Week 8: Abandonment Never Tasted So Good

Note from Kyra: I was gone the beginning of Week 8, so Andrew took over the blog:

On Monday, Kyra left for a family vacation in Newfound Lake, NH, leaving me for the first time entirely in charge of the week’s CSA box. As sad as I was to see her go—not to mention a bit jealous—I was also looking forward to the challenge of taking on the whole box myself. I had disappeared for nearly five weeks last summer, with the unintended consequence of burying Kyra in CSA vegetables and causing her a minor mental breakdown. Now it was my turn, and I was going to throw all my culinary know-how at the problem. I was going to pickle vegetables. I was going to can vegetables. I was going to freeze vegetables. The box wasn’t going to know what hit it.

Instead, I cooked exactly two recipes and ate the leftovers until Kyra got back on Friday evening and the box became our problem again.

Almond Pesto with Green Beans

Adding insult to injury, I cooked the first recipe the night before the week 8 box arrived, so it didn’t even really count towards managing the week’s haul. It was a nut pesto from Smitten Kitchen.

You toast about 1 cup (5 ounces or 140 grams) almonds, and then let them cool. Plonk them in your food processor with 1 1/4 ounces (about 1/3 cup grated) parmesan or aged pecorino cheese. You don’t even need to grate the cheese, since the food processor will do it for you. Add 1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed, a couple leaves from a sprig or two of thyme, a bit of red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea or kosher salt, 2 to 3 teaspoons white wine vinegar (I used red wine vinegar), and 1/3 cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling.

Blanche your green beans in boiling water until crunchy tender (about 3 minutes), then drain and toss with the pesto.

The recipe called for just a few sprigs of thyme, but we had a bunch of basil in the garden that was starting to look a bit cocky, so I decided to toss in a handful. This wasn’t the best idea, from a visual standpoint—the pesto ended up with neither the robust brown of a nut pesto nor the vibrant green of a basil pesto, but something grassy and muddy that reminded me of some bad experiences I’d had walking a neighbor’s dog when I was a teenager.IMG_0768

I served the beans along side a couple of soft hard-cooked eggs and toast and it tasted great, with only the slightest aftertaste of loneliness and neglect.

CSA Vegetables used: Green beans

Other ingredients: Toasted bread, almonds, parmesan, herbs, garlic, eggs.

Sabih

I picked up the Week 8 box on Tuesday around midday and it came with some beautiful Japanese eggplant. I love grilling eggplant, so I jumped at this recipe for Sabih in Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook.

It’s a now well-established Radish Confidential principle that we avoid Ottolenghi recipes at all costs. But I rationalized my decision in two ways: first, the recipe called for frying the eggplant in 1 1/4 cup of oil—I figured that grilling was a much less messy and time-consuming approach. Second, Sabih is an Israeli street dish that throws together eggplant with Jerusalem salad, Tahini sauce, some hard cooked eggs, and a chile paste called Zhoug onto pita—I didn’t think that Ottolenghi’s version would be any more or less time consuming that any recipe for the dish.

I also had just enough time to make some pita—and there would be room to cook the pita on the grill.

I made the pita dough first. The recipe comes from Yvonne Ruperti at Serious Eats: Mix 8 oz of 105 to 110°F water, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp sugar, 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast (not rapid rise), 1 tsp kosher salt, and 2 1/4 ounces (by weight) whole wheat flour with a wooden spoon until combined and smooth. Stir in 10 oz (by weight) all-purpose flour until the mixture just comes together.

Knead on low-speed in a stand mixer for 10 minutes (or by hand) until it is elastic and smooth. Form into a ball and transfer to a lightly-oiled bowl. Cover with a damp towel and let rise at room temperature for an hour.

While the dough was rising, I cut up the eggplant and tossed them with a bit of olive and salt and pepper, then set them aside. I threw together the chopped salad: 2 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into a dice (I used a cup of halved cherry tomatoes), a cup of diced cucumber, spring onions, sliced thin, a couple tsp lemon juice, and 1.5 tbsp olive oil. Then I made a recipe of steamed eggs.

When the dough had risen for an hour, punch it down, cut it into 6 even pieces and form into balls. Let them rest for ten minutes under a damp cloth. Then roll them out until they are about 7 inches in diameter and let rest covered by the cloth for another 20 minutes.

While the dough rest a final time, I got the grill started and then made the Tahini sauce: 2/3 cup light tahini paste with 1/2 cup water, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1 medium clove garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. The Zhoug was new to me: in a food processor, spin up 1 1/4 oz cilantro, 1/3 oz parsley, 2 hot green chilis, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1/4 tsp ground cardamon, 1/4 tsp ground clove, 1/8 tsp sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 garlic clove, 2 tbsp olive oil, and 2 tbsp water.

The grilling was straight forward: I crowded the coals together on one half of the grill and cooked the eggplant over the coals, turning until well browned (about 2 to 3 minutes per side). Then I cooked the pita, two at a time over the hottest part of the fire, turning them when well browned (about 2 to 3 minutes on the first side; 1 to 2 minutes on the second). I shifted them to the cooler side of the fire to keep warm while I cooked the rest of the pita.

Everything came together in a big mess of eggplant, cut of egg, tahini sauce, Zhoug, and Jerusalem salad. And it was SO GOOD. The fresh pita just put it out in the stratosphere: it was charred and pillowy. The Zhoug gave it a bit of zing through the rich tang of the Tahini sauce. It was almost indecently good.

IMG_0798

CSA Vegetables used: eggplant, cucumber, spring onions, garlic

Other ingredients used: all-purpose and whole wheat flour, sugar, salt, instant yeast, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, eggs, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, parsley, chile peppers.

Pickled Banana Peppers

Oh! I forgot one other recipe. The Week 8 box came with banana peppers, so I pickled them using this super simple recipe from Kenji Lopez-Alt at Serious Eats.

Slice up the banana peppers. Mix 1 cup distilled white vinegar, 1 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tsp kosher salt in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer, stirring until the salt and sugar dissolves. Throw in the sliced peppers and stir. Let sit until the brine has cooled to room temperature. Then jar and refrigerate. These are awesome tossed on pizza right out of the oven.

CSA vegetables used: banana peppers

Other ingredients used: distilled white vinegar, water, sugar, salt.

Next: Kyra’s back

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