Cooking With This Week's Box
It is definitely starting to look and feel a bit more like fall. The leaves are just starting to change and this week we’re harvesting leeks, which for us is part of that transition from summer to fall. We included russet potatoes in this week’s box, so if you have a tradition of making Leek & Potato Soup with the first leeks of the season, go for it. If you’re looking to try something new, check out the recipe for Carbonara with Leeks, Lemon & Bacon featured in this week’s newsletter (See below). I adapted this recipe from the original one posted at AlexandraCooks.com. I added sweet corn and the orange Ukraine sweet peppers to Alexandra’s recipe because, well I like vegetables and color! If you’re looking for a more simplified and/or vegetarian version of this recipe, she has another similar recipe on her blog for One-Pan Bucatini with Leeks and Lemon.
Back to those potatoes, russet potatoes are a starchier potato which means you could turn them into mashed potatoes if you’d like. There’s a recipe in our archives for Leek & Cheese Mash which uses leftover mashed potatoes. However, my favorite thing to do with these potatoes is to roast them whole. In fact I have some in the oven right now! Just rub the outside with oil and sprinkle them generously with salt and some ground black pepper. Bake them on a cookie sheet until they are tender, then slice them in half and top with butter and sour cream or whatever baked potato toppings you like! This can become a meal on its own or eat it alongside meatloaf for a nice homey meal.
This week’s red Boston lettuce is so tender and delicious, I can’t wait to turn it into a beautiful salad. I think I’ll cook the beets and dice them into bite-sized pieces for the salad. Make this simple Balsamic Vinaigrette featured at The Kitchn to dress the lettuce and then finish off the salad with a little bit of fresh grated Parmesan and these Quick Stovetop Candied Pecans! Now that is a salad! Hold on to the beet greens, they are far too tasty to toss in the compost. It’s been awhile since I’ve made one of Richard’s favorites, Creamed Beets with Greens. Whatever beets are remaining after the salad will go in here along with all of the beet greens. This would be an excellent dish to serve with those baked russet potatoes and a nice grilled T-bone steak!
I came across this recipe for Southwestern Quinoa Salad at Food52.com. This will make use of the grape tomatoes and an ear or two of this week’s sweet corn. The recipe calls for scallions and poblanos, but I’m going to substitute thinly sliced red onions and orange Italian frying peppers instead. For a little heat, I’ll include maybe half of a jalapeno. This salad also contains black beans and feta, so it has enough body to it to stand on its own as a main dish salad to take for lunch or to have on hand for a quick dinner. It could also be a nice accompaniment to grilled salmon or fish.
I’ve said it before, but I really enjoy the flavor of Yukina Savoy. It has remained pretty mild in flavor with the cool days and nights we’ve had. I’m going to adapt this recipe for Skillet Chicken with Bok Choi to include the yukina savoy. Served with rice, this will become a quick and easy dinner. If you have any sweet peppers remaining, add those in with the yukina savoy for a little extra color.
I’ve never made tomato pie, but have wanted to for several years and have heard several people talking about it at market over the past few weeks. This week I’m going to use the larger tomatoes to try this Tomato Cheddar Pie. This looks like a good dish to serve for Sunday brunch with a slice of bacon on the side.
We’ve almost used every item in the box, except for the broccoli or cauliflower. These two items are interchangeable in this recipe for Broccoli Salad with Sunflower Seeds & Cranberries. This recipe calls for bacon, but I think I’ll opt to leave that out of this recipe and just enjoy the sweetness of the cranberries and the crunch of the sunflower seeds alongside the raw broccoli or cauliflower lightly dressed with a simple mayonnaise dressing. This is another easy salad to take along for lunch and eat with a simple sandwich.
Well, that brings us to the end of another delicious week of cooking. Looking ahead to next week, it looks like we’ll have another fun fall vegetable coming our way to go along with the leeks and potatoes. Can you guess what it might be? See you next week!
Vegetable Feature: Leeks
We’ve been enjoying a variety of vegetables in the onion/allium family since our first box all the way back in May. From ramps and chives to overwintered spring onions, scallions and most recently sweet onions. This week we’ll add leeks to the list. Leeks are a favorite fall allium that, as Chef Deborah Madison says, “add more of a whisper and less of a shout.” Leeks have a more delicate, mild onion flavor and are cooked using more delicate cooking methods to yield a soft, silky finished product. They have fewer sugars than onions, so they will not caramelize in the same way as an onion.
Leeks have a long white shank that turns to more of a bluish green color as you reach the top of the leek. The shank is made of many thin layers and is the portion of the leek most often used. However, the green portion on top is equally edible and at the very least should be added to stock for flavor. Throughout the growing process, dirt is hilled up on the leeks to cover and blanch the shank. As a result, dirt may get between the layers. While you need to take care to carefully clean the entire leek, the upper portion may have a bit more dirt between the layers and may need a little more attention. I find it easiest to wash the exterior of the leek and then slice them. Place the chopped leeks in a sink of clean, cold water and swish them around to remove any dirt. Remove the leeks from the water and place in a colander to drain. If there isn’t much dirt between the layers, you may also just place the sliced leeks in a colander and rinse them.
Leeks pair well with many fall vegetables including potatoes, celeriac, and fennel. They are often incorporated into cream soups, gratins and egg dishes such as quiche. A traditional use for leeks is to make Leek & Potato Soup, of which there are many variations. It is best to take your time and cook leeks more gently and slowly over medium heat. Saute them over low heat to just sweat them until softened. When cooked in this manner, leeks become creamy and have a silk-like texture. They pair well with white wine, lemon, cream, cheese, apples, walnuts, chicken, bacon, fish and fresh herbs to name just a few ingredients.
Store leeks loosely wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them.
Carbonara with Leeks, Lemon & Bacon
Yield: 4 servings
Coarse salt and ground pepper, to taste
6 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
3 cups thinly sliced leeks, white and light-green parts only, rinsed well
1 cup fresh sweet corn kernels (from 1-2 ears of corn)
1 cup thinly sliced sweet peppers
½ to ¾ pound bucatini or spaghetti
2 large eggs
¼ cup (heaping) grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for serving (optional)
1 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp lemon juice, plus more as needed
½ cup fresh parsley leaves, coarsely chopped (optional)
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain, leaving excess fat in pan—you should have about 2 tablespoons. If you do not have that much, add a little olive oil to the pan. Add leeks, sweet corn and sweet peppers to the hot pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook, stirring often, over medium heat until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Add pasta to boiling water and cook according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid before draining the cooked pasta.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, Parmesan, lemon zest and juice. Whisk ¼ cup pasta water into egg mixture.
4. Once the egg mixture has been combined, immediately add the hot, drained pasta to the egg mixture, along with bacon, vegetables, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss to combine. If necessary, add more of the reserved pasta cooking liquid to get the desired sauce consistency and adjust the seasoning to your liking with additional salt, pepper and lemon juice as needed. If you’d like to put the pasta back in the pan and warm it up before serving, do so over low heat so the eggs don’t curdle. The sauce on this pasta will be light, but creamy. Serve immediately with more cheese on top.