Monday, June 30, 2014

OMG a Recipe: CSA-Curious Seeking LTR w/ Fresh, Seasonal Produce for Exciting Cooking Adventures

It's easy to fall into the routine of weekly recipes and organized grocery lists, but what about being a little spontaneous? Why not flirt with the mystery and excitement of a delivery of fresh, seasonal produce, and let your meals be swept away by a swarthy CSA box from Oxbow Farm? I was pleased to participate in this year's Oxbow Box Project, a great challenge for local food bloggers to get a big ol' box of seasonal summer produce and see what winds up on the table. If you're already a subscriber to one of the many CSA programs out there, you already know what this at-home Iron Chef-style of cooking is like, but if you've always been CSA-curious, I'm here to say, as Rob Schneider so often shouts in terrible Adam Sandler movies: YOU CAN DO IT!

Oxbow Farm CSA, you take my breath away - Photo by Wasabi Prime

True, I'm a longtime devotee of CSAs -- we already have a regular delivery of mystery-produce every other week from Full Circle Farm, but even with an additional box of goodies from Oxbow Farm, I can honestly say no greens went to waste! I definitely love the 100% local harvest from Oxbow Farms' box, since everything is gathered from their farm not far from our very house, right between Duvall and Carnation. They're regulars at many of the farmers markets, and if you go to Oxbow's site, you can get more details about their 20-week CSA program, and how you can also do add-on's to customize your delivery to fit your needs. The reason we've used Full Circle for the last few years is because they're year-round, which also means they source from farms outside of the area during our Northwest winters, so it's not as local as Oxbow. Seasonality and locavore-eating has its ups and downs. But the point is, when it comes to getting your produce from a CSA, there's many farms to choose from, options for box sizes, frequency of deliveries, and the ability to customize your order, so don't feel like this can't fit your life.

Mixing CSA produce with our own garden goods, plus some store-bought ingredients - Photos by Wasabi Prime
We used several items from the Oxbow Farm box for a Saturday afternoon patio/grill-fest. A big bunch of kale was cut into fine ribbons and mixed into a bulgur wheat-based salad,stalks of rhubarb were cooked down to make a sweet/tart port wine-based topping for homemade strawberry ice cream, and the bag of Anchorhead coffee (Fair Trade coffee roasted right here in Duvall!) made for several very good mornings. The rest of the goods were used for other meals, which I'll share in another post next week, but this Saturday feast inspired by Mediterranean flavors made for a great way to eat a fresh, homemade, easy meal.

Salads are the best way to use EVERYTHING - Photos by Wasabi Prime
I'll share the recipes at the end of the post, but let me say this: salads are the perfect way to use up everything. And that's what went into my Mediterranean-inspired bulgur wheat salad: kale from the CSA, parsley and mint from our garden, canned chickpeas, and leftover feta cheese, red onion, roma tomatoes and kalamata olives from the week's salad meals. This salad was a mix of garden/CSA/grocery items, and there's nothing wrong with that. You could really throw anything in this -- zucchini, shredded carrots, broccoli, cucumber. I used what I had on-hand, and CSA cooking totally teaches you to plan meals by the literal seat of your pants.

Easy meals means more time to enjoy the summer, and our Indy! - Photos by Wasabi Prime
The dressing for the salad was the same mixture used to marinate some chicken thighs, which were grilled. This dressing/marinade is my favorite thing because it's a multi-tasker and there's not many ingredients in it: lemon, garlic, oil, salt/pepper, vinegar, and fresh herbs. Everything gets buzzed down in a blender, easy-peasy. I have a quick rundown of the recipe on an old post - scroll down about halfway, and I list the basic measurements for making this sauce/dressing.

Grilled chicken, salad, and a big pitcher-sized cocktail - here's to summer! - Photos by Wasabi Prime
Here are the recipes that incorporated the Oxbow Farm goodies. Stay tuned for next week's post where I'll share what else we used from the Ox-Box!

Use-Up-Everything Mediterranean Bulgur Wheat Salad
1 cup of cooked bulgur wheat (just follow the instructions on the package for preparation)
1 can of drained/rinsed chickpeas
1 bunch of raw kale, stalks removed and leaves cut into fine ribbons
3 roma tomatoes, seeds/pulp removed and diced fine
1/2 cup of kalamata olives, chopped
1/4 of a red onion, finely diced
1 cup of crumbled feta cheese
1.5 cup (about one bunch) of parsley leaves, rough chopped
1/4 cup of mint leaves, finely minced
salt/pepper to taste

Dressing for salad - a cup and a half's worth of garlic/lemon dressing, recipe on this post, or just do a quick version with the zest/juice of one lemon, 2 finely minced garlic cloves, a cup of olive oil and a half cup of vinegar. Whisk all those ingredients until emulsified, and drizzle over the salad, tossing to fully incorporate. Add salt and pepper to taste as you go. 

These particular ingredients are good if you want to make the salad the night before -- they don't give off as much water as say, a cucumber. The salad tastes better when it's had at least a couple of hours to soak in the dressing and have the flavors develop. It's delicious cold or served at room temperature.

I'm a Rhubarb-ie Girl in a Rhubarb-ie World Ice Cream Topping
2-3 large stalks of rhubarb - leaves removed, and diced
1/2 cup of honey
1.5 cup of tawny port wine
pinch of salt

Heat a medium-sized pot over the stove to medium-high heat. Add the diced rhubarb into the dry pot, and let it start to cook down and caramelize for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and deglaze with the port. Let the port simmer for 15-20 minutes, until it starts to reduce. Add the honey and pinch of salt, mixing  to incorporate. Check the flavor -- add more honey if you want it sweeter. I like it a little on the tart side, since it will go with sweet ice cream. 

Allow the rhubarb sauce to cool and add to your favorite berry ice cream, especially strawberry! This would also go well with cake and fresh whipped cream.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Commentary encouraged. Fresh baked cookies, super-encouraged. (hit the 'post comment' button twice, sometimes it's buggy)