August 30 weekly menu | summer table

Farm Fresh

carrots, cilantro, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, kale, onions, potatoes, zucchini, tomatoes

What’s for Dinner?

Really?  The last long weekend of summer vacation?!?  Sad but true, for our household at least.  As I said in June, ages and incredible amounts of veggies ago, meals are just different in the summer.  The local bounty has changed, to be sure, as have the rituals.  We’re full into summer squash and beans and corn and tomatoes and Walla Walla sweets…all of the things we waited patiently for the entire year.  The rhythm and pace have also changed; let’s savor every final moment of this summertime bliss.  One last long weekend, and an easing into the school year and the fall that comes with it.  Let’s savor the all-hands-on-deck meal preparation; the impromptu picnics; the hot nights, where salads and sandwiches are the perfect antidote; the bit lighter fare, fare that can be served hot, warm, or room temperature; and the parties and potlucks, where people enjoy sharing in what the season offer.  Don’t forget the outdoor grilling, a perfect “hurrah!” in commemoration of summer.

Friday – grilled pizza fest

caramelized onion, kale, & corn flatbread (Deb Perleman, The Smitten Kitchen)

Saturday – height of summer pasta

rigatoni with eggplant puree (Deb Perleman, The Smitten Kitchen)
gourmet greens salad

Sunday –  pack it up!

grilled new potato salad (Field of Greens)
wheat berry salad with zucchini & mozzarella (Mark Bittman)

blackberry bars

Monday – labor day bbq

kale, carrot, & avocado salad (Whole Foods Market)
baked beans (The New Basics Cookbook, Julee Rosso)
oven-baked french fries (The New Basics Cookbook, Julee Rosso)
grilled hamburgers/veggie burgers

Ruby Jewell ice cream sandwiches

Tuesday – off to school

power breakfast:
blueberry kale smoothie (On Food and Baking)
carrot coconut morning glory muffins (Eating Well)

lunchbox delights:
carrot sticks, cucumber rounds, & kale chips (Eating Well)
turkey cucumber wraps (Whole Foods Market)
zucchini oat chocolate chip cookies (Nestle Toll House)

dinner:
OUT – kids’ choice!

Wednesday –  taco Wednesday

black bean tacos with roasted veggies (Vegetarian Times)

Thursday –  cream-of-the-crop summer sammie

tomato, mozzarella, & basil paninis (Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa at Home)
crudites, chips, &  sweet onion dip (Martha Stewart)


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Friday –   grilled pizza fest

caramelized onion, kale, & corn flatbread (Deb Perleman, The Smitten Kitchen)

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!  This week, a semi-repeat.  I made this incredible Smitten Kitchen flatbread-style pizza back in May when I had fresh leeks and chard – it was a real hit.  Now I’ve got the fresh corn off those just-picked cobs!  Instead of leeks, I’ll caramelize some of my Walla Walla sweets, and use kale instead of chard.  You may just have to cook it a bit longer to get it tender.  The images are so striking…”eat your colors” indeed.   Make it into whatever shape you’d like, and sprinkle with whatever cheese(s) strike your fancy.  Good old fashioned mozzarella would be delicious too (or fontina, or or or…).  If you’re going for grilled flatbread, it’ll work better if you make individual sizes. This Serious Eats guide to grilling seems pretty fool proof.  Use Deb’s dough recipe, my go-to 5 minute recipe from The New Basics, the Serious Eats recipe, or grab your dough from Hot Lips, New Seasons, or nearly any favorite pizza place.

Other pizza combinations:

winter squash and wild mushroom 
potato and rosemary 
leek, crimini mushroom, and prosciutto
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
grilled pizza with kale, mushroom, & sausage
shaved asparagus & parmesan pizza
leek, chard, & corn flatbread
kale, sundried tomato, & feta pizza
pizza with green garlic & arugula
pizza bianca with goat cheese & chard
fresh ricotta and red onion pizza
sweet onion pizza
pizza with grilled fennel and parmesan
eggplant & tomato pizza
summer squash & red onion pizza

Saturday – height of summer pasta

rigatoni with eggplant puree (Deb Perleman, The Smitten Kitchen)
gourmet greens salad

So many people say “eewwwhhh!” to eggplant…I guess it’s a texture thing. I’m not a good judge, because I haven’t met a veggie I didn’t like. Admirable?  Not so much, as I’ve also never met a dessert I didn’t like (unfortunately).  I do think this pasta recipe with eggplant might please event those non-eggplant-lovers amongst us, as it’s pureed, so seems like a sauce instead of mushy chunks . No one will probably even know there’s eggplant in it – it’ll just taste great! I’m mostly excited to use the pint of my very own cherry tomatoes in the dish!  At least I’ve got that!  Always on a mission to “use all my veggies”, I’ll probably use both of the smaller globe eggplants I received; if I end up doubling all of the sauce ingredients, I’ll use half as a lunchtime sandwich spread.  Use basil if you don’t have mint, although I’m finding mint so easy to grow on my own.  What I love most about this recipe is that in the photo, her toasty golden pine nuts resemble what happens to mine often-times – more like charred and blackened!  Oh well, accompanied by a farm-fresh salad of just gourmet greens and whatever I have lying around (maybe some yummy avocado and blue cheese?), sprinkled with high quality olive oil and vinegar, the char will be soon forgotten.

Sunday – pack it up!

grilled new potato salad (Field of Greens)
wheat berry salad with zucchini & mozzarella (Mark Bittman)
baguette

blackberry crunch bars

Yippee!  Looks like warmth and sunshine will grace our final summer weekend.  Not sure when, where, or how, but I know we’ll make room for a celebratory picnic.  I was so happy to see potatoes on my CSA list – this grilled potato salad is just a summer must!  A friend brought it to a picnic years ago; it’s become a family favorite.  While I won’t have new potatoes, I just think it’ll be delicious with any potato.  The original version of this recipe calls for roasting the potatoes until they are tender, and then grilling them, maybe in foil packets or on skewers.  I often don’t have time for this grilling part, but just roast them to a golden crispiness.  The grilling does add a really nice touch, though.  For the vinegar, any will do, but I especially like champagne.  Throw in a half cup or so of slivered kalamata olives for a crowd-pleasing addition.  I’ll have to visit the Saturday farmer’s market to get those beans.  No complaints here; we might just camp out there, savoring all of the sights, sounds, and yes, tastes of the market, in that amazing end-of-summer (over)abundance.  The other salad I’ll bring to our picnic is this simple wheat berry salad, packed with delectable flavor and texture.  And it’s so flexible – make it yours, with your favorite veggies, herbs, and cheese.  I’ll be sure pick up a yummy farmer’s cheese at the market!  And after a final berry-picking outing, these blackberry crunch bars from Marsee Baking are a picnic must!  The original recipe calls for our own Oregon marionberries – use whatever berries you love.  A perfect ending to a picnic season to remember!

Monday –  labor day bbq

kale, carrot, & avocado salad (Whole Foods Market)
baked beans (The New Basics Cookbook, Julee Rosso)
oven-baked french fries (The New Basics Cookbook, Julee Rosso)
grilled hamburgers/veggie burgers

Ruby Jewell ice cream sandwiches

Ahhh, Labor Day.  What the heck is Labor Day?!?  My kids asked me, and I had no idea, and had to look it up.  Embarrassing.  I thought maybe it was a day I wasn’t supposed to labor.  And I won’t…too much.  A last outdoor grill-fest doesn’t feel like work at all – feels like a celebration for sure.  Again I find myself scurrying to make those things I associate with summer, which for some reason (laziness, eating out too much, forgetting, who knows?!?) I just haven’t made yet.  One of those dishes is homemade baked beans. Really, these just belong at a homespun BBQ.  The first time I used this recipe, the addition of ketchup struck me as strange…cheap, or cheating, or something.  Not so!  A perfect combo of ingredients for a rich mapley, molassesy, bacony baked bean dish.  SO worth the soak of beans overnight, which is really the only work.  And with just-plucked potatoes, I have to make homemade french fries (be sure to scroll down to page 276 on link).  I admit I’ve sometimes skipped the potato-soaking step here, and just cooked them with the recommended butter and oil combo (use whatever oil you want) – I’m sure I’m missing something subtle, but no one noticed.  With this simple kale/carrot salad, and tossing some hamburgers or veggie burgers on the grill, it’s a Labor Day BBQ that is homey and traditional, pays good tribute to our surrounding farmers and what they bring us all summer, and is a real crowd-pleaser.  Throw some sliced Walla Walla sweets on the grill, and add that to the burger toppings line-up- any cheese, along with my farm-fresh lettuce and tomatoes.  Ruby Jewell ice cream sandwiches are the dessert-o-choice, considering it’s the don’t-labor-too-much day.  That plus the fact that we’ve made a friend in the Ruby Jewell packaging department.  Sure…we’ll take the rejects!  Ice cream shop perfection, farmer’s market specialty, or slightly imperfect – just doesn’t matter to us.  These ice cream sandwiches are out of this world (yes, I’ve had one or ten too many this season!), and end-of-summer celebration worthy for sure!

Tuesday – off to school

power breakfast:
blueberry kale smoothie (On Food and Baking)
carrot coconut morning glory muffins (Eating Well)

lunchbox delights:
carrot sticks, cucumber rounds, & kale chips (Eating Well)
turkey cucumber wraps (Whole Foods Market)
zucchini oat chocolate chip cookies (Nestle Toll House)

dinner:
OUT – kids’ choice!

Gone are the leisurely 10 a.m. breakfasts, and lunch stops at the food carts, Burgerville, wherever we happened to be. Back to reality, which for me means getting my kids out the door early, with something healthy and energizing in their system. Young or old, kale smoothies are the thing.  Add blueberries, and I think you get super-powers.  I haven’t yet regularly joined the green smoothie band-wagon, but I’m going to give it a shot. I’ll make a batch of these carrot coconut muffins again, as not only are they downright delicious, but they also have lots of redeeming health benefits. Wrapped in the freezer, I can pull a couple out each morning and it sure makes that early-morning-decision-making a little easier to muster through. And despite the rude awakening that the morning-lunch-packing routine is sure to be, with kale chips and cut up carrots & cucumbers at the ready, it’ll be a snap. Have you seen that there are gourmet kale chips selling out there for upwards of $8 or $9 a bag?!?  Whip up your own, save a bundle, and be amazed at the kids’ (and adults’!) plea for more.  With a simple wrap or sandwich – it’s surprising what you can do in a hurry with some local veggies at the ready.  I just keep some whole wheat tortillas and spreadable cream cheese or hummus on hand, and more often than not, I’ve got fresh-from-the-farm goodies to wrap up inside. Add a couple made-over-the-weekend Toll House cookies (OK, maybe with a couple of extras added in…) to the lunch box, and I think we’re set.  If you don’t have time for the homemade cookies, it’s a fine time for a Hostess classic, ala New Seasons. They’ve re-invented the chocolate-filled classic cupcake in honor of their new store in the old Hostess location.  Rich chocolate cake, filled with mascarpone whipped cream, covered with chocolate ganache, and topped with that familiar white twirl. Heck, I’ll send the zucchini cookies in the kids’ lunch box and head over to have my own cupcake and coffee! Whew! With the first day behind us, everyone deserves a dinner out!

Wednesday – taco wednesday

black bean tacos with roasted veggies (Vegetarian Times)

When I was growing up, “Taco Wednesday” meant something very different than my own today.  It was a couple big bags of crispy shell tacos arriving steaming hot from Taco Time – they were like five for a dollar or something on Wednesdays.  It was a lucky night if there was also an extra bag, with those tell-tale grease marks showing through and some cinnamon-sugar spilling out…crustos!  OK, back to now.  My current-era taco night is often this version of black bean tacos, filled with farm-fresh roasted veggies.  I modify it with whatever I have  and roasts well – always onion, and this week roasted carrots, zucchini, and corn.  Roast the onions and carrots initially, then add the zucchini and corn, cooking until everything is just golden. The quick bean filling uses another whole onion, and beans and tomatoes from a can, although this is a good time of year to use just-off-the-vine.  Add a big handful of chopped cilantro to both the finished roasted veggies and the bean filling for some fresh and vibrant Mexican flavor.  For the toppings bar:  your favorite home-made (fresh cilantro!) or store-bought salsa, fresh tomatoes, avocados, chopped lettuce, olives, cheese, sour cream, whatever.  We alternate between crispy and soft, flour and corn. With an extra bowl of that chopped cilantro to go ’round the table, you just can’t go wrong.  Except I still miss those crustos.

Thursday –  cream-of-the-crop summer sammie

tomato, mozzarella, & basil paninis (Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa at Home)
crudites, chips, &  sweet onion dip (Martha Stewart)

Sammie nights continue, this week, finally, with an all-time favorite.  With tomatoes just plucked from the vine, and fresh basil from the pot, there’s really nothing like this quintessential summertime sandwich.  You don’t need a panini press, and you don’t need pesto sauce.  Just a skillet and any form of basil you like – I often just layer the whole leaves on there. Whatever bread you love and will hold together on a skillet or press is great. These are also wonderful with thinly sliced prosciutto or chicken. I’ll make another batch of this sweet onion dip with my Walla Walla sweets. It’s good with any veggie crudites, as well as just about any chip!

“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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