Thursday, May 17, 2012

CSA Meals - Week 1

If you had to choose between a refrigerator and air conditioning, which would you pick? What about only having a refrigerator or internet?

Davy and I asked each other these types of questions after our fridge broke a few weeks ago and we had to shop for a new one. In the mean time, our chilled food supply was divided between Keith and Carrie's meat locker and two coolers in our living room. 

Sure, it's fun to think about replacing a major appliance, but it was also inconvenient to cycle through bags of ice and wonder whether or not the chutney needed to be thrown away. Ultimately, we cleared out several jars, bottles, and bags that had accumulated over nearly three years, and are still in the process of re-stocking. It was a cleansing experience, and one that reminded me how little it takes to put together meals when you have basic quality ingredients to work with.

This "simple is better" mindset was the perfect way to tackle the first of our CSA produce. We ate multiple salads with both homemade and store-bought dressing (Annie's Asian Sesame), but my favorite was the one we had the first night. I sliced some of our bright red strawberries, toasted/nearly burned some pine nuts, and tossed everything with little balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Amy's mesclun salad mix is earthy and peppery, which worked well with the berries' fruity sweetness. 

Along with the salad, I improvised with two recipes from How Sweet It Is to make chicken parm-ish tenders. 

We didn't have anything to dip them in, but they hit the spot with salad and roasted zucchini and squash sprinkled with grated parmesan.

On Wednesday, we celebrated a friend's birthday at Joe's Inn, and feasted off of my baked spaghetti leftovers with salad for dinner the next night.

The new refrigerator worked wonders on all of our greens, and the chard still looked fresh on Saturday. I chopped and softened half of an onion in a little olive oil, then added the chard stems to the pan.  

When everything was mostly cooked through, I stopped taking pictures, but some minced garlic, chard leaf ribbons and black beans completed the filling for cheesy lunch quesadillas on Saturday.

My parents were visiting on Mother's Day, and we had wonderful rockfish from Yellow Umbrella, which my dad graciously grilled. I made quinoa and a kale salad with feta and avocado for our side dishes. Again, no pictures, but the kale was tender and just as delicious when I ate it leftover for lunch a couple days later.

The only item left by Monday night was the baby pac choi, and it also held up nicely in our produce drawer.

I found a quick recipe for braised baby bok choy from Martha Stewart that required very little preparation and cooking. The stems retained a slight crunch, and the leaves absorbed the savory flavors from the soy sauce and chicken stock. The only change I made was to add a drizzle of sesame chili oil to give the pac choi an extra kick.

Since it had to happen, I guess I'm glad that our refrigerator stopped working when it did. It may have been a hassle to transfer and get rid of food, but it's made my approach to cooking much less complicated.

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