Monday, July 20, 2009

Leftover CSA Produce?

I'm sure there are some of you out there that, like me, can't always keep up with the produce items that you receive every week in your shares. From my own experience, the most common leftovers in the fridge by the end of the week are greens and cabbage. I am sharing with you some very easy recipes that I have come up with that will hopefully both taste great and help empty out your fridge before tomorrow's veggies arrive. The cabbage soup, a variation of a soup that my mom would always make for my family, can use up to a half a head of cabbage at a time and requires almost no effort past chopping a bunch of vegetables (and has almost no calories!). The other two recipes can use collards, kale, chard, or any hearty green you have lying around. I often add extra veggies, or change up the herbs and spices I put in when I get bored. Have some fun, and happy cooking!

Quick and Easy Cabbage Soup

3 cups vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 15-oz. cans of pre-seasoned diced tomatoes (Italian or Mexican)
½ - 1 head cabbage, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup carrot, chopped
½ cup zucchini, chopped (optional)
Basil and oregano, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions: Add all ingredients to a large dutch oven or soup pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer on low heat until all ingredients are cooked thoroughly and cabbage is transparent. Season to taste. For a spicier soup, add some diced chilies or jalapeno salt.

Sautéed Collard Greens and Cabbage

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
2 tsp crushed chili flakes, optional
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ - ½ a head of cabbage (depending on the size of the head), sliced
1 bunch (about ½ a pound) of collard greens, center stem removed, sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice, optional

Directions: Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet or wok. Add the sliced onion and crushed chili flakes if using, and sauté for a few minutes until they begin to soften and lose color. Add the minced garlic, salt and pepper, and continue to sauté until the garlic becomes fragrant. Stir frequently so the garlic does not burn. Once the onions are translucent and the garlic fragrant, add the sliced cabbage and greens. Frequently toss with tongs to coat cabbage and greens in oil, and to thoroughly cook all ingredients. The greens will first turn a fluorescent green, and then become steadily darker as they cook. Add more salt and pepper to taste. The dish is complete when cabbage is transparent, collard greens are a dark green color, and both are fully wilted. If using, add lemon juice right before removing from pan and serving – if added too early on, it can make the greens lose their vibrant green color.

Sautéed Greens and Mushrooms with Balsamic Vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped
2 portabella mushroom caps, cleaned* and cut into ¼ inch slices, OR 1 cup button mushrooms, cleaned* and sliced
½ tablespoon chopped rosemary
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 bunch (approx. ½ a pound) of collard greens, kale, chard, or any other dark leafy green that holds up well to cooking and heat (not spinach), thick center stem removed, sliced or coarsely chopped
2 tsp sea salt
Pepper, to taste
¼ cup balsamic vinegar or Marsala cooking wine

Directions: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced onion, and cook for a few minutes until they begin to soften and lose color. Add the garlic and cook about a minute more, until fragrant. Add the mushrooms, rosemary and cayenne pepper. Continue cooking until mushrooms are tender, stirring frequently. De-glaze the skillet with the balsamic vinegar or Marsala wine, and cook about a minute more. Add the greens, sea salt** and pepper to taste. Toss the greens frequently to cook thoroughly. The dish is done when the greens are fully wilted and darker in color.

*To clean mushrooms, do not rinse in water. Take a dry, clean paper towel and gently rub any remaining dirt off of the caps and stems.

**As a general rule, do not add salt to mushrooms until they are almost fully cooked, as salt will promote dryness and much faster cooking when added to raw mushrooms.

Recipe for New Potatoes

New potatoes, although given a special name, are nothing more than young versions of potatoes of any variety. They are picked before reaching full maturity, thus giving them the thin, flaky skin and enhanced taste for which they are known. So what exactly causes these traits? Potatoes that are picked at a younger age have less time to develop a tough skin or process a lot of their sugars into carbohydrates. This leaves you with a delicate layer of skin that never has to be peeled, and a much more heightened, sweeter overall flavor - and for those of you watching your carb intake, less of those too!

While you can easily replace potatoes with new potatoes in any of your recipes, I think it's fun to also explore the more delicate side of the new potato to bring out its unique personality and flavor. The recipe below pairs new potatoes with shallots. Shallots are related to onions and have a reminiscent flavor, but are much more mild and sweet. These qualities will bring out the sweetness of the new potato without overpowering it as a red or white onion might. I have tried this recipe with normal potatoes and onions though, and it is still delicious - so please, use whatever you have on hand, this is a very fun and simple dish to make! Enjoy!

Crunchy New Potatoes with Sautéed Shallots and Fresh Herbs

8-10 new potatoes, scrubbed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium-sized shallot, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh basil, oregano, thyme (whatever you have on hand) chopped, to taste

Directions: Melt butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Leave smaller (1 – 1 1/2 inches in diameter) potatoes whole, while halving or quartering larger potatoes. Place the potatoes in the saucepan and cover. Cook on medium heat for 15-20 minutes, shaking the pot occasionally to keep the potatoes from sticking to the bottom. Add the sliced shallot, salt, pepper, and chopped fresh herbs. Recover and cook until shallots are translucent and potatoes tender and golden brown, shaking the pot now and then to distribute herbs and thoroughly cook the potatoes.