Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Week 3: Panko-Sage Cod and Quinoa Pilaf

Panko-Sage Cod, with Quinoa Pilaf and marinated radishes.

Sage is an herb that I strongly associate with autumn flavors (squash, pumpkin, Thanksgiving turkey) so I was momentarily stumped when it appeared in this week's share. The Programmer, ever helpful, suggested that I seek some sage advice (yes, you can groan), but in the end I found inspiration in my own recipe files.

I make variations of cod-and-crumbs all the time; sage -- which complements fish as well as roasted meats or poultry -- was a nice change from the oregano or basil that I typically use. I worked the rest of the sage into a quinoa pilaf and a spinach quiche, using up CSA zucchini and spinach, respectively.

As for the rest of this week's share, we're keeping up with the lettuce (plenty of salad); made marinated radishes; and made a pot of vegetarian chili with a second CSA zucchini. I've also been experimenting with honeydew and CSA mint.

Panko-Sage Cod
(Original recipe)

1.25 lbs boneless, skinless cod fillet
About 1 Tbsp light mayonnaise
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup chopped sage leaves
1 cup panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
Garlic powder

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil (optional; it aids clean-up) and lightly spray the foil with non-fat cooking spray. Lay the fish on the baking sheet. If the tail end is very thin, turn it under itself so the fillet is of an even thickness. Spread a light coating of mayonnaise over the fillet.

Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Lightly saute the sage for 2 to 3 minutes, then remove from the heat. Add the panko to the skillet and stir to combine with the sage and oil. Season the mixture to taste with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Spoon the crumbs over the fish, pressing lightly into the mayonnaise so the crumbs adhere. Depending on the size of your fillet, you may have crumbs left over. Bake the fish for about 15 minutes, or until it is cooked through; the flesh should appear opaque when done. Serves 3 to 4.

Quinoa Pilaf
(Original recipe)

2 cups water (or broth)
1/4 tsp salt (omit if using broth)
1 cup red quinoa
1 cup chopped red onion
1/3 cup chopped sage leaves
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup sliced brown mushrooms (cremini or baby portobello)
1 small zucchini, diced (about 1.5 cups)

Bring water and salt (or broth) to a boil. Add quinoa, lower heat and cook, covered, 15 to 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium skillet. Add onions and saute about 5 minutes, or until they soften and begin to brown. Add sage leaves. Cook 2 minutes more, or until the leaves crisp a bit. Remove mixture from skillet and set aside. In the same skillet, saute the mushrooms and zucchini until they soften and begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Mix the vegetables into the quinoa and serve hot. The pilaf is also good the next day, with a bit of feta cheese mixed in.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Week 2 (Part 2): Pasta With Spinach and Peas; Sesame Noodles With Radish

Kit and Caboodle cannot live on salad alone. For that, we have pasta.

Fortunately, it's hard to go wrong with vegetables and pasta. We combined peas and spinach (both from this week's share) to make a Spring-y alternative to red sauce. Meanwhile, we used up a new bunch of CSA radishes in an Asian-inspired side dish to accompany grilled chicken and grilled romaine.

Pasta With Spinach and Peas
(Inspired by many recipes. I don't care for creamy sauces, but you could easily substitute heavy cream for the quarter-cup of water.)

1 pound dried pasta, any shape (I used penne)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces fresh spinach leaves, washed well, roughly chopped if large
1.5 cups shelled fresh peas
1/4 cup water
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook and drain the pasta as usual. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or a large skillet with a lid over medium heat. When the oil is hot, sauté the garlic for about a minute (do not let it brown), then stir in the spinach in two or three handfuls, letting it wilt a bit between additions.

When all of the spinach has wilted (this takes just a couple of minutes), add the peas and water (or cream, if desired). Cover the pot and simmer the vegetables for about 3 minutes, or until the peas are tender. Remove from heat, then add the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the vegetables over the pasta. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Sesame Noodles With Radish
(Adapted from The Boston Globe Magazine)

1 package (about 13 ounces) whole wheat or "whole grain blend" linguine
3 Tbsp sesame oil, divided use 
2.5 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2.5 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1.5 tsp sugar
6 to 12 radishes, cut into short matchsticks (about 1.5 cups when sliced)
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into strips
2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
5 scallions, thinly sliced

Cook the pasta as usual in a large pot of boiling water. Drain the noodles and rinse them with cold water until they are cool to the touch. Drain again thoroughly. Place the noodles in a large serving bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and toss to coat.

Whisk the remaining sesame oil with the vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Add the dressing to the noodles, along with the radishes, cucumber, sesame seeds, and scallions. Toss well and serve.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Week 2 (Part 1): Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

A week into the season and I'm up to my eyeballs in leafy vegetables. Red leaf, Boston, and romaine lettuce. Kale. Spinach. More baby beet greens. Not to mention most of a head of green leaf lettuce that we didn't finish last week.

Folks, we're having salad. A lot of salad. And something with kale. So let's start with dessert first.

I had been eying a crisp recipe for a couple of weeks, and with three fresh quarts of CSA strawberries this week (along with all of those greens), I had no qualms about putting a few of the berries to an experiment. The twist with this recipe is that it uses oil, rather than butter, to form the crumb topping. That makes it dairy free without the use of stick margarine. Another plus is that the yield is only four or five servings, making it a right-sized dessert for our household. In spite of all the salad we're eating, we really don't need too much dessert around the house to tempt us.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp (Dairy Free)
(Adapted from a Stop & Shop supermarket recipe. Best served warm. The crumb topping loses its "crispness" as it cools.)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 lb rhubarb (2 to 3 stalks), sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 Tbsp orange juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries

Combine flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Stir in oil with a fork until the mixture forms crumbs. Set aside.

Place the rhubarb and orange juice in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat just until the rhubarb begins to soften, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Combine the granulated sugar and cornstarch, and stir into the rhubarb. Mix in the strawberries.

Pour the fruit mixture into a 1-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with the reserved crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, until bubbly. Serves 4.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Week 1: Beef Stir Fry With Rhubarb

I know, I know. A quart of strawberries and a couple of stalks of rhubarb logically pair up for a pie or a crisp or something like that. But the first quart of local strawberries quickly becomes a pint of strawberries, and then a handful of strawberries. And the rhubarb? Well, the rhubarb needs other partners that benefit from its natural acidity. Like beef and onions and cilantro.

So stir fry it was.

It was a good haul for the first week of the season. In addition to the strawberries, rhubarb, and cilantro, we received two enormous heads of leaf lettuce; a handful of beet greens; a bunch of elongated, mild radishes; tomato, chive, and oregano plants for our garden; and a jar of honey. Plenty of salad this week, and I've been snacking on radishes with butter and French bread. After the stir fry, I put the rest of the cilantro into a spicy sauce to top some fish (Arctic char, to be specific). I'm holding onto a bit of rhubarb, in the expectation that more strawberries are on the way.

Beef Stir Fry With Rhubarb
(Original recipe)

1 pound thinly sliced beef
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup thinly sliced rhubarb (1 large stalk)
1/2 pound brown mushrooms (i.e. cremini or baby portobello), sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp minced ginger root
1/2 cup sliced celery (about 1 stalk)
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, minced
2 green onions, sliced

Marinate beef in soy sauce while you prepare your other ingredients, or for up to one hour.

Heat oil in a wok or a deep frying pan with sloped sides. Add the beef, along with any soy sauce in the bowl; brown the beef, stirring frequently, until just cooked through. Remove beef and set aside.

Add the onions and rhubarb to any liquid remaining in the frying pan and cook for about 2 minutes or until the onion starts to soften and turn translucent. Add the mushrooms, garlic, and ginger, and cook for about 3 minutes more, or until the mushrooms soften.

Return the beef to the pan and add the celery. Cook just until the beef is heated through, so the celery retains some crunch, about 2 minutes. Off heat, stir in the cilantro and green onions. Serve over rice.

Note: If you desire more sauce, mix in additional soy sauce, or a combination of soy sauce, dry sherry, and corn starch, when you return the meat to the pan.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Hoping for Chard ...

Our farm share resumes this Friday. I haven't a clue as to what we're getting, but that's OK. After three summers of CSA participation, The Programmer and I can tackle just about anything when it comes to produce. Or, at least, I think we can; the jury is still out on broccoli rabe.

In the run-up to the CSA season, I've been experimenting with herb and spice combinations. Recently, we've had from-scratch falafel, tzatziki, Indian-spiced potatoes, and cilantro-mint dressing. I expect to be sharing more about these recipes as the season progresses.

Meanwhile, it's time to sit back and see what the week brings. Chard, maybe? Pretty please?