September 27 weekly menu | fall table

Farm Fresh

beets, carrots, eggplant, fennel, gourmet greens, mizuna, onions, potatoes, sweet peppers, tomatoes

What’s for Dinner?

My poor tomatoes…they got left out of the photo. I think I had set them on a pedestal elsewhere, to bask alone in their tomato-ey brilliance. Suffice it to say, despite the nasty weather outside, these large, deep orange, heirlooms were really a high point of the CSA bag-unpack.  Especially alongside some more fall-ish veggies. The grizzly storms ahead are inspiring soups, slow-cooker stews, and smothered pork. Amazing how tomatoes can fit right in there!

Friday – TV trays, movie, & pizza

caramelized fennel, onion, and sweet pepper pizza (Martha Stewart)

Saturday – bakery treats x2

breakfast:
garden harvest bread (Cooking Light)

dinner:
lentil bacon soup (The Macrina Bakery)
beet salad with apple, goat cheese, & honey (Martha Stewart)

Sunday  –  sweet summer ending

pork chops with apples & onions (Martha Stewart)
garlic roasted potatoes (Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Parties!)
greens with mustard vinaigrette (Ina Garten, Barefoot Contesa Family Style)

plum cake (Bon Appetit)

Monday – slow cooker indian

punjabi eggplant with potatoes (Anupy Singla, The Indian Slow Cooker)
naan

Tuesday – peppery panzanella, rain or shine

panzanella with mizuna (Katherine Deumling, Cook With What You Have)
roast chicken

Wednesday –  taco night

roasted red pepper and onion tacos (Vegetarian Times)

Thursday –  pot pourri minestrone

minestrone soup (Alice Waters, The Art of Simple Food)
hearty country bread


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Friday –  TV trays, movie, & pizza

caramelized fennel, onion, and sweet pepper pizza (Martha Stewart)

You’d think the mere mention of “caramelized fennel and onions” would turn some noses. Try it – I think you’ll find it a family favorite, on anything from pizza, to pasta, to sandwiches, etc. Caramelize is just a fancy word for cook in olive oil until very soft and golden. I think the addition of some of my gazillion sweet red peppers would be fabulous. Use whatever cheese you like – mozzarella, fontina, sauce or no sauce. Italian sausage and black olives would be sure winners on these too. Follow this prior 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. 

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 
classic margherita pizza

Saturday – bakery treats x2

breakfast:
garden harvest bread (Cooking Light)

dinner:
lentil bacon soup (The Macrina Bakery)
beet salad with apple, goat cheese, & honey (Martha Stewart)

I’m noticing that this day’s meals revolve around my bakery expertise – yikes…not something to be so proud of! What’s the next best thing to starting the weekend at Baker & Spice bakery, with a thick slice of their ultra-moist garden bread, packed with carrots and zucchini, and sprinkled with slivered almonds? Trying a version of my own! I’m not expecting miracles – no one does it as well as Baker & Spice. But, I do know I’ve got farm-fresh carrots, apples are appearing everywhere, and there’s one big-ole zucchini in my fridge staring me in the face! I think you couldn’t go wrong with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, and maybe even some almond slivers, on top.

And speaking of bakeries, Seattle’s Macrina would give Baker & Spice a run for its money, if it lived in the same city. I stumbled upon this soup once when I was there (I guess my coffee and pastry time must’ve moved right on into lunch…) and have waited out the seasons to make it once again. I do think of it, each time I get fennel from my CSA, and wait, wait, wait until it feels like soup time again. The time is now, and not only do I have fresh fennel, but also tomatoes, carrots, and onions. Grab the lentils and bacon, and you’re in for a real taste treat. I wrote myself a note that last time I made it I used about two pounds of whatever type of tomatoes I had. It simmers for a while, developing an unbelievably rich flavor. Top with a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream, and serve with your favorite crusty bread for dipping. I’ll add this simple beet & apple salad…with four pounds of beets, and apples galore, it’s hard to resist. Remember, roast those beets in a very hot oven (450 or even hotter) for an hour, let cool, and peel. Do this simple task right when you receive your beets, and you’ll be so happy as they sit in your fridge, awaiting the perfect use!

Sunday – sweet summer ending

pork chops with apples & onions (Martha Stewart)
garlic roasted potatoes (Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Parties!)
greens with mustard vinaigrette (Ina Garten, Barefoot Contesa Family Style)

plum cake (Bon Appetit)

I was trying to decide if it was too early for a version of smothered pork chops…usually I’m thinking about this well into October and November. With the forecast of rain, wind, and more rain this weekend, I think this warm, comforting, meat & potatoes dinner is in perfect order. This Martha recipe breaks out the cast iron skillet (always a good start), and will use one of my yummy onions, as well as some hand-picked apples from the market. With these simple oven-browned potatoes and a salad using my autumn gourmet greens dressed in a tangy, mustardy vinaigrette, it’s a Sunday night meal perfect for settling in. And as excited as I am for dinners like this, using the new crop of fall bounty, I’m also savoring the last of the plums, peaches, and nectarines. This plum cake, will keep our summer alive, in an effortless, rustic way.

Monday –  slow cooker indian

punjabi eggplant with potatoes (Anupy Singla, The Indian Slow Cooker)Unknown-2
naan

Hard to believe that this Anupy Singla cookbook is the first of its kind, combining classic slow-cooking with the traditional Indian flavors she grew up with. A dear friend gave me this lovely book as a gift –  simple dinner brilliance like this delights us both. Geeky?Maybe…but quick, healthy, week-night solutions to getting a warm, ultra-flavorful and comforting Indian food on the table?!? The concept seemed too good to be true. But I’ve tried several of her recipes – hits, all around, at my house! This one, traditionally called aloo baingan, combines lots of eggplant, potatoes, and onions with a few essential Indian spices, all of which are probably in your cupboard already. Fifteen minutes of morning prep, for an oh-so-worth-it reward at dinner. Grab some naan from your favorite Indian restaurant or food cart (or the freezer section of your grocery store!)  –  you’ll see that it quickly takes the form of a fork!

Tuesday – peppery panzanella, rain or shine

panzanella with mizuna (Katherine Deumling, Cook With What You Have)
roast chicken

If you, like me, hear the word “panzanella”, you’ll immediately think of summer tomato splendor. It’s a traditional Tuscan salad, tossed with soaked, stale (or toasted) bread cubes, large chunks of tomatoes, good quality EVOO and vinegar, and sometimes some herbs. I think by Tuesday we’ll need a little pick-me-up, and what better than a salad crafted mainly with my gorgeous orange heirloom tomatoes, just delivered from the farm. I also love that Katherine made a modified version, using the mizuna from SIO this week. (See the SIO blog, week 18, for a list of specific ingredients and quantities for this mizuna-modified version.) It’ll be a greener version than you’re used to, but I’m guessing the addition of our peppery mizuna will be wonderful. All I’ll add to this meal is a made-by-someone else roast chicken. Again, weeknight simple!

Wednesday – taco night

roasted red pepper and onion tacos (Vegetarian Times)

I thought about not doing tacos, again. I think they’ve been on our menu at least once a week for many in a row. For a good reason, I’ve decided.  I try to just go with a “first hunch” of what I might make with a particular veggie, as I unpack the bounty from the bags. As I pulled out sweet red pepper, after sweet red pepper, and then I hit the onions, I knew they’d be tossed together, roasted to golden, and star as the centerpiece of our mid-week taco feast. I do modify this recipe, often, for whatever veggie strikes my fancy. But the original version is sweet peppers galore. While the onions and peppers are roasting, I’ll be putting together a quick bean filling using another of my cortland onions, and fresh tomatoes instead of canned. The rest of the crew will be put to work on the toppings bar:  more chopped fresh tomatoes, some avocado, salsa, sour cream, grated cheese, and olives-that-fit-the-fingers. In about 30 minutes, with your favorite warmed taco shells, everyone will be helping themselves. And helping themselves again.

Thursday –  pot pourri minestrone

minestrone soup (Alice Waters, The Art of Simple Food)
hearty country bread

Last week, in a moment of chilled-to-the-bone, why-am-I-turning-my-heat-on panic, I veered from whatever I thought it was I’d be making for dinner. I headed straight to my beloved Alice Waters book, seeking the warmth and simplicity of a minestrone soup. Of course, she had just the recipe, and of course, she had a summer, fall, winter, and spring version. I took a combo from all and ended up with this:  a base of olive oil, garlic, onion, and fennel, followed by corn off the cob, sliced carrots, fresh chopped tomatoes, chunks of zucchini, and bright green bean pieces. That’s the beautiful thing about minestrone – it’s a perfect pot pourri night soup at my house, using bits and pieces of what I might have left at the end of my veggie week. Because I made mine without an ounce of forethought, and thus had no soaked beans, I used one can of garbanzos and one can of kidneys. This week, great soup candidates would be onion, fennel (saute at the beginning with the onion and garlic), carrots, potatoes, sweet peppers, tomatoes, and even some chopped mizuna, added near the end (spinach is a common minestrone addition). Alice’s version does not call for pasta, but I like to serve it in a large wide-rimmed bowl, with a favorite tiny pasta already boiled and scooped into the bottom. Amazing how much minestrone was eaten by my kids – I’d like to think it’s because they love veggies. More likely because they were so excited by the alphabet pasta floating around in the soup. No, they are not under five; apparently the alphabet excites at any age. Don’t forget the sprinkle of parmesan on top, and a loaf of warm, buttered bread, perfect for soaking up the last bites.

“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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