In Week 2 of our CSA Challenge, Team Carrots took home armfuls of beautiful peak-summer produce last week, including a rainbow of heirloom tomatoes, a purple cabbage with delicate ruffles, and omnipresent staples such as squash and peppers. Each blogger took a different approach to her lot, and the result, as you can see, indicates that the possibilities are limited only by imagination.
We spotted a few great ideas from fellow food bloggers, too. Like the Easy Watermelon-Dill Tomato Salad on Virtual Farmgirl, Grilled Candied Beets from Woman with a Whisk, and Pickled Sweet and Sour Cucumber (or Squash) from ReMARKable Palate.
And make sure to check out Flour Girl's post on facing a daunting mountain of greens and tackling her fear of beets with a daring foray into borscht. You know what they say--if you can't beet 'em...
What a week in the kitchen. I started with the tomatoes. I needed something fast so I went with the Fresh Tomato and Pesto Pizza. The recipe sure did show off the freshness of the ingredients, especially the basil pesto and provolone. That recipe’s a keeper.
The shallots were up next. Before this week I'd never held, let alone cooked with, a shallot. I found two yummy-sounding recipes on our website, both using a good amount of shallots. I made the Roasted Chicken with Dried Plums and Shallots, substituting dried apricots for the plums, since that's what I had in my pantry. I immediately followed up with the Caramelized Shallots and Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta. My son, Cory, and I gave both dishes five stars.
The dozen eggs shaped the Classic Angel Food Cake (pictured at the top of this post) recipe into two dozen muffins topped with raspberry puree and icing. (I realized late in the recipe I didn’t have a tube pan--hence, the muffins.) With a cup a tea, this made the perfect ending to a long day.
Last but not least, I made stuffed banana peppers. I filled them with Italian chicken sausage mixed with onion, egg, breadcrumbs, and Parmesan. I covered with a tomato sauce and more cheese, baked them, and served with hot buttered bread. Note: Stuffing banana peppers is much harder than it sounds, even with a piping bag. I wish I’d found another recipe for the banana peppers. This one didn’t honor their freshness.
But, I experimented with a new veggie, shared the bounty, and fed my family. It’s been a successful week.
I usually spend time on the weekend cooking meals for the upcoming week. Not only does it save valuable weeknight time, it also means that my spouse has time to join me in the kitchen. We really enjoy working on our meals together. A glass of wine, a little music in the background, and continuing conversation makes the time go pleasantly. I highly recommend cooking with someone you care about, whether your mom, a friend, or a neighbor.
For the first course of Saturday’s dinner, we took a quarter of the melon, sliced it, peeled it, and draped it with translucent slices of prosciutto. It’s a slightly more straightforward and traditional take on a recipe from the May 2009 issue, Prosciutto-Melon Bites with Lime Drizzle. I first had proscuitto with melon during an Italian vacation about 25 years ago. It remains one of my favorite culinary souvenirs, and I try to have it at least once every summer.
For dessert, we adapted our recipe for Spiced Grapes in Port Dessert Sauce, substituting the remaining cantaloupe for the grapes. Someone who doesn’t like cantaloupe as much as we do might have carved the melon into balls. But we got more of that heavenly taste by just cutting it up. We tossed the cubes with chopped mint and the port sauce, and piled it into stemmed glasses. It was a cool, delicious way to end the meal. Even better, we have more waiting in the fridge for dessert tonight. In fact, we have more of everything, and that’s why we think leftovers are beautiful.
Of course my first week with these gorgeous vegetables and I have the apex of a Summer cold, although, I think they saved me! Feeling bad, I didn’t want anything but ‘clean’ flavors and thus, I became obsessed with having a Greek salad. It was so easy to use a green bell, so fresh and crisp, with some of the tomatoes that my fiancee’s coworker sent home with him. I will admit I left out of the olives because Stanton doesn’t really eat them. The truth is... He didn’t get to eat ANY of it because I moved on it so completely, it was all gone!
I used the squash in a casserole we are having tonight for dinner. Right now it is assembled and ready to bake in my refrigerator. I actually had only 6 cups of sliced squash so I substituted about 3 handfuls of chopped kale and it seems to have turned out really well and really colorful!
As for the green beans.. So far I’ve eaten about half of them, raw, as a gnosh while I am working on other dishes. They taste so clean and green. I cannot believe you can taste a color but I am sure no one could deny these are the flavor of green, for sure.
I made the easiest recipe first: I’ve always wanted to try our Easy Refrigerator Pickles, and the little pickling cucumbers gave me the perfect opportunity. I love these, although technically they haven’t marinated for the appropriate number of days yet (forgot to factor in time for that). Whew, that vinegar mixture is potent when boiling! My suggestion: Don’t stand directly over the pot.
I was most excited about the heirloom tomatoes. I made Heirloom Tomato Salad with Herbs and Capers: tomatoes, feta, herbs, oil, and balsamic vinegar—-all the good stuff. Our recipe calls for this salad to be served with grilled sourdough bread, but I tried it over fettuccine instead and was very happy with the result. (I knew I could get pasta in somewhere.) I didn’t include the giant yellow tomato. I know it would’ve added nice color to the salad, but I was going to get at least a couple of good BLTs out of it.
I approached the cabbage with trepidation. I’d never sliced up a whole head before—-only bought it preshredded. I had heard that I should quarter it first and then go