“I’m not hungry so I’ll just have a bite” were my husband’s last words before finishing off the entire portion. I guess it’s a keeper. 🙂
This week, I wanted to highlight in-season Kousa squash, tomatoes, and spinach from Farmer Dave’s, the fabulous locally grown organic mushrooms from Fat Moon Mushrooms via our vendor Neighbor’s Acre Farm, as well a product from our meat farmer Lilac Hedge Farm. I went with ground pork for the latter, but their ground pork, turkey, or sausage (sans casings) would work just as well.
Click HERE to see the recipe that inspired me, and the source of the tasty zucchini crust, andclick HERE to watch the “not live at the market” cooking demo video.
Ground Pork and Veggie Casserole with Kousa Squash Crust
2 cups shredded or grated Kousa, (or summer or zucchini squash)
2 large eggs
2/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated or shredded
3 cups shredded cheddar (or cheese(s) of choice), divided between crust and filling
1 tsp salt
1 pound ground pork, (or beef, sausage, (no casings), or turkey)
1 cup chopped squash, then 4-6 oz fresh spinach, and two medium to largish tomatoes, finely chopped
cooking spray or vegetable oil of choice
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and lightly coat a 9×13 pan with cooking spray or oil.
Place grated zucchini in a strainer, sprinkle with salt and toss. Let stand for 15 minutes.
Add eggs, parmesan cheese and half of the shredded cheese (s) to a medium sized mixing bowl and set aside.
Squeeze out moisture from the squash with paper or dish towel. Add to egg and cheese mix and stir to combine. Press, as evenly as possible, into your prepared pan. Feel free to use your hands! Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes.
In the meantime, cook ground meat in a medium (12” works) frying pan until no longer pink. Remove from pan and drain if needed. In same pan, add oil as needed and sauté onion, squash, and mushrooms over medium heat until just tender. Add spinach and tomatoes. Add back the cooked ground pork and mix. Put mixture onto the now-baked squash crust in the 9×13 pan. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 20 minutes longer, until heated through. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Enjoy!
With a chilly day predicted, I thought a hot soup would be a good choice, but I wondered how I could make a flavorful soup in an hour or so? I would have no time to make a separate vegetable stock and, in the spirit of our cooking demos, I did not want to go with a store bought option. What to do?
I needed to figure out how to create a strong flavor that would not dissipate once water was added to make the soup. What came to mind were two things. The first is a tip I learned from Mike Vrobel, of DadCooksDinner, that he uses to make his turkey stock: Be sure to include onion and carrot and slice them very thinly to let more of the flavor out into the liquid. The second is that tomatoes are one of the vegetarian ingredients used to add an “umami” flavor. Okay, three things, with the third being that dried herbs, when added early in the cooking process, can pack as much of, or an even better punch then their fresh counterparts.
Oh, okay, five things. Garlic (of course) and just the right amount of salt.
The instructions are in the following recipe, but the short story is saute thinly sliced onion and carrot on low for a few minutes in olive oil, (do not brown!) raise temperature, add dried herbs, salt, and pepper, and cook for a minute or two, add thinly sliced garlic and cook until fragrant, add diced tomato, lower temperature, and cook down for 10-15 minutes. Then add water and veggies, cook for 15-20 minutes, and season with salt to taste. Here is what I did at the Market Kitchen Tent:
Quick and Easy Fresh Vegetable Soup (serves 4)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil 1 small onion, very thinly sliced/chopped 1 3 to 4-inch piece of a medium carrot, very thinly sliced 2 small clove garlic thinly sliced 4 tsp dried parsley 2 tsp dried oregano 1 tsp dried thyme 1/4+ tsp each salt and pepper 1 medium sized tomato, diced 1 medium carrot, diced 1 small to medium potatoes, diced 1 3″ or so chunk of daikon radish, diced (can also use two big red radishes) 15 or so green beans, in 1″ pieces kernels from one cob of fresh corn liquid scraped from the “de-kerneled” cob 2 cup water to start, then, if needed, add more to cover by 1/2″ or so (I used three cups) 1 tsp salt
Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan, add onion and cook on low for a few minutes. Add the thinly sliced carrot and cook another few minutes, then raise the temperature to medium high and add dried herbs, salt, and pepper. Cook for another minute or so, add the garlic and cook until frgrant, about 30 seconds, then add tomatoes, and liquid scraped from corn cob. Lower heat and cook for at least 10 minutes or so until thickened and very fragrant.
Next, add all the rest of the veggies and the water. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, adjust seasoning if desired, and you are done!
So easy and so good! You can use whatever veggies you like, but I’d recommend keeping the flavor base the same.
You might be wondering about the daikon radish in the ingredient list. I am a big fan of this vegetable, also called ice radish. I discovered it back when I followed a macrobiotic diet and have since learned that it is very good for the soil, making it an excellent rotation crop. Unfortunately, it is not one of the more familiar vegetables, so I always like to give it some PR when I can.
I found out that Farmer Dave’s has been offering it in their current CSA, so I requested that they send some along to Wakefield this week. And they did! Along with using it in the soup, I also offered raw slices for people to try. I am happy to say that more than just a few people headed over to Farmer Dave’s for a daikon radish when they left the Market Kitchen Tent.
Not everyone was a newbie, though. Here are some ideas for using daikon shared with me today: Slice it in rounds and serve with hummus or another dip in lieu of crackers. Julienne and include in a wrap. Or, the most fun sounding one: slice thin or spiral and serve with a strong soft cheese on dark rye bread, accompanied by a good beer.
Of course, it is great in soups or stir fries, any casserole dish, (use to complement or as a substitute for turnip, potato, or carrots) raw in a salad or veggie plate, or try it roasted, by it itself or in a veggie medley. Here is a fun recipe I am going to try this weekend: Spicy Roasted Daikon Radish French Fries.
Do a search online for daikon radish, and daikon radish recipes. You just might find out that you have a new favorite veggie.
I actually converted a few “I hate kale” folks and had a toddler coming back for 3rds! I based my sauté recipe on The Sauteed Kale Recipe that Converts Kale-Haters, which has butter or ghee as the cooking oil, along with shallots, soy sauce, and Dijon mustard as the secret ingredients for success.
Since I stay vegan for our demos and with no shallots available at the time, I had to make a few adjustments. Here is the recipe I used at the market. In contrast to the recipe I put on the bulletin board during the demo, I used a medium-largish onion, doubled the amounts of soy sauce and mustard, and cooked the onions slow and low for about 25 minutes so they just started to caramelize. I knew that doing this with the onions would give a bit of a creamy texture and sweetness that, while not a substitute for what butter can bring, brought a special something beyond just a quick cook of the onions in the olive oil.
2-3 Tbsp Olive oil 1 medium to large onion 1-2 large garlic clove, minced 2 tsp. tamari or soy sauce 1 tsp. Old School Kitchen’s Maple Bourbon Mustard * 1 bunch of kale, rinsed and chopped ** water as needed salt and black pepper, to taste * Use whatever mustard you like **Don’t dry the kale; the water droplets will help it steam as cooking.
Remove leaves from stems and chop the kale into small pieces.
Heat the oil or fat over medium heat in a saute pan with high sides or a dutch oven.
Add the onion, lower heat, and cook slow and low for at least 20 minutes to bring out sweetness – longer if you have time to caramelize them a bit more. Bring the heat up and add the garlic, cooking briefly until fragrant, about a minute.
Add the chopped kale and stir to coat in the oil. Add the tamari or soy sauce and mustard, and stir again.
Sauté, stirring frequently, until the kale is tender, about 8-10 minutes or to how you like it. If the kale starts to stick to the pan, add a couple tablespoons of water. This will help soften the kale, and the water will cook off.
Season with salt and pepper before serving and enjoy…But wait, what was that about a massage?
To season and soften kale without cooking, simply remove the leaves from the stems and chop the leaves, add a bit of olive oil, salt (I used and would recommend kosher salt if you have it) and a squeeze of lemon juice. Then rub or “massage” with your fingers for a few minutes or more. You can use it alone as a salad green (ooo, I can taste this with walnuts and apples!) or in a salad mix, add to a stir fry, or use the rubbed leaves to make kale chips!
This past week, I wanted to highlight lemongrass, a tropical grass that is also grown here in Massachusetts by our Flats Mentor Farm farmers.
The easiest way to enjoy lemongrass is to make a tea of the bulb, stalk, and/or leaves, with the latter being the choice for our Saturday morning beverage. It could not be easier: cut the dark green tops off the stalks, put them in a pot of water, bring to a boil, and then simmer or just turn off the heat (as I did) and let it steep! Delicious hot or warm, it also makes a refreshing iced tea.
Our main dish used lemongrass to add its essence to sautéed Swiss chard, to which I also added sweet yellow peppers. I put 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a big frying pan, added 2 tablespoons of sliced, then crushed, then finely minced lemongrass bulb, which is the bottom few inches minus the end of the bulb, which you chop off.
This was done at a low temperature – just a bit of movement in the oil, for about 20 minutes. I then added sliced sweet yellow pepper, using a whole one along with leaves from a bunch (10-12 stalks) of Swiss chard. I chopped both the chard and peppers small so they would fit into the demo cups, but you can size as desired.
Once the lemongrass had infused in the olive oil, I turned the heat up to medium high and added the pepper slices and cooked for a few minutes, then added the chard and let it cook down and long enough get soft and deep in flavor, about 10 minutes or more, turning the heat down if it looked like things might get brown.
A touch of salt finished it off, although you could certainly add seasonings to taste, as well as tofu, chicken, or another protein for a complete meal. Note: the infused oil is not lemony as is the tea, but it adds a “something extra” to the flavor base. According to many recipes sites, that “something” is what you might feel is missing if you make Thai food without using lemongrass.
The bulb and stem, and, even the leaves can be used to season, soups, stews, and curries. Just note that the stalk and leaves must be removed after cooking, as well as the bulb if not minced. Too tough to chew! If not mincing the bulb, slice and crush before using.
WOW, this recipe sure is a winner! I was told by one shopper that I should mass produce and sell it. It really is that good. And you can make it, too, in under an hour.
The secret is twofold. First, straining after a short cooking time, cooking just the liquid down separately and then adding the reserved pulp back in means intense flavor from the cooked down liquid and fresh flavor and texture from the tomatoes and other ingredients that don’w actually get cooked for all that long. Second, I really liked the addition of Thai basil to this simple recipe. You can’t really taste the anise/fennel flavor of the Thais basil but it lends something special to the dish. Although, you could certainly make a fabulous sauce using all regular basil, with our without additional fresh herbs of your choice. And, don’t take the amounts in the recipe as written in stone. Pinch and handful measurements will work fine.
It is a great way to make sauce when you don’t have a lot of time. It is also a great way to use up tomatoes in this season of abundance. This recipe is perfect for freezing, too. Here is the recipe:
2 Tbsp olive oil 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 smallish onion, chopped 1/3 cup chopped or torn fresh Thai basil leaves 1/4 cup chopped or torn fresh basil leaves 1/8 cup chopped or torn fresh parsley 5 lbs slicing tomatoes 5-6 turns of the black pepper mill, to taste 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
Slice the tomatoes in half, removing core, and grate into a large bowl, sliced side on the biggest hole side of the grater. Discard skins.
Heat olive oil, add onion and garlic and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
Strain mixture through a mesh strainer, in batches as need to get as much liquid out as possible. Reserve the pulp and pour the liquid back into the pan and simmer until reduced until the liquid is thick enough to stay apart so you can see the pan for a few moments after running a spoon along the bottom.
Add the pulp back and heat through. That’s it! Make a big batch and freeze some.