner (veggie side?  kind of…).  To the grill again,this time with a classic combination of pork and cooked rhubarb.  Don’t tell, but the fancy-sounding rhubarb chutney is just chunked rhubarb-reduced-in-a-pan.  You could literally do this with just rhubarb, a little water, and sugar to taste.  Here we get fancy and add a red onion and some vinegar.  Grill those pork chops up on the BBQ, and serve alongside the rhubarb chutney, a combination you’ll not soon forget.  I’ll skip the butter lettuce salad side, and add my own simple spinach and mushroom (+ a sprinkling of chives!) salad, minus the homemade croutons (this is why we’ve got New Seasons and Zupans, who each make their own delicious version!).

Wednesday crunchy cauliflower salad

cauliflower salad with green olives & capers (Deb Perlman, Smitten Kitchen)
mediterranean-style grilled salmon (The Mayo Clinic)

The original version of this cauliflower salad recipe came, once again, from Deborah Madison (this time Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.)  It’s going to use not only my cauliflower, but my celery, chives and parsley too.  It seems a bit like the old school chop-chop salad, with some delicious twists (pimento stuffed Spanish olives!).  If you keep the greens out, you can easily make it ahead, and it’ll be just as yummy for lunch the next day.  Perfect for another “throw it on the barbie” weeknight evening, tonight with salmon on the grill.  And more green olives!  I’ll skip the basil (until mine is thriving in my porch pot!) but add a healthy garnish of my chives and parsley. With a recipe from The Mayo Clinic, and a salad chock full of crunchy, good-for-the-body things, I might just call for a hump day, after-dinner walk to Salt & Straw.  Rumor has it there’s a rhubarb crumble flavor!  (OK, with toasted anise…this is where I lose my son and husband.  Off they go for a simple scoop of Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough!)

Thursday – cheers for chimichurri

grilled steak with chimichurri sauce (Serious Eats)
simple beet salad (Self)

When I get a bunch of parsley (beware, these bunches can become GIANT as the season progresses…) my favorite thing to do is to get out the food processor and make a batch of chimichurri sauce. There’s usually so much parsley, I can reserve a handful of two for the sprinklings I’ll need throughout the week, and still have plenty for this amazing Argentinian sauce.  The basics:  parsley, garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes (make it as spicy or not spicy as you’d like).  You can easily freeze this sauce also, if you won’t be using it right away.  So weekday simple though – a flank steak on the barbecue, sliced into thin strips on a serving platter, drizzled heartily with this fresh and fragrant chimichurri sauce.  If there’s extra sauce, it’s wonderful on sandwiches and wraps too.  My beets have been pre-roasted and sliced (during an hour of calm, and I would suggest cool), and are ready for a simple olive oil & vinegar dressing.  Walnuts and goat cheese make it extra fancy and delish!

“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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2 responses to “may 3 weekly menu | spring table”

  1. kathleenclark56 says :

    Help! Where are you finding pea shoots? I’ve been looking for weeks and not finding them anywhere. I feel so left out…

    • Teri Simpson says :

      Pea shoots have shown up regularly in my Hood River Organic CSA box this spring. Their website is http://www.hoodriverorganic.com; you can call them to find out if pea shoots are something they grow, or whether they get them from a farm they co-op with, and where you might buy them. They are delicious! I was at the Portland Farmers Market yesterday at PSU, and although I did not look for pea shoots specifically, I cannot imagine they weren’t there – there was EVERYTHING! Check out the Wednesday market at Shemanski Park (SW Park & SW Salmon), 10-2…I’ll bet you can find some there!

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