Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Summer Feast

Week two of the CSA was greener than the first: two different kinds of lettuce, collards, cabbage, green zucchinis, sugar snap peas, parsley, grape leaves, garlic scapes...and some mushrooms and strawberries for color.

Last night I decided to dig in and made a 3-course meal.

First, I trolled some other blogs for recipe ideas.

For the first course, I found a recipe for strawberry and feta salad. I was so excited to get strawberries after all the rain in Wisconsin hurt the first harvest, but there was enough to give everyone a pint in their box this week. So when I discovered the recipe on Closet Cooking (which has a much better picture than I took), I knew this was it.

Can I just say yum?

The salad was so fresh and crisp and sweet and cheesy, while the tangy dressing added flavors of garlic, mustard, honey, balsamic and raspberry vinegar....This was a big winner, a perfect refreshing summer recipe, and I will definitely make it again.

For the main course, I decided to make the stuffed grape leaves recipe from the CSA newsletter. This was both fun and slightly problematic to make.

The fun part was stuffing and roling up the grape leaves. It was pretty simple. I dipped the leaves into boiling water for about 30 seconds and removed the stems. Then I laid the leaves shiny side down and placed about a tablespoon of the mixture (ground beef, rice, cinnamon, salt, and pepper) across the leaf and folded forward, right side, left side, and then rolled it up tight.

Then I mixed together chopped garlic, lemon juice, mint, and a cup of water and poured the mixture over the grape leaves, which I had put in a pot. Simmer for an hour, and that's it.

I was worried that the meat wouldn't cook well, but the real problem was the flavor. There was none. I had way too much meat left over (1/2 pound beef for eight grape leaves = way too much meat). It was nearly tasteless. But the grape leaves held up well, and I'd like to experiment with another recipe.

For dessert, I decided to make zucchini bread since I typically saute it with other veggies. I found a recipe on Smitten Kitchen, which features photos that make you want to reach inside the computer and stuff your face with them.

The delicious smell wafting out of my kitchen was the first sign that the bread would turn out well. In anticipation we walked up the block to Baskin Robbins and bought a pint of vanilla ice cream. This turned out to be a great call. The bread, with its slightly nutty taste from the addition of chopped walnuts, stood quite well on its own. But the warm bread soaked with the cold vanilla ice cream was phenomenal. We saved some ice cream for tonight, when we made the second loaf.

Luckily we still have another zucchini left.

Strawberry and Feta Salad (from Closet Cooking and
1 clove garlic (grated)
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 tablespoon raspberry vinegar
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 serving romaine lettuce (cut into bite sized pieces)
1 handful strawberries (sliced)
1 handful feta cheese (crumbled)
1 handful slivered almonds (toasted)

Mix the garlic, honey, mustard, vinegar and oil.
Toss the lettuce, almonds, strawberries and almonds with the dressing to coat.

Stuffed Grape Leaves (from Home Grown Wisconsin)
8 fresh grape leaves – blanched – dip in boiling water for about 30 seconds
1/2 C. uncooked brown rice
2 Tbs. fresh or dried mint
1 Cup Water
1/2 pound ground lamb, beef or pork (we found this was way too much meat for 8 grape leaves)
Pinch of cinnamon, salt, pepper
2 garlic cloves
1 lemon

Mix meat with rice, salt, pepper and cinnamon.
Remove stem from grape leaf, spread leave on flat surface, shiny side down
Place about 1 teaspoon of meat mixture across the leafabout 1/2 inch from stem point.
Fold leaf forward toward stuffing.
Then fold right side over and roll leaf very tight. When fully rolled, squeeze it to secure. Repeat. Neatly place each stuffed roll in large pot in layers.
Pound garlic with mint and salt.
Add 1 cup water and juice from lemon andpour over grape leaves.
Cover and bring to a boil. Turn down to simmer, cover and cook slowly for 1 hour.
Steam until grape leaves are soft, but not falling apart.
Don’t over cook.

Zucchini Bread (from Smitten Kitchen)
Yield: 2 loaves or approximately 24 muffins
3 eggs
1 cup olive or vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1 cup dried cranberries, raisins or chocolate chips or a combination thereof (optional)


Kevin said...

That meal sounds really good!

GourmetGoddess said...

If you haven't used your 'chini yet, make pickles! Slice them and then put them in a vinegar-water mixture and put them in the frig. For added flavor you can throw in some onions or garlic or hot peppers. That will help extend their life, which wil be important during the upcoming 'chini madness season.

GourmetGoddess said...

Also, do you have any green bags yet (you can get them at for cheap cheap)? They held slow down the fruit and veg rotting process, and will really help you with the large garden boxes you are getting.......

Lindsay said...

I haven't heard about the green bags. Thanks for the tip. We seems to make it through most of the food but there's always something that doesn't get used. Although now we are starting to compost.


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