Saturday, June 18, 2011

CSA Meals - Week 5

Sharing recipes and methods of cooking with friends is one of my favorite parts of participating in a CSA.  Last week ended up being slightly different than normal, because Shannon and I arranged for a veggie swap over the weekend.  She gave me a giant zucchini and lettuce from her garden, and I unloaded cabbage, radicchio, and kale into her produce drawer.

We both had the benefit of variety, and I got to try a recipe that I've been holding onto in anticipation of the zucchini harvest: "Pasta and Fried Zucchini Salad."  The New York Times recipe includes zucchini, fresh mozzarella, basil, and lemon, all of which scream summer to me.  

Frying the zucchini takes a lot of time, and I don't think that it has to be fried to make this dish.  Next time I would grill or roast the zucchini, which would probably improve the taste and healthiness of the salad.  

My favorite part of the pasta salad wasn't the tenderness of the mozzarella or the kale pesto-coated penne (although I always love pesto-coated pasta).  What I liked most was the inclusion of capers, red wine vinegar and lemon zest, all of which brightened the dish and elevated it to a more interesting level.  The dish isn't simple, but every component of it blends together effortlessly.  I forgot to take a picture of the final product, but the recipe and my modifications are below.

The other big cooking effort of the week was "Kale Fried Rice," from Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook, and it was recommended by my friend Lyndsey.  I used my garlic scapes in place of garlic cloves, and added eggs and edamame to make it into a one pot meal.  I also ran out of brown rice, and ended up using half brown and half jasmine, which made the dish a little bit lighter.    

My kale should have been sliced more finely, and I used more than called for, but this fried rice is deceivingly flavorful and satisfying.  

We munched on the green beans and cucumbers raw, which really makes me appreciate just how fresh and cared for our CSA produce is.  After the swap, we were only left with potatoes at the end of the week, which will endure longer than the greens I traded away.

Pasta and Fried Zucchini Salad

Published: April 26, 2011 (NYT)
Time: 45 minutes
Adapted from “Plenty” by Yotam Ottolenghi (Chronicle Books)
Salt and black pepper
2/3 cup sunflower oil (or vegetable oil)
3 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3/4 cup frozen edamame
2 cups basil leaves, shredded coarsely*
1/4 cup parsley leaves*
1/3 cup olive oil*
9 ounces penne
Zest of 1 lemon (I used zest and juice of 1/2 lemon)
1 1/2 tablespoons capers
7 ounces buffalo mozzarella, torn into chunks.

*I used kale pesto from my freezer and a few leaves of fresh basil
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a medium saucepan, heat sunflower (vegetable) oil over medium-high heat. Fry zucchini slices in batches (do not crowd them) for 3 minutes, or until golden brown on both sides. Transfer to a colander to drain. Tip zucchini slices into a bowl, pour vinegar on top and stir, then set aside.
2. In the hot water, blanch edamame for 3 minutes; drain, refresh under running cold water and set aside to dry. Keep boiling water in pot.
3. In boiling water, cook pasta until al dente; drain and rinse under cold water. Return pasta to pot. Pour zucchini slices and their juices over pasta. Add edamame, basil sauce (kale pesto), lemon zest and juice, capers and mozzarella. Stir together gently, then taste and season with plenty of salt and pepper. Before serving, stir in remaining basil.
Yield: 4 servings

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