Skillet gnocchi with chard and white beans

Skillet gnocchi with chard and white beans

So this recipe was suggested via my CSA — and it was fun cooking gnocchi this way after mostly going the boil and drain approach all this time. Cooked up very easily and the resultant sauce suited it very well, would have added a few more herbs had I thought of it. Also, great way to use a lot of chard, and I saved half of the end result for dinner at a later date.

Corn, tomato and zucchini soup


A combination of fortuitousness and weather — it’s been a very cool summer out here and it’s just starting to feel a bit like fall in corners. Also, I had a nicely open evening to cook up something, and had thought a little tomato soup would be a good idea.

Turned out something even better was to hand — a quick check in Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything turned up this variant with corn, zucchini and plenty of basil, all of which I had sitting around courtesy of my last basket delivery. (To be fair the zucchini was more smaller summer squash but it was all the same principle!) It was the perfect opportunity to make use of it all — took about an hour and a half from stop to start and was worth it all, especially since there was plenty leftover for later in the wake.

Also, the broth I used had been prepared the other week from the remnants of the previous basket, so it was truly a totally from scratch preparation. All that and light on the olive oil and with no salt either. Tasted great!

If you’d like to try it, go nuts!

A basic enough cucumber/tomato salad

Cucumber/tomato salad

I haven’t been posting too much in the way of my own cooking/kitchen work lately because I’ve basically been indulging in a variety of salads — the hot weather combined with resultant laziness means I’m much more interested in something easily prepped and eaten like a good salad, with some bread or something similar to the side.

But this isn’t to say one can’t get quite creative with salads, of course, and there’s endless possibilities. The other day, though, I figured a basic cucumber/tomato salad would do the trick, but wanted to see what others had done; after a quick scrounge around the web I did one version of this the other night, then this one here for lunch.

In both cases, again, simplicity is the key — all you really need is a cucumber and a tomato and there you go. Where something more comes in lies in the additions and the preparation — the dressing used, for example, was a homemade white balsamic vinaigrette, itself stupidly easy to make, with good olive oil and a white balsamic vinegar plus thyme and oregano and a dash of pepper. The other night I also included some diced tofu for protein and to soak up some more of the flavor; this version removes the tofu (I didn’t want a too heavy lunch) but adds fresh chopped basil. Both the basil and the tomato came from my garden, adding to the simple joy of that ever excellent combination. Finally the cucumber was quartered and had its seeds removed, but I retained the skin. A bit more pepper on the top was all that was needed.

Again, hardly the most surprising creation, but the joy should be good nourishment, good taste and something that works well with where you’re at. This did the trick, the rest follows!

Potato/tomato/soy cheese bake

So the idea for this came from a recipe with the last basket called ‘easiest Armenian potato bake,’ though honestly the only thing that seemed even slightly Armenian about the recipe would be the paprika. I didn’t have that around but I did have some cumin, while the shredded soy cheese was something I’d bought recently just to experiment with a bit. End result was basic but tasty, and half of it I’ve saved for dinner tomorrow to boot.

1/8 cup peanut oil
4 1/2 cups raw diced potatoes
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon parsley
shredded cheese to taste

Stir all ingredients together carefully and pour into a greased casserole dish.

Bake at 325*F (160*C) for 1 hour or until potatoes are tender and top is golden. Add cheese ten minutes before cooking is finished.

Heirloom tomato pie

Not a quiche, nor a lasagna, it’s somewhere in between. Found the recipe over here and was intrigued! Pretty good, had half tonight — it’s much less heavy than you might think, though of course still pretty hearty.

1 (9 inch) pie shell
2-3lbs ripe heirloom tomatoes, sliced
1 yellow onion
3/4 cup organic mayonnaise or Veganaise
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Ground black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons fresh basil
2 teaspoons fresh oregano

PREHEAT: oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
BAKE: the pastry shell for 8 to 10 minutes or until browned.
SLICE: onion and place in the bottom of pastry shell.
SLICE: heirloom tomatoes and arrange over onions. Add black pepper to taste.
MIX: in a medium bowl, combine mozzarella, parmesan and mayonnaise. Spread this mixture evenly over heirloom tomatoes.
BAKE: at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Once cooked, garnish with fresh herbs.

Risotto with basil and tomato, ready to eat

Adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, to mention that fine volume once again. What makes a risotto like this handy is its low-fat content — aside from oil used to initially cook some onion and tomato and then coat the rice, that was pretty much it for any sort of fats in this one. No butter and no cheese — there was veggie broth and white wine instead. The purple basil was chopped up and added at the very end.

Creamy bell pepper and tomato soup

This was a classic “well I need to do SOMETHING” recipe, in this case involving a couple of bell peppers I had around, not to mention a slew of tomatoes from a co-worker’s garden. Initial scrounging turned up this gazpacho idea, but as I didn’t have the time I needed to go the hot route.

This recipe proved to be the trick, though adapted — the peppers were green rather than red, I used olive oil instead of butter or margarine, the half-and-half was soy-based, I used vegetable broth instead of chicken and the sugar was in fact honey (the spice mix came from Avanti). Also the portions were reduced overall, essentially halving it, but that still left enough over for me to store and freeze it for another time.

The wine is a basic red table wine blend from Dynamic Vineyards, a sold-through-Trader-Joe’s subdivision of CEAGO. Mine was the Mendocino blend, a good enough merlot/cabernet franc/cabernet sauvignon combination that suited the soup well.

California zucchini bake

Or so the recipe was called, I’m not totally sure what was California about it. But the combination of zucchini, rice, soy ground beef, cheese and seasonings made for a nice shot of comfort food that wasn’t as heavy as you might think! (But it helped that I didn’t include sour cream and also cut back on the overall amount of cheese.)

The recipe below is for a much larger/fuller version than I made, and as it stood I only had half of this, any more tonight would have been overkill! The rest is in the fridge for another time soon.

California Zucchini Bake

1 pound of ground beef, lean (as noted, soy beef does the trick just fine)
1 Tomato, sliced
3 zucchini, sliced thin
Salt & pepper
4 ounces of green chilies, diced
1/4 cup of green onions, sliced
3 cups of rice, cooked
1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 cup of sour cream
2 teaspoons of chili powder
2 cups of cheese, shredded
Sauté the beef, zucchini, onion, salt, garlic powder and chile powder in a lightly greased skillet until the meat in no longer pink and vegetables are tender crisp. stir frequently, add green chiles, rice, sour cream and 1 cup of the cheese. Turn into a greased shallow 2 quart casserole. Arrange the tomato slices on top. Season with salt and pepper, and top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350ºF. for 25 – 30 minutes or until the cheese browns.

Zhug bean and tomato soup

I wish I could claim credit for making this but no dice, this was an Avanti Cafe creation that I’d had in my freezer for a while. Thawed out with a basic carrot/radish salad on the side plus more bread and cheese and chardonnay = a fine dinner the other night.