Thursday, June 24, 2010

Week Two: Zucchini-Feta Pancakes

I heard a radio clip on NPR the other day from the show Promises, Promises. Around here, it's more like Radishes, Radishes.

What do you get with a CSA?
You get enough lettuce to last a lifetime ...*

(*sung to the tune of I'll Never Fall in Love Again.)

zucchini-feta pancakesThree heads of lettuce this week, plus peas, cilantro, zucchini, beets, strawberries, a purple basil plant, and broccoli rabe. Not a tremendous load of produce to get through, which pleased me, because this was too busy of a week for much serious cooking.

For a quick dinner early in the week, I braised a head of Boston lettuce with peas and wine and mixed that into pasta. The remaining heads of lettuce became salad, as did the beets and beet greens. The broccoli rabe, I hate to say, looked a bit pathetic. The leaves will be dispatched in a pot of vegetable soup today; the stalks went directly into compost.

Highlight of the week was the zucchini, which became savory pancakes. Serve them as a light entree or side dish. The recipe makes enough for two to four people, depending on the rest of your meal and the eating habits of your children.

Zucchini-Feta Pancakes
(slightly adapted from The Moosewood Cookbook)

4 eggs, separated (yolks optional)
4 cups (packed) grated zucchini (2 to 3 zucchini)
1 cup finely crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup finely minced scallions
1 Tbsp. fresh oregano, finely minced (or 1 tsp. dried oregano)
Salt (I did not add any, because of the feta)
Black pepper to taste
1/3 cup flour
Olive oil or cooking spray, for frying pan

In a large bowl, mix together the zucchini, egg yolks (if using--I left them out), feta, scallions, seasonings, and flour. Beat the egg whites until stiff, and gently fold them into the zucchini mixture. Heat a little oil in a frying pan, or use cooking spray. Add spoonfuls of batter and cook on both sides until golden. I found that the pancakes had a tendency to stick (probably because of the cheese) and remained soft even when browned.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Week One: Strawberry Salad With Balsamic Vinaigrette

this week's shareCaboodle left me a note on the food section of last week's newspaper. "Can we make this sometime?" she scrawled in red ink above a recipe for broccoli rabe. Imagine my delight when broccoli rabe showed up among the heap of greens in our first week's CSA share.

Alas, the dish was not a total success. Oh, the recipe is worth keeping (blanch and drain broccoli rabe, saute it with garlic, top it with Parmesan and crumbs, and then brown it under the broiler). Nope, the problem was my unfamiliarity with the vegetable. Our bunch of broccoli rabe was far more stalky than leafy; it apparently needed to be cut into smaller pieces and cooked longer. I'll just have to try again the next time it comes around.

As for the rest of the share, we got most of the items we expected (salad greens and radishes and strawberries) and a few surprises (no rhubarb, but baby turnips and a six-pack of tomato plants). Salad has been the dominant food all week. We've been eating our way through Boston lettuce, romaine, red oak leaf, mesclun mix, and spring cress. Truth be told, the cress is a bit vexing. It has the look and feel of plastic garnish. Best use so far has been to chop it up fine and add it to egg salad.

For my favorite salad of the week, I paired up our sweet berries with peppery greens.

Strawberry Salad With Balsamic Vinaigrette

For the salad: Mix together romaine lettuce with arugula or another peppery salad green to taste. Top with ripe strawberries, quartered or halved, depending on size. Add other ingredients as desired. I kept my salad to just greens and berries, but I could see adding red onion or feta or cucumber. Serve with balsamic vinaigrette.

Balsamic Vinaigrette
(Adapted from various recipes on the Internet)

Whisk together:

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/8 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 cup olive oil (not extra-virgin)

Leftover dressing will keep in the refrigerator, but the oil will likely separate and harden. Just bring the dressing back to room temperature and whisk again before serving.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I received a pre-pickup e-mail from our CSA this week. Hurray! Anything that gives me a heads-up on the week's produce helps with the eventual cooking. It looks like we'll be getting strawberries, rhubarb, radishes, and a variety of greens on Friday. Check back later in the week to learn what we did with our stuff.

I have set a couple of goals for myself concerning this year's farm season. As always, I want to try out new vegetable-based recipes. This year in particular I want to explore cuisines that I don't often cook (Thai and Indian foods, for example). Also, since we'll be hosting a lot of family and friends late this summer, I'm planning on turning some of the early-season produce into freezable brunch foods -- quiche and quick breads, for example. Write in if you have a favorite recipe to share.

To my new CSA fans: I extend thanks to Public Radio Kitchen for linking to this blog and to my CSA Tips post. PRK lists my blog among the Healthy Eatin' sites, which means I probably shouldn't tell you about the birthday cake I made for Caboodle this week.

Okay, I'll tell you anyway. It was Rosie's Famous Chocolate Sour-Cream Cake Layers with Mocha Buttercream. If you don't have a version of this cookbook, hie thee to a bookstore or library. Consider it research for CSA-friendly recipes; just check out Rosie's Rhubarb Bars.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Parsley Challenge

chickpea saladI don't garden much, but over the years The Programmer has planted a variety of herbs. The ones that grow best for us -- parsley, chive, oregano -- are all perennials that survive despite neglect. I use them when I can, but the parsley is a bit of a challenge, because it grows so abundantly and The Programmer doesn't particularly care for it. That means I'm in need of good recipes that get rid of a lot of parsley at once.

Chimichurri is one option, as is tabbouleh (though I'm the only one here who really likes it). This week I came across a salad recipe that I'm adding to my list. It features not only parsley, but also radishes, another early-spring ingredient. The Programmer declared this one a keeper.

Chickpea, Carrot and Parsley Salad
(slightly adapted from Fine Cooking magazine)

1 can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped (stems discarded)
1 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup sliced radishes (1 bunch, or about 6 radishes)
1/2 cup chopped scallions (white and green parts of about 4 scallions)
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Black pepper, to taste
6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Put 1/2 cup of the chickpeas into a bowl and mash them coarsely. Stir in the remaining chickpeas, parsley, carrot, radishes, and scallions.

Using a small whisk or fork, combine the lemon juice, coriander, salt, black pepper, and olive oil. Pour over the salad and toss gently. Adjust seasonings if necessary and serve.

The salad keeps fine overnight. Serves four as a side dish.