Tag Archives: CSA

Chicken & Radicchio Pasta Salad

Post # 200.

Amazing–it feels like just yesterday that I decided to make an apple pie (well, two–I’ve never been the type to do things by halves) and then blog it!  But, 200 posts later, I’m still loving the blogging world!

I also added a new page to the blog today–called “Top 100”.  It’s a list from the New York Times naming the top 100 novels from 1923–present.  I’ve started using it as an inspiration when I want to combine what I’m reading by chance (read: books I choose based on their titles and covers alone) with something that will definitely enrich my selection and hopefully make me a little smarter, too.  And nerdier?  Definitely.  So check it out and let me know if you’ve read any of them, and which ones you think I should tackle next.

In last week’s CSA box we received a head of radicchio, which I had never tried before.  When I googled it and discovered that is it very bitter, I got a little nervous.  I am frankly just not a fan of bitter greens, so I knew I’d have to cook this to make it palatable.

And of course I was also hoping to somehow make it beyond palatable into something more delicious.  I adapted this pasta salad recipe from Food & Wine’s Best of the Best Cookbook Recipes, from Laura Pensiero’s Hudson Valley Mediterranean.  Her mantra is:

Eat healthy, enjoy food, live well, and never sacrifice flavor.

Now that is a mantra I can get behind.

Chicken & Radicchio Pasta Salad Printable Recipe Card

  • 8 oz dry whole-wheat pasta (I used macaroni)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 small head radicchio, shredded (for a shredding tutorial, go here)
  • 12 oz chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 C frozen peas
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (or 1/2 t dried garlic)
  • 1 1/2 t mustard (I used Trader Joe’s Hot and Sweet Mustard–mmm)
  • 1/2 C chicken broth
  • 1/4 C freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente.  Drain and place in a large bowl–this is where the entire salad is going to end up, so make sure there’s enough room.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet, and saute the onion until translucent and beginning to brown.  Add the radicchio and saute for a few more minutes until it cooks down, but not until it’s totally limp.  Add the onions and radicchio to the pasta bowl, and mix.  Now is a good time to add the frozen peas, too–the hot pasta will defrost ’em.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and add the other tablespoon of olive oil to the (now empty) skillet.  Cook the garlic until fragrant (30 seconds or so), and add the chicken, saute until golden brown and cooked through.  Add the mustard and chicken broth, and cook until the broth reduces volume by half.  Lastly, pour in the Parmesan cheese and stir until it melts and forms a nice, thick sauce.

Add the chicken mixture to the macaroni bowl.  Mix.  Taste.  Be surprised that the radicchio, though bitter, isn’t bad.  Taste again.  Salt and pepper to taste, toss it one more time, and steal one more taste.

Yum.  Serve either warm, at room temperature, or cool.  It is totes up to you.

I really enjoyed this pasta dish–definitely an entrée and not a side, and full of different textures.  The radicchio was still bitter, but not overwhelming.  I had this for lunch today with half of a grilled zucchini and a roasted beet: vegetable city.

For people who don’t need to use up their CSA veggies and don’t like bitter greens, you can make this recipe with spinach or Swiss chard, too.  But if you can, give radicchio a chance (because it’s always good to add some variety in your diet!).

Speaking of CSA boxes, say hello to week seven:

And say hello to radicchio number two–guess I’ll have to find another cooked radicchio recipe for this week, too.  Any suggestions?

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11 Comments

Filed under Entrees, Salads

Spicy Pickled Beets

Sometimes I have moments in which I realize that I am rapidly turning into an 89-year old obstinate Hungarian grandmother.

These moments happen more often than I like to admit.

For instance, I sometimes dream of owning chickens in my own backyard.  This is weird, because we actually had chickens in my backyard when I was a kid, and they are disgusting.  They stink, they peck each other to death, and they lay delicious brown eggs every day.  I want them.

I also sometimes wish I could wrap a giant scarf around my head instead of doing my hair.  Not in the movie star, big sunglasses kind of way, but in the gingham, burlap sack dress, and bare feet kind of way.

The clincher was when I woke up this morning craving pickled beets.  What self-respecting 20-something year old with a closet full of pretty dresses and high heels craves beets, much less of the pickled variety?  My complete transformation appears inevitable.

You can just call me nagyanya (“grandmother” in Hungarian).

Spicy Pickled Beets (adapted from this recipe)

  • 1 1/2 lb beets (I actually had just a smidgen over a lb)
  • 1 large onion (though I used 1 large and an old baby one)
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1/4 C red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 C white vinegar (feel free to experiment with types of vinegar or just use 1/2 C of one variety)
  • 1/4 t black peppercorns
  • 1/8 t ground cloves
  • 1/4 t ground allspice
  • 1 t dill seeds
  • 1 t salt

First, wash and roast the beets.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, wrap the beets tightly in foil, and roast until they are soft (a good test is if they can easily be pierced with a wooden skewer).  This should take about an hour.

Meanwhile, chop the onions (I made half rings, about 1/8-1/4″ thick), and cover with boiling water.  Let it sit for ten minutes, then drain and allow to cool.  This should take out some of the bite of the onions without having to cook the whole mixture together.

Combine 3/4 C boiling water with the sugar and stir until dissolved.  Add the vinegars and remaining seasonings: salt, peppercorns, allspice, cloves, and dill.  Set aside.

Once the beets are roasted, peel them (an easy trick is to use a dry paper towel to slip the skins off) and slice them.  Layer them with the onions in a large enough jar, and pour the vinegar mixture over the top.

Place the jar in the fridge and allow it to sit for at least a day until eating.

I hate when my pickled beet cravings have to wait a day to be realized.  And no, I’m not pregnant–just weird. 

The original recipe says that this can most likely be stored “forever”, but I wouldn’t try that.  With the sugary, salty brine, though, it’ll probably come pretty close.

I’m excited to try these on sandwiches, in salads, and probably just plain.  Remember?  I’m weird.

Plus, how can you not love the sweet and sour taste of pickled beets?

Pickling things (especially without the trouble of canning them, since I’m just making one jar and keeping it refrigerated) is a perfect way to keep items from my CSA box from going bad.  Expect to see a lot more pickled goodies in the future.  And possibly some jams.  Jellies.  Compotes.

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Filed under Side Dishes

Rhubarb and Red Wine Compote

The weather lately (really exciting topic, huh?) has been kind of gray, rainy, and chilly, and it’s reminding me very much of why I love fall.  I get to wear sweaters and scarves and not feel weird when I make food that uses copious amounts of cinnamon and ground cloves.  I also get to play melancholy music on my Ipod and think nostalgic thoughts.  Fall–I can’t wait ’till you get here.

But until then, I decided to combine a little summer and autumn together in this rhubarb (which, by the way, I keep accidentally typing as “rhubard”) and red wine compote.  Let the red wine, cinnamon, and cloves remind us of fall, while the ice cream and rhubarb keep us from missing out completely on summer.

And the melancholy music?  Well, that’s up to you.

Rhubarb and Red Wine Compote (original recipe here)

  • 1 lb rhubarb (I used a little over a lb with delightful results)
  • 2 C red wine (our choice: South African pinotage)
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1 t honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 t ground cloves

Chop the rhubarb in one-inch pieces, and combine with the other ingredients.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium, simmering until it reduces to your desired thickness.  You might want to err on the side of too runny, ’cause it’ll continue to thicken as it cools.

Absolutely serve it over ice cream–I brought it to a girls’ night, and we had it over vanilla bean ice cream and (the popular favorite) coconut almond fudge.  Perfect combination, especially with some fresh sliced strawberries on top.

This brew will make your kitchen (and house) smell like rich red wine and the gorgeous warm spices of fall.  Perfect timing now that our heat wave has abated and it’s actually quite chilly at night.

This compote served a table full of ladies with lots to spare.  Other uses–swirled into some oatmeal (you guys know how I feel about oats by now, right?), in yogurt, on toast…if you can dream it up, you can make it happen.

Tomorrow we get to pick up our next CSA box, and it’s perfect timing, since we have just about managed to finish off the bounty from last week (last recipe should be happening tomorrow morning!).  Have a beautiful night!

9 Comments

Filed under Sauces

Our CSA Box, and Crispy Chard Chips

After months of excited anticipation (I know, I’m such a dork), we finally got our first (and second) CSA box!

Because Fritz and I are idiots, when I was out-of-town last week, I forgot to call and remind him to pick up our first box.  Major bummer–but part of the fun of buying from a small farmer is that you can call them and figure out a solution to your own stupid mistakes.  Maggie, the farmer’s wife, offered to give us a few veggies that we missed last week so we wouldn’t feel like we wasted a week’s worth of money.  Isn’t that nice?  Not to mention that the box we forgot to pick up got donated to someone else who needed it (you’re welcome!).

So this is really about a week and a half worth of veggies:

And yes, they are as vibrant and green and delicious as they look.

Here’s the issue, though.  Now I have an entire tableful of greens–and I refuse to waste any of them!  You’ll be seeing a lot of greens-based recipes this year.  Between the green monsters (they use up a lot of greens, really fast) and salads, I’m not too worried about getting through them.  I also blanched and froze the beet greens, and I have some other fun things planned for the next few days.

Fritz is out-of-town for the weekend with his dad, though (and he took my camera!), so that is going to make cooking, blogging, and eating those greens a lot more difficult.

Our first recipe?  Crispy chard chips.

Crispy Chard Chips

  • 1 bunch chard (or kale, or any hearty green)
  • 1-2 T olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Rinse the chard leaves and tear them into pieces–they can be as large or small as you want–I went pretty large.  Drizzle two cookie sheets with the olive oil and divide the chard pieces between them.  Using your hands, toss the leaves with the olive oil until they are evenly coated.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper (and other spices if you want–garlic salt, paprika, chili powder…go crazy!).

Place on a middle rack in the oven and bake until dry and crispy, about 20 minutes.  Once they are cool, they shouldn’t stick to the bottom of the pan (thanks to the olive oil) but they may need to be gently loosened to remove them.  You can store these in a Tupperware container or plastic baggies, but trust me, they’ll go pretty quickly.

The crunchy, salty satisfaction of potato chips with all the health benefits of leafy greens.

I took these to school for a snack during my long days of lectures.  It was so nice to have a snack that feels like potato chips, since I try not to eat them but I really, really love them.

Really, really, really love them.

So far, the CSA has been a success–but I’ll update you again next week.  Hope you get a few minutes today to enjoy the weather (if you live near me) or just have some time for yourself.  Au revoir!

9 Comments

Filed under Snacks, Vegetarian