Monday, June 27, 2011

Birthday dinner: Pasta Primavera

After surveying the contents of the CSA I decided a simple and light pasta primavera was a great option. I had all of the needed ingredients on hand, score.  Plus I purchased a decadent after-dinner birthday treat. The biggest decision to make was what veggies to use. I thought the baby bok choy would add some fun and although I had use spinach in pasta never chard. Ultimately I didn't want to overwhelm the pasta with a garden salad and needed to narrow the list.

The staring players:
chicken stock, parmesan cheese, chard, carrots, the squash, garlic scapes, whole wheat penne, olive oil and salt, pepper and red pepper flakes
This is where I started, as I went along I added and subtracted as I felt the dish needed. This is not an exact science people. Plus it was 8pm when I started cooking. I was really torn regarding using the zucchini because I had it earmarked for a morning scrambled egg dish. Ah well, another time. See, I get so excited with zucchini and revisiting dishes I haven't tasted in months.

I figured out and easy and efficient way to dice up the garlic scapes. At first I just attempted dicing down the little curly-q's but that was a hot mess and was like cutting up a moving slithering snake (maybe this is the wrong metaphor since I've never done that). At any rate, I felt for the safety of my fingers with my new and recently sharpened kitchen knife I decided to first cute the scapes at each curve so it looked like this:

Then I was able to easily line these little guys up and dice down the line quickly and safely.

After sautéing the fresh veggies I added some frozen peas and the half cup of left over marinara sauce in the fridge. Meanwhile I boiled the water and cooked the pasta until el dente. So quick and easy - and delicious!

Since it's not a birthday party without a cake I happily obliged.
We both had 3 bites each. Half was left for the next day!
Oh and a chocolate raspberry macaroon to share. yum. 

I call this menu a delicious 30th birthday menu! The birthday boy was very happy with the food and his new vibram 5-finger birthday gift. 

Pasta Primavera - a la Amy (does this make it sound more authentic)
Serves 4

1/2 lb of your favorite pasta
Olive oil
1 medium onion diced
3 garlic scapes diced
1 small zucchini medium chop
1 yellow squash medium chop
2 medium carrots diced
3 swiss chard chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
chicken stock
parmesan cheese freshly grated
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of red pepper flakes

Drizzle small amount of olive oil in pan on medium heat. Saute onion, garlic and carrots for about 5 minutes until slightly softened. Add zucchini, squash and chard for 3-5 more minutes, add spices. Add peas and then up to one cup of chicken stock and reduce by half.

At the same time boil water and cook pasta according to directions. Add pasta to vegetable mix. Do not rinse. Top generously with cheese and serve immediately.


Friday, June 24, 2011

CSA: Week 2

Week two of the CSA already, yipee! As I spread out the veggies I was so excited for a couple of reasons. First, it was Joel's birthday so I was counting on the goods to inspire a delicious and fresh birthday dinner menu. Secondly, more than just greens this week. That is what I call a win-win.

Swiss chard, lettuce and a bag of mixed greens

There were some greens but since we're still munching our way through last week's greens it was a mercifully smaller amount. I am really digging the chard.

baby bok choy
How great is this baby bok choy? I think this would be really delicious lightly sautéed and topped with some chinese spice currently in my fridge. 

scallions and garlic scapes
I almost forgot how many garlic scapes we get in this CSA. The good news is I think I'm having a love affair with them now after being completely perplexed by these little cuties last year. 

zucchini  and summer squash

Now we are talking about summer! I love zucchini so much. I have some great recipes I'm anxious to dive into again. I realize it's still early in the season but I look forward to when zucchini is over taking the crop. Nothing tastes more like summer for me. 

There it is; this week's vegetable haul and inspiration.  After laying out the goods I had lots of ideas swirling around for the birthday celebration dinner. I'll be posting the results soon.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I love herbs

Hey y'all. One of the downsides of the CSA is the herbs need to be used and consumed much faster than I am used to. Last week we got a bunch of basil and dill so I needed to do something quickly with them.

Dill, basil & garlic scapes (not an herb)

I had already planned to make a chicken and chickpea salad for lunches and thought this is the perfect spot for the basil. The neat thing about this basil is that it does not taste like normal Italian basil; it has more of a twist and spicier flavor to it. It was a great addition to the salad. I love this salad by itself or on a whole wheat pita with lettuce greens. So good! It's really great for lunch because it's not mayo-based and is easier to transport. I'll post the "recipe" at the end of the post.

This yellowish tinge - that's using flash when blogging, evidently I will avoid this in the future.

Why didn't I use a more attractive serving plate? Well you get the picture folks.

Next up was the dill. I really enjoy the taste of dill but honestly do not buy it often. I thought about putting it into cream cheese and using it as a spread or dip - J was excited at this idea as well. So while at the grocery store we had a great debate over fat free versus low fat cream cheese. We went with the fat free and I will tell you from here forward low fat is the way to go. The spread lacks something in its fat freeness. Oh well, lesson learned. I spread the mixture on a couple slices of bread and sliced some cucumbers for a light sandwich. Joel has been dipping random veggies in it all week. Overall it was fine but not great. I attribute this to the fat free business.

Dill spread with cucumbers

Sadly, I threw away the remaining dill today because it was wilting in the fridge even in a cup with water. Although, it lasted longer than the basil did! What do you do with dill and basil?

Chicken and chickpea salad
1 rotisserie chicken, off the bone without the skin
1 can of chickpeas rinsed
1/2 large red onion finely diced
1 green pepper finely diced
a handful of cherry tomatoes cut in half or quarters depending on the size of the tomatoes

Add all of the above ingredients to bowl and toss with balsamic vinaigrette.

Balsamic vinaigrette
2:1 ratio of balsamic vinegar to olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What's a CSA?

My plan with this blog is to show off our weekly CSA and to chronicle what we make with the produce. But let me back up a minute. Often when I tell people outside of lala land Ithaca, and sometimes even folks from Ithaca, that Joel and I are "doing a CSA" I get blank stares or flat-out asked what's a CSA? Allow me to explain.

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture which is essentially a farm share. How it works is you pay a farm or in our case a collection of farms a fee to have access to their produce for a set amount of time on a weekly basis. Our share started last week and goes through late fall totaling almost six months. This is my second year doing it and it's really fantastic. Our particular CSA is The Full Plate Farm Collective and it is wonderful. Hop over to their site for more information on how to join their particular collective. Also, they have tons of information on CSA and organic food as well as recipes. There are a few options in terms of how you can receive the produce either going to the farm to pick a select number of items or a pre-packed half bushel box delivered. We've chosen the latter  mostly for convenience but also for the adventure. Since you don't get a choice in the produce, by omitting what you don't like/aren't familiar with, you get what you get. We really like this because it helps us try new things.

Ok so on to this week's haul.
Please don't mind the junk around it  - I promise to get better at this picture taking business. Ok so from the top left, a bag of mixed greens, a large head of leaf lettuce, kale, more bagged greens, dill, basil and garlic scapes (the long curly items).
Strawberries - yes please!
A close up of the kale and the dreaded BEET! Oof.

Let me stop here for a minute. I hate beets. I mean really hate beets, as many of you know. I have tried different recipes and I want to like them but I really do not like them. I've tried to roast them, who doesn't love roasted veggies? Blah. I've tried making a citrus salad with them - surely the orange zest and juice will balance out the dirt-like flavor of the beets. Have you ever had oranges that taste like dirt? Not. Good. Back to the drawing board I go.

So once again this year my task is to cook the beets in new and interesting ways so that I may like them. The good news is J will eat them but actually he's not crazy about them either. Plus, since I've done this CSA before I know at the tail end of the season we will get loads of beets. So I have my work cut out for me.  If you have suggestions please please please send them my way.

There you have it, our haul from this week. I will post more pictures and recipes of what we've made soon!

First post

Howdy all, and by all I mean the 5 people I've told I'm starting a blog. Thanks for stopping by! First, as you can see I finally chose a name for the blog, thanks to my fabulous friend Meghan! I settled on "the Salvaged Kitchen" because it encompasses food and decor - you know I'm such an expert in both of these areas, um right about that.  Next up is I need to figure out how to change the background and make it visually more interesting. You know, one step at a time.

If you're thinking, "what does Amy have to say that is interesting enough to read on a blog" -  good point! Actually, as most of you know I love reading blogs, reference other people's blogs and talk about bloggers like I know them (Pioneer Woman I'm looking at you) and so I thought I'd give it a stab. Most immediately I'll be chronically the CSA (community share agriculture - a farm share) that J and I have signed up for. I'll slap up some photos and perhaps interesting recipes and coax Joel into providing some nutritional information when possible. Get excited people!

Over and out.