Bruschetta

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(Sing the following words to the tune of “Goin’ to the Chapel”)

Goin’ to a party and we’re gonna bring brusche-e-eta, goin’ to a party and we’re gonna bring brusche-e-eta, goin’ to a party for fun!

Catchy, isn’t it? I had that song rolling through my head the entire evening. Why? I have no idea. I started to prepare the bruschetta for a little neighborhood gathering, and those words and that tune popped into my brain and wouldn’t leave! It’s crazy. Going to the Chapel wasn’t playing on The Current on the way home from work. It just spontaneously combusted! As did the recipe, for this little lively easy-as-pie Friday night treat. The tomatoes, garlic and basil were the only things left from last week’s CSA. Thanks Foxtail Farm!

Fresh Tomato Bruschetta – Recipe

Ingredients:

Tomato Mixture:

  • 6-8 medium tomatoes
  • 1 large handful fresh basil leaves
  • 2 – 4 cloves garlic (I used 2 VERY large cloves)
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Tbs. raspberry balsamic vinegar

The Bread:

  • Italian peasant or baguette sliced 1/2 inch
  • Oil to brush-coat each side of bread
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt

Directions:

1) Begin by making the toasted bread. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. I needed two large cookie sheets for one large loaf of Italian peasant bread.

2) In a food processor, mince the garlic. Place it in a bowl and cover generously with olive oil.

3) Brush the garlic infused oil onto both sides of the bread. Place the bread on the baking sheets.

4) Sprinkle the bread lightly with a little bit of salt before baking. Bake until the bread starts to brown.

5) Next, make the tomato mixture. Place the leftover garlic and oil mixture into the food processor.

6) Cut the tomatoes into pieces so they don’t need too much processing.

7) Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and pulse as few times as possible. You want the tomatoes to still be chunky.

8) Strain the excess liquid off the tomatoes by placing it in a mesh colander over a bowl. (If there is a smiley face where the eight should be, I have no idea why it is there – some strange thing having to do with WordPress?)

9) Serve with good wine, of course!

Thanks, neighbors for the home tours and the great community building!

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Three-ways To Salsa

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There is nothing better on a beautiful summer day than sitting outside sipping cold beer and dipping the old chips into something hot and spicy. I woke up thinking Mexico, and when I opened the fridge, the Minnesota tomatillos were just begging for a salsa lesson. Once I got started, the jealous garden tomatoes wanted to be spun around too. I ended up with the tomatillo, a roasted tomato and fresh tomato salsa.

Three Salsa Recipes

Tomatillo

The tomatillo and roasted tomato are basically the same salsa only one has tomatillos and the other tomatoes. All the ingredients get roasted on a sheet pan under the broiler until they start to blacken, then they get a zing through the food processor with lime juice, cilantro and salt.

* While I prep the ingredients for these salsas, I wrap a head of garlic in foil and place it in the oven at 400 degrees to roast it. When the other ingredients are ready to broil just toss the garlic on the sheet pan so it can continue to cook a little longer.

Tomatillo Ingredients:

  • 1 pound tomatillos, husks removed and washed
  • 1/2 medium white onion cut in quarters
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic*
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, stem removed
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro washed
  • salt to taste

Directions:

Line a large sheet pan with foil. Lay out washed tomatillos, chopped onion and jalapeno on the sheet. If you haven’t already started the garlic, that can be wrapped in foil and placed on the sheet pan as well. Place the vegetables under the broiler. Watch them carefully so they don’t burn. I roast them until everything has a blackened spot on it. The onions take a little longer, so sometimes you may need to move things around so the tender veggies are further away from the heat. Once they are blackened a bit, set them aside to cool for a minute. When they are cool spoon them into a food processor and add the cilantro, lime juice salt and two of the roasted garlic cloves. Run the processor until the salsa is smooth. Refrigerate before serving.

Roasted Tomato Salsa Ingredients:

  • 10 Roma tomatoes washed and cut in half lengthwise
  • 3 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1 jalapeno, stem removed
  • 1/2 medium white onion cut in quarters
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro washed
  • juice 1 lime
  • salt to taste

Roasted Tomato Salsa Directions:

Follow the same directions as for the tomatillos above. It’s very easy to make both of these recipes on one sheet tray together.

Fresh Tomato Salsa

A while back I posted this recipe but used red onions instead of white. These ingredients get a few pulses in the processor and you are ready to eat. Enjoy!

  • 6 Roma tomatoes quartered
  • 1/2 medium white onion
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 bunch cilantro, washed
  • 1 lime juiced
  • salt to taste

Feta Walnut Spread

Feta Walnut Spread

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This is why I am vegetarian and not vegan – I have too many European genes. We’ve been eating cheese and grains for thousands of years, I can’t stop now! Were it not for cheese I could easily eat an all vegan diet. I abhor milk and detest eggs, but put a plate of stinky cheese in front of me, and I simply cannot resist.

This lovely feta spread is as easy as easy can be, and it’s another good place to hide some greens from those picky eaters in your life. This one has basil, but I often use cilantro and spinach. I love to send it for school lunch as it holds up well on bread and makes a great sandwich, or can be sent in a side dish along with chunks of whole wheat or crackers. Yummy.

Ingredients:

1 chunk feta (I’ve been buying sheep’s milk feta)

1 clove garlic

1 small bunch basil leaves (or cilantro)

1/2 cup walnuts

drizzle of milk, soymilk or water

Directions: Throw everything in the food processor and pulse. As the feta breaks apart you will see that you need to add liquid until the spread gets smooth. I just drizzle the liquid in while the machine runs so you can see how much you will need. Sorry, I never measure.

Fennel and Rosemary Pesto

Fennel and Rosemary Pesto


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I never know what to do with the abundance of feathery fennel frond. I’ve often used a little chopped up in a salad, or a few sprinkles on a sandwich, but I always end up feeding most of the fennel fronds to the composter. Today I decided to make a pesto from it. I like that licorice flavor and thought it might pair nicely with the Onion and Fennel Galette I made. I didn’t want it to become too rich, so I left out any nuts and only used parmesan and garlic.

Ingredients:

4 sprigs fresh rosemary

4 cups fennel fronds

olive oil

4 cloves garlic

1/4 cup parmesan

Directions:

Throw it in the food processor. Add oil until you reach a creamy consistency. Nada Mas.

Beet Bruschetta

If you are saying, “Ew, beets!” right now, stop. This is not your average beet. This elegant appetizer or light lunch will impress your pickled-beet-making grandma as well as your most discriminating foodie friends. This recipe does a great service to the humble beet.

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I really hate messing with beets, but every time I eat them, my palate is so satisfied! Not wanting to run the oven and heat up the house, I boiled the beets a few days ago. Today I peeled and diced them along with a local farm cuke from the co-op. I happened to have some of this tiny rye bread in the freezer leftover from a party, so I pulled it out and toasted a few slices. I actually cannot stand this bread, and have never found any topping that marries well with it – until today. The beets were a perfect compliment! In an effort to cut back on added salt, this recipe gets its’ salt only from the feta cheese. I also opted to use honey instead of the organic cane sugar I often use.

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 small beets boiled, peeled and diced
  • 1 small cucumber diced
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh mint
  • ground pepper
  • crumbled feta

Directions:

I prepped the vegetables and mint then whisked the vinaigrette together in a bowl big enough to add the beets and cukes. Mix everything together. Toast the rye breads, spoon on the beet mixture and last add the crumbled feta so it doesn’t turn pink from the beets. I served the bruschetta with a side salad of baby field greens from this week’s CSA and topped with the dressing from the bruschetta. This is absolutely delicious!

Baked Falafel with Tamarind Yogurt Chutney

Baked Falafel with Tamarind Yogurt Chutney

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Chow Vegan hit my radar today and while browsing though her site, I found a recipe for baked falafel. Of course, I can never follow a recipe exactly – either I don’t have all the ingredients or I think it would be better a different way, so of course, I embellished this one a bit in the herb department. I have lots of herbs in my garden, but none of the ones specified in the original recipe. Also, after hearing David Kessler’s piece about his new book, I decided to try to cut back on sodium a little with this recipe. I used about 1 tsp. in the falafel, but my taste buds would like more.

The chutney idea comes from Madhur Jaffrey’s book, World Vegetarian, and of course I embellished there as well. She includes fresh ginger and fresh chile, which I can’t believe, I am out of at the moment. I used a dried chile del arbol instead, and I am sure the fresh would be better.

Falafel Ingredients:

  • 3-4 cups garbanzo beans
  • 1 medium onion
  • 5 large garlic cloves
  • mixed fresh herbs ( I used 2 sprigs mint, 6 sage leaves, 1 sprig rosemary, 4 basil leaves, 1 sprig chervil)
  • Juice 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. crushed pepper flakes
  • 4 Tbs. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

I added the garbanzo beans last and tried to leave them fairly chunky. Everything else can be well chopped using a food processor. Start with the onion and garlic and chop. Then add all the other ingredients except the beans. Pulse until everything is well mixed. Add the beans and pulse just a little until they are chopped, but not totally pureed.

These can be formed into any shape you prefer. Traditional falafel are formed into balls, but can be made into patties for an easier-to-eat sandwich. I have appetizers on my brain, so I made them in the shape of little sticks to dip in the Tamarind Yogurt Chutney. I baked them on a greased cookie sheet in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes until they were brown on the bottom. Then I turned them over and baked for another 15 minutes.

Tamarind Yogurt Chutney

  • 2 Tbs. tamarind paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. ground hot pepper
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin

For the original recipe, I used a prepared tamarind chutney. If you use fresh tamarind paste, you will need to cook the above ingredients at a simmer until the chutney is reduced by about half. Here is a very informative YouTube demo for tamarind chutney from “Show Me the Curry.”

In a separate bowl mix the yogurt ingredients.

  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 sprig mint chopped
  • 1 scallion thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. ground hot pepper (better yet, use 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh green chile)
  • Fresh ground black pepper

After the yogurt ingredients are mixed, the idea is to mix the two dips leaving a little swirl pattern in the dish. I mixed in only about 1/4 of the tamarind chutney, which considering all the sugar, gave me a little relief!

Swiss Chard and Spinach Balls

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Timing and planning is everything when you get a CSA box. You need to plan out the menu, check your summer schedule and let everybody in your family know when they will be expected to dinner. If not, you run the risk of still having vegetables when the next delivery arrives and therefore, allowing your refrigerator explode.

Well, call me a fool. I handled the first CSA box of the year well, but didn’t allow for a little side trip to Costco and an after-volleyball gathering. I don’t usually buy fruits and veggies from Costco, but yesterday I just couldn’t pass on the four pounds of garlic and two huge bags of limes and lemons. Max was with me eyeing strawberries, white peaches, melons and grapes – not organic, but lovely and fresh. Not thinking about space in the fridge, I yielded. Well, needless to say, our very large fridge is at maximum capacity. To top it off, the volleyball team stopped by after the game, so Jeff stocked up on beer. His normal trip to the liquor store involves two varieties of beer, but last night he wanted to please, so three varieties were shoved into every available nook and cranny of our already overweight icebox. And…today is Thursday…CSA delivery day! I’m starting off on the wrong end of things here!

My original menu for the first CSA included three meals: the Bahn Mi Sandwich with pickled vegetables, Greens and Beans, and then the Curried Vegetables. I ended up adding another menu item as I had left over swiss chard. Knowing that the volleyballers would be over, I decided on an appetizer of swiss chard and spinach balls. They were tasty and would have been fabulous with a little soy ginger sauce for dipping. I didn’t include a dipping sauce, but would next time.

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Swiss Chard and Spinach Balls

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 inch ginger, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • splash of red wine vinegar to deglaze
  • 1 large bunch swiss chard, chopped
  • 1/2 pound spinach
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups crushed bread crumbs
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 eggs

Directions:

In a large skillet, heat the oil and saute the onions. I like to cook onions slowly to carmelize. When they begin to brown add the chopped garlic and ginger. Stir these until they become frangrant and just begin to brown. Deglaze the pan with a splash of red wine venegar. Add the swiss chard first and mix in with garlic, ginger and onions. Let this cook until it wilts then add spinach. Mix this into the other ingredients and stir until wilted. Toss in the pepper flakes. Turn greens out into a mixing bowl and refrigerate until cool. When the greens have cooled stir in the parmesan, bread crumbs and eggs. When everything is mixed well, they are ready to form into balls and bake.  I made the balls about an inch and a half in diameter, put them on a canola-greased cookie sheet, and baked them at 400 degrees for 1/2 an hour. They really were easy to make and were a great appetizer for our gathering. Spinach always stays in the teeth, so these should be served amongst friends!

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