Wednesday Evening Lentils

Wednesday’s dinner was a great success.

I started off with just a concept in my head – lentil curry – and I ran with it. I cooked the lentils in stock until they were tender, and boiled this week’s cauliflower until it just started to soften up. I then transferred all of that to a chef’s pan with a bunch of spices – curry powder, onion powder, garlic powder, ginger, paprika, cinnamon – and let it simmer for a few minutes. I added the leftover corn from last night, cut from the cobs, and half a can of coconut milk. I tested for taste and added salt and some more garlic, onion, and paprika. This I served with basmati rice and a quick raita.

My understanding of raita is that you’re supposed to strain the yogurt first, to make it thick, but I’d forgotten to do that ahead of time. So, I just used plain yogurt (which I got through Wrong Direction Farm, who partners with my main CSA) and salted cucumber chunks, and it tasted perfectly fine.  (Mediterranean Harvest is my original source for how to make raita, by the way.)

We had naan for a side, but that was pre-made. I also took the 4 adorable purple bell peppers that I got from Snapping Turtle Farm and stuffed them with hummus and chopped cucumbers. My 5 year-old especially appreciated that part of the meal.

I love meals like this, where everything is flavorful and filling, but doesn’t leave you feeling like you’ve eaten a brick. Cheers to a well-spiced vegetarian meal.

Sweet Potato Bean Bowls

Because of the heat, my share from Greengrocer Foodhub got delivered today, instead of yesterday. It feels a little silly to list off these shares, since I pick the items myself, but here goes anyway! Beets (and HOLY HELL, LOOK AT THOSE BEETS), white onions, red onions, cucumber, sweet potatoes, garlic, and raspberries.

Well, this was a blessing, because I was really itching for something with sweet potatoes for dinner. I started flipping through my recipe index, and came across 2 recipes that had potential, but I lacked some ingredients for each. “Smoky Sweet Potato Bowl” from Clean Eating, and “Sweet potatoes with Cilantro and Black Beans” from Simple & Delicious.

So,  I decided to make my own crossover. I started by scrubbing the sweet potatoes. I cubed them – skins on, that’s where the vitamins are – and tossed them in olive oil, chili powder, paprika, a little salt, and maple sugar.

Then, I roasted them low and slow – 325 degrees for about 45 minutes.

It was at about this point in the process that I lost my audience.

In a pan, I sauteed a red onion, finely chopped, until it started to soften. Then I added a generous helping (A cup? Cup and a half? I eyeballed it) of corn, and a can of red beans. I wanted black, but it turns out that I had none left in my pantry. I let that all cook for a bit before adding in the sweet potatoes and a couple of heaping tablespoonfuls of salsa. I heated the whole mixture through.

This got plated into bowls and topped (for the grown-ups) with a dollop of sour cream and a generous handful of chives. Little chef didn’t want sour cream.

It was SO GOOD. The pictures barely do it justice. And I’m thrilled, because this would be easy to stretch for company, and it was super easy. After a weekend filled with junk food, this was a refreshing reset.

Peanut Sweet Potato Curry

So, if a fraction of the meals that I make this season are even half as delicious as tonight’s dinner, I will feel like it’s been a success.

Tonight, we had Sweet Potato Curry, using a recipe from Vegan Richa.

OH MY GOD. It was peanut buttery, salty, sweet, just a touch of spicy… everything that is good in this world. I subbed in broccoli for the cauliflower, I doubled the peas, I added some garlic scapes, and I added more coconut milk than called for. (I threw in the whole can, because it was thicker than I anticipated at first.) Most of the recipe was CSA-sourced. The bell pepper, garlic, and ginger were store-bought. The basil came from my windowsill. Everything about this was fresh, satisfying, and delicious. Even Little Chef loved it; he declared, “this sauce is delicious! I want to lick it forever!”

A successful meal. Yum. Tomorrow is the first pickup for Montclair-Bloomfield. Onward into the most delicious time of the year!

Red Chili

Last week, I got beets in both of my CSA shares. I love beets, but I’ve been feeling a little off lately, and didn’t want any of my usual beet options. So, I made Beet Chili to freeze for this winter!

The recipe comes from Light & Healthy Cooking, a Good Housekeeping cookbook that I got on a bargain rack at PathMark years ago. A very well-spent $7, as many of my favorite recipes come from this book.

I normally hesitate to post pages of published cookbooks, but this recipe is readily available online here: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/a9756/valentine-red-chili-recipe/

I had to change a few things, none of which impacted the quality of the chili. I had green peppers, not red (thoroughly an aesthetic change), and I discovered partway through assembly that I did not have a can of tomatoes. However, I did have several fresh tomatoes, so I diced them up, along with some cherry tomatoes.

Before the long simmer:

And after:

As I implied above, this recipe freezes really well. If you’ve got a lot of beets and are running out of ways to use them, I highly recommend this recipe.

Vegetable Upside-Down Casserole

Tonight’s dinner ended up really delicious, though for a while there, I was convinced it was going to be a fail.

I picked up this book, used, at the local bookstore.

From it, I decided to make the “vegetable upside-down casserole.” For this, one can use basically any combination of veggies that sounds good. I used zucchini, carrots, peas, broccoli, and microgreens. She suggests you sautee them. I was lazy and did not.

To this baking dish of deliciousness, you add a biscuit-like dough, which is supposed to fill in the cracks as it bakes.

It was at this point that I started to worry. The dough didn’t go to the edges! It wasn’t particularly seep-y, so it didn’t seem to be getting down around the vegetable chunks. I was all set to have to pick up sandwiches on my way back from the afternoon’s plans.

Then, this magic happened:

It was delicious. It tasted like a pot pie without a ton of sauce, basically. I’m definitely going to make this again, perhaps with varying combinations of veggies.

BEETS.

I have an almost comical love of beets. Chelsa included some baby beets in the share this week, and here’s how I enjoyed my first beet fix of the season.

I used the greens as part of my breakfast this morning. I did a simple sautee of the beet greens with some EVOO, garlic, and black pepper. I topped this mess of greens with one of the nasturtium flowers that also came in my share.

That is a breakfast fit for finals week. The toast is topped with strawberry-cranberry jam, which is homemade. The egg is topped with chervil from my share.

(My day job is as a private tutor. All of my students have finals this week. This partly explains why I haven’t yet begun obsessively blogging.)

I then steamed the beets in a bamboo steamer until they were tender, shredded them, and made “beet tartare.” The dressing for the beets is mayonaise, mustard, lemon juice, and pepper.

I ate the beet tartare on toast triangles, along with a salad topped with pan-fried tempeh.

Today is the first pickup for the Bloomfield-Montclair CSA, so I anticipate having more to share later.

Microgreen Meatless Monday

I haven’t been blogging much about my microgreens. I’m new to the world of these tiny vitamin powerhouses, and I’m definitely on a learning curve. (I’ve been finding some interesting articles, though it has taken some creative keyword selection. Most of the information you find when searching “microgreens” relates to growing, rather than cooking.) To add to the learning time, it’s midterm season around here, so my student load is… well… insane. This means that I’ve mostly been using my microgreens as garnish on top of sandwiches or soup, which is not bad or inappropriate in the slightest; it’s just not really noteworthy.

Tonight was different. I got a real burst of inspiration, and I’m so thrilled with how it came out. I had lots of odds and ends to use up in my fridge, and I ran with the Meatless Monday theme. The result ended up being a tempeh, soba noodle, and vegetable salad, and it was sooooooo good.

First, I cubed some tempeh this afternoon and let it marinate. The marinade was a mixture of soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder, ginger, and maple syrup.

The rest of the work came closer to dinner time, as nothing took a particularly large amount of effort or time. I stir-fried the tempeh and big vegetables (broccoli, bell pepper, sugar snap peas) over high heat – I was going for a bit of a sear. I added the sugar snap peas last, because I did not want them to cook much.

Meanwhile, I cooked and drained the soba noodles – I only used one bundle, since that’s what I had left in my pantry – and rinsed them in cold water. After the vegetables had their quick pass in the  pan, I dumped them in a big salad bowl and stuck them in the fridge for a little while to cool.

Meanwhile, I made the dressing – some EVOO, garlic vinegar, basil-flower-and-orange vinegar (that I began steeping in September), honey, and brown mustard. This made WAY too much dressing, but I’m refrigerating the extra and will use it on salads.

Then, I began to assemble the salad. In went the soba noodles…

… and the greens.

The greens, by the way, were a mixture. I used the remaining garnet mustard from last week, as well as a hefty amount of the signature mix (which is brassica-heavy) and a bit of the alfalfa sprouts. I also threw in some basil leaves from the plant that’s hanging out on my windowsill currently.

A quick toss with some dressing…

Gorgeous.

Happy Meatless Monday, everyone!

Odds and Ends Pasta

Sometimes, CSA cooking doesn’t look fancy or experimental. Sometimes, you find yourself making “Oh crap, throw the remaining vegetables in” pasta.

Half a large onion, a couple of significantly-sized cloves of garlic (German White, for you garlic afficionados. We went to the Pocono Garlic Festival earlier this month, and I’m still working through my delicious stash…), two zucchini, and two red bell peppers.

Added a jar of tomato sauce (in this case, Classico Cabernet Marinara) and some chopped up basil from my garden.

Let it simmer for a while…

Then served it over tri-color penne.

It was the kind of easy, satisfying, and veggie-packed meal I needed after my afternoon of stock canning. But that is an article for another time. The takeaway here should be – when in doubt, throw the extra veggies over pasta. You are unlikely to regret it.

Peanut Slaw

At some point during the summer, we got some red cabbage, and I finally tried Thug Kitchen‘s Creamy Peanut Slaw recipe. It was heavenly. Peanutty without being sticky and cloying. A welcome change from a mayo-based or yogurt-based slaw.

I was faced with a choice this week, as I stared at this beautiful, HUGE head of Napa Cabbage that came in our share.

I could do the tried-and-true thing and make my own summer rolls or egg rolls. I could make my own Pad See Ew. Or…. I could make a twist on the peanut slaw. The choice seemed pretty clear, especially with these beautiful scallions we also received:

First, I thinly sliced the cabbage

And the scallions

We haven’t talked about stock yet, but when you’re cutting most vegetables, particularly varieties of onions and garlic, you can save the scraps to make your own (healthier, basically free) vegetable stock for cooking. My ultimate reference point for vegetable stock is here, on Eileen’s blog. You’ll notice, as she recommends, that I did not set aside any of the cabbage. Adding cabbage to your stock is a one-way ticket to Stinkytown. I save my cuttings in gallon-sized plastic bags in the freezer and make stock mostly as needed. I’ve been known to can it when my freezers (3 of them; I’m ridiculous) get too full.

That’s all I used for veggies – if I’d had sprouts, cucumbers, carrots, or radishes hanging around, I would have added them, but I did not. I then made the sauce as per the recipe – peanut butter, rice vinegar, soy sauce, warm water, lime juice, ginger – and mixed it in with the cabbage. It always shocks me how much coverage you get out of what looks like such a small amount of sauce!

I added some sesame seeds for good measure, and ta-daa! A delicious side.

I had a ton of leftovers (it was only my son and I for dinner last night, and cabbage is one of the few things he’s not interested in… which I’d say is not surprising or terrible at three), so I got creative one more time this afternoon for lunch. I boiled up some tofu shiratiki noodles and made a cold noodle bowl with some of the slaw. I added some extra soy sauce to help the noodles to stop sticking together and distribute evenly, and then I decided to add some Sriracha for a kick. Hot sauce is actually in the original dressing recipe, but I omitted it out of toddler-mom-habit, not thinking about the fact that he would likely not eat the salad anyway.

I was not disappointed in my experiment. I would’ve liked some peanuts to top it with, but the whole point was that I was just working with things that were on hand, so beggars can’t be choosers.