Monday, June 30, 2008

Picadillo Purple Cabbage Rolls & Rosemary Garlic Roasted Purple Potatoes and Baby Beets

CSA items used in these recipes: Purple Cabbage, Purple Potatoes, Baby Beets, Carrots, Tomato, Garlic

Finally another post!  I made these dishes for dinner on Saturday.

Many years ago my good friend, Mirtha, taught me how to make Cuban Picadillo.  I love all her Cuban dishes, but picadillo has always been my favorite.  Picadillo is often served with yellow rice and black beans or sealed in pastry to make deep fried picadillo empanadas.  Since I had a lovely purple cabbage I decided to stuff the cabbage leaves with picadillo and make cabbage rolls. 

I believe Cuban picadillo typically includes potatoes, but Mirtha substitutes apples which provide a sweet contrast to the salty Spanish olives.  I used an apple as well and also added diced carrots.  

I needed a side dish so I decided to stick with the purple theme since there were also purple potatoes in this week's CSA.   I decided to roast the potatoes and since I didn't have many, I supplemented them with the remaining baby beets from a couple of weeks ago.  I tossed the potatoes and beets with olive oil, fresh CSA garlic and minced rosemary from my garden and roasted them in the oven.  The purple potatoes were good roasted.  They were slightly crispy and creamy and smooth on the inside.

Once again, dinner was a hit!  Tim made the comment the picadillo would be a good sloppy joe substitute.  I might try serving it on a bun sometime with a good melting cheese.

If you don't wish to make cabbage rolls, you can serve the picadillo alongside the rice rather than mixing it in or try making empanadas.

RECIPE: Picadillo Purple Cabbage Rolls
Serves 4-6

1.25 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 apple, diced
1 medium carrot, diced (I used 3 young carrots)
3 medium cloves of garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 t. ground cumin
2 t. dried oregano (or 4 t. chopped fresh oregano)
1/4 c. raisins
1/3 c. green olives (Any green olives are fine - spanish pimiento-stuffed, cracked green olives, etc.  I used some small green olives with thyme that I bought at the Middle Eastern grocery.)
2 T. brine from green olives
1 small can tomato sauce
1 large or 2 small tomatoes, diced
1/4 c. water
Salt and Pepper to taste

1 package yellow rice mix, cooked according to package instructions to yield about 3 cups of cooked rice (or use your imagination and make your own rice. I used long grain and wild rice since I did not have saffron rice.)

12-16 large purple cabbage leaves for stuffing

Press ground beef between paper towels to remove excess moisture.  This will make browning easier.  Heat large skillet (I used a chicken fryer) over medium high to high heat.  Crumble ground beef and add to heated skillet.  Continue cooking until beef begins to brown and some bits are caramelized.  (It's okay if the beef appears dry.  Cooking it until it caramelizes will result in more flavor.)

Add onion, apple and carrots to the pan and sauté until the onions are soft.  Add the minced garlic and cook for about 30 seconds until fragrant.  Add the bay leaves, cumin and oregano, raisins, olives, olive brine, 1/2 the can of tomato sauce and the chopped tomatoes.  Cooking, stirring occasionally for five minutes.  Add the cooked rice to the pan and stir to combine.Taste Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired.  Reduce heat to medium low and cover. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, while preparing the cabbage leaves for stuffing.  

To prepare cabbage leaves for stuffing, cook for 5 minutes in a vegetable steamer or place 1 cup of water in the bottom of a plastic mixing bowl, set a plastic colander inside the mixing bowl, placing the cabbage leaves in the colander and covering the top of the colander with plastic wrap.  Microwave on high for 3 minutes.

To stuff the cabbage leaves, place small amount of picadillo near the stem end of a leaf, fold over once, fold in each side and fold to close.  Place the rolls in a skillet.  Mix the other half of the can of tomato sauce with the water and pour over the cabbage rolls.  Place a lid on the skillet and heat over medium heat.  Steam cabbage rolls for five minutes and serve.

RECIPE: Rosemary Garlic Roasted Purple Potatoes & Baby Beets
Serves 2-3

2 cups small purple potatoes, quartered
1 cup baby beets, cut in half
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. minced rosemary
1 T. olive oil
1/2 t. ground pepper
1 t. kosher salt

Preheat oven to 500º.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  In a large bowl, toss the potatoes and beets with the garlic, rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Spread potatoes and beets evenly on the baking sheet.  Cook for 10 minutes and turn with a spatula.  Cook another 5-10 minutes until potatoes are fork tender.  Serve.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Shrimp, Roasted Vegetable and Basil Pesto Pasta

CSA Items used in the following recipes: Basil, garlic, eggplant, spring carrots, zucchini, summer squash, Walla Walla spring onions, broccoli and chives

This weeks CSA included a beautiful and tasty variety of vegetables and herbs including 2 eggplants, several squash, 3 tomatoes, a bunch of spring carrots, a head of broccoli, a beautiful red cabbage, a few green beans, a bunch of basil, a head of garlic and some chives.

I made pesto with the basil last night. I added a little white wine vinegar to some of the pesto and made a savory vinaigrette for my salad for lunch today and decided to use the rest in a pasta recipe for dinner tonight. I love pesto and I often find when I mix it with pasta it gets a little watered down and tastes bland, so I decided to roast vegetables to add to the pasta in order to intensify the flavor of the dish. I also sautéed some tender, sweet Louisiana gulf shrimp and added them to the dish. The result was a success. Tim says this is the best CSA dish yet and I have to agree with him!

RECIPE: Roasted Vegetable, Shrimp and Basil Pesto Pasta
Serves 4-6

2 small or one large eggplant
olive oil for drizzling
balsamic glaze for drizzling
salt and pepper

8 spring carrots
1 medium zucchini
1 medium summer squash
1 small head broccoli
1 bunch spring onions (or green onions with large bulbs)
olive oil for drizzling
balsamic glaze for drizzling
salt and pepper

1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (preferably wild caught)

12 oz pasta such as penne or rotini, cooked according to package directions

1 recipe Basil Pesto (see below for recipe or use 1 cup prepared pesto)

Optional garnish: Grated pecorino romano (or other hard grated Italian cheese such as parmigiano reggiano or grana padano) and chopped chives

Preheat oven to 400º. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with very thin layer of olive oil. Cut eggplant into large cubes. Place eggplant pieces in bowl and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic glaze. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix with a large spoon until evenly coated. Spread evenly on aluminum foil and roast 10-15 minutes until tender. Use spatula to loosen eggplant from foil and wrap foil loosely around eggplant to keep warm.

While eggplant is roasting, slice squash into 1/4 in. thick slices. Rinse broccoli and cut off florets, reserving stem for another use. Cut onion bulbs from spring onions, remove outer skin, cut off roots and rinse. Scrape baby carrots and rinse. Pat vegetables with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Place another piece of foil on baking sheet and spray with cooking spray or oil lightly. Place vegetables in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic glaze. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix with large spoon until evenly coated. Spread evenly on aluminum foil and roast 15-20 minutes, stirring once, until tender.

While vegetables are roasting, cook pasta according to package instructions.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat and add shrimp. Saute until shrimp are pink and opaque. Remove from heat.

Drain pasta and add back to pan with roasted vegetables, shrimp and pesto. Toss together until evenly coated.

Serve, sprinkling each serving with a little grated cheese and chopped chives.

RECIPE: Basil Pesto
Makes about 1 cup

1/2 c. grated pecorino romano (or other grated hard Italian cheese such as parmigiano reggiano or grana padano)
2 T sliced almonds (or pine nuts or chopped walnuts)
1 bunch basil
1 head roasted garlic, cloves divided and peeled or 2 cloves uncooked garlic, minced (NOTE: To roast garlic, remove out layers of garlic skin and cut off top to expose tops of individual cloves - drizzle a small amount of olive oil over cloves, wrap garlic head in foil and roast in a toaster oven for 20 minutes or until it feels tender when slightly squeezed)
olive oil

Place cheese and almonds in food processor and process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add basil and peeled roasted garlic or uncooked garlic. While processing, slowly drizzle olive oil into processor until mixture comes together and forms a smooth paste.
If not using immediately, place in a small container, cover with a thin layer of olive oil and store in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

This Week's CSA and Broiled Eggplant Recipe

I haven't posted in a couple of weeks because I was on vacation, so a friend picked up my CSA bag last week and she and her family enjoyed it.  I plan to post later about my trip to British Columbia where I enjoyed lots of delicious local food including seafood and vegetables as well as some fabulous British Columbia wines.

Today's CSA bag brought a much greater variety of items.  There was a bunch of young carrots, a bunch of baby beets, two heads of "German Porcelain" garlic, zucchini and summer squash, a lovely shiny purple eggplant, a large, almost ripe tomato, and more "Sweet Jewel" strawberries and collards.

I came home and made a lovely salad and topped it with some chopped carrots and baby beets. I didn't actually read my vegetable list before I started chopping and thought the "radishes" looked unusual inside.  They were striped like beets.  Well, that's because they were beets!  I put them on the salad anyway and they were delicious.  I'm glad I mistook them.  They had the same crunchy texture of radish and while they had a little bit of the bite of a radish, they were sweeter.  Of course the carrots were tender, sweet and crunchy.

I decided to go ahead and cook the eggplant while it was still so fresh.  I'm going to have it for lunch tomorrow with pasta and marinara sauce.  Following is my recipe for preparing broiled eggplant.

RECIPE: Broiled Eggplant
Serves 3 as a main dish or 5-6 as an hors d'oeuvres

1 large eggplant
Kosher salt
2 T olive oil or flavored oil such as basil oil
1 T sweet balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze
Ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmaggiano Reggiano

Slice the eggplant into 3/4 inch rounds.  Rub the surface of both sides of the eggplant sliceswith kosher salt and let stand between two paper towels and let stand for about 30 minutes to remove some of the moisture and bitterness. 

Set a baking rack in a cookie sheet and brush lightly with olive oil.

Wipe salt from surface of eggplant slices.  Mix 2 tablespoons of olive oil or basil oil with a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar (use a sweeter balsamic or balsamic glaze - not a harsh vinegary variety).  Brush both sides of eggplant slices with oil/balsamic mixture and sprinkle with ground black pepper.

Place slices on baking rack and set pan on middle rack of oven.  Broil for 4-5 minutes until balsamic caramelizes.  Remove from oven, turn over eggplant pieces and brush with oil/balsamic mixture on second side, sprinkle with ground black pepper and grated parmesan cheese.  Broil another 4-5 minutes until second side caramelizes.

Serve as a main dish with a side of pasta and marina or cut into cubes and serve as an hors d'ouevres.