September 19 weekly menu | summer table

Farm Fresh

bok choy, savoy cabbage, carrots, celery, chard, gourmet greens, red onions, sweet peppers, delicata squash

What’s for Dinner?

On this final week of my summer flowers oil cloth, again, dinner will be a bit of August, and a bit more of what the fall months will be bringing. We’ve still got sweet peppers and celery, which we’re sure to enjoy the last crunch of as a favorite veggie platter addition. We’ve got chard and red onions and carrots, which span the seasons. And we’ve got our heartier greens and, gasp, winter squash. We’ll ease into things by not delving right into the brown-sugar baked variety, but rather kick off the week with a brilliant squash-as-fries trick!

Friday – national cheeseburger day!

cheeseburgers + red onion marmalade  (Deb Perleman, Smitten Kitchen)
roasted delicata squash rings (Culinary Society)

Saturday – pizza night

fresh ricotta and red onion pizza (Deb Perleman, Smitten Kitchen)
gourmet greens salad

Sunday – goin’ retro

cabbage rolls (Deb Perleman, Smitten Kitchen)

Monday – celery for supper

cream of celery soup (The Kitchn)
favorite bakery bread

Tuesday – pork & greens

pork stir fry with bok choy (Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything)
asian noodles

Wednesday – weeknight risotto

red chard risotto (Epicurious)
roast chicken

Thursday –  sammie night

italian chicken salad sandwich (The Kitchn)
crudités & hummus
____________________________________________________

Friday –  national cheeseburger day!

cheeseburgers + red onion marmalade  (Deb Perleman, Smitten Kitchen)
roasted delicata squash rings (Culinary Society)

In honor of this surely little-known foodie holiday, I have pushed Friday Pizza back a night. Again, forever trying to balance cooking with so many veggies with a teenage boy who cries out for normal food, I just couldn’t skip out on a chance to celebrate National Cheeseburger Day. It all works out perfectly, actually, as when I saw my red onions this week, I knew I’d want to make the fabulous Smitten Kitchen pizza topped with red onion “marmalade”. Why not make the tangy, sweet, and just a little bit salty and spicy, red onion spread a day ahead, and use it for two meals? You just caramelize the farm fresh red onions with some brown sugar and balsamic vinegar until the mixture is thick and has an almost spreadable quality to it. It’ll be a perfect burger filler! I’ll cheat a bit on the burgers, and buy them pre-made at New Seasons…hard to resist those blue cheese thyme patties. And my first delivery of winter squash! Maybe I won’t call it that quite yet. Delicatas, with their relatively light and “delicate” flesh, and (best of all!) thin, edible skin, call for the simplest of preparation. The mere mention of roasted delicata squash rings resembling onion rings, to go with a burger, had me sold. You can either slice the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, then thinly slice cross-ways into half-rings. Or, for the full “ring” effect, merely slice the whole squash into rounds, then use a knife or spoon to remove the seeds and pulp from each ring. Then, like so many farm-fresh veggies, all it really needs is a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper before roasting in the oven to a golden brown.  The simplest, quickest, and healthiest of weeknight “burger & fries” dinners ever!

Saturday – pizza night

fresh ricotta and red onion pizza (Deb Perleman, Smitten Kitchen)
gourmet greens salad

IMG_1084For this week’s Pizza Night, this red onion “marmalade” (see Friday night) pizza from Smitten Kitchen. The slowly cooked red onions become the “sauce”, which is then dolloped with fresh ricotta and topped with thinly-sliced prosciutto. I’ll skip the ricotta-making adventure; my store-bought tub will do just fine. If you’re making two pizzas, double this recipe. Add a simple salad with some farm fresh greens, drizzled lightly with high quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

Other summer 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 

Sunday – goin’ retro

cabbage rolls (Deb Perleman, Smitten Kitchen)

Although cabbage rolls seem a bit dated, I’ve tried many versions and they seem to be a hit across the board. The general idea is always a filling with meat, onions, rice, and seasonings. This gets wrapped up (burrito style) by the boiled cabbage leaves, then the whole kit-and-kaboodle is cooked together, usually covered with a sauce. I’ll use my Savoy cabbage, and different than the recipe states, boil my cabbage leaves until their softened a bit. For the veggies, I’ll use grated carrots, and chopped celery. The only complain I have about cabbage rolls is often I find the rice undercooked. I’ll try to solve this problem by using pre-cooked rice – I don’t you can go wrong. Cover with your favorite jarred tomato sauce and cook as directed. Meat, veggies, and rice…a full meal deal, rolled up into nifty little packages.

Monday – celery for supper

cream of celery soup (The Kitchn)
favorite bakery bread

Yep, I’m going celery as the main dish. In this delectable cream of celery soup, the bacon adds just the right flavor and heft to make it feel like an entrée. This is an easy soup to prepare on a weeknight, with a minimal list of ingredients, including our farm fresh celery. It, along with an onion, some garlic, and thyme, are cooked in some bacon grease to begin. Add a chopped potato, and some stock and milk, and puree it all in the end – that’ it. The cooked bacon is then crumbled over the top of the soup for a tasty, elegant addition. Add a crusty bread for dipping and dunking.

Tuesday – pork & greens

pork stir fry with bok choy (Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything)
asian noodles

I learned this week that Mark Bittman is retiring his New York Times “The Minimalist” column. He’s headed West, he says, to start something new (and presumably food-related). I, for one, will eagerly await what that might be. Bittman is the undisputed master of boiling things down to the very basics, often resulting in healthy meals that can be pulled together in literally fifteen minutes or less. This stir fry is nothing more than preparing a simple garlicky soy-lime sauce, cooking the thinly sliced pork (or whatever meat or protein you want), then lightly sauteeing the bok choy until it barely wilts. I often separate out the thick stalks from the greens, cooking the stalks for just a minute or so ahead of the rest. I’ll take his suggestions and add a bit of lime zest, a small pinch of crushed red pepper, and a drizzle of sesame oil. And take a look at his variations…substitute (or supplement!) with your favorite veggies. I’ll surely be adding some sliced carrots and sweet peppers in with those bok choy stalks. Check out the fresh noodle section of your favorite market – guaranteed they’ll have an Asian noodle that strikes your fancy. They boil up super fast, and will be perfect to smother with our stir fried pork and greens.

Wednesday – weeknight risotto

red chard risotto (Epicurious)
roast chicken

I’ve made this risotto recipe for years. The red chard makes the color of the final dish just gorgeous. Not to mention, it’s delicious, and lets this fresh veggie shine. I try not to get all caught up in the proportions or timing of the broth adding and stirring of risotto. Heck, I don’t even heat the broth first.  After the onion, chard, and rice are sauteed in olive oil, I just add a little broth, cook a little, add a little broth, cook a little, stirring in the parmesan to taste at the end. To complete the meal, I’ll add a made-by-someone-else roast chicken. Any leftovers will come in handy for tomorrow’s sammie making.

Thursday – sammie night

italian chicken salad sandwich (The Kitchn)
crudités & hummus

These look to be the perfect “kitchen sink” kind of ending to the veggie week. Chopped chicken from last night, plus red onions, celery, and sweet peppers (I’ll skip the roasting!). If you want to add the bacon, great; if not they look quite hearty and scrumptious without. I especially like the recipe because it’s a vinaigrette mixed with the chicken and veggies, instead of traditional mayo. Spread on top of your favorite Italian style bread. For the side, a platter of whatever veggies still sit in the fridge – carrots, celery, and peppers are likely candidates. Plus a tasty, garlicky hummus, and everyone’s happy.
“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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