Tuesday, December 11, 2012

CSA Meal Planning: October

I have taken a bit of a break from blogging for the past couple months. We've had a lot going on between health, work, family, and a big move.  In an effort to catch up, I am posting a double CSA menu plan for the month of October, with a double post for November to follow!

Over a long-awaited meal at Locanda,  we shared a beautiful plate of chicory, fried duck egg, parmesan, and hazelnuts in brown butter to start. I loved the way the brown butter cut the bitterness of the chicory.  Inspired by Locanda's approach, I made a gorgeous plate of acorn squash pan sauteed in brown butter, braised kale finished with brown butter, toasted hazelnuts, and shaved pecorino cheese.  It was wonderfully satisfying! It would be equally delicious with a fried or poached egg.

Earlier in October, I took an incredible pasta making class at Flour + Water with Francesca Tori from Bologna, Italy. Executive Chef Thomas McNaughton of Flour + Water and Central Kitchen fame studied in Bologna, Italy under the tutelage of the Tori family. Photos and details to follow!  For now, here's a sneak preview of some of the pasta I made.

Since taking the class, I have been experimenting with making pasta at home. My first project was homemade pumpkin tortellini finished in a brown butter, crispy sage, and lemon sauce.  The pumpkin filling was made with a pumpkin in a previous week's CSA box.  I used the leftover dough to make wide pasta ribbons and tossed with an intensely flavorful fennel tomato sauce.

Another new dish is cabbage pot stickers, inspired by Mark Bittman.  I filled wonton wrappers (couldn't find dumpling wrappers) with beautiful green cabbage, cremini mushroom, carrot, ginger, green chili, and soy sauce. They were incredible-- far more flavor and healthier than anything you can get at a restaurant!

Finally, I used all parts of the beets in my CSA box (leaves, stems, and beets) in a colorful farro beet salad with a walnut oil dressing and walnuts.  The nuttiness of the farro is a perfect complement for earthy beets.
Week of October 16:
Tuscan kale
acorn squash
banana potatoes
green beans
gypsy peppers
beets and beet greens

Day 1: brunch: omelet with beet greens and peppers
dinner: roasted acorn squash with braised kale and hazelnuts in brown butter
pumpkin tortellini with crispy sage, brown butter, lemon

Day 2: farro with beets, beet greens, walnuts

Day 3:  tomato fennel sauce with freshmade pasta ribbons

Day 4: Indian spiced broccoli sabzi
Indian green beans
roti and yogurt

Day 5: cabbage pot stickers... cabbage, carrot, shiitake mushrooms, garlic, ginger, scallions

Day 6: quinoa with peppers

Day 7: baby beets with herb dressing
braised kale linguini

Day 8: roasted gypsy peppers with capers and olives (like eggplant caponata without the eggplant)
truffled mushroom flatbread
roasted fennel and potatoes with garlic and onions

Day 9: samosas... potato and pea
three dal
pepper sabzi with chick pea flour
cabbage sabzi

The last week of October was pretty nuts as we were busy packing for the move in the middle of dealing with other complicated, not-so-happy things.  All I craved was pizza in various forms:  gourmet Neapolitan style pizza from Zero Zero, Chicago deep dish from Patxi's, and, much to my embarrassment, thin crust pizza from.... Papa Johns.  Yes, even though I'm a super foodie on the outside, deep down inside I occasionally crave my childhood favorite pizza, Papa Johns.  The only meal I cooked that entire last week was Swiss chard ragu with spaghetti.

Once the move was over, I felt like a stranger in the new house and struggled to feel at home. For days, we ordered take out from the new-to-us neighborhood restaurants. One Friday night, I decided to cook our first dinner in the new house.  I rummaged through the foreign fridge searching for familiar contents of my beloved CSA box and pulled out Tuscan kale, romanesco cauliflower, and broccolini.  The rhythm of chopping vegetables on the wood block put me at ease in the strange, unfamiliar new place.  I browned butter in my cast iron skillet and reached for sea salt from the salt cellar to my left, where it belonged, and suddenly, I felt at home.

It's amazing how much comfort my CSA box provides me; it truly has transformative powers!

A couple days later, we had our first guests over for brunch. I made baked eggs in a tomato cream sauce with collard greens and spinach along with spiced potatoes. We ate brunch outside in the gorgeous garden. It couldn't have been more perfect!

Week of October 30:
delicata squash
Tuscan kale
savoy cabbage
collard greens
Swiss chard
red peppers

Day 1 last dinner at old place:  Swiss chard ragu with spaghetti

Day 2 first dinner at new place: roasted delicata squash and Tuscan kale in brown butter with poached egg
roasted romanesco cauliflower with lemon, sea salt, and parsley
broccolini with garlic and crushed red pepper

Day 3: fennel tomato sauce with spaghetti

Day 4 first brunch with friends at new place: baked eggs with spinach and collard greens in a tomato cream sauce
Indian spiced potatoes
radishes with butter
avocado slices

Day 5: morrocan carrots
harissa with lemon couscous

Day 6: savoy cabbage sabzi with onions

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