Week 5…here we go! I’m finally getting the hang of finding summer produce recipes for all the amazing fruits and veggies in my CSA share every week. Our refrigerator is constantly brimming with vegetables and I’m doing my best to predict which will spoil first and use those right away. I planned dinners for the week last night, and my grocery list for today consists of, and I’m not even kidding you, a single avocado. Is that even possible? Although I paid for it up front, the CSA share isn’t exactly a steal, so it’s nice to see some savings coming through in my “regular” weekly shopping.
I’m trying to be better about snapping pictures of dinner most nights, even if it’s not the usual 90 minute glamor shot food photography session I’m used to. This way I can at least show you what I made, then go back later to take extra pretty shots and give the recipe its very own post. Plus having any pictures at all helps me remember bits and pieces of the recipe when my notes are sparse, to say the least. When I get caught up in the flow of cooking, my happy place, if you will, writing down measurements, times, and indicators sometimes falls by the wayside. You don’t even want to know what my recipe notebook looks like with symbols and arrows and random scribbling smattered across the page.
Before I dive into this week’s summer produce recipes, ideas, and dinners, I have a couple shoutouts to Pinch of Yum. If you’re a food blogger you most likely know of Lindsay. Her blog holds a special place in my heart (or belly?) because it was the first food blog I read (okay, except Pioneer Woman) and she’s based in the twin cities, my original home sweet home. I’ve watched in admiration and inspiration as POY has grown over the years and as I’ve started blogging. The way Lindsay and her IT department husband run things is totally transparent, and it’s clear they believe in sharing their journey to becoming full-time food bloggers.
So, I was pretty excited to see they’ve launched a brand new podcast, the Food Blogger Pro podcast. To be totally honest, I can’t get down with paying for FBP membership (watch me eat my words in two months), but the insights in the first few episodes of the podcast are seriously invaluable, yet free. If you’re into podcasts or food blogging (or both!), I’d highly recommend checking it out. If nothing else, you know you love the Minnesota accents (oh ya, dontcha know?).
Sidenote: I have no business affiliation with POY or FBP, but I trust the brand and their resources and don’t hesitate to recommend either site!
Second thing, the same Lindsay from the same POY announced her very first live photography workshop coming to Minneapolis in September. I saw that there was some secret announcement hype for a couple days, and I actually didn’t make a point of finding out the secret when it went live. But, I think I must have hopped on facebook at the time I did for a reason this week, and facebook’s algorithms obviously knew I’ve been feeling a little lonely in the food blogging world. On top of that, I’ve only taken one photography course (locally), about a year ago, to learn the basics. Since I haven’t been dropping cash left and right on equipment and education, the workshop will fit right into my budget. The last detail–location–fell into place, too. I’ll be galavanting around Minneapolis wedding planning about the time of the workshop, and that was the last sign from above that I needed. Trigger pulled.
Basically I’m going to be starstruck when I meet these guys, since we all know they’re food blogging gods. Highly relatable food blogging gods, though, and I can’t wait to make some new blogging friends in real life and learn from Lindsay’s years of food photography experience. Yay!
Summer CSA Week 5
So much purple this week! Basil, potatoes, and scallions all came in some unexpected fun purple hues.
- Basil bouquet
- Summer squash
I’ve never seen basil like this big, fragrant, flowering bunch of leafy purplish basil! The first order of business is storage. A few days in, the bouquet is doing well (it’s actually perked up from when I got it) in a tall vase with a few inches of water, covered loosely in a big, clear plastic bag. I reach my hand up into the bag to make sure all the stems are supported. As much as I’d like to leave it uncovered for the amazing smell, the stems wilt quickly when exposed.
There’s no way I can use all of this stuff, given that we already have a freezer full of pesto. Plus, I think purple basil would actually make kind of ugly brown pesto, right? Anyway, I brought some to Bridget on our double date night on Saturday. I think she mentioned a similar approach to me, which is to add lots of it to a salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, and some feta and red onion.
I almost forgot, speaking of Pinch of Yum, I made a twist on the spring rolls with peanut sauce for lunch Saturday. Kind of a labor intensive lunch, but so fresh and light for the hot, sticky weather we are experiencing. Plus, the basil contributed purple, making these truly rainbow rolls. Of course, I didn’t quite capture it in the pic, but it was so pretty in real life!
Last week’s creative berry recipe was kind of a one-time deal. I’m back to snacking on these straight out of the fridge. The berry patch (or field?) was especially pretty this week, and the berries are more perfectly ripe: a little less sour, a little more sweet and soft. Just how I like ’em!
These little guys were “extras” in the share this week. I’m going to use them in a kind of Greek-Italian fusion salad, plus use them in smoothies at breakfast and as a simply dressed side salad with my usual lunch of leftovers.
I’ll use this week’s mix of purple and green kale in my new dinner habit, dragon bowls, and a piña colada smoothie recipe that I’ll post to the blog soon. Let’s just say it’s the best 3 ingredient smoothie I’ve ever tasted.
Red, white, and blue potatoes! I’m saving most of these for the end of the week to use in my next gratin, new potatoes with tomatoes and olives, but I’ll also use them in the zucchini-potato pancakes and dragon bowls, subbing them for sweet potato.
I found a decadent-looking raspberry gratin on Deb’s site (btw, have you seen her new arrival?!), which consists entirely of berries, sour cream, and brown sugar. Since Steve still won’t give berries a chance, I might make myself a big individual sized ramekin of the gratin and go to town. Happy birthday to me?
Scallions and I have an ongoing love affair, but when they’re multicolored with bulbs bigger than you’d ever find in the grocery store? Forget it. The more pungent bulbs got sautéed with other aromatics for creamy oven-baked rice and beans stuffed peppers last night, then I garnished the dish with slices of the crunchy green tops.
Along with the Tex-Mex themed stuffed bell peppers, Steve helped me spiralize the summer squash for a cold “pasta” salad with, you guessed it, more cucumbers, plus lots of red bell pepper and cilantro. We dressed it with lime juice, jalapeño-infused olive oil, and salt and pepper.
These guys were big and juicy again this week! There’s just something indescribably pure about sinking your teeth into a local, farm-grown tomato. The fuss about eating seasonal is real and it makes up for a winter abstaining from mushy, mediocre tomatoes from halfway across the globe. This week, tomatoes will participate in both my Italian Greek salad and potato gratin with, duh, tomatoes.
Reminiscent of last summer’s giant Minnesota zucchini, I of course grabbed for the largest one in the bunch, not thinking logically about how to utilize such a mammoth vegetable. Without any prompting, I googled “zucchini bread” late last night, and it happens to fit perfectly into my week. Most recipes make two loaves, and I just happen to have a busy week with two nights requiring treats for a crowd. Coincidence? No way.
Somehow the bread won’t even use up the whole veggie, so we’ll also do zucchini-potato pancakes one night. The recipe is the inspiration behind my popular sweet potato kale pancakes, which will soon be the first NCK recipe post to have a how-to video added!
Dinners this Week
Here’s how all these summer produce recipes and ideas fit practically into the dinner plan for this week, with recipe links if there is one:
- Sunday (last night): Creamy oven-baked rice and beans stuffed bell peppers; raw “pasta” salad with summer squash noodles, cucumbers, bell peppers, and cilantro
- Monday: Zucchini-potato pancakes; Italian-Greek salad of cucumber, tomato, basil, feta, and red onion dressed with lemon and olive oil
- Tuesday: Dragon bowls with leftover black rice (from last weekend), and CSA kale and potatoes
- Wednesday: Going to see U2 in NYC!!!! Let the birthday celebrations begin. I’m hoping to start the night at my new favorite (vegetarian!) sushi spot, but I have yet to run that by my chaperone.
- Thursday: I’m hosting my bi-weekly ladies’ cooking group, and I think we’ll end up doing cheese, gazpacho, some kind of protein, and some of that zucchini bread!
- Friday: New potato gratin with tomatoes and olives
It’s my birthday weekend! So, I haven’t planned into the weekend. Pretty sure I don’t at all mind cooking my own birthday feast, but someone (world’s best fiancé) has hinted that perhaps there are other plans in the works. Worst case scenario, if he doesn’t feed me, I can easily ring in 30 by eating Chipotle and pizza all weekend.
Like this post? Don’t forget to share it or use this Amazon link to get your online errands done. Affiliate proceeds are always used to cover the costs of the Natural Comfort Kitchen blog! Thanks!