CSA Love (!) and Creamy, Indian-spiced Spring Vegetables

Indian spiced creamy peas turnips cabbage

Want to enjoy the freshest produce? Get a CSA.

 

Want to become a better cook? Get a CSA.

 

Want to keep your $$ in your community? Get a CSA.

 

Want to expand your/your children’s/family’s palate? Get a CSA.

 

Want to save money? Get a CSA. (Because when you already have all that produce you will likely not go out to eat because you want/need to eat the food you’ve already paid for and because if you stock your pantry well and get those weekly veggies you will spend less because you’ll run to the store less. Buy a case or two of lovely white or rose and spend summer evenings on your porch with your veggies and your wine! . . . want to find me? That’s where I’ll be!)

 

Want to feel connected to your community? Get a CSA.

 

Want to really be in tune with the seasons? Get a CSA.

 

Worried you’ll miss the farmers’ market? You can still go and buy fruit and whatever else you’re craving! But get a CSA too!

 

CSA is not for everyone. If you travel lots during the summer it’s not your best bet. If you hate to cook, don’t get one either:)!

 

I love my CSA for the above reasons. If you’ve been thinking of giving it a try, now’s the perfect time. I work with many CSA farms including these below. If I haven’t covered your region look here or here.

 

 

And in someone else’s words:

 

“I just wanted to let you know that I cooked up a batch of your Sweet Hot and Sour Eggplant the other day and it is absolutely fantastic.  I didn’t have any fresh peppers, so I just chopped up a bunch of Ayers Creek dried cayennes and cooked them down with it.  It’s an easy recipe to throw together, requiring no trips to the store (always nice) and very delicious.  I served it alongside some sesame and scallion udon noodles I got the idea for from whatsername on the NYTimes.  Melissa Clark. Anyway, they played well together.  Thanks for yet another recipe that makes me seem like a better cook than I actually am!” Giana, Portland, OR

 

Creamy, Spiced Peas, Turnips and Cabbage
–Inspired by Quick & Easy Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey

 

The complex flavors in this dish belie the speed with which it comes together. It is a good template as many different vegetables can be used and you can add meats or seafood as you like. I use whatever combination of vegetables I have on hand. You could use asparagus, snap peas and spinach or potatoes and green beans  or winter squash and cauliflower. . . You can also just use a single vegetable.

 

I sometimes serve it with barely hard cooked eggs to turn this into a meal, with rice.

 

Serves 4

 

For the sauce:

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, more to taste
2 tablespoons tomato paste or 2-3 roasted (frozen) tomatoes, finely chopped
Scant 1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon  lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons oil
Generous 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
Generous 1/2 teaspoon brown or yellow mustard seeds
1 small bunch Salad Turnips or 1 large regular turnip, diced (no need to peel if you’re using salad turnips). By all means use the tender stems and leaves of salad turnips, chopped, if you have them, as well
1/4 small cabbage, cored and chopped fairly finely
2 cups fresh, shelled peas or 1 10-oz bag frozen peas or trimmed and chopped snap peas
Rice for serving

 

I sometimes serve it with barely hard cooked eggs to turn this into a meal, with rice.

 

In a small bowl stir together the cumin, garam masala, salt, red pepper flakes, tomato (paste) and 2 tablespoons water. Whisk in the cream, lemon juice and cilantro and set aside.

 

Heat the oil in  large saucepan or deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mustard and cumin seeds and wait until they start popping, 10-20 seconds typically. Add the turnips and cabbage and couple pinches of salt. Stir well and cover and cook for about 5-7 minutes until the vegetables are almost tender. Add the peas and cook for a few more minutes until tender and heated through. Stir the sauce into the vegetables and simmer for 2-3 minutes until thickened a little. Taste and adjust seasoning with more lemon and/or salt and hot pepper to taste.

 

Serve hot over rice. I like to serve it with just barely hard-cooked eggs–eggs covered in cold water, brought to a boil, then removed from heat and left sitting, covered in their hot cooking water for 7 minutes, then drained and peeled.

 

 

Sorrel (Sandwiches) & a Cooking Class

sorrel egg sandwich

Constraints really are the mother of creativity. In this case the constraints were: 1) what’s available, any given morning, in my pantry and puny garden in early spring, and 2) what my 9-year-old might/will eat in his school lunch. He loves mortadella sandwiches and I had indulged by buying this classic Italian lunch meat a few times but a few weeks ago I was out of it.

He’s always been one to prefer herbs (cilantro, parsley, basil) as the green in his sandwich but I didn’t have any of those either. I did have sorrel! It’s a perennial and does well with no care or attention and starts leafing out this time of year. It’s tender, nice and tart and really a perfect sandwich green. With no mortadella, a hard cooked egg stood in, all dressed with plenty of salt, pepper and olive oil. Add a thin layer of sharp cheddar and the new favorite sandwich was born. I always have eggs, they don’t go bad (as mortadella can do rather quickly). Cooking with what I had turned into a winner and I’ve taken to eating these sandwiches too though I add quickly pickled onions to mine (just thinly sliced and marinated in red wine vinegar for at least 10 minutes 0r up to many weeks–I keep a jar of them on hand).

Sorrel in garden
The slugs love the sorrel as do leaf miners but it grows so quickly we all seem to get enough!

And speaking of cooking-with-what-you-have, I’ve just posted a cooking class on said subject: How to Set Yourself up for Success: Tricks, Favorite Dishes & Pantry Stocking for Everyday Cooking. Register here if this sounds useful/fun.

 

Carrot, Oat, & Nutmeg Muffin

oat carrot nutmeg muffins processThese muffins are not particularly springy, but they are particularly good! Lots of nutmeg, freshly grated if possible, make these chewy-but-airy little treats sing. And grate those carrots on the small holes of the box grater and you’ll end up with an elegant texture for this otherwise rustic muffin. My son endorsed them heartily for breakfast, school snack, after school snack and bedtime snack!

oat carrot nutmeg muffins

Yields 12 muffins

1 cup rolled oats (not instant oats)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour (I’ve used Emmer flour, barley flour as well as regular whole wheat pastry flour in these, all with great results)
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated if possible)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup packed cup finely grated carrots (about 2 medium)
1 cup plain yogurt (preferably whole milk)
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly butter or oil a 12 cup muffin tin.

In a medium bowl combine the flours, oats, spices, soda and salt. In another bowl whisk together the eggs, carrots, sugar, melted butter and yogurt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, combining them quickly and well. Do not over mix. Portion the batter into the prepared muffin tin and bake for 18-25 minutes, checking after 18 so as not to dry them out. Remove from the tin and let cool on a rack.

They are best on the first couple of daya but hold up beautifully if frozen right away and thawed as needed.