Friday, July 8, 2016

2016 CSA Week 10: In the Kitchen

Hello fellow CSA members!

This week you're going to get a secret family recipe! Not really. I was searching online for interesting cabbage recipes (you know, something other than soup, rolls or kraut) and I came across this list of 35 EASY cabbage recipes. (DISCLAIMER: Sometimes people incorrectly label recipes as easy... I cannot speak to the validity of the claim in this particular instance.)

However, the Bubbles and Squeaks recipe reminded me of a meal we used to have growing up. It was born from an evening of needing/wanting to eat dinner and not really having any meals on hand. So... into the skillet a bunch of things go. It became a family favorite and was henceforth named "Concoction."

When we made it that night we put chopped cabbage, onion, potatoes and... I'm afraid to type this word on an organic food blog... (spam)... into a skillet. We fried it -- sauté might be the better word -- and enjoyed. One skillet meal ready pretty quickly.  Over the years we have substituted a variety of meats and veggies. You can use ham, kielbasa, or no meat at all. You can use sweet potatoes, peppers, whatever you like.

When I made it tonight I used cabbage, squash, potatoes and SHF brats from the winter meat share.

Johnie tasted it and gave it two and a half broccoli stalks. I didn't think he liked cabbage. He informed me tonight that he does like cabbage. Raw. Also, cabbage stew. (Who did I marry?!?! And also, does anyone have a Russian Cabbage Stew recipe?) But he gave this beloved meal from my childhood, that I sacrificed kraut for in an effort to make something he would enjoy, two and a half broccoli stalks. He amended it later to four broccoli stalks because "the more [he] ate it the better it tasted." But I think he was most likely trying to recover ground after seeing the initial look of disappointment on my face. (I really thought he'd love this one, but I value honesty over met expectations.)

I used the whole head of cabbage, but I just feel like I need to give a nod to the recipe I saw on the list that won second place for me: A bacon ranch cole slaw. I would have made this one too given more cabbage. And time.

Friend and CSA member Amanda Horn shared with me that she used much of her produce in a chicken casserole. You could combine many of the items in a casserole with chicken, rice and cheese. Cream of Chicken soup is a great add-in in casseroles, as is a crumbled butter cracker topping. Yummy! Plus, its fun to see just how many share items you can fit in one dish. :)

The pesto was SUCH a treat this week. I hope you all figured out that I was wrong about labeling it as shelf stable. My deepest, sincerest apologies if not. I spread it on some cheese bread about five minutes after I brought it home. And then I started dreaming of other ways to use it.

Yes, you can make magazine-quality meals with your CSA share
and help from a visiting friend eager to stage your plate for a blog
photo. (I was lucky to also see a behind-the-scenes shot of this
staging... I can only imagine the fun that ensued.)
Friend and CSA member Olivia Post used it, along with tomatoes and basil, in a homemade pasta sauce for the chicken recipe from our mutual friend that I shared with all of you a few weeks back. This recipe comes from The New Best Recipe, Revised Edition. Use it as is, or forget the pasta and go with the chicken.

Pasta and Fresh Tomato Sauce with Garlic and Basil
Serves 4

Recipe notes: Any type of tomato may be used in this recipe -- just make sure to choose the ripest, most flavorful ones available. Short tubular or curly pasta shapes such as penne or fusilli are well suited to this chunky sauce. Alternatively, before adding the basil, the sauce may be pureed in a blender or food processor so it will coat strands of spaghetti or linguine. The recipe may be doubled in a 12-inch skillet. The sauce freezes well, but add the basil when reheating.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1 pound pasta

1. Bring 4 quarts water to a rolling boil in a large pot.
2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil and the garlic in a medium skillet over medium heat until the garlic is fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes; increase the heat to medium-high and cook until any liquid given off by the tomatoes evaporates and the tomato pieces lost their shape to form a chunky sauce, about 10 minutes. Stir in the basil and salt to taste; cover to keep warm.
3. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta to the boiling water and stir to separate the noodles. Cook until the pasta is al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta cooking water and drain the pasta. Transfer the pasta to the cooking pot. Add the reserved pasta cooking water, tomato sauce and remaining 1 tablespoon oil; toss well to combine. Serve immediately.

I will give you this warning: Olivia says eating this pasta sauce may make you vow never to eat store-bought sauce again AND decide to increase the size of your CSA share so as to have more ingredients on hand.

I'm hoping to use my pesto on a homemade pizza. I haven't made it yet, but I'll keep you posted if I do.

I feel like so much has happened outside the kitchen -- collectively and individually -- in the 10 weeks we've been together in this CSA season. While we usually just focus on food here, I wanted to end on another note tonight. May Peace and Love fill our hearts and our homes and in abundance overflow into our streets and our communities, overpowering evil with good. Amen.

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