October 11 weekly menu | fall table

Farm Fresh

carrots, chard, gourmet greens, leeks, potatoes, sweet peppers, turnips

What’s for Dinner?

Potato-leek soup, potato-leek soup! You can’t look at this table, and not start to smell and taste your favorite version. Seems like from now through spring, each week I’m making a batch. There’s lots of versions out there…it’s hard to go wrong, and fun to compare. Next week, with bacon maybe? And I’m declaring it pot pie season, starting this week a great root vegetable version. With my table piled high with giant, gorgeous chard, sweet red peppers and other farm delights, there’s something for everyone as we launch full-force into fall.

Friday – TV trays, movie, & pizza

potato & rosemary pizza (Gourmet)

Saturday – indian veggie bliss

curried lentil stew with veggies (Gourmet)
basmati rice

Sunday  – did someone say “pot pie”?!?

chicken and root vegetable pot pie (Cooking Light)
simple greens with red wine vinaigrette (Martha Stewart)

Monday – weeknight bento secret

japanese turnips with miso (Gourmet)
choose-your-own-bento

Tuesday – retro revival

stuffed sweet peppers (Cooks Illustrated, The New Best Recipe)

Wednesday –  mmmm…cheese toasts

golden potato-leek soup with cheddar toasts  (Cooking Light)

Thursday –  sammie night

grilled swiss chard reubens (LA Times)
crudites


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Friday –  TV trays, movie, & pizza

potato & rosemary pizza (Gourmet)

The Gourmet recipe is included just a guide as to how to pre-prepare the potatoes. Follow this previous Pizza Night post for a no-fail dough recipe I rely on each week. It makes IMG_1084enough for two pizzas, even three if rolled out in the super thin, best-for-crispy-pizza style. Use the amount of potatoes that seems reasonable – two pounds seems like a lot for pizza toppings! I would do these ahead, having them all ready for the topping assembly line. Potatoes and rosemary on pizza is a wonderful combination. Caramelize some leeks for an extra special touch. And experiment with the cheeses -mozzarella, fontina, parmesan, chevre – they all sound amazing. For the meat-lover…can you say bacon?!? Seems like this pizza would be best without the red sauce, but you might need some for the one who can’t live without their tried-and-true pepperoni! My solution to the very loose “colorful” veggie requirement I have is a bag of Earthbound Farms arugula. Piled on top of pizza just out of the oven – perfect!

Other pizza combinations:

winter squash and wild mushroom 
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
caramelized fennel, onion, and sweet pepper pizza 
pizza with red and yellow peppers

Saturday – indian veggie bliss

curried lentil stew with veggies (Gourmet)
basmati rice

This lentil-based dahl has that magic formula of fresh garlic and ginger, cooked until fragrant with curry powder, turmeric, and cumin. The rest is really up to you – nearly any veggie will shine. I may cheat and use a leek or two instead of onion, a whole head of chard instead of spinach, and will ditch the frozen peas and either up the ante on the carrots, or add some chopped turnips, potatoes, or red peppers. The final little hot spice oil is yummy, but not at all essential. Don’ skip the cilantro though…it adds a magnificent flavor to Indian food. Ladle the stew over a nice wide bowl of basmati rice, and sprinkle with additional cilantro – YUM!

Sunday – did someone say “pot pie”?!?

chicken and root vegetable pot pie (Cooking Light)
simple greens with red wine vinaigrette (Martha Stewart)

Yeah! It’s pot pie season again, or at least I’m declaring it so. This is another recipe ripe to just use what you’ve got, and what you love, taking note of approximate quantities as you go along. My pot pie will have leeks, potatoes, carrots, and turnips –  just packed with farm fresh goodness. And even though it tastes sinfully thick, rich, and delicious, Cooking Light does a remarkable balancing act using just milk and flour as the thickener, and then topping it with the puff pastry treat. I’ll use my gourmet greens in a super simple salad to go alongside.

Monday –  weeknight bento secret

japanese turnips with miso (Gourmet)
choose-your-own-bento

If you live in Portland, of course you know Phil’s Uptown Meat MarketDeli-counter, coffee bar, butcher shop, wine stop, AND, the grill going outside, cooking up those delicious smelling and tasting kebabs. We’ve come to know them as bento boxes – little to-go containers piled high with rice and your choice of skewered beef, chicken, pork, veggies and even fish if you’re willing to wait a few minutes. In-house made marinades and sauces make these a winner of a quick lunch or dinner on the go. I like to bring home a couple bento boxes (you can also pick these up in many markets that have hot food delis…), and combine them with some Japanese-inspired veggie I’ll cook up at home. This week, I’ll cook up a ton of these mild, white turnips (along with the greens!) in some Japanese sweet rice wine, then swirl in a mixture of butter and miso paste. That’s all it takes to create this wonderfully textured and flavored asian dish. With the addition of the rice and skewer bento combo, it’s a healthy Japanese feast in a flash.

Tuesday – retro revival

stuffed sweet peppers (Cooks Illustrated, The New Best Recipe)

Stuffed peppers may seem a bit old fashioned; I prefer to think of them as retro revival. I’ve found some shortcuts to make this dish super weeknight friendly. Firstly, no need to pre-boil the peppers. I think if we were using green peppers, it might be more essential because of their slightly bitter,more aggressive flavor. But with sweet red, yellow, or orange peppers, they’ll cook up enough in the oven, and you can improvise baking times to achieve your own desired tenderness. My farm-fresh reds are smaller than the ones you might typically see in the grocery store. They are not going to be the type you can slice the top off, stuff, and have stand up nice and tall in a baking dish. I have a solution for that! I’ll use eight smaller peppers instead of four big ones, cut them in half long-ways, and stuff them “lying down” instead of standing upright. Also, I make the rice ahead of time in my handy-dandy rice cooker. Then it’s at the ready to throw in the simple stuffing mixture when you’re cooking. I’ll use a leek instead of an onion. The classic recipe calls for ground beef, but you could certainly use chicken, turkey, even canned beans. If you’ve got extra greens lying around, this is a good place to get those in too – add at the end of cooking the beef, just until wilted. Use whatever cheese you love – fontina, pepper jack, smoked mozzarella? Our entire dinner will be in these cute little stuffed pepper packages.

Wednesday – mmmm…cheese toasts

golden potato-leek soup with cheddar toasts  (Cooking Light)

This Cooking Light version of potato-leek soup is deceptively rich and buttery. Surprise! It has just one tablespoon of butter and a little bit of milk or cream. It sure doesn’t lack in flavor though – fresh thyme and just-picked potatoes and leeks make all the difference.  You can make it as chunky or smooth as you like when you’re mashing at the end of cooking. Don’t skip the cheddar toasts, as they’re really delicious dunkers. Especially good with a sharp or extra robust cheese – Tillamook extra sharp or Beecher’s flagship cheddar would make excellent choices.

Thursday – sammie night

grilled swiss chard reubens (LA Times)
crudites

I like to occasionally make a reuben when I’m not frantically trying to use up the too many pounds of St. Paddy’s Day corned beef I cooked. This is straight from the deli sliced corned beef (or skip this and just enjoy the melty cheese & greens!). I’ll saute an entire head of my gorgeous swiss chard, with a leek instead of an onion. A recipe I’ve used for the “1000 Island” component of a reuben calls for sweet chili sauce (instead of cocktail) to be added to mayo – really delic. The rest is easy – just a good rye (or whatever!) bread, some butter on the outside, and grill away. I love my cast iron grill skillet for this, with the sandwich piled with another heavy skillet on top. A scrumptious, oozy reuben, and it’s not even March! Check the fridge – whatever veggies are hanging out, chop them up for a raw veggie platter, adding a favorite made-by-someone-else dip alongside.

“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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