Thursday, April 24, 2014

Spinach Me Right Round Baby, Right Round!

Oh the food puns never end!

So, if you saw the Crop Share "spoiler" already you'll know we're getting loose New Jersey spinach!  Don't worry, it's not THAT kind of spinach, so if you're picturing Snookie, just stop.  This will be first of the season spinach from as close to home as we can get it this time of year, and it's grown in super sandy soil, so that means it's gonna be messy and gritty.

"Ahhhhhh!!!  No gritty spinach, EVER!!!"

I'm with the bunny, I hate grit in my spinach, and I've had way too many spinach salads at restaurants where I'm pretty sure I exfoliated the inside of my mouth, and last time I checked, that wasn't a body part you're to exfoliate.  But don't fret!  Because we have a fool proof, no fail way to wash your spinach so that you can kiss the grit goodbye!

Click through to read our tips on how to Beat The Gritty Spinach Blues!

Then once you have that spinach all washed and lovely, what's a cook do to with it?  Here's our top 5 favorite spinach recipes...

Asian Salmon Bowls with Spinach

Baked Chicken & Spinach Flautas

Go Green Smoothie

Italian Greens & Beans

Strawberry, Spinach & Almond Salad with a Poppy Seed Dressing

Pearly Sunny Smoothie

Have you missed my smoothie kick that I was on early in the year?  I didn't fall off the wagon due to eating a bunch of donuts for breakfast, nope...I broke my blender.  One of the pitfalls of being short and having high cabinets is that I drop stuff, A LOT.  Shouldn't I just put my blender that can easily separate into all of it's pieces if it's not level into a bottom cabinet?  No, because that would make sense.  Putting it on a high shelf in my laundry room was clearly the best option.  And when one smoothie mongering morning I went to take it down, the top wobbled off and some how I managed to drop the whole blessed assembly.  Now it won't even make a buzzing sound, I cracked the container, and some how managed to bend the entire rotary unit.  *sigh*  Sadly, it took me entirely too long to figure out that I can make smoothies about just as easy in my food processor.  I say about since it doesn't have as much liquid capacity, but apparently my counter tops are willing to hold a bevy of it when it spills out behind my back.

So this morning I finally used up the Bartlett pears from a few weeks back, and put the navel oranges to good use  in my morning version of an Orange Julius.  Those things were my jam as a kid since the entire food court of my local mall consisted of Orange Julius and the Pretzel Hut.  No soft pretzels in my kitchen this morning, but this smoothie definitely checked the box for delicious and healthy!

Pearly Sunny Smoothie

3 pears, cored and cubed
3 navel oranges, juiced
1 cup almond milk (or milk of your choice, I use Almond Breeze)
1 Tbsp local honey
8 ice cubes

Blend up your pears and orange juice until smooth, then add in your milk, honey and ice and blend until no ice chunks remain.

Yields two full pints/32 ounces.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sesame Vegetable Noodle Bowls

Despite my recent plague, I still took myself to the grocery store and for reasons I'm still not quite clear on, I apparently developed an all-Asian menu for dinners this week.  Hey, I can't eat most of it out at restaurants (curse you gluten-hating immune system!), so why not make it at home.  Lots of naps and pitiful coughs apparently lead to good things in the kitchen, because these noodle bowls I made last night may be one of my most favorite concoctions as of late.  Loaded with good green veggies, it's like ramen but healthy and it leaves you feeling somehow full yet light.  I used rice noodles, but you could easily use udon or any other of your favorite Asian-style noodles.  This would also be fantastic with shrimp, chicken or tofu, if you're looking to add an extra hit of protein.  Or throw all of it together into a pot with 2 cups of vegetable or chicken stock and 2 cups of water, and have yourself a noodly soup of goodness.

Sesame Vegetable Noodle Bowls

1 package rice noodles, soaked in hot water until soft
1 tsp chili oil
1 leek, quartered lengthwise and sliced
4 oz Shitake mushrooms (or any mushrooms of your choice), sliced
1/2 bundle of kale, leaves removed from stem and rough chopped
1 cup cabbage, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and grated thin
2 green onions, greens chopped
1 Tbsp soy sauce (I use Kikkoman's wheat/gluten free version)
2 Tbsp sesame seeds

For sauce:
2 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp lime juice
4 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp Sriracha
1 knob ginger, peeled and grated

Prepare sauce first by whisking all ingredients together and set aside, and soak rice noodles in hot water or put in on the stove over medium heat (not enough to boil) until noodles are just soft.

In a large skillet, heat chili oil over high heat.  Add sliced leeks and cook for about 2 minutes.  Then add mushrooms and cook until they begin to brown.  Toss in kale, cabbage and carrot and cook for about 1-2 more minutes or until kale is wilted.  Add in green onions and soy sauce, and cook for an additional minute.  Remove from heat and toss with sesame seeds.

Drain noodles and toss with veggies in skillet.  Pour over sauce and toss until fully combined.  Serve each portion with additional Sriracha and sesame seeds, if desired...and in this house, we do desire!

Southwest Stuffed Peppers

I actually whipped up these stuffed peppers last week as my even lighter and more veggie-tacular version of the Cream Cheese Chicken Enchilada Stuffed Peppers, but failed miserably at actually getting this to the blog.  But we got onions and there's onions in this recipe, so hey it's still relevant!  Especially as we head into summer with all the squash and corn, this will be a great way to use it all up.

Southwest Stuffed Peppers

2 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, sliced
5 green peppers, 1 sliced, 4 hollowed and lids removed to prepare for stuffing
2 cups corn (or 1 can)
1 yellow squash or zucchini, sliced (if you have a zoodler or a julienne peeler, use that!)
1 1/2 Tbsp cumin
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded (great for leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken)
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
8 Tbsp salsa (be fancy and make your own Homemade Salsa)
1 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 cup, plus extra, shredded cheese of your choice (we use Daiya cheddar for dairy-free)
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Salt & pepper, to taste
Hot sauce, to taste -- optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

You'll want to prep all of your veggies first, that way this recipe goes at light-speed.  It makes a TON of filling, so you can easily freeze any extra that won't fit in your peppers and use later for enchilada stuffing or bring it up to a boil with some stock and diced canned tomatoes for a filling soup.

Prep them veggies!

In a large skillet, and I mean large, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add in garlic and saute for about 1 minute or until fragrant.  Add in onion and pepper and saute for about 3 minutes.  Add corn, yellow squash and cumin and saute for an additional 3 minutes.  Next, pour in beans, shredded chicken, broth, salsa and lime juice.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until no liquid remains.

Stir in cheese, cilantro, and any hot sauce if you'd like a kick.  Then season with salt & pepper, to taste.  Remove from heat.

Take your 4 hollow peppers and stuff each with generous portions of the filling and top each with a sprinkle of cheese.  Place upright into a baking dish and bake at 350 for about 20-30 minutes, until skin on peppers starts to shrivel at top and look wrinkly and the cheese on top is nice & bubbly.

Radishes In Herb Butter

Other than raw in a salad or in this delicious Radish Dip, I've never actually cooked with radishes.  So for Easter Sunday, I figured why not turn it into a quick and simple side dish.  I'd bought a bundle of parsley earlier in the week, and frankly I couldn't remember what I planned to use it for, so it became destined to join the radishes, and thus this recipe was born.  The bitterness of the radish and parsley is the perfect accompaniment to anything with very rich flavors (like that Gratin of Leeks).

Radishes In Herb Butter

1 Tbsp butter
1 bundle radishes, both ends trimmed and sliced thin
1 bundle parsley, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste

In a skillet, melt butter over medium high heat.  Add in radishes and saute for about 3-5 minutes or until the middles are translucent.  Toss in chopped parsley and season with salt & pepper and cook for an additional minute.  Remove from heat and serve.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Jacques Pepin's Gratin of Leeks

So first I was helping a friend move, then it was Easter Sunday, and then I decided to contract the plague.  It's been a busy few days.  Thus getting recipes on here has taken a back seat to investing in Kleenex and naps.  But I absolutely had to share this gem from my couch surfing that might actually be a better preparation for leeks rather than my tried and true Leek & Potato Soup.  I'm a PBS nerd, and the other day I was watching Essential Pepin and Jacques was preparing a veggie based meal, including whipping up the most gorgeous Gratin of Leeks I've ever beheld.  I may have actually drooled on the couch.  I'm a sucker for gratins and for leeks, so this looked like a match made in heaven.  I've got some salmon in the fridge and some leftover Spring Onion Cream Sauce, so I'm dreaming up a salmon & leek gratin with a layer of breadcrumbs, then the leeks, then the cream sauce, then the salmon fillets and all topped with the rest of the bed crumbs, baked until glorious.  But until then, I leave you in Jacques capable and charming hands.

Sadly, there is no recipe online, so you can only get it by watching the episode, but in case you don't want to view the whole thing, fast forward to about 8:48 where he picks up with the Gratin of Leeks.  Click through to view the recipe on the Essential Pepin website.  Bon appetit!

Essential Pepin Episode 113: Vegetable Bounty (Gratin of Leeks starting at 8:48)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

In A Pickle

This afternoon, my daily Tasting Table e-mail arrived and it brought with it 3 great recipes for brining/pickling some Spring veggies.  One is for rainbow carrots, but the carrots we received this week would work just as perfect.  Especially if you're hosting or attending Easter or Passover festivities, you could pickle up some of this weeks carrots, and have a quirky homemade treat in just two days.  Or pack a peck of pickled peppers and brine up some of the green bell peppers we received.  I'm a massive fan of homemade pickles (see The Great Pickle Experiment Part 1 and Part 2), but why wait for cucumber season, when the pickling can begin now?

See Tasting Table's article on the basics and then check our their recipes for Pickled Asparagus, Pickled Carrots, and Pickled Fennel...

Brine Of The Times via Tasting Table

Cream Cheese Chicken Enchilada Stuffed Peppers via Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice

About a month ago, I was on the phone with my mother-in-law while she was making dinner and when I heard what she was whipping up I begged for the recipe.  I'm very pro-stuffing vegetables, especially peppers, so when she said these were like chicken enchiladas inside bell pepper, um YES PLEASE.  The report from her was they they were delicious, but she felt they could use a clove or two of minced garlic (we're all functionally Italian, we'd put garlic in pancakes if we could get away with it).  So grab those green bell peppers from this week and your spinach, because this is two for one recipe on the Crop Share goodies this week.  I'm sure you could even toss some diced yellow squash in, if you're really looking to sneak extra veggies into your meals.

Follow the link below to see the recipe on Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice, and check out the rest of her recipes.  She's got a killer looking Cheesy Spinach & Bacon Puff Pastry Quiche -- Easter brunch anyone?!

Cream Cheese Chicken Enchilada Stuffed Peppers via Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice

Spring's Bounty Soup

I came across this recipe for "Spring Celebration Soup" in one of my cookbooks, and while I figured it would be fitting to give this one a try since Spring is officially here, I looked at the ingredients and thought, "This is going to taste like the color green."  So I decided to make it!  Because if you don't have a kitchen fail every once in awhile your husband might forget the gloriousness of take-away!  I switched up some of the veg to cater to what was in our Crop Shares this week, and then I decided to really go off the rails and use the carrot greens in place of the parsley required for this soup.  I really thought about calling this the Waste Not Want Not Soup since there are very few kitchen scraps that come out of this one, and hey if you have the carrot greens, why not use them!  As an aside, Crop Share member Deanna Freedlander has a fantastic recipe for Carrot Top Pesto that she puts over spaghetti squash.  Since squash season is on it's way out, just use regular pasta or even turn your yellow squash into "squoodles" (if you have a sprial cutter or a juillene tool that will cut thin noodle-like strips, just saute those in a little bit of olive oil for a few minutes and ta-da veggie pasta!).

Once I'd finished the soup, I took one look at it and thought, "what have I done?!"  But once I tasted it, is was surprisingly good!  It didn't taste like the color green, it was refreshing and even filling.  So...I had another bowl.  Thus if you're looking for something bright and fresh, that is so chock full of veggie goodness it would make a vegan blush, then this is the soup for you.  And if your spinach is starting to look a bit sad by today, this is a great way to use it up since it's getting pureed in and looking wilty won't matter.

Spring's Bounty Soup

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bundle green onions, chopped (and hang onto the stem ends and start to re-sprout them as we did with the romaine here!)
4 carrots from bundle, skinned and diced
Carrot greens, minced
1 bundle asparagus, chopped
5 cups low sodium vegetable or chicken stock
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 bundle of spinach, stem ends trimmed at root (see our trick for perfectly clean and grit-free spinach)
1 cup milk (I used unsweetened rice milk for dairy-free)
Salt & pepper to taste

In a stock pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat and add in garlic to saute until just fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add in green onions and carrots and saute for 5 minutes, then add carrot greens and asparagus and cook for an additional 3 minutes.  Pour in stock and lemon juice, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat slightly and simmer, uncovered, for about 5-7 minutes.  Add in spinach and simmer for 2-3 minutes more, just long enough to wilt down the spinach.

If you've got an immersion blender, this is where it becomes your best friend.  Break that baby out and start to puree the dickens out of this soup -- just make sure to pull it off the heat, unless you're really a fan of hot soup burns.  If you don't have an immersion blender, you'll want to use a measuring cup to puree up about 2 cups of the soup at a time, and you'll need a holding pot or bowl for the already pureed portions, as you'll be returning everything to the main pot.

Once pureed, return to heat and bring back to a simmer.  Stir in your cup of milk, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer for an additional 3-5 minutes, and then remove from heat and let stand for the same amount of time, to let the flavors set up.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Serve with crusty bread (the baguettes at Nalls on Fridays would be PERFECT).  Or if your immune system hates gluten like mine does, make sad puppy eyes at the baguettes and then pick up some gluten-free bagel chips or crackers.  Glutino makes some killer rosemary crackers.

Adapted from Simply In Season by Mary Beth Lind & Cathleen Hockman-Wert

**Speaking of all things Spring, don't forget next weekend (4/25-4/26) is the LAST weekend of the Early Spring Crop Share round.  But don't despair, the Spring Round will kick off on May 9th, so be sure to grab a registration form when you're picking up this weekend.  They've got more details on the Crop Share portion of the website...**

Sugared Asparagus

This one is a hold over from last week, but definitely worth the wait!  So while your asparagus is long gone by now, this will definitely become a quick go-to for an easy weeknight side-dish.  In fact, with Easter upon us this will make a perfect accompaniment to ham, or if you're celebrating Passover, just be sure to use a non-dairy margarine (Earth Balance works wonders and is Kosher for Passover).  The beauty of this dish is that other than the asparagus, at any given time you likely have all the other ingredients in your pantry!

Sugared Asparagus

2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 bundle asparagus, stem ends trimmed and cut into 2" pieces
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth

Melt butter and brown sugar in a large saute pan over medium high heat.  Once bubbly add in your asparagus pieces and saute for about 2 minutes, getting just a hint of golden on the outsides.

Then stir in your broth, bring up to a boil, reduce heat to allow to just simmer, cover and continue to simmer for about 6 minutes.  Remove asparagus with a slotted spoon and bring liquid back up to a boil, and simmer uncovered until the sauce is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.  Add asparagus back to the pan, tossing to coat in the sauce and cook for only 1 additional minute more.  Remove from heat and plate asparagus and sauce to serve.

Adapted from Simply In Season by Mary Beth Lind & Cathleen Hockman-Wert

Friday, April 11, 2014

Finnish-Style Beef & Brussels Sprout Casserole

As I mentioned in the previous post, my Lenten abstention from personal social media has caused me to fall in love with my cookbooks all over again.  And there's one in particular that I've been meaning to explore much more because it's an entirely new realm for me -- The Finnish Cookbook.

1967 Edition

The Mister's paternal grandmother is 100% Finn, making that the bulk of his genetic makeup -- despite the fact he looks as blatantly Celtic as I do.  When we started dating I knew pretty much nothing about Finland other than where to find it on the map, what their flag looked like, and that I thought their capital city always had a cool name.  But once I heard the tale of great-grandpa Kantola carrying his wife AND a cast iron cook stove through deep snow, during a blizzard,  I knew I needed to learn more about the Finns on the whole.  So naturally, when I want to learn about a culture, I want to know what they eat, because what they eat, how they eat and the traditions surrounding food reveal a great deal about a people.  So I snagged a copy of the above cookbook on Amazon sat on my bookshelf for about a year.  I did try my hand at some dumplings and potato broth, that were both pretty decent, but then back to the bookshelf it went...until this week.  

I knew I wanted to make something with the Brussels sprouts, but after searching the index it was clear that they're not a part of traditional Finnish cuisine.  But cabbage is, and Bsprouts are like micro-cabbages, so I can make this work.  I stumbled across a recipe for a meat & cabbage casserole called, Lihakaalilaatikko, and after making my brain hurt trying to figure out how to pronounce entirely too many vowels and double letters, I decided this would be the one to try (if you want to practice a tongue twister, click the speaker on this Google translation of the word).  Looking over the ingredients, I was pretty skeptical as to how it would turn out.  The only seasonings were salt and marjoram, that's it, and you don't even season the beef.  Plus, it was 2 tsp of salt onto the Bsprouts, so I'm picturing a pile of bland meat layered between indelibly salty veg.  Goodie.  But I was already modifying it with the Brussels sprouts, and I had to do all our allergen swaps to make it dairy, egg & gluten free, so I felt I would stray way too far from the original if I started adding onion or even pepper.  As I went to layer the casserole I quickly realized I had way too few Bsprouts to make even two proper layers, which meant it was a smattering of veg with a loaf of meat in between.  It looked weird, but into my oven it went and then something magical kitchen began to smell amazing!  After about 50 minutes, I pulled it and dove in and oh holy night, it was DELISH!  A titch on the salty side for my tastes, but if I double the Bsprouts, it wont' be as concentrated, and perhaps I'll back the salt down by 1/2 tsp next time.  Otherwise, I would change nothing!

So if you still have Bsprouts left from last week's Crop Share, definitely give this a try!

Finnish-Style Beef & Brussels Sprout Casserole

1 bundle of Brussels sprouts, shredded    (if there's more Bsprouts at Nalls, grab another bundle as doubling this would make it perfect, or use 1 small head of cabbage in place of Bsprouts)
2 Tbsp butter    (used Earth Balance margarine for dairy-free)
2 Tbsp lite corn syrup
1 tsp salt    (use 2 or 1 1/2 tsp if doubling the Bsprouts or using cabbage, otherwise too salty)
1/4 tsp ground marjoram
1 lb ground lean beef
2 cups plain bread crumbs    (pulsed up 2 leftover gluten-free hot dog buns)
1/2 cup milk    (used plain rice milk for dairy free)
2 eggs, beaten    (used 2 egg equivalent of Ener-G egg replacer)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, and butter a 2-quart casserole dish.

In the original recipe, it calls for boiling the cabbage/Brussels sprouts for 5 minutes and then tossing with other ingredients, but in thinking that this would come out horribly bland, I sauteed the shredded Brussels sprouts in the butter, corn syrup, salt and marjoram, cooking it over medium high heat for about 3-5 minutes.  Then set aside while you prep the meat mixture.  Also, the original recipe calls for dark corn syrup, so you can absolutely use that, I just had to play it gluten-safe when I saw "caramel-coloring" on the ingredients list of the dark stuff.  I'm sure you could also use agave or even local honey to get a very similar result, and if you cook it until the Bsprouts are golden and krispy, on it's own it would make a great topping for soup, steaks or even eaten as it like Brussels sprouts popcorn!  Yum!

In a medium sized bowl, mix together your beef, bread crumbs, milk and eggs until well combined.

Then starting with your Brussels sprouts layer the veg and the beef in alternating layers, starting and ending with the Brussels sprouts.  Now with just our usual Crop Share bundle of Bsprouts, you'll only have enough for a scant bottom and top layer, so either layer all on the top, or double or even triple the amount of Bsprouts so you can do proper layers.  Either way, it's going to be delicious, so don't worry so much about making perfect layers or presentation, the taste is all that matters here.

Bake casserole in oven at 350 for about 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until internal temperature of meat in the center of the dish is 160 degrees.

Serve with a side of fresh cranberry relish or even homemade applesauce as a way to balance the heavy meat with something bright and fresh.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spice Roasted Eggplant

Two Christmases ago one of my dearest friends gifted me a cookbook called Simply In Season because she knew I had just joined a CSA and thought this cookbook based around seasonal produce would come in handy.  I'm embarrassed to say that this week was the first time I dove into the recipes.  That tends to be my relationship with cookbooks, I hoard them, if they have pictures I will drool over them, but once they get on my shelf, I always seem to forget to flip through them rather than sit and ponder what I should make.  Now with Pinterest, my cookbooks have really been feeling neglected.  But thanks to my personal social media fast for Lent, I've been left without my easy compilation of recipes, which meant my cookbooks finally made it back off the shelf, and Simply In Season was the first one I went to.

I was originally on a hunt for something different to do with asparagus, because I wanted to break out of my usual tried and true ways (in pasta, grilled, roasted, sauteed, in risotto, or as "fries").  And I did find a recipe for "sugared" asparagus that I'll be trying out in the next few nights.  But what really caught my eye was this recipe for Spice Roasted Eggplant from a woman in Senegal.  So tonight I baked up some za'atar crusted chicken and paired it with this delicious eggplant recipe.  The original only called for a pinch of cinnamon, but I'm a sucker for cinnamon so I increased it to a whole 1/8 tsp and I thought it was a lovely sweet balance to the heavy spice of the cumin.  For those of you who are cilantro-phobes, you could easily substitute parsley, basil or especially Thai basil.  And if  you have a grill, this would be delicious as grilled eggplant!  The charmoula-like sauce would make a great marinade for fish or chicken or poured over some skirt steak, much like a chimichurri sauce.  So this is definitely one recipe that can take you in multiple directions, especially as the weather continues to warm up!

Spice Roasted Eggplant


1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/4" thick rounds
1 bundle cilantro, chopped (or use another herb like parsley or basil)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Preheat your broiler on high heat and set top rack in the middle of oven.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, cilantro and spices until well combined.  Then with a pastry brush, brush the marinade onto both sides of the eggplant rounds and arrange onto a lightly oiled baking sheet.
About to get a suntan!

Broil eggplant on middle rack for about 10 minutes total, flipping about mid-way through.  You want to get both sides nice and golden and slightly crisp the skin, so keep and eye to make sure nothing is burning.

Would also be great to turn into a stacked salad with some fresh tomato slices, goat cheese and a few sprinkles of coarse-ground salt and a drizzle of olive oil!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Wine Country Salad

There's really nothing more satisfying -- for me, at least -- than waking up early on a crisp, sunny morning, throwing open the windows, and ensconcing myself in my kitchen.  In those moments, it's just me and my ingredients, and it's downright zen-like.

This morning, I've been prepping my half of a picnic, as I'm meeting one of my dearest friends to do what we do best...drink wine.  She lives in Loudoun Co., so she is my resident expert on Northern Virginia wineries, but today we're going to venture to a winery neither of us has been to.  I hear it is also a horse farm, so if you hear the news tonight and there's a breaking story about a woman stealing a horse and riding off with a bottle of wine yelling, "A PONYYYYY!!!!!", yep, that'll be me.  My friend is bringing an array of charcuterie and cheeses, so I felt it was my duty to bring the produce.  I picked up some amazing strawberries while I was in getting my Crop Share yesterday, and when I saw the romaine I knew what else needed to happen...BIG...SALAD.  I only used a part of the bundle of romaine because I want to save the rest for lettuce wraps, but with the honeyed almonds, dried cherries, the peppery arugula, and the earthy splendor of the black truffle salt, I wanted to pull a lot of my favorite wine notes and put them all in one salad.

It looks like a gorgeous day, so whatever you do today, enjoy the outdoors and whip up something bright and fresh with this weeks Crop Share (someone, for my lack-of-grill-sake, please fire up a grill to sear slices of eggplant and then top them with roasted red peppers, goat cheese, and a splash of olive oil & balsamic vinegar)!

Wine Country Salad

7 Romaine leaves, chopped
1 lg bag arugula (70 oz)
8 oz dried cherries
1 cup sliced almonds
2 Tbsp local honey
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup white wine vinegar (Nalls carry Virginia Vinegar Works' Chardonnay White Wine Vinegar)
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp black truffle salt (I get mine at Spice & Tea Exchange in Old Town, or just use Kosher salt)
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan

In a skillet, toss almonds in honey and brown over medium heat.  As the honey heats up it will melt down to allow you to mix it up a bit better.  And stir fairly regularly to prevent any of the almonds from burning.  Once they're golden brown, remove from heat and set aside to cool.  They will cool into almond candies, so just break them apart as you're adding them to the salad.  Allow to cool completely to prevent wilting your greens.

In a large bowl, toss together greens and cherries.  Add in cooled honey almonds, and set aside while you make the dressing.

Whisk together oil, vinegar and mustard until you have a smooth emulsion with no visible streaks of oil left.  Stir in black truffle salt and taste to see if you need to adjust any flavors.  Pour as much or as little of the dressing over top as you desire and toss to fully coat.  Or drizzle some on individual portions when you're ready to eat.  Sprinkle in shaved Parmesan and give it one final toss.  Serve immediately if tossed in dressing, otherwise you can allow it to chill in the fridge until you're ready to serve.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Brussels Sprout Chips via Lick My Spoon

Back in January, I made my foray into Brussels sprout chips, and oh good gravy, they are face-melting good!  You can see my recipe here at the bottom of a recipe for a BLT Bonanza (we are getting romaine this week too, so one of those may have to happen).  But, I recently stumbled upon a glorious looking recipe, from Lick My Spoon, for Bsprout chips but with lemon and Parmigiano.  Um, YES PLEASE!  Follow the link below to peep the deliciousness...

Brussels Sprout Chips with Lemon & Parmigiano via Lick My Spoon

And if you are a Brussels sprouts super nerd like me, then you MUST make this Shredded Brussels Sprouts & Kale Salad with a Lemony Dijon Vinaigrette.  It will knock your Crop Share socks off, if I do say so myself.  I mean, just look that that beaut!

Oh Yes! Asparagus!

Did you see?  Did you?  Did you?  We're getting ASPARAGUS in the Crop Share this week!!!  I'm trying and clearly failing to contain my excitement because I remember this time last year, when I was on the other side of the Crop Share counter (for you newbies, this post will bring you up to speed!) and we had asparagus coming in for that weekend's share.  The order arrived, we checked the case on top, it was gorgeous, and then a few hours later we set to packing boxes.  But where did all the cases go?  We'd ordered 11, but we only could find 1.  Well crud.  Thanks to a mixup we only received 1 case, so no asparagus that week.  Then another cold snap hit and the crops that should have come in were delayed.  Still no asparagus.  So hopefully this year our luck will be better!  Come on asparagus, come home to mama!!  Plus, there's Brussels sprouts, AND mushrooms, AND eggplant, AND pears (follow the links to see our whole back log of recipes for each veg)!!  Dear Valerie Nalls, you are the wind beneath my veggie wings, this week is packed with all of my favourites!

So, since I'm more excited than a baby panda spending an entire day in a tree (panda cam stalker, right here)...

I love this tree!

And since I also have to figure out a way to run a food processor that sounds like a jet engine, in a small apartment, and somehow not wake up the Mister who's on night shift, here are two of our favourite asparagus recipes.  For those of you who also geek out over avocado, this first recipe is for you!

Asparagus, Fennel & Avocado Salad

Baked Asparagus Fries via Spoon Fork Bacon