may 22 weekly menu | spring table

Farm (Somewhat) Fresh

arugula, asparagus, cilantro, dandelion greens, leeks, mushrooms, green onions, radishes, spicy greens, spinach

What’s for Dinner?

As I mentioned, a funny and unprecedented thing happened in my world of veggies last week. I was quite surprised when veggie box number two made its appearance on my front porch. Of course, I’ve since learned it was user error (me) and somehow inadvertently scheduled this. Being that there’s no farm send-backs, I had quite the challenge on my hands. I went straight to work to figure out how to best salvage this magnificent spring bounty, all the while, cooking and enjoying box number one! Pesto was my magic answer. I made a batch a day, of every-which-kind, tossing it into the freezer as I went. Forget the basil pesto variety…we’ve got arugula, dandelion greens, cilantro, spicy greens, and spinach pesto! The great news? Dinner this week is a snap, and so, so tasty with all of those precious pestos!

Also, this is the time to start thinking in earnest about a spring CSA sign-up. Check out my  “what’s a CSA” page for all the nuts and bolts related to CSAs.  The Oregonian has also done a nice job of detailing out some options. The Portland Farmers Market is open in full force as well, bringing so many of these farms to us each week in the Park Blocks and elsewhere around the city. You just can’t escape it…farm fresh is where it’s at! Thank you Hood River Organicfor the months that my table toppled with bounty from our beautiful Columbia Gorge! Stay tuned, next week kicks off my summer CSA’s (Sauvie Island Organics) season (I think they may still have shares available…) I can’t wait!

Friday – pesto pizza, tv trays, & movie

arugula pesto pizza (Cookie + Kate)

Saturday – south of the border pesto

grilled chicken tacos (Bon Appetite)
cilantro pesto (Simply Recipes)
radish salsa (Mark Bittman)

Sunday  – whole bowl, cilantro pesto style

cilantro noodle bowl (101 Cookbooks)

Monday – spinach pesto + shake shack

orzo salad with spinach pesto (The Kitchn)
crudites – radishes & grilled scallions (Food Network)
shake shack burgers (Deb Perleman, The Smitten Kitchen)

rhubarb crumb bars (Martha Stewart)

Tuesday –  kicked up pesto pasta

spicy greens pesto pasta with mushrooms (Bon Appetite)

Wednesday – creme d’asperges + pesto

creamy asparagus & leek soup (Skinny Taste)
roast chicken
baguette

Thursday – pesto sammie night

sliced chicken, mozzarella, & spicy greens pesto  (Bon Appetite)


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Friday – pesto pizza, tv trays, & movie

arugula pesto pizza (Cookie + Kate)

IMG_1084

Given our fondness for fresh arugula on pizza, generally piled high, just out of the oven, it’s natural that I should find a pizza that will simulate the taste but where the arugula could be “put up.” As in an arugula pesto. Here it’s used as a pizza base; it could also be tossed with pasta or spread on a sandwich. The pesto acts as a zesty sauce, with thinly sliced fresh mozzarella spread out on the top. Instead of height-of-summer tomatoes and squash, I’ll be using sun dried tomatoes and sprinkling the finished pies with lots of chopped green onions. I’ll make my go-to, super easy  crusts – let this prior Pizza Night post be your inspiration and step-by-step instructional. Or pick up the ready-for-rolling crusts at your favorite market or pizzeria.

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 

Saturday – south of the border pesto

grilled chicken tacos (Bon Appetite)
cilantro pesto (Simply Recipes)
radish salsa (Mark Bittman)

Here’s an ultra simple way to make fabulous use of lots of cilantro…in a pesto! I whipped this up in five minutes flat, using an entire bunch of farm-fresh cilantro. You can then refrigerate it for up to a week (probably much longer) or toss it in the freezer until the day you use it. The recipe calls for almonds – you could certainly use any nut. I’ll substitute green onions for red, because I’ve go them. One quick and easy batch of pesto, lots of tasty uses. Tonight, crossing our fingers for sunshine, to the grill we’ll go with these grilled chicken tacos. I’ll follow the recipe, minus the salsa verde, which will be replaced by the cilantro pesto. A line-up of south-of-the-border style toppings completes the meal…lime wedges, chopped green onions, grated cheese, and this zesty radish salsa.  It’s packed with green onions (I’m chopping mine finely and using instead of a red onion) and the radishes that even after a week, retain their fabulous crunch and flavor. How about doubling the chicken, making one half of the marinate without the cumin, in preparation for tomorrow night’s cilantro noodle bowls? You could easily add a bit of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and maybe some fresh grated ginger to take it in a bit of an Asian direction.

Sunday –  whole bowl, cilantro pesto style

cilantro noodle bowl (101 Cookbooks)

The cilantro dressing for this soba noodle bowl can be made way ahead, which is why it worked for me. I wanted to use my cilantro when it was at its freshest, so whipping up this easy (pesto-like) dressing in a blender, then tossing it in the freezer, along with pre-grilling the chicken last night, makes quick work of dinner! I used another giant bunch of cilantro, and  substituted a fresh serrano chile for the cayenne pepper. I’m opting for a grilled chicken version of this bowl, if only because I purchased and grilled for two dinners last night – hey, when you see an opportunity for two dinners arising from one prep-time, jump on board. The addition of the farm fresh romanesco will give me something gorgeous to bring home from the Saturday Portland Farmer’s Market. It’s a delightful combination of cauliflower and broccoli, with a gorgeous, vibrant green/yellow hue and the cutest cone-shaped little flowers. Boiling it along with the pasta, as the recipe calls for, works just fine. In the same amount of time (and no additional dishes since I foil-coat my pan!), I’ll drizzle mine with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast in a very hot oven until golden brown instead. I think the added flavor and texture from roasting veggies like this is well worth it. I’ll surely double the soba noodle quantity – enough to hold an entire batch of the dressing, tons of market fresh romanesco, and a pound or so of grilled chicken.

Monday –  spinach pesto + shake shack

orzo salad with spinach pesto (The Kitchn)
crudites – radishes & grilled scallions (Food Network)
shake shack burgers (Deb Perleman, The Smitten Kitchen)

rhubarb crumb bars (Martha Stewart)

OK, it may not be the perfect-Portland eighty degree Memorial Day we all dream of. Maybe we’ll just hope to break seventy, and sport sandals without getting our toes wet. Whatever the weather, we are doing the traditional Memorial Day BBQ at our house. It was perfect timing for me to come across this Smitten Kitchen post all about her Shake Shack burger experience. Don’t feel badly if you’ve never heard of the Shake Shack. I sure hadn’t until a recent trip to Washington DC, where of course we were intrigued by something indicating there might be a milkshake involved! Come to find out, it’s actually a New York-based chain, originally a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park and is now a fixture all up and down the East coast, billed as a modern day classic roadside burger stand. It’s a smash-style burger, starting out as a tall plump puck, then squished nearly flat before caramelizing to a perfect, salty, crisp. Served with buttered, browned potato roll buns, with a special sauce?!? Now I’m intrigued enough to try more than the shake! The recipe looks simple; I will indeed take an extra five minutes for the special sauce. Other toppings will include cheese of choice, pickles, and caramelized leeks (which, lucky for me, have saved quite well.) For the salad, I’ll use my gorgeous bunch of spinach in this pesto orzo salad. I’ve made a similar one for years, one where I put the spinach leaves in with the warm pasta for a nice wilting of the greens. In this recipe, it’s a spinach pesto instead, which was right in line with my preserve-the-bounty week. Combined with orzo, kalamata olives, and feta cheese, this is truly a perfect picnic or bbq salad, and goes with nearly anything. If I’m feeling a little veggie shy, I’ll add a simple crudite platter with just raw, crunchy radishes and some grilled green onions, which are lasting forever in my fridge. For dessert, these rhubarb bars – really the perfect seasonal holiday dessert. Combined with a scoop (or two) of Ruby Jewell ice cream… Oregon Strawberry, Singing Dog Vanilla Bean, or Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp?!?

Tuesday – kicked up pesto pasta

spicy greens pesto pasta with mushrooms (Bon Appetite)

Here’s a take on a favorite summer dish of ours…the one where you put chunks of cheese into the warmed pasta, and it melts and oozes and spreads throughout the dish. There’s several versions out there, but I was drawn to this one because I could pre-make a pesto with my dandelion greens, my spicy mixed greens, and some arugula I had still left. The recipe calls for pecans in the pesto; I used walnuts, but any favorite nut would do. I doubled the batch, using half tonight, and saving half for an zesty spread come sammie night. My load of crimini mushrooms seems to have held up nicely in a brown paper bag in the fridge, so I’m in luck here. (NOTE: I spot a mistake in the recipe – 8 tablespoons of butter for sautéing the mushrooms just cannot be right; two, plus two of olive oil is what I’ll do.) Toss some pre-made skewers of chicken or beef on the barbie if you’ll miss the meat. But this pasta, with it’s ultra flavorful greens-packed pesto, rich smokey mozzarella, and hearty spring mushrooms seems like a meal until itself.

Wednesday – creme d’asperges + pesto

creamy asparagus & leek soup (Skinny Taste)
roast chicken
baguette

The asparagus just keeps coming – I love it! After several CSA deliveries this spring, we’ve been lucky enough to devour it in what I believe to be the very tastiest way…grilled with just a bit of olive oil and salt. This was good timing to be ready to use it in another state – soup. A soup so simple, it’s made mostly of asparagus. Plus, a bit of butter, leek, and broth, pureed until it’s silky smooth. These are times that I adore my immersion blender – just stick it in the pot and go to town pureeing. My soup is in the freezer already, awaiting a quick thaw, and just a bit of creme fraiche and lemon juice when it’s warm. Put a small bowl of the ready-made spicy greens pesto on the table for a wonderful soup mix-in. Add a made-by-someone-else roast chicken and a fresh baguette for irresistible dipping or a perfect platform for a bit more pesto!

Thursday – pesto sammie night

sliced chicken, mozzarella, & spicy greens pesto  (Bon Appetite)

A built-around-the-pesto sammie night! Dinner’s a snap, using the other half of the pre-made spicy greens pesto (recipe imbedded in this pasta recipe…), some of that smokey mozzarella I purchased for the pasta, and sliced chicken or turkey from the deli. Or, no meat at all, and just layer it with your favorite veggies. Caramelized leeks, sautéed mushrooms, sundries tomatoes…the possibilities are endless. 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!).  If you’ve got pesto left, you’re in luck! Keep in in the fridge, and when the occasion arises, spread it over lightly olive-oiled and browned baguette, fancy up your lunchtime sandwich, dollop it atop nearly any soup, sprinkle it over pasta or grilled veggies, mix it in your morning eggs…you get the idea.

 “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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