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CSA Cooking: A Trio of Salads and Dips

tomato salad

This month’s Philly Foodworks share arrived during an intensely busy week. My mom was in town, we were prepping for the family wedding, and soon after, I was on my way out of town. I did my best to make quick work of the most perishable things and these three little dishes were the results.

First up is this tomato mint salad. We typically pair tomatoes with basil, but they go awfully well with mint as too. This particular salad contained one large heirloom tomato, half a finely chopped white onion, and a generous fistful of torn mint. The dressing was a big pinch of kosher salt, four turns of the pepper grinder, and a few lashings of olive oil (about two tablespoons, if I had to guess). Add some homemade croutons and it would be a tasty panzanella.

corn salad

Next up is this quick corn salad. It consisted of six lightly cooked ears of corn (five minutes in a pot with an inch of simmering water). After a rinse of cold water, I hacked the kernels off the cob (saving them for stock), and combined them with half a minced red onion (you could also use the other half of the white one from the tomato salad above), and a couple handfuls of roughly chopped mustard greens.

The dressing was 2 tablespoons olive oil, 3 tablespoons champagne vinegar, a teaspoon of kosher salt, and a whole bunch of freshly ground black pepper.

eggplant dip

Last one is a roasted eggplant dip. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking dish with parchment. Cut a big eggplant in half, drizzle it with a little olive oil and throw five or six garlic cloves (still in their wrappers) in the pan as well. Roast the eggplant, cut side up, until it is brown (maybe 15 to 20 minutes). When the eggplant is tender, it is done.

Let the roasted halves cool until you are able to handle them. Scoop out the flesh and put it in a bowl or container. Squeeze the garlic out of their peels and add them to the eggplant. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil, the juice of one lemon, and a pinch of salt. For a chunky dip, mash it with a fork. For something smoother, zap it with an immersion blender (that’s what I did).

salad trio dinner

We actually ate all three of these dishes together with Joy’s chicken ricotta meatballs for dinner, but any one would make a nice addition to a meal.

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Lightly Pickled Cucumber Salad + OXO Hand-held Spiralizer

OXO hand held spiralizer

I am not immune to kitchen trends. Over the years, I’ve succumbed in turn to the allure of no-knead bread, chia seed pudding, avocado toast (though I swear, I ate that one before it was cool), and even zucchini noodles (made with a julienne peeler).

spiralizer info

One fad that I’ve somehow managed to resist up until now has been spiralizing. Though spiral slicers have been around for a while, they’ve recently become incredibly popular, owing to the fact that they allow you turn all manner of vegetable into contiguous strips that mimic the look and feel of noodles.

clean spiralizer

My primary reason for staying away from spiralizing has been the fact that it typically requires a specialized appliance to make it happen (and with just an 80 square foot kitchen to work with, I have to be careful about how much gear I bring in).

spiralized cucumber

However, thanks to the new Hand-Held Spiralizer from OXO, even the smallest kitchen can be a spiralizing one. This tool is small in size but mighty when it comes to twisting soft vegetables into springy lengths.

spiralized in the bowl

For my first spiralizing session, I made a quick pickled cucumber salad to eat with a summery meal of corn on the cob and chicken sausages. I added some finely sliced red onion and let it mellow in the fridge for an hour before we ate.

finished spiralized salad

My thinking is that this will be a useful tool for small batches of pickles, when I want something finely and neatly shredded and don’t want to pull the food processor out in order to make it happen. For those of you who have jumped aboard the spiralizing train, what’s your favorite thing to spiralize?

Disclosure: OXO sent me this spiralizer to try and write about. No additional compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

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Mustardy Potato and Cauliflower Salad

finished potato cauliflower salad

Potato salad has long been one of my favorite summertime foods. I can be completely content to eat a bowl of it and call it a full meal. Sadly, it’s not really a nutritional powerhouse. In the past I would add some lightly blanched green beans, but they are one of my husband’s least loved foods and so if I’m cooking with the expectation that he’s going to join me, I leave them out.

maile horseradish mustard

Maybe a month or so ago, I was pondering the topic of potato salad (truly, this is one of the ways that I spend my time) and the thought occurred that adding blanched cauliflower would help lighten it and make it a more acceptable meal.

So I tried it and discovered that my hunch was right. It’s a delicious combination. The potatoes are creamy and the cauliflower (cooked with the potatoes for the last few minutes) is tender but sturdy. Of course, a few days after I made it, I was eating Indian food and was reminded that potatoes and cauliflower often accompany one another in that cuisine. I’m not nearly as original as I thought I was.

potato cauliflower salad on greens

To keep the dressing simple, I stirred together some store-bought mayonnaise with a healthy dollop of Maille horseradish mustard (this zippy mustard has become one of my favorite secret ingredients since I discovered it in a box of goodies sent to me by Maille), and half a minced red onion. I also like to return the drained potatoes and cauliflower to the hot pan after draining them and then pour a little vinegar over the top, to infuse them with bit of vinegar tang.

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Butternut Squash Soup Concentrate

quart of butternut puree

Back in December, I roasted a butternut squash in order to make pasta sauce. I ended up with far more puree than I needed for the recipe and so stashed the remaining pint in the fridge. A day or two later, my mother-in-law was over and we were hungry for lunch. I went rummaging and found bread, cheese, and that puree.

butternut squash halves

I scraped the puree out into a small saucepan and added some chicken stock, a little lemon juice for brightness, and a some pepper (I use Better than Bouillon, so the chicken stock had plenty of salt). We ate the soup, toast, and cheese for lunch and both marveled at how good it was.

top of butternut puree

Since them, I’ve made a point of having a jar of butternut squash puree in the fridge for quick lunches. Over the weekend, I roast a butternut or two (the finished puree freezes nicely, so you can always make extra if you’ve got the space) until tender, and scrape off the skin. The warm squash goes into the blender (a food processor also works) with a little water and I puree it until it’s smooth. Then, I spoon the puree into a jar and pop it in the refrigerator.

butternut soup lunch

When I’m ready for lunch, I measure out a cup of the puree into my smallest pot, add a little bit of the chicken Better than Bouillon and about half a cup of water (there’s wiggle room here, depending on your desired soup consistency and how thick your puree was to start). Some days, I’ll add a little lemon zest and juice. Others, I’ll add freshly grated ginger and a little coconut milk. Yogurt, half and half, or sour cream also make really nice additions. As soon as it is warm, lunch is served.

little pot of butternut soup

Now, you might be wondering why I don’t just make a batch of butternut squash soup instead of this concentrate. It comes down to space, flexibility, and shelf life. I find it easier to make space in my fridge for a quart jar of concentrated puree than a larger jar of finished soup. I like that each day, I can make my soup taste a little different (I can also stir a little of the puree into other dishes, if the moment calls for it). And a puree made with nothing beyond squash and water lasts far longer than a soup that’s already been adjusted with dairy products.

Do you have any make-ahead staples that you’re particularly enjoying these days?

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Veggie-Stuffed Hippie Soup

green soup with yogurt | Food in Jars

I spent the weekend at the Pennsylvania Farm Show. In between my canning demos, Scott and I explored the many halls and sampled a goodly portion of the treats and fried delicacies on offer. By the time we got home on Sunday evening, I was feeling decidedly overfed (french fries, a hot dog, two potato doughnuts, a smoked brisket sandwich, a buttered soft pretzel, and a milk shake from the PA Dairymen will do that to a girl).

all veg in the pot | Food in Jars

I ate lightly yesterday, but woke up this morning feeling strongly that I needed to focus primarily on vegetables for a little while. Other times of the year, I might spend a few days slurping down green smoothies for breakfast and eating salads for lunch and dinner, but current temperatures make all cold foods seem unappealing. Enter my mom’s signature green soup.

nutritional yeast

It’s a recipe that found its way into her recipe binder sometime in the 1970s under the title Bieler Broth. The name is misleading, as there’s nothing brothy about this soup. It’s a hearty puree of greens, carrots, onions, broccoli, garlic, and nutritional yeast (total hippie ingredient) and it’s just the thing when you’ve binged on the kind of food you can only get at festivals, state fairs, and farm shows.

soup pre-blended | Food in Jars

The ingredients are fairly flexible, but the basics are these. You want at least half the substance of the soup to be green leaves of some kind. I use a combination of spinach, kale, and parsley (chard, beet greens, collards, and even arugula work nicely). Broccoli florets, grated carrot, half a chopped onion, and a few peeled garlic cloves make up the balance of the soup.

blended soup | Food in Jars

When they’re in season, summer squash is a nice addition, but they’re just no good this time of year (being that it’s not summer). Green beans and peeled celery can also be added, but I didn’t have either in the fridge, so I left them out. A little chopped cabbage is fine, but use it sparingly.

I always opt for the curly kind of parsley because it’s what my mom prefers, but flat leaf is okay too. It is really good for you, but if you’re sensitive to bitter flavors, use a sparing hand.

swirled green soup | Food in Jars

To make the soup, you pour two cups of boiling water into the bottom of a roomy pot (a 5 1/2 quart Dutch oven is my go-to) and set it over medium heat. Add the greens first and stir until the wilt into the water. Then add the broccoli, carrots, onion, garlic, green beans, and whatever else you’re including. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the firmest vegetables are tender (but not entirely limp).

When the vegetables are finished cooking, ladle them along with their cooking liquid into a blender. Add 2 generous tablespoons of nutritional yeast, a healthy pinch of salt, the juice from 1/2 a lemon, and a couple turns of a pepper grinder. Hold a towel over the top of the blender and puree (gradually increasing the speed until things are really moving). Taste and adjust the seasonings. Know that if it’s tasting a little TOO green for you, the flavor will mellow in just 15 minutes time.

Super green soup, toasted cheese, and cool white tea.

At this point, the soup is done. I like to eat it warm, but it’s also good chilled. I find that I need a spoonful of plain yogurt or a little bit of coconut milk swirled in to make a meal out of a bowl(if it’s the kind of thing you have around, some cashew milk or creme is also good). Anything with a little fat helps keep me full a bit longer and that’s always useful

I find that it will keep three or four days in the fridge, so I typically make a big batch and have it for lunch all week. Just know that the color will fade a little over time. It’s not a sign of spoilage, though, so no need to worry!

What do you guys eat when you’re recovering from a period of overindulgence?

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Marinated Carrot Salad for the Fridge

root veg at Union Square

On Saturday, I drove up to New York and spent a few hours at the Union Square Greenmarket, trying to look like a friendly and helpful canning expert. I talked to a lot of people, emptied three pints of jam in samples, and sold 11 books (I had higher hopes for such a highly trafficked market, but the sun was brutal and people kept moving).

Still, I think that the trip was worth it, for the people I talked to and for the fact that the stall I was positioned next to had the most gorgeous array of root vegetables I’d seen in a long time. I must have watched at least 100 people stop to take pictures of those heaps of carrots and beets (they weren’t so interested in the celery).

marinated carrots

Standing in proximity, I started thinking about how much I rely on carrots in my daily cooking. On nights when dinnertime inspiration is low, I turn them into a pureed soup (my favorite is the recipe with toasted almonds that’s in the original Moosewood Cookbook). When I need an easy side, I cut them into sticks and roast them in olive oil. Snacks around my apartment almost always involve a sliced carrot and a tub of hummus.

And at those times when I want something that I can make ahead and keep in the fridge for those moments when hunger strikes, I blanch them lightly and toss them with a quick vinaigrette. It’s a bit like the pickled carrots you’ll find at falafel joints. I originally wrote this recipe for Serious Eats, during my phase as their In a Pickle contributor. Still, it’s a good one and worthy of another moment in the sun.

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