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Sometimes, simpler is better. The baby greens mesclun mix we get in our CSA share is so flavorful on its own that this week, I decided to turn it into a super simple salad. I added sundried tomatoes and goat cheese, and made a balsamic vinaigrette to dress it. A little tangy. A little sweet. A lot green. It was great.
Mesclun, Sundried Tomato, and Goat Cheese Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
[for the salad:]
- 12 oz. mesclun greens
- 1 cup julienned sundried tomatoes
- 5 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
[for the vinaigrette:]
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- Combine the lettuce, sundried tomatoes, and goat cheese in a large bowl.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Drizzle in the olive oil a little bit at a time, whisking all the while.
- Toss the salad with the dressing. Serve immediately.
Spinach & Couscous Salad
- 2 1/4 cups water
- a 10-ounce box couscous (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 small bunch spinach, shredded fine (about 2 cups)
- 3 large scallions, sliced thin
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill, or to taste print a shopping list for this recipe
- In a saucepan bring water to a boil and stir in couscous and salt.
- Remove pan from heat and let couscous stand, cover 5 minutes.
- Fluff couscous with a fork and transfer to a bowl.
- Stir in lemon juice, oil, and salt and pepper to taste and cool couscous completely.
- Stir in spinach, scallions, and dill and chill salad, covered, at least 2 hours or overnight.
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One of the things I love about cooking is figuring out patterns that you can create endless combinations from.
Salads are a great case in point. There are different elements that will always go well together, and a variety of ingredients that can be categorized in this element.
When I was wondering what I should do with the arugula we got this week, I decided I wanted it raw so the peppery-delicate flavor came through. I wanted it to be a salad. But I didn’t want just greens, and I didn’t want to find a recipe on the internet that required me to go out and get additional ingredients. So I used a pattern that tends to work really well:
- Leafy green
- Fresh herbs
- Dried fruit
I could make months worth of meals based on those 5 elements and never make the same thing twice. So here’s an arugula and orzo salad that I concocted with stuff I had sitting in my fridge and pantry - and it got the Fiancé seal of approval when I served it with a white fish for dinner.
Orzo & Arugula Salad
Serves 3-4 as a side
- 6 oz. orzo
- 1 bunch of arugula, washed, stems removed
- 1/2 - 1 cup cilantro leaves & tender stems, chopped
- 1/2 cup dried unsweetened cranberries
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 3-4 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- Parmesan or feta, for serving
- Cook the orzo according to the instructions on the package. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the arugula, cilantro, cranberries and pine nuts. Stir in the orzo.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Pour over the salad and mix thoroughly.
- Chill until ready to serve, then spoon into small bowls or on plates and top with feta or Parmesan.
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Turnips are not just a bland winter root vegetable. This little Japanese variety is mild, crunchy, and a little sweet. They’re harvested young and have a really smooth outside, making them rather pretty.
Like many other spring vegetables, these don’t need much work to bring out their flavor. Spring veggies are perfect for quick dinners because usually a quick sauté with olive oil, white wine and/or lemon juice is all they need.
If your turnips come with greens and are organic, like mine, use them both - it’s like two vegetables in one! Just make sure to wash them really well and throw away any yellow or slimy bits.
Sauteéd Hakurei Turnips with Greens
- 1 bunch hakurei turnips, with greens (separated)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons butter
- 1/4 cup white wine
- salt and pepper to taste
- Wash the turnips and greens.
- Chop the greens. Trim any straggly roots from the turnips and discard, then chop the turnip bulbs into bite-sized pieces. (Some of mine were so small I didn’t have to cut them at all.)
- Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium pan. Add the turnips, season with salt and pepper, and sautée for about 5 minutes – until the turnips are tender but still a little crunchy.
- Add the greens to the pan and sautée for 4-5 minutes, until the greens are tender.
- Add the white wine and cook until almost all of the liquid is gone. Adjust seasonings and serve immediately.
I am SO EXCITED to tell you about a new community agriculture initiative the Fiancé and I are a part of. A block association in our neighborhood recently won a couple of grants from the city to turn a long-since-abandoned lot into a community garden. The first cleanup day was last Saturday; while hot, it was a great day to work outside, and we made huge strides towards getting the lot into usable condition.
This lot, a few blocks from where I live, has been abandoned by decades and was therefore totally overgrown with weeds and unwanted vegetation. The first order of business was clearing out a significant portion of it so we had some space to put in some raised garden beds.
Here’s what I was tackling:
And about an hour later, here’s what that same spot looked like:
And here’s a panoramic view of the lot, partially cleared:
It’s a decent sized lot, and you can see on the left that it has a gorgeous, giant weeping willow. I can already picture how wonderful it will be to have the whole lot clear, a bunch of raised beds with vegetables and flowers, and benches in the shade of the weeping willow.
We were able to clear maybe a quarter of the lot in a couple hours and build the first raised bed before everyone got too heat beat.
There’s still loads of work to be done before the space is open to the neighborhood, but I wanted to share the beginning of this project with you all. It’s a fabulous initiative by some great people in our community to reclaim an abandoned space, beautify the block, and provide a safe space for kids to learn about gardening, as well as providing a source of EXTREMELY local produce. Next up will be building at least two more raised beds, planting the first flowers and vegetables, and spreading mulch. Additionally, there’s tons more weed-wacking, weeding, and chopping to do in order to clear the rest of the lot. Expect more updates on this as the summer continues!
(hat tip to the Fiancé for letting me steal the photos he took on his phone.)
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If you’ve never eaten farm-fresh eggs before, I encourage you to do so. They have such a better flavor than commercial eggs, and I’ve heard that most small-farm eggs actually contain less cholesterol than many commercial eggs, so they’re maybe healthier for you, too.
Either way, I love getting eggs from our CSA and combining them with fresh veggies. I don’t tend to get fancy with breakfast during the week, but on weekends I have more time to make a bit more involved of a breakfast. Omelettes are a staple, and this week I decided to use some of the beautiful spinach we got in our first share, and combine it with cilantro (which also came in our first share and I am putting into just about everything because it tastes so good).
Spinach & Cilantro Omelette
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp. milk
- 1/2 cup fresh chopped spinach
- 2-3 tbsp. chopped cilantro leaves and stems
- a dash of ground cumin
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese
- 1 tablespoon your favorite salsa
- Preheat a small frying pan on medium heat. Beat together the eggs, milk, cilantro, cumin, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
- Pour the egg mixture into the frying pan, let the eggs start to set, then use a spatula to scrape away the sides and let the uncooked eggs slide underneath. Continue until the eggs are mostly set, but still moist and glossy.
- Sprinkle the cheese on top of the eggs, then cover one half of the eggs with the spinach. Fold the uncovered side of the eggs over on top of the spinach, creating a half-moon.
- Cook about 30 seconds longer, then flip (cook on the second side for about 30 seconds, too).
- Slide the omelette onto a plate, top with salsa, and garnish with a few more cilantro leaves.
While I used jarred salsa for this one, I can’t wait for tomatoes to be in season. This already yummy omelette would be incredible topped with some homemade pico de gallo!
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It’s officially summer in my brain now. Brooklyn’s been boiling (the boiling point is about 93ºF, in case you were wondering) the past couple of days, the sun is strong, the CSA started up again, and the cats barely move all day because they’re too warm.
Summer means salad. On really hot days, I tend not to have much of an appetite, but I still want something with a satisfying flavor and texture. Salads provide infinite ways to do that, so I mixed together a whole bunch of things we got in our first share and dressed it with a very simple lemon vinaigrette. Paired with a leftover quinoa cake, this was a perfect summer lunch. I added some non-CSA celery that I had sitting in the fridge to give the salad an extra crunch; toss in your favorite in-season veggie and be happy. :)
Since I know roughly what to expect of my CSA for the first several weeks (a LOT of salad greens), I’m going to make sure I post at least one salad recipe per week, on Sundays. It gets boring to eat the same salad week after week, so hopefully committing to a new salad every week will keep things exciting for all of us.
Spring Mesclun and Radish Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette:
- A big handful of mesclun greens per person
- 2-4 radishes, with their greens (wash and separate, slice radishes thinly and tear the tops into bite-sized pieces)
- 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp roasted salted sunflower seeds per person
- 1-2 tbsp chopped cilantro leaves and stems per person
- for the dressing: 1 tbsp lemon juice, 2 tbsp olive oil, salt & pepper to taste
- Thoroughly wash and prepare all veggies. (Chop the radishes, radish greens, celery, and cilantro, as well as any other veggies you want to use.)
- Place a big handful of mesclun greens per individual bowl. Split the radish greens, radishes, celery, and cilantro evenly between all servings.
- Make the vinaigrette: whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper together in a small bowl.
- Toss each salad bowl with a little bit of dressing, and top with 1 tbsp. of sunflower seeds each.
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