September 26 weekly menu | fall table

Farm Fresh

cabbage, carrots, escarole, gourmet greens, kale, leeks, parsley, peppers, potatoes, radicchio

What’s for Dinner?

Two new autumn veggies in the box this week…escarole and radicchio. One I’ll use in a marvelous meatball soup; one I’ll use in a tasty (& Sons) scrumptious salad. These, along with a sweet pepper pizza night, a homemade salute to Oktoberfest, and two salad-for-supper nights that’ll leave no one hungry. In this out of this world, sunny and unseasonably warm weather we’ve got, I’ve decided these hearty fall salads are the perfect bridge.

Friday – pizza night

caramelized leek, sweet pepper and Italian sausage pizza (The New Basics)
gourmet greens salad

Saturday – the little red chicory 

radicchio salad (Tasty & Sons)
roasted salmon & leeks with butter (Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything)
baguette

Sunday – homestyle oktoberfest celebration

german beer
braised cabbage (Alice Waters, Chez Panisse Vegetables)
rouladen (Saveur)
potatoes with butter and parsley (William Sonoma)

apple sharlotka (Deb Perelman, The Smitten Kitchen)

Monday – mmmm…cheese toasts

golden potato-leek soup with cheddar toasts  (Cooking Light)
rustic country bread

Tuesday – fall chopped salad

chopped cabbage & kale salad (Food and Wine)
parsley-garlic bread (Simply Recipes)

Wednesday – mini meatballs

escarole, orzo, & meatball soup (Deb Perleman, The Smitten Kitchen)
crusty bread

Thursday – tastebud sammie night

wheat berry, garbanzo bean, and veggie salad (Culinate)

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Friday – pizza night

caramelized leek, sweet pepper and Italian sausage pizza (The New Basics)
gourmet greens salad

One of our favorite go-to pizzas is sweet peppers and browned Italian sausage. If I’ve got leeks or onions, what a bonus, especially if you take a few minutes to caramelize them. (This is just a fancy word for cook in olive oil until very soft IMG_1084and golden.) Put carmelized leeks with just about anything, and it’s sensational – save any leftover for a mix-in with eggs, a sandwich topping, etc. Use whatever cheese you like – mozzarella, fontina, sauce or no sauce. Experiment beyond mozzarella if you’re adventurous – chevre, fontina and many other cheeses would be the perfect complement. And I often will replace the tomato sauce with some of my pesto sauce from my summer basil haul. Follow this prior Pizza Night post for a no-fail dough recipe I rely on each week. It makes enough for two pizzas, even three if rolled out in the super thin, best-for-crispy-pizza style. Add a simple salad with some farm fresh greens, drizzled lightly with high quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

Other seasonal pizza combinations:

spinach and chive 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 
grilled pizza with kale, mushroom, & sausage
fresh ricotta and red onion pizza
sweet onion pizza
pizza with grilled fennel and parmesan
eggplant & tomato pizza
caramelized onion, kale, & corn flatbread
classic margherita pizza

Saturday – the little red chicory 

radicchio salad (Tasty & Sons)
roasted salmon & leeks with butter (Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything)
baguette

I’ve waited nearly an entire year to repeat this amazing radicchio salad from Tasty & Sons. I must put in my two bits to Sauvie Island Organics…more radicchio, please! I recall being a bit reluctant, ordering a salad whose only “lettuce” was radicchio  – I assumed it was sure to be quite bitter. Not so! The trick is to soak the cut radicchio in very cold water for a bit before serving – this magically removes any unpleasant bite. I’m going to cheat and use New Seasons croutons instead of roasting my own bread crumbs – just chop them roughly in a food processor or put them in a ziploc and pound away to your own desired crumbliness. With a lemony, garlic dressing and a handful of chopped green olives, this salad is really out of this world. A butter roasted salmon will be a simple and delicious accompaniment; I’ll think my leeks could fit right in here too. Use just the white and light green parts, quartering them lengthwise, and maybe then cutting them crosswise. I’ll use half butter, half evoo, toss the leeks in this melted mixture, and roast first (maybe for 10-15 minutes), before adding the salmon for another ten or so minutes. The leeks just need a little head start on the fish; when they’re a bit softened, give them a stir, and push them to the side before adding the salmon to roast.

Sunday – homestyle oktoberfest celebration

german beer
braised cabbage (Alice Waters, Chez Panisse Vegetables)
rouladen (Saveur)
potatoes with butter and parsley (William Sonoma)

apple sharlotka (Deb Perelman, The Smitten Kitchen)

We’ve made Gustav’s Bier Stube a fall tradition. Along with its fancier counterpart, The Rheinlander, it offers up a lot of top notch reasons to celebrate. Authentic German fare, self-proclaimed best German beer selection in Portland, and a cozy, kitschy ambience perfect for Oktoberfest minus the Munich. I do look forward to this once a year indulgence in Bavarian pretzels dipped in Swiss cheesy fondue, decadent potato pancakes, homemade spatzle, and a hearty sampling of bratwursts, schnitzels, and the like. We generally wait on this until real October, maybe because that’s part of the “Oktoberfest” name, maybe because we’ve generally lost the eighty degree days for good by then. But, given that Munich’s Oktoberfest officially kicked off in September, I’d like to cook up my own dinner in this German spirit. Rouladen is a very traditional German dish, and is simply mustard, pickles, bacon, and onion rolled up in thinly sliced beef and cooked. For years, taking instruction from grandma-in-law and mother-in-law, I’ve made it the easy way – rolling up thinly sliced beef that had been spread with mustard and layered with the other key ingredients, securing it all with a toothpick, and baking. This year I’ll try my hand at this fancied-up version, which consists of pre-browning the roll-ups, and cooking up a delicious red wine vegetable stock, which turns into the gravy.  I’ll substitute my leeks for the onions, and serve alongside simple buttered potatoes (which, by the way, I do not bother peeling.) For a veggie side, I’ll make this quick sautéed cabbage (use red or green), gussied up just a bit with grated apple and apple cider vinegar. It’s a go-to side with most anything fall, considering how easy it is. For dessert, Gustav’s offers a traditional apple strudel. While amazing, I’m not bothering with the layers and layers of dough, and will instead make this simple apple cake. It’s actually sort of a combination of a cake, pie, pancake, and clafoutis, and the best part is that it really couldn’t be easier. AND it’s pretty darned healthy, as cakes go. No butter, little sugar, mostly apples. I’m going for it, with whatever northwest apples catch my eye at the market this week.

Monday –mmmm…cheese toasts

golden potato-leek soup with cheddar toasts  (Cooking Light)
rustic country bread

This Cooking Light version of potato-leek soup is deceptively rich and buttery. Surprise! It has just one tablespoon of butter and a little bit of milk or cream. It sure doesn’t lack in flavor though – fresh thyme and just-picked potatoes and leeks make all the difference.  You can make it as chunky or smooth as you like when you’re mashing at the end of cooking. Don’t skip the cheddar toasts, as they’re really delicious dunkers. Especially good with a sharp or extra robust cheese – Tillamook extra sharp or Beecher’s flagship cheddar would make excellent choices

Tuesday – fall chopped salad

chopped cabbage & kale salad (Food and Wine)
parsley-garlic bread (Simply Recipes)

This is a fall version of the classic chopped salad. One giant head of cabbage goes a long way, so I know I’ll be eager to use it in this main-meal salad. Along with my deep green lacinato kale, some chopped sweet peppers, and walnuts and cheese from the farmer’s market, this is both a feast for the belly and the eyes. Carrots and parsley from my weekly box would make fine additions as well. The dressing is a super simple olive oil and lemon juice. I’ll dress it ahead of time to allow the greens to soften a bit. Since I’m serving this for supper, I’ll likely add some chopped made-by-someone else roasted chicken, or a can of white beans. The piece that’ll bring the kids running to the table? This extra special oven toasted garlic bread, with our farm fresh parsley mixed right in. Yum.

Wednesday – mini meatballs

escarole, orzo, & meatball soup (Deb Perleman, The Smitten Kitchen)
crusty bread

I love that Italy has a traditional wedding soup. Apparently, having less to do with joining a couple, than with melding meat, veggies, and pasta in a big ‘ol pot. A marvelous melding it is, and simple enough for a weeknight, truly. Mixing the meatball mixture, rolling it into cute little balls, and letting it chill – not at all difficult, but you’ll want some good meatball energy. After this, you just simmer the carrots, orzo, escarole, and uncooked meatballs together, until the perfect union occurs. With an entire head of escarole, I’ll likely double the recipe. I surely have enough carrots and parsley to accommodate. The extra batch will go straight to the freezer, in waiting for one of those frenzied winter nights where I’ll only need to thaw, heat, and serve! Escarole is the authentic addition to this soup, but could surely be replicated with downright any green! Pass the parmesan and hunks of crusty bread!

Thursday – tastebud sammie night

wheat berry, garbanzo bean, and veggie salad (Culinate)

For years, lunch at Tastebud has been a requisite part of any trip to the Portland Farmer’s Market. Many line up for the rustic,  hand-formed, Montreal-style bagels. Or the inspiring wood-fired pizza cooked onsite in the traveling oven. I love both of these delicacies, but even more, I seek out the salad. It surely isn’t just any salad. It’s hearty, crunchy, nutty, a chock full of market fresh ingredients. The chefs peruse the stalls, choosing each week what looks fresh, new, and delicious. Last weekend I had one with purple cabbage, and roasted broccoli and cauliflower. There is no formula, save for the wheat berries, garbanzo beans, and lemony tahini dressing. What I see them doing is making giant batches of this, mixing in raw or wood-fired vegetables, and mounding this mixture onto chopped greens. It used to be that they’d stuff this entire concoction into a pita pocket; that’s gone by the wayside, but I’ll bring it back for our sammie night! My own farm fresh mixture will include chopped, roasted carrots and sweet peppers, with thinly sliced cabbage serving as the bed of greens. All topped with a generous sprinkling of finely chopped fresh parsley. Be generous with the dressing. Tastebud puts it in a ketchup-type squeeze bottle and dresses away. With tahini, chopped garlic, and plain yogurt as the main ingredients, it’s a guilt-free finish. They also serve up a spicy version at the market – I’ll experiment with this for sure. Let your stomach and your fridge be your guide to this tasty, healthy salad (in a pita) for supper!

“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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