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Recipe Tue Aug 16 2011

CSA: Cooking Some Awesomeness

I am loving my CSA through Harvest Moon Farms, but my fridge is getting very full. The nice thing about signing up with a CSA is that you're always getting new and interesting produce to cook. But the drawback is you have to cook almost every single day. There have been a couple days where I've slacked off, getting take-out and playing Pokemon all night instead of cooking up something for lunch the next day. All of a sudden my fridge looks like a jungle piled high with greens and squash and herbs.

Wasting these greens is not an option to me. They're all too delicious to let my guinea pigs eat by themselves and throwing rotten food out always makes me a little sad. Instead of weeping over my trash can I've been cooking and baking my leftover produce into dishes for my friends. I love cooking for other people more so than cooking for myself. Cooking comes from the heart - it takes time and effort (and some skill) to make something tasty and I like to think it enhances the quality of the food. So this edition of Cooking Some Awesomeness includes recipes meant for sharing - for potlucks, for parties, for any occasion.

For your work potluck: Zucchini Bread
Every week these zucchinis I've been getting have gotten bigger and bigger. Until one week I got one in my delivery that was about as long as my forearm. What the hell am I suppose to do with a zucchini that barely fits in my fridge? Make zucchini muffins for my pals at work. This is a great recipe because it can be customized for your friends with food allergies. Someone's allergic to nuts? Omit the walnuts. Got someone that's lactose intolerant? Axe the chocolate chips. This recipe makes a ton of muffins which will feed your entire work group, and may even give you some leftovers for yourself. I got this recipe from the Harvest Moon newsletter that gets sent out every week prior to my CSA pick-up and I found it to be the best one out there. In my batch I added walnuts and milk chocolate chips.

Ingredients:
3 eggs
1 cup olive or vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1 cup dried cranberries, raisins or chocolate chips or a combination thereof (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line about 24 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Mix in oil and sugar, then zucchini and vanilla. Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt, as well as nuts, chocolate chips and/or dried fruit, if using. Stir this into the egg mixture. Spoon batter into muffin cups.

Bake muffins for approximately 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

For your vegetarian/vegan/gluten-intolerant friend: Lentil Tacos
I don't have many vegetarian/vegan friends, but I'm always conscious of their needs. I feel bad when I go to a party and plates of meat are everywhere, and they're left to pick at a wilted salad in the corner. So when I do throw a rockin' summer bash, I always make sure there's at least one super delicious vegetarian dish to serve. Love & Olive Oil (aka my new favorite food blog) had a fantastic recipe for lentil tacos that utilized some leftover garlic scapes I had as well as the baby red onions I received one week. It's a very filling dish and it's got some major kick to it. Definitely not one of those boring, bland vegetarian dish you normally see.

Ingredients
For the salsa:
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup green onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup garlic scapes, thinly sliced, or 2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño, minced
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil

For the lentils:
1 cup french green lentils
1 medium onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 dried ancho chili, finely chopped
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
salt and pepper, to taste

8 whole wheat flour or corn if you want to keep this gluten free tortillas, warmed
1 cup lettuce, torn into small pieces or sliced into strips
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)

For salsa, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and toss to coat. Set aside.

Rinse lentils with cold water and sift through, making sure there are no small stones mixed in. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add lentils, and cook for 20 minutes or until tender but still slightly al-dente and drain.

Heat a few splashes of olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and chili and cook until onion begins to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add lentils and paprika and cook until coated and heated through.

Spoon lentil mixture onto warmed tortillas. Top with salsa, lettuce, and mozzarella cheese (omit cheese if you want to keep this dish vegan).


For your cocktail party: Strawberry Basil Cocktail
I love having cocktail parties. You get to make cute little hors d'oeuvres and shake up some refreshing cocktails for your friends. I had a bunch of basil and a pint of farm-fresh strawberries sitting in my fridge, begging me to make them into something. Combining the two of them only seemed natural. There are a couple of recipes for this cocktail out there, but since I'm allergic to citrus fruits I made up one of my own. If you're not allergic to citrus fruits Food & Wine has a good cocktail recipe for a strawberry basil martini too.

Ingredients:
3 fresh basil leaves
sugared strawberries with juice
2 ounces vodka
2 ounces seltzer
Ice

For sugared strawberries, mix one pint of strawberries thinly sliced with 1.5 cups of powdered sugar and let it sit for 15 minutes. Muddle the basil and strawberries in the bottom of a martini shaker. Add the vodka and ice. Shake well. Pour cocktail into glass, top with seltzer.

 

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