August 24 weekly menu | summer table

Farm Fresh

beets, corn, gourmet greens, green beans, lettuce, onions, potatoes, peppers, shallots, tomatoes, watermelon

What’s for Dinner?

Really? The last weekend of summer vacation?!? Sad but true. As I said in June, ages and incredible amounts of veggies ago, meals are just different in the summer. The local bounty has changed, to be sure, as have the rituals. We’re full into summer squash and corn and tomatoes and Walla Walla sweets…all of the things we waited patiently for the entire year. The rhythm and pace have also changed; let’s savor every final moment of this summertime bliss. One last weekend, and an easing into the school year and the new season that comes with it.

Wednesday –  guests, yes please!

watermelon slices

cabbage and corn slaw (Epicurious)
caprese salad (the kitchn)
grilled pork tenderloin (Williams-Sonoma)
roasted purple potatoes (Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Parties!)

surprise summer ending

Thursday –  tasty toasty almonds + beans

green bean salad with fried almonds (Deb Perleman, Smitten Kitchen)
grilled chicken & shrimp skewers (Bon Appetit)

Friday – grilling, Mexican style

tacos with grilled chicken, peppers & onions (Food and Wine)
green salad with cilantro-lime vinaigrette (CI, The Best 30-Minute Recipe)

Saturday – pastaworks at home

pastaworks farro salad + beets (Pastaworks)
grilled onions
grilled bratwurst

Sunday –  sweet summer’s end pizza night

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

Monday – off to school

power breakfast:
mixed berry & beet smoothie (Martha Shulman, NYT)

snack-in-a-snap:
veggie wraps (Whole Foods Market)

dinner:
OUT – kids’ choice!

Tuesday – cream-of-the-crop summer sammie

tomato, mozzarella, & basil paninis (Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa at Home)


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Wednesday – guests…yes, please!

watermelon slices

cabbage and corn slaw (Epicurious)
caprese salad (the kitchn)
grilled pork tenderloin (Williams-Sonoma)
roasted purple potatoes (Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Parties!)

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 (and this week, fruit!) out of the box, and creating simple, delicious dinners, even fit for company. I’ll set out slices of my Gathering Together Farm watermelon to start – guaranteed that beautiful golden fruit will be gobbled up. My big veggie dish will be this fabulous summer slaw. I make it every August, using a whole head of fresh cabbage, and improvising where I see fit. The key ingredient – fresh corn, sliced right off the cob! It is so darned beautiful, with all of those bright colors…orange carrots, red peppers, yellow corn, and mixed greens of cabbage and cilantro. The orange juice in the dressing is unique and zesty. A crowd-pleaser for sure! The caprese salad 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 dish to boot – summer on a plate! It is merely sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, a sprinkling of basil, a drizzle of olive oil, and maybe a bit of vinegar. 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?!?

Thursday –  tasty toasty almonds + beans

green bean salad with fried almonds (Deb Perleman, Smitten Kitchen)
grilled chicken & shrimp skewers (Bon Appetit)

She had me at “fried almonds”. YUM! Everyone loves a little crunch in a green bean salad. This Italian version uses some fennel I’ve still got (I’ll skip the celery), an onion, and our green beans. With a simple vinaigrette and the lightly fried-in-olive-oil whole almonds, this could easily be a stand-alone dinner. But I don’t think there’ll be any complaining if we add these grilled chicken and shrimp skewers , with just a little lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil. If you have a nice lettuce to serve them over, great; if not, our colored veggie is already covered, in the most delicious way.

Friday –  grilling, mexican style

tacos with grilled chicken, peppers & onions (Food and Wine)
green salad with cilantro-lime vinaigrette (CI, The Best 30-Minute Recipe)

I love the special time of year that I receive such a variety of peppers. So easy to roast or grill, their mild flavor is a fabulous addition to any Mexican meal. I’ll grill it all – chicken, peppers, and one of my yellow onions – savoring some of the last authentic BBQ weather. I’ll serve the tacos along with a Mexican-style green salad. This CI recipe is a winner for a quick dressing I use for any salad accompanying a Mexican dinner. (And no real need to use the blender – a whisk will do just fine.) Some ideas for mix-ins: Mexican cheese (cotija, queso fresco, manchego…), sliced (seeded) jalapeños, green  or red onions, cilantro, chives, sliced radishes, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, sliced avocado.

Saturday – passworks at home

pastaworks farro salad + beets (Pastaworks)
grilled onions
grilled bratwurst

This Pastaworks farro salad serves as a blank canvas for me often. Farro is a virtual nutritional goldmine, and offers a wonderful full-bodied texture and flavor. Instead of the called for kale, I’ll add a potpourri of veggies: roasted beets and thinly sliced beet greens this week. No matter the veggies you add, it holds a divine combination of earthy, sweet, tart, and spicy – adjust the harissa to your own personal spicy barometer. Have fun trying different nut, seed, and dried fruit combinations here as well. A quick trip to the grill with sliced onions and brats rounds out the meal perfectly!

Sunday – sweet summer’s end pizza night

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

IMG_1084

This week, my many onions inspire me to make this simple and delicious caramelized onion pizza. Add whatever else you like, but I guarantee it’ll be fabulous even with just onions and a ricotta/mozzarella cheese combination. I may add some sun dried tomatoes, and some oregano, basil, or parsley from the herb pots, but the sweet onions will star. Let this prior Pizza Night! post be your inspiration and step-by-step instructional for pizza making. For a simpler version, grab your dough from Hot Lips, New Seasons, or nearly any favorite pizza place.  Add a salad of gourmet greens with a tangy balsamic dressing, and we’ve got a perfect example of the scrumptious pizza night dinners that can be created with just a few farm fresh ingredients.

Monday –  off to school

power breakfast:
mixed berry & beet smoothie (Martha Shulman, NYT)

snack-in-a-snap:
veggie wraps (Whole Foods Market)

dinner:
OUT – kids’ choice!

Back to reality, which for me means getting my kids out the door early, with something healthy and energizing in their system. Smoothies are a great breakfast solution because you can pack them with so much. Yogurt, fruit, and even veggies. We’ve all gotten used to the concept of kale in a smoothie, but beets?!? Apparently the vibrant red color tells us that it’s high in anthocyanins and flavonoids, believed to have strong antioxidant properties. I’m just happy I’ve found another use for raw beets! With yogurt, berries, and even a little granola, this smoothie’s got it all! The next back to reality moment is late afternoon, when we all quickly realize how cranky a day’s worth of mental exercise combined with a hungry belly can make a person! Often, my veggies come to the rescue, especially if I keep some at-the-ready as you can so easily do with sliced peppers, cucumbers, etc. This week, I’ve also got cherry tomatoes from my backyard vine, as well as several choices of lettuce. With a simple wrap or sandwich – it’s surprising what you can do in a hurry with some fresh veggies. I just keep some whole wheat tortillas and spreadable cream cheese or hummus on hand, and more often than not, I’ve got fresh-from-the-farm goodies to wrap up inside. With the first day behind us, everyone deserves a dinner out!

Tuesday – cream-of-the-crop summer sammie

tomato, mozzarella, & basil paninis (Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa at Home)

Sammie nights continue, this week, finally, with an all-time favorite. With tomatoes just plucked from the vine, and fresh basil from the pot, there’s really nothing like this quintessential summertime sandwich. You don’t need a panini press, and you don’t need pesto sauce. Just a skillet and any form of basil you like – I often just layer the whole leaves on there. Whatever bread you love and will hold together on a skillet or press is great. These are also wonderful with thinly sliced prosciutto or chicken. Surely there’ll be some leftover Pastaworks farro salad (it makes quite a batch) to serve as an instant side dish!

“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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