September 11 weekly menu | summer table

Farm Fresh

beets, carrots, celeriac, gourmet greens, jalapeños, kale, lettuce, sweet onions, peppers

What’s for Dinner?

Lucky me, a south-of-the-border potluck this week…my choices are endless! The fiesta got me thinking about margaritas, which got me thinking about peach margaritas. Peaches are at their height – get them while you can, and eat (and drink) up! And even as we enjoy the last of the summer peaches, the weather will be shifting, as will the seasonal veggie offerings and my own meal planning. With a red lentil and veggie stew and a celery root bisque on my home menu, it’s a sure sign of fall, just around the corner.

Friday – TV trays, movie, & pizza

sweet onion pizza (Better Homes and Gardens)
gourmet greens with balsamic vinaigrette (Mark Bittman, NYT)

Saturday – south of the border potluck

roasted beet & poblano salad (Rick Bayless)

mexican carrot cake (Saveur)

Sunday –  speaking of margaritas…

peach margaritas (Bobby Flay)
grilled garlic-lime fish tacos (Martha Stewart)
peach, pepper, & sweet onion salsa (Cooking Light)

Monday – super simple spaghetti

spaghetti with thyme-chili celeriac puree (Serious Eats)
caesar salad (Alice Waters, The Art of Simple Food)

Tuesday – salad for supper, a la roman candle

honey and harissa farro salad (Deb Perelman, The Smitten Kitchen)
roman candle tuscan calvary kale salad
roman style flatbread, pomodoro

Wednesday – dahl for dinner

curried red lentil & vegetable stew (Bon Appetit)
sukhi’s somosas

Thursday –  soup & sammie

celery root bisque (Bon Appetit)
ultimate grilled cheese sandwich  (Saveur)

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Friday –  pizza night

sweet onion pizza (Better Homes and Gardens)
gourmet greens with balsamic vinaigrette (Mark Bittman, NYT)

IMG_1084For this week’s Pizza Night, even with my table toppling with so many veggie choices, I’m going with a simple caramelized onion pizza.  Add whatever else you like, but I guarantee it’ll be delicious even with just onions and a ricotta/mozzarella cheese combination. I may add some sliced tomatoes from the garden, and some oregano, basil, or parsley from the herb pots, but the sweet, farm fresh onions will star.  Add a simple salad with some farm fresh greens, drizzled lightly with high quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper.

Other sumer pizza combinations:

spinach and chive pizza
shaved asparagus & parmesan pizza
leek, chard, & corn flatbread
kale, sundried tomato, & feta pizza
pizza with green garlic & arugula
pizza bianca with goat cheese & chard
zucchini, sliced tomato, & leek pizza 

Saturday – south of the border potluck

roasted beet & poblano salad (Rick Bayless)

mexican carrot cake (Saveur)

This is what happens when I’m going to a potluck. I can never easily settle on just one thing to contribute. Instead I spend much too long mulling over the possibilities, always with the goal of incorporating my farm goods. It ends with either bringing too much, or somehow trying to bring all my ideas to life in my own kitchen in the week ahead. One distinct possibility is this amazing Rick Bayless inspired beet salad. Roasted poblano chiles, manchego cheese, lime juice, cilantro…classic Mexican flavors that will take our beets in a deliciously south-of-the-border direction. I stray from the recipe a little, roasting my whole beets, wrapped in foil, for forty-five minutes or so, in a very hot oven. Once they’ve cooled, I peel and chop them, and continue with the recipe. I put them back into the oven after the poblanos have been removed, mixing them with the marinade and onions, roasting just a bit more to make sure they’re tender and the flavors combined. And, since I’ve got carrots, it’s hard to resist a good carrot cake, which becomes my choice number two. Although this recipe isn’t really labeled as “Mexican”, it sure spoke that to me. Packed with carrots, it had the extra special additions of cinnamon, coconut, and pineapple – flavors that surely take one south of the border. I’ll use a fresh, finely chopped pineapple (a wonderful excuse for a pineapple purchase!). Use your own discretion and taste buds as to the addition of chopped nuts and raisins. To keep things simpler (and healthier) I may just skip the cream cheese frosting, and serve it in squares perfect for finger food dessert. Guaranteed, whichever recipe gets neglected for party night will be first in line tomorrow at home!

Sunday – speaking of margaritas…

peach margaritas (Bobby Flay)
grilled garlic-lime fish tacos (Martha Stewart)
peach, pepper, & sweet onion salsa (Cooking Light)

With Mexican on the mind, and our precious northwest peach season coming soon to a close, I think it’s just the right time for weekend margaritas at home. Besides a peach pie, I just can’t think of a better use for our amazing northwest peaches. For the dinner, fish tacos just couldn’t be simpler, or healthier. With a good piece of white fish, some olive oil, garlic, and lime juice, you’re in business. I often make them with a cabbage slaw, but given my peach panic, I’m going with a peachy salsa which also incorporates sweet onions (instead of green) and jalapeños (instead of habanero). I’ll skip the arugula, just piling in more of the freshness I’ve got on hand. The salsa will also be delicious as a chip dipper, so you might just consider doubling the recipe for this seasonal delight!

Monday –  super simple spaghetti

spaghetti with thyme-chili celeriac puree (Serious Eats)
caesar salad (Alice Waters, The Art of Simple Food)

I have to admit, I still get a bit nervous when I see those celeriac bulbs. But I’ve done enough with them to know their great transformative abilities. From knobby, hairy, dirty to smooth, creamy, and delightful, with a mildly sweet parsley and celery flavor. In this recipe, the celeriac is cooked and mashed with garlic, fresh red chili, and thyme to create a silky sauce for your favorite pasta. Sprinkling with fresh parsley and parmesan would make it extra special.  I’ll use my head of romaine for an Alice Waters caesar (read simple, veggie-focused), substituting a squeeze or two of anchovy paste, and some good-as-homemade store bought croutons for weeknight simplicity.

Tuesday – salad for supper, a la roman candle

honey and harissa farro salad (Deb Perelman, The Smitten Kitchen)
roman candle tuscan calvary kale salad
roman style flatbread, pomodoro

Dinner tonight will be the result of a trip to the Eastside, where I surely won’t be able to resist stopping at Roman Candle Baking Co. In addition to their Roman style flatbread pizza, their salad and veggie offerings are simply brilliant. Their kale salad, with thinly sliced raw kale, sarvecchio (speciality parmesan), garlic, chiles, lemon, and breadcrumbs, is out of this world. Many others must feel the same. For several weeks now while manning the information booth at the Portland Farmer’s Market, I’ve witnessed various Roman Candle kitchen staff utilize the market’s “veggie valet” service in a wholly inspiring manner. This is a friendly place where customers can leave their purchases that might be too heavy or cumbersome to carry around, while they shop more. Well, let’s just say the Roman Candle kale purchases are more than cumbersome…they would topple a person! Bags and bags (I’m talking large garbage-type bags!) of lacinato kale, dropped for my careful watch, then eventually loaded in waiting car trunks when the shopping mission is complete. I commented once on the massive volume, finding it hard to believe they went through all that kale. He responded, “We do this same thing at three markets a week.” Well, OK then. While they don’t officially publish their recipe for this out of this world kale salad, a home version is easy to attempt, and anything close is still delicious. I toast a half a cup or so of purchased breadcrumbs with lots of garlic and a good sprinkling of red chile peppers in some olive oil on the stovetop. With a simple dressing of high quality olive oil and lemon juice, and a hearty dose of shredded parmesan, along with the toasty, flavored breadcrumbs, you just can’t go wrong. I’m even going to use my red Russian kale this week…surely won’t be the exact same texture, but the flavors will still be there. As for their farro salad, it’s a magical combination of chewy grains, sweet dates, salty pistachios, crunchy carrots, and fresh ricotta, with just the right punch of heat. Again, the official recipe remains a mystery, but it reminded me of one I’ve made before from The Smitten Kitchen. It uses harissa (an amazing Tunisan hot sauce), counterbalanced with a bit of sweet honey. I’ll skip the parsnips, opting for the all-carrot version. And I’ll certainly be adding chopped dates and pistachios. For the close-to-authentic Roman Candle version, serve on a bed of fresh ricotta, and sprinkle crumbled ricotta salata over the top as the finishing touch. Yes, dinner certainly would seem complete with these two hearty salads, but we’ll go over the top with a to-go version of their pomodoro flatbread as well.

Wednesday – dahl for dinner

curried red lentil & vegetable stew (Bon Appetit)
sukhi’s somosas

Being that it’s still officially summer, let’s not call this dish stew. Maybe soup. Or dahl. Whatever you call it, it’s healthy, delicious, and simple. It’s a go-to of mine when I have a hankering for Indian food, and makes a terrific vehicle for my many greens on hand. Any will work – kale, spinach, chard, whatever. 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 an entire bunch of red Russian kale, lots of chopped carrots and sweet peppers, and ditch the frozen peas this time. The final little hot spice oil is yummy, but not at all essential. Don’ skip the cilantro though…it adds a magnificent flavor to Indian food. Ladle the stew over a nice wide bowl of basmati rice, and sprinkle with additional cilantro – YUM! I often add naan from my favorite Indian restaurant or food cart, but this week I’m trying something new. I discovered these little gems at a recent potluck, with someone describing them as “better than any restaurant version around”. Makes them worth a shot in my book, and they were easy to find at New Seasons. Somosas are a delightful Indian street food, with a savory and perfectly spiced filling wrapped up in a delicate crust. These even come with a spicy, cilantro chutney for dipping.

Thursday – soup & sammie

celery root bisque (Bon Appetit)
ultimate grilled cheese sandwich  (Saveur)

Now this is what I usually do with celeriac…cook it, purree it, cream it, make it rich, velvety, and seemingly decadent. But the richness comes from the root itself, along with a potato – just a small amount of butter and cream (I’ll use milk or half & half) are added. I’ll use my onion instead of a shallot. This bisque is weeknight friendly because all that’s to it is a couple minutes of chopping the very few ingredients, then inactive, covered cooking time to get it all softened. And this is where an immersion blender really is indispensable! No back and forth, pot to blender, etc. While the bisque is cooking, I’ll whip up some classic grilled cheese sandwiches. Of course, use any cheese you like, but comte, with it slightly nutty flavor, would make a sammie ripe for dunking in this decadent bisque! I can’t imagine anyone could judge celeriac by its (not-so-fine) looks alone ever again.

“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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