Simply Fresh by Julie Wern


In my last edition of Simply Fresh for the season, I had planned on writing up some thoughts about this year’s CSA experience, but the incredible recent events of the storm and its aftermath has set me in a bit of a different direction.Instead I have a written a recipe that should look quite familiar to us all…..

East Coast Humble Pie          serves Millions

Ingredients:

-Buckets and buckets of spring and summer rains leading to local crop damage/delay

-2 destructive storms with large-scale flooding and incredible tree damage

-Widespread power outages lasting upwards of 1 week

-6+ school snow days before mid November

-Shortages of water, gas, ice and firewood due to colossal power outages

-Significant disruptions in air and land travel over hundreds of miles

-Economic recession with high rates of unemployment

Method:

Mix all ingredients together in a large East Coast bowl.Season to taste with small miracles, helping hands, and random acts of kindness.Roll out crust of human grit, determination, and hard work.Pour in filling of utter powerlessness.

Bake in a very heated oven of frustration for days on end.Eventually turn out onto a cooling rack of surrender and take in the strong scent of humility.Savor the ultimate taste of gratitude when you bite into that humble pie and realize all the thousands of things, both large and small, that you have to be thankful for.

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Featured Item—Arugula

Arugula, or “rocket”, is a salad green that is very popular in Italy and the Mediterranean.It is often served raw, although it is sometimes cooked (or barely wilted) and is even used sparingly as an herb.It has a distinctive “peppery” flavor that becomes more intense the larger and older the leaves.

Arugula is truly a nutritional powerhouse.Super low in calories, it nevertheless packs a nutritional punch with high levels of vitamins, minerals, and phyto-nutrients.It is particularly high in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as folate, calcium and beta-carotene.Because of the abundance of nutrients, it seems a no-brainer to include arugula in your weekly meal planning, even in places you might not expect to use it.I recently tried just-wilted arugula in garlic mashed potatoes and found it delicious (see below for recipe.Even My 11 year old son liked it).Like I said, it’s a “no brainer”.

However, I also like the “kick” of a pure arugula salad.While I happen to adore the slightly bitter, peppery taste ofarugula alone, many like to “cut” their greens with some sweet lettuce varieties, which is perfectly fine.However you like to do it, try making arugula salads with some of the following delicious combinations:

  • -Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese with a Citrus Vinaigrette
  • -Lemon and Fresh Fennel with Lemon Vinaigrette
  • -Tomato and Mozzarella with Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • -Strawberry and Hazelnut with Hazelnut or Poppyseed Vinaigrette

Because arugula is strongly flavored, it can stand up to almost any kind of vinaigrette.For example, dressings with strong herbs, mustard, anchovy, capers, olives, and stronger vinegars (like balsamic) do well with this salad green.See below for an interesting arugula salad idea.

Arugula is wonderful not only as the star green in a salad, but it also adds texture, color and nutrition to grain and/or potato salads.For example, try substituting arugula for parsely in tabouli or add chopped arugula to your favorite potato salad.

One often overlooked way to use arugula is in soups/stews.Added at the last minute, arugula offers a flavorful and interesting addition to your everyday meals.See below for a recipe for a hearty vegetarian stew using arugula.

In addition to soups/stews, arugula is also great on pizzas.Place atop pizza just as it comes out of the oven so that is wilts before drying out.One combination we particularly like in our family is chopped ham, marinara sauce, Italian blend cheese, and arugula (YUM!!).However, again, the possible combinations are endless.

I can’t talk about arugula without mentioning eggs.Arugula truly shines in frittatas, omelets, and stratas, perhaps because it really has a chance to stand out against the mild flavor of the egg.However, the less arugula is cooked the better…it does best when it is just barely wilted down.

Of course, I also can’t forget to mention the combination of arugula and pasta.Typically arugula is tossed with hot pasta and sauce just before serving, allowing the leaves to just barely wilt.Again, the potential combinations are endless.My favorite way to have arugula with pasta is to make an arugula pesto and toss it with hot pasta and a bit of pasta cooking liquid.Make arugula pesto as you would your favorite basil pesto.It is truly fantastic!

Choose arugula that is brightly colored and crisp.Avoid yellowed, wilted, or slimy greens.Loosely wrap unwashed arugula in plastic and place in the refrigerator.Store for about 3-5 days.Wash well, as arugula leaves can tend to harbor lots of sand.

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Burrata is a wonderful fresh Italian cheese that has a mozzarella exterior and adelectable cream and mozzarella center.It is just recently becoming available in this area.You can find it at whole foods markets or at select Big Y stores.I created this salad recipe after falling in love with one like it in California wine country.

Arugula w/ Burrata & Pesto Vinaigrette     Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

– 2 tablespoons purchased or home-made pesto

– 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

– 1-2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

– 4 handfuls arugula, about 4 cups

– 1 large roasted red pepper , thinly julienned

– 1-2 pieces Burrata, cut in halves or quarters

METHOD:

1. Whisk pesto, vinegar and olive oil together and taste.If too tart, add more olive oil.If too thick add a bit of water to thin.

2. Place cleaned arugula on 4 salad size plates.Sprinkle with roasted red pepper slices.Place Burrata in center.Drizzle with vinaigrette and serve.

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Arugula adds a special something extra to this hearty and delicious vegetarian stew.

Red Lentil & Vegetable Stew w/ Arugula        Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS:

– 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

– 1 large onion, chopped

– 1 1/2 cups chopped peeled carrot

– 2 large celery stalks, chopped

– 1/2 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary

– 1 teaspoon dried oregano

– 2 large garlic cloves, minced

– 1 14 1/2 ounce can organic diced tomatoes

– 5 cups home-made or purchased vegetable or chicken stock

– 2 cups red lentils, rinsed

– salt, to taste (I used 1 t with unsalted home made vegetable broth)

– 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

– 3 cups roughly chopped fresh arugula

– 6 teaspoons Parmesan cheese, optional

METHOD:

In a stock-pot, heat olive oil over medium-low heat until hot.Add onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and beginning to brown, about 8 minutes.Add rosemary, oregano, and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.Add diced tomato with juices, broth, and lentils.Stir until combined.Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lentils and vegetables are tender, about 15-20 minutes.Remove from heat.Add salt, red wine vinegar and arugula.Stir until arugula wilts.Ladle stew in soup bowls.If desired, sprinkle with Parmesan.

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Why not add some extra nutrients and interest to an everyday staple…

Dairy Free Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Arugula     Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

– 6 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1″ pieces

– 6 peeled garlic cloves

– 1/2 cup vegetable broth

– 1/2 teaspoon salt, see note below

– 2 teaspoons butter substitute (optional)

– 1 cup arugula, chopped into bite-sized pieces

METHOD:

1. Place potatoes and garlic cloves in a pan with water that covers vegetables by 2 inches.Bring to a boil and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.Drain in a colander and allow to cool 3-5 minutes so that excess moisture escapes as steam.

2. Once potatoes have started to cool, place broth in a medium skillet over medium heat until it just begins to boil.Remove from heat.Add salt (if using homemade, unsalted broth, add 1/2 teaspoon salt.Otherwise salt to taste) and arugula and let sit for one minute for arugula to wilt.

3. Mash potatoes and garlic according to your preferred method (I like to use a potato ricer).Pour hot broth mixture over mashed potatoes and fold to incorporate.Serve.

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