Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ever SO Much Lettuce: Beyond the Salad

The weather in southern Connecticut this summer so far promises an awesome growing season- a perfect mix of cool, wet nights and warm sunny days. This is a big difference from last year's rain, rain and more rain~~ I'm looking forward to this season!
I'm late in starting this blog. Blame it on end-of-the-school-year melancholy. Or procrastination. Maybe both. But I will be posting recipes and ideas of what I do with my CSA share from this point on.
The first of my CSA shares from Stone Garden Farm included leaf lettuce, baby bok choy and Asian mix (aka more lettuce), as well as radishes, Hakurei turnips ('salad turnips'), small pots of herbs, scallions, kohlrabi and garlic scapes. Fred and Stacia Monahan, the owners and farmers at Stone Garden, also raise chickens, pork, beef and sell fresh eggs. The share often includes a dozen of the best fresh eggs (if you've never had a truly fresh egg, you have no idea how 'eggy' really fresh eggs taste!)

Back to what has been in my box. Hmmm. . .I like salad- I do. Future blogs will include some fun and easy salad dressing recipes. But as much as I like a good salad, I also tend to get cantankerous if I have to eat the same thing every day. So what to do with all that lettuce?

First things first- how to store the veggies.
Leaf lettuce will last much longer in the fridge if it is washed, dried and stored in toweling. Separate the lettuce leaves and swish in a bowl of cold water. Spin dry in a salad spinner and lay out on layers of paper towels or a clean tea towel and roll up. Place in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator and the leaves will stay crisp for several days.
If the tops are left on the turnips, radishes or kohlrabi, cut them off and store them separately from the bulbs (otherwise the greens sort of suck the life out of the vegetable and they lose their crispness quickly).

Once you've taken steps to make sure that your vegetables are stored correctly, you can figure out what to do with them. I have been in an Asian mood lately, so here are some of the ways I've cooked the veggies.

Asian Egg Pancakes with Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup flour
2/3 cup cold water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg (optional)
bunch of scallions (reserve one for the dipping sauce)
bunch of radishes
oil as needed
Wash and trim the scallions and radishes and cut into very, very thin slivers (technically a julienne cut- but don't skimp on time and effort here- good knife cuts will really elevate this dish).
Whisk together the flour, water, salt and egg (if you are using it). Fold in the scallions and radishes. Heat a nonstick or cast iron skillet until very hot. Add enough oil to just cover the bottom of the pan. Drop the batter into the oil in large tablespoons. Lower the heat slightly and cook until crisp on the bottom. Carefully turn over and cook until the other side is browned and crisp. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and keep warm while you repeat with the remaining batter. Serve with the dipping sauce
Dipping Sauce: combine 1/4 cup each of soy sauce and rice vinegar with 2 teaspoons sesame oil, the remaining scallion-minced, a minced clove of garlic and a big pinch of red pepper flakes.

Tofu and Noodles with Peanut Sauce
1 package extra firm tofu
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 bunch baby bok choy
2 cloves garlic
2 large salad turnips or 1 medium cucumber
2 Tablespoons peanut butter
4 Tablespoons soy sauce
4 Tablespoons rice vinegar
5 ounces dry pasta or 2 cups cooked pasta (like spaghetti or linguini)

Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch cubes. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet and saute the tofu cubes until they begin to crisp. Set aside.

Wash and trim the bok choy and cut into strips. Mince the garlic. Trim the salad turnips and cut into strips (if using the cucumber, cut in half lengthwise and then cut into thin slices).

Blend together the peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar and garlic. Combine the vegetables, tofu and pasta and pour the sauce over. Serve at room temperature.

Yummy, easy, and everything can be done in advance~~ just heat the pancakes in a low oven (about 300 degrees) for a few minutes before serving.


1 comment:

  1. Paggyann,

    I think this is awesome and look forward to tracking your adventures and trying your recipes! I started an organic community garden this year up here in Raymond, ME with several rows dedicated to our local food pantry. If you get up to Maine on your New England tour, please let me know.

    Leigh (Walker)