December 5 weekly menu | fall table

Farm Fresh

beets, carrots, celeriac, garlic, onions, parsnips, potatoes, winter squash

What’s for Dinner?

I’ve got a bit of a squash situation. Doesn’t seem to matter that I cooked it like it was going out of style over Thanksgiving. Or that my whole family (mostly) buys into the devour-squash mission. Or that I even occasionally slyly slip one to a friend (or stranger) that looks like they might enjoy a fine squash. I’ve still got an envy-of-the-town squash centerpiece. Which is being replaced, now, with pomegranates or paper whites. So, I’m throwing squash-fest 2014 this week.

I began by getting a head start on a few make-ahead, holiday meals that could travel. Like many, we’ll pack the car full of winter gear and gifts. And frozen soups, stews, and casseroles! It was nice to make good use of the cute little sugar pumpkins that had graced my counter for a bit. A pumpkin and chicken curry seems just thing thing to freeze now, and enjoy in a couple weeks, with zero effort (of course, I skipped the other veggies in favor of just diced pumpkin!) This week’s menu will follow suit…winter squash galore. A fine way to celebrate the end of another lovely CSA season with Sauvie Island Organics, who has for piled my table high with amazing farm-fresh veggies since spring. Come next Friday, I’ll be listening for the Hood River Organic “veggie van,” eager to greet my bountiful box when the doorbell rings!

Friday – TV trays, christmas movie, & pizza (kind of)

squash and caramelized onion galette (Deb Perelman, The Smitten Kitchen)

Saturday – feliz navidad

winter squash & black bean enchiladas (Pinch of Yum)
wintery margaritas (Relish)

Sunday  – soup for linner

squash-white bean soup (Cooking Light)
cornmeal scones (Cooking Light)

pumpkin spice cake with honey frosting (Martha Stewart)

Monday – weeknight gourmet

parsnip and celery root cake (Nigel Slater, Tender)
roasted winter squash halves (Cook’s Illustrated, The New Best Recipe)
roasted chicken

Tuesday – salad(s) night

caesar salad with winter squash (The Seattle Times)
celeriac remoulade (Alice Waters, The Art of Simple Food)
beet and avocado salad (Alice Waters, Chez Panisse)
hearty country loaf

Wednesday –  root vegetable mania

roasted winter vegetables (Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa)
roasted salmon with butter (Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything)

Thursday – sammie night

squash, manchego, & balsamic onion grilled cheese (Food Network)
lemony grated carrot & seed salad (SIO Blog)


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Friday –  TV trays, christmas movie, & pizza

squash and caramelized onion galette (Deb Perelman, The Smitten Kitchen)

IMG_1084

I’ve been searching for the opportunity to repeat this galette for some time. And here it is. Christmas movie night premier, and a lone freshly delivered butternut squash. I need to give this pastry dough a shot, but by all means, just pick up a pre-made version at your local market. Just about anything can grace the insides – sweet, savory, & everything in between. And the crust is so darned forgiving. None of this fancy fluting or lattice work. You basically just spread your chosen filling on the inside, then fold over (in any quick, messy way) the dough edges. We’ve got caramelized onions and the squash for the sweet, a pinch cayenne for the spicy, and some fontina cheese and sage leaves make the amazing savory.

Other seasonal pizza combinations:

winter squash and wild mushroom 
leek, crimini mushroom, and prosciutto
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
grilled pizza with kale, mushroom, & sausage
shaved asparagus & parmesan pizza
pizza bianca with goat cheese & chard
fresh ricotta and red onion pizza
sweet onion pizza
pizza with grilled fennel and parmesan
kale, sundried tomato, & feta pizza
ricotta and gremolata pizza
parsley pesto & potato pizza 
roasted red potato pizza with taleggio, roasted leeks & pancetta
roasted acorn squash & gorgonzola pizza 
winter squash pizza 

Saturday – feliz navidad

winter squash & black bean enchiladas (Pinch of Yum)
wintery margaritas (Relish)

Tree Day. It’s not really all it’s cracked up to be. Oh, the ending is perfectly lovely. It’s that darned beginning (the procurement), and never-ending middle (the decorating). I lucked out this year, in a big way…my son was invited on his friend’s Christmas tree outing! All I had to do was send him off with twenty bucks (my kind of tree already!) and some wishful size and shape parameters, which were promptly ignored. What landed on my porch is sure to be perfect. After the decorating. But, no matter how many Christmas carols you play, or how much hot chocolate you whip up, the event is ripe with hassles. The endless stream of bins from the basement, tree stand issues, broken ornaments, and non-functioning lights. One thing I won’t have to worry about, though, is dinner. I’ll whip up this pan of these lickety-split vegetarian enchiladas in the morning; come dinner-time, they’ll just need to be popped in the oven for baking. I’ll skip the homemade tomatillo sauce, and pick up a favorite jarred version from the store. I’ve got these cute little “pie pumpkins”; I’ll use one as just another type of winter squash. I always find it easier to pre-roast any squash I’m using first. Just cut in in half and place it face down in a hot oven until it’s easier to peel and cut into chunks. I’ve also discovered the wonder of a high quality vegetable peeler. I got a dandy new one (after losing the old…how does this happen?) that makes easy work of taking the peel off of a winter squash. I’ll skip the green pepper and mushrooms, adding a can of drained and rinsed black beans instead. Chopped chicken would be a welcome addition too, either in place of the black beans, or right alongside. Toppings will include freshly chopped cilantro, a couple types of salsa, and maybe some sour cream or plain yogurt. And it seems a perfect evening to whip up some wintery, citrusy margaritas. They don’t exactly scream Christmas, but makes for a fun Tree Day nonetheless.

Sunday – soup for linner

squash-white bean soup (Cooking Light)
cornmeal scones (Cooking Light)

pumpkin spice cake with honey frosting (Martha Stewart)

It’s one of those strange evenings where the only time to gather and feed the troops is late afternoon. Ib the bright side, we’ll dine in the daylight! We’re off to the first of many holiday performances, which don’t always seem to schedule around precise mealtimes. Soup is perfect for this, as it can stand in for nearly any post-pancakes meal. This soup recipe uses our celeriac (I’ll use instead of celery), squash (any kind!) and onions in a delightful way. The bacon makes it rich and hearty, but this could easily be skipped. It has a wonderful balance of spices, and a nice salty crunch with the sprinkling of pumpkin seeds. The cornmeal scones are a welcome accompaniment, but a hearty bakery loaf could stand in. And because there’s sure to be some rumbly tummies upon our ten p.m. arrival home, I think this pumpkin cake with honey cream cheese frosting (YUM!) will be the ultimate seasonal antidote. You could make it in a loaf pan as well, and skip the frosting. But why would you?

Monday – weeknight gourmet  

parsnip and celery root cake (Nigel Slater, Tender)
roasted winter squash halves (Cook’s Illustrated, The New Best Recipe)
roasted chicken

This is one of those dinners that seems downright gourmet, and undoable for a weeknight. Not so! I’ll purchase the pre-roasted chicken from a favorite market, stick the cut-in-half delicatas in the oven, and spend the minimal energy required on the parsnip and celeriac “cake”. This is my favorite go-to recipe for delicata squash. I’ll cook them for less time, as a delicata is quicker to soften than an acorn (or any other winter squash). If you’ve got fresh sage, adding a little to some browned butter is so worth it. The Nigel Slater carrot and celeriac recipe seems like a lightened up gratin. Besides our veggies, it uses just butter, broth, and thyme. It’s prepared in a very rustic way, just tossed together in a roasting pan and cooked until tender and browned, maybe about an hour. So start this going first, get the squash baking part way through, and put your feet up until this weeknight feast is ready!

Tuesday – salad(s) night

caesar salad with winter squash (The Seattle Times)
celeriac remoulade (Alice Waters, The Art of Simple Food)
beet and avocado salad (Alice Waters, Chez Panisse)
hearty country loaf

It’s been too long, with memories of summertime salad nights waning. Tonight, I’m reinventing in cooler weather style. I was delivered an assortment of veggies just right for this. I’ll splurge and purchase some romaine for the caesar. We love this winter spin on the classic caesar – any winter squash will do. Just par-bake, then peel and cut. Purchase your favorite croutons – so many people do them well now, I don’t bother making my own. And I do anchovy paste instead of fillets, and halve the amount – seems to be a bit mellower and more family friendly. One teaspoon paste is equal to one fillet. A tart and crunchy celeriac salad will be my second salad. Of course, Alice Waters bring us the no-frills, all-flavor version, making full use of this crispy cool-weather veggie. It’s dressed simply with  a simple lemony vinaigrette; use creme fraiche, plain Greek  yogurt, or a quick mayo made with egg yolk and olive oil. Critical weeknight tip for the beet salad:  roast the beets ahead of time. Any time. But don’t wait until the often frenetic dinner hour – you’ll very likely skip ‘em. Believe me, I speak from some experience of beets straight to the compost bin! BUT, if you take an hour to roast the beets while you’re home doing something else (addressing holiday cards!), you’re set for whatever you might want to do with them. (Quickly peel and slice after they’ve cooled.)  I don’t put anything on the beets while roasting – just wrap tightly in foil, and cook. This Alice Waters beet and avocado salad is a cinch, with the beets ready to roll. Simplify the dressing as much as you want – often my beet salads are just dressed with olive oil and vinegar (any kind). But citrus with beets is amazing, and a winter classic, so I’ll probably take the extra minute for the zest. I’ll use all of my beets, and just one avocado. Put this one in the back pocket for Christmas Eve or Christmas – festive and fabulous! I’m sure to have some roasted chicken leftover from last night; a salad night like this is a prime opportunity to either shred some and put it in the caesar, or set it out out sliced alongside the bread.

Wednesday – root vegetable mania

roasted winter vegetables (Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa)
roasted salmon with butter (Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything)

This Ina recipe is full of color, flavor, and texture. The real bonus, it’s a “kitchen sink” kind of dish, where you can toss in any veggie you have hanging around. Root veggies are best, as they all seem to have about the same cooking time. I’ll use lots of potatoes, carrots, squash and parsnips, tossed only with olive oil, salt and pepper. Add a piece of salmon, roasting at the same time, and you’ve got a warm, healthy, scrumptious mid-week dinner.

Thursday – sammie night

squash, manchego, & balsamic onion grilled cheese (Food Network)
lemony grated carrot & seed salad (SIO Blog)

I know I’ll cheat on this, and use pre-roasted, peeled, sliced squash. But it’s hard to resist that spicy, sweet oven-roasting, so I may just pop it in the oven for a few minutes, giving it a nice coating of the maple syrupy, chili peppery concoction. I’ll definitely caramelize one of my onions with a bit of balsamic to get an amazing spread. People can opt in or out of the almonds, as their taste buds desire. My trusty ridged cast iron skillet (with another cast iron topping the sandwiches) whips up two paninis at a time. And although I mentioned that I had a “squash situation”, it’s a given with a CSA that there’s a perpetual carrot overflow as well. This easy grated carrot salad has a winning combination of salty sunflower seeds and a tangy lemon vinaigrette.

“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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