Saturday, June 30, 2012

Beet salad with Blue cheese and pecans

Roasted Beet Salad with Blue Cheese and Pecans

CSA ingredients: beets

Beets- some people love them, others hate them, most just don't know what to do with them so they avoid them.  The tops are great greens for cooking (see greens recipe).  I love them roasted and than chilled as served in this salad.

Roasting the beets

Turn oven to 350 degrees. 

Cut the green tops off to the very top of the beet.  Remove and thick stem on the bottom as well.  Wash them.

Wrap each beet in tinfoil.  For small and medium beets I will put 2-3 in each foil wrap.  Place on a roasting pan. 

Place roasting pan with beets in oven and leave alone.  Small beets=40 minutes, medium=50 minutes and large= 60 minutes.  They are done when you can put a fork through them easily.

Once they are done roasting let them cool at room temperature (30-60 minutes).

Now you can peel them.  I just rub the skin with my hands and it just peels right off. Don't worry if you get pink hands- it washes right off once they are cooked.  I find it difficult to peel them raw and my hands get stained.  Once cooked it is very easy. 

Chill beets (can stay chilled up to 5-7 days)

Preparing the salad.  This serves 6.

While oven is hot for cooking beets plan to toast the pecans.  Toasting them really enchances the flavor for this dish- don't skip this step.

To toast pecans put chopped pecans on baking sheet and toast 2-3 minutes at 350 degrees- watch closely they can burn easily!


4 cups mixed greens (could use argula or bibb lettuce as well)
2 cups sliced chilled roasted beets (awesome if you have two colors such as salad above)
1/2 cup blue cheese
2 tbsp chopped toasted pecans


2 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp chopped shallots
1/2 tsp salt

To make dressing put the above ingredients into a mini food processor and chop until well blended (if shallots very finely chopped can simply mix in a bowl). 

Toss greens in dressing evenly.  Put 1/6 of greens on each plate.  Top with sliced beets, blue cheese and sprinkle toasted pecans over top.  Serve.


You can use goat cheese instead of blue, or try walnuts, candied pecans, or spicy pecans. You can also add citrus such as peeled oranges slices and/or grapefruit slices for another version.  Want to use more greens? Just make more dressing and you wll be all set.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Quick Pesto Pasta

CSA ingredients: basil, garlic


Tonight I did not plan ahead for dinner, 6pm rolls around now what?  Should we order pizza?  No- we ate out for lunch what can we have a home?  This was a quick dinner solution.

In this weeks box was a bunch of basil.  I have an herb garden but my basil is not growing great this year so the basil bunch was destined for pesto.


2 cups basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup parmesean cheese, grated
1 tbsp pinenuts (can use walnuts instead)
1 cloves garlic
salt to taste (may not need any!)
1/4 cup of reserved cooking water (from pasta)- this helps reduce the amount of oil you need

Put all the ingredients except water into food processor with steel cutting blade.  Pulse until a course paste is formed.  Add hot water and pulse a few more times to blend.  Mix with up to one pound of cooked pasta.

Kitchen TIP: Make pasta while water coming to boil and prepare the rest while the pasta cooks.

Kitchen TIP: Double or triple this if you have lot of basil.  You can freeze the basil in 1/2 or cup sizes or put into an ice cube tray and freeze.  Than put the frozen pesto cubes in a freezer bag.  They defrost in a minute in the microwave.  They are very nice to add to a soup or as a spread on a panini.

Green Bean Pesto Pasta
You can really add almost anything to pasta and make a pesto pasta meal!  Here is tonight's version based on what was avaliable in the fridge.  If there are leftovers it can be served cold or room temperature for a great lunch.  The nuts add some protein and flavor. 

1 box whole wheat penne pasta
Pesto- 1 recipe above
2 cups green beans cut in 1 inch pieces
1 cup grape tomates, halved
1/4 cup grated parmesean cheese
1/4 cup chopped and toasted walnuts

Cook pasta cooked al dente in lightly salted water.  During last 5 minutes of cooking the pasta throw in the green beans into the boiling water with the pasta.  Drain.  Add pasta, beans, and pesto to bowl and mix.  Add in tomatoes.  Top with cheese and nuts. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Starwberry-rubarb Crisp for dessert

It has been a year since I have worked on this blog.  Life is just so busy!  But I am inspired to try to get a weekly post back on with the theme "Using your CSA box".   CSA stands for Community Suported Agriculture.  It is a program where you support local farms but paying up front and getting a weekly "surprise box" full of local goods.  There is a post about this if you look under old post. In my initally post I said it was more expensive- a year later I can say the meat is but the produce is actually a big savings over organic produce from the grocery.  In additon it holds up much longer since it is so fresh not having been shipped across from the country but grown right here near home!

 The items below were from my recent box and are the main ingredients for tonights meal.  We have kale, beets (I am only using the beet tops for this meal) swiss chard, onion, garlic, and local black beans.  Not included in the photo is local Monterey Jack cheese and bacon.

 Black Beans and Rice
serves 6

6 slices thick cup local bacon cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced 
2 cups dried black beans, dried
4 cups vegetable broth (can substitute chicken broth)
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1-2 hot peppers
1/2 tsp red chili powder (optional)
2 green onion, green parts, sliced
1 cup shredded cheese (I used Monterey Jack but could use Chedder or a Mexican blend)
3 cups brown rice, cooked

Night before preperation: Rinse beans in water and pick out any old beans or debris. Drain beans and pour into crock pot.  Saute bacon over medium heat about 5 minutes until just starting to crisp on edges.  Add onion saute 3 minutes.  Add garlic for an additional minute.  Put this mixture into crock pot.  Add vegetable broth and spices.  Soak the mixture overnight. 

In AM put on LOW on crock pot 8 hours. 

Prepare brown rice according to package directions (you need about 45 minutes to cook brown rice). Kitchen TIP: did you know you can double to amount of brown rice you cook and freeze the rest for another meal.  Simply put cooked brown rice into freezer bag and freeze. About an hour into freezing time shake the bag a bit to decrease clumping.  To reheat put into microwave safe bowl, add about 1/4 cup of water and microwave 5-7 minutes covered.  This is much less expensive than purchasing pre-cooked brown rice at the grocery.

I used pre-cooked rice tonight so the main course was basically done when I got home from work!

The ratings:  4 stars across the board!

Meredith's Greens

Every week in the CSA box there are alot of greens so about once a week I cook them down and they get eaten up every time!  This week I had kale, swiss chard and beet tops.  To prepare the greens I rinse throughly.  For the kale I simply pull the greens from the stem and break it up to bite sized pieces by hand.  The swiss chard I cut the stems onto 1/2 inch pieces and set aside.  Then cut the greens into bite sized pieces.  For the beet tops I removed them from the beets cut off the tough part of the stems and cut the rest into bite sized pieces.

6 servings

Greens (lots- need enough to full a large pot to the top and if more it is ok)
1cup red onion, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp Sorghum (local) can use raw local honey or agave nectar instead
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 red pepper, dried

Heat olive oil in large pot.  Add onions and saute over medium heat about 5 minutes. Add garlic and swiss chard stems and saute one more minute.  Add broth and greens.  If greens fill the pot let them cook down a few minutes and add the rest.  Add remaining ingredients.  Simmer 30 minutes. 

This recipe is vegan. If you prefer a meat version use 2-3 sliced diced bacon in place of olive oil and chicken stock (instead of vegetable).

Ratings: 5 stars from everyone!!

Strawberry-rubarb crisp

This went so fast I did not get a picture!  In the CSA box there was a bunch of rubarb.  I made this simple crisp. 6 servings.

4-6 stalks of rubarb, sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices (like slicing celery)
1 pint strawberries (or one bag frozen) hulled and rinsed
1/4 cup whole can sugar* (can use white sugar if desires)
1 tbsp raw local honey**
1 cup oats
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix rubarb, strawberries and whole can sugar.  Put into 9x9 baking dish. Drizzle with honey.  Mix oats, butter, brown sugar and cinnamon- blend by hand until it forms a crumble.  Put evenly on top of fruit mixture.  Bake 40 minutes.  Allow to cool 10-15 minutes.  Serve warm with whipped cream.

Clay 4 stars
Lexi 5 stars
Colin 5 stars
Meredith 4.5 stars
Jamie 4 stars

*Whole cane sugar is sugar before it gets processing.  Since it is not processed it does not form glucose in your blood stream as quickly meaning it has a lower "glycemic index".  It also has a pleasant and stronger flavor.  You can find it at health food stores and some groceries.
**Raw local honey also is unprocessed and therefore offers a lower "glycemic index".  It is delicious!  Local honey helps your immune system fight off local allergens.