Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Red Leaf Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Meatless Monday Menu – Red Leaf Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce

I used the green garlic in the pasta sauce and in the dressing for the salad. It smelled good, especially cooking in the olive oil, and not surprisingly it is not as strong as fully formed garlic. I love having it around because it reminds me of spring and that the growing season is on it's way.

This salad is good with the comfort foods of winter or with soup on a rainy day like yesterday. I want to keep it in mind for next winter because so many of the ingredients can be stored over the winter or will be at the winter farmer’s market. In our salad the sweet potatoes, red onion, garlic, and red leaf lettuce were all local.

Red Leaf Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes

I’m giving you the link because I changed very little. I used almonds instead of walnuts because I had them on hand and I don’t particularly care for walnuts. I also used Greek yogurt instead of plain. I couldn’t find any plain yogurt to my liking at the grocery store and I enjoy the thickness of the Greek yogurt. It was just fine for dressing – the vinegar breaks it down enough.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Market Menu Week of March 28

Ciabatta, green garlic, radishes, red leaf lettuce, red onion, spinach, sweet potatoes…these are my treasures I got at this week’s market.

The green garlic is the scallion/leek like vegetable the length of the bottom of the picture. I almost dismissed them thinking they were scallions and then I noticed the sign. I asked the vendor if they were to be used just as you would garlic. He said yes and that you can use the whole thing, all the way up the green. He told us they are the beginning of growing garlic and that as the plant gets older the bottom forms the bulb we usually associate with garlic. The green garlic reminds me of the garlic scapes we get at the beginning of CSA season. My mother in law was with us when we got the garlic scapes last year and was excited to learn she could use the scapes - what forms out of the top of the plant – from the garlic in her garden.

Market Menu

Meatless Monday – Red Leaf Salad with Sweet Potatoes, Fresh Tomato Sauce and Pasta
(Green Garlic, Red Leaf Lettuce, Red Onion, Sweet Potatoes)

Mom Meal (a meal for an expecting friend) – Indian Dahl with Spinach

Baby Shower for my first niece – Arugula Bruschetta with Radishes
(Radishes, Frozen Arugula Pesto)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Purple Potatoes!

Thursday Menu – Slow Roasted Salmon with Purple Potatoes, Purple Potato Fries

The Purple Cook has purple potatoes! This dinner was simple, yummy, and the purple potatoes made for a fun find at the farmer’s market. My kids just don’t seem to like potatoes – hash browned, mashed, baked, roasted. What is wrong with them? I loved, love, and will continue to love potatoes. The kids did get a real kick out of cutting open the potato and finding a deep purple color, so I made them their own special side dish of purple potato fries for dinner. Yes, like most children they adore a French fry.

Slow Roasted Salmon with Purple Potatoes
Adapted from http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/slow-roasted-salmon-with-potatoes-recipe/index.html

5-6 scallions, cut in half lengthwise (Local)
3-4 T olive oil
2 salmon fillets
1 ½ pound purple potatoes (Local)
¼ onion (Local)
4 T unsalted butter
1 T dried tarragon
2 T fresh parsley (Local)
2 T lemon juice

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Place scallions in the bottom of a shallow baking pan and toss with 1 -2 T of the olive oil. Season the salmon fillets with salt and brush with olive oil. Place salmon over the scallions and roast in the over until firm 30 minutes.

Cut potatoes into uniform sizes, about 1 inch round. Cook potatoes in a pot of boiling salted water until fork tender, 15 – 20 minutes.

Pulse the onion in a food processor until mined. Add butter, tarragon, parsley, and lemon juice. Add salt to taste. Pulse until well combined.

Remove salmon from the oven and top with half the herb butter. Drain the potatoes and toss with the remaining half of herb butter. Serve salmon on top of scallions with purple potatoes on the side.

Purple Potato Fries

3-4 purple potato (Local)
1-2 T olive oil
Salt to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel and then cut potato to resemble a French fry. Toss potatoes on a baking dish and toss with olive oil and salt. Bake 20 minutes, flip potatoes and bake an additional 10-20 minutes until golden and crispy.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Indian Dahl with Spinach

Meatless Monday Menu - Indian Dahl with Spinach and Rice

The spinach and onions were the local ingredients I used for this recipe. I'm going to share the link to the recipe because the only change I make is that I don't soak the lentils for 20 minutes. I just rinse them and go directly to cooking them in step 2.


This recipe is great when you are getting lots of greens during CSA season. I especially love this one with collards, but you can use any of the greens to replace the spinach.

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

I enjoyed watching the preview for Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. It's a new series on ABC that has a two hour premiere on Friday March 26th at 8pm EST. The website describes the series like this...

"Jamie is inviting viewers to take a stand and change the way America eats, in our home kitchens, schools and workplaces with the thought-provoking new series."


The preview show was on Sunday night. You can still watch it online.
A quicker alternative is his TED talk which can be found here.

The TED talk summarizes his mission and shows the highlight videos from the preview of the new series.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Market Menu Week of March 21

At the market I got…scallions, purple potatoes, spinach, and salad greens.

Meatless Monday – Dahl with Spinach, Rice
Tuesday – Slow Roasted Salmon with potatoes and scallions
Thursday - Spicy Sichuan Noodles using some of the spinach and scallions

I’m also hoping to try a few dressing/vinaigrette recipes the nights I have salad.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Pesto Salmon and Broccoli

Thursday Menu – Pesto Salmon, Broccoli, Pilaf

Last night's dinner smelled so good while it cooked. The fresh broccoli from the market had a lovely aroma while it steamed, the basil filled the room when the salmon cooked, and the garlic in the pilaf comforted everyone.

Along with the arugula pesto I mentioned the other day, I also have my last bag of basil pesto from the summer that I froze in ice cube trays in the freezer. One cube was perfect for last night’s salmon.

Pesto Salmon

2 T basil pesto
2 or 3 T corn starch
2 salmon fillets

Spread pesto on salmon in a thin layer. Coat salmon fillet with cornstarch. Place salmon in a skillet with hot oil. Cook salmon 4 minutes per side.
Same method as in this post, just added the pesto under the cornstarch layer.

I cut up the florets of broccoli and then cut the stalks very thin. If you cut the stalks thin they will cook at the same rate as the florets and turn out rich and buttery. I put it all in the skillet and let it steam with some olive oil and chicken stock for about 10 minutes with the lid on. Then I took the lid off and let it brown on the edges. I finish it with a little sesame oil and my family gobbles up broccoli every time.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Local Tuesday

Local Tuesday Menu – Salad with Poached Egg, Grilled Sweet Potatoes, Honey Oatmeal Bread

Like I mentioned, this was my own personal challenge to see if everything served for dinner could be local. I will say it was a success, with the big BUT I realized there are many staples I use everyday that I just stock up on at the grocery store. The salad greens, scallions, eggs, sweet potatoes, and bread were all locally purchased. To actually get this menu to the table I needed vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper and butter. The following were not necessities, but I also choose to use sugar and Dijon mustard to prepare dinner. I can’t imagine planning a weekly menu without these staples and many others – rice, flour, spices and so on. For me, it’s a process and I’ll continue to buy as much food as possible locally and keep learning about how what we eat effects our environment.

Grilled Sweet Potatoes
Adapted from http://www.rachaelraymag.com/recipes/rachael-ray-magazine-recipe-index/dinner-recipes/Grainy-Mustard-Steaks-with-Sweet-Potatoes

2-3 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into ¼ inch slices
3 T olive oil
Salt and pepper

Toss sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill for 8-10 minutes per side. This timing is perfect for your gas or charcoal grill. In the winter I use my George Foreman Grill and it take 10-12 minutes per side.

Why local?

Eating local food has been important to me since I read “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” which is the story of the one year when Barbara Kingsolver and her family ate nothing but locally produced food. They lived on a small farm, allowing them to raise animals and grow vegetables. I remember they had resources for locally milled flour. I am going to have to go back to the book and find out what they did for oil, salt, pepper and so on.

I want a poster of “The Vegetannual”!!! I’ll have to look around for that.

I liked this website’s summary of why buy local.

- When you buy close to home, you get fresher food and support small, local farms.
- Cutting out the middleman, like at a farmers market, can save you money.
- Seasonal, locally grown fruits and veggies are generally of higher quality.
- You will save energy and reduce your carbon footprint by cutting out long-distance hauling.
After reading “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” it was the environmental issues, reducing our carbon footprint, that inspired me to eat as locally as possible. BUT the other three points mentioned above have become important to me also. I have enjoyed meeting and then hearing from the farmer’s every week during CSA season. I absolutely believe that the money I spend for my CSA allows is an excellent value. I’ve added up what the same vegetables would cost me in the grocery store and it is double or even triple than what I spent on my CSA. And you can’t beat the quality. Everything just tastes so GOOD! You can’t beat it.

What is local?
I like having things well defined. I read a bunch of websites and the statement I saw over and over that made sense to me was “within a days drive”. So as long as the farmer’s market, CSA drop off point, etc. is within a days drive from the producer it is considered local.

This Wikipedia article does a good job of outlining the debate about what defines local.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Penne with Arugula Pesto and Stir Fried Radishes

Towards the end of CSA season we got lots of arugula. I made a bunch of pesto and froze it. About a month ago we had a dinner party and I came up with a twist on bruschetta. Using my cherished Christmas present, “The Flavor Bible” I discovered that arugula pairs well with radishes. For this bruschetta I put a layer of arugula pesto and then laid out thinly sliced radishes on top. It was a hit. Continuing with this theme and needing to use up the frozen arugula pesto - I thought lets do something with pasta. For dinner Monday night, I cut the radishes to a similar size as the penne and stir fried them with a little olive oil, made the pasta, and defrosted the pesto. Mixed these all together and served a salad on the side, dinner was simple and delightful.

A note about pesto: The Joy of Cooking in their recipe for traditional pesto mentions that the cheese and nuts should not be added if the pesto will be frozen. I’ve tried freezing pesto both ways – with and without cheese and nuts. It holds up so much better without the cheese and nuts. It seems like double the work to make the pesto and then at a later date roast the nuts, and then have to blend it all again with the cheese and nuts. It’s worth it. With basil pesto I find I can just use the frozen pesto in small amounts when a recipe calls for fresh basil, especially if I froze it in ice cube trays. It’s also worth it because freezing allows for you to have the flavors of CSA season all year.

Have a mentioned “The Flavor Bible” by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg? This is not a cookbook. It is an index of ingredients and what pairs well with them. It will be great to have during CSA season when I need to go with that vegetable I’ve never had before. I love this book!

Stir Fried Radishes??!!??
Here is the method in my very first post.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Grilled Chicken, Spinach, and Avocado Napoleons

This is a yummy sandwich, although a bit crumbly – but that just makes for fun eating up what has fallen from your sandwich. The spinach was from the market.

I didn’t change a thing, so here is the link for this recipe.

Market Menu Week of March 14

Here is what is on the menu this week using these local ingredients.

Sunday – Napoleon’s with Grilled Chicken, Spinach, and Avocado
Meatless Monday – Penne with Radishes and Arugula Pesto, Salad
Local Tuesday – Salad with Poached Eggs, Grilled Sweet Potatoes, Bread
Thursday – Pesto Salmon, Broccoli, Pilaf

A note about Local Tuesday – this is my own personal experiment to have everything on the table at dinner this Tuesday be local ingredients. I think I’m going to have to be okay with olive oil and a couple of spices not being local. I’m hoping to write about what food experts are defining as local food and to add a few links about the benefits of eating locally. Stay Tuned!

Saturday, March 13, 2010


We had a salad with dinner last night using the greens I got from the market. Also, I just finished a funny book about a locally owned coffee house and eatery. It had a recipe for vinaigrette and the author invited folks to try their own flavor profiles. I made the basic vinaigrette for last night’s salad. I thought I’d try lots of flavor profiles, vinaigrettes and dressing recipes in the next couple of months and give you the recipes and reports – hopefully we’ll have lots of salad greens when it comes time for CSA season.

Adapted from Marc Renson

2 T roughly chopped bell pepper
1 T roughly chopped onion (local, from my 10 lb bag I got at the market)
½ tsp white pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
½ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup olive oil

Blend all the ingredients except the oil with an immersion blender or in a regular blender. Slowly add oil while continuing to blend.

A note about equipment: The immersion blender is my favorite kitchen tool. I use it at least 2 or 3 times a week, minimum. It is fabulous for jobs like this vinaigrette, marinades, pesto, pureed soups, and on and on. Yesterday, while making this dressing I finally figured out a method that works for me when asked to slowly add the oil while continuing to blend. I am an absolute klutz at doing this while I’m using a hand whisk, I just can’t do it. But yesterday I turned on my immersion blender and had my ½ cup of oil ready in my silicone measuring cup and was able to slowly add the oil while the immersion blender created a nice emulsion. The silicone measuring cup was nice because I had the right amount and was able to create a nice pour spout with the measuring cup – I love my silicone measuring cups to!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Oven Fried Chicken

Wednesday Menu – Oven Fried Chicken, Broccoli

The chicken is so good, smells delicious while it is baking, and the kids love it because it’s crunchy. A highlight is the scallions roasted along with the chicken as it bakes. The middle of these crispy scallions fall right out and makes for a yummy bite with the chicken.

I’m going to write the recipe the way I make it. The original recipe suggests serving it with a spicy yogurt sauce. We skipped it the first time we made this and didn’t miss a thing. I tried the sauce last night and really preferred the chicken without the sauce. The sauce only added a flat dimension. The recipe calls for bone it chicken, which makes the experience more like eating traditional fried chicken. Last night I tried boneless, skinless thighs to eliminate the calories of the skin easily. The thick yogurt sauce used to coat the chicken keeps the breading on nicely and was a good substitution.

Oven Fried Chicken
Adapted from Food Network Magazine
check out my notes in ().

cooking spray
1 1/3 crispy rice cereal
2 ¼ bagel chips
5 tsp olive oil, divided
¾ tsp smoked paprika
Salt and pepper
½ cup Greek yogurt
1 tsp Dijon mustard
4 boneless, skinless thighs
3 or 4 scallions (local)

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Set a rack on a foil-lined baking sheet and generously coat the rack with cooking spray. (I love this rack method, it makes the chicken crunchy all around.)

Finely grind the cereal and bagel chips in a food processor and transfer to a bowl suitable for breading the chicken. Add 3 tsp olive oil, paprika, 1 tsp salt and pepper.

Whisk ½ cup yogurt and mustard in a shallow bowl. Add the chicken and turn to coat, then transfer to the cereal/bagel mixture for breading. Place the chicken on the rack and mist with cooking spray. (This is important because the baking time required to cook the chicken can burn the breading and the cooking spray prevents this from happening.)

Toss the scallions with the remaining 2 tsp of olive oil and place amongst and on top of the chicken. Bake until the chicken is crisp and a thermometer in the thickest part registers 160 degrees, about 30 minutes.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Market Finds March 7

Here are my finds from the market this weekend and how I plan to use them.

Onions – got a 10 lb bag to have on hand. I wonder how long it will last.
Potatoes – I got a 5 lb bag, also to have on hand, but I plan to make fries this week.
Radishes – working on a pasta sauce with arugula and nuts. We shall see.
Salad Greens – perhaps, salad. I need to work on some dressing or vinaigrette recipes.
Scallions – part of a lighter version of fried chicken that we all love.
Spinach – Napoleons with grilled chicken, avocado, and spinach.
Sweet Potatoes – I just like to have these on hand.

I think I may just have some local ingredient on the table every dinner this week. I’ll keep track – that would be great.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Egg Ham Spinach Pizza

Friday Menu – Egg, Ham, and Spinach Pizza and Salad

I got the spinach on the pizza, the salad greens, and the salad scallions at the market. We love this pizza and the first time we made it were fascinated by the idea of an egg on top of a pizza. Once the egg is broken it makes for a lovely sauce. I don’t change a whole lot in this recipe, so I’m just going to give you the link. I have been known to make my own crust. The major change I make is I fry the eggs on the stove and then put them on the pizza. Putting the raw eggs on the pizza got messy and I found the cooking time for the rest of the pizza and the eggs were different. You either got perfect eggs and overcooked the rest of the pizza or raw eggs and perfect bubbly cheese.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Crispy Thai-Style Seared Salmon

Wednesday Menu – Crispy Seared Salmon, Edamame

This is my favorite way to eat salmon. I love the thin crust created on the outside of the Salmon with this method. I made a brothy sauce with it last night, but it would be good with any sauce that is recommended for fish. The following recipe would be especially good with rice. Edamame is our new favorite vegetable option. Everybody loves popping the beans out of the pods and into their mouth – kids, mom, dad. I had frozen Edamame. I boiled and heavily salted water, then added the Edamame and boiled for 4-5 minutes.

Crispy Thai-Style Seared Salmon
Adapted from Rachael Ray’s Big Orange Book

2 T oil, divided
½ small onion, thinly sliced (local, got it at the market)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ jalapeno, seeded and thinly sliced
½ inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced
Salt and pepper
½ cup chicken broth
Salmon filet
¼ cup of cornstarch, adjust amount as needed
1 T lime juice
2 – 3 T cilantro leaves, chopped (local, got it at the market)

Heat 1 T oil in small skillet over medium-low heat. Add sliced onion, garlic, jalapeno, and ginger. Season with salt and pepper and stir frequently until onions are slightly caramelized. Add the chicken broth to deglaze the pan, then bring to a boil. Bring heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

In another skillet heat 1 T of oil. Season the fish with salt and pepper and dredge in cornstarch, shaking off the excess. Add the fish to the hot skillet, skin side down, and cook 3-4 minutes per side.

Add lime juice to the sauce. Put sauce into the bottom of a pasta dish, place the fish on top of the sauce, and sprinkle with cilantro.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Chicken and Brown Rice

Brown Rice is a whole grain, has essential nutrients (B vitamins, iron, magnesium, zinc), and has the three times the amount of fiber than white rice. I get it, it’s good for you, BUT it’s so temperamental to cook. Then I discovered this recipe that uses a bunch of ingredients you can get locally in the winter, is a true comfort dish, and makes the brown rice melt in your mouth.

The information on Brown Rice and this recipe is originally from Everyday Food January/February 2010.

Tuesday Menu – One Pot Chicken and Brown Rice
Adapted Closely from Everyday Food January/February 2010

1 T olive oil
4 chicken thighs, bone in skin on, or boneless/skinless
Salt and pepper
1 large onion, cut into wedges
2 celery stalks, cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
1 cup celeriac, cut into 1 inch cubes (the last item of our 2009 CSA)
4-6 carrots, cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
1 bay leaf
1 ¾ cups chicken broth
1 cup brown rice

In a large Dutch oven heat oil over medium-high. Season oil with salt and pepper and place chicken in the pot. Cook until golden on both sides, bone in (10 – 12 minutes) or boneless (6-8 minutes). Remove chicken to a plate and reserve.

Add onion, celery, and celeriac to the pot. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook 20 minutes.

Add carrots, bay leaf, and broth to the pot. Stir in the rice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Return chicken in a layer. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat back to low. Cover and cook until the rice absorbs almost all the liquid, 40 – 45 minutes. Let stand covered 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Market Trip February 28

I got some great stuff at the local market this past weekend and here is what I plan to do with it.

Arugula – that was in our Meatless Monday Pasta, Lentils, and Arugula
Cilantro – Crispy Thai-Style Seared Salmon
Salad Greens – Guess what! SALAD!
Scallions – into the salad
Spinach – Egg, Ham, and Spinach Pizza
Sunflower and Flax Seed bread - YUMMY! We've been eating this as toast and had it Sunday night with dinner.

I also have my last hunk of celeriac hanging around from my CSA that I’m going to put in a Chicken and Brown Rice one pot dish.

I’ll let you know how they all turn out.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Meatless Monday

The reason I sought out a CSA was for environmental reasons. I wanted to start cooking and eating ingredients that were local. I have discovered there are other ways to eat that help the environment, one of which is Meatless Monday. Meatless Monday is from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health Center for a Livable Future, a non-profit initiative of The Monday Campaigns Inc. Here is the website…


If the United States went meatless every Monday for a year

it would lower greenhouse gas emissions as dramatically as every American switching to an ultra-efficient hybrid vehicle.

12 billion gallons of gasoline would be saved.

And by switching to soy on Mondays each individual could save about 890 gallons of water a week.

These Meatless Monday methods to help the environment can be found at Wikipedia.

So here is what we are having for dinner Monday night…

Pasta with Lentils and Arugula
Originally Published May 2005 from Everyday Food

12 oz. orecchiette pasta
2 T olive oil
4 cups onions, halved and thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
2 cups diced tomatoes
¾ cup lentils, picked over and rinsed
8 oz. arugula, stemmed and coarsely chopped (LOCAL! I got mine at the market!)
½ cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Cook pasta in a pot of salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water; drain pasta and reserve in pot.

Meanwhile #1 - Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and ½ tsp salt; cover, and cook until onions wilt, about 20 minutes. Uncover; raise heat to medium. Cook, stirring often, until onions are dark brown, 20-25 minutes more. Add ¼ cup water; stir to loosen any browned bits from the pan. Stir in tomatoes; remove from heat.

Meanwhile #2 - In a medium saucepan, cover lentils with water by 1 inch. Bring to a simmer. Cover; cook until lentils are tender, 15 – 20 minutes. Drain; stir into onion mixture when it is done. Season with salt and pepper.

To the reserved pasta in the pot add lentil mixture, arugula, cheese, and reserved pasta water; toss. Serve with more cheese if desired.

NOTE: There is a lot going on at one time in this recipe. It took me several times running through this recipe to organize in the following way…I get the pasta water going and cook that to al dente. I get the lentils going. Once they are tender, I drain them and usually reserve them till the lentil mixture is finished. Then I work on caramelizing the onions. During the down time I chop the arugula and tomatoes. It all gets tossed together in the end, so just make each thing, toss and enjoy!