Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Big Box of Produce

Now that I'm not the sole member of my household, I decided to give the Big Box of Produce a try again.  I always love the inspiration these boxes provide - so much beautiful, local, farm-direct goodness - but even the "Bin for One" is more than I can go through on my own in 2 weeks... Turns out the "Bin for One" is the perfect size for two... The first delivery was full of fun veggies I hadn't cooked with in a long time:
The box arrived pretty late in the evening, so our first meal just involved using the gorgeous red-leaf lettuce (I never realize how good lettuce can taste until I get it from this kind of place...) into a salad with some leaves from the celery, some snap peas, and some grilled chicken.  Simple and quick, but so delicious...
I had just received my pre-ordered copy of Maximum Flavor (by the good folks at Ideas in Food), and the first dish in there to catch my eye was the Lemon-Roasted Potatoes.  It seemed like the perfect use for the smaller potatoes in the delivery, as well as for the onion.  You steam off the potatoes...
... slice onion and lemons super-thin and line a dish with them...
... top this with the peeled, halved potatoes... 
... and cover the whole thing with a layer of thinly sliced butter (plus, if you're me, a pinch or two of cayenne). 
The potatoes come out of the oven caramelized and delicious.  The top has a nice crispness to it, while the bottom is incredibly creamy, and the whole thing is infused with lemony goodness...
Sticking with the lemon theme, we also used this meal as an excuse to use the celery from the bin.  I found a few recipes for celery salad, that are some combination of thin-sliced celery, celery leaves, lemon zest, and Parmesan, dressed with a little lemon juice and olive oil.
We seared off some braised, fennel-brined pork brisket to go with our lemony sides, and the result was one of the best meals we'd had in a long time... 
I was originally going to relegate the tomato to salad-topping duty, but then I realized that I still hadn't made D the homemade pizza I promised a few months ago...
With homemade pesto from my freezer and the last of the basil from the garden, I threw together one of my very favorite pizzas (pesto base topped with tomatoes, grilled chicken, and mozzarella, then finished with fresh basil when it comes out of the oven...) 
The "broccolette" was briefly steamed, then dressed with chili flakes and sesame to become the vegetable side in our go-to favorite Grilled Marinated Chicken with Random Veggie and Rice lunch...
With the cold weather we've been having, I decided to roast up the parsnips along with some of the carrots... 
... and then I threw the Delicata squash in the mix, too, because why not? 
Everything was sliced into similarly-sized pieces and tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and cayenne.  The squash seeds went in the oven, too, with a little butter, garlic powder, salt, and cayenne. 
When things started smelling amazing, we had a delicious side dish of roasted veggies... 
This ended up on the plate with a sous vide pork loin roast.  We topped the veggies with a little Parmesan and used the toasted squash seeds to top an arugula salad.  Yummmmmmmmm.... 
I had some grilled fresh corn vacuum-sealed in the freezer, and poking around for sweet potato recipes in my cookbooks led me to a Sweet Potato, Chicken, and Corn Chowder from the book 50 Chowders.  Turns out I had all of the ingredients on hand, so this gorgeous sweet potato... 
... became the reason we had this delicious chowder for dinner (and a few lunches of leftovers)...  
Ever since I made a Ricotta, Chicken, and Chard Pasta Bake with a Box of Produce from last year, I've wanted to make it again...  The Rainbow Chard here was the perfect excuse.
It smelled too good for us to remember to take a picture... so you'll just have to trust me that it rocked.   We still had the larger potatoes to roast up and also those gorgeous green beans.   Potatoes and green beans alike were tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper, cayenne, and Parmesan, then roasted off to perfection...
We cooked up a 48-hour skirt steak to go with these veggies, then seared it off in cast iron and made a pan sauce...  Ugly, but insanely delicious.  This was by far our favorite meal of the produce box.
The last major component was the peppers. 
I couldn't for the life of me think of anything to do with them, but I had some nice tortillas and some carnitas in the freezer, so quesadillas it was... We cooked up the peppers with a small onion...
We piled this onto a tortilla with the pork and a couple kinds of cheddar... 
... then folded the tortilla over and seared to golden-brown perfection...
We served our quesadillas up with some sous vide beans and a pile of pico de gallo that we threw together. Mmm.... 
So, that was the first box from this round of Big Boxes of Produce.  The new box just arrived and the gears are already turning in my mind... Expect to see Jerk Chicken, Kale and Ricotta Ravioli, and a few Emily-style classics in this spot in a couple weeks...

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