The busiest six days of the summer have come and gone: Clay opened and closed three different musicals in two different states this week, and attended a concert performance of songs from another of his musicals-in-progress last night. Last Sunday morning we unpacked last week’s CSA share into the refrigerator, but other than peanut butter sandwiches and mugs of coffee and tea we haven’t prepared a morsel of food at home since. (We’ve enjoyed a dozen meals with friends and colleagues, instead, which is its own special treat.)
Now that the public portion of his work is done, Clay gets to take it easy this week and finish documenting his work from home. I’m still in the urgency zone, racing to finish a few big work projects by Thursday, but today is our beautiful, brief respite from the outside world, and I’m relishing the time spent unboxing the Week Seven share, unpacking last week’s produce from the fridge, and cooking up all sorts of fabulousness.
Basil and Chard
We received small bunches of basil last week and today, and with some careful changing of the water in the jar, I’ve been able to make almost all of it last. Combining these luscious leaves with the few stragglers in my herb garden, some fresh parmesan cheese, and toasted pine nuts will yield a few teaspoons of pesto… but if we supplement the basil with the gorgeous, tender leaves of swiss chard that are also in today’s box, we’ll have enough pesto for a small jar. I love using pesto to dress pasta salad or as a layer on homemade pizza.
Eggplant, Squash, and Zucchini
Clay has been waxing poetic over the eggplant and squash all week, talking through sorts of possibilities for cooking them. I dream of slicing, seeding, and grilling them, then chopping them for a quick ratatouille – but it’s likely he will overrule me. Stay tuned…
I spent two weeks in Budapest several years ago, and ate many, many versions of Paprika Chicken – both because I like it, and because “Paprikás Csirke” is easily recognizable on menus that don’t include English translations. One of my favorite plates was served with blackened tiny potatoes at a street-side cafe on the Pest side of the city; as best as I could tell from a phrasebook-assisted conversation with the waiter, the paprika roux was thickened with a puree of roasted spicy and sweet peppers.
I’m going to try to convince Clay to recreate the dish for me for dinner this week, from that hazy description and this cornucopia of bell, horn, and banana peppers.
I adore cabbage, and have long been enamored with the idea of making my own sauerkraut. After that trip to Hungary, I bought an antique pickling crock and spent several years trying to ferment my own vegetables. It turns out that our kitchen has the wrong climate for producing edible, naturally fermented foods so I sold the crock, have been buying our kraut already sauered, and have stuck to more simple methods of preparing cabbage.
This week, I’m thinking that the small head of green savoy cabbage could be a great accompaniment to Paprikás Csirke if it’s grilled and dressed with something a little sweet and a little salty. And the larger head of savoy and the small head of red cabbage could be shredded and mixed with carrots, pea shoots, and peanut sauce – wouldn’t that be deliciously fresh under a Szechuan beef stir-fry, instead of rice or noodles?
In this week’s newsletter, Lorraine of Simpaug Farms called these “bunching onions”. I can’t eat any alliums raw, but I love red onions when they are gently sauteed and then caramelized to bring out their sweetness.
Sweet Berry Tomatoes
And these luscious little bites of sunshine – the very best thing about summer – will be eaten right out of this bowl, a handful at a time.
Here’s to another week of excellent meals!