Friday, June 28, 2013

Live From The CSA Bag

Each week, we never know beforehand what will be in our CSA share bag, and I've grown to really enjoy this suspense. The suspense also comes with the challenge of using up all the veggies before the leafy greens and other easily perishable vegetables start to go limp and spoil. And as we know, organic produce has a much shorter freshness lifespan than the conventional stuff, which is often laced with preservatives.

This week, our bag contained turnips, cauliflower, swiss chard, yellow squash, cucumbers, salad greens, and a bunch of large spring onions. Here are the two vegan dishes and the one meat dish that resulted from some of this week's selection.

Since my son is a big fan of cucumbers, all we have to do with those is wash them, slice them up, and eat them raw as a snack, or in salads and sandwiches. They're incredibly tasty, and like all the rest of the biodynamic veggies we get, you can literally taste the earth in each bite, meaning they're full of minerals.

Cauliflower & swiss chard:

I washed and cut up the cauliflower, brushed the pieces with olive oil, salted, and roasted them in the toaster oven at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until they browned.

I washed and chopped the swiss chard and boiled it in salted water for about 20 minutes. Drained it, let it cool, then squeezed out all the excess water.

I set these veggies aside and next made the garlic tahini sauce. Tahini sauce is a common dressing in Lebanese cuisine, used to accompany many fish, bean, and vegetable dishes such as fried cauliflower or "hindbeh" (dandelion leaves). It's become our favorite dressing for the greens we get that I don't know what else to do with, like lamb's quarters leaves for example. I had never heard of this edible plant before we joined the CSA, and until recently I found it boring and never particularly liked it. It has a funny rough texture, and its leaves are velvety and hard to wash. You would never think it's edible from the way it looks and feels. I've tried to cook it in so many ways, even mulukhiyya style, but it never impressed. We got some in last week's share, and finally, I discovered that the best way to eat lamb's quarters is to boil it and make a tahini sauce to go with it. Now I love this leaf, and unlike previous seasons, I will look forward to getting more.

So, the tahini sauce: Mash one garlic clove in 1 teaspoon of salt and whip it with 3 tablespoons of raw tahini (sesame paste), 1/2 lemon juice, and the same juice amount in water. I usually turn the juiced lemon half and fill it up with water for measurement. Add extra water if needed to get the sauce creamy, and not too thick.

And so I mixed the swiss chard and cauliflower together, added the tahini sauce, and sprinkled some roasted pine nuts on top. It turned out deliciously. It's best eaten as a side dish with fresh pita bread.

Here is the final result.


I used the turnips and some of the beets that came in last week's share to make the traditional Lebanese turnip pickles. There are many recipes out there for these red pickles, but my mom's version has no sugar nor garlic.Wow. I just tasted one and they're about a day away from being perfectly ready!

Yellow squash:

From the squash I made a traditional stew. In Lebanese cuisine, such beefy tomato-based dishes come in a variety of vegetable and meat options and are categorized as "yakhneh" -- so, for the Arabic-language enthusiasts out there, this dish would be called "yakhnet koussa asfar." My husband happens to make the best broths and we always have some at hand in our deep freezer. Along with the chicken broth, some organic tomato sauce and a pound of Polyface Farms' ground beef, I made my spicy squash "yakhneh," shown below on organic basmati rice.

Stay tuned...

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