Butternut Squash & Hominy Stew

by Caroline

This is absolutely not a recipe I would make just for my family, since my kids are at the stage when stews and other cooked food mixtures don’t appeal to them at all (although they will happily eat their own weird combinations of food, if they make them themselves). But, this recipe arrived with our CSA box days before a weekend away with a couple other families, and as I do when my parents come to visit, I figured I could use the four other adults as guinea pigs. I loved the idea of adding the ground almonds and sesame seeds (the result is not gritty at all); I loved that it used most of the week’s CSA vegetables in one colorful dish; I loved the surprising addition of hominy. I served it with the biscuits from the pear cobbler recipe I posted recently (leaving the sugar out of the biscuits) and it was a huge hit. It’s a delicious, hearty, chili-like stew that I’m looking forward to making again the next time I’m cooking for grownups.

Butternut Squash & Hominy Stew

2 onions, chopped
olive or vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dry oregano
4 tablespoons mild ground chili
1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced
8 ounces mushrooms, quartered
1 cauliflower, cut into florets
1 can hominy, drained and rinsed
2 pounds tomatoes, chopped or crushed
a handful of almonds
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 cup frozen peas (or a 10 ounce bag)
4 tablespoons chopped cilantro

heat some oil in a large pot and saute the onions for 6-7 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, oregano, the chili powder and continue cooking another minute or so. Add the squash, mushrooms, and 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat, cover and simmer slowly until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes.

Grind the almonds and sesame seeds in a food processor until finely chopped. Add them to the stew with the cauliflower, tomatoes, and hominy and cook until the cauliflower is tender and the tomatoes have broken down. Add the peas and cilantro and cook through. Taste and adjust seasonings (salt, pepper, chili). Serve with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt and more cilantro.

Cauliflower Compote

by Caroline

So, remember last week, I wrote about single words that can draw you into a recipe? Well, compote is definitely not one of those words for me. It just sounds like a food dump; I guess it sounds a bit too much like compost.

But the combination of ingredients in this recipe from our CSA caught my eye here. It’s not a novel mixture for us — we roast cauliflower with olives all the time — but it’s a familiar mixture cooked in a new (and faster) way.

I showed the recipe to Ben, expecting he might like it, and I was surprised at his reaction. “Compote! I LOVE compote! Do we have any fruit? Can we make a fruit compote?” And then he spun off, looking at the pears and apples, reminiscing about the spring’s strawberry-rhubarb compote, before coming back to me and my giant head of cauliflower. “Oh, sure. That’d be good.”

With that endorsement, I got cooking, and this is a lovely new way to do cauliflower.

I’m giving you the ingredient amounts as they were listed in the recipe, but of course one of the benefits of compote is that you can adapt according to your taste (and your supplies):

1 large head of cauliflower, chopped into small florets (I obviously had purple, but any kind will do)
1 large shallot or a couple cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 c olive oil
12 kalamata olives, roughly chopped
3-4 wide strips of lemon peel, minced
1/4 c chopped parsley
1/3 – 1/2 c chopped tomatoes (I left these out at first — my kids don’t like tomatoes — but added them to my leftovers the next day, and they tasted great)
1/4 c toasted pine nuts

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil, then add the cauliflower and shallot or garlic. Saute briskly with some salt for 2-3 minutes, then lower the heat and cover the skillet. Sweat for about 5 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender.

Raise the heat and add the olives, lemon peel, parsley and tomato (if using). Saute just until everything is heated through and the dish smells fragrant. Finish with some pepper, sprinkle with the pine nuts and serve warm, as a side dish or over pasta.

Pasta Romanesco

by Caroline

Of all the new vegetables we’ve met via our CSA — the cardoons, the agretti — I think my favorite might be romanesco broccoli, the fractal vegetable. It’s firmer than standard broccoli but sweeter than cauliflower, and it tasted great the other night in an easy pasta with lemon zest, sliced almonds, and asiago cheese. Here’s the recipe:

12 ounces campanelle or penne pasta
7 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 heads roughly chopped Romanesco broccoli (about 1 1/4 lbs. total)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
1/4 cup shredded asiago cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat 3 tbsp. oil over medium heat in a large frying pan. Add Romanesco and 1/2 tsp. salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender-crisp, about 5 minutes. Add 1 tbsp. more oil to pan along with garlic and chile flakes. Cook until garlic is fragrant and light golden and Romanesco is tender, about 5 minutes more.

Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta water, and return to pot. Stir in Romanesco mixture, lemon zest, almonds, cheese, remaining 3 tbsp. oil and 1/4 tsp. salt, and enough pasta water to moisten (about 3/4 cup).

Warm Escarole Salad with Apples and Nuts (Success!)

by Caroline

As Tolstoy didn’t write, easygoing eaters are all the same; every picky eater is picky in his or her own way.

So I was reminded the other night when I unpacked our CSA share and pulled out a bunch of escarole bigger than my head:

“Yum!” said Ben. “What’s that?”

Can we just pause a moment to unpack those two short sentences? To marvel at the uncharacteristic enthusiasm — “Yum!” — which precedes the question? Because this cheerful reaction came from a child who generally approaches the world with a healthy dose of skepticism, and examines each bite he takes as carefully as the local health inspector. He will not tolerate butter or cheese (especially–shudder– if they are melted); frets if I put any kind of cooked dried bean (black, white, navy, garbanzo) on his plate; and rejects tomatoes in all their glorious forms (fresh, sauced, dried). On the other hand, he will eat whole wedges of lemon (rind and all), loves pickled burdock root, any manner of candied peel, and all cooked greens. The more sour and bitter, the better.

So I thought I had a good shot at getting him to eat escarole, especially when the sheet of recipes from our CSA included one for a warm salad of escarole, apples, raisins and toasted nuts. The original has cheese, which sounds delicious to me, but I didn’t have any, and Ben wouldn’t have eaten it that way, anyway. As it turned out, Ben liked it (though he found the escarole a bit chewy; I’ll tear the leaves up smaller next time), and even Eli, who of course is his own brand of picky (he doesn’t like any cooked vegetables), gave it long consideration rather than reject it automatically. So I’m calling this one a success.

Warm Escarole, Apple and Walnut Salad (adapted from a recipe by Jonathan Miller):

1/4 c raisins
1 apple, peeled and cut into wedges
1 head of escarole (my bunch was so big, I used less than half, which turned out to be one pound)
1 lemon
1/4 c chopped walnuts or pecans
2 oz gruyere
butter or olive oil

Cover the raisins with boiling water and let sit while you prepare the rest of the dish.
Zest the lemon and then squeeze out the juice. Keep them separate.
Wash the escarole and tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces.

Heat a large skillet with a couple tablespoons of butter or olive oil. Add the apples and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat until the apples have softened. Put in a large serving bowl with a splash of the lemon juice.

In the same skillet, toast the nuts until they’re dark brown and fragrant. Remove from the pan and set aside (don’t put them in with the apples just yet, or they’ll get soggy).

Now add a bit more olive oil or butter to the pan, the lemon zest, the remaining lemon juice, the escarole and a splash of water; cover the pan and let the escarole cook. As soon as the water begins to steam, uncover the pan and continue to cook, stirring, until the escarole is just wilted. Transfer to the serving bowl with the apples. Drain the raisins and sprinkle both those and the toasted nuts on top. Use a vegetable peeler to shave the gruyere on top and serve.

Click here for other escarole recipes.

Melon Soup

By Lisa

Over the weekend I went on a juicing binge brought on by an unexpected CSA delivery, which brought us an extra melon,which brought our household total to 3 ripe melons. Usually its no chore to eat one in a day, but all three of these beauties weren’t going to wait. So I brought out my Breville juicer, which is the only thing in my life I’ve ever won, and which is a pretty great machine. It’s lightning fast and powerful, and we do use it all during citrus season.  But because it takes an awful lot of (often expensive) produce to make juice, and I don’t love cleaning the pulp, I don’t use it regularly.   Most days, I’d much rather hand an apple (or plum or carrot) to the kids and just say, “Eat.”  But when I met my husband, he drank all sorts of juice and smoothies, and this was long before Kris Carr (who, for the record, I think is pretty terrific. I contributed to her site here.)   So in the spirit of economy and nostalgia, I broadened my juicing repertoire.

First, I chopped up the watermelon and passed it to Ella, who had a great time feeding it to the maw of the machine. It happened so fast I didn’t get a picture of the juicing or the juice, but believe me when I say there is nothing more refreshing on a 90 degree day than ice cold watermelon juice.

Then, we went to work on the melon, which I chilled and served after dinner with a spoonful of vanilla yogurt and a strawberry garnish.  Kory and I thought it was great. The kids, not so much.. But I saved their portions and the melon soup made a great, drinkable breakfast for me the next morning as I made the kids pancakes.  I think the soup would work nicely as an appetizer, too, served in  little shot glasses with a  garnish of creme fraiche (or greek yogurt) and some cubed, fried pancetta. I will get back to you on that.

For now, if you have any quickly ripening produce, I suggest the juicer.  I am going to get to work on those tomatoes soon.

Also: I’d love to know: what do you juice?