Needless to say, this CSA challenge is, well, challenging. I know I’m a good cook, but I do fall into ruts, especially on the weekdays when time is shorter, so vegetables tend to come in simple salads or sautés or stir-fries. Getting vegetables that I wouldn’t normally buy in my day-to-day grocery purchases has been the nudge I really needed to try something new. So, with a little inspiration, I have two dishes that used items from my CSA box.
First up, Beet & Apple Pureé, as inspired by The Silver Palate Cookbook (which I found an old copy in near-perfect condition at the used book store for $2). I’ll admit it right now: I’m not really a big fan of beets. I don’t hate them, but I just don’t ever reach for them when I’m at the farmer’s market. I received two Candy Striped Beets in my box and they cooked up to a really gorgeous sunset pink-orange which once blended with the apples, turned the puree a lovely golden-rosy color. I think this is a great way to introduce beets to those who don’t really like beets–the apples and the caramelized onions sweeten and temper the earthiness of the beets. As mentioned by The Silver Palate, this goes well served hot with pork, duck or goose, or cold with grilled sausages.
Beet & Apple Pureé adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins
Makes approximately 2 cups
- 2 medium beets, washed and green tops removed
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 3 medium Granny Smith or any other tart apple
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon fruity and/or sweet vinegar, such as raspberry, balsamic, etc.
- Salt to taste
- Put beets in saucepan, cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, turn heat down to medium, and simmer beets until tender, about 30-40 minutes.
- While beets are simmering, melt butter in large skillet on medium-low heat and add onions. Gently cook onions until tender and beginning to caramelize, about 30 minutes.
- Add apples, sugar and vinegar and cook until apples are tender, about 10 minutes.
- When beets are ready, cool until they can be handled and slip off skins, chop roughly and put into a food processor. Add apple-onion mixture with a pinch of salt to food processor and pulse until smooth.
- Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed; serve warm or cold as desired.
Next up, is a Chard Gratin with bacon and chèvre (of course there’s bacon, I hear you say). Now, I do like chard, but I usually do a simple braise in chicken stock and garlic or a basic sauté with olive oil and a little lemon juice. This time, I was ready to branch out, and I found inspiration at Oui, Chef with his Rainbow Chard and Chévre Casserole and through my friend, Sonya, who told me about her way of making chard (bacon, goat cheese, and tons of slow cooked garlic and onions. YUM. Sometimes I crack an egg on it and call it breakfast).
I did have to tweak it since I was working with what I had, and what I didn’t have was chicken stock (I desperately need to make a batch soon), and what basil I have I’m holding on to for making tomato soup tomorrow. What I did have was bacon, and bacon and greens are a match made in heaven. You guys, this is ridiculously good and if you can’t stand the idea of chard, but like spinach, that would be a perfectly acceptable substitute. I actually made a double batch of the sauce and saved half for my spinach later this week, because it’s just that good if you love chévre.
One problem with the changing seasons is that it’s now dark when we sit down for dinner–and my notoriously not-very-well-lit living room is making photography a challenge. Even with playing around with GIMP, my pictures are looking like they’re straight out of a 60′s cookbook.
Chard Gratin with Bacon & Chévre
- 1 pound Rainbow Chard
- 4 ounces bacon, diced
- 1/4 medium yellow onion, diced fine (appx. 1/4 cup)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 cup half & half (more if needed to thin sauce)
- 4 ounces chévre, crumbled
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Butter, as needed
- Wash and chop chard; remove stalks first and chop into 1/2″ pieces, then cut leaves into 1″ strips (or if you want to be fancy, you can say chiffonade). In a saucepan, add 1 cup water with a hefty pinch of salt and bring to a hard simmer. Add stalks and simmer uncovered for 4-5 minutes. Add leaves, simmer for 2 more minutes, then cover saucepan and remove from heat; let steam for 6-8 minutes. Drain chard in colander and set aside.
- In a large skillet on medium heat, cook bacon until crispy, then remove and drain on paper towels. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat, turn heat to low, and add onion and garlic. Cook until onion is glossy and translucent and lightly browned.
- Sprinkle flour over onions and cook roux for about 3 minutes, stirring often.
- Add half & half, and whisk until smooth and thickened. Add chévre and stir until melted. Season as needed with salt and pepper.
- Butter a small casserole dish and spread chard in casserole. Sprinkle with bacon then top with sauce.
- Place casserole under broiler on low setting and broil until sauce is browned and bubbling, about 6 to 8 minutes.
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