Friday, July 30, 2010

Saag Callaloo

It's entirely possible that I got excited about making this dish only because I wanted to type these two nonsense words together: saag! callaloo!

Saag is an Indian spinach dish (essentially pureed spinach and spices), and callaloo, of course, is that spinach-like green we've gotten in the box before. Making one into the other was a pretty quick and easy process: fry onions and Indian spices; add the greens and water and bring to a boil; whizz in the food processor; and stir in some yogurt or cream.

I used this recipe, which I admire mostly for the numerous variations described at the end. Add fresh cheese or tofu for saag paneer, cooked potatoes for saag aloo, or chickpeas, as we did, for chana saag.

(Jack, next time can we try making paneer?)

Wheatberry Salad

'Tis not a year or two shows us a man:
They are all but stomachs, and we all but food;

They eat us hungerly, and when they are full,

They belch us.

-- Emilia, Othello III.iv

On Thursday, we took our picnic baskets to Boston Common for the Commonwealth Shakespeare production of Othello. (It's great, and it runs through August 15. Go!)

Some thought Seth Gilliam stole the show, but my vote might be for this simple wheatberry salad. We boiled the wheatberries for an hour or so, drained them, and added farm share cucumbers and basil, grape tomatoes, red onion, frozen peas, and crumbled feta. Dressing was olive oil, rice vinegar, Tony Chachere's, and salt and pepper.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cabbage, Two Ways

To the right, an Asian slaw harking back to the very first post on this blog, almost a year ago. (Oh, noes, don't go read it!) Chef's note: This time the cabbage decidedly did wilt, so while I called it "Asian slaw" the first day, the leftovers were definitely "kimchi."

To the left, a cabbage stir-fry, suggested in the comments on that first post, and now a part of our kitchen repertoire. This one also includes a medley of zucchini and summer squashes and cubes of tofu crisped in our new toaster oven.

Just out of the frame, the impromptu dinner guest who was extraordinarily gracious about being offered a meal of cabbage and cabbage, and the back porch that hosts that kind of informal company on many a long summer evening.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Farm Share Sandwiches

This farm share sandwich boasts basil, arugula, and cucumbers from last week's share, as well as red onion, Cajun-seasoned tofu, and melted mozzarella.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Peanut Sauce

How are we eating our greens recently? With peanut sauce.

With summer produce in full swing, gorgeous vegetables in our farm share, and a head of unloved cabbage in the crisper, I was reminded of Mark Bittman's 101 Simple Salads article. Searching for "cabbage" found me this:
20. Shred Napa cabbage and radishes. The dressing is roasted peanuts, lime juice, peanut or other oil, cilantro and fresh or dried chili, all whizzed in a blender. Deliciousness belies ease.
The cabbage wasn't Napa, and we didn't have any radishes, and we used peanut butter rather than peanuts, but you might have noticed that we pretty much just roll with that kind of thing around here.

(It was a tasty salad just as cabbage -- and yes, we served it to guests like that -- and even better with cucumbers and edamame added to the leftovers.)

Liz one-upped this, though, with her own peanut sauce, served with a lovely deconstructed-spring-roll salad.

Her peanut sauce recipe (peanut butter, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, maple syrup, soy sauce, garlic cloves, red pepper flakes, water if needed) shares not a single ingredient with Mark Bittman's, but similarly comes without any instructions or proportions.

The salad ingredients are finely chopped lettuce and celery, cold cooked rice noodles, defrosted frozen peas and Soycutash, and tofu blocks, topped with the peanut sauce.

(For those who prefer some instruction: Peanut sauce is better than 31 flavors of ice cream, Tyler Florence peanut sauce, CHOW peanut sauce, Epicurious spicy peanut sauce, and in our very own farm share newsletter.)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hot Dude Makes Hot Food

Callaloo again this week, and this time we treated it like spinach, tossing it into our curry at the very end.

This curry also contains farm share zucchini and potatoes and is cooked by a fine-looking gentleman.

Should you not have a fine-looking gentleman of your own, his basic, non-authentic, five-step, recipe-free, delicious curry plan is something like this:
  • Cook onions in (tons of) oil
  • Add Indian spices (curry, garam masala, turmeric) and toast until fragrant
  • Add wet stuff (canned tomatoes, coconut milk, peanut butter)
  • Add dry stuff (potatoes, zucchini, callaloo) in order of cooking time
  • Add extra stuff (sour cream, cilantro) at the end
(Additional notes: Here's Chowhound talking about how to store and eat callaloo; here's someone else making Indian food with callaloo. And: tropical super food?)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Radiculous! Radicchio!

Continuing our international tour of bitter greens, we mistook this week's radicchio for lettuce and chopped some up for our nachos.

BLEARGH! That stuff is bitter.

(Farm Share Stories: Eating inedible objects so you don't have to.)

Here's what we would have known if we'd read the newsletter (PDF) more carefully:
Radicchio is the other green in the boxes this week. It looks like a red and green lettuce, and can be used like lettuce. But it’s actually radicchio. Common in Italian and Belgian cooking, this Chicory leaf is slightly bitter and spicy, especially when raw, but mellows when cooked.
Searching for recipes, I came upon, the slick promotional organ of a California radicchio grower. Check out the recipes, the blog, or, my favorite, the suggested "flavor pairings" (including vinegar, salami, maple syrup, olives, blue cheese, and avocado).

Here's a little more radicchio history and lore. I notice that our head is quite a bit darker and greener than most of the radicchio pictured online -- any idea of what variety we're working with? (Perhaps Rosso di Chioggia?)

Jack went hunting on the Internet for ways to disembitter greens, and found a lot of suggestions in the comments on this recipe. (Possible options: soak greens in salt water, boil in several changes of water, add baking soda to the cooking water, add lots of salt and fat.) We'll let you know what we try.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

O, Frabjous Day!

Our new housemate, Sara, picked up a large free sample of the Caribbean green callaloo at the Davis Square farmers' market (did we mention we can see it from our house?) on Wednesday.

Callaloo is the name of both a traditional dish and the green used to make it. A callaloo preparation might include such exotic (for improvisatory weeknight cooking, anyway) ingredients as chiles, ham, pumpkin, okra, coconut milk, and seafood.

There are several leafy greens called "callaloo," but the name seems to be most commonly applied to amaranth, a plant usually grown for its protein-rich grain. (Most of the "amaranth" recipes I found were for breads.)

My opinion? It's one of those sturdy greens, common in regional cooking, possibly eaten for its prevalence rather than its deliciousness (cf. collard greens, dandelions). They're best cooked for a long time (and possibly with bacon/ham/pork, if you swing that way).

We steam-sauteed ours with red onion, edamame, and a spoonful of hoisin sauce. (Recently we did collards the same way, with onion, garlic, and hakurei turnips, greens and all.) Not bad, and it's a quick side of greens.

CSA relevance? Well, a little bird tells me that Enterprise Farm is supplying callaloo locally.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Garlic Scapes and Pasta, Two Ways

I can't quite believe that it's July.

Could it be the fact that my tomato plants are still just six inches high? Is it that I'm wearing sweaters and gloves in my office? Or is it the garlic scapes in the CSA box?

Usually associated with the very beginning of the growing season and the early farmers' markets, garlic scapes are the long curly shoots of the garlic plant.

Jack improvised two delicious recipe-less pasta sauces with our bunch. (They may be impossible to replicate, in which case I'm just telling you about them to brag.)

For the first, he simmered half the garlic scapes, finely chopped, in olive oil. Then he added white beans, coarsely smushing them with a wooden spoon. Then he added milk, butter, and cream (probably at least one of those is redundant) and salt until delicious. YUM.

The second was supposed to be a pesto. It started with LOTS of toasted walnuts. Run through the food processor with half our bunch of garlic scapes and a handful of basil, they became ... very green, very garlicky walnut butter.

(To try to tip the vegetable:nut ratio, I blended in a handful of frozen peas and a few tablespoons of water while Jack was occupied with sauce #1. You could do this in a more surreptitious manner if you defrosted the peas first.)

We skipped most of the olive oil of a more usual pesto, since there was plenty of nut oil in the mixture, but we did blend in lots of Parmesan, salt, and pepper. The result was surprisingly pesto-like. (For traditionalists, here are a couple more standard garlic scape pestos.)