October 24 weekly menu | fall table

Farm Fresh

carrots, gourmet greens, kale, kohlrabi, onions, parsley, sweet peppers, winter squash

What’s for Dinner?

I was just crossing my fingers that somehow, someway, through this seemingly never-ending onslaught of rain, my veggies would make it to my doorstep. Possibly by boat, I was guessing. Well, indeed I do have a table full of fall bounty, all I can really think about is warming soups and consoling casseroles. With no end to the deluge in sight, I’ll plan for comfort in the kitchen, in a really big (pot) kind of way.

Friday – forget the pizza

baked mac ‘n cheese + winter squash (Food Network, Ellie Krieger)
apple-kohlrabi slaw (Grant Butler, The Oregonian FoodDay)

Saturday – soup’s on

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

carrot cake with cider and olive oil (Deb Perleman, The Smitten Kitchen)

Sunday – kickin’ off the pot pie season

chicken & veggie pot pie (Cooking Light)
simple greens with red wine vinaigrette (Martha Stewart)

Monday – nat’l beer day, chili style

chunky vegetarian chili (Whole Foods Market)
cornbread with beer (All Recipes)
beer!

Tuesday indian veggie bliss

curried lentil stew with veggies (Gourmet)
basmati rice

Wednesday – delicate & weeknight do-able

delicata squash soup (A Chow Life)
roasted chicken
crusty bread

Thursday – soup ‘n sammie night

carrot soup (Alice Waters, Chez Panisse Vegetables)
gremolata, sliced chicken, & fontina panini

____________________________________________________

Friday – forget pizza night

baked mac ‘n cheese + winter squash (Food Network, Ellie Krieger)
apple-kohlrabi slaw (Grant Butler, The Oregonian FoodDay)

Pizza night on hold. With an evening of soccer in the downpour on tap, we must arrive home to comfort. Warm, cheesey, ooey, gooey, comfort by the name of mac ‘n cheese. The soccer-player’s favorite, and scaled up to please the adults (and hold some nutrients!) as well. I baked and pureed my blue hubbard from last week (couldn’t quite get to the last of it…), but any winter squash would be delicious in here. This recipe looks quite straight forward – while I’m boiling the pasta (shells, penne, any shape’ll do), I’ll also be making the quick sauce with the squash, milk and cheeses. I’ll skip the ricotta since I don’t have it, and use my Tillamook extra sharp and my Beecher’s flagship. Get creative here, or just use what’s in your deli drawer. The pasta and cheesey squash sauce (or is that squashy cheese sauce?) get mixed together, tossed in a baking pan, and sprinkled with a little parmesan and breadcrumbs. For a make-ahead salad, this slaw features Blossom Vinegar’s apple-jalapeno variety – there are many, which I love to pick up as gifts throughout the season. Of course, you could just use regular cider vinegar in the dressing. I’ll forgo the fennel this time; my thinly sliced kohlrabi (maybe half a head) will be added to crispy apples, sweet peppers, and farm fresh parsley for a crunchy, flavorful fall salad that loves to be dressed ahead to soak in the flavors. Walking in the door, late and presumably wet, all that’s left is a mere twenty minutes of mac ‘n cheese heating in the oven. Pretty much the time it takes to get the TV trays out and choose another (awful) scary Halloween movie.

Saturday – soup’s on

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

carrot cake with cider and olive oil (Deb Perleman, The Smitten Kitchen)

Kind of starting things backwards this week. Normally I’d put a soup like this at the end of my CSA week, in a “use what you have left” fashion. Minestrone soup is perfect for that! This week I’ll have my pick-of-the-veggie litter when assembling this Alice Waters’ classic. In looking at the recipe, I’ll probably add some peeled and diced delicata squash, use both leeks and onions, opt for canned tomatoes instead of fresh, and skip the summer green beans and zucchini. How about some sweet pepper? Instead of chard, I’ll chop up one of my heads of kale – same idea. Her recipe is adaptable to the season – truly whatever you’ve got and like, keeping beans, veggie, and broth proportions in mind. Be sure to finish with a good-sized handful of fresh chopped parsley along with that grated parm! And I’m not going to let this newly published carrot cake recipe pass me by…Deb describes it as “an October farmer’s market haul in a loaf pan”. Lots of freshly grated carrots, pressed apple cider, olive oil replacing any butter, and just the right combination of the usual fall spices. Looks to be heavenly, but not overly sweet. Perfect for tonight’s dessert, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. And still perfect for tomorrow’s breakfast, lightly toasted and slathered with butter.

Sunday – kickin’ off the pot pie season

chicken & veggie 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. In my house this goes from early fall to late spring, the fillings rotating and changing with the seasons. 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 carrots, fresh onions and leeks instead of the pearls, cubed kohlrabi instead of parsnips and celeriac, and winter squash instead of potatoes –  absolutely packed with farm fresh goodness. Even my parsley gets used in the sauce. The cooking modification I’ll make is to sauté the onions and leeks first in a little butter/olive oil combo, add the chopped veggies to thoroughly mix in and allow to begin to soften, and finally add the broth for final cooking. And although 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 – national beer day, chili style

chunky vegetarian chili (Whole Foods Market)
cornbread with beer (All Recipes)
beer!

Bet you didn’t know it was American Beer Day on October 27th!?! (Believe it or not, within the same week are: National Bologna Day, National Good & Plenty Day, and National Mince Meat Pie Day. Suffice it to say, I choose what to celebrate quite selectively). Beer Day, for sure, though. Especially when I the first thing that came to mind is this delicious Whole Foods recipe for a chili packed with two types of beans, bulgar, and veggies of your choice. And a beer! The bulgar adds a wonderful texture, converting even those prone to thinking chili is not chili without MEAT. This week, I’ll use a few carrots, my delicata squash, and my sweet peppers. I’ll forsake my normal cornbread choices (which often includes packaged Bob’s Red Mill mix) and make this version with beer in the batter. It’ll add great flavor, along with the jalapeños & green onions (I’ll use a leek I’ve got hanging around). Now add a little northwest brew sampling, and I think we’ve done this holiday (?) right.

Tuesday – 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’ll use  head of kale instead of spinach, and will ditch the frozen peas and use some chopped sweet red peppers. The final little hot spice oil is yummy, but not at all essential. While cilantro adds a magnificent flavor to Indian food, you could use parsley as a nice, wintry change of pace. I’ll hope to pick up some freshly made naan from an Indian restaurant for the perfectly authentic dipper.

Wednesday – delicate & weeknight do-able

delicata squash soup (A Chow Life)
roasted chicken
crusty bread

This delicata squash soup has a rich faux creaminess; it has zero cream and just a touch of butter. A small crumbling of blue cheese provides the magic! The detailed steps of the recipe seem to have disappeared off of the world wide web. No problem…since there’s truly minimal ingredients, just improvise the cooking method. I’ll sauté an onion and fresh herbs in the butter, add peeled, cubed  squash, and cook in the broth until tender. Puree in the pot with a good immersion blender, and sprinkle crumbled blue cheese over each individual serving. Add a made by someone else roasted chicken, and some crusty bakery bread for another easy but oh-so satisfying soup night at home.

Thursday – soup ‘n sammie night

carrot soup (Alice Waters, Chez Panisse Vegetables)
gremolata, sliced chicken, & fontina panini

For soup and casserole week finale, I go to the master. Alice Waters’ carrot soup is just as you might imagine – packed with what it’s all about (carrots!), plus onions, butter, & broth. The week is sure to end with lots of parsley left. As opposed to letting it linger in the crisper, whip up a quick batch of gremolata…just a fancy term for the condiment comprised of parsley, lemon zest, and garlic. It has so many uses – alongside chicken, pork, fish; mixed in nearly any soup; sprinkled over pasta with butter and parmesan. And tonight, spread on grilled sammies (and as a soup topper!). Choose a hearty country bread that you love (and, in my house, that will hold up well to the squishing between cast-irons it receives!). With some sliced chicken leftover from last night, and some fontina (or any) cheese, it’s a healthy, nearly effortless meal.

“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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