Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tuna Salad with Fennel

I was so excited to see the fennel in the last veggie box because it meant I could finally make my tuna salad! I can't remember what TV show I was watching, but one character asked the other why her tuna sandwiches were so good, and she told him her secret ingredient was fennel. For some reason, this scene has always stuck with me, and many, many, many years later, I finally gave it a try. It's really good, and now I pretty much always have to have fennel to make tuna salad, otherwise I don't bother.

This tuna salad recipe has lots of crunchy vegetables in it, with refreshingly bright flavors. It's a little labor intensive if you just need a quick lunch, but if you need to serve 5 or 6 people, or if you want to keep a bowl of it in the fridge for a few days of tuna sandwiches, this is a tasty alternative for the basic mayo, relish & mustard.


4 cans (6 oz each) tuna packed in oil, drained**
1/2 small red onion
1 small fennel bulb, or a portion of a larger one
3 stalks celery
1 clove garlic
1/3 cup mayonnaise***
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp sweet relish
2 tsp mustard

Chop the onion into a small dice. Do the same with the fennel.

Cut the celery into thin strips and then chop into a small dice.

Mince the garlic.****

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Use to make sandwiches with your favorite bread.

Bon Apetit!

* I have a friend that told me she likes to add a chopped up boiled egg to her tuna salad. I've always wanted to try this, but have yet to have the foresight to actually boil an egg ahead of time to do it. Someday...

** Yes really, packed in oil. This will not turn out right if you use tuna packed in water and you'll just need to add more mayo for moisture. I even have a friend tell me one time that she tried out my recipe and it didn't taste the same. She didn't understand. I asked if she used tuna packed in oil. She said no.

***No, this is not code for Miracle Whip. I can't stand the stuff. There is no point in making this if you use Miracle Whip because the taste of it will obliterate the flavors of all of the other ingredients. Even if you like Miracle Whip, I beg you to just try this wit normal mayo. Unless Miracle Whip had desensitized your taste buds, you may even like it!

****I use "minced" garlic in a lot of my recipes, but I hardly ever actually mince garlic. I use a garlic press, an ingenious device that basically minces the garlic for you. If you don't have one, I strongly suggest you purchase one. They are inexpensive and are an immense time saver.

Monday, March 28, 2011


I looked with dismay at large piles of beets and cabbage, and finally decided to muster up the courage to attempt to make borscht. A Russian classic, very red, not always popular. But I found a recipe in the Moosewood cookbook and got as brave as I could.

This is a LARGE recipe, so go ahead and half (or quarter) it.
2 cups sliced beets
2 cups sliced celery root (it was still in our fridge from, like, a month ago, and still good. The original recipe called for a cup of potato and a cup of celery, so i thought this would work out well enough).
COOK (10 min or so - until tender) in about 8 cups veg broth. Drain and set aside - but keep the broth!

3 cups chopped onion - saute in 4 TBSP butter until translucent. I used leeks instead.
Add 2 tsp caraway seeds, some salt, 1 cup chopped carrots, and a cabbage (thoroughly chopped - about 5 cups)
Add the reserved broth and any additional water necessary to cover the vegetables. Cook about 15 minutes (medium heat) until the cabbage is tender.

2 1/2 TBSP honey
2 1/2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
1 tsp dill
black pepper to taste
beets and potato/celery root previously cooked.

Simmer everything together on very low heat for 20 minutes or so.
Serve with sour cream (or yogurt), and a sprinkle more dill.

When you eat it, the dark red turns into bright pink. Awesome!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Kale Chips

It took some figuring, but I think I finally came up with a workable recipe for these kale chips. I think someone told me the Full Belly recipe called for them to be baked at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, but that was too hot and burned the kale. I also used to much oil, but again, I wasn't following a recipe. I had drizzled the oil on the kale and then rubbed it onto the leaves with my fingers.

For my next attempt, I poured the oil into a bowl and dipped my fingers into it so I could just lightly coat the kale. I sprinkled these with a little sea salt and then baked them at 300 degrees for 30 minutes. This time, I did not use enough oil, and the oven was still too hot and burned the kale. We're not talking burned black, just brown, but they still had a slightly unpleasant burned undertone.

I was determined to figure out how to do this, and luckily we got kale again in yesterday's box. Here's what I came up with, and the chips that came out were pretty tasty. I had to stop myself from just eating the whole batch, which was also kind of the case with the last two batches, despite the burning XD

Kale Chips


olive oil
sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Pour some olive oil into a bowl. Dip your fingers into the olive oil and rub the oil all over a kale leaf, making sure to coat every surface. The amount of oil you need is hard to describe, but you want enough that each time you do this, there's one or two drops of oil that drip off the kale as you work, but not more than that unless you don't mind the chips being oily. Place the oil-coated kale leaf on the baking sheet. Repeat this process until you have a single layer of kale leaves on the baking sheet. The leaves need to be in a single layer, but they can be pretty close together.

Sprinkle the leaves with a little bit of sea salt. The amount you use will be entirely dependent on how salty you want the chips to be.

Place in the baking sheet in the oven for 5 minutes, then turn the oven down to 200 degrees. Continue baking for 40 minutes.

The resulting chips are crispy and very delicate, so you won't be able to dip them into anything, but they make a great side dish!

Bon Apetit!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Red Corn Bread

More rainy day goodness! I made this cornbread with the red corn meal we got in the last veggie box. I tweaked the recipe so that you can just dump in the whole 2 1/2 cup bag, although it does make quite a bit of corn bread, filling an 9 x 13 pan. If that seems like it may be more cornbread than you want at one time, the recipe can be cut in half. This sweet and buttery cornbread goes really well with the last recipe for white beans and spinach!

Red Corn Bread

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 tsp salt
6 eggs
3 1/2 cups milk
2 1/2 cups red cornmeal (yellow cornmeal is fine)
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a 9 x 13 baking pan.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and salt.

Add the eggs and mix well. Add the milk and cornmeal and mix until combined.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add the flour mixture to the cornmeal mixture and combine well.

Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 40 minutes. The normal way to check for doneness in cake-like breads like this is to insert a toothpick and see if it comes out clean, but that doesn't seem to work for this. A toothpick inserted into this cornbread will come out fairly clean, even while it is still quite underdone. The best way to check is to tap the top of the crust in the center lightly with your fingertips and listen for a hollow sound that will tell you the cornbread has cooked through.

If you choose to halve this recipe, begin checking for doneness at 30 minutes.

Bon Apetit!

White Beans and Spinach

Sitting around on a rainy day trying to figure out what to do with the veggies from the veggie box. Here's a quick and hearty dish to warm you up on a cold day:

White Beans and Spinach

1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 lbs green onion (or 1 yellow or white onion diced)
1 medium bunch carrot tops, minced (optional)
3 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar
2 lbs spinach
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 15oz cans white beans, undrained

Mince the garlic and finely slice the green onion. Roughly chop the spinach.

In a large pot over high heat, add the olive oil, garlic, black pepper and salt, stirring constantly. When the garlic just begins to brown, add the onions and carrot tops. Stir every minute or so until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes, then add the lemon juice, spinach and smoked paprika.

Stir occasionally until the spinach wilts, about 5 minutes, then add the beans and brown sugar. Stir until heated through, about 5 minutes.

Bon Apetit!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spaghetti and Meatballs with Green Garlic Sauce

Yay green garlic! I love this stuff! I've been waiting for it to make another appearance in the veggie boxes so I could make it the star of a pasta sauce I've been dreaming up. And, since we got carrots AGAIN, I decided to chop up those tops and mix them into the meatballs. This is definitely not a "vegetable dish" but it's a nice way to use up some of the unconventional greens without resorting to making them disappear as just some more background noise while some other vegetables take center stage.

You will need 1 lbs of dried spaghetti noodles and:

Green Garlic Sauce

1 lbs green garlic, thinly sliced (about 3 medium sized stalks)

1 tbsp lemon juice

¼ cup butter

¼ cup olive oil

½ cup white wine

½ cup chicken or vegetable broth

1 egg

½ tsp salt


1 lbs ground beef

½ cup bread crumbs

2 eggs

2 cloves garlic

1 medium sized bunch of carrot tops or parsley

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

2 eggs

1/4 tsp salt

To make the meatballs, mince the garlic and the carrot tops. In a large skillet over high heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and black pepper. Stir constantly. When the garlic just begins to brown, add the carrot tops. Stir constantly until the carrot tops are cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Combine all of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl and roll the mixture into small balls, using about 1 tablespoon of the mixture for each meatball.

Using the same skillet (there's no need to wash it) heat up the olive oil and the butter for the sauce over medium heat. When the oil is hot, fry the meatballs, turning them over as they brown. When the meatballs are cooked through, about five minutes, remove them from the oil and let them drain on a plate lined with a paper towel. You will need to fry the meatballs in batches.

While the meatballs are cooking, begin preparing 1 pound of spaghetti noodles according to the package directions. Season the water with salt, garlic powder and a bay leaf.

When the meatballs are cooked, reduce the heat to low and add the green garlic to the oil. Stir occasionally until the garlic has softened, about 10 minutes. Turn the heat up to high and add the remaining sauce ingredients except for the egg. Stir occasionally until the alcohol has cooked off, about 5 minutes, then turn off the heat.

When the sauce has stopped simmering, crack the egg into a medium bowl and beat it well. While continuing to beat the egg, slowly add about 1/2 cup of the sauce mixture and incorporate well. While stirring the sauce, add the egg mixture to the sauce and mix well. Don't worry if the sauce separates a little, once it's mixed with the spaghetti, no one will notice.

Add the meatballs to the sauce, and put them over very low heat. If it begins to simmer, turn the heat off.

Once the spaghetti is cooked, drain the water from the pot, and then add the sauce and meatballs. Cook everything over high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, then move the pot to a cool burner.

Bon Apetit!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Honey Punch

I've acquired several citrus fruits via the veggie boxes and a friendly neighborhood lemon tree. Needing a drink to bring to a potluck tomorrow, I decided to concoct an improvised honey punch from 3 lemons, 3 oranges and the big yellow fruit I'm going to assume is a pomelo.

I had actual bottled honey punch a few years ago, but I can't for the life of me remember what it tastes like. The honey punch I came up with is quite tasty though, and I can't wait to serve it to my friends!

You could probably call any light fruity beverage flavored with honey "honey punch" but if this flies in the face of any honey punch purists out there, I apologize in advance.

Honey Punch

Juice of 3 lemons, 3 oranges and 1 pomelo
1 1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp vanilla extract
A dash of nutmeg
1 gallon of water

Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher and chill. Serve over ice and garnish with mint if desired.

This is not so much a recipe as it is an idea. Pretty much any fruit juice will work, you'll just have to adjust how much water and honey you use depending on how sweet the fruit juice is. Even if you use the exact quantity and type of fruit I have listed here, all fruits are not created equal, so you may have to play with the honey and water measurements anyway. Just keep tasting until it tastes right.

Bon Apetit!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Oven Roasted Carrots

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Clean and peel 2 pounds carrots. Cut carrots into 1 1/2 to 2 inch long pieces, further slice these into thin spears. Place carrots on a baking sheet and lightly coat with oil (canola, olive, walnut, coconut). Season the carrots with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons - 1 tablespoon of seasoning (thyme, herbes de provence, sweet basil, dill, italian blend, etc.) Finely dice 2 cloves of garlic or 1 small shallot or ¼ of medium onion. Sprinkle over carrots.

Bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until carrots are softened but still maintain a bit of crunch.

Serve while hot or chill and serve later. Great as a side or atop salads of spinach, lettuce and/or grains.

Roasted Beet Salad

1 bunch beets (3/4 pound without greens or 1 1/4 pound with), trimmed

1/4 cup sliced almonds
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups lettuce or arugula or baby spinach or other mixed salad greens
+ or - ¼ cup goat or feta cheese
optional: 1 cup cooked wheat or spelt berries or quinoa

Preheat oven to 400°F. Wrap beets in foil and roast in middle of oven until tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Unwrap beets and cool.

While beets are roasting, roast almonds on baking tray in toaster oven or lower shelf of oven for 6-10 minutes until just beginning to toast.Cool almonds & then slice into thin pieces.

Stir together shallot, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, salt, and oil from almonds in a large bowl.

Slip skins from beets and halve large beets. Cut beets into 1/4-inch-thick slices and add to dressing, tossing to coat.

Arrange salad greens (and cooked grain) in individual bowls, place dressed beets atop salad base, drizzle with any dressing remaining in bowl. Top with spoonful of goat cheese or feta. Sprinkle with almonds.