Saturday, July 3, 2010

Organic Vegetable Basket Inspires Dinner!

In my previous post I mentioned that I signed up for an organic basket program for the summer. It started this week and the picture above is from the first basket. All the vegetables are organic, more important to me is that they are fresh and local. They come from a farm in Franklin, Quebec which is just an hour out of the city. The program is 20 weeks long, so from now until mid November, there will be a basket available once a week. I foresee Thursdays being my new big dinner days! This week I didn't prepare a thing until I picked up the basket, then I went to the grocery store to get any missing ingredients. I think this is the best way to be inspired by your ingredients, instead of starting from a recipe. I gathered the ingredients and then said "what I can I cook from this?"

So for the contents of this weeks basket: Radishes which are bigger than golf balls!, Beets with greens intact, green onions, 1 zucchini, oak leaf lettuce, bok choy, thai basil, savory, garlic flowers & I exchanged cilantro for a huge napa cabbage. I was really pleased with the contents. There are a few items that I have never cooked with before but that is part of the adventure, plus it forces you to create new recipes!

So for dinner I made a garden fresh salad with honey/champagne vinaigrette & cabbage rolls.
 For the salad I used the oak leaves (new ingredient for me) they have a soft texture like a bibb lettuce but with a bit of a kick like arugula. I peeled and shaved a beet (if you slice a beet very thin it is enjoyable raw), green onions, radishes, & zucchini flowers (from my garden) I just tore them into the salad at the last minute. Ingredients not from my garden or the basket were goat cheese & tomatoes (next week hopefully). The recipe for the vinaigrette is at the bottom. The combination between the soft lettuce, crispy beets, smooth goat cheese and overall freshness of everything went really well with the sweet vinaigrette. When I tasted the vinaigrette on it's own it was very sweet from the honey, but it worked really with the earthiness from the beets and the tangy goat cheese.

For the cabbage rolls, I picked up a meatloaf mix (ground pork,veal,beef) at the grocery store and used some leftover tomato sauce that I had made earlier in the week. I sauteed onions, the zucchini and garlic (from my garden) together until softened, added the meat. I chopped up some of the Savory herb which I would say is like rosemary, sage & thyme got together. It is a very woodsy herb. I cooled the mixture added 1 egg whisked and 2 good handfuls of freshly grated parmesan. I blanched the large cabbage leaves in boiling water for 2-3 minutes until they were softened then drained and dried them. Then the assembly began. Put a little tomato sauce in the bottom of a baking dish so the rolls don't stick. Place a cabbage leaf on a board and add about 2 1/2 good spoonfuls of filling at about the middle of the leaf. Fold the bottom of the leaf up, tuck the sides in and roll to create a little package. Some of my leaves were broken it's not a big deal after-all cabbage rolls aren't exactly a gourmet meal! Place the rolls in the baking dish, top with tomato sauce and bake covered for 30 minutes  @ 350.  I topped them with a little more parmesan, they were pretty yummy and not as much of a pain to make as I thought they would be! They also reheat really well. 
Honey Vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 5 tablespoons extra-light olive oil
  • Ground white pepper

Whisk together the first 3 ingredients and then slowly whisk in the oil so the dressing emulsifies. Add pepper to taste. 

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