September 20 weekly menu | fall table

Farm Fresh

beans, carrots, cilantro, corn, eggplant, gourmet greens, lettuce, onions, poblano peppers, sweet peppers, zucchini, tomatoes

What’s for Dinner?

My tomato worries back in June, July, and even August, were simply unfounded. This, after two straight years of the biggest, bushiest, greenest tomato plants you can imagine…minus any tomatoes to speak of. Now, a veritable tomato frenzy, and it feels just crazy! Crazy that all is takes is one morning at the farmer’s market, talking to the farmers and picking just the right plant or two.  Or twelve.  And an hour in the yard, finding the sunniest possible home for them.  And now, four months later, after doing really not much to them all summer, here we are. Tomatoes, of every kind, color, shape, and size.

IMG_2082It gives me a little chuckle, then, when my CSA farm truck unloads more tomatoes! Yes, we eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but one family can only do so much. In this week that straddles summer and fall, we’ll all feel a noticeable shift I’m sure.  Apples, pears, and pumpkins will be in the air. So tempting, but I’m (necessarily) devoted to tomatoes at every meal, and digging up my favorite sauce recipes.  Frozen in gallon zip-loc bags, there’s nothing better than getting home on a cold, wet, fall or winter night, knowing you’ve got a stash of summer’s best tomato sauce in your freezer!

Friday – TV trays, movie, & pizza

classic margherita pizza (The Splendid Table)
the mothership tomato salad (Food Network, Jamie Oliver)

Saturday – baba ga-what?

breakfast:
carrot-apple muffins (Williams Sonoma)

dinner:
baked falafel (Mark Bittman)
baba ganoush (Katherine Deumling, SIO Blog, Wk. 17 2013)
simple greek salad (Bon Appetit)

Sunday  –  hello fall!

flank steak with cilantro-almond pesto (Cooking Light)
rice stuffed tomatoes (The Smitten Kitchen)
oven roasted green beans (Food Network, Emeril Lagasse)

apple crisp (Martha Stewart)

Monday – kicked up tomato soup

roasted tomato soup with poblanos (Whole Foods Market)
gourmet greens salad
baguette

Tuesday – taco tuesday, again

tacos with black beans
stovetop corn with poblano chiles (New York Times)
late summer salsa mexicana (Rick Bayless)

Wednesday –  OK to cheat

pasta with no-cook tomato sauce & fresh mozzarella (Cook’s Illustrated)
salad with red wine vinaigrette (Martha Stewart)
roast chicken

Thursday –  one great rat(atouille)

ratatouille (Alice Waters, The Art of Simple Food)


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Friday –  TV trays, movie, & pizza

classic margherita pizza (The Splendid Table)
the mothership tomato salad (Food Network, Jamie Oliver)

With tomatoes this abundant and fresh, I just can’t help but highlight a pizza where they shine. The classic margherita pizza…this is the quintessential “less is more pizza”, where the essential ingredients are tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella. This recipe from The Splendid Table shows how easy it is to whip up a super simple tomato sauce. But given all of my fresh tomatoes, and the go-ahead from Naples, my fresh tomatoes will replace the sauce. Lynn also includes a thin-crust recipe, or follow this prior Pizza Night post for a no-fail recipe I rely on each week. It makes enough for two pizzas, even three rolled out in the super thin, best-for-margherita style. I’ll make one of the truly classic three-ingredient pizzas, and then shake it up a bit with the others. The Splendid Table gives several great suggestions for variations – the main tip is not to overload, just flavor. I’ll use some thinly sliced red onions and sweet peppers; a crumbling of Italian sausage would be just perfect here too. Because tomatoes are the main event tonight, instead of my usual go-to green salad, I’ll do a tomato salad instead. Don’t be scared off by the title – “mothership” just means LOTS of tomatoes, not lots of ingredients or steps. A very simple vinaigrette and some sea salt is all that’s needed to put the finishing touch on a big bowl of tomatoes of many shapes, sizes, and colors.  It’s a real treat to go to the farmer’s market this time of year to get a first-hand look at the unbelievable tomato offerings.  

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
caramelized onion, kale, & corn flatbread
pizza bianca with goat cheese & chard 

Saturday – baba ga-what?

breakfast:
carrot-apple muffins (Williams Sonoma)

dinner:
baked falafel (Mark Bittman)
baba ganoush (Katherine Deumling, SIO Blog, Wk. 17 2013)
simple greek salad (Bon Appetit)

Northwest apples again – yippee! It’s a great weekend to take a trip to the farmer’s market; the air, the smells, and the offerings will be noticeably different. Still amazing tomatoes, peppers, and corn, but apples and pears will also abound. I can’t resist -these carrot-apple muffins will kick off the weekend, as well as make slick pull-from-the-freezer breakfasts and lunch box additions all week. We opt for the no-nut, no-raisin verion, but often add some dried cranberries, or even chopped dried apples. Dinner I’ll build around homemade baba ganoush, that delectable, surprisingly-simple-to-make, Middle Eastern spread –  just roasted eggplant, EVOO, and various seasonings. It’s as easy as throwing the eggplant in the oven for a while, then mixing the soft pulp with a few other ingredients, including my farm fresh cilantro. A great accompaniment to this Mark Bittman falafel – baked instead of fried, and made even easier when you use canned garbanzo beans, which I’ll do. (Easier yet is picking up a plate of falafel from your favorite Middle Eastern joint!) With a platter of split pita bread, people can stuff their own with falafel, baba ganoush, and an assortment of fresh veggies (sliced cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, etc.). Or, serve the falafel on its own, with warmed pita triangles and crudites to scoop up the baba ganoush. With one of my heads of fresh lettuce, I’ll make the simplest of Greek salads, with a lemony, red vinegary, mix of the same farm goodness, but with the essential olives and feta cheese. If you’re lucky to have any baba ganoush left, use it all week as a scrumptious baguette, pita chip, or veggie dip, or as a delicious addition to so many simple sandwiches (like tomato!).

Sunday – hello, fall!

flank steak with cilantro-almond pesto (Cooking Light)
rice stuffed tomatoes (The Smitten Kitchen)
oven roasted green beans (Food Network, Emeril Lagasse)

apple crisp (Martha Stewart)

Despite being up to my ears in tomatoes, I knew I just had to welcome the official start of fall with a warm apple crisp! Makes parting with summer a whole lot easier, knowing how many baked apple delights will grace our table over these next months. Crisps don’t really even need a recipe – they’re all a similar take on sliced apples in a baking dish, sprinkled with sugar (and maybe some vanilla, or lemon juice, or cinnamon) with the most decadent buttery, sweet, oatmeal-ey topping. Make it however you like it. We just like it frequently! For dinner, (sorry, got excited about dessert!) I’m fearing the end of the fresh cilantro deliveries, so I’ll savor the moment and make a batch of this cilantro pesto. Perfect on steak, and a bonus to have any leftovers around – again, think sandwich spread, dip for most anything, or morning egg-topper. And just the photo of these rice stuffed tomatoes made me need to make them (that, plus the pounds of tomatoes staring at me each day!). The tomatoes are hollowed out and the filling re-mixed with just a few flavorful but simple ingredients – toasty rice, garlic, onion, and maybe some herbs. As Deb says, the essence of simple Italian cooking, needing only the freshest of what’s growing in your own backyard (or your farmer’s backyard!). For the most colorful meal ever, I’ll add these no-effort roasted green beans, caramelized until just tender crisp.  And speaking of crisp…

Monday –  kicked up tomato soup

roasted tomato soup with poblanos (Whole Foods Market)
gourmet greens salad
baguette

I don’t think I’ve ever received poblanos from my CSA before – so exciting! And so many uses, it’ll be hard to decide how to eat them. I do know I’ll follow Katherine’s poblano notes from the SIO blog this week; I’ll roast all my poblanos over the weekend, and have them all peeled and ready to go for the week ahead. I may have to get myself a second batch – they are so tempting, on a toasty baguette with some creamy farmer’s cheese, mixed in eggs, etc. But, back to using all my tomatoes. I have a hankering for homemade tomato soup. Here’s the real deal, plus the deliciousness of farm fresh poblanos! After roasting the tomatoes, it’s a snap to put together. Once I slip the skips off the tomatoes, I think I’ll throw them in the pot with the roasted poblanos, and just use my handy immersion blender to blend the cooked onions, garlic, and the whole kit-and-kaboodle together after cooking. You can choose your own chunkiness level, and add a sprinkling of your favorite cheese. Complete the meal with a simple green salad (sprinkled with just olive oil, vinegar of choice, and salt & pepper) and a sliced baguette – YUM!

Tuesday – taco tuesday, again

tacos with black beans
stovetop corn with poblano chiles (New York Times)
chips & late summer salsa mexicana (Rick Bayless)

With more corn, and cilantro, and poblano chilies, and tomatoes, Mexican night just had to be. Again. But there’s no complaints here – seems to be a family favorite no matter where you go. Tonight, any efforts I put forth will go into this one-pot corn taco filling. Since the poblanos have been pre-roasted, it’s mostly just getting the corn off the ears, and a bit of chopping of the red pepper & onions. It all gets cooked up together, adding some creme fraiche and lime juice at the end – sounds amazing. I’ll have the warmer filled with slightly gas-charred (oven burner!) tortillas, and a bowl of warmed, straight-from-the-can, black beans, letting the creamy corn star as the filling. A quick and healthy (minus the creme fraiche!) mid-week meal, made complete with a bag of tortilla chips and some Rick Bayless from-the-garden salsa. A classic late summer salsa, just combining chopped tomatoes (LOTS – and I’ll use all colors) with some cilantro, onion, & jalapeños. With an avocado (plus onion, plus lime, plus salt), you’ve got guac too – a Mexican feast, and all we really did was consult the veggie drawer!

Wednesday – OK to cheat

pasta with no-cook tomato sauce & fresh mozzarella (Cook’s Illustrated)
salad with red wine vinaigrette (Martha Stewart)
roast chicken

In addition to the plethora of roasted and slow-cooked tomato sauces I’ll make and freeze (and wait for that snowy night…fingers crossed!), with summer not yet a distant memory, I still like to pull out this no-cook recipe. It seems like cheating, there’s so little to it. It’s a bit like a caprese salad, but with pasta mixed in. And Cook’s Illustrated likes to put in green onions instead of the basil, which is actually a nice change about right now. A complete meal with a simple salad and a made-by-someone-else roast chicken!

Thursday –  one great rat(atouille)

ratatouille (Alice Waters, The Art of Simple Food)

Love, love, love ratatouille! The darling rat-as-a-chef movie, and the quintessential late summer veggie dish. Alice Waters, with her no-fuss approach to vegetables, does it perfectly. And this time in September is it’s glory moment. All of those ingredients – zucchini, sweet peppers, onions, eggplant, and tomatoes – comprise our season-ending gems. All get cooked together until soft and infused with the basil and garlic. Doesn’t take long, then you’re ready for anything – hot, cold, or room temperature; as an appetizer spread on grilled bread, as a side to grilled steak (or grilled anything), mixed in pasta, as a potato-topper, etc. You get the picture. I’m going to do it sammie-style, piled atop hearty bakery bread, then topped with mozzarella, and slipped under the broiler until it’s all warmed and melty.

“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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