may 2 weekly menu | spring table

Farm Fresh

asparagus, cilantro, collard greens, green onions, kale, mint, leeks, mushrooms, radishes, rhubarb, spinach

What’s for Dinner?

When the first layer of my CSA box reveals itself as a collage of  cilantro, green onions, chives, and radishes, of course I know I’m in business for Cinco de Mayo. It became clearer as I really unearthed their vast volume, not to mention some mighty tasty other gems, that we would also be celebrating Seis de Mayo, Siete de Mayo, and Ocho de Mayo. Mexican heaven! This along spring’s first asparagus delivery, some truly tasty experimentation as to whether rhubarb is a fruit or a veggie (both – botanically a vegetable, but generally eaten as a fruit so classified as such,) and my first ever Derby Day celebration. Fresh mint julep anyone?

Friday – blazer mania (cont.), firsts all around  

shaved asparagus pizza (The Smitten Kitchen, Deb Perleman)
rhubarb crisp (Mark Bittman, The New York times)

Saturday – derby day 

mint julep (Serious Eats)

classic collard greens (New York Times)
buttermilk fried (not) chicken (The Smitten Kitchen, Deb Perleman)
chive biscuits (Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Family Style)

derby pie (The Washington Post)

Sunday  – pork + rhubarb

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

Monday – 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)

Tuesday –  minty mexican meatballs

albondigas soup (Simply Recipes)

Wednesday – beans & greens go Mexican

beans ‘n greens burritos (Mark Bittman, Food Matters)
radish salsa (Mark Bittman)

Thursday – whole bowl

mixed veggie rice bowl


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Friday – blazer mania (cont.), firsts all around  

shaved asparagus pizza (The Smitten Kitchen, Deb Perleman)
rhubarb crisp (Mark Bittman, The New York Times)

IMG_1084

I’ve heard rumblings about tonight’s historic significance. Could be the first time in too long, I hear, that the team advances past the first round. Much more interesting and important to me is my CSA box filled with my first spring farm fresh asparagus AND rhubarb – thank you Hood River Organic! I can’t wait to dive in, so our TV tray, Trail Blazers celebration will be an extra special one indeed. The pizza tonight will be piled with thinly shaved asparagus, which becomes just lightly charred in the oven. I’ll add a healthy dose of chives, fresh from the box also. Just a little olive oil, salt & pepper, and a sprinkling of two cheeses…it looks really amazing. Deb Perleman describes it as “tangled asparagus” atop pizza – I love it. I’ll make one pizza exactly as the recipe states, wanting to taste the simplicity of the no-sauce, asparagus, and cheese. Let this prior Pizza Night post be your step-by-step guide for easy homemade crust, or pick up a ready-made version from your local pizzeria or market. For dessert, my first spring rhubarb crisp! Not only a worthy game-night treat, it’s highly symbolic for me. Crisps, cobblers, crumbles, and pies, all filled with delectable Northwest fruit, begin now. A seasonal fruit crisp really can’t be beat in terms of its absolute ease and out-of-this-world taste and texture. This version has just a bit sugar and lemon or orange zest, topped with a crumbly topping of rolled oats, nuts (optional), cinnamon, butter, and brown sugar. 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, given our favorite household chant. It goes something like, “Double the crumble!”

More seasonal pizza ideas:

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
dandelion greens, Italian sausage, and fontina cheese pizza
spinach and chive pizza
grilled pizza with kale, mushroom, & sausage
pizza with green garlic & arugula
pizza bianca with goat cheese & chard
classic margherita pizza
kale, sundried tomato, & feta pizza
roasted red potato pizza with taleggio, roasted leeks & pancetta
sausage, leek, & shitake pizza
potato & rosemary pizza 
old town’s dragon lady (mushrooms, leeks, etc.)
pizza with kale raab, leeks, and olives 
pizza with fennel sausage, braising greens and chives
egg, ham, and spinach pizza

Saturday – derby day

mint julep (Serious Eats)

classic collard greens (New York Times)
buttermilk fried (not) chicken (The Smitten Kitchen, Deb Perleman)
chive biscuits (Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Family Style)

derby pie (The Washington Post)

I’ve never actually celebrated the Kentucky Derby (or even watched it, I don’t think…) but there’s a first for everything. I’m even getting a hat! When one receives a bouquet of mint, which fills the house with its unmistakable fragrance, it’s time for a mint cocktail! And given it’s the first Saturday in May, the timing couldn’t be more perfect. So, my dinner is designed around the (fresh mint) drink; the rest falls into place with my fresh veggies on hand and a Southern flair in the air. Couldn’t bring myself to deep fry the chicken (not necessarily for the health concern – more the mess!), but this oven browned chicken looks to be a stellar substitute. Couldn’t be simpler – the chicken marinates in a seasoned buttermilk combination for up to two days! This is what makes it remarkably tender and flavorful. The good news is, this leaves more time for making (and enjoying) that mint julep! Bourbon, sugar, and ice are the only other ingredients besides fresh mint. The rest of the Derby Day meal is easily rounded out with some traditional collard greens and buttermilk biscuits. I’ll use leeks, instead of an onion, in my greens. Our fresh chives will up the ante on traditional biscuits – so worth a Saturday (or any day) celebration! IMG_6748And I’m so excited to make my very own Derby Pie! It’s made an appearance at several Christmas celebrations we’ve shared with friends. Because we ate it in front of a decorated tree and a raging fire, I failed to fully connect to its equestrian race day significance. (I’m still not so sure how it became part of their Christmas celebration…?) It’s simple (especially this version, with a purchased crust – go for it!), with fillings and taste that appeal to all. I think it’s kind of like chocolate chip cookies in a pie crust, but I’m certainly lacking sophistication here. Butter, chocolate, walnuts, crust, can’t go wrong! Serve with a dollop of whipped cream, and enjoy the race!

Sunday – pork + rhubarb

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

So here’s our rhubarb-as-a-veggie dinner. To the grill, this time with a classic combination of pork and cooked rhubarb. Don’t tell anyone, 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, the recipe goes gourmet and adds a red onion (I’ll do a couple chopped leeks)  and some vinegar. This rhubarb chutney alongside the grilled pork is a combination you’ll not soon forget. I’ll skip the butter lettuce salad side, and add my own simple spinach and mushroom (+ a healthy 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). My mushrooms will be sliced portabellas, which have been lightly oiled and sprinkled with salt and pepper, cooked along with the pork on the BBQ. I’m sure to grill all of my portabellas tonight, as they’ll keep nicely and come in handy later this week.

Monday –  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 festive and fruitful cocktail. Not a lot of cooking going on in this weeknight meal. Pick up some steak (I may just use my meaty 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 Southwestern or Mexican dinner. Cut the kale into very thin strips, add some Mexican cheese (cotija, queso fresco, manchego…), cilantro, chives, green onions, sliced radishes, and some pumpkin or sunflower seeds. A sliced avocado would also be right at home here too. Dress it a little ahead of time to tenderize the kale a bit.

Tuesday – minty mexican meatballs

albondigas soup (Simply Recipes)

Once I learned that there was a Mexican-inspired soup featuring the flavor combination of fresh cilantro and mint, and that it’s customary to switch up the vegetable ingredients depending on the season, I knew I’d hit the dinner jackpot. There are various versions out there, but all rolling mini meatball with ground beef, mint, and rice, then plopping them in boiling broth, already stocked with veggies. I’m using my leek instead of the onion, and replacing their suggested veggies with chopped kale and mushrooms. My hunch is this bit of comfort food will be a warm welcome amidst the return of the cold and wet.

Wednesday – beans & greens go Mexican

beans ‘n greens burritos (Mark Bittman, Food Matters)
radish salsa (Mark Bittman)

This is one of those speedy weeknight recipes that lends itself to all sorts of whims and wishes. For the greens, I’ll use my spinach and maybe some kale as well. What looks like an absolute TON of greens wilts way down upon cooking, and you’ll want to end up with enough to stuff at least four of those giant tortillas wrapped up in a nice burrito package. Combine the burritos with another fresh, crunchy, and delicious radish salsa, this one packed with green onions (I’m chopping mine finely and using instead of a red onion). Add in a toppings bar for people to customize as they wish – grilled portabella mushrooms, cheese, olives, chopped cilantro, chives, and our favorite ready-made salsas will be in the line-up for us.

Thursday – whole bowl

mixed veggie rice bowl

Thursday, “potpourri night” again at my house, and the concept of the “whole bowl” lends itself beautifully here! Think of the beloved Whole Bowl food cart, where their motto is “love in a bowl”. Grains, greens, and toppings at my whole bowl. Plus beans. I’ll just saute up any of what I have hanging around at the end of my veggie week – maybe little bits of asparagus and some collards, spinach, or kale? Possibly even some mushrooms. In a butter/olive oil combo, with some garlic and salt and pepper -that’s it! Start each bowl out with some brown rice, black beans, and the veggie combo, then let everyone go crazy with their own Southwestern-ish toppings:  diced avocado, grated cheese, sour cream, olives, salsas, plus big sprinklings of our farm fresh radishes, green onions, cilantro, chives, to top it all off. For a real treat, sneak in a visit to the real Whole Bowl, and bring home some of their amazing, secret weapon Tali Sauce.

 “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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