Week 1: A Box, A Plan, An Ethnically Ambiguous Salad

I picked up the first CSA box Tuesday after an afternoon of teaching that culminated in a hail storm that stranded me at my student’s house for an extra 45 minutes. Earlier in the day, the City of Chicago Department of Revenue had decided to remind me of my need to update my license plate registration with a $60 ticket, but nothing could dampen (heh) our enthusiasm when I got the box home and we had a look at the first fruits and vegetables of the season.

We were determined to start the summer right. With the contents of the box safely wrapped and packed in the refrigerator, we sat on the sun porch and flipped through cookbooks and online recipes in a manner disturbingly resembling a getting-it-together montage in an inspirational film, if they made inspirational films about vegetables. We organized the box in rough order of perishability:

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Andrew has a tendency to bake pies, so I suspected that a strawberry rhubarb pie was in my future. But having just had friends over for a Memorial Day cookout, we consulted and determined that it was unlikely we could eat an entire pie by ourselves. Plus, why cook strawberries when you can just do this for breakfast?

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I mean, come on.

Salad Nicoise(ish)

For lunch the next day, we set out to put a dent in the potatoes, radishes and the lettuce with something resembling a Salad Nicoise. Andrew is particularly fond of a soft-cooked egg recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. You bring a 1/2 inch of water in a pot to a boil and cook the eggs covered—6.5 minutes for a runny yolk; a little over 8 minutes for something less drippy. They come out pretty luscious.

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Nicoise olives are a distinguishing feature of Salad Nicoise, but not this one.

CSA vegetables used: half the potatoes, the head of lettuce, half the radishes.

Other ingredients used: one can of tuna in oil, Kalamata olives, feta, eggs, bread. Also, red wine vinaigrette: red wine vinegar, lots of dijon mustard, a pinch of sugar, olive oil and salt & pepper.

Caldo Verde

Next on the chopping block (sorry) was the spinach, which we used for dinner in a Portuguese style soup, also from Cooks Illustrated.

  1. Chop up the chorizo (the recipe called for 12 oz, we used 16 oz. because it came in packages of 8 oz). A cat may attempt to intervene at this stage.
  2. Throw the chorizo in a dutch oven and brown for a bit, then take it out. Replace the chorizo with onions (we used half the CSA spring onions), garlic, red pepper flakes, a bit of salt, and cook until just beginning to brown.
  3. Add the potatoes, 4 cups of chicken broth, 4 cups of water, and bring to a simmer.
  4. Because Cooks Illustrated believes that it’s not dinner unless you have to wash at least one appliance, at this point you take 3/4 cup of broth and 3/4 cup of the solids and throw them in a blender, drizzling in 3 TB of olive oil until smooth. You add this mixture back into the soup at the end to thicken it.
  5. When the potatoes are tender, put the chorizo back in the pot. The original recipe called for collard greens, which were cooked for some 20 minutes, but we used spinach, which we dumped in right before we ate. The recipe also calls for two teaspoons of white wine vinegar, but Andrew forgot to add it and nobody noticed.

 

 

CSA items used: the rest of the potatoes, the spinach, half of the spring onions.

Other ingredients used: 16 oz Spanish Chorizo, chicken broth, garlic, white wine vinegar.

Given the picture above of the chorizo fat glistening in the dutch oven, it’s probably unnecessary to add that this was extraordinarily deliciously. Also, filling. There’s probably two meals worth left over.

Not bad for the first 24 hours, but it’s too early in the week to get cocky.

Next: How many sauces can you make with arugula in one day?

3 thoughts on “Week 1: A Box, A Plan, An Ethnically Ambiguous Salad”

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