Simply Fresh by Julie Wern

CSA Tip–“Stop and Smell the Flowers”

I want to thank my good friend and fellow CSA member, Jody Larkin, for absolutely insisting that I stop each week and pick some flowers.  Some days, when I’m hot, sweaty, tired, and irritable, this is a real chore for me.  But I have persevered, and I have never regretted it.  It’s amazing to me how having a few flowers on my kitchen island brings sweet notes of color, vibrancy, and warmth to my day.  In short, it brings me joy.  So thanks to Jody, I can now say to you, “If you can’t stop and pick the flowers, then at least ‘stop and smell the flowers'”…there’s a very good reason that this is an old and wise saying.

IMG_0400Featured Item—Rutabaga

Many folks think rutabagas are a kind of turnip. However, rutabagas are actually a genetic cross between a turnip and a cabbage, belonging technically to the cabbage family.  They have a faint cabbage taste, but can also be quite sweet, especially when young or when allowed to sweeten after a frost.  They also tend to sweeten when cooked, especially when roasted.

While they aren’t technically a turnip, they look a bit like one—same shape, but with ridges at its neck.  They are cream colored (shading into purple at the top– I think some varieties may shade into green) and they tend to have a yellowish flesh.

Like turnip greens, the greens of rutabagas are edible.  The root can be eaten either raw or cooked.  Whether or not to leave the skin on is personal preference.  Obviously, if you are looking for a smooth puree, peeling is recommended, but beyond that, it is up to you!

There are several options for preparing raw rutabagas.  Try cutting them into crudités and serving them with a dip.  Rutabaga can also be diced and added to salads, or shredded and used to make coleslaw.

Cooked, the possibilities are endless.  Rutabaga can be roasted, boiled, steamed, mashed, stir-fried, or fried.  In many countries it is traditional to mash cooked rutabaga, either by itself, or along with carrots or potatoes.  Karen recommends cutting rutabaga like French fries and baking them with a little olive oil and salt, then eating them with ketchup. Yum!!  This recipe for miso glazed turnips looks promising as a way to cook both rutabaga and their greens at the same time (miso butter turnips).  Simply substitute rutabaga for the turnip.

Rutabaga are quite healthful.  They are a very good source of potassium, manganese, and vitamin C, and are also quite high in thiamine, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, fiber, and phosphorous.  They are very low in fat and cholesterol.  I recently heard that “cutting” your mashed potatoes with rutabaga, turnips, or parsnips can significantly lower the calories and increase the nutritional value of mashed potatoes.  Great idea, huh?  See below for a tasty puree recipe.

Choose rutabaga that are smooth and without significant marring.  Store in the refrigerator where they will keep for at least a month.

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I’ve never forgotten the roast chicken served to us in a 16th century farmhouse in Provence.  It was called Sunday chicken. Traditionally, chicken and vegetables are roasted in a heavy pot and bread dough is wrapped around the lid edge to seal in all moisture while cooking.  Family members then fight over the bread scraps when the chicken is done.

While using the bread is fun, it is a lot of extra work.  I decided to try pot-roasting chicken and vegetables without sealing the lid to see how it would turn out.  It was delicious.  However, I used too many vegetables and the ones on top of the first level didn’t cook as much as the bottom layer.  Thus, I concluded that it is important to keep only one layer of vegetables on the bottom of the pan.

Since the cooking liquids are key in this dish, I decided to try this method with skinned chicken for health reasons.  Sure enough, my dish was light yet very flavorful.  If desired, you can leave the skin on your chicken.  If you do, take off the lid for the last 15 minutes of cooking in order to brown the skin.

Pot Roasted Chicken and Root Vegetables                                    Serves 4-6

 INGREDIENTS:

– 1 organic free-range whole chicken

– 1 1/2 cups carrots (peeled if desired), cut into 3/4″ pieces

– 1 1/2 cups peeled rutabaga, cut into 3/4″ pieces

– 1 1/2 cups potatoes, cut into 3/4″ pieces

– 10 peeled garlic cloves

– 2 teaspoons olive oil

– 1/4 cup white wine

– 1 tablespoon minced rosemary

– salt and pepper

METHOD:

1. Prepare chicken:  Preheat oven to 400℉.  Place chicken on a work surface.  Using scissors to help cut through tough areas, and a paper towel to help gain purchase on the slippery skin, peel as much skin as you can off of the chicken breast, back and legs (wings are too difficult, I just left that on).  Remove any visible fat.  (You can choose to leave your skin on, but you will have much more added fat in your cooking juices).  Spray (or brush) chicken with olive oil.  Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and half the rosemary.

2. Toss vegetables and garlic with olive oil in a large bowl.  Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and rosemary.  Toss again to coat.  Pour vegetables into the bottom of a roasting pan (cast iron works best)(Vegetables should be no more than a single layer in the roasting pan or they may not cook completely.  Add more or remove some if you have too much).  Pour wine evenly over vegetables.  Place chicken on top of vegetables and cover tightly with a lid or double sheets of foil.

Roast for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Take off lid or foil and baste cooking juices over chicken and vegetables (if for some reason you have no liquid, add another 1/4 cup wine).  If you can manage it, lift chicken and stir underlying vegetables well.  Replace chicken, then lid or foil, and continue to roast for an additional 30-45 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear.  If keeping the chicken skin on, remove lid after an hour of cooking to allow chicken to brown.

Remove roasting pan from oven and take off the lid.  Allow to sit for 10 minutes before carving.  Serve carved chicken and vegetables in shallow bowls with cooking juices.

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This next recipe is delicious with or without the addition of potatoes.  I add no liquid (broth or milk/cream) in order to keep the puree thick and mashed potato-like (runny purees remind me of baby food).

This puree recipe is easily doubled.  However, with the addition of the potatoes, it will serve four people.

 Carrot and Rutabaga Puree                                                                        Serves 2

 INGREDIENTS:

– 1 pound carrots, peeled if desired

– 1 large rutabaga, about 1 pound

– 2 teaspoons butter or butter substitute

– 1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste

– freshly ground black pepper, to taste

– 1 pound peeled, boiled/steamed potatoes, mashed with a hand masher  (optional)

METHOD:

Place water in a large pot with steamer insert.  Place carrots and rutabaga in steamer insert and place over boiling water.  Cover and steam for 15 minutes or until vegetables are very tender.  Remove steamer insert and set aside to cool for 5 minutes to allow extra moisture to evaporate.

Place carrots, rutabaga, butter, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor.  Process on high, stopping frequently to scrape down the sides of the bowl, until mixture is very smooth.  Add additional salt to taste, if needed.  If using potatoes, add an additional teaspoon of salt and potatoes to carrot mixture.  Process very briefly until potatoes are mixed in with carrots and rutabaga (do not over-process or potatoes will turn into glue).  Serve immediately or refrigerate and re-warm before serving.

Note: For a delicious alternative, add ¼ teaspoon ground cumin (1/2 teaspoon if using potatoes) and ½ teaspoon lime juice (1 teaspoon if using potatoes) to the mixture.

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These flatbreads are one of my husband’s favorite meals.  When I made them last week he said, “You could never get me to eat this much arugula before, but I love it with this flatbread”.

Feel free to use store-bought dough if you prefer, although you will be amazed at how easy my dough is to work with.  Also, if you are adept at grilling your pizzas, feel free to grill these….the smoke adds a wonderful dimension to the dish.

Lamb and Arugula Flatbreads w/ Tahini Drizzle makes 2 flatbreads

INGREDIENTS:

For Lamb mixture:

– 1 pound ground lamb

– 1 small  onion, minced

– 2 cloves garlic, minced

– 3 tablespoons tomato paste

– 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

– 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander

– 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

– 1/2 teaspoon paprika

– 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

– 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

– 1/2 teaspoon salt

– 3 tablespoons chicken broth

– For Tahini Drizzle:

– 1/2 cup non fat Greek yogurt

– 3 tablespoons tahini

– 1 clove garlic, crushed

– 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

– 4-5 tablespoons hot water

– salt to taste

For Flatbread:

– 1 1/4 ounce package active dry yeast

– 1 teaspoon sugar

– 1 cup warm water, (110-115 degrees)

–2 ½-3 cups all-purpose flour

– 1 teaspoons salt, divided

– 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

– 3  large handfuls fresh arugula

METHOD:

1. Cook lamb in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, breaking up with a spoon as you cook, until meat is browned.  Drain off most of fat.  Return meat with a little fat to heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low.  Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 5-8 minutes.  Add spices and tomato paste.  Cook, stirring continuously, until tomato paste has darkened, about 2-3 minutes.  Add broth and stir well.  Remove from heat and cool. (Can be made 1-2 days ahead.  Refrigerate until ready to cook flatbreads)

2. Meahwhile, make tahini drizzle.  Mix yogurt, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and hot water until you have a good consistency.  Add more water as necessary.  Season to taste with salt.  Refrigerate until ready to use (Can be made 1-2 days ahead).

3. About 2 hours before you are ready to bake the flatbreads, stir yeast and sugar into warm water until dissolved.  Let stand for 5 minutes or until foamy.  Mix together 2 1/2 cups flour and salt in a large bowl.  Add yeast mixture.  Mix well.  If dough is really sticky, add more flour by tablespoons until dough is tacky but not impossibly sticky.  Turn out and knead dough on a floured surface for 6 minutes (alternatively, mix in a stand mixer, then using the dough hook, knead on medium-low for about 8 minutes).  Place dough in a large oiled bowl and turn to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours (when you poke the dough with a finger, it should leave an indentation).

4. Preheat oven to 500.  Punch down dough and divide into two pieces.  Cover any dough you are not immediately working on.  On a work surface sprinkled with flour, roll out dough into a 6-8” circle.  If you have pizza pans with holes in them, transfer rolled dough into each pan.  If using a pizza stone you will likely need to do one flatbread at a time–sprinkle some cornmeal or flour on your pizza paddle (or a piece of parchment).  Brush top of dough with 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil.  Place pans in oven (or transfer dough with paddle to pizza stone).  Cook until crust is lightly golden, about 6 minutes.  Remove pans (or if using pizza stone, transfer to work surface).  Cover each hot crust with half of meat mixture.  Return to oven and bake for about 3 minutes, just until meat is heated through and crust is really golden and crisp.

5. Remove hot flatbreads from oven.  Quickly top each with half of the arugula.  Using a small whisk or a spoon, generously drizzle tahini sauce on each flatbread.  Cut and serve immediately.  Serve with extra tahini sauce on side.

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