Simply Fresh by Julie Wern

I thought this week I would do something a little different….after all, it is fun to change things up a little bit sometimes, right? Instead of highlighting a particular vegetable, I thought I would write up what I am calling “a week in the life of a CSA enthusiast”. I am writing up my week of meals, illustrating how I used my CSA bounty throughout the week.

Many CSA members have little trouble knowing what to do with their weekly bounty, but I know that others struggle to use it fully, efficiently and creatively. I thought it might be interesting to both groups to get a view of how someone else uses up their weekly share. At best, it might help free up and stimulate ideas for some, and at the very least, be interesting reading for others.

Before I start listing all the cooking and food prep I have done in the past week, let me qualify by stating that I am in a somewhat unique situation….I cook for a living, I have only one child who is quite independent, I work only part-time, and cooking is my absolute passion. So I spend several hours a day in the kitchen. I realize that not everyone can do this or simply may not want to. My purpose is not to suggest a standard to follow but simply to stimulate creativity and passion for cooking in general, and for CSA food preparation in particular.

I am including recipes of the dishes I made throughout the week. In some cases, I direct you to other’s recipes on the internet, and in the case of my own recipes, I either direct you to past Simply Fresh articles, or include the recipe at the bottom of this post.

Happy reading and cooking…

Tuesday

Today I pick up my CSA share as well as pick green beans, flowers, and basil from the fields. By the time I get home from the farm, my fennel fronds are starting to look a little wilted so I make up a quick batch of Fennel Frond Pesto as soon as I arrive home (click here for fennel frond recipe)

Dinner—Malaysian Chicken Curry with Green Beans and Basil (see recipe below) Served with brown rice.

Wednesday

Wake up with a bit of poison ivy on both my forearms. I treat it with TechNu Scrub (amazing stuff. It stops the rash in it’s tracks so it doesn’t spread). BEWARE OF POISON IVY IN THE PICKING FIELDS!!

  • Breakfast—Beet , Berry and Chard Smoothie (click here for recipe)
  • Lunch—leftover Mayalsian Chicken with Green Beans and Basil
  • Dinner—Cookout with friends. Entertaining is a wonderful way to fully use up the harvest and to motivate me to try new recipes. Not to mention that the socializing makes my busy life more full and complete…

            Summer Squash Hummus w/ Crudités (sugar snaps, carrots, radishes, cukes)(click here)

           Cold Fennel Soup with Fennel Frond Pesto (see recipe below)

           Smoked Pulled Pork Sandwiches w/ Lighter Green Cabbage Coleslaw (see recipe below)

           Strawberry Yogurt Pops with Mini Chocolate Chips –local strawberries (see recipe below)

Thursday

  • Breakfast—Beet, Berry and Chard Smoothie (see above)
  • Lunch—Leftover pulled pork and coleslaw
  • Dinner–Cook with Jake (my son) Night. Jake gets to pick WHATEVER he wants to make for dinner (oy vay!) and we have a cooking lesson together. Tonight’s meal was homemade fried chicken nuggets, sautéed broccolini, and fresh canteloupe (from the supermarket, as per Jake’s request). It is no surprise I go to bed with a stomach ache.

Friday

I made a batch of basil oil to use up some of the basil I picked at the farm on Tues (basil oil recipe )

  • Breakfast—Beet, Berry and Swiss Chard Smoothie—funny how this doesn’t get old to me.
  • Lunch—leftovers
  • Dinner—Looking for a way to use the Red Gold potatoes, along with the lettuce, cucumber, green beans, and basil oil so I came up with a Cedar Smoked Salmon Nicoise Salad (see recipe below)

Saturday

  • Breakfast—Beet, Berry and Swiss Chard Smoothie—yep, again!
  • Lunch—Leftover salmon salad
  • Dinner—Picnic with friends at Tanglewood…there is nothing like the combination of CSA born meals, a beautiful sunny yet cool evening, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra! Food was a combined effort between my friend, Jude, and I, using CSA produce along with some items from our respective gardens

                      Giada’s White Bean Dip with Crudites (white bean dip)

                      Tomato, Basil, & Mozzarella with basil oil and balsamic reduction

                      Lobster rolls with homemade Lemon Basil Mayonnaise

                      Grilled Zucchini Salad w/ Lemon Vinaigrette, Pine Nuts, & Romano (zucchini salad)

                      Fresh Blueberry Crumble Pie (click here for recipe)

Sunday

  • Breakfast—I’m not even going to say it….
  • Lunch—Vegetable and lettuce salad
  • Dinner— Picnic at Jonathan Edwards Winery in N. Stonington with a group of six friends and family to hear the legendary folk singer Jonathon Edwards in concert. The picnic dinner was potluck, so I contributed only a few items. Again, the tomatoes were from my garden….glad to have a few early ones! Love you Jonathan!

           Tomato, Basil & Mozzarella w/ Basil Oil and Balsamic Reduction

           Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish Crème Fraiche

           Triple Chocolate Zucchini Cake (click here for recipe)

Monday

The boys are off to a Red Sox game so I am cooking for myself.

  • Breakfast—You got it!
  • Lunch—leftovers from last night’s picnic (love leftovers!!!)
  • Dinner—Summer Squash Slaw with Feta and Toasted Buckwheat (click here for recipe). I used oregano instead of marjoram (from the garden) and used a third of the olive oil called for. Delicious!

 

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This chicken curry recipe was adapted from Zang Toi’s version featured in Food and Wine magazine click here for recipe) I make it less spicy, reduce the overall fat, use chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs, and use green beans instead of broccoli. I also add basil.

Malaysian Chicken Curry with Green Beans and Basil                       Serves 6

INGREDIENTS:

– 3 tablespoons Madras curry powder

– 2 teaspoons ground pepper

– 2 lemongrass stalks, bottom 2/3’s, bruised and cut into 4″ pieces

– 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

– 4 tablespoons peanut oil

– 2 packages boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 3 1/2 pounds, trimmed

– 5 small shallots

– small red or yellow onion, quartered

– 5 garlic cloves

– 6 1/4″ pieces peeled fresh ginger

– 4 macadamia nuts

– 1 jalapeno pepper , stemmed, seeded and finely chopped

– 1 can unsweetened lite coconut milk

– 1 tablespoon light brown sugar

– 2 tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut, toasted

– 1 quart green beans, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces

– salt

– 1/4 cup freshly chopped basil

METHOD:

1. Trim chicken pieces of fat and cut into bite sized pieces. Place in a bowl along with curry powder, lemongrass, lime juice and 2 Tablespoons peanut oil. Season with salt. Rub chicken pieces to evenly coat with spice mixture. Refrigerate for 4 hours.

2. In a food processor or blender, blend shallots, onion, garlic, ginger, nuts, and jalapeno until smooth.

3. In a deep skillet, heat 2 Tablespoons peanut oil until shimmery over moderately high heat. Add chile paste and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add chicken with its marinade and cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is browned and nearly cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add the coconut milk, brown sugar, coconut, and green beans. Simmer over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens and meat is cooked through and green beans are crisp tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove lemongrass pieces and stir in basil. Season generously with salt to taste.

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Cold Fennel Soup with Fennel Frond Pesto                  Serves 4 as an appetizer

INGREDIENTS:

– 3/4 pound fennel bulb, cored and chopped

– 1 small onion, or 1/2 large, minced

– 1 clove garlic, minced

– 2 teaspoons avocado oil or oil of choice

– 2 1/2 cups homemade or purchased vegetable broth

– 1/2 – 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

– 4 teaspoons fennel frond pesto

METHOD:

Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add fennel, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 5-10 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until fennel is very soft. Remove from heat and place in blender. Carefully blend hot soup until smooth (start slowly…liquid is very hot). Place in a bowl and allow to cool for about 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. When ready to serve, stir in lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon 1 teaspoon pesto into center of each bowl and serve immediately.

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I did a “wing it” job when making this slaw so I can’t give you exact amounts. I typically mix about 2/3’s yogurt and 1/3 mayonnaise for the dressing. Add vinegar and celery seed to taste.

Lighter Creamy Coleslaw

INGREDIENTS:

– Small green cabbage, shredded

– olive oil mayonnaise

– Non fat Greek yogurt

– Cider vinegar

– Celery seeds

– Salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:

Mix yogurt, mayonnaise, vinegar and celery seed to taste. Toss with cabbage and season with salt and pepper. Allow to sit at least 20 minute before serving.

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This recipe was adapted from EatingWell.com (click here for original recipe) I use strawberries instead of raspberries as well as a sugar substitute.

Strawberry Yogurt Pops with Mini Chocolate Chips        makes about 6 pops

INGREDIENTS:

– 2 cups frozen organic strawberry halves

– non fat or low fat Greek yogurt

– 4 tablespoons Erythritol (like Swerve brand) or white sugar

– 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

METHOD:

Place strawberries, yogurt, and erythritol in a blender and process until mixture reaches the consistency of soft ice cream. Stir in chocolate chips and immediately transfer to ice pop molds (or eat immediately as is for frozen yogurt). Freeze until hard, at least 2 hours.

NOTE:

Erythritol is a fermented sugar alcohol with almost no calories yet it bakes and cooks like sugar and does not have the health and digestive issues common with other sugar substitutes. Swerve brand can be found in the organic food section of Stop and Shop. Whole Foods also often carries a brand of erythritol. I like to buy the NOW brand online which is a non-GMO derived erythritol.

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If you prefer not to use salmon, substitute with the traditional tuna (but I probably wouldn’t smoke it)

Cedar Plank Smoked Salmon Nicoise Salad                                          Serves 2-3

INGREDIENTS:

– 3/4 pound wild Alaskan salmon fillet

– Dressing:

– Clove garlic, roughly chopped

– 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

– 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar

– 2 tablespoons organic apple juice

– 1 tablespoon basil oil

– 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

– 1/4 teaspoon anchovy paste

– 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

– salt and pepper to taste

– Salad:

– lettuce leaves, washed and chopped

– grated carrots

– thinly sliced radish

– cherry tomatoes, halved

– sugar snap peas, julienned

-peeled chopped cucumber

– 1 hard-boiled egg, chopped

– pitted Nicoise or Kalamata olives, halved

– red gold potatoes, washed, skin on, cut, boiled, and chilled

– green beans, steamed

– broccoli sprouts, optional

METHOD:

1. Cook salmon on grill on a cedar plank that has been soaked in water for at least 20 minutes. Remove salmon from plank, scraping off skin and grey flesh under the skin (it helps to flip it upside down on a plate to do this). Set aside to cool to room temperature.

2. Place dressing ingredients in a container appropriate in size to contain the blade and handle of a stick blender. Blend with stick blender until completely smooth and emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Place lettuce on dinner plates and arrange other vegetables on top.   Drizzle with dressing. Top with salmon and sprouts (if using) and drizzle with a bit more dressing. Serve immediately.

4 thoughts on “Simply Fresh by Julie Wern”

  1. That all sounds amazing! Cooking is my passion too but in the summer it is second to golfing and since I work full time I have little time left to create. I did throw a corned beef into the crock pot and then sautéed the cabbage with a little butter and some red onions and roasted the potatoes then smashed them flat and re-roasted with olive oil and S&P. Over the weekend I made a beautiful layered yellow and zucchini squash tart with a grilled beef tenderloin and salad with shaved carrots, fennel and radishes. Fabulous! I love reading your posts and this was one of the best, getting to hear about your week of cooking. Thanks!

  2. When can I make a reservation? This was my favorite post Julie, because it really lends to the creativity and spontaneity of having a CSA. I have a friend who is a great cook, but she is definitely a recipe girl. She did a CSA one summer and did not enjoy it because she didn’t feel like she had the ingredients she wanted to cook with. I love being surprised each week and letting the crop inspire me. Thanks for all of your great ideas!

  3. Julie,

    You made me laugh and I have enjoyed all your posts but this one was by far not so overwhelming. I will be trying some of your recipes to finish up this weeks CSA produce but the smoothie – now that is a homerun!

  4. OUTSTANDING! I loved reading your post this week. It was fun to see all the ways you are using your vegetables! This week I sautéed cabbage and onions and my kids ate it with their eggs for breakfast! They loved it. I will be trying many of your recipes this week.

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