may 15 weekly menu | spring table

Farm Fresh

arugula, asparagus, chard, cilantro, green garlic, leeks, mushrooms, onions, radishes, spinach

What’s for Dinner?

A pot pourri of spring, that’s what. Still lots of cilantro, radishes and green onions to take us in a Mexican direction. Still fragrant green garlic, for just about anything. And yippee, more asparagus and arugula! With ingredients like this, you can create almost anything. Like salad for an army (or a really packed potluck), chimichurri minus the parsley, and crispy, chewy chocolate chip cookies, in honor of National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day! Oh, wait, those aren’t from the veggie box.

A funny and unprecedented thing happened this week as well. My doorbell rang, my Hood River Organic box greeting me on Friday as usual. There was the regular oohing and aahing, the taking in of the sights and fragrances, and the painstaking putting away (it always takes quite a refrigerator re-arrangement endeavor). Boy was it a surprise, then, when a few hours later, another veggie box appeared! IMG_7990Who knows how this happened?!? What I do know is there’s no send-backs, so now I’ve got quite the challenge cut out for myself. I’ve canceled next week’s delivery, and let’s see what I can do in the make-ahead (and freeze) department to salvage all of this spring bounty.

Friday –  pizza, tv trays, & movie

pizza with green garlic & arugula (Martha Rose Shulman, NYT)

Saturday – pretty enough to share

spinach & strawberry salad with poppyseed dressing (The Kitchn)

Sunday  – spring fling pot pie

spring vegetable pot pie (Ruth Reichl, Gourmet Today)
with cheddar chive biscuit topping

crispy chewy chocolate chip cookies (Deb Perleman, The Smitten Kitchen)

Monday – melty, oozy pasta perfection

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

Tuesday –  beans & greens go mexican

red bean & green grain taco bowl (Deb Perleman, Smitten Kitchen)
radish salsa (Mark Bittman)

Wednesday – chimichurri with a twist

grilled flank steak with cilantro chimichurri (Food Network)
chard salad (Food52)

Thursday – kale & chard sammie

steak and swiss chard paninis (Real Simple)
crunchy radishes


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Friday – pizza, tv trays, & movie

pizza with green garlic & arugula (Martha Rose Shulman, NYT)

IMG_1084This week, I can’t resist the simplicity of farm-fresh green garlic in this easy sauce (basically just saute it with canned tomatoes!). Either follow this recipe for a good looking whole wheat crust, refer to my Pizza Night link for a favorite go-to crust, or pick up ready-to-bake one at your local store or pizzeria. This one is topped modestly with torn fresh mozzarella –  quintessential, rustic Italian. The arugula really makes the pizza, especially a minimalist one like this. Some people think it odd to pile a salad on top of their pizza, but I think it’s delicious, with its peppery but mildly sweet taste! Put the arugula on the pizza just after it’s out of the oven. And really, don’t be shy, pile it on and sprinkle some good quality salt on top. Of course, for those still not quite convinced of the salad-on-pizza concept, serving it atop individual slices works too.

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
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 – pretty enough to share

spinach & strawberry salad with poppyseed dressing (The Kitchn)

Oregon strawberries have made their grand entrance! On a recent trip to the farmer’s market, I was quite amused watching shopper after shopper pile the juicy, fragrant, uniquely-Oregon berries into their produce bags. Only to take them out, pint by pint, and devour them as they perused. I’m not sure anyone actually went home with any berries! I’ll admit it is quite a treat after a winter’s worth of pears and apples. The end-of-school-year potluck frenzy is off and running…I’m going all local, all farm-fresh with a strawberry spinach salad – simple, pretty, and tasty. There are lots of variations of this tried-and-true combination; the basic ingredients beyond the berries and spinach are a good cheese and nut of your choice. Goat cheese provides just the right creamy, tangy complement, and the crunch can come from sliced almonds, toasted hazelnuts, whatever! I’ll double this recipe for a crowd, using both of my giant bunches of spinach. And while you certainly could purchase a bottle of poppyseed dressing, this one here seems quite simple – basically a champagne vinaigrette with some added poppyseeds, adding such a nice texture and subtle flavor.

Sunday – spring fling pot pie

spring vegetable pot pie (Ruth Reichl, Gourmet Today)
with cheddar chive biscuit topping

crispy chewy chocolate chip cookies (Deb Perleman, The Smitten Kitchen)

Who doesn’t love a pot pie?!? I’ve experimented with so many…from the very elaborate, multi-step Cook’s Illustrated versions (with the homemade double crust, of course) to the somewhat simpler “skillet” type, to the cheater’s rendition complete with frozen vegetables and store-bought puff pastry. The great news is, you can’t really go wrong – they’re all good! Veggies you love, meat if you choose, a rich creamy sauce, capped off somehow by a buttery, slightly crunchy pastry. This Ruth Reichl recipe is a winner; I’ll modify it a bit here to encompass my spring vegetables on hand. It’ll be less winter comfort, and more spring fling. Pot pie doesn’t seem complete without those mini pearl onions (a godsend, peeled, from the frozen department!), but skip them if you’d like  (just use veggie or chicken broth) – we’ll more than make up for it. If you do use them, I’d halve the amount as their flavor is quite strong. As for the rest, I’m going to use my leeks instead of the onion, green garlic, thinly sliced spinach or chard, mushrooms, and radishes. Yes, radishes – they add a wonderful and surprising color, texture, and flavor. I’m skipping the celery, parsnip and peas – we’ve got so many other spring veggies. A perfectly legal and tasty topping to this pot pie would be a sheet of frozen puff pastry. If you do this, I like to cut it into eight pieces that roughly resemble what you’d scoop out as a serving. Just makes it a bit easier to dish up. I will forge ahead with the cheddar biscuit topping. Because it is so darned delicious!!! Well worth the very few minutes that it takes to pull together these drop biscuits. Use whatever cheese you’d like, but the extra sharp cheddar is wonderful, and I’ll surely up the ante on the scallions.  For dessert, in celebration of National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day (and because Grandma’s here and suggested she bake some!), these classic crispy-on-the-outside, chewy-in-the-middle, chip-to-dough-ratio-perfect cookies. Nothing fancy, nothing frilly, zero farm fruit or veggies… just good old fashioned chocolate chip cookies – yum.

Monday –  melty, oozy pasta perfection

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

My kids beg for this, all year round, the dish 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 use my leeks instead of the onion, and  spinach or chard instead of the arugula, and my mounds of crimini mushrooms. Many might jump at a big juicy grilled steak as a nice accompaniment. I can’t argue – that’d be delicious. But I vote in favor of a favorite spring veggie, especially one so perfect for the grill…the freshest seasonal asparagus. It chars so easily to perfection, with just a light brushing of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt, and it takes only a few minutes to gain those gorgeous grill marks indicating the tender inside, and smokey outside crunch.

Tuesday – beans & greens go mexican

red bean & green grain taco bowl (Deb Perleman, Smitten Kitchen)
radish salsa (Mark Bittman)

Now I’ve done a million versions of beans and greens, but this was a new one to me! And a new take on the word “greens” which generally means I’d be using a head of collards, kale, chard, spinach or the like. Here, she is literally using pureed cilantro to render the grains green. I still consider this a weekday recipe, but the wheat berries do need to be pre-boiled, for about an hour. They can sit in the fridge for as long as you need. You could also use any other grain that you’re partial to – farro, barley, quinoa, brown rice, etc. It’s Whole Bowl-ish, using spruced up canned red beans, and grains made Mexican rice-ish. It seems it’ll be of those recipes that lends itself to all sorts of whims and wishes. Including the fixings…I’ll use lime slices, shredded cheese, and this delicious radish salsa, packed with green onions (I’m chopping mine finely and using instead of a red onion). I’ll also saute up any bits of veggies that I can see might be on “overload” status. Little bits of asparagus, spinach, chard, leeks, mushrooms, green garlic…any of these would provide fabulous toppings.

Wednesday – chimichurri with a twist

grilled flank steak with cilantro chimichurri (Food Network)
chard salad (Food52)

When I get a bunch of parsley, my favorite thing to do is to get out the food processor and make a batch of chimichurri sauce, an amazingly flavorful and versatile Argentinian sauce. The basics:  parsley, garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes (make it as spicy or not spicy as you’d like). And in some recipes, cilantro as well. This week, given my bunches of cilantro, I’ll try this all-cilantro version. So weekday simple – a flank steak on the barbecue, sliced into thin strips on a serving platter, drizzled heartily with this fresh and fragrant chimichurri sauce. If there’s extra sauce, it’s wonderful on sandwiches and wraps too (see sammie night tomorrow!). You can easily freeze this sauce also, if you won’t be using it right away. For a salad tonight, I’ll use a head of my chard in this wonderful salad I discovered it during the cooler months, when I definitely am more free and inventive with my “salads”, the delicate butter lettuces and gourmet greens having given way to heartier versions such as chard. I adore this Food52 chard salad…the perfect balance of crunchy, garlicky, and zesty. I buy pre-made bakery breadcrumbs, then just sauté those lights in a little more olive oil and garlic. It’s literally a two minute process. I do not use the full quantity of breadcrumbs suggested, maybe half that amount instead, just enough for a good crunch and flavor throughout the salad.

Thursday – kale & chard sammie

steak and swiss chard paninis (Real Simple)
crunchy radishes

Sammie night, using slices of our leftover flank steak from last night. The only pre-cooking required is a sauteeing of the chard (or kale, or any green) in some olive oil and green garlic. Then, with your hearty bread of choice, layer with the garlicky greens, steak, and mozzarella. Don’t forget some of that cilantro chimichurri, if there’s any left. Weigh down the sammies as they’re cooking for a wonderfully golden and crunchy outside. For a side, some farm fresh radishes, with just a sprinkling of salt. Or, do as the French do, and add a little butter as well. Sounds odd, but it is oh-so-good.

 “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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