One Pot Mac ‘n’ Cheese

slow-baked mac 'n' cheese
slow-baked mac 'n' cheese nad beets
Slow-baking can be a time saver!

Ever have one of those days when you have so much scheduled that it doesn’t seem as though you’ll have time to make dinner? We thought so. Well, we’re here to help you out, because, today and tomorrow, we’ll be posting a couple of dishes that you put together in the morning, pop them in a low oven, and let them bake all day long. Come dinner time, everything is ready (there may be a little bit of work left, but not too much).

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Pecan Rice

pecan rice
pecan rice
A simple side. Or a light main.

We’d just picked up fresh organic pecans at the CSA on Tuesday. They weren’t part of our share; instead, they were offered for sale by the Desert Ashram here in Tucson. Now, we’ve had these pecans before, and they’re very good; the Ashram folks offer them at pretty good prices, too. Especially seeing as they’re local and organic. That got us thinking about what to make with pecans.

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Orecchiette, Peas, and Ricotta, with Lemon Zest

orecchiette, peas, ricota, and lemon zest
orecchiette, peas, ricota, and lemon zest
Fast and easy!

Yesterday, you saw us make up a batch of orecchiette pasta, with the idea that sometimes you want pasta that’s not ribbon-shaped. Well, it just so happens that, the same day, we planned to make this dish that needs orecchiette pasta. Or, at least some pasta that has a three-dimensional shape, and is not a ribbon. The idea of the differently-shaped pasta is to match the shape to the sauce. If you have a slick, creamy, sauce, you want pasta that has a shape with a lot of ridges, nooks, and crannies to hold that sauce in place. That way, you get a bite of sauce with each bite of pasta.

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Orecchiette

orecchiette
orecchiette
Look at those little ears, or orecchiette!

Sure, you’ve seen us make flat pastas like fettuccine, but what about when you want a fancy shape? After all, flat pastas are easy, but shapes? They seem hard. And we’re sure some of them are difficult, if not impossible, to make at home without specialized equipment. Think pasta extruder. But, other shapes have been made at home for a long, long time.

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Sweet! Sweet Potatoes!

weekly CSA share
Sweet! We picked up a bunch of sweet potatoes this week in our CSA share.

Not only did we get six sweet potatoes, we were also able to trade the dandelion greens for another bag of wheat berries.

So for this week, in total, our share included:

  • Sweet potatoes (6)
  • Green garlic (1 bunch)
  • Grapefruit (3)
  • Beets (1 bunch)
  • Curly kale (1 bunch)
  • Chard (1 bunch)
  • Dandelion greens (1 bunch), traded for more wheat berries
  • Wheat berries (1 bag)

Plus, we were able to pick up a few bunches of I’itoi onions from the surplus basket.

When dandelion greens show up in our share, we always head on over to the trading table; we just cannot figure out a way to prepare dandelion greens in a manner that we find palatable. They’re way too bitter. This time, we got another bag of wheat berries, which, for some reason, are generally not as popular with other CSA members. Fortunately, we like them; plus, they stay good forever.

Update 2 April. As always, we just ate the grapefruit. We’re quite predictable that way, but it’s also true that, this year, the grapefruit have come in extra-sweet. Probably the best-tasting crop in the last five years. We did eat a couple of sweet potatoes, but that was when we needed something fast, so we just popped them in the microwave. We’ve been using the green garlic here and there; it has a stronger garlic taste, so we’re more sparing in the amount we use, but we’ll go through it. The beets we did up (along with last week’s beets) as Slow-Baked Beets with an Orange Gremolata Sauce, and we steamed the beet greens (and chard) for sides. The Curly kale went into a batch of Kale and Dried Mushroom Pesto. We had some on toasted whole-wheat bread, and the rest on whole-wheat pasta. And we did have some wheat berries cooked up along with rice when we made a large batch of Beans & Rice.

Brown Sugar

brown sugar

Now, we’ll be the first to admit that we don’t actually make brown sugar from scratch every time we need some. But, this past weekend we were whipping up a batch of Best Ever Granola and found that we were out of brown sugar! What to do? Run to the store? Nah. Let’s just make some. After all, if you look at the ingredients list for some brown sugars, you’ll find sugar and molasses. We have molasses and sugar, so let’s scratch it out. Continue reading “Brown Sugar”

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale Soup)

caldo verde
Ah, soup and bread. Always a winner!
Ah, soup and bread. Always a winner!

We’ve waffled quite a bit on making Caldo Verde (literally “green broth”) over the last couple of years. Most recipes (even by “famous” chefs) are often for a vegetable soup (beans, tomatoes, etc.), to which the cook adds kale and calls it a day. But, when we read the traditional ingredients (potatoes, kale, olive oil, sausage, salt, and pepper), we really wanted to go that route. But, as you’ll see, we had to make some adjustments for what we had on hand, making something a bit closer to the real deal. After all, we can already make vegetable soup. How close we came to the traditional caldo verde flavor, well, we’re not sure. Why don’t you try scratchin’ up a batch and let us know?

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