I've cooked bok choy before, but it's not a part of my regular repertoire. Its appearance in my CSA this week helped us get reacquainted. I really liked this dish. It's light, but filling, and packed with flavor from the ginger and garlic.
It's week 2 of the CSA and I've gone from super excited to holy parsnips, what am I going to do with it all? Originally, I was planning on splitting the share with my neighbor, but it turns out that splitting a CSA share isn't as easy as we thought. If you split it literally down the middle, then you end up with things like a half of a squash or four potatoes. Not enough of one thing to make a dish. On the other hand, if you do the "pick and choose" method, then you may leave your neighbor with things they don't like (like, parsnips, ahem). The third option is switching off weeks. After a test run during the first week, during which we used the "pick and choose" method, we decided that we would split the share by switching off: one week I would get the entire share and then next week she would. Sounds good, right? I thought so. Then I saw how many vegetables came this week and I started to feel overwhelmed.
I'm going to cook all these vegetables. It's going to take some planning, though.
Did I tell you I joined a CSA? It's my first ever. I've been on the fence about joining for a while now. For the most part, I eat seasonally, and I enjoy shopping at the farmers market each week, but I wasn't sure how I would do with a CSA. For one, I like going to the market each week. Being outside, chatting with vendors, seeing what looks good. Plus Josie loves the free gazpacho samples. We would miss going.
Then there are the stories of what to do with all that produce and reports of vegetable neglect from my friends who leave young onions and kale in the crisper, unattended, until they wilt.
But, when a neighbor told me that the neighborhood CSA pick up spot is a mere few blocks away and that I could split a share with another neighbor, I figured the only thing that was holding me back was, well, nothing. Someone from a farm in Lancaster would drop off tons of freshly dug vegetables for an affordable weekly cost? Sign me up.
Up until recently I've totally ignored carrots. It's like they didn't exist. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because the little pre-packaged, pre-peeled, nubby little impostors in the supermarket are flavorless bites, only worthy of whatever you dip them in. Or maybe it's because I just didn't know what to do with them.
When I came across this recipe in Fine Cooking, I knew I had to try it. Gratin is one of my favorite words in the dictionary. Mostly because it means something creamy + a vegetable that is ostensibly good for you.
What's not to love: carrots, cheese, panko, thyme. Sounds delicious. So I thought, if I'm going to invest in a relationship with carrots, this recipe could get me started. I pinned it on Things I want to Eat and forgot about it until I read this article in the New York Times, claiming that carrots were enjoying a "new spike in popularity," and that they are, apparently, the "new Brussel Sprout," which, as a side note, I happen to like alot.
On Saturday, after I made my zucchini "spread the love bread," I had about one pound of shredded zucchini left over. Not enough for another loaf of bread, but too much to toss. I asked myself what the Canal House ladies would do (WWTCHLD?) and of course they would make zucchini fritters for lunch. So that's just what I did. I used this recipe.
One of the most important steps in making zucchini fritters is to wring out the water that oozes from the shredded zucchini after it's shredded and salted. Otherwise you end up with soggy fritters that are impossible to crisp. Usually wringing out the water is done with a cheesecloth, but I didn't have one so I used paper towels. Paper towels work equally well. The problem is that you have to use about eight sheets, so after you are done you feel like you just exploited Brazil's rain forest. Note to self, I bet the Canal House ladies have a whole drawer full of cheesecloths.
You know what impresses me? When someone creates a delicious, Natalie-Cole-style salad. As in: unforgettable. Yes, that unforgettable. Unforgettable, in every way. The lettuce. The dressing. The little gems of fruit and beads of salt.
An extrodinary salad is not something one throws together at the last minute. It takes great care and attention to detail. It also costs a few bucks. If you have a garden, then you are on your way. Otherwise, make your way to the local farmers market. It's summer. Get. Out. Side. (Or, as my favorite writerwould say to me: Mary, leave your natural habitat-- the couch--behind).
This dish came together quickly, and, thanks to the spices, was full of flavor. My advice for those who want to make the dish, is to cook the ingredients in batches: first tofu, then vegetables, then noodles. Combine after each is cooked individually. Otherwise, the tofu falls apart and gets lost in noodles.