Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Paneer, Spinach, and Indian Tomato Sauce

The hubs and I are going out of town this weekend for 10 days on tour with his band.  We are having some friends split taking care of our dog, and I am entering my busy season at work (summer programs for teenagers).  Thus, my days have been filled with working late, going in early, and then coming home to clean my dog-filled house and prepping for camping/living out of a car for over a week. 

So, until I get a chance to update you on a few tasty treats (easy zucchini bread, homemade rolls, temepeh bbq, etc), I wanted to tempt you with a great Indian dish using up my spinach from last week.  Again, this recipe is from Mark Bittman's book, and I hesitate putting up too many of his recipes for your consumption.  Go buy the cookbook, it is worth it,  trust me, even if you don't buy the vegetarian one (though the recipes I am sure will be cheaper!). 

The dish begins with an Indian spicy tomato sauce flavored with curry and my own additions of dried fenugreek (best indian addition ever).  Then I wilted some spinach in the sauce and laid it in a baking dish.  I topped it with chickpeas and cubed paneer cheese.  This was great, and relatively easy (though next time I will double the sauce and freeze half), and wonderful with some Indian flat bread.  I must confess that Bittman's flat bread recipe fell well, flat in my book.  It was too hard and was too dry to bite into by the next day, even with reheating.  I think I will stick to my naan recipe for future dishes. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fancy Shmancy Salad

We have a lot of greens right now and tend to shy away from too much salad.  So what do we do?

Make a unique salad combination! 

Leafy Greens
dried pineapple
homemade balsamic vineagrette

Trust me, it is tasty!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Second Farm box

This week our lovely farmers must have known that I was craving zucchini parmesan because we got several. 

Along with those we got some spring onions, radishes, turnips, arugula, spinach, and tons of lettuce.  Look at that beautiful large, purple head of lettuce. 

My menu this week will include zucchini parmesan, pasta with a cashew cream sauce and arugula, taco salad, salad with brie, cashews, and dried pineapple, and a spinach mushroom pizza.  Yes, there is a lot of salad on our list this week, hence the creative brie salad.  I'll let ya know what I think of it, and what dressing I choose. 

What late spring veggies are you using this week?

Friday, June 10, 2011


G and I have talked a little bit about this green, leafy vegetable.  Her hubs is not quite a fan, nor are many people.  I would lump arugula along with those bitter tasting vegetables that most Americans tend to not enjoy, much like escarole.  I must say, I enjoy arugula 10 times more than escarole.  Though I am willing to give escarole another chance this year (and be sure to have a plan B dinner ready in waiting).

It is high in Vitamin C and potassium, and considered an aphrodisiac in the Mediterranean (thanks wikipedia).  It is also called rocket in many places.

Well, we had a good, large bag full of arugula to use this last week, and another one today.  I hauled out my new Mark Bittman cookbook (you are probably going to see many recipes from him as the novelty of this cookbook has yet to wear off), and found a tasty sounding recipe.  Well, it sounded tasty, but also potentially not all that tasty.  Grits Gratin with Garlicky Arugula. 

Let me explain.  I have a slight gag reflex for certain foods, off the top of my head, polenta, some types of cooked eggplant, big beans, and large piles of wilted greens.  This is mainly due to feeling ill shortly after digesting such foods and the mental connection has yet to dissapate.  I apologize if this is tmi, but it is really how I felt about this recipe.  Potentially great, potentially gag inducing.  But it sounded so unique I wanted to give it a try.  I chose the option Mark had to add white beans (uh-oh, three reflexes in one dish) to satisfy my hearty food-loving hubs. 

This recipe was 10 times better than expected.  The hint of balsamic vinegar paired with sharp asiago cheese and mounds of garlic was amazingly delicious.  The slight bitterness of the arugula was well offset by the sharp cheese and sweetness of the vinegar.  I would use less olive oil next time, though that could be a preference. 

Grits Gratin with Arugula, White Beans, and Garlicadapted from Mark Bittman - How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
Serves 4-6

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon sugar
4 cups arugula leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 can  white beans
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 recipe Polenta, made with grits and molded according to Grilled or Fried Polenta
1/2 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Lightly oil a shallow 2-quart gratin dish or oblong baking pan.

In a large, deep skillet, heat two tablespoons olive oil over medium-low heat.  Add the garlic and sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until the garlic is soft and starting to color.  Turn off the heat.  Add the arugula, beans, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir gently a couple of times.  Spread the contents of the pan onto the bottom of the prepared baking dish.  Drizzle with the vinegar.

Turn the grits out of the pan and slice into 1/2 inch slices (I had to clean the knife off halfway through, it got all gummed up with grits).  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Carefully lay them on top of the arugula, overlapping if necessary.  Drizzle with the remaining two tablespoons of oil and sprinkle with the cheese.  Bake for about  25-35  minutes, or until golden and bubbly.  Serve with lots of black pepper.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

First fruits!

This week was our first farm pick up.  I got off a little early so the hubs and I could make the trek with G and the kiddos.  It was a beautiful day for a farm trip, sunny, breezy, and about 75 degrees.  We probably could have stayed all afternoon if we weren't ready for dinner.  G and I took a photo of all the spoils before we left so that you could get a taste of just how much we got, even for the first week.  I am hoping to get a photo of all of our share on those weeks later this summer when we get 30 cucumbers or 25 squash. 

Late spring brings us a lot of greens, all in all we got:
spinach, arugula, spring greens salad mix, bok choy, turnips, radishes, kale, squash, lettuce, green onions, and some herbs. 

For the next evening, I made a BLA with a side salad, and homemade honey mustard dressing.  I have been hankering for honey mustart dressing and trying not to buy dressing lately.  I was impressed with the simple recipe: 1/3 c olive oil, 2/3 c honey, 3 T mustard, 1-2 T lemon juice or a vinegar (i used white wine vinegar because it is what I had).  Add a little salt and pepper, wonderful.   

Stay tuned for a Mark Bittman recipe using the arugula.