Thursday, June 28, 2012

CSA Box: Day 2

Yesterday was day 2 of my self-imposed CSA Challenge and I managed to make some progress. I did a little research and found a few recipes that would help polish off a few of the items. That made me elated and cooking something new is always interesting. It's the same kind of feeling I get when I'm lost. Finding my way out is the best part and when it comes to new recipes I particularly get excited at the thought that I might end up with something new to put into rotation.
Napa Cabbage Salad

First up was that napa cabbage. That thing is big. Seriously it's bigger than my head. I found a recipe for Napa Cabbage Salad at Food & Wine that would take care of the entire cabbage. Seemed easy enough. Only problem was I didn't have all the ingredients, so I got how do we say "a little creative." It called for Rice Wine Vinegar, which I didn't have. A little Internet research later and it turns out Red Wine Vinegar works in a pinch. Not bad, but I do think the Rice Wine Vinegar would have made it a bit lighter. It also called for slivered almonds. Another item I didn't have, but I did have radishes from the CSA box. I cut those bad boys into slivers and got a salad with crunch, but not so crunchy it might break my teeth. Bonus! I was a bit surprised by the amount of bugs in the cabbage and cleaning it was a bit more work than I expected. Overall salad tasty and fairly quick to make. Is it a keeper? Maybe in a pinch.

The salad made a dent in the scallions and radishes and completely polished off the Napa Cabbage. 

Next Up: Dinner

Fava Beans: Bigger Than Expected
Dinner rolls around and after salad for lunch I needed something a bit meatier. Next ingredient to conquer: Fava Beans. I've seen fava beans at markets before, but never really knew what they were. They look a bit like green beans on steroids. 

At first I had thought about making a hummus-like dip from the beans - seemed logical, but boring. Again, Food & Wine came to the rescue with a recipe for Mike Lata's Fava Bean Pasta e Fagioli. Since I've never made anything with fava beans and really had no idea how they taste I totally followed the recipe, which meant getting a few ingredients: 2 slices of bacon, an onion, and a sprig of rosemary. Not so bad. The bacon did wonders for the taste of the broth - making it a bit more meat-y than bacon-y. Plus when you're eating the soup getting a bit of bacon in the bite is kind of like the lovely surprise you get when you get a tiny shaped marshmallow in a bowl of Lucky Charms - Pure Joy!
Soup's On!

As for the fava beans, it took me a bit to get the hang of removing the beans from the pods but after a couple pounds of pods I got it all worked out. Once they were blanched - shelling the beans were a bit of a slippery affair and if I was being graded on presentation - I might not get an 'A.' The soup turned out delicious and it will definitely be a "keeper" that I plan to revisit often.

The soup took care of all the beans, some gnarly carrots, and a bit of mint. I'm glad it used some of the mint, but I have big plans for the rest of it. Stay tuned....

I'm still wrestling with the Kohlrabi. Seriously, what is that thing and what's the best way to use it? If you have any ideas for it, please help a sister out!

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