CSA 2011 · Recipes

Butternut Squash enchiladas

Enchiladas are fast becoming one of my top go-to meals when I’m out of inspiration. These are more of a fall dish, since they make use of butternut squash, which is fresh in season during October and November. But I actually think it’s easier to use pureed frozen squash here anyway, especially for a weeknight dinner. Next time I make it, I’m going to try pureed pumpkin since I preserved so much from my CSA this fall!

Ingredients

  • 1 package frozen butternut squash (about 12 ounces), or 2-3 cups fresh
  • 1 can of black beans
  • cream cheese (about 6 ounces), either plain or Philly Sante Fe Cooking Creme
  • 1 can of green chilis
  • 1 packet taco seasoning mix (2-3 teaspoons, to your taste)
  • 1 package flour tortillas (you’ll need about six)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (I use cheddar or Mexican blend)
  • 1 can enchilada sauce
  • optional: cumin to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 and prepare a glass baking dish with your choice of cooking spray.

Meanwhile, mix together the butternut squash and cream cheese in a medium sized bowl. Once blended, add in the chilis, taco seasoning mix and beans, and stir.

To assemble the enchiladas, cup a flour tortilla in the palm of one hand, and scoop the squash mixture into the middle, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with shredded cheese.

Roll the tortilla up into a tube, and place face down (so the seam is on the bottom) in your glass pan. Repeat until you’ve fit all you can into the baking dish.

Spoon the enchilada sauce on top, taking care to get it down between the edges and all around the tortillas so they don’t burn while they’re cooking. Sprinkle some cheese on top before placing into the oven.

Bake for at least 30 minutes — it may take up to 40 depending on your oven — and remove when the cheese has browned.

This is a great vegetarian option for Mexican food. Serve with a salad, re-fried beans, spicy rice, a big dollop of extra sour cream, whatever!

 If you liked this recipe, check out my spinach ricotta enchiladas!

CSA 2011 · Recipes

‘Ribollita al Pomodoro’ soup

Looking for a way to use up leftover crusty bread? Throw it in this hearty soup with vegetables, beans and seasonings, and you’ve got major comfort food. My main reason for making this: to use up the remainder of a good-quality French loaf I’d bought to serve alongside my slow cooker beef stew. Also, I had lots of leeks from my CSA, so I used those where otherwise I might have included onions. I combined two well known Italian recipes, one for Ribollita (a thick Tuscan soup) and pappa al’pomodoro (a sweet tomato-based soup), into one mash-up with apples and curry that came out unexpectedly fabulous. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese!

Ingredients

  • Day-old French bread
  • 1 can Cannellini beans, with their liquid
  • Parmesan cheese

Vegetables

  • Leeks (2, chopped)
  • Celery (2-3 stalks, chopped)
  • Carrots (1 or 2, chopped)
  • I can diced tomatoes (use fresh if available)
  • I large granny smith apple, cubed (unpeeled)

Seasonings

  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • Kosher Salt
  • Curry powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Red pepper flakes or cayenne

Wet ingredients

  • Almond milk (eyeball to achieve desired consistency of soup)
  • Veggie broth (1 can)
  • Olive oil & Butter (eyeball it to sautee the garlic)

Directions

Melt the butter with the olive oil and saute the garlic, celery and leeks until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes over medium heat. You don’t need onion with all that flavor from the garlic and leeks!

Add the carrots, tomatoes and bay leaves and stir to combine well for a few minutes. Add the veggie broth, apple and other seasonings.

Cover and simmer for at least 20 minutes (the house will start to smell awesome). Add the cannellini beans and bread and continue simmering, stirring occasionally, for another 5-10 minutes.

Add the almond milk to taste at the end, when the soup is on low. You don’t really want to let the almond milk boil up. If the soup looks too thick, add a teeny bit more almond milk or water; don’t forget it’ll thicken even more as it cools. Test to make sure the carrots are cooked through; add seasonings to taste, and you’re done.

Top it with freshly-grated Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Approval from a very discerning nose.

A few tips:

  • The flavors blend together even better as leftovers. Eaten the next day, I think this soup actually improves.
  • If you have it, a drizzle of good-quality olive oil will make an excellent topping here with the cheese. As for cheese, try parmesan, pecorino, or both. They’re each just salty enough.
  • If you don’t care for chunky soups, you can puree this to a smooth consistency using an immersion blender.
  • Increase the heat by upping your quantity of red pepper flakes/cayenne, or even by throwing in some good hot sauce.
  • The quantity of bread is very flexible. Tailor it to your liking and whatever you have on hand!
CSA 2011 · Recipes · Tips and Tricks

HOW-TO: Roast pumpkin & make pumpkin bread from scratch

Maybe, like me, you still have a few pumpkins left from a CSA that ended at Thanksgiving. Intimidated by cooking them? Don’t be. I’ll show you step-by-step how to cut and cook pumpkins, preserve the puree, toast the seeds, and make fresh pumpkin bread that blows away anything you’ve made using canned pumpkin pie filling.

How to Roast Fresh Pumpkin

Frozen puree will last several months, so it should get you through the winter packed into freezer-safe containers or even Ziploc bags with the air pressed out.

You can also put up pumpkin puree for long-term storage, but it requires a pressure canner, not a hot water bath for safety reasons. The same goes for winter squash. Both MUST be cubed & cooked before being canned. Here are some great instructions.

But first things first. Before you can make pumpkin bread, you need to make pumpkin puree … and to do that, you need to learn how to cut & hull a pumpkin.The easiest way to slice a pumpkin is to make sure you have a sharp knife and a sturdy surface to work on. A serrated knife, like this one, works best — if you use a very sharp knife and slip, you could really hurt yourself. Cut the pumpkin in half using a sawing motion, then set aside the two halves.

Using a melon baller, scoop out the seeds into a small bowl. Save these, because you’re going to use them later to make savory roasted pumpkin seeds.

I used to think that cooking pumpkins always involved the oven, but turns out that’s not true at all — in fact, it uses less energy to fire up your microwave. (I also used to think you had to peel pumpkins and winter squash to cook them, but thankfully, you DON’T!) Place the pumpkin halves face up in a glass dish and fill with a couple inches of water. Cover and heat on high for 10 minutes; repeat until soft and mushy, usually two or three times depending on the strength of your microwave. You can usually get a good couple of cups of puree out of a small pumpkin.

Once the pumpkins are done, let cool briefly and then simply use a spoon to scoop the flesh away from the soft skins. You can either discard the skins or — like I do — eat them right off the bat!

If you are freezing your pumpkin, just scoop it into freezer-safe containers (you don’t need to mash it), then label and store. Whenever you want to use it, simply defrost in the fridge or warm in the microwave.

Note: If you prefer not to use a microwave or don’t have one, you can cook pumpkin on the stove top or in the oven. Just cook the pumpkin halves in a steamer on the stove top for about 10 minutes, or bake in the oven (this takes the longest) by placing the pumpkin plus several cups of water in a covered oven-proof dish. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour at 350, until a fork-poke shows they’re soft. With both of these methods, the skins should fall right away when they’re done.

***

SAVORY ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS

Now that your pumpkin is cooked and stored, it’s time to turn those seeds into a healthful snack. Pumpkins (and their seeds) are considered super foods, packed with antioxidants and high in fiber and protein, making them a powerhouse for vegetarians especially.

First, wash the seeds well, separating the stringy material and guck from the seeds. I used my hands at first and then gave them a thorough final rinse in a colander before setting them out on paper towels to dry (you can speed this along with a hair dryer if you want!) It’s critical that they’re not soggy when they go into the oven.

Preheat the oven to 275 and spread the seeds out on a cookie sheet. To season, toss with vegetable oil or butter and any combination of seasonings you like: classic sea salt, something spicy like cayenne & thyme, or sweet such as cinnamon, nutmeg or allspice, or ginger for a kick, or garlic powder & Worcestershire sauce … or my favorite, good old Trader Joe’s 21-Seasoning Salute, which is a salt-free spice blend.

Heat for 10 to 20 minutes, watching them, and stirring here and there. You can eat them hot or cold and they’ll make a great snack on the go for a few days.

***

Pumpkin Bread Recipe

Dry Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups of flour
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

Wet Ingredients

  • 1 cup oil
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups pumpkin (or 1 can pumpkin pie filling)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Sift flour and mix in remaining dry ingredients.
  • Combine wet ingredients.
  • Add dry mixture to wet mixture.
  • Grease/spray loaf pans.
  • Bake for 1 hour; it may need an hour and 15.
  • Loaves are done when a toothpick into the center comes out clean.
Courtesy: Simply Recipes. I literally forgot to take a picture of mine before it was gone. Oops!

Other fun uses for pureed pumpkin:

  • Stir 1/2 cup of into pancake batter; add walnuts for pumpkin-nut pancakes
  • Using the recipe above, turn pumpkin batter into waffles instead; or, use the finished bread to make pumpkin french toast
  • Blend 1/4 cup pumpkin puree with cream cheese and cinnamon; spread on a bagel
  • Stir pumpkin puree into your morning oatmeal; top with brown sugar
  • Make homemade pumpkin gnocchi
  • Make vegan pumpkin tiramisu a la Chef Chloe
  • Stir pumpkin puree into risotto just before it’s done cooking
  • Freeze the puree in an ice tray to make cubes ready for smoothies, like this one

Do you have other ideas? Send them my way in the comments!

CSA 2011 · Recipes

Brussels Sprouts Gratin & Maple-Cayenne Roasted Brussels Sprouts

OK. Not everyone likes Brussels Sprouts. I know this. But, I’m among the rare 5% of people who LOVES them … and luckily, so is my husband! Today, I’ve got two recipes for the little green guys: Maple-Cayenne Roasted Brussels Sprouts, and a rich Brussels Sprouts Gratin.

Maple-Cayenne Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup if you wish.

Trim stems and outer leaves from Brussels Sprouts (about 2 pounds). Cut in half and toss on baking sheet with at least a tablespoon of Olive Oil. Season with Kosher Salt.

In a small bowl, mix together one tablespoon of real maple syrup and a dash of cayenne pepper. (You could also use red pepper flakes if you prefer).

Roast the Brussels Sprouts in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender, stirring at least once. Drizzle with maple-cayenne mixture and roast for one more minute. Remove from oven and serve warm.

***

Brussels Sprouts Gratin

This really is quite rich. I feel compelled to warn anyone with acid reflux disease or lactose intolerance that they want to medicate accordingly.

Ingredients

  • 2 TBSP butter, cut into pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, outer leaves and stems removed
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated white cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and butter a 2-quart glass baking dish. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the Brussels Sprouts and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the Brussels sprouts and coarsely chop.

Transfer to the buttered baking dish and toss with the red pepper flakes (if you are using them), and salt and pepper to taste, then spread out evenly. Pour the cream on top.

Sprinkle with the cheese and breadcrumbs and dot with the butter pieces. Bake the gratin until bubbly and golden brown, about 15 minutes.

The other night when I got home from work after 9, (lots of late nights recently), the gratin rounded out a nice dinner of leftovers that also included buttered toast and roasted potatoes.

Lazy lady dinner.

My Gratin recipe was inspired by this Food Network version.

CSA 2011 · Recipes

Caramelized Cauliflower (With BONUS creamy soup!)

Have you ever seen cauliflower that looks like this??

I was baffled when I first saw them, but a sniff/taste test confirmed that they ARE in fact cauliflower as my CSA promised, so I treated them as such — chopping, coating & roasting them at high heat to caramelize ’em up good!

All I did was toss the pieces in olive oil and kosher salt, and roasted them at high heat, 400 F, for about 25 to 35 minutes, stirring them occasionally. Cooking them this way enhances their flavor and makes them nice and tender. You won’t have any of that gross smell you may remember from boiling cauliflower.

When they come out of the oven, cool and taste for seasoning. If they need a little more salt or even pepper, go ahead and add it to your taste!

These were delicious, but I only used some of them as a side dish with pasta one night. So, a few days later, I decided to throw the rest of them into a can of Campbell’s potato soup, heated over low with two cups of almond milk and some oven-roasted parsnips thrown in. I added a bay leaf for flavor, and then I felt like I could use up a few of my CSA red potatoes too, so I cut those up small and threw them in to simmer. It came out REALLY well and used up a ton of my leftovers — and I got three extra meals out of it!

CSA 2011 · Recipes

The end of my CSA

Now that it’s mid-fall, my next few posts are going to round out the last of my CSA -based recipes. I’ve made so many exciting dishes since the farm share started in July, and I’m still working through the last of the carrots, parsnips, pumpkins & potatoes I got in the last couple weeks of my CSA. I’m really going to miss it! (But probably not lugging it home on the T every Friday night, especially now that I’m moving farther down the Orange Line).

My CSA ended along with October, which made me so sad. Having a “surprise” in the share box each week really forced me to get creative about recipe planning, and it turned me into a more innovative cook (if I do say so myself).

I’d recommend a CSA to anyone for the simple fact that it gets you closer to your food, to the growers, and to local produce. It also lasts longer than grocery produce, especially if it’s farmed organically, and it can be not only a financial savings long-term but a more SUSTAINABLE way of eating when compared to products that travel hundreds of miles to reach your local supermarket. On top of all this,  you’re  guaranteed to pick up a few new recipes (garlic scapes, anyone?) and techniques that’ll last you all year long.

I am planning on compiling all my CSA recipes into one document available for download, so check back soon to find that! And in the meantime, visit this page to see all my CSA recipes from 2011 in one place.

In the meantime, are you interested in signing up for a CSA for next year? It would make a wonderful Christmas present, and purchasing one now would go a long way toward helping small farmers budget their finances for the coming year just as the winter hits New England.

Here are some resources to find one near you:

And finally, my earlier post about the benefits of joining a CSA.

CSA 2011 · Recipes

Harvest vegetable pasta

I created this after roasting a bunch of root vegetables together with nuts and raisins in a (failed) attempt to make something compelling. Luckily, even though they bored me as a standalone dish, these harvest veggies tasted excellent once I tossed them with rotini pasta and a nutmeg-infused sauce. Easy as pie….kind of tastes like pie too, actually.

INGREDIENTS

  • Red potato, sliced into quarters (unpeeled)
  • Turnips, sliced in half
  • Pumpkin, peeled and cubed
  • Squash, peeled and cubed (or buy this way)
  • Raisins (I used about one small box)
  • Carrots/parsnips, sliced (unpeeled)
  • Almonds (handful)
  • Vegetable broth (enough so an inch or two coats the pan)
  • Cinnamon to taste (be liberal with it!)
  • Nutmeg (generous spoonful)
  • Ginger (to taste)
  • Honey (about a half cup)
  • Kosher Salt
  • Pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375. Prep all the chopped ingredients (or do this a day ahead). Toss with olive oil, nuts and raisins on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger and drizzle with honey. Season with salt and pepper. Add an inch or two of vegetable stock to the bottom of the pan. Roast in the oven, uncovered, for about 20 minutes or until tender.

Meanwhile, boil your pasta — I used rotini because it can “grip” chunky sauces like what you’re making.

You can use premade white sauce (I bought a great nutmeg sauce at Dave’s Fresh Pasta in Davis Square that I used as a base); or, you can make a simple white sauce by whisking butter, flour and then cream together over low heat, and then add the nutmeg in. Here’s a great example. I also added some leftover cream cheese into the pan to thicken the sauce even more (I never claimed this was health food). Combine the veggies, pasta and sauce in a large pot with a dash of pasta cooking water to help it all stick together! You can loosen it up with some more milk (I like almond milk) if it looks too thick or sticky.

This reheats well, but I’d recommend pouring a dash of  almond milk (or whatever kind you use) into the tupperware container and also putting a pad of butter on the top of the pasta when heating up leftovers to re-moisten things in the microwave and to keep it all from turning sticky.