Maelynn, managing editor: soybeans, Japanese eggplant, canteloupe
This week was a tough one for me. School started again (for both my son and me) so cookbooks have taken a back seat to textbooks. I did manage to enjoy my soybeans, Japanese eggplant, and cantaloupe.
For starters, I couldn't wait to do something with that beautiful eggplant. I pulled up a familiar recipe for Parmesan Zucchini Sticks with Smoky Roasted Romesco Sauce. I've made this a few times and we love it. I sliced the eggplant lengthwise and subbed it for the zucchini. I used a basic marinara that I seasoned with basil, oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes instead of making the Romesco sauce. I served it with a quick garden salad, which turned it into a full meal for us.
I've never cooked with fresh soybeans. I had a fun time popping them out of their covers. My dog enjoyed the errant flying beans. (They fly fast!) I remembered a CL recipe for Roasted Chile-Spiced Edamame from a few years ago that I had tasted during taste-testing but never tried making myself. Surprisingly the recipe didn't get great reviews on our website, but I found them easy to make and quite yummy. Be careful, once you start eating them, it's hard to stop.
The cantaloupe never made it into a recipe. I cubed it and put it in a storage container in the fridge. We finished it over two days. Really, that's our favorite way to eat melon anyway.
My parents were the first people I cooked for, and fixing dinner for them still makes me happy. My husband and I spent the past weekend at their 100-acre farm; I brought the tomatoes, peppers, basil and onions that were my share from the Cooking Light CSA to cook on Saturday evening.
It was a little like taking coals to Newcastle. My dad, who turned 85 last week, has an ambitious vegetable garden, and can pretty much outfit his own CSA. He had some beautiful sweet yellow corn. So I made a tasty local-caught catfish variation of Spicy Tilapia Fillets with Sautéed Vegetable Relish, cutting the corn off an ear and tossing it, too, into the the pan. (By the way, my mom husked the corn and fed the shucks to the bull–most of our dinners at the farm come with a floor show!)
Susan, assistant copy chief: okra, squash, green beans
This was a very good week for me, even though I think it was the one I was most nervous about. I was not excited about receiving okra, but I figured I might as well give it a shot. I had read that cooking okra gives it the gelatinous texture I don’t like, so I avoided that and tried our Spicy Pickled Okra recipe. What a revelation! I bit into my first pod like a child being forced to eat a vegetable in front of company, but it didn’t take long to realize that this was not the slimy okra I feared. It was actually very crisp and quite delicious.
I had no idea what to do with my pattypan squash, but I wanted it to be special because it was so cute. A quick search of MyRecipes.com found this gem from sister publication Sunset. I modified it, of course, for just one squash, and I was able to get two eggs in there. Hollowing out the squash takes some elbow grease, and you must be careful not to puncture the shell, as I did (only slightly), causing some egg white to leak out. I thought the flavor was a bit bland, so I added some Tabasco, and it was bland no more. But I did think these could be a cute novelty item for a brunch or something of that nature.
I used the remaining yellow squash for one of my favorite older Cooking Light recipes, Spring Vegetable Lasagna. I became a fan of that recipe before I worked here. Photo note: I meant to take a picture of a single serving of the lasagna that would look like the April 2001 cover, but I am nowhere near coordinated enough to pull that off.
I kept it simple with the beans, using our recipe for a Basic Pot of Pole Beans. Notice that I was able to work bacon into the menu once again. My mother probably would’ve cooked them a bit longer to get them softer, but I don’t mind a little texture. Plus, I was hungry. I served the beans with another of my favorite Cooking Light recipes, Roasted Chicken with Onions, Potatoes, and Gravy. Remember the onions I didn’t use last time? They’re in there. By my usual single-person standards, this was a grand feast. Thanks, CSA: I ate very well this week!
This week's delivery presented two big challenges that I think every CSA subscriber can relate to. First, I got something in the distribution that I don't eat: a cantaloupe. I could tell this one was perfection. I could smell it's sweet juiciness. I solved this problem by sharing. Yes, I gave that beautiful melon to a friend who loves them.
Second challenge, I received my bounty on Thursday and went out of town for the weekend. How could I use everything wisely when I wasn't even there? Sooner or later everyone goes away for the weekend, right? I got busy right away and made some of my best dishes yet.
I had gotten some speckled butter beans, fresh basil, several beautiful tomatoes and a dozen of the most wonderful, colorful eggs. I used Cooking Light's recipe for Tuscan White Beans as a jumping-off point. I used thick cut applewood smoked bacon (only 1 slice chopped), left out the rind, and finished my beans with some sherry vinegar. I used the basil to make CL's Classic Basil Pesto, and served it over the slices of tomato. Best part of all this, I could freeze the beans and pesto leftovers! The eggs, I hard boiled when I got back into town and served with some salt, Tabasco, and marinated olives. I was starving and these uniquely beautiful, fresh eggs were incredible.