may 9 weekly menu | spring table

Farm Fresh

asparagus, chives, collard greens, leeks, mushrooms, mustard greens, radishes, spinach, sunchokes

What’s for Dinner?

We’ve got yet another humble marker to the end of the root vegetable season…dandelion greens! To some, dandelion is a pesky yard weed. To others, a nutritionally packed delicacy. They are delightfully bitter, enjoyed especially when paired with something rich (think cheese, bacon, etc.). I’ll use them two ways this week – once on pizza! And once as a salad with a warmed, garlicky vinaigrette. I also stumbled across the little known fact that the second week in May is National Burger Week. I just couldn’t skip it; mid-week burgers, three ways, in celebration. 

Friday – creme d’asperges

cream of asparagus soup (Gourmet)
roast chicken
baguette

Saturday – pizza, tv trays, & blazers

dandelion greens, Italian sausage, and fontina cheese pizza

Sunday  – mom’s choice

breakfast in bed:

tall, vanilla, non-fat, extra-hot latte
strawberry yogurt parfaits
scrambled eggs with ricotta, & chives (Bon Appetit)

no-fuss dinner:

pasta with brie, mushrooms, and spinach (Real Simple)
grilled asparagus (Simply Recipes)

rhubarb crumb bars (Martha Stewart)

Monday – game night burgers

grilled beef & mushroom burgers (Simply Recipes)
dandelion greens with warm balsamic vinaigrette (Whole Foods Market)

Tuesday –  burgers, sammie style

sunchoke-sundried tomato panini (Feast)
crudites & dip

Wednesday – veggie burgers + fries

simplest bean burgers (Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything)
garlic roasted sunchokes (The Kitchn)

Thursday – heat & eat

lasagna with collard greens (Martha Rose Schulman, NYT)


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Friday – creme d’asperges

cream of asparagus soup (Gourmet)
roast chicken
baguette

With a Friday forecast of wet and chilly, I’ll abandon my natural inclination and temptation to devour asparagus in its purest, most natural form, maybe grilled or broiled with just a sprinkling of olive oil and salt. Tonight, it’s comfort food we’ll need, in the form of this quintessential spring soup. It is mostly made up of just lots and lots of farm fresh asparagus. Plus, a bit of butter, onion (I’ll use leeks), & broth, pureed until it’s silky smooth. With its fancy French name, it’s nice to know the ingredient list is so humble. These are times that I adore my immersion blender – just stick it in the pot and go to town pureeing, adding just a little cream (milk would work) and lemon juice at the end. A sprinkling of fresh-snipped chives (I’ve got them coming out my ears!) would be amazing. Add a made-by-someone-else roast chicken and a fresh baguette for the irresistible dipping. Comfort food galore!

Saturday – pizza, tv trays, & blazers  

dandelion greens, Italian sausage, and fontina cheese pizza

I delayed homemade pizza night to Saturday this week, knowing how well it would jive with the weekend’s game watching (do we really want to watch?!?). Let this prior Pizza Night post be your inspiration and step-by-step instructional. This week, my first dandelion greens delivery have inspired me to return to this Ivy Manning recipe from her Farm to Table cookbook. Dandelion greens on pizza?!?  Ivy doesn’t steer us wrong too often – this combo is a winner. Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan. Add some sliced garlic until it just barely begins to brown. Remove the garlic, and add the greens, cooking for 30 seconds just to wilt. Season with salt and pepper. That’s it. Add these garlic-infused, earthy greens to your topping line-up. Ivy’s combination suggests browned Italian sausage and grated fontina cheese (Willamette Valley Cheese Company would be a great choice) – sounds good to me! 

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
shaved asparagus pizza 

Sunday –  mom’s choice

breakfast in bed:

tall, vanilla, non-fat, extra-hot latte
strawberry yogurt parfaits
scrambled eggs with ricotta, & chives (Bon Appetit)

no-fuss dinner:

pasta with brie, mushrooms, and spinach (Real Simple)
grilled asparagus (Simply Recipes)

rhubarb crumb bars (Martha Stewart)

One can dream, right? Well, if there’s even a remote chance of such a morning indulgence, here’s a menu anyone could accomplish! Yes, the fancified latte may have to be replaced by a plain old cup of joe. Fine by me! And with a trip to the farmer’s market to grab those sweet, early strawberries, what fun to put them in a dessert glass or bowl, layering with yogurt-o-choice (a little honey and real vanilla bean go far in making plain yogurt feel awfully special occasion!). Plain old scrambled eggs are jazzed up here with farm fresh chives and ricotta – even the youngest little kitchen helpers can be head chefs here! I’ll only instruct a doubling of the recipe, and put in my request for the accompanying toasted baguette. Of course, if life happens, and we end up with a box of maple bars to go with my coffee, I won’t be too sad.

My kitchen-minus-the-mom dinner choice slyly stars a pasta dish my kids will be highly motivated to prepare. They beg for this, all year round – where you put the chunks of brie into the warmed pasta at the end, and it melts and oozes and spreads throughout the dish. I’ll suggest they consider using our leeks instead of the onion, and our spinach instead of the arugula…we’ll see what happens. Could end up just pasta and melty brie. Who’s complaining? As to the question of what’s going on the grill…I’ll surprise absolutely no one when my loud and clear request is simply the freshest spring asparagus. I can so easily abandon the idea of a big juicy steak, in favor of a favorite veggie, especially one so perfect for the grill. Lightly olive oiled and salted, it takes only a few minutes to gain those gorgeous grill marks, a tender inside, and a smokey outside crunch. This homey yet gourmet meal easily allows room for a seasonal, special occasion dessert. Mom’s choice:  rhubarb bars. For motivation, I’ll give a little reminder of their slight resemblance to the all familiar tollhouse bars – simple, sweet-filled, gooey goodness in a pan. Plus streusel topping! That’ll get ’em cooking! 

Monday –  burgers, the real deal

grilled beef & mushroom burgers (Simply Recipes)
dandelion greens with warm balsamic vinaigrette (Whole Foods Market)

Normally when I mention “mushroom burgers”, it’s a safe assumption that I’m referring to a no-beef version. A veggie burger concoction, heavy on the mushrooms, or even just a plain old portabella burger. But given that it’s National Burger Week (who knew?) I figured we needed at least one “real” burger! This one feels a bit retro, with the mounds of grilled onions (I’ll use leeks) and mushrooms piled atop a seasoned burger dripping with melted swiss. This will be extraordinary in its own right – I’m skipping the dried mushrooms, and making the most of my fresh. I’ll use my dandelion greens in a salad on the side. Any innate bitterness will be toned down and enhanced with a garlic-infused oil which is the base for a simple, warm vinaigrette. Adding your favorite cheese to this salad seems like a winning idea.

Tuesday – burgers, sammie style

sunchoke-sundried tomato panini (Feast)
crudites & dip

I’ve got my fair share of sunchokes hanging around. No matter how many we seem to eat, there’s more this spring. Finding this recipe gave me some hope of clearing the crisper of these funny-looking tubers. And it looks amazing! I’ll double the batch, especially because without having to peel the sunchokes, seems like a snap to put together. Just a roasting of the sunchokes, then combining the other tasty ingredients (including sun-dried tomatoes, cannellini beans, and spanish olives!) in a food processor. Tonight, this spread will star in grilled paninis. Spread on some hearty country bread, along with grated cheese (fontina, sharp cheddar, fresh goat, the sky’s the limit) and a sprinkling of chives. I’ll cook mine up in my trusty cast iron grill pan, weighting them with another pan. If you’re determined to stick to the letter-of-the-law with this National Burger Week, this would be a super spread on a turkey burger. Used as a dip, a bowl on the side is sure to disappear in a jiffy, when surrounded by farm fresh radishes, asparagus, and mushrooms, or whatever your crudites of choice may be.

Wednesday – veggie burgers + fries

simplest bean burgers (Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything)
garlic roasted sunchokes (The Kitchn)

I’m a sucker for a good veggie burger recipe. Here’s a 20 minute, weeknight version, using canned beans. Your choice – black, kidney, lentil, chickpeas, whatever. And I’m following his bean-and-spinach version. Bittman recommends a cast-iron skillet; if it’s warm and you want to be outside, toss these on the grill, with a light oiling first to avoid any stuck or broken burgers. Our toppings bar will feature chopped farm fresh chives, grilled and softened leeks, and cheese-slices-of-choice. Roasted sunchokes will stand in as our “french fries”. Not quite, but as a home (healthier) version, pretty darned good, especially with the unique slightly sweet, artichoke-ey flavor. I’ll forgo the rosemary, and sprinkle generously with chives when they’re just out of the oven.

Thursday – heat & eat

lasagna with collard greens (Martha Rose Schulman, NYT)

I’m leaving the nest for a few days. Given no one else seems particularly interested in converting my CSA veggie box to dinner, I’ll prepare a few dishes ahead of time to further the cause. It’s a bit of a crap shoot, whether that foil-wrapped dish with attached baking instructions will seem like just too much cooking, but it’s worth a shot. Lasagna is always a good make-ahead candidate. This one uses no-boil noodles, canned sauce, and barely blanched collard green leaves, and is relatively simple to assemble. And healthy to boot – the collards stand in for the additional pasta that is usually used, and the recipe is light on the cheese front. Choose your favorite pre-made marinara sauce – if you have a  hankering for italian sausage, saute it up and throw it in with the 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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