Wednesday, June 01, 2011

CSA Meals - Week 3

Can anyone guess what this is?

I know I would have a hard time figuring it out.  It's a blend of fresh strawberries, ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and sugar that was eventually poured into popsicle molds.  

The strawberries we got last Tuesday were a little soggy, but still delicious, and Darbi recommended eating them that day.  Davy and I were going out to dinner, and I knew we probably wouldn't get to them, so I made the mixture above based on this recipe.  I'm embarrassed to say that I haven't tasted the popsicles yet, but I have a feeling that they're going to be creamy and refreshing.

Looking back on the week, I have to give myself credit for being somewhat more creative than normal with the produce.  Aside from some standard salads with sliced radish, feta, pistachios and medium-boiled eggs, I made the popsicles, quiche and a kale sauce that is similar to pesto. 

The quiche was based on a recipe for ham and spinach filling, and I substituted blanched rainbow chard for the spinach.  I'd never made a quiche before, or used a store-bought pie crust, but it seemed to go pretty well.  I baked the pie with dried beans according to the recipe directions, although I'm not sure that I needed to take that extra step.

The eggs I got from the market, not surprisingly, were far superior to eggs from the grocery store.  You can see how deep the color of the yolks is in the picture below, and they don't have that weird chemical taste when you boil them.

I still have some of the amazing Christmas ham in my freezer, and it was smoky and divine in the quiche.

The only other change I made was the addition of some grated cheddar cheese.  I just didn't feel right having eggs and ham without it, especially since the quiche was already extra healthy from the chard.  

The quiche took a lot longer to set than twenty-five minutes, which is what the recipe suggested.  The picture above was taken before it was really done, and I was so hungry by the time it was ready that I forgot to take another one.  

We had some pieces of quiche for dinner last night, and I think it was almost better after sitting overnight in the fridge.  Quiche is an easy, versatile meal, and can be made with tons of different fillings, so I'm glad I finally got around to trying it in my own kitchen.

On Friday night I was trying to figure out how to incorporate the curly kale we got into an appetizing side dish for a cookout we were having on Sunday.  I was envisioning a smooth, creamy sauce for pasta salad, but I ended up with something fairly different.  

I blanched the kale and chopped it, and then pureed it in the food processor with several cloves of garlic.  At this point I was horrified at how much garlic there was, so I tried adding lemon juice to cancel some of it out.  I squeezed in the juice of a lemon, sprinkled in some salt and pepper, and then the remainder of a container of ricotta (which was probably only a tablespoon or two) before giving up and using a lot of olive oil to get it to the right consistency.  

I made a pound of orzo the same night, and while it was still hot, I added about half of my makeshift kale pesto so the pasta would absorb some of its flavor.  When I was ready to assemble the salad on Sunday, I chopped and roasted an onion and several small sweet peppers.  They went into the bowl with the orzo as soon as they were ready, along with about 3/4 lb of feta, 3/4 cup toasted pine nuts, and more lemon juice and olive oil.  

Miraculously, the salad wasn't dry or too garlicky, probably because because I made the kale pesto ahead of time and the flavors had time to mellow.  I think it also turned out so well because feta is such a great pasta salad ingredient, and can mask as well as heighten certain tastes.  It's also a good dish to have hot, cold, or at room temperature, which is ideal for a summer cookout.

It's already June, and the weather has been absurdly hot already, so expect an update on the mysterious strawberry-ricotta popsicles any day now.

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