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CSA Week 13: Viva Italia!

September 14, 2010

There’s the happy gang! Cantaloupe, eggplant, red peppers, bok choy, new potatoes, green apples, concord grapes (more on those next week), tomatoes and edible flowers.

Strawberry Salad with Edible Flowers

I will confess I just think this is really very pretty. Edible flowers are, for those who don’t use them/aren’t familiar, exactly what they sound like. This however, doesn’t mean they taste like fruits or vegetables. The closest relative taste I could match it with is arugula. That said, let’s admire the photo.

2 good handfuls of mesclun greens

~20 strawberries, sliced

~10 asparagus spears, trimmed and chopped

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

crumbled blue cheese

balsamic

olive oil

salt and pepper

Assemble salad greens and asparagus and toss with balsamic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Add strawberries, walnuts and blue cheese. Gently toss to combine. Top with flowers if desired!

Spiced Peach Apple Butter

This feels like fall to me. I love all kinds of  butters – apple, pumpkin, peach. I love it from the jar and with peanut butter. Or on toast. We got some peaches at a farm stand, and they were very ripe. I wanted to make good use of this little jar, too.

10 peaches peeled and chopped

2 apples, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup sugar

1 tbsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

2 tbsp maple syrup

Combine the peaches and apples over medium low heat, until they begin to soften up. This will be about the 30 minute mark. Then add the sugar, spices and syrup. Continue to reduce down, with a partially closed lid, for 50 minutes.

Prepare jars (I clean and fill with boiling water while butter is cooking) and simmer lids. Once butter is ready, dump the boiling water from the jar and top with the lid.

Yoga Pot Lentils

In attempt to figure out what to do with the remaining fennel, I lolled around Tastespotting, and landed on this Yoga Pot dish, and it fascinated me. I wanted to make it immediately. I followed everything listed, and subbed out the kidney beans for chick peas, as it’s what I had. Amazing. Amazing. Please make it. It’s just soul-warming food at it’s best.

Soft Molasses Chocolate Chunk Cookies

My girlfriend Kim posted these, after following the recipe from Joy the Baker. Seeing as I used the CSA eggs, I thought y’all might not mind if I include cookies?

The deets: they stay soft for days on end. And if you can get them to hang around longer than 48 hours, you’ll see what I mean. No further research has been conducted at this time.

Eggplant Parm

I am prone to making anything but eggplant parmesan with my eggplant. It’s fried and I feel bad for all those extra calories. I know, silly. And when I DO make it, I am also prone to doing things to healthify it (like bake it).

My husband requested a nice, traditional eggplant parm. And can I say no to him? Ever? Newp. No way, Jose. I will cop to having sliced the mozzarella very thin and using very thin layers of ricotta. It’s still amazing.

So this is what you do:

1 eggplant, peeled and sliced into thin round

2 beaten eggs

plain, Italian breadcrumbs

1 large can of crushed tomatoes (Boston-area Italians know what Kitchen Ready is, however get whichever kind you want/can get.)

1/2 cup milk

basil leaves

mozzarella, thinly sliced

fresh ricotta

salt, pepper, parsley, grated cheese of your choice, oil for frying (I used olive oil, but don’t recommend it, as it’s not great for high heats. Hey, it was all I had in the house.)

Prepare two bowls: one with the beaten eggs, and one with breadcrumbs. I season the breadcrumbs with grated cheese, salt, pepper, and parsley.

While the oil heats up, dip the sliced eggplant into the egg, then breadcrumbs and place on a dish so they’re ready when you need them. Fry them with room in the pan, a few minutes per side. I tend to reduce the heat as they cook, because when the oil gets too hot…it’s  not pretty.

Once cooked on both sides, place on a papertowel-lined dish, and start the next batch.

When the eggplant is done, make a quick marinara. I heat up one large can of crushed tomatoes with 1/2 cup milk. Add spices to taste. I have never measured these. I also eyeball the milk. My husband likes the sauce  more like his grandmother’s, so I am trying to recreate it (I have never had it, so I’m going on description alone). Bring to a simmer, and taste and adjust as you need to. I cook it about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350.

Now assemble. I put a little sauce in the bottom of a dish. Then I place one eggplant slice and smear on a little ricotta. I top that with a large piece of basil, and then the mozzarella round. Then add more sauce, then another piece of eggplant.

You can arrange these however you like – in small dishes or in one large pan.  I like it only 2 layers high, personally. It seems too thick to me, otherwise.

Bake about 30 minutes, until the cheese is brown and cooked. There you go!

Potato Ricotta Gnocchi with Red Pepper Pesto

Shame about the indoor photo, I know. I wish it was better, and considered not including it, to be honest. This recipe though, was just really great. I used several and came up with this instead.

1/2 cup ricotta

1/2 cup mashed potatoes

1 cup flour

1 egg yolk

1/4 cup pecorino romano cheese,  grated

salt, pepper

2 red peppers

olive oil

basil

grated cheese

Preheat oven to 400. On a baking sheet, arrange pepper cut into large pieces and drizzle olive oil on them. Bake about 20 minutes, until you start to see blackened edges.

Boil 2 small potatoes, drain and mash. This should yield about 1/2 cup. I had some leftover, and I just ate it. I recommend you do that, too. Best with a little salt.

In a mixing bowl (or with your stand mixer) combine ricotta, mashed potatoes, flour, yolk, salt and pepper. I just threw in a little of each. When combined, it will be a little sticky. Put the dough in the fridge while you make the pesto.

In a food processor, combine the peppers, some basil leaves (maybe 6-10, depending on size), cheese and pepper. Blend. Adjust spices to taste.

Turn the dough out onto a flour surface while you bring a pot of water to a boil. Divide into 4 pieces, then roll each into a snake. It’s kind of like playdough. Cut into evenly sized pieces (about an inch long) and set aside. Once you’ve finished, drop into boiling water, about 4 minutes, then drain. Top with pesto. The warm pasta will heat up the sauce – no need to cook it separately. That’s it!

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