Thursday, June 24, 2010

A CSA Dinner

I was pretty proud of myself here... I baked the breadsticks, and made the pasta... just about everything is fresh, local and/or organic.

Anyway the caprese salad is what I wanted to share here-- the pasta was good, but not great.

Heirloom tomato (1 tomato per 2 or 3 people). Be careful with them, they have really fragile skins and break really easily.
Fresh mozzarella
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

1. Wash the basil and the spinach. Mix them together in roughly equal amounts, and lay out a bed of greens on a salad plate.
2. Cut the tomato into slices through the middle, removing the tough core if it is in any of the slices. Lay the slices in the center of the bed of greens, one or two slices per person. Lightly salt the tomato slices.
3. Slice the cheese, and add that to the plate.
4. Grind black pepper lightly over everything.
5. In a separate bowl, mix equal parts olive oil and balsamic. Whisk together completely just before serving. Drizzle over the plate at the table, and enjoy.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

CSA Veggies: Chard

So, as I blogged about before, I joined a CSA this summer. Today was my first produce pick up! It was very exciting. And since my CSA partner is out of the country at the moment, I have more food than I know what to do with right now...
Anyway, I of course had to cook with something new tonight: Chard.  I don't believe I'd ever had occasion to try chard, so it was all new. Plus we were in a hurry to make a late dinner tonight, so I referenced this Martha Stewart recipe and made my own version.

Pasta, a good swirly kind seems good
Protein (optional), diced. Sweet Italian sausage was awesome, but spicy sausage or chicken (etc) would be good too...
olive oil
onion, 1/4 to 1/2, chopped
garlic, 1 or 2 cloves, chopped
tomato, diced, 1 or 2
Chard, stems removed and chopped into smallish pieces
cheese (I had fresh mozerella on hand so I used it!)

1. Cook the pasta. (When you drain it, keep some of the pasta water)
2. Cook the sausage/protein. When partially done, toss in olive oil, onion, garlic, and any spices you want to add.
3. When the sausage is mostly done, add the chopped chard. If it looks dry, toss in a bit of the pasta water or more olive oil. Add the tomato at some point, according to how cooked you like tomatos. (Note: this would also work with a can of diced tomatos for the winter-- but add them earlier so they heat up and meld with the other flavors.)
4. Toss with pasta. Add cheese. Serve with salad, bread, whatever.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pesto, with apologies

Wow, it has been a long time since I posted here. Many apologies-- but I've survived exams and a summer field season in Egypt! Yay!
Upon arrival in the US, one of my first stops was the farmer's market to stock up on fresh produce. Honestly, the selection was poor but I did find a great deal-- a bunch of basil practically as big as I am for $3. Of course, that meant I made pesto.
I don't have photos, since we ate it all... but it looked as good as it tasted.

Pesto is really easy to make, especially if you happen to have a food processor. If not, you can do it in a blender or by hand, but it takes longer. Do not be intimidated.

First, wash and dry a bunch of basil. I didn't come close to using my whole bunch, but that's ok because it'll make a lovely caprese salad later. The drying part is pretty important, so don't get lazy and skip it. If you're blending, throw the basil (just leaves, no stems) and a bit of olive oil into the food processor with a clove of garlic. As it gets started, you can add more olive oil until it gets to the right consistency.

Pine nuts would be good in it too, but they're so expensive! So you can use almonds or something else if you want that toasty, nutty quality. You can add them whole, chopped, or blend them in. Salt and pepper to taste.

Grate up a big bunch of parmesan cheese, quite fine, so it'll mix in well. Finally, add the cheese after you're otherwise done. And just add the cheese to the part you're serving-- anything you're refrigerating or freezing should get cheesed when it's ready to be served.

If you want, you can thin the pesto with some nice starchy pasta water to make it spread over pasta better, and don't oil your pasta before you add the pesto, or it won't stick.

I tossed the pesto with some cubed chicken and halved cherry tomatos, and it was divine.