May 6 weekly menu | spring table

Farm Fresh

asparagus, rainbow chard, chives, mushrooms, green onions, radishes, rhubarb, spicy greens, spinach

What’s for Dinner?

The quintessential spring veggies just keep on coming, and I love it! Tender asparagus, sweet spinach, and tangy rhubarb…so many possibilities. It’s a week full of holidays too. It’s possible that Mother’s Day is a bit more celebrated than National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, but in my book, they’re both worth an extra special effort in the kitchen.

Friday – seis de mayo

shrimp & greens tacos (Mark Bittman)
radish salsa (Mark Bittman)

Saturday – spring pizza + blazers

spinach & scallion pizza (Deb Perleman, Smitten Kitchen)

Sunday – salad for supper, mom’s choice

spinach, strawberry, & grilled chicken salad salad  (Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice)
country bread

ice cream with rhubarb compote (Simple Bites)

Monday – burgers, my style 

bean + spinach burgers (Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything)
grilled scallions (Food Network)

Tuesday –  creme d’asperges

cream of asparagus soup (Gourmet)
crab and shrimp cakes

Wednesday – pot pie, spring style

spring vegetable pot pie (Ruth Reichl, Gourmet Today)
with cheddar chive biscuit topping

crispy chewy chocolate chip cookies (Deb Perleman, The Smitten Kitchen)

Thursday – sammie night

spicy greens & mushroom panini (Martha Shulman, NYT)
crunchy radishes


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Friday – seis de mayo

shrimp & greens tacos (Mark Bittman)
radish salsa (Mark Bittman)

Let’s hold on to the tastes of Cinco de Mayo for just one day. With wild caught shrimp on sale again at New Seasons, I’ll go ultra simple with these healthy, delicious tacos. The Mark Bittman recipe for the very versatile shrimp is a spin on Spanish tapas; within just a couple of minutes, you have a dish that could be served so many ways – on their own, with some bread for soaking up the garlicky juices, over your favorite rice, tossed with pasta, or stuffed inside a burrito or taco. I’ll use my fresh cilantro for the garnish.After removing the shrimp from the pan, I’ll also saute up an entire head of thinly sliced chard. Barely wilted, and seasoned with the remaining garlic oil, chard (or any greens) makes a fabulous taco filler as well. I’ll also whip up this radish salsa, similar to ones so common in Mexico with chunky radishes and green onions (this one uses cucumbers too), along with garlic and zesty cilantro. My trip to the Portland Farmer’s Market last week resulted in several varieties of Hot Mama’s salsa, as well as my go-to corn tortillas from Three Sisters…both of these use perfect for tonight’s Seis de Mayo celebration!

Saturday – spring pizza & blazers

spinach & scallion pizza (Deb Perleman, Smitten Kitchen)

IMG_1084

Let this prior Pizza Night post be your inspiration and step-by-step instructional. With my Hood River Organic box just delivered, I can literally pick and choose veggies off my table to top the pizzas! The inspiration this week came from a very memorable visit to Lovely’s Fifty Fifty. We recently enjoyed a spring spinach, green garlic, fromage blanc, & chive pizza pie. Deb Perleman at The Smitten Kitchen posted a recipe for ramp pizza that I think is similar – she suggests spinach and something “onion-y” as alternatives. green onions will be my choice. I’ll skip all the convoluted parts and use canned sauce and pre-shredded mozzarella! Well, if I feel fancy, maybe a little fromage blanc – that just sounds too good! Add some salami for the meat-lovers in your group.

Sunday – salad for supper, mom’s choice

spinach, strawberry, & grilled chicken salad salad  (Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice)
country bread

ice cream with rhubarb compote (Simple Bites)

A fancy pants brunch out on the day that celebrates moms! Lattes, fresh squeezed juices, and mimosas; pastries, crepes, and waffles; seasonal berries, salads, and layered fruit parfaits; roast beef, seafood, and caesars; oh, and don’t forget the dessert table. Yikes, decadent, to be sure, and a very infrequent indulgence, celebrating my my own mom, too. We’ll indulge to our heart’s content, enjoying every moment of the special occasion brunch that required not a moment in the kitchen! Come dinner time, however, assuming our bellies have recovered, I’ll assume some sensibilities and request this relatively light and healthy dinner. I love to be in the kitchen with my kids, and this is may be the one day of the year it happens without (too much) coercion. This light and easy dinner would offer everyone about one simple task, resulting in a local and farm fresh hearty salad-for-supper that’s a sure-fire pleaser. There are lots of variations of this tried-and-true combination; the basic ingredients beyond the berries and spinach are a good cheese, nuts of your choice, and in this version, grilled sliced chicken. I’ll use just spinach as the greens, and send the kids to practice their skills at the grill with a breast of chicken or two. Goat cheese provides just the right creamy, tangy complement, and the crunch can come from sliced almonds, toasted hazelnuts, pistachios, whatever! I’ll be in charge of my favorite part…dessert. With more rhubarb in the box this week, I’ll make up this very basic rhubarb compote. Tonight, it stars over vanilla ice cream. But surely it will appear again in many of the “ten ways to enjoy rhubarb compote” listed in this recipe.

Monday –  burgers, my style

bean + spinach burgers (Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything)
grilled scallions (Food Network)

I’m a sucker for a good veggie burger recipe, really preferring it over any “real” burger. Here’s a 20 minute, weeknight version, using canned beans. Your choice – black, kidney, lentil, chickpeas, whatever. And I’m following his bean-and-spinach version. Bittman recommends a cast-iron skillet; if it’s warm and you want to be outside, toss these on the grill, with a light oiling first to avoid any stuck or broken burgers. Our toppings bar will feature chopped fresh chives from my herb pots and cheese-slices-of-choice. Given I’ve got green onions coming out my ears, here’s a tasty and simple side that can be cooked on the grill right alongside the burgers. I’ll grill up a couple bunches, knowing their potential on a veggie platter throughout the week.

Tuesday – creme d’asperges

cream of asparagus soup (Gourmet)
crab and shrimp cakes

The asparagus just keeps coming – I love it!This is a quintessential spring soup, made up mostly of just lots and lots of farm fresh asparagus. Plus, a bit of butter, onion, and broth, pureed until it’s silky smooth. With its fancy French name, it’s nice to know the ingredient list is so humble. These are times that I adore my immersion blender – just stick it in the pot and go to town pureeing, adding just a little cream (milk would work) and lemon juice at the end. (If you’re freezing it, add the cream the night you serve.) A sprinkling of fresh-snipped chives would be amazing. The rest of the meal consists of pre-made crab and shrimp cakes. Featured-this-week at New Seasons, they’re ready for just a quick sauté in some butter or olive oil until golden.

Wednesday – pot pie, spring style

spring vegetable pot pie (Ruth Reichl, Gourmet Today)
with cheddar chive biscuit topping

crispy chewy chocolate chip cookies (Deb Perleman, The Smitten Kitchen)

Who doesn’t love a pot pie?!? I try to make one every few months, as they are so very different depending on the veggies of the season. I’ve experimented with so many…from the very elaborate, multi-step Cook’s Illustrated versions (with the homemade double crust, of course) to the somewhat simpler “skillet” type, to the cheater’s rendition complete with frozen vegetables and store-bought puff pastry. The great news is, you can’t really go wrong – they’re all good! Veggies you love, meat if you choose, a rich creamy sauce, capped off somehow by a buttery, slightly crunchy pastry. This Ruth Reichl recipe is a winner; I’ll modify it a bit here to encompass my spring vegetables on hand. It’ll be less winter comfort, and more spring fling. Pot pie doesn’t seem complete without those mini pearl onions (a godsend, peeled, from the frozen department!), but skip them if you’d like  (just use veggie or chicken broth) – we’ll more than make up for it. If you do use them, I’d halve the amount as their flavor is quite strong. As for the rest, I’m going to use my leeks instead of the onion, thinly sliced spinach or chard, mushrooms, and radishes. Yes, radishes – they add a wonderful and surprising color, texture, and flavor. I’m skipping the celery, parsnip and peas – we’ve got so many other spring veggies. A perfectly legal and tasty topping to this pot pie would be a sheet of frozen puff pastry. If you do this, I like to cut it into eight pieces that roughly resemble what you’d scoop out as a serving. Just makes it a bit easier to dish up. I will forge ahead with the cheddar biscuit topping. Because it is so darned delicious!!! Well worth the very few minutes that it takes to pull together these drop biscuits. Use whatever cheese you’d like, but the extra sharp cheddar is wonderful, and I’ll surely up the ante on the scallions.  For dessert, in celebration of upcoming National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, these classic crispy-on-the-outside, chewy-in-the-middle, chip-to-dough-ratio-perfect cookies. Nothing fancy, nothing frilly, zero farm fruit or veggies… just good old fashioned chocolate chip cookies – yum.

Thursday – sammie night

spicy greens & mushroom panini (Martha Shulman, NYT)
crunchy radishes

What have I got left in the fridge come Thursday? Whatever it is, I try to steer it toward a place in a panini. In the good ol’ cast iron pan, I’ll skip the boiling and just sauté up the thinly sliced spicy greens,  mushrooms, scallions, and garlic. This pan will also serve as the panini cooker, placing lightly buttered or olive oiled bread right on the hot surface to begin building the paninis. These have the greens mixture, slices of cheese. Add some sliced chicken if you’d like as well. You really can’t go wrong. I just make sure my bread is hearty enough not fall apart in the process, and solid enough so cheese isn’t dripping out every opening. If I’ve got radishes left, it’s the simplest side around – stem and serve with a favorite store-bought hummus, or just a sprinkling of sea salt.

 “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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