Okay, I might be exaggerating. Point is, we got a Big Bunch of Dill from the CSA and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it all.
But first, here was last week’s gastronomical palette:
Aw, look how fancy I’m getting. Yes, I was bored with Arial Black and went with Marcelle Script instead. A little less legible, a little more adorable. Still lots of greens coming down the hatch. Mmm, when you live in the desert, you appreciate the color in a whole new way. It just seems to bathe a starved area of my retinas. This week, though, some red and white is catching my eye too: French Breakfast Radishes!
As my Big Mommy used to say: gawwwgeous! After some slight Googling, it seems the French do not eat these for breakfast. But perhaps they come by their name because if you had to eat a radish for breakfast, this milder, more tender version would be your best bet. I pretty much served them at every meal, sliced up with my good buddies, olive oil, salt and pepper.
First on the chopping block was the dill. And I had no idea how it would turn out, but I basically cooked a dish I was craving, closed my eyes and threw in lots of dill and hoped for the best. The recipe in question is a deeeelicious shrimp pasta dish from The Pioneer Woman called Penne A La Betsy (you should only visit The Pioneer Woman site if you are not afraid of – or trying to stay away from – butter, cream, cheese, sweets – I’m serious).
The normal herb of choice in this dish is basil. But it is not the season for basil yet (though soon – ah yes, my dearies, soooooon!) so I figured an ingredient in the fridge is worth two at some store where I have to get dressed and get in a car and deal with the world. So in went about a cup of dill. Wow. I have underestimated the feathery herb all these years. Potato salad, sure. A salmon dish, oh heck yeah. But I’d never thought of it in a tangy tomato-based pasta sauce. Between the wine, the 1 CUP of cream, the shrimp and the dill, this was a divine experience.
It’s still technically winter, though things are starting to warm up nicely ’round here, so Wednesday’s meal was a classic sausage, white beans and mustard greens soup. The veggie drawer still held some carrots from the week before and I added most of the red potatoes. I used boxed chicken broth (on sale) but missed the homemade stuff. Still hit the spot!
This next meal was a different version of that quinoa salad I made last week. Each week, the Tucson CSA includes a newsletter with your pickup full of recipes ideas for your veggie haul. This week’s newsletter posted a “Rice Pilaf with Dill” that looked very Greek with capers and lemon. I riffed on this with brown rice and cannellini beans, plus some goat cheese and radishes on top. Similar to last week, I used the concept of an ‘under salad’ – this time with sauteed mix of mizuna and spinach.
The dish was super tangy, and indeed very Greek. Very hearty and warming for a salad, too. A great staple to have in your rotation. The recipe is by Sara Jones of the Tucson CSA and can be found on this newsletter (in PDF format).
After the Penne A La Betsy, I still had a hankering for that tomato cream sauce with dill. So I made a similar pasta sauce, but with my leftover BACON. This was the definition of decadence! Of course, I still had some mizuna and the bunch of mustard greens so I chopped them up and added them to the sauce. You know, to make it healthy.
The final meal of the week was a simple lentil vegetable soup using what was left in the veggie drawer with some homemade veggie broth. It’s a basic lentil soup template: Saute the aromatic mix (otherwise known as mirepoix, sofrito, etc) in olive oil – this was onions, garlic, carrots, celery and some greens stems diced very finely. Then your larger chopped vegetables go in until they sweat (more carrots and the remaining two red potatoes). Add about a cup of lentils, 6ish cups of veggie broth and simmer til the lentils are done (30-40 minutes).
I am NOT one to shy away from boxes or cubes of stock. But if you have certain vegetable scraps on hand, it’s ridiculously easy to make a delicious, fresher tasting stock without all the sodium and whatnot. Every now and then, as I’m cutting up onions, garlic, celery, and carrots, I’ll put them in a baggie and pop them in the freezer. The skins, the roots, anything that’s not diseased or moldy. Then if I want stock, I add them to a pot, cover with about 6 cups of filtered water, add some peppercorns, bay leaves and fennel seeds, bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer for half an hour. Strain and you’ve got stock.
I didn’t take a picture because even at week six, it looks like many a lentil/veggie soup I’ve already made. So I’ll just leave it to your imagination.
And heads up, folks, I’ll be experimenting with these food posts. I don’t think I want to keep up documenting every meal I ever make from now through eternity. And I’d like to hone in on certain recipes instead of just giving a shallow summary of a week’s worth of meals. I also want to devote some time to other writing too. But I hope there’s been something interesting here for some of you these past few weeks. And I’m really having so much fun writing about food. It helps me rationalize my gastronomic obsessions. And we all know how important rationalization is.