Tuesday, July 28, 2009

CSA Summer Harvest #4

In our CSA bag this week, we received sweet onions, Kennebec new potatoes, basil, Italian flat-leaf parsley, beets, and eggplant. I also harvested a bunch of petite Roma tomatoes from my own container garden—they were so sweet!

I made delicious Eggplant Parmigiano with the eggplant, basil, and garlic; and I used the tomatoes, garlic, and fresh herbs in Pearl Pasta with Grilled Summer Veggies.

Pearl Pasta with Grilled Summer Veggies

As a locavore, I love all the fresh summer vegetables and herbs we’re getting from the garden, the farmer’s markets, and our CSA share! This recipe was a great way to use them in a single dish, and it was super easy to prepare.

McHubby put the veggies on the grill while I worked on the Israeli couscous, the larger pearl-like variety of couscous. When the veggies were done, it was just a quick slice into bite-sized pieces, with grilled portobello mushrooms added to the mix. Toss the veggies with the couscous, add the fresh herbs, and enjoy!

Toasted Israeli Couscous Salad with Grilled Summer Vegetables, Bobby Flay

½ cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 green zucchini, quartered lengthwise
2 yellow zucchini, quartered lengthwise
6 spears asparagus, trimmed
12 cherry tomatoes
1 red bell pepper, quartered and seeded
1 yellow bell pepper, quartered and seeded
¼ cup basil chiffonade (stack leaves, roll in a cigar shape and cut crosswise into thin strips)
¼ cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound Israeli couscous
3 cups vegetable stock, heated

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard and garlic, slowly add the olive oil and whisk until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Pour ½ the marinade over the vegetables and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Preheat the grill. Remove the vegetables from the marinade and grill the vegetables until just cooked through. Cut the zucchini and peppers into ½-inch pieces, cut the tomatoes in half.

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, add the couscous and toast until lightly golden brown. Cover the couscous with the hot stock and bring to a boil, cook until al dente and drain well. Place in a large serving bowl, add the grilled vegetables and herbs and toss with the remaining vinaigrette. Serve at room temperature.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Eggplant Parmigiano

When we received eggplants and fresh basil in our CSA bag this week, I immediately knew that I wanted to make Eggplant Parmigiano. It’s one of my favorite Italian dishes. This recipe really looks more complicated than it is. Assembling this dish is much like preparing a lasagna, except that you use fried eggplant instead of pasta. When I was putting our grocery list together, I was happy to discover that we actually already had most of the ingredients in the pantry—love it when that happens!

After baking for an hour in the oven, the Eggplant Parmigiana came out beautifully browned and bubbling. This dish was delicious! McHubby even went back for seconds. I served it with a side salad of baby spinach and mixed greens topped with bacon, sliced garden-fresh tomatoes, shallots, pignolis, and a light, lemon vinaigrette.

Source: Eggplant Parmesan, Tyler Florence

For the Spicy Tomato Sauce
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons capers, drained
2 (28-ounce) cans tomatoes (recommended: San Marzano), crushed by hand
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, hand torn
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Eggplant
4 cups dried bread crumbs
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
Extra-virgin olive oil
4 pounds medium eggplants, trimmed and cut lengthwise into ½-inch-thick slices

For the Cheese Mixture
2 pounds whole milk ricotta cheese
½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1 ¼ cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 pounds shredded mozzarella cheese

First make the sauce: Put a large saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the olives, red pepper flakes, and capers, and let that cook for 2 minutes, stirring often. Toss in the tomatoes with their juices and bring to a low simmer. Stir in the basil and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Combine the bread crumbs, garlic powder, and oregano in a shallow bowl; 
season generously with salt and pepper and mix well. Crack 3 of the eggs into another shallow bowl; season with salt and pepper and beat with a fork to mix. Put the flour in another shallow bowl and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the eggplant, flour, beaten eggs, and bread crumbs on a work surface near the stove.

Stir together the ricotta and ½ cup of the Parmigiano cheese. Stir in the basil and remaining 2 eggs, and season with salt and pepper. 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To assemble the dish, first get yourself set up with a large, buttered baking dish. Have ready the eggplant, the ricotta mixture, the tomato sauce, the shredded mozzarella cheese and the remaining ¾ cup grated Parmigiano. To start, spoon some of the tomato sauce over the bottom of the baking dish. Now add a layer of eggplant. Spread with half of the ricotta mixture. Spoon another layer of tomato sauce over and sprinkle with about one-third of the mozzarella. Repeat with a layer of eggplant, the rest of the ricotta, tomato sauce, and another third of the mozzarella. Finish with the rest of the eggplant, the rest of the tomato sauce, and the rest of the mozzarella. Sprinkle with the ¾ cup Parmigiano.

Put the dish in the oven and bake for about 1 hour, until golden and bubbling. Let stand for about 20 minutes before cutting.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Peach and Blueberry Crumbles

McHubby was pretty excited when I made these little treats. We’ve been trying to eat healthier lately, so I haven’t made many desserts for a while. My hand was forced, however, when Aggie of Aggie’s Kitchen selected this recipe for Barefoot Bloggers. At least it has fruit in it, right?

My only substitution was using my
vanilla-perfumed sugar instead of regular sugar. This dessert incorporates in-season peaches and blueberries and tops the fruit with a wonderful sweet crumble. Serve alone or a la mode with a scoop of vanilla ice cream—either way, this is a tasty treat!

Source: Peach and Blueberry Crumbles, Barefoot Contessa at Home

For the Fruit
2 pounds firm, ripe peaches (6-8 peaches)
2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup fresh blueberries (½ pint)

For the Crumble
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Immerse the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until their skins peel off easily. Place them immediately in cold water. Peel the peaches, slice them into thick wedges, and place them in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, granulated sugar, and flour. Toss well. Gently mix in the blueberries. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. Spoon the mixture into ramekins or custard cups.

For the topping, combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Rub the mixture with your fingertips until it’s in big crumbles, then sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Place the ramekins on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the tops are browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

If you want to make these early, store the unbaked crumbles in the refrigerator and bake before dinner. Serves 5 to 6.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

CSA Summer Harvest #3

In our CSA bag this week, we received sweet onions, fresh Rocambole hardneck garlic, Thai basil, Asian eggplant, shallots, Swiss red chard, and squash. The newsletter we received with our weekly harvest explained the process of hand labor involved in growing the sweet onions, shallots, and garlic. “All are planted one plant at a time by hand, weeded by hand at least once, then harvested and cleaned by hand. Lots of hands.”

From this week’s bounty, I used the squash and basil in Grilled Zucchini Rolls with Herbs and Cheese. I made Szechuan Eggplant Stir-Fry with the Asian eggplant, Thai basil, and garlic. With the Swiss red chard, onions, and garlic, I made Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Swiss Chard and Pecorino Cheese.

Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Swiss Chard and Pecorino Cheese

This dinner came together so fast, and I was able to use the Swiss red chard, onions, and garlic from my CSA bag. The result is such a simple pasta dish, light and full of fresh flavor with a touch of heat, and using whole-wheat spaghetti keeps it on the healthier side. 

Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Swiss Chard and Pecorino Cheese, Giada de Laurentiis

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 bunches Swiss chard, trimmed and chopped (about 14 cups)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14 ½-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juices
¼ cup dry white wine
¼ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
8 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti
¼ cup pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino cheese
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

Heat the oil in a heavy large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the chard and sauté until it wilts, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes with their juices, wine, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer until the tomatoes begin to break down and the chard is very tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Season the chard mixture, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring frequently, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the spaghetti. Add the spaghetti to the chard mixture and toss to combine.

Transfer the pasta to serving bowls. Sprinkle the olives, cheese, and pine nuts and serve.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Szechuan Eggplant Stir-Fry

When I received Asian eggplant and Thai basil in my CSA bag this week, I thought I could probably pair the two together in an Asian dish. McHubby doesn't care much for eggplant, so when I found this recipe, I thought it might offer enough flavor that he would forget that it was in there. It worked! This is an easy recipe that comes together very quickly. Best of all, McHubby thought he was eating mushrooms instead of eggplant. He enjoyed this dish so much he said he wanted to have it again.

I couldn't find the red chile at the market, so I used a few dashes of crushed red pepper instead. For a vegetarian version, simply substitute vegetable stock for the chicken broth.

Szechuan Eggplant Stir-Fry, Tyler Florence and JoAnn Cianciulli

5 Asian eggplants, about 2 pounds
3 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 green onions, white and green parts, sliced on a diagonal
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 fresh red chile, sliced
½ cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
Thai basil and fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

Cut the eggplants in ½ lengthwise and then slice crosswise into wedges, no more than 1-inch wide.

Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high flame and add the oils; tilt the pan to coat all sides. When you see a slight smoke, add a layer of eggplant, stir-fry until seared and sticky, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the eggplant to a side platter and cook the remaining eggplant in same manner, adding more oil, if needed.

After all the eggplant is out of the pan, add the green onions, ginger, garlic, and chile; stir-fry for a minute until fragrant. Add the broth. In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and cornstarch until the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved. Pour the soy sauce mixture into the wok and cook another minute, until the sauce has thickened. Put the eggplant back in the pan, tossing quickly, until the sauce is absorbed. Garnish with sesame seeds, Thai basil, and cilantro and serve.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Grilled Zucchini Rolls with Herbs and Cheese

Our neighborhood had a community picnic yesterday, where neighbors were asked to bring a side dish to share. I decided to bring a vegetable side dish and thought this recipe would be perfect, since it could also be a finger food.

I doubled the recipe and used both zucchini and yellow squash from my CSA bag. To cut the zucchini and squash in thin and uniform slices, I used my mandoline. McHubby grilled the slices while I prepared the goat cheese mixture. Then we simply assembled and rolled. These were delicious and a big hit at the picnic.

3 zucchini (about ½ pound each), sliced lengthwise into ¼-inch slices
1 tablespoon olive oil
⅛ teaspoon salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ ounces reduced-fat soft goat's cheese
1 tablespoon freshly minced parsley leaves
½ teaspoon lemon juice
2 cups baby spinach leaves
⅓ cup basil leaves

Discard the outermost slices of zucchini and brush the rest of the slices with the oil on both sides. Season with salt and pepper. Place on a preheated grill or grill pan for about 4 minutes on each side, or until tender.

In a small bowl combine the goat cheese, parsley leaves and lemon ju
ice, mashing with a fork.

Put ½ teaspoon of the cheese mixture about ½-inch from the end of a zucchini slice. Top with a few spinach leaves and 1 small, or half of a large basil leaf. Roll up and place seam side down on a platter. Repeat with the rest of the zucchini slices.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

CSA Summer Harvest #2

Each week, as we approach Wednesday, I get more and more excited to see what we’ll receive in our CSA bag. This week, we received sweet onions, squash, cucumbers, garlic curls, beets, lettuce, cabbage, and basil.

I made pesto two ways: with the garlic curls, I made
Garlic Scape Pesto, and I used the basil to make regular Pesto. I made Southern Fried Cabbage with the sweet onion and cabbage. I used the beets in Citrus Beet Ice Cream and in Roasted Beet Salad with Maple-Glazed Walnuts and Chive-Ginger Dressing along with the red-leaf lettuce. I used the cucumbers in making Teriyaki Chicken with Pickled Cucumbers.

Teriyaki Chicken with Pickled Cucumbers

Teriyaki chicken reminds me of my grandmother, who made it almost weekly for dinner. Its sweet salty flavor permeates the meat of the chicken. When the chicken is grilled, the smokiness just adds another layer of wonderful flavor. This recipe pairs the chicken with pickled cucumbers, which gives me a great way to use the cukes I received in my latest CSA bag.

Teriyaki Chicken with Pickled Cucumbers, Bobby Flay

2 cups
1 cup
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup pineapple juice
6 tablespoons sugar or honey, plus 1 tablespoon
1 (3 to 4-inch) piece fresh ginger, cut into coins
¾ cup rice vinegar
Pinch red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon salt plus extra salt and freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning
2 English cucumbers, sliced ¼-inch thick
4 bone-in chicken breasts

4 drumsticks
4 chicken thighs

Heat grill to medium. Whisk together the mirin, sake, soy sauce, pineapple juice, 6 tablespoons sugar or honey, and ginger in a medium saucepan and cook on the grates of the grill until the sugar has melted and the mixture has thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the sauce cool completely.

Whisk together the rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon sugar, red pepper flakes, and ½ teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Add the cucumbers and stir to combine. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Heat grill to medium. Lightly season the chicken with salt and pepper. Place the chicken on the grill, skin side down, and grill until golden brown and slightly charred, about 4 to 5 minutes. Brush with some of the teriyaki sauce, turn over, and continue grilling and brushing with the sauce every few minutes until cooked through, about 25 more minutes. Transfer to a platter with the marinated cucumbers and serve.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Citrus Beet Ice Cream

I received beets in my CSA basket this week and wanted to do something different with them. So when I saw this recipe for beet ice cream, that certainly seemed different! This recipe is somewhere between an ice cream and a sorbet; it does indeed have a cream component, but because there is only a small amount (compared with many other ice cream recipes), it has more of a sorbet-like consistency.

The final concoction was a bright, unmistakable fuchsia color. The flavor of this ice cream was surprisingly light and refreshing, sweet and earthy. Although beet ice cream wouldn't necessarily be my first choice of flavors when I'm craving a sweet treat, McHubby and I really liked it. Serve with a chocolate component, such as miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips or a smooth chocolate sauce, to complement the flavors.

Source: Citrus Beet Ice Cream, Noir

3 medium-size beets
1 small orange, zested and juiced
8 oz (about 1 cup) sour cream
¾ cup vanilla sugar
½ cup half-and-half

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Wrap the beets in foil and roast in the oven until very tender, about 45 minutes. Remove, when cool enough to handle, peel beets and chop finely.

Place the beets in a blender or food processor. Add the juice of the small orange and about 1 teaspoon of the orange zest. Purée the mixture until you have a rough purée. Add the sour cream, sugar, and half-and-half. Purée the mixture until completely smooth and combined. Press the mixture through a fine mesh sieve.

Refrigerate to chill the mixture completely, several hours or overnight. Churn in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.

To serve, drizzle with a little chocolate or balsamic syrup.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Roasted Beet Salad with Maple-Glazed Walnuts and Chive-Ginger Dressing

One of the classic ways to enjoy beets is in a salad. This recipe can be served as a beet salad on its own or on top of baby greens. This is a delicious salad that highlights the sweetness of the roasted beets and maple-glazed walnuts and pairs nicely with the tart flavor of the chive-ginger dressing. This dish can certainly be served with the beets as the main component, but I usually prefer beets in a supporting role than a leading role, so I served over a bed of fresh red leaf lettuce. Such a lovely summer salad!

From the
Stonewall Kitchen Harvest cookbook: “Peeling cooked beets can be messy; you may want to wear rubber gloves so you don’t stain your fingers, and work on a sheet of plastic wrap to avoid staining your counters or work surface.”

Source: Roasted Beet Salad with Maple-Glazed Walnuts and Chive-Ginger Dressing,
Stonewall Kitchen Harvest

For the Beets and Walnuts:
9 small to medium yellow and/or red beets, preferably no bigger than 2 inches across
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
1 cup walnut halves
2 ½ tablespoons maple syrup
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the Ginger Vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon finely chopped or grated fresh ginger
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 ½ tablespoons minced fresh chives, or minced chopped scallions (green parts only)
2 tablespoons balsamic or red wine vinegar
4 ½ tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ tablespoons minced fresh chives, or minced chopped scallions (green parts only), for garnish

To prepare the beets and walnuts:
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. using 3 large pieces of aluminum foil, create 3 “packages,” wrapping 3 beets in each. Roast for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until beets feel tender in the center when pierced with a small, sharp knife. (Some of the beets may be done after 45 minutes of roasting, while others may take closer to 1 ½ hours, depending on their thickness and freshness. Keep checking and removing the beets as they finish cooking.) Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Unwrap each packet and, using your fingers or a small, sharp knife, peel off the beet skin.

In a medium skillet, heat the oil and butter over medium heat. Add the walnuts and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the maple syrup, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes, or until all the walnuts are glazed. Remove from the heat and set aside. (The beets and walnuts can be made 24 hours ahead of time; cover and refrigerate.)

To make the vinaigrette:
Mix the ginger, salt, pepper, chives, vinegar, and oil in a small bowl.

Thinly slice the beets and arrange on a serving platter. Spoon the walnuts around the edges of the beets and pour the vinaigrette on top. Garnish the salad with the chives. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Shrimp and Grits

I love love love Southern shrimp and grits! This dish is such a lovely comfort food with the creamy, warm, cheesy grits and saucy shrimp. This recipe produces a roux-stock mixture in which the shrimp are poached so that they are bathed in a light, spicy sauce. So yummy!

Adapted from:
Ultimate Shrimp and Grits, Tyler Florence; Bar Americain’s Gulf Shrimp and Grits, Bobby Flay

For the Grits:
4 to 5 cups water or chicken stock
Kosher salt
1 cup yellow stone ground cornmeal
1 cup grated white Cheddar
Freshly ground black pepper
3 green onions, thinly sliced, for garnish

For the Shrimp:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium white onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound andouille or spicy Italian spicy sausage, cut in chunks
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock
2 to 3 bay leaves
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on
Pinch cayenne pepper, adjust to personal preference
½ lemon, juiced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 green onions, sliced

To prepare the grits:
Bring 4 cups of the water and 2 teaspoons of salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Slowly whisk in the grits and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking until the grits are soft and have lost their gritty texture, whisking every few minutes, 15 to 20 minutes. If the mixture becomes too thick, add remaining water and continue cooking until absorbed. Add the cheese and whisk until smooth; season with salt and pepper.

To prepare the shrimp:
Place a deep skillet over medium heat and coat with the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic; sauté for 2 minutes to soften. Add the sausage and cook, stirring, until there is a fair amount of fat in the pan and the sausage is brown. Sprinkle in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to create a roux. Slowly pour in the chicken stock and continue to stir to avoid lumps. Toss in the bay leaves. When the liquid comes to a simmer, add the shrimp. Poach the shrimp in the stock for 2 to 3 minutes, until they are firm and pink and the gravy is smooth and thick. Add the cayenne pepper and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper; stir in the parsley and green onion. 

Spoon the grits into a serving bowl. Add the shrimp mixture and mix well. Serve immediately.

Southern Fried Cabbage

Last week, I made Vegetable and Herb Coleslaw with the cabbage in our CSA bag. So when we received cabbage again this week, I wanted to make something different. When I found this recipe, it inspired a whole Southern dinner theme. I ended up serving this dish with shrimp and grits.

Both McHubby and I enjoyed the cabbage prepared this way. I was careful not to cook the cabbage too long to the point of sogginess; rather, it still had a bit of crunch to it, and the supporting flavors of the onions, garlic, and bacon came through. 

Adapted from:
Southern Fried Cabbage

3 slices bacon, cut into ¼-inch strips
⅓ cup vegetable oil
1 head cabbage, cored and sliced
1 white onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pinch white sugar

Place the bacon into a large pot over medium heat. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until bacon is crisp. Add cabbage, onion, garlic, vegetable oil, and sugar to the pot. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook and stir continuously for 5 minutes, until tender.

Garlic Scape Pesto

Up until about a week ago, I never even knew what a garlic scape was. I quickly had to figure out what this strange, long, curly stem was in my CSA bag. After a search on one of my favorite go-to blogs, I learned that one of the best ways to enjoy garlic scapes was in this pesto sauce. The nice thing about pesto sauces is that it can be made and saved for later, either in the fridge or freezer.

Garlic Scape Pesto, A Mighty Appetite

1 cup garlic scapes (about 8 or 9 scapes), top flowery part removed, cut into ¼-inch slices

⅓ cup walnuts
¾ cup olive oil
¼-½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place scapes and walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and process until well combined and somewhat smooth. Slowly drizzle in oil and process until integrated. With a rubber spatula, scoop pesto out of bowl and into a mixing bowl. Add Parmigiano-Reggiano to taste; add salt and pepper. Makes about 6 ounces of pesto. Keeps for up to one week in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

For ½ pound short pasta such as penne, add about 2 tablespoons of pesto to cooked pasta and stir until pasta is well coated.


Since I had so much basil from my CSA bag, I made fresh pesto with it. Once made, it can be stored in the fridge or freezer. Just be sure to store it in a plastic baggie, pushing out all the air. This pesto has a great garlicky bite and a beautiful garden green color!

Pesto, Barefoot Contessa

¼ cup walnuts
¼ cup pignolis (pine nuts)
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ cups good olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Place the walnuts, pignolis, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Pasta Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

I’m not quite sure why I’ve never tried this recipe before (I even own this cookbook), so I was pleased to see that it was selected as the next Barefoot Bloggers selection, by Cat of Delta Whiskey. I used whole wheat fusilli pasta, and I omitted the olives—neither McHubby nor I like them. Instead, I substituted with an orange bell pepper and ¼ cup of toasted pignolis. I was also able to use fresh tomatoes from the farmer’s market (the ones in my garden aren’t quite ready yet) and fresh basil from my CSA basket. I was a little surprised at seeing only ½ pound of pasta to a full pound of mozzarella cheese in the list of ingredients, so I used half the amount of mozzarella.

What a wonderful pasta salad! The sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and capers in the dressing produce a combination of complementary flavors that blends well with the tomatoes and cheeses. I’ll happily make this dish again!

Source: Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Barefoot Contessa Family Style

½ pound fusilli (spirals) pasta
Kosher salt
Olive oil
1 pound ripe tomatoes, medium-diced
¾ cup good black olives, such as kalamata, pitted and diced
1 pound fresh mozzarella, medium-diced
6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

For the dressing:
5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons good olive oil
1 garlic clove, diced
1 teaspoon capers, drained
2 teaspoons kosher salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup packed basil leaves, julienned

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water with a splash of oil to keep it from sticking together. Boil for 12 minutes, or according to the directions on the package. Drain well and allow to cool. Place the pasta in a bowl and add the tomatoes, olives, mozzarella, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

For the dressing, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt, and pepper in a food processor until almost smooth.

Pour the dressing over the pasta, sprinkle with the Parmesan and basil, and toss well.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

First CSA Summer Harvest

McHubby and I bought a mini share with a CSA (community supported agriculture) at Potomac Vegetable Farms. I've been looking forward to the start of the summer share season for months and just couldn't wait to see what we would get! For our first harvest, we received sweet onions, summer squash, cucumber, red-leaf lettuce, basil, garlic curls (also called scapes), and cabbage. I used the onions, squash, and basil in a lovely Corn and Zucchini Sauté with Basil, I made a Greek salad using the lettuce, I prepared a Cucumber Salad, and I made Vegetable and Herb Coleslaw out of the cabbage.

I wasn’t familiar with the garlic curls, so I simply chopped them up, sautéed, and added to a salad. They had a soft, sweet, subtle garlicky flavor when sautéed. I hope I come across them again. And I'm looking forward to the next CSA harvest!

Corn and Zucchini Sauté with Basil

I just adore fresh summer corn, and I’m finding it everywhere lately since it’s in season! I also wanted to use some of the vegetables I received in my CSA bag this week, and this very simple recipe fit the bill. I used the summer squash I had instead of zucchini, and I added a sliced onion to the mix. It makes a light and tasty vegetable side dish!

Source: Corn and Zucchini Sauté with Basil, Everyday Food, July/August 2009

6 ears corn, husks and silks removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1 garlic clove, minced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
1 teaspoon white-wine vinegar

Cut off tip of each cob. Stand corn in a wide shallow bowl; using a sharp knife, slice downward to release kernels. Discard cobs.

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high. Add zucchini and garlic and cook, tossing, until zucchini is bright green, 1 to 2 minutes. Add corn and season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing, until corn is heated through, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in basil and vinegar.

Cucumber Salad

We received several cucumbers in our CSA bag, so I thought a cucumber salad would be a refreshing summer dish. This simple recipe was exactly what I had in mind.

My cucumbers weren’t English cukes, but they worked just fine. Remember to rinse the salted veggies well before tossing with the dressing.

Cucumber Salad, Ellie Krieger

2 English cucumbers (2 pounds)
1 small red onion
1 ½ tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons dried dill or 2 tablespoons fresh

Slice the cucumber lengthwise, remove the seeds, and slice thinly. Thinly slice the onion.

In a colander, toss the cucumber and onion with the salt and let it sit and drain for 20 minutes. Press the liquid out of the vegetables and rinse well with cold water.

In a medium bowl combine the vinegar and sugar and stir well. Add the cucumber mixture and toss to coat. Stir in the dill.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Vegetable and Herb Coleslaw

We received a head of cabbage in our CSA basket this week, so I thought coleslaw would be nice as a side dish with our Fourth of July dinner on the patio. I’ve made Ina’s recipe as written before, so this time I used the entire head of white cabbage instead of splitting between white and red cabbages, and I had extra herbs in my fridge that I added to brighten up the flavor a bit. I also didn’t use all of the dressing. I don’t like too much mayonnaise in my coleslaw, and there was enough to coat the veggies with extra left.

Adapted from:
Vegetable Coleslaw, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

1 pound white cabbage (½ small head)
¾ pound red cabbage (½ small head)
5 carrots
½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
½ teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh dill, chopped
2 cups good mayonnaise
¼ cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons celery seeds
1 teaspoon celery salt
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon lemon pepper

Fit a food processor with the thickest slicing blade. Cut the cabbages into small wedges and place horizontally into the feed tube. Process in batches. Next, fit the food processor with the grating blade. Cut the carrots in half and place in the feed tube so they are lying on their sides. Process in batches and mix in a bowl with the grated cabbages and fresh herbs.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, vinegar, celery seeds, celery salt, salt, pepper, and lemon pepper. Pour enough of the dressing over the grated vegetables to moisten them. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Favorite Baked Beans

These baked beans are the best! They couldn’t be any easier to make, either. It’s just a matter of mixing everything together in a bowl, pouring into a casserole dish, and baking for an hour. The bacon, molasses, crushed pineapple, and BBQ sauce create a perfect combination of sweet, tangy, and smoky flavors, and the French-fried onions add a crunchy topping.

This recipe can easily be made as vegetarian by using vegetarian baked beans and omitting the bacon. Use a bit of liquid smoke instead to impart the smoky flavor.

Sue and Gloria’s Baked Beans, Sue Mittelman and Gloria Zucker

4 (16-ounce) cans baked beans
1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup molasses
1 cup BBQ sauce
2 tablespoon yellow or brown mustard
5 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
1 (6-ounce) can French-fried onions, crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In large bowl, mix together beans, pineapple, molasses, BBQ sauce, mustard, bacon, and a third of the onions. Add some salt and pepper, to taste. Pour beans in 9 by 13-inch casserole dish and sprinkle remaining crushed onions and bacon on top. Cook in oven for 1 hour or until beans brown and bubble. Serve warm.