Week 4: Chard Times

Head Lettuce Salad, Grilled Chicken with Vegetables, and Salmon with Lentils and Swiss Chard

The Week 4 box arrived in time for me to become the busiest I’ve been all summer and the CSA provided an extra level of hysteria. When you get home after rehearsal at 1:10 and a student is arriving at 1:30 and all you have in your fridge is kohlrabi leaves, fennel, and spring onions—which you must somehow form into a lunch that will sustain you for the next six hours—you are in a somewhat bad place. I haven’t quite taken to just shoving raw root vegetables in my face, but I can see how it could get to that point.

That said, this week’s box came with a lot of exciting new things, such as the first beets, broccoli, summer squash, and cauliflower. We also got head lettuce, bok choy, spring onions, swiss chard, and sweet and tart cherries—the tart cherries were a week earlier than we were expecting. And Andrew had some time to do a bunch of the cooking and grocery shopping. I was hopeful that I wouldn’t starve to death surrounded by rotting vegetables.

The biggest shock in the box was the world’s largest Napa cabbage, but since I was already running late and needed to race off to teach almost immediately, we threw the cabbage in a giant Walgreens bag and into the fridge and then made the easiest thing we could think of: a garden salad made with the lettuce. It was pretty similar to the Salad Nicoise(ish) that we made the first week.

Head Lettuce Salad with Eggs and Tuna

The head lettuce was beautiful, and also very dirty. After we cleaned it all, we combined the lettuce, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, tuna, catamount cheese (cross between swiss and parmesan), and cooked a few eggs. We also made a red wine vinaigrette, which was equal parts red wine vinegar and dijon mustard to three parts olive oil, salt & pepper and a pinch of sugar. I crammed some of it in my face and ran out the door, promising to help with dishes later.


CSA vegetables used: Head lettuce

Other ingredients used: Tuna, eggs, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, cheese, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, basil, olive oil.

For the past few weeks, we’ve been start the week by cooking the vegetable that seems most likely to go bad, but other than the head lettuce this was a pretty robust crew. It was perfect grilling weather, so we decided to grill a chicken (which would give me leftovers for quick lunches), and tossed the summer squash and a few other veggies onto the grill to boot.

Grilled Chicken and Vegetables

Andrew halved and tossed summer squash, spring onions, and fennel bulb with olive oil and salt and pepper. Then he made an herb paste by grinding 1 tsp fennel seed, 1 tsp coriander, 1  garlic clove, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and a bit of kosher salt in a morter & pestle. He grabbed a handful of chopped basil, oregano, thyme, and just a tiny bit of sage from the herb garden. He then butterflied the chicken and spooned the herb paste under the skin. He seasoned the chicken with salt & pepper.

To grill the chicken and vegetables, we made a two zone fire. Andrew put the chicken skin side down over hotter side of grill for about 15 minutes and then turned it over and moved it to the cooler side of the grill to make room for the veggies.

We grilled the vegetables over hot part of the fire for about three minutes a side, until they were nicely darkened. Then we diced them up and tossed with basil leaves and a splash of red wine vinegar and olive oil, and sprinkled feta cheese on top. We also grilled some bread and pilled the grilled vegetable chunks on top of the slice of bread.

The chicken was taking forever to come up to temperature on the cool side of the grill, so with the veggies done, we moved it back over to the hotter part of the fire until it reached 150°F on the breast, 185°F on the dark meat.

CSA vegetables used: Summer squash, fennel, spring onions

Other ingredients used: A chicken, a bunch of herbs, feta cheese

On Wednesday, we tossed some of the leftover chicken with an avocado, the leftover mizuna and romaine from week 3, and a lime-cumin dressing, but I was in such a hurry to eat that we forgot to take pictures. The entire day, various media outlets were predicting “end-of-days level storms and tornados,” but this turned out to be something of an exaggeration and the storms failed to produce any of the tornados that were predicted to destroy the city of Chicago.

However, it did rain really hard and none of the grilling projects were an option. We made salmon with lentils and swiss chard, a recipe from The Quick Recipe, a cookbook from the Cook’s Illustrated people. Since the recipe took an hour and a half to finish, we were not very impressed with its quickness, but it was a one-pot meal which made doing the dishes faster, I guess.

Salmon with Lentils and Swiss Chard

  1. Separate the swiss chard leaves from the stems, set the leaves aside.
  2. Chop one small onion linely, and saute it in 2 TB butter along with the chopped chard stems, a few sprigs of thyme, and a bit of salt until it is softened and starts to brown.
  3. Add 1 cup of french lentils (also known as lentils du Puy because of course they are). Add 1 3/4 cups chicken stock . Simmer for 30 to 50 min. until tender. It definitely took closer to the 50 min side for us, even though the lentils are tiny.
  4. Thinly slice the swiss chard leaves and saute them in 1 TB butter until wilted and “glossy green”, 1-1/2 -2 minutes.
  5. Heat some oil in non-stick pan until smoking and season the salmon fillets with salt & pepper. Cook, flesh-side down, until browned, 2-3 minutes. Flip fish and cook until done (medium-rare?), about 2 1/2 minutes longer.
  6. We ate them with a squeeze of lemon.

CSA vegetables used: Swiss chard

Other ingredients used:  Salmon, Lentils du Puy, lemons, butter, onion

Next: The Tragedy of the Napa Cabbage

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