August 14 weekly menu | summer table

Farm Fresh

baby bok choy, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, gourmet greens, lettuce, onions, summer squash, tomatoes

What’s for Dinner?

My first-of-the-season deep purple globe eggplants! I can’t wait to make baba ganoush, a late summer favorite around here. This, in addition to using my corn in a stellar summer salad…packed with several ears of corn off the cob, tomatoes, avocado and everything summer, just pick up a spoon (or a giant pita chip) and enjoy! It even doubles as a corn salsa, served with those oh-so-good Mexican carnitas. We’re in the full late summer (boo-hoo) swing…the vine ripened tomatoes, crunchy corn, sweet summer squash, and fleshy eggplant just don’t get much better than this!

Friday – guests, yes please!

bruschetta (Simply Recipes)

green salad with oregon berries (Aviva Goldfarb, pbs.org)
veggie skewers (Catherine Deumling, SIO Blog)
grilled pork tenderloin (Williams-Sonoma)

surprise summer ending

Saturday – grilled pizza fest

eggplant & tomato pizza (Bon Appetit)
gourmet greens salad

Sunday – take-out style

take-out style sesame noodles with cucumber (Deb Perleman, Smitten Kitchen)
baby bok choy with garlic and ginger (Katherine Deumling, SIO Blog)

Monday – two shouts for baba ganoush

baba ganoush (Katherine Deumling, SIO Blog)
chicken skewers
simple greek salad (Bon Appetit)

Tuesday – potluck faves

corn, tomato, & avocado salad (Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa)

lemon sunshine zucchini bundt cake (Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice)

Wednesday –  taco wednesday

corn, tomato, & avocado salad (Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa)
pork carnitas (Cooks Illustrated)

cool mojitos (Sunset)

Thursday –  sammie night

crudites, chips, &  sweet onion dip (Martha Stewart)
grilled summer squash & brie sandwiches (Whole Foods Market)

____________________________________________________

Friday –   guests…yes, please!

bruschetta (Simply Recipes)

green salad with oregon berries (Aviva Goldfarb, pbs.org)
veggie skewers (Catherine Deumling, SIO Blog)
grilled pork tenderloin (Williams-Sonoma)

surprise summer ending

How often do we shy away from a social gathering at our own home because it’s “just too much work”? This season is your friend, then, as I’ve found there’s nothing easier than piling the summer veggies out of the box, and creating simple, delicious dinners, even fit for company. The common bruschetta may seem a bit overdone, but in my opinion, there’s no better way to capture the flavor of perfectly-ripened summer tomatoes. And it’s an eye-catching, elegant hors d’oeuvre to boot. I love that Simply Recipes describes bruschetta as “summer on toast”. Pretty much sums it up! It is merely chopped tomatoes, basil, garlic, olive oil, and maybe a bit of vinegar, spooned over lightly grilled or broiled bread. I’ll start dinner with a fresh green salad, dressed in a balsamic vinaigrette, and sprinkled with height-of-the-summer berries and local farmers’ cheese. It’s THE time to use whatever and whichever red(ish) or blue(ish) berries catch your eye. Use pine nuts, hazelnuts, whatever nuts, and a favorite fresh farmer’s cheese. I’ll also surely toss together a pile o’ veggie skewers. Catherine’s “recipe” for veggie skewers caught my eye this week, if only because I haven’t done enough of this couldn’t-be-simpler dinner addition. Assembling a giant pile of crowd-pleasing, colorful skewers just calls for cutting any veggies you please into similar sized chunks, tossing them in a lemony vinaigrette, and threading them on a bamboo skewer. This week’s tomatoes (I’ll use small ones from my own garden), zucchini, eggplant, and sweet onion will make a fine combination. A grilled pork tenderloin, marinated ahead of time, is the perfect complement to the meal. This simple balsamic, olive oil, soy marinade is a keeper – goes with most things without even thinking. And the good thing about having all this farm fresh produce at my fingers is that dessert often becomes the course I ask someone else to take charge of. Who doesn’t want to delve into our August Oregon fruit bounty in some creative kitchen concoction, or pick up a couple pints of Portland’s fancy pants ice cream?!?

Saturday – grilled pizza fest

eggplant & tomato pizza (Bon Appetit)
gourmet greens salad

IMG_1084

Pizza Night! This week, I’m going to use one of my eggplants and a yummy sweet onion on grilled pizzas. This is a simple, sauceless pizza, gaining all of its flavor from farm fresh toppings; I would definitely brush the crust with some olive oil and give it a sprinkling of salt.  And tomatoes? Take my pick…from the farm, or from my garden, they’re in full swing! Refer to this Serious Eats guide to grilling. Skip the tube-o-dough and either use my go-to 5 minute recipe from The New Basics (see Pizza Night post above), the Serious Eats recipe, or grab your dough from Hot Lips, New Seasons, or nearly any favorite pizza place. Our salad will be a lickety-split version – gourmet greens, drizzled with balsamic vinegar, high quality olive oil, and salt and pepper. With greens this fresh and delicious, nothing fancier is needed.

Other pizza combinations:
pizza with kale raab, leeks, and olives 
pizza with fennel sausage, braising greens and rosemary
dandelion greens, Italian sausage, and fontina cheese pizza
spinach and chive pizza
grilled pizza with kale, mushroom, & sausage
shaved asparagus & parmesan pizza
leek, chard, & corn flatbread
kale, sundried tomato, & feta pizza
pizza with green garlic & arugula
pizza bianca with goat cheese & chard
fresh ricotta and red onion pizza

Sunday – take-out style

take-out style sesame noodles with cucumber (Deb Perleman, Smitten Kitchen)
baby bok choy with garlic and ginger (Katherine Deumling, SIO Blog)

I have to say I jumped at the chance to make this cucumber and peanut sauce based noodle dish. And not only because I’ve got cucumbers coming out my ears! It’s downright delicious, and with no obscure ingredients – just dried rice noodles, farm fresh cucs and fresh herbs, and a list of things all of us probably already have in our pantries. It’s a great dish for summer, being that it’s served room temperature or chilled. I’ll add a side of this no-brainer baby bok choy, simply sautéed with garlic and ginger in coconut oil. I’ll skip the green onions, adding some chives from my  pot. This tender young bok choy is best when it’s barely flashed in the pan, still keeping it’s brightness and crunchy stalks.

Monday –  two shouts for baba ganoush

baba ganoush (Katherine Deumling, SIO Blog)
chicken skewers
simple greek salad (Bon Appetit)

I’ll often pose the “what’s for dinner” question to the kids. With the mountain of veggies on the table, I’ll ask them to holler out what they want to see on the dinner table this week. When I heard the simultaneous shout of “baba ganouch!”, I knew I had one supper in the bag. Homemade baba ganoush is a delectable, surprisingly-simple-to-make, Middle Eastern spread –  just roasted eggplant, EVOO, and various seasonings. It’s as easy as throwing the eggplant in the oven for a while, then mixing the soft pulp with a few other ingredients. A great accompaniment is some prepared-by-someone-else chicken skewers to just toss on the grill. I’ll also pick up some freshly made wood-fired pita bread and hummus from World Foods in the Pearl. I’ll add the simplest of Greek salads with one of my heads of fresh lettuce plus lots of cucumbers and tomatoes; this one’s got a lemony, red vinegary kick. Be sure to add the essential olives and feta cheese. If you’re lucky to have any baba ganoush left, use it all week as a scrumptious baguette, pita chip, or veggie dip, or as a delicious addition to so many simple sandwiches (such as tomato!).

Tuesday – potluck faves

corn, tomato, & avocado salad (Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa)

lemon sunshine zucchini bundt cake (Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice)

Often when I can’t decide what to take to a potluck, I’ll take both. No one ever seems to mind, and I’m often accomplishing some dinner duties on the home front as well. This “salad” is perfect party fare; I often don’t serve it as such, but rather put it in a large bowl, surrounded by a platter full of homemade (or just extra large) pita chips. Of course, it’s packed with veggies, so certainly qualifies as a salad. But it’s also very finger friendly, with a chip being the perfect vehicle. I’ll do a little of tomorrow’s work tonight, upping the ante on the salad ingredients somewhat. I’ll use all of my corn (six ears) and at least double the amount of called for tomatoes. Ina doesn’t normally skimp on the dressing; my hunch is the called for recipe will cover my additions just fine. I’ll divide up the salad, saving half for tomorrow’s corn salsa,  setting aside a couple avocados and half the dressing to avoid any browning or sogginess. The other dish I love to contribute to August potlucks is this lemon sunshine zucchini cake. Still bursting with zucchinis, what better way to put them to sweet use than in a lemony bundt cake, one which does not skip the frosting! The zesty glaze on this one is a winner.

Wednesday – taco wednesday

corn, tomato, & avocado salad (Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa)
pork carnitas (Cooks Illustrated)
mexican beans

cool mojitos (Sunset)

The corn salad I put aside from last night will make an amazing salsa-like accompaniment to our pork carnitas. The word carnita literally means “little meats”. Traditionally, chunks of pork are cooked in lard, then slowly braised over a number of hours to get a most tender, fall-apart meat. It’s not until the end that the pork is crisped up with additional heat. In this CI recipe, the lard is skipped, and a sensational mix of Mexican-esque seasonings are added to the pork before slow-roasting in the oven for a couple of hours. The browning is achieved at the very end, when the pork is shredded and inserted under the broiler for just a couple of minutes. It’s truly amazing! And a far cry from the “Taco Wednesday” I grew up (fondly) with. This was a couple big bags of crispy shell tacos arriving steaming hot from Taco Time – they were like five for a dollar or something on Wednesdays. Ah, well, no Taco Time in the vicinity, and my modern-day Taco Wednesday is well worth the effort. If indeed you do make this on a weeknight, know that the pork can easily be made ahead (the flavor actually enhances if you wait a day or two…) or converted to a simple slow cooker version. With some lightly charred corn tortillas, our corn salsa, maybe some finely chopped onion, cilantro, lettuce and a salsa sampling, this is Mexican as is should be.  The pork recipe could easily be halved, or make a lot and use it all week. Add a minty mojito (easily translated into a virgin version with just ginger ale or sparkling water for the kids) and this Taco Wednesday feels downright fancy!

Thursday – sammie night

crudites, chips, &  sweet onion dip (Martha Stewart)
grilled summer squash & brie sandwiches (Whole Foods Market)

For dinner, what a great use for more of our zucchini (or summer squash of any type) – sandwiches! Use some thick slices of hearty bread, and the only work involved in this dinner is standing at the grill for a few minutes to lightly garlic & brown it, as well as the zucchini. Everyone can make their open-faced sandwich how they want it…brie, fontina, chèvre to start, getting it just a little melty. Then our squash, tomatoes, and whatever thinly sliced farm fresh greens you have. With a platter of farm fresh crudites (cucumbers and whatever else my crisper offers up) to dip in this easy and crowd-pleasing onion dip, we’re set. Oh, and of course, a bag of Kettle Chips. Because, really, what is onion dip without just a few potato chips?

“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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