The Iron Chefettes, CSA Edition: Battle Peas, Greens & Summer Squash
Clearly, the Chairman wanted nothing to do with anybody’s scallions. That’s okay, though, since there were no scallions in our boxes this week. The loot: baby fennel, sage, oregano, purple carrots, mesclun mix, pea shoots, radishes, cucumbers, baby summer squash, kale, sugar snap peas, green leaf lettuce.
I’ve had a couple of pretty good weeks, so all along I’ve been expecting the other shoe to drop. As in Amy’s shoe, right on my head. Will this be the week? The M.E. and I have been cooking for two households lately, and that’s a lot even for us. Burnout could hit at any second, and if you think that a bit of luck with a salad and a fruit tart have made me the least bit confident about the whole thing, well, you’ve been smoking beet skins.
So. Here goes nothing.
I made salads, of course. Here’s one with mesclun, sunflower sprouts, toasted pecans, dried cranberries and a hard-boiled egg:
Probably the best salad of the week was this one:
Mesclun again, plus pea shoots, cucumber, cute little pink currants, homemade croutons and a homemade yogurt dressing. I did a variant on it one day which also included sunflower sprouts and bacon.
Those little currants were so adorable and good. Amy bought some, too, and threatened to just sit down and eat them all without trying a recipe. I will admit that we did consume some of them in such a wanton manner. With good cheeses and crackers and some hard cider, while relaxing on the deck. (As much as you can relax on our deck, what with the Chairman demanding that tennis balls be thrown for him continuously.)
They were kind of like champagne grapes, in that setting. (The currants. Not the tennis balls. Even though the tennis balls were pink, too.) The alert among you may recognize that plate as vintage Hellerware.
We had some really excellent fried trout (kudos to the M.E. for filleting it, which was no easy feat!), with sauteed sugar snap peas and baby red potatoes with scallions.
Very yummy. Want more trout. The recipe is sort of here, except that we didn’t cook the trout like that at all. So it’s really just the recipes for the vegetables, which were scrumptious.
Baby summer squash are so cute. It’s hard to decide whether to cook them, or just sit around and beep them on their noses.
Of course I cooked them. I’m such a meanie.
They’re cute sliced and lined up in rows in the grill pan, too.
And they were incredibly good in tacos, with chorizo, chipotle peppers, caramelized onions, avocado and queso (with mango salsa on the side). That was one of our favorites this week. No recipe, sorry–I made this up on the fly and don’t quite remember what I did. And now that I think about it, I’d have to say this was a tie with the fried trout, because I am still thinking about that trout. If that makes for three favorites, so be it.
Baby purple carrots are cute, too. (But not quite as cute as squash.)
Okay, carrots, cute as they are, are not my best thing. I’m fine with them in things — stews, soups, etc. — and I like them raw. But I never have been able to stand just a pile of cooked carrots on their own, even if they’re really good carrots. Which these were. So one of my challenges this summer is going to be figuring out some new ways to use them.
But I did nothing of the sort. Nope. No challenge for me. Into the soup pot they went (most of them), for minestrone.
See, new and challenging were not my things this week. I say that knowing that Amy’s shoe is hovering right above my head this very minute. And I say it defiantly, because I gave in to being stressed out and overwhelmed, and I used my CSA kale to make an old favorite. A recipe I’ve made countless times. Countless.
Yes, folks, I have copped out.
And what a delicious cop-out it was. County Kerry Kale, from Bert Greene’s splendid book, Greene on Greens.
Quite possibly one of the best things in the world. Kale. Potatoes. Bacon. Happy, happy. Don’t care that it’s not new and imaginative. So there.
The pea shoots were more of an experiment and, frankly, one I didn’t understand.
We had a few in a salad, raw, and they were just fine. I stir fried the rest and simmered them in chicken broth with udon, pork tenderloin, and sugar snaps.
The combination had good flavor, and the sugar snaps were perfect. But the pea shoots? Tough. So tough we both wound up fishing them out and leaving them uneaten. I don’t know why they’d be okay raw but tough cooked, but this was my first time with pea shoots. Perhaps there’s a trick to them. (Perhaps I’d better figure it out before next year’s pea shoots arrive.)
Is it the Curse of Green Things Which Resemble String? You may recall that Amy had difficulty with tough garlic scapes last time, and I had a few issues with them as well. Anybody know what the deal is with pea shoots?
Well, the parade of peas and noodles went on. In an effort to use up some stuff from the fridge, I made a version of our old comfort food favorite, pasta with ham and peas. With sugar snaps and bacon instead.
You know, some things can’t be fiddled with. It was good, but despite our deep love of bacon, we discovered that ham is actually better in this recipe.
Our top favorite this week was not without noodles, either. Cucumbers, sunflower sprouts, carrots (raw, marinated in rice vinegar), snow peas, cilantro, peanuts, rice noodles and leftover steak made for one seriously kick-ass salad.
The dressing (for two servings):
1/6 c. sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. Chinese chili-garlic sauce
This was amazing. Truly. I’d eat it again next week if I could. I’d eat it again tonight if I could. Maybe, just maybe, this will allow me to avoid the specter of Amy’s shoe. And, well, I do still have a cuter Chairman, no matter what she says. A proper Chairman is not covered with tattoos.
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