Friday, September 12, 2014

Creamy Summer Pasta and Simple Kale Salad

Thank you to Kelly ,who picks up at Commonplace in Squirrel Hill, for 2 Recipes to make one great meal! 

Serves 2 hungry people
Scant half pound small shell shaped pasta (or other shape, of course, but l love small shells with the corn!)
Olive oil
1 big + 1 small leek, sliced into half moons
Kernels from 2 ears of corn
Most of the pint of multicolored cherry tomatoes, halved (what we didn't eat out of the container first!)
2 oz plain chevre
Fresh basil

Cook pasta in salted water until al dente. Make sure to reserve a half cup or so of the starchy pasta water before draining! Meanwhile, saute leeks in a large skillet in olive oil until very soft. Season with salt (I used a lemon-basil-thyme salt I had) and red pepper flakes (or black pepper). Add corn and cook a few more minutes, then add cherry tomatoes. Cook just until tomatoes are hot. Add cooked pasta and a ladle of the cooking water to skillet, stir until liquid thickens. Taste and adjust seasonings. Remove from heat and stir chevre into pasta mixture until it's creamy and pasta is coated. Top with basil chiffonade and eat! 

Followed this up with a simple kale salad, also enough for two people:

1 or 2 cloves garlic, depending on tolerance
about a teaspoon of salt
1 lemon
olive oil
4 or so cups of torn or chopped kale (three big leaves, minus big stalks)
Good parmesan or romano cheese

Mince garlic with salt very finely, then mash with flat side of knife to form a paste. Add to salad bowl and whisk with juice of one lemon and a bit of black pepper. stream in olive oil while whisking. Add kale to bowl and massage dressing into kale leaves with your hands (important to really get in there!) Let it sit for at least 10 minutes, or longer. Grate cheese over top, give it a final toss, and eat. (In the same bowl you had your pasta in, if you hate dishes like I do)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Layered Eggplant, Zucchini, and Tomato Casserole

This one's from Monica who picks up at our stand at the Pittsburgh Public Market. Thanks Monica! I seriously just put Feta on my shopping list. 

Monica writes "I have a recipe for yinz. It is so incredibly delicious! I adapted it (pretty significantly) from a recipe I found on Food & Wine’s website to use up some veggies that I hadn’t touched yet from the prior week(s)! Here’s my version:

2 Patty Pans (zucchini works too)
1 large eggplant, cut lengthwise into ¼ in. pieces (I sliced mine REALLY thin)
2 leeks
2-3 tomatoes, cut into ½ in pieces
4 cloves of garlic, minced (I love garlic. A lot)
4 oz. feta cheese
2 oz-ish parmesan cheese ( was pretty generous with the parmesan on top)
¼ c chopped basil
1/3 c breadcrumbs

1.       Prehead the oven to 425. Oil a large baking sheet and line up the zucchini/patty pans and eggplant, they can overlap a bit.  Then brush them with olive oil and sprinkle a little salt on them.  Bake for 10 minutes, until tender.
2.       Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat up a little olive oil. Add the chopped up leeks and garlic, and cook over moderate heat for a few minutes, then crank up the head and add the tomatoes. Cook for a minute or two, until bubbling.  I added some salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dried basil with the tomatoes.
3.       Oil a square baking dish then lay everything in layers (use half of each ingredient in the layers so you can –  Eggplant, tomatoes, feta, zucchini/patty pan, a sprinkle of parmesan, More eggplant, tomatoes, feta, zucchini/patty pan.
4.       Top it all off with breadcrumbs mixed with a bit of parmesan cheese and a 1T of olive oil. 
5.       Pop it in the oven for about 20 minutes at 425 and enjoy!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pasta w/ Bacon and Leeks

This one comes from Jason and Monica who pick up downtown at the Stanwix Street building. Thank you for offering an answer to the mystery of leeks. Sounds delicious. Really.

Jason mentioned, "Monica and I have been making this pasta dish with leeks for some time now and it is amazing. Most will probably be tempted to add more bacon than the recipe calls for but I suggest that you try it at least once as is,  fight the urge. That way the smokey bacon taste is still invited to the party but doesn't overshadow the leeks and thyme."


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium leeks, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced crosswise
  • Kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 pound pappardelle or fettuccine
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano

  • Heat oil and butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring often, until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, 5-8 minutes. Add leeks and season with salt. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, until leeks begin to brown, 5-8 minutes. Add cream, thyme, and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened and coats the back of a spoon, 5-8 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 2 cups pasta cooking liquid.
  • Add pasta, Parmesan, and 1 cup pasta cooking liquid to sauce and stir to coat. Increase heat to medium and continue stirring, adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta.

Fish, Leek, & Potato “Gratin” Casserole

Thanks to Joanne and Eric in Aspinwall for this versatile recipe.  Already made it and enjoyed it last night! An answer for Leeks!

NYT’S or Williams-Sonoma or other websites
Here is the version I made with what I had on hand.
Cook time:  1 hour 30 minutes.  Serves 4.

375 degree oven
Grease large oval gratin or baking dish.

1 ½ pounds white potatoes (peeled or not)
Cut crosswise into THIN uniform slices, half size of leeks.
Arrange half potato slices in greased dish, overlapping to cover bottom.
Season lightly with salt & white pepper.

2 well-washed, halved & rinsed leeks
Cut leeks into slices twice as think as sliced potatoes.
OPTIONAL:  Lightly sauté leeks for 3-4 minutes or until soft.
Scatter half the leeks over the potato slices.

1 pound Cod, Haddock or other white fish fillets, thickly sliced on the diagonal
Salt & white pepper fish to taste.
Arrange over leeks.
Top with remaining leeks.
Top with remaining potatoes.
Season with salt & pepper.

1 cup heavy cream or other dairy
OPTIONAL:  Can replace dairy with chicken or vegetable broth, clam juice, &/or white wine.
Pour evenly over layers.

Bake 40 minutes.
Remove from oven & spoon liquid over potatoes.
Bake 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes.

Saffron strands; lemon or lime juice, slices, or zest; garlic; sautéed onion &/or celery; diced tomato; mushrooms; grated cheese; bacon; ham; crumbled sausage; thyme; parsley; bay leaf; nutmeg; curry; capers; chives; dill; cayenne; jerk

Add cream to sautéed leeks, cooking until it bubbles thickly. Cool and purée until smooth.
To make more like a soup add 1 1/2 cups cream & 14 ounces chicken broth & cube/dice potatoes.
Can top with bread crumb & butter topping.

Can serve with sourdough bread or salad.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Stuffed Eggplant

Thanks to Amanda in Monroeville for this savory eggplant idea. We've had more eggplants this year than ever before, so we appreciate the new ideas.

She notes: "I started with a real recipe then kind of made this one up-the original used a breadcrumb/parsley mixture on top and some different cheese, but ours ended up pretty good. Everything in this recipe was from the CSA or our own garden except the cheese, although I think the Smoked Havarti from last week would've worked, we'd just eaten it already."

Cut eggplant in half lengthwise, hollow out (approximately half an inch from the edge).  Put the halves aside-- I salted them heavily and let them sit for a half hour or so to help with the bitterness of eggplant, then rinsed them before proceeding.
Take the stuff you scooped out of the eggplant and chop-- I let mine sit in salt water, then rinsed twice before moving on.
Brown a pound of ground beef (I used the yummy, lean CRO package), add seasoning as desired (I used some minced garlic and an Italian herb mix).
Add the chopped eggplant and some chopped kale (that wasn't in the original recipe).  At this point, I took my portion out to stuff my half, then added chopped orange bell pepper (from our garden-- original recipe was for a red bell pepper and I'm sure whatever kind you like would work) and some of the candy onion that we'd previously caramelized.  I don't like pepper and onion, but my husband does, so this was for his half.
Fill the eggplant halves to overflowing, top with chopped tomato (I used heirloom tomato from our garden, we started them from seeds from the heirlooms we got with CRO last year) and grated parmesan.
Place in a glass dish and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  I added some shredded cheddar to mine for the last 15 minutes of bake time-- I'll probably try a somewhat stronger cheese next time, but that's what I had sitting around.  The eggplant was really soft after that long, so if you like your eggplant crisper don't cook it as long.

Baked Zucchini/Yellow Squash/Eggplant/Tomato Chips

This one comes from Joanne who picks at Feast in Aspinwall. It is an amazingly versatile, adaptable, customizable dish that'll make your mouth water just thinking about it. At least mine is. Thanks Joanne!

Oven 475F/245C to 500 degrees
Parchment paper covered or greased baking sheet.
Preparation 10 minutes. Cook time 15 minutes.  Total 25 minutes.

2 medium squash/veg
Cut into 1/4 inch or less slices.  Thinner slices will be crispier.

1/2 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs or panko
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese or other grated cheese
Salt, garlic or onion powder/salt, Italian, taco, or Cajun seasoning, red pepper flakes, chipotle powder, herbs, basil, oregano, chives, rosemary, thyme, etc.

1 beaten egg or 2 whites or Eggbeaters
Oil, hot sauce, minced garlic, minced onion, etc.

Dip squash in wet ingredients or place all squash in plastic bag & wet-coat at once.
If using plastic bag, drain egg from bag by cutting a hole in the bottom.
Dip squash in dry ingredients or place all squash in plastic bag & dry-coat at once.
Can repeat this process to add extra coating.
OPTIONAL:  spray or paint with oil/butter.
Place on parchment covered or greased baking sheet.
Can prep ahead of time & put in oven just prior to serving.

Bake 5 minutes.
OPTIONAL:  spray or paint with oil, add more cheese.
Bake 10 minutes, until browned & crispy.

Can be served topped with mozzarella cheese &/or with spaghetti sauce, ranch dressing, etc.
Use to make zucchini/eggplant Parmesan.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Kale Gratin

Rachel, who picks up at Phipps Farmers Market, shared this great use for all the abundant kale we've had recently.

"We loved having the abundance of kale. We used it all in tonight's dinner.  Since the weather was a little cooler I made a kale gratin.  I followed the steps I use for potato gratin but used only kale.  We had some fresh brown bread and chopped heirloom tomatoes and sliced cucumber on the side.  There should have been leftovers but there weren't!  Both kids and adults devoured it!" 

Saute one candy onion in 1T olive oil and 1T butter until lightly brown.  

Add handfuls of de-veined and chopped kale to the pan.  As it cooks down add additional handfuls until all of the kale is added into the pan.  Sprinkle 2t of salt over the kale, add lid and cook over medium to let the kale soften and cook down.  

In a saucepan, melt another 4T of butter over medium high until foaming.  Add 1/4 c of flour, stir until combined.  Slowly add about 1/2 cups of low fat milk and 1/2 c of cream.  Grate fresh nutmeg into the white sauce.  

Remove lid from the kale to cook off any water.  Pour the white sauce over the kale, stir and cook for a few minutes.  Add a 1/4 c of grated Parmesan cheese to the kale and cream.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  

Transfer the mixture into a baking dish and top with shredded gruyere.  Cook on 350 until bubbling, switch to the broiler to brown the top.  Serve hot. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Preserving Hardy Greens

Freezing, Dehydrating, Canning, Juicing, and Fermenting

1. Freezing

This is the easiest, and probably the best, solution. Assuming you’ve got a good freezer, these will keep very well for a year. We use ours all winter in soups, stews, pastas, dips, and even just sauteed with garlic. They shrink dramatically when blanched—plan on about a pound of fresh greens to make about two cups.
For most people, this is the way to go. If, however, you have limited freezer space, you live in an area that experiences frequent power outages, or are planning for a future without electricity, you may need other options. 
The standard freezing method:
1) Wash: Clean sink thoroughly and immerse greens in cool water. Dirt will sink and other things will float. Great way to wash lots of lettuce too.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boiling.


2) Cut off the biggest stems if you like
3) Put the greens in the water and return them to a boil. Cook them for about 1 1/2 minutes. (To the newly initiated: this is called “blanching.”) Note that they won’t really be cooked through. That’s ok, because presumably you will cook them more when you thaw them out and use them.
4) Drain them and immediately chill in the ice bath in your clean sink. 
5) When they're cold, put them in a plastic bag, glass jar or other freezer container or vacuum sealer. Remove as much air as possible. Label.
A different, and probably easier, approach:
1. Wash
2. Remove as much of the large stems as you'd like
3. Pack into blender with some water.
4. Blend
5. Fill ice cube trays with your liquified kale cubes
Put in smoothies, drop them into sauces to boost nutrition, defrost and add a cube to chocolate zucchini bread.
2. Dehydrating
Dehydrate at low temperature, about 110 degrees, for 2 hours. They come out kind of flavorless, but crumble well. So, if sprinkling them atop your dishes for a boost of flavorless nutrition is your goal then dehydrating may be the way to go for you. Easily Stored: Crumble and keep in glass jars, like spices. 
3. Canning
I have canned spinach before, but the flavor came out nonexistent. You'll need a pressure canner, boiling water bath won't do. And, cooking the greens at such a high heat and pressure for over an hour probably zaps much of the nutrition.
But, it's doable and the greens would probably make a good dip base as they come out so soft.
4. Juicing
Juice it, if you have a juicer, and freeze in batches.
5. Fermenting
Another option, tho I am not an expert, but have had a couple fermenting successes. Here is a website that'll get you going with your fermented kale:

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Cucumber Salad

The only one in my in-laws book, that's why it's just called cucumber salad. Love them.

Cucumbers, sliced
Onion, Sliced thinly in rings
Sour Cream (I use plain yogurt)
White Wine Vinegar
Sugar (just a little)
Salt and Pepper

Fresh/Dried Dill is a nice addition, but then we might have to change the name:)

Helps to get the excess moisture out of the cukes first. Sprinkle with salt to draw the moisture out, wait 15 minutes, then drain.

White vinegar is most commonly used, but cider/red wine work too.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Roasted Cabbage Wedges topped with Bacon

This one is from Ruth who picks up in Aspinwall. Thanks Ruth! for this simple but obviously delicious idea to enjoy cabbage.

Ruth writes this is her, "newest and favorite
cabbage recipe.  Cut it into wedges (8 per
Half a head), drizzle with olive oil, top with
a slice of bacon and roast it.

It is delicious and gets those in my family who
think 'anything topped with bacon must be good'
to eat their cabbage!"

Love it!