The Week of 17 Vegetables: Part 1

We got back from our miniature July 4th vacation to Wisconsin having barely made a dent in the Week 5 CSA and immediately picked up the Week 6 box. After unpacking, we ascertained that we now had 17 different kinds of vegetables to contend with: head lettuce and arugula, two heads of kale, peas, carrots, vidalia onions, red onions, and spring onions, the remains of the napa cabbage, a pair of cucumbers, radishes, two heads of cauliflower, beets, green beans, new potatoes, fennel, and broccoli. Happily, we also had a pint of raspberries and a quart of tart cherries.

In previous weeks, we spent a great deal of time daydreaming about what the perfect culinary use was for, say, a head of broccoli. But with 17 vegetables crammed in the fridge, our strategy became something more like if you think of something, go make it right now! This led to some of our first forays into fermenting of the summer.

Kimchi

First up was the rest of the Week 4 Napa cabbage, which was mocking me from inside its Walgreens bag, though in an still fresh and crisp sort of way. We decided to do what we probably should have done in the first place and make kimchi. We used a recipe from David Chang’s Momofuku restaurant.

  1. Take a medium head (in our case, 1/3 of a gigantic head) of cabbage and cut it in half lengthwise, then into strips that are about an inch wide. Toss it with 1 TB sugar and 1 TB of salt. Let it sit overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Take 10 cloves of minced garlic, an equal amount of minced ginger, 1/4 cup kochukaru (Korean chili powder), 2 TB fish sauce, 1 tsp jarred salted shrimp, and another 1/4 cup of sugar and mix it together in a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup of julienned carrots and 1/4 cup of scallions.
  3. Drain the cabbage and add it to the brine, and then mix everything around. The recipe says it will reach peak funkiness in two weeks.

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    We’ll let you know how it tastes in about a week.

CSA ingredients used: Napa cabbage

Other ingredients used: non-CSA carrots, scallions, salted shrimp, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, kochukaru, sugar, soy sauce

Beet Kvass

The beets in particular left me feeling a little desperate—we pickled about seven quarts of them last year, and while tasty, they lingered in the fridge for months, which I guess is what pickles are meant to do, but they saturated me with the look, the smell, the taste of beets. I decided it was time to get creative and looked up how to make kvass, a lacto-fermented beverage of beets and whey (we had whey leftover from Saturday’s ricotta making). Kvass was originally made from fermented bread, and according to Tolstoy, Russian soldiers made it and carried it around with them in order to avoid various cholera epidemics. You can also make it with beets, although beet kvass seems to be more about digestive benefits, liver function, oxygenating your blood, balancing your electrolytes, and giving you increased energy and clarity.

For me, its main selling point was that it’s a beet recipe that doesn’t require you to turn on the oven for an hour (it was 90 that day). I figured that the worst thing that could happen was that it would be disgusting. Or, you know, kill me. I took this kvass recipe from The Nourishing Cook.

  1. Cut up four beets into little chunks.
  2. Put them in a jar, add 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1/4 cup of whey. Fill the rest of the jar with water. (Note: You don’t need whey to do this, you can just use extra salt instead. I just had some I was determined to use in something).
  3. Leave out for two days, and then put in the refrigerator.

Frankly, even if it didn’t taste good this would be a totally lovely thing to do with beets from a visual perspective. But after about a week, I did decide to try it. It tasted faintly of sea water, but with a little bit of a beety, tart fizz. I can’t speak to it’s restorative health qualities or abilities to prevent cholera, but it’s surprisingly refreshing.

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CSA vegetables used: beets

Other ingredients used: salt, water, whey

Dill Pickles

We got a little overexcited when we got the Nichols Farm Monday email telling us we were getting cucumbers in the week’s box, presuming that they’d be perfect for pickling. We had a good time pickling cucumbers last summer, experimenting with our first fermented (versus vinegar) pickles. And since we were on a farm in Wisconsin that was bursting with dillweed, we decided that the moment was right for some dill pickles. We were sad to discover upon opening the box on Tuesday that the cucumbers were just too large for pickles. Figuring that we shouldn’t let dillweed go to waste—the flowers were so pretty!—we somewhat irrationally added to our vegetables stores and picked up some farmer’s market pickling cucumbers on Wednesday.

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The white flower is Queen Anne’s Lace. Don’t use it in your pickles.

We used this Food Wishes recipe, video here.

  1. For every 2 pounds of pickling cucumbers (washed), use a handful of fresh, flowering dillweed.
  2. Add 80 grams of kosher or pickling salt to 8 cups cold fresh water. The ratio is pretty important, because the salt level makes sure the right kind of fermentation takes place. (That is, fermenting, not rotting.)
  3. When the salt has dissolved, add 4 cloves or more peeled garlic, 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, 3 or 4 bay leaves, and 4 whole cloves.
  4. Place everything in a crock and make sure the cucumbers are covered with liquid (we used a small plate to keep our cucumbers submerged).
  5. Let sit out at room temperature (max 75°F) for up to a week. Skim little bits of scum off the surface every day or every other day. Transfer to jars and refrigerate when they are the taste and texture you like.

CSA vegetables used: none…

Other ingredients used: pickling cucumbers, dillweed, salt, garlic, coriander, bay leaves, cloves

Kale Pizza with Mozzarella

Several years ago there was this amazing pizza place in our neighborhood called Great Lake. It was a tiny place, with barely room for 12 people to sit and was open maybe four days a week. It was owned by this slightly grumpy husband and wife team, with the husband making the pizzas and the wife manning the counter and phone.The pizza was unbelievably good: the crust was thin and tasted like the best bread you ever had. They made their mozzarella in-house and had a list of the farms that supplied the ingredients for the three types of pizza they might make on a given night. It was open for about a year or two when Alan Richman called it the best pizza in the country in GQ, and then it became impossible to eat there ever again. They closed after five years of slightly crazed Andersonville lines, amazing pizzas, and extreme grumpiness from customer and owners alike. Andrew’s been trying to recreate their pizzas ever since.

This one is based on a spinach pizza that he used to get at Great Lake. The spinach was extremely hardy, and would still have some heft after coming out of the oven. To recreate it at home, Andrew uses kale.

The recipe for pizza dough comes from the epic series of pizza doughs that Kenji Lopez-Alt has created for Serious Eats. This is his New York style crust, made very quickly in a food processor and allowed to rise overnight in the fridge.

  1. Take 4 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 TB kosher salt, and 2 teaspoons of yeast and pulse them in a food processor 3 of 4 times until they’re combined. Add about 3 TB of olive oil and 15 ounces of lukewarm water. Run the food processor until they’re combined, about 15 seconds, and then do another 15 seconds for good measure.
  2. Divide the dough up into 3 parts and put it in the refrigerator in 3 separate yogurt containers. Allow it to rest for at least a day. When it’s time to make pizza, pull out the dough and stick it in a bowl and let it proof for 2 hours before you start.

Andrew made the dough on Friday night and we had a pepperoni pizza for dinner on Saturday night and brought a pizza bianca (just olive oil and herbs, salt and pepper) along with us on Sunday for our picnic. For the kale pizza:

  1. Preheat a pizza stone in a 550°F oven for at least an hour.
  2. Slice garlic thin and sauté on low heat in copious amounts of olive oil until lightly browned. Take off the heat and let cool. You can toss in some red pepper flakes if you’d like.
  3. Clean and wash the kale. In the now empty skillet, throw the kale in the skillet with a splash of water and a bit of salt and let cook for about 1 to 2 minutes, until the kale has wilted but isn’t fully cooked. Drain and when it’s cool enough to handle, squeeze out the extra liquid.
  4. Spread your pizza dough with the garlic and oil. We had both fresh and dry mozzarella, so we used both on the pizza. Then cover with the kale. Slide onto the pizza stone and cook for 6 to 8 minutes.

 

CSA ingredients used: kale

Other ingredients used: flour, salt, sugar, olive oil, water, fresh mozzarella, garlic

Peas, Mozzerella, and Salami Salad (this is not an appealing name, but this is what it was)

On the side, we made a little salad-ish thing using the remaining English peas, some cut up pieces of salami from our weekend picnic, some chopped up pieces of dry mozzarella, and a super, super lemony vinaigrette. I was initially suspicious about the idea of chopped up lunch meat, but the lemon really made this and it was fantastic.

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CSA vegetables used: English peas

Other ingredients used: dry mozzarella, salami, lemon, olive oil

Head Lettuce Salad with Yogurt Dressing

The next day, we threw together a salad with the head lettuce, one of the cucumbers, a few radishes, and a yogurt-mint dressing.

The dressing came from the Food Network. You mix a cup of yogurt with 1/4 cup of fresh mint leaves that have been chiffonaded, 2 TB fresh lemon juice, 2 TB tahini, 1 TB olive oil, 1/4 tsp cumin, and 2 minced garlic cloves.

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CSA vegetables used: a cucumber, the head lettuce

Other ingredients used: yogurt, mint, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, olive oil

Penne with Lemon, Prosciutto, and Arugula

The final recipe of the day on Wednesday was mercifully simple. We’ve probably made it 50 times—you can prep the ingredients in the time it takes the pasta to cook. It’s from the Gourmet Cookbook.

  1. Cook 8 oz of pasta
  2. Once it’s done, toss it with 4 oz of sliced prosciutto, 1 LB of chopped arugula, 1 1/2 oz of parmesan cheese, and 3/4 teaspoon of lemon zest. Drizzle some olive oil over the top and add salt and pepper and call it a day.

CSA vegetables used: arugula

Other ingredients used: prosciutto, parmasan cheese, lemon zest, olive oil

Next: 6 vegetables down, 11 to go

 

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