Getting fennel, leeks, and Savoy cabbage this week sent me running to my copy of How to Cook Everything.
How to Cook Everything calls Savoy cabbage the best of cabbages.
I’ve still got that whole head of Napa cabbage in the fridge. Logic says to use the older cabbage first, but that’s not always the best plan. The difference between the Napa now and in a few days will be minimal. However, I have a chance to use the Savoy super-fresh, so I’ll probably use it tomorrow either sautéed or quickly boiled and buttered.
The Napa cabbage will be split between fried rice and a side dish of cabbage sautéed with ginger and soy sauce. Other items going in to this week’s fried rice are celery leaves, peas, onions, and all the beet greens and stems. I’m tired of shrimp, so I’ll either use some chopped pork loin or just go with eggs.
I had to do some research on fennel. It seems you cook the white bulb at the bottom and save the fronds and stalk for garnish.
The one fennel recipe in How to Cook Everything sounds like a good place to start. You chop up the bulb, cover it with chicken stock, a little olive oil, and salt and pepper. Then top it with bread crumbs and Parmesan and put it in a 375 degree oven for 45-50 minutes.
I read somewhere that you can steam fish on a bed of fennel fronds. I’m not good at cooking fish, though. It’s on my list of things to get better at.
Once again, How to Cook Everything comes through – with Crisp Sautéed Leeks. You wash and julienne the leeks and crisp them in a little oil with garlic. The trick seems to be limiting the number of leek sticks in the skillet at a time. If you put too many in, the collective moisture ends up steaming them rather than crisping them. After they’re crisped and are draining on paper towels, you sprinkle them with spices.
My plan is to crisp the leeks and then serve them over salad with crumbled goat cheese, sliced roasted beets, and maybe some more raspberry vinaigrette. However, this salad may have to wait until later in the week. Last week, I learned that leaf lettuce (as delicious as it is) doesn’t stand up to goat cheese and pecans. I’m not sure how leafy this week’s lettuce is, but I plan on trying it as a simpler salad before dumping sautéed leeks on it. If it’s leafy, we’ll eat it first as simple salads and on sandwiches before turning to the romaine from our garden for the leeks.
Even if beets don’t get to go on the salad, I’ll still serve them sliced and topped with crumbled goat cheese, chopped dill, and chives. I’ve been dreaming about this dish since I stumbled into it a couple of weeks ago.
My mom taught me a great trick for making up a fruity vinaigrette – use whatever jam you have in the fridge. You mix up some vinegar, water, salt and pepper, and any jam. Then add some olive or canola oil to thicken it and shake it some more. Just keep tasting it as you go to get the proportions right. For two people, I use about two tablespoons of vinegar, a teaspoon or two of water, pinches of salt and pepper, a tablespoon of jam, and only about a tablespoon of oil. We like our dressings pretty vinegary. You could use fresh or thawed strawberries instead of jam, but you might need to add a little sugar.
Too many “sides”
With all the fresh produce, I often find myself with too many side dishes and no meaty ideas.
Exhibit 1: last Tuesday’s lunch
- sweet potatoes with butter
- steamed peapods with goat cheese
- carrot sticks
- some vinegar-based coleslaw
Was that really a crazy meal? Or have I become accustomed to thinking that a meal’s not a meal unless there’s a main (and meaty) dish?
As the summer goes on, I know I’ll make more of these all side-dish meals, so I’m going to revisit Diet for a Small Planet to make sure we’re getting what we need.
Here are some ideas I’m considering to complement our occasional stretches of spontaneous vegetarianism.
- make cornbread: Cornbread’s yummy, and I bet it’s even better with a fresh egg and whole grain corn meal. Also makes great breakfast. (Cornbread, honey, and goat’s milk for breakfast. Mmmm….)
- use the whole grains from my member pack: I was so excited to get them, but since then they’ve settled in at the back of my fridge. It’s time to pull them out and see what those babies can do.
- order a loaf of whole wheat or 5-grain bread from the online store: Boy, would my husband love this one.
- make scrambled eggs: Boy, would I love this one. I could look into other eggy dish options, but scrambled fresh eggs are so darned good, I’m not sure why I’d do that!
In the meantime…
I’m defrosting some turkey drumsticks. I’m going to bake them like this recipe for chicken drumsticks from simplyrecipes.com. (I hadn’t been to simplyrecipes.com in a while. Silly me! All the latest recipes look wonderful. Like Jamaican Jerk Burgers, Noodles with Mushrooms and Lemon Ginger Dressing, Gingersnap Cookies, and Chocolate Ganache Torte.)
Since turkey legs are bigger than chicken legs, I’ll expect to leave them in at least 45 minutes. I’ll cook all three legs (What kind of crazy turkey was that?!) and expect to have some leftover. In any case, it will be good to have something to put in the oven along with the beets that need roasting.
Maybe the best part of living with a CSA subscription is that vegetables naturally become the focus of meal planning and meat the afterthought.
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