The last week of July finally brought the first Napa cabbage, a healthy amount of corn, and an assortment of other vegetables including beets, green peppers, potatoes, green beans, eggplant, summer squash, cauliflower, and tomatoes. Andrew and I were a bit of a mess. He was still playing eight shows a week downtown and was about to take off for two weeks to play at a summer festival in California. After the festival, we would have just a week before our wedding, which was in Vermont (we thought this would be a good idea last October when we started planning it). In his last few days in town, we tried to get done everything that he needed to actually be present for, like finding him shoes and a belt for the wedding, agreeing on a design for our Ketubah, making sure he had a valid driver’s license so he could, you know, get on an airplane, and also discussing our personal beliefs about marriage. Cooking vegetables started to seem like a secondary priority—which, it seems, is why pickles were invented.
While digging through various vegetable bins searching for vegetables to destroy, I unearthed some turnips lurking in the bottom of the refrigerator, leftover from week 4. Turnips are challenging because they’re not very good to eat. Last year Andrew turned them into a beautiful soup from Alice Waters which tasted okay but was actually kind of bitter if we were honest. This year, I investigated pickling them instead.
As it turns out, pickled turnips are standard in Middle Eastern Food, and I’ve been eating them for years every time I get a combo plate from the Lebanese restaurant right up the street. It never crossed my mind that I was eating pickled turnips, because they’re bright pink. Evidently this is because you add a small amount of chopped beets to the pickle, for the sole purpose of making them pink.
This recipe is from David Lebowitz. You make a brine that’s 1/2 cups water, 3 TB salt, and 1/2 cup white vinegar – something halfway between a lacto-fermented pickle and a vinegar pickle. Then they sit out at room temperature for a week.
They were delicious, among my favorite pickles yet.
CSA ingredients used: turnips, part of a beet.
Other ingredients used: water, white vinegar, salt, garlic
Pita with Eggplant
One of Andrew’s proudest triumphs last year was sahib, a eggplant stuffed in pita dish from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem. When we made it last year, Andrew loving crafted everything from scratch, including the pita bread, and then finished everything on the grill. This all happened when I was out of town, and I got back in time to only have a taste. This year I was actually around for it, but we had maybe 20 minutes to cook, so we bought pita, tabouli, and tahini sauce from the local middle eastern market, and quickly fried the eggplant.
CSA ingredients: tomatoes, eggplant
Other ingredients used: egg, pita, tabouli
Corn Chowder Salad
Next up, I had found a recipe for Corn Chowder Salad over at Smitten Kitchen. It sounded weird, but it checked all of the boxed. It used up lots of corn, it used up a bunch of potatoes, and it contained some protein to boot. I made it as sort of a late-night fried bacon snack, which I think is important to always have around. You fry up 4 slices of diced bacon and then remove the bacon but leave the fat. Then you fry 1 lb diced potatoes, and 6 ears of corn in the bacon fat. The recipe calls for red peppers; I only had green peppers and decided to add one of them. Green peppers are one of the few vegetables we’ve never really come up with something to do with. I was hesitant to include them, but decided that frying them in bacon fat was probably as good as it was going to get.
Once everything is cooked, you mix the fried vegetables, the bacon, and 1/2 cup cider vinegar.
Sadly, no picture of the final product, just random vegetable components. It was pretty good – the cider vinegar was a nice touch and as expected, green peppers fried in bacon fat are not too bad.
CSA ingredients used: potatoes, corn, a green pepper
Other ingredients used: bacon, apple cider vinegar
Spicy Soba Noodles with Shiitakes
In years past, we’ve made most of our Napa cabbages into kimchi (when I wasn’t making imprudent decisions about cabbage rolls). However, we still have a half gallon mason jar of kimchi in the refrigerator from last year, and I think it’s actually still good too.
Lots of recipes for cabbage will call for, like, a cup of it. This is not even remotely cool. Under what circumstances does a person have a cup of Napa cabbage sitting around? Anyway. While bitterly rejecting recipes for Napa cabbage, I came across this recipe for Spicy Soba Noodles with Shiitakes from Smitten Kitchen that called for an entire 8 cups. I was sold.
First you make a sauce: you mix together 1/3 cup water, 1/3 cup soy sauce, 2-3 tsp Gochujang (Korean pepper sauce), and 1 TB brown sugar.
Then you toast 3 TB sesame seeds and set them aside. Saute 2 TB minced ginger and 1 TB minced garlic in oil for 30 seconds, and then add 10 ounces of sliced shiitake mushrooms and cook for about 6 minutes. Then reduce the heat to medium and add 8 cups of sliced Napa cabbage and 3 sliced scallions.
While this is happening, you cook 10 ounce soba noodles in a pot of boiling salted water. You’re also supposed to cook a cup of frozen edamame in the water with the noodles. I had frozen edamame, but didn’t read ahead enough to realize I was supposed to cook them with the pasta, so I left them out entirely.
Once the noodles are done, drain them and combine with the cabbage and mushroom mixture, the sesame seeds, and the sauce.
CSA ingredients used: napa cabbage
Other ingredients used: soba noodles, Shiitake mushrooms, scallions, soy sauce, brown pepper, Gochujang, sesame seeds, ginger, garlic.
Spicy Dilly Beans
At this point, the green bean situation was getting out of control and it was pretty clear that we were not going to sit down and eat 3 pounds of green beans. Last year I had done a vinegar pickle with them which I wasn’t super fond of (though my 18 month old nephew apparently ate an entire jar for dinner over Christmas last year), but this year I decided to try again with a different pickle recipe.
This recipe for spicy dilly beans is from Serious Eats. You trim the beans, which is pretty time consuming when you have 3 lbs of them. Then you fill 5 pint jars with a clove of garlic, a teaspoon of dill seeds, and a teaspoon of red pepper flakes each. The brine is 2 1/2 cups of water, 2 1/2 cups of white vinegar, and 4 TB salt.
I filled them all up, and then they went in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
CSA ingredients used: all of the green beans
Other ingredients used: garlic, red chile flakes, dill seeds, water, vinegar, salt
Next: Week 10, in which I’m all alone to obsess about tablecloths