Monthly Archives: August 2012

What’s for Dinner: August 6

The farm share is slowing down as the heat has made growing tougher. This time of year, they take a well-deserved three week break. The students are not on campus or are getting settled for the beginning of fall, so there is a lack of labor. Shawn, the farm manager, needs a break. We too, the reapers of the farm’s return, need a break. As amazing as these vegetables are, it can be exhausting figuring out how to turn them all into dinner.

My last farm share felt like they were just emptying the larder. I got three pounds of peppers. If you don’t think that’s a lot of peppers, go to the store and weigh one. I had a HUGE bag of peppers. There were also a fair number of eggplants, and a lot of green beans. I ended up giving a large number of things away, to my Jazzercise buddies, to my mother and to the neighbor who took care of our cat while we went to the beach and let others cook for us for a change. Still, I have a few recipes for you.

Pink!Swiss Chard Risotto

Oh the family will enjoy a break from Swiss chard. We were running out of ideas as to what to do with it. If I get it again, I’m just going to go back to making Spanakopita with it, and try adding nutmeg to it, like the one my husband got one night for dinner here in Hilton Head. I had tried it in stew, which didn’t treat me well, and I put it in a frittata, which was not the biggest hit. (It worked, but I had used too much chard.) Risotto always works, plus I hadn’t used the much beloved pressure cooker in a long time. If you’ve ever made risotto, you know that it involves dirtying TWO pots and taking up at least half your stovetop while you add stock every 3-5 minutes. Forget that. This way takes maybe 10 minutes, no joke. I based it off this recipe. Here’s what I did differently:

  • 4 to 5 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 pound Swiss chard, washed well, trimmed of stems, leaves cut into strips
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  1. Heat the oil in your pressure cooker, add the onion, and saute over medium-high heat until the onion softens.
  2. Stir in the rice, and mix well. Stir in the wine. Cook until the wine has almost evaporated.
  3. Add 3 cups of stock, lock the lid and get up to high pressure. Cook for 5 minutes, then release using the quick release method. I do this in the sink because it releases a LOT of steam.
  4. Stir in the Swiss chard, fennel seeds and 1 more cup of the stock. Continue cooking and stirring until the chard is completely wilted and the rice is tender but firm. Stir in the cheese, and serve.

Grilled Veggies

My friend Amanda told me that okra was delicious if you roasted it. I had been quite dubious about my okra and hadn’t eaten any of it, so why not. I mentioned this to my husband, who has a thing about turning on the oven in the middle of summer. He said “can we grill the veggies?” Hmm, well sure why not! Many MANY years ago, I had bought him a paella pan that then sat unused for a decade. The idea was you could use it on the stovetop or you could use it on the grill. I finally pulled it out and made paella in it, which was a huge family hit. So, why not try the pan on the grill? I took what veggies I had that might grill well (squash, green beans, carrots and that okra), tossed it with oil (grapeseed), some French sea salt I picked up in Asheville and some smoked paprika. My husband then grilled it. He also stuck a few pieces of hickory from a large tree we just had cut down that was leaning precariously towards the house. Smoky! Next time, I leave out the smoked paprika if he’s going to smoke it on the grill. Still, it was delicious and the family really enjoyed this. Plus, it was really pretty in the paella pan, which I forgot to take a picture. Whoops. Guess that means I’ll just have to make it again, right?

Walnuts for protein

Eggplant Stir Fry

Husband was VERY dubious of this idea, but I swore to him, I’d seen online that other people had done this. So, a standard stir fry dish here.

  • 1-2 eggplants, depending on the size
  • 1-2 peppers, again depending on the size. I had green peppers, so we used green peppers.
  • 4 scallions. You could use onions, but I had lots of green onions, which apparently grow like weeds down at the farm.
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, depending on your taste for garlic
  • Walnuts because my daughter ate all the cashews before I cooked this meal
  • Stir fry oil
  • Rice vinegar, a teaspoon or two
  • Soy sauce, maybe a tablespoon
  • Chinese five spice, about a teaspoon
  • Sesame oil, a teaspoon

So, heat your oil, add the veggies until they start to soften. I usually go ahead and add the spice at this point. Then, as they start to soften, I add the liquid stuff. I saw some recipes that called for sugar, but I skipped that. We made this again with green beans and ginger. It was very good, except I would suggest that you blanche the green beans first. They were  a little crunchy and everything else got a little soggy.

OK. They’re ugly. Trust me: YUM.

Beet cookies

I’d make all sorts of baked goods with beets, so I needed to complete the set and go with cookies. Found this little recipe and they are delicious! Highly recommend. Only thing is: don’t kid yourself. There’s very little healthy about these cookies. They have a LOT of butter and sugar in them. And chocolate. Still, they are really tasty, even if they are ugly! One friend suggested that since they look purple (OK they are purple) that I frost them with orange icing and make tiger paws, sell them at the football games. My grandmother always said you could sell manure to Clemson fans as long as you stuck a tiger paw on it. These taste better than manure (I’m assuming.) I will confess: I didn’t bother to cook the beets. I kind of forgot, actually. I just pureed them raw. That works too. They cook when you bake the cookies. And I didn’t use white chocolate. Not a fan of white chocolate! I also used 2/3 the amount of sugar this called for and I didn’t use buttermilk. Otherwise, I made it exactly as it had it here.

Coming up next week: how we ate at Hilton Head. If you look around, you can find some excellent meals!



What’s for Dinner: July 29

This week has been far more successful. Getting less veggies, but still more than enough to feed us. Here’s what was on the menu this week.

Tomato Green Bean Pasta

I had green beans, I had tomatoes, so maybe they would be good together. I’ve seen this before, so why not? So, to the internets and what popped up? Closet Cooking! Closet Cooking is a blog that has grown quite a bit as this guy has nice photos and pretty good recipes. So, I felt confident making this. Now I had tons TONS of tomatoes and a lot of green beans, so I made this recipe 1.5 bigger than listed here. And, I didn’t use the canned tomatoes because I had tons of tomatoes. I’ve been getting these nice heirloom orange tomatoes that are ginormous, so I used two of of those and three of the more normal tomatoes. I let the tomatoes break down into sauce and it was delicious. We also put it on top of an old bag of linguini that needed to be eaten and that was just perfect. Husband was really very happy with this meal. This will go into regular rotation. Bonus: I made this in the cast iron pan, which I love using for presentation.

A few changes, just because I had different stuff on hand:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped
  • Some scallions (he called for onions, but that’s what I got so …)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 6 cups diced fresh tomatoes
  • 1.5 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into bit sized pieces
  • Oregano, a mix of fresh and dried
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 handful parsley, chopped
  • A shake of dried dill
  • 1/2 cup feta, crumbled (optional)

Start with the onions, sauteing for about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and the red pepper for about a minute, then add everything except the parsley and dill and feta. Cover and simmer about 40 minutes, remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients and serve on top of the grain of your choice (which was linguine for us.)

Swiss Chard Frittata

Trying to convince my newly-employed friend Suzie that fritattas are a great dinner idea. The whole working mom thing is a bit of a transition. In that spirit, I made one for us. Husband thought I used too much chard, which might be the case. He felt that it took away from the flavor of the eggs. So, if I were to make it again, less chard. Still, I ate the rest for lunch and thought it was delicious.

So tear your Swiss chard leaves: you probably want 8. I used all 15, because some of them were small, but husband thought it was too much. I also diced all the stems.
Take your onion (again, for me it was a bunch of scallions because I’m swimming in scallions) and saute until soft, near the end adding 3 garlic cloves (total of about 5 minutes with scallions, longer with an onion.) Then add some salt, some rosemary (I think I probably used a tablespoon) and the chard and saute for a minute or two. Then, add your 8 eggs. Let that cook for about 5 minutes, then put that in a 350 degree oven for another 10 minutes or until firm. NOTE: add a fair amount of oil in your pan to keep those eggs from becoming one with the pan.
I also have a ton of potatoes, so I chopped up a few, boiled for 5 minutes and then sauteed in olive oil with garlic salt and basil. Yum! A nice balance to the frittata, which was rich tasting in comparison.

Butternut Squash Pizza

This one is on the cover of my latest Vegetarian Times! Timely! Here’s my version:

Pizza crust:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1.5 T yeast
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 T oil
  • 2-3 cups flour

Put the sugar in the warm water (for me it’s fairly hot) until dissolved and then add the yeast. Wait about 5 minutes. If it’s super bubbly and foamy, continue. Otherwise, toss and start over. Then add the salt and the oil. Now, start adding the flour a cup at a time. I think what made this latest version so successful was I didn’t use too much flour. I put enough flour in to form a nice ball, but it was still fairly sticky. Just not sticky enough that it would prefer to be on your hands and not part of the ball. Then let it sit for about an hour and a half. Punch it down and let it rest about 10 minutes. Then divide it into 4 balls and give it another 10 minutes. If it’s longer, let it sit under a kitchen towel to keep it from drying out. When you’re ready, bake for 13-15 minutes. You can up the temperature to 400 if you are done with the squash but it will cook ok at 350 too.

While all that is going on, prep the butternut squash mixture. Peel, seed and chop the squash and half an onion. (Note: this mixture only made TWO pizzas, so go with a bigger squash and an entire onion if you need to.) Cover with oil and salt and roast for about 30 minutes on 350.

Put the squash mixture on top of the now baked crusts, drizzle with olive oil and basil. (They used spinach but hey I had a TON of basil. The kid went with arugula.) Top with some parmesan. OH MAN so delicious.

Beet Salad

Got lots of teeny little beets this week. I think they probably hung on to these and are emptying the larder, so that we weren’t overwhelmed with beets. (Which we were anyway, hell I even made cupcakes and pancakes.) This time? A standard beet salad.

I roasted all the beets: about 7, or about 2 pounds. I wrapped them in foil and stuck them in the toaster oven. They were small enough to fit. I left them in there for about half an hour, then peeled them and chopped them.

I also candied some walnuts. I went with about half a cup and tossed them with about a tablespoon of honey, heating them until they were covered.

Then, I put down some baby spinach. (YES I was forced to buy greens at the store, unbelievable. First time in about 3 months.) I added some of the beets, the walnuts, put some goat cheese from our local goat farm and topped it with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar and lime mixture. (About 50-50 with a splash of the citrus. The recipe I found had called for orange juice concentrate so I just used the citrus I had on hand.)