What a glorious Saturday morning to go food shopping outdoors and catch up with my neighbors! I was short on time so I stuck to the south end of the market. I picked up some organic roasted nuts and delicious dark roast Nicaraguan Coffee from Tierra Farms, some organic sliced bread and a baguette from Bread Alone, and then headed over to Healthway Farms for some produce.
Today Rhonda still had our favorite snap peas, some yummy-looking cherries, and bunches of amazing-looking purple and yellow cauliflower. I picked up all those things in addition to my weekly staples of potatoes, carrots and onions. I also have lots of greens and garlic scapes from my farm share up at Hemlock Hill, plus a brand-new cabbage and some fresh beets.
Trish at Hemlock Hill gave me the idea to blanch my cooking greens just until wilted then freeze them, which I did – and that does take some of the pressure off to cook it all in one week! I froze some chard (my favorite cooking green) and chard stems, kale and the leaves from the beets – they’re very mild and tasty. Now I just have to get through all the lettuce! Not exactly a chore, since I do love salad – but still a bit of a challenge to not let it all go to waste. If I’m home at lunchtime I try to have a little green salad then as well as at dinner. There are of course a million fun things to add to green salad – my favorite this week was some strawberries, sliced radishes, toasted walnuts and goat cheese. (I posted my balsamic vinaigrette last week if you need an easy recipe for the week.)
We have a hectic week coming up and it looks like there may be some very hot weather, so I made a couple of things that can become the base or side for other easy meals. First, on Saturday I made a delicious spread of white beans, garlic scapes, sun-dried tomatoes and cilantro. That spread on a piece of baguette with some fresh mozzarella on top was tasty! And later in the week, I can toss it with some hot penne pasta, maybe some steamed cut-up broccoli, torn bits of fresh mozzarella, and if I feel like it some chunks of leftover chicken or pan-cooked chicken breast.
For a picnic on Sunday I decided to get to that cabbage. I made a “crunchy salad” with a peanut ginger sauce that is great as a side dish or with some chicken or salmon mixed in. You can also double the dressing recipe and use it for a veggie, tofu, chicken or pork stir-fry with whatever you have around. I think tomorrow morning I’ll cook my Hemlock Hill chicken so I have it to add to my salads, stir fries and quesadillas throughout the week. It’s a small chicken but I tend to use a lot of other ingredients – you could also cook two at once.
Here are a couple of recipes and ideas:
White bean garlic scape and sundried-tomato spread (all measurements are approximate and to taste)
3 garlic scapes cut up
2 cups cooked white beans or 1 can drained
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes (you could also use roasted red peppers)
couple of handfuls cilantro, parsley or basil
½ tsp salt
Blend all ingredients except olive in the food processor, then pour olive oil through the top while processor is running until the spread becomes a consistency you like – something like hoummous.
Crunchy ginger-peanut salad (all measurements are approximate and to taste)
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup peanut butter, crunchy or smooth
¼ cup honey – I use the local honey from the Farmer’s Market
1 large tablespoon grated fresh ginger – I keep ginger in the freezer to use when I need it
½ cup vegetable or canola oil
Small head cabbage or ½ larger head, shredded (I use the food processor)
1 large or 2 medium carrots shredded
2 cups cooked chick peas, or one can drained (I had leftover cooked white beans so I used those instead)
1 chopped red bell pepper
chopped snap peas if you have them
This salad is great with chopped cooked chicken or salmon.
Easiest whole chicken for dinner or to add to other recipes:
– Use a lidded heavy pit, like a dutch oven.
– Rub your chicken all over - in the cavity and under the skin - with salt and pepper, if you like add herbs and a couple of peeled garlic cloves to the cavity.
– Brown it a few minutes each side over high heat until golden. (you can skip this step if you’re not making a gravy or using the skin, cooking may take slightly longer)
– optional - add a chopped onion, a few whole peeled cloves of garlic and a coupe of bay leaves and stir for a couple of minutes until the onions are soft. This is nice to do if you'll be making gravy - otherwise not really necessary
– Put tin foil over the pot, then the lid over the foil to form a tight seal. Cook in a 250 degree oven or over very low heat on the stovetop for about an hour 20 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken. Test it for tenderness – it should be practically falling off the bone. You could also probably do this in a slow cooker.
– Take all the meat off the bones, discard the bones and scraps (my dog gets the non-bone scraps and I know some people who use the bones as a base for chicken stock) and serve with gravy or save in the refrigerator (or a little of both).
Strain the juices in the pot. Skim fat off the top. Whisk a little of the juices with a teaspoon corn starch, then whisk back in. Boil until thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. If you like, add a dash of white wine while it boils. The chicken and gravy make a nice meal with some roasted potatoes and carrots from the farmers market – or boiled potatoes if it’s too hot to turn the oven on.