Archive for March, 2012

I’ve been eating a lot of salad lately. Inspired both by this post about eating interesting salads every day for lunch, and a general desire to make sure I’m eating plenty of vegetables (and not letting our CSA vegetables go to waste). In the last few months, I’ve been roasting our CSA veggies, particularly squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, and turnips, then layering them in a salad with a little dressing, cheese, and whatever greens I have around. Sometimes I’ll roast the vegetables in barbecue sauce and then pair it with cilantro, cheddar cheese, and a creamy dressing. Other times I’ll roast the veggies with olive oil and salt and pepper and mix with feta, and a drizzle of lemon and olive oil. Either way I end up with a versatile lunch that is filling yet light enough so I don’t feel sleepy afterward. There’s also limitless possibilities for lunch.

I’ve also been trying to have more interesting side salads at dinner besides a bag of lettuce and a bottle of dressing. Chris and I had a friend over for dinner last weekend. I prepared a rather involved CSA-supplied dinner of glazed lamb ribs with a yogurt mint sauce. I planned to serve salad with just balsamic vinaigrette when I remembered a recipe from my current favorite cookbook, Cook this Now by Melissa Clark. I cracked open the book and miraculously, had all of the ingredients – the salad was done in minutes.

The recipe calls for a dressing made of lemon juice, clementine juice, salt, pepper and brown butter. You can substitute olive oil – which I did that night. You then toss some greens, chopped mint, segmented clementines, and toasted almonds together with the dressing and the result is a light, juicy, very flavorful, entirely addictive salad. After I made it for our guest, I proceeded to make it three nights in a row, and continue to crave it.

Melissa Clark divided her cookbook by months and this salad falls in March – and clementines are readily available now – so make this while you can. Also – I’ve made this without the mint and it was still great. And while I preferred the brown butter version of the dressing, Chris preferred the olive oil version.

I followed Melissa Clark’s recipe closely – only using a little less of the olive oil and butter – I used 2 tablespoons instead of 3. I hope you make this soon and enjoy it as much as we have – with butter or olive oil.

“Butter Lettuce and Clementine Salad with Brown Butter Vinaigrette” from Cook this Now by Melissa Clark

for the vinaigrette:

2 (or 3) T. unsalted butter or olive oil

finely grated zest of one clementine

juice of one clementine, or about 1 1/2 T.

1 T. lemon juice

1/4 t. kosher salt

fresh ground black pepper to taste

for the salad:

1 head butter leaf lettuce (or other lettuce – I used a mix of spinach and spring greens) – torn into bite-size pieces

2 clementines, peeled, segmented, and segments cut in half cross-wise (just realized I forgot to cut the segments in half – still turned out well)

2 T. toasted almonds

2 T. chopped fresh mint

First make the dressing. If using the butter – melt the butter in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Cook gently for about 5 minutes, or until it turns brown. Watch carefully to make sure it doesn’t burn. Immediately pour into a bowl and let cool a bit while you prep the rest of the salad. When the butter has cooled a few minutes, whisk in the clementine and lemon juice, salt and pepper.

In a large bowl combine the lettuce, clementines, almonds and mint. Toss well with the dressing.

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oven (or crock pot) stew

Hi again. I have to confess, wedding planning took over my life for a while – as much as I did not think it would (or hoped it wouldn’t) – it did. Between work and planning, my life has become boring. Luckily, wedding-planning has calmed down a bit, and I’m still cooking – and receiving the produce CSA share weekly and the meat share every two weeks. Our recent pick-ups have included lamb ribs, steaks, brats, and some really great chicken wings we cooked for the super bowl a month ago. The produce has included hydroponic lettuce and tomatoes, various herbs, lots and lots of carrots and squash, and some excellent canned and dry goods, like wheatberries, black beans, apple butter, and salsa. Chris and I are still very happy with it.

Lately for meals, I’ve been focusing on making one or two dishes each week that will reheat well, and then making salads for lunches with various leftovers and roasted vegetables. One dish that reheats very well, and is perfect for this weird mix of wet and cold (when it isn’t warm, humid, and tormado-filled), late-winter’s evening, is this oven stew.

I’m not sure of the exact origin of this recipe – I received it from my mom, who I think received it from my dad’s mom… or something like that.  It couldn’t be easier to throw together and is filled with chunks of slow-cooked beef and veggies with just salt and black pepper for seasonings. If you are going to be home for a while, you can cook it in the oven. Or you can cook it in your crock pot. You will end up with delicious results either way.

Because this cooks for so long, it doesn’t matter too much how big or small you cut your veggies. I’ve cut them into irregular chunks and everything still cooks well. So if you are in a hurry (before letting your meal stew for 5 hours), just chop up the veggies however you want and throw them all in the pot. You really can’t mess this up too much.

1 1/2 lb cubed beef

2 or 3 stalks celery, chopped

6 carrots, cut into chunks

1 onion, chopped

4 potatoes, cut into similar-sized chunks as the carrot

1 T. sugar

1 1/2 t. salt

1/2 t. pepper

2 T. tapioca

1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes.

Combine everything in a dutch oven, or large, oven-proof pan with a lid, and bake covered for 5 hours at 300 degrees.

Add 1/2 cup white wine before serving.

That’s it – Enjoy!

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