CSA in PA (vegetable stir fry with masala!)

I take back what I said about having no CSA haul while on the east coast. As my job (location) is on an organic farm, it has been decided that I will be given a box of fresh produce every Friday as I leave work. What a deal! Pictured below is what I brought home this past Friday … so much produce that I still am unsure as to how some of it will be used! I took advantage of Saturday afternoon to take my time (2 hours worth!) cooking up my version of an Indian-inspired dish, essentially vegetable masala. Details below, but first … the produce!

1. Eggplant
2. Radishes
3. Spinach
4. Swiss Chard
5. Garlic
6. Mizuna (or arugula?)
7. Fennel (had to look that one up)
8. Onion
9. Parsley
10. Lettuce
11. Leeks
12. Cabbage
13. Sweet Potatoes
14. Potatoes

Oh the glorious produce! On top of all that we still had swiss chard to cut from the garden before Sunday’s frost (it is TOO cold here).

I haven’t yet spent much time looking up / inventing recipes for the produce that I’m not used to using- the fennel, radishes, leeks, and eggplant. I imagine potato-leek soup should be pretty tasty, and the eggplant should be easy enough to adapt into something delicious. The fennel and radishes have me a bit stumped, as I’ve never sought them out before and they are not familiar tastes to me. I welcome any and all suggestions for recipes that cater to someone who is not particularly familiar with these flavors!

Cooking on Saturday was a blast. I cut the remaining swiss chard from the garden (10-15 large leaves) and washed that, along with the chard from my box and the mizuna as well (or is it arugula?) I put a generous portion of sunflower oil in a large wok and used my favorite cooking tool- the garlic press- to crush five large chunks of garlic into the oil. I also coarsely chopped up a large onion and added that to the wok as well. I put the burner on just over medium heat and within one minute, everyone in the kitchen was commenting on how nice it smelled. I think that one should always have a saucepan of fresh garlic being sauteed while they are cooking, if only for the wonderful smell it fills the kitchen with!

Once the onion was tender I added all of the greens to the wok and let them wilt while mixed in with the onion and garlic.

Mizuna, yes?

beautiful colors on the swiss chard

My mom chopped up a small bag of fingerling potatoes and all the raw carrots we could find in the house (which did not amount to many), and we boiled them together for a little over 10 minutes.


Once the roots were a sufficient consistency, I drained them and put them in the wok with the greens and added some peas, green beans, and broccoli that I had found in the freezer (I had them out to thaw for a bit first). I kept the wok on a burner at a little under medium heat and mixed everything together.


It was at this point that I remembered to make some rice, so dinner got postponed a bit while the rice took 20 minutes on the stovetop. Mom also cut up boneless chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and stir-fried them in a bit of teriyaki sauce. I poured two jars of tikka masala sauce into a saucepan and heated that up in the meantime (I would have added the sauce directly to the stir fry in the wok, but I was cooking for a variety of palates, and not everyone wanted “Indian” food).

After two hours of standing, chopping, and cooking in the kitchen, I was very ready for my meal. I’ve no pictures of my plate, but suffice it to say I drowned my very large helping of stir fry and rice in the masala sauce and ate until my plate was clean. I did the same for seconds! (I also had leftovers for dinner tonight.)

This was a great meal to make for my family because of the variety of options- my Dad ate the stir fry with chicken mixed in and no masala, one brother just ate rice with soy sauce (he’s our carb boy), another picked the potatoes out of the stir fry and ate them with rice and chicken. A few people added some masala sauce to their plates. My Mom and I got to eat vegetarian with no hassle. It was a win-win for all!

*I’ve joined the link party at In Her Chucks … you should check it out!

fresh food

As I’ve switched locations (ie: coasts) for the time being, I’ll no longer be subscribing to a CSA. Here I can’t necessarily get all the wonderful fresh goodness I was used to in southern California (or the sunshine that goes with it).

Perhaps it was kismet, then, that my newly acquired job in a sense involves an organic farm. I was sent home last Thursday with fresh picked(or dug) heirloom tomatoes, basil, sweet potatoes, onion, garlic, and fingerling potatoes. Also freshly jarred homemade tomato sauce made of ingredients straight from the farm. Doesn’t get any better.

My parent’s 26th anniversary was a few weeks ago and they never went out to celebrate it (it’s a bit difficult to do with all the kids running around the house). On Friday, a family friend came and took the four kids out for pizza and tennis and insisted my parents relax and enjoy each other’s company. I took the opportunity to utilize my fresh produce and make them dinner (which I did enjoy with them. It’s hard to get rid of all of us at the same time …)

I wanted to use the fresh basil as soon as possible, so I incorporated that and the tomatoes into a pasta dish (naturally). I like making pasta dishes because of the variety of ways you can prepare them. While there are the typical flavors in most dishes across the board, you can still personalize them to exactly what you want- and I love almost any vegetarian food/spice/flavor that goes with pasta.

I googled around to find a recipe that would be a variation on the inventive dish I made that one lazy day. Anything with fresh tomatoes and basil would do. And I was in the mood for mozzarella cheese, so I added that in to my searches as well. I came up with a few promising ones that were basically just the pasta with each of the ingredients chopped separately and tossed in. But then I found the winner. In preparation, it is essentially each of the ingredients chopped separately and tossed in. But in actuality, the way this dish is prepared makes the flavors pop and stand out better than they do on their own.

Heirloom Tomato-Basil Pasta:
This recipe calls for feta cheese and olives, I omitted each of them and included my own portion of fresh mozzarella cheese.

I used these beautiful heirloom tomatoes.

And this fresh basil.

I cut up the tomatoes inside the bowl I mixed everything in, in an effort to contain all the juice they lost. I added 1/4 cup of olive oil to the bowl and left the tomatoes to sit while I prepared everything else- I cooked the pasta (I only had whole wheat egg noodles to work with, so that’s what I used), cut up the basil and mozzarella, took the garlic to the garlic press, added it to the tomato mixture, and all was ready to serve, just like that! I had more tomatoes and mozzarella to use up, so I made a small caprese salad (sans vinegar, I just don’t like it). I served the tomato mixture separate from the pasta- apparently there should be enough sauce for the entire pound of pasta, but it didn’t appear so to me. And I wouldn’t know with the leftovers either, as my mom liked it so much she ate the rest of the tomatoes out of the bowl.

Caprese salad with an heirloom tomato.

My take on the heirloom tomato-basil pasta.

It was so good the dog even wanted some!

While on the subject of fresh food, there is still some swiss chard in the garden outside, so I cut it  up and sauteed it with some fresh onion and garlic. I toasted two slices of bread, added sharp cheddar cheese and roasted pepper bruschetta, topped it with the sauteed swiss chard, and voila- a take on a childhood favorite- pizza bread!

Pizza bread with fresh ingredients!

And off the subject- on non-fresh foods- I recently made Pioneer Woman’s recipe for blackberry cobbler. No dry ingredient changes, full-fat, and with frozen blueberries that were picked from our bushes this past summer. Delicious, delicious, delicious. I loved the texture/consistency. The flavor was amazing. This is not a recipe to mess with. Make it and indulge yourself!

Blueberry Cobbler!