Taco Salad Night

(Clockwise from front center) Tomatillo and Corn Salsa, Tomatoes, Onion, Cheese, Cilantro, Green Onion, Black Olives, Lime Wedges, Lettuce

Taco Salad can consist of whatever you like. And if you’re also doing the CheeseShare, then it’s a tasty way to use some of that cheese! The ingredients below are suggested components – just prep what you think you’ll use. Note: I highly recommend using Whole Grain Milling, Co.’s (Welcome, MN) Tortilla Chips; they’re sold at local co-ops and some local grocery stores.

Suggested Components
Tortilla Chips (Whole Grain Milling, Co. recommended)
Taco meat or protein of choice (Penzey’s Bold Taco Seasoning recommended – directions on jar)
Tomatillo and Corn Salsa
Onions, diced
Lettuce, shredded
Tomatoes, diced
Cheese, shredded
Green onions, sliced or chopped (greens included)
Black olives, chopped or sliced
Lime wedges
Cilantro, coarse or finely chopped

Suggested Condiments
Sour Cream
Hot Sauce

Once all of your selected components are prepped, then just take a plate and layer some tortilla chips on the bottom, top with taco meat, and add the rest of the fixings on top.
Finish with suggested condiments: salsa, dollops of sour cream, and hot sauce.

Curried Coconut Noodles with Early Summer Vegetables

This is a recipe I modified from the book From Asparagus to Zucchini.  Other veggies can be easily switched out based on what you have.  You can use either regular or light coconut milk and the dish still works.

8 ounces egg noodles
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped spring onions (reserve some of the green tops and slice to use as a garnish at the end)
1/2 cup carrot, julienned
1 cup cut up green beans or broccoli cut into florets
1 tablespoon minced garlic (or 5 garlic scapes, sliced)
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 – 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon turmeric
salt and pepper
1 cup peas (or sugar snap peas or snow peas, cut in half)
1 cup sliced zucchini (cut lengthwise, then slice into half moons & cut in half)
1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk – shake well before opening
juice of 1 1/2 limes (or 1 lime and 1/2 lemon)
1/2 cup basil leaves, pile up the leaves and slice into strips (chiffonade)
garnish: lime wedges, additional basil strips, and sliced green tops from onions

Cook noodles in salted water until barely tender (do not overcook).
Drain noodles, rinse with cold water, and shake off excess water.
Heat a large ceramic coated heavy pot or a wok over a high flame for about 1-2 minutes.
Add the olive oil, swirl to coat the pan, and heat until very hot but not smoking.
Add onions, carrons, and green beans or broccoli, stir fry until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes.
Add garlic, ginger, cumin, red pepper flakes, turmeric, and salt and pepper to taste.
Continue stir frying 1-2 minutes.
Add peas, zucchini, coconut milk, and lime juice.
Boil mixture until sauce thickens and vegetables are barely tender, about 10-12 minutes.
Add noodles and basil and stir until all the noodles are coated.
Heat through, stirring gently.
Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed.
Serve immediately and garnish with lime wedges, basil strips, and sliced green tops from the spring onions.

Makes 4-6 servings

Lactic Fermented Coleslaw

This is a great way to have coleslaw ready for those family picnics … without the hassle of canning. The recipe comes from D. Mary, in Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning (Chelsea Green). The book contains recipes from the French farmers of the Terre Vivante collective. Note that this recipe is not for precision kitchen chemists.

2 pounds white cabbage (I used red, it tasted just fine)
2 large carrots
2 large onions
black peppercorns
juniper berries
bay leaves
spring water*
sea salt
1-quart sterilized canning jar

Finely grate the vegetables; a food processor is excellent for this.
Combine the vegetables well (stir/toss so they are well-mixed).
In the bottom of the jar, drop a few peppercorns, juniper berries and bay leaves.
Add two handfuls of the veggie mix and pack down firmly.
Sprinkle with salt; add a few more bay leaves, peppercorns and juniper berries.
Continue making layers like this until there is just three-quarters to one-half inch of space left at the top of the jar.
Top off with one last layer of spices and salt.
Pack down one last time.

If the veggies are not covered with liquid, add a small amount of brine made with the spring water and salt (2 tablespoons of salt per quart of spring water).
Close and seal the jar.

Let the jar sit in the kitchen for a few days to start the fermentation process. A towel under the jar will catch any liquid that bubbles out as the fermenting begins.
Move the jar to a cool place to finish.

The salad can be eaten after 10 days, but will be crunchy.
Once the jar has been opened, be sure to store in the refrigerator and pack the ingredients down before reclosing the jar.
Storing the coleslaw in the refrigerator will slow the fermentation process.

Other information
*Do not use tap water. Tap water contains chlorine and inhibits lactic fermentation.
Lactic fermented veggies are best eaten raw, and in small quantities. They help with digestion and in maintaining a healthy gut environment.
Traditional lactic fermentation such as in this recipe creates an acidic environment in which spoilage is rare. The USDA recommends hot water canning of fermented foods to avoid spoilage.
You can rinse some of the saltiness from the coleslaw without losing the flavor or nutrition benefits.

Szechuan Noodles

This pasta features a variety of flavors, including garlic, ginger, tahini (sesame paste), sherry and sherry vinegar, and more.  The dish is finished off with grated fresh carrot on the top, mimicking fresh grated cheese on top of an Italian pasta dish.  A nice salad with Tahini Asian Dressing works well as a side to this dish.  (I modified this dish from Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, cutting much of the oil and adding more spice and the grated carrot.)

3 to 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped (depending on your love for garlic)
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
1/4 cup low sodium tamari (good quality soy sauce)
2 tablespoons sherry (if you store your ginger in sherry as mentioned here, use that sherry)
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional, use more if you like it spicy)
1 tablespoon dark/toasted sesame oil
Fresh ground black pepper
Pinch of ground cayenne
1/2 pound spaghetti or spaghettini
1/2 cup reserved water from cooking the pasta
1 to 2 red, yellow, or orange bell peppers (depending on size), julienned
2 green onions (any color), sliced or 2 garlic scapes, sliced
1 carrot

Place the garlic and ginger in a food processor.
Add the olive oil, tahini, peanut butter, soy sauce, sherry, sherry vinegar, honey, red pepper flakes, fresh ground black pepper (about 1/8 teaspoon), and cayenne.
Puree the sauce.  Set aside, allowing the flavors to mingle.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add a large handful of kosher salt to the boiling water.
Add the pasta to the pot and boil until al dente, following the package instructions.  Before straining the pasta, carefully scoop 1/2 cup of cooking water.
Strain the pasta, add 2 tablespoons of the reserved cooking water to the bottom of the pan, and return hot pasta to the pan.
Immediately add sauce to the pan and toss with the pasta.
Add the julienned peppers and scallions or garlic scapes and toss.  Add more of the reserved pasta water if it’s too thick.
Using a cheese grater or Microplane style grater, grate the carrot over the top of the pasta like cheese.

Serves 4

Tahini Asian Dressing

This recipe calls for 1 inch of fresh ginger, but I like to keep peeled pieces of ginger in the fridge in a jar filled with Sherry.  Fresh ginger, with a subtle hint of gingery sherry, is always available and keeps for months.  The ginger infused sherry can be used for other recipes.  But buy your sherry at the liquor store.  Cooking sherry is foul.

1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons low sodium tamari (good soy sauce, if not using low sodium then use about 1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons tahini (you could try peanut butter as an alternative)
1/4 cup sweet onion (Vidalia or similar)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar or juice of 1 medium sized lemon
Red pepper flakes (optional)

Put ginger and garlic in a small food processor and cover with the oil.
Blend ingredients to a fine paste.
Add remaining ingredients to the processor and blend until thick and combined.

Makes about 1/2 cup.

Kohlrabi and Carrot Salad

This crunchy salad is a refreshing treat on a hot summer day.  After dressing the salad it is recommended that you let it chill for about an hour.  While you can dress it with your favorite vinaigrette dressing, it is delicious with the Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing.  If you have an apple (green, Pink Lady, etc.), julienne some and add it for some tangy sweetness.

2-3 small bulbs of Kohlrabi
2 small carrots
1 medium green onion (omit if using the Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing)
1/2 cup of  Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing (optional, use your favorite vinaigrette)

Cut the stems off the kohlrabi and peel off the fibrous outside with a knife or strong vegetable peeler.
Wash the carrots and rub clean with a lint free kitchen towel.
Julienne both the kohlrabi & carrot.  (See the picture of completed salad for an example of julienne.)
If using your own dressing, slice the green onion, bulb and all.  If using the Apple Cider Vinegar dressing, then follow that recipe’s directions for cutting the green onion.
Toss julienned vegetables into a bowl and add the sliced green onion.
Dress the salad with 1/2 cup of dressing and toss until mixed well.
Place the finished salad in the fridge and allow to chill for about an hour.
Season with a little salt and pepper if desired.

Serves 3-4 as a side dish.

Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing

This dressing is wonderful with the Kohlrabi and Carrot Salad, but can also be used to dress up any lettuce based salad.  Use a high quality, preferably organic, apple cider vinegar.  The better quality vinegar you choose, the better tasting dressing you’ll produce.

2 tablespoons organic apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 -1/2 teaspoon minced garlic or 1 garlic scape thinly sliced (if you love garlic use more, if not then use less)
1 medium green onion – bulb diced small, green ends sliced (or whatever color “green” onion you have)
4 tablespoons olive oil

Put the apple cider vinegar, the Dijon mustard, and the honey in a small jar and shake until thoroughly mixed.
Add the garlic, the diced onion bulb, and the olive oil to the jar.
Shake all ingredients until mixed.
Sprinkle the sliced green ends on your salad of choice and dress with the dressing.

Makes about 1/2 cup.

Aged Balsamic Vinaigrette with Dijon

Looking for a new way to dress up those CSA lettuces?  This quick and tasty salad dressing allows you to control the ingredients and calories.  While it’s recommended to use an aged balsamic vinegar, the same ratio of ingredients allows you to use any salad friendly vinegar.  If you don’t have spring onions, try shallots or garlic scapes.

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
1 sliced spring onion (or a small shallot or 1-2 garlic scapes)
4 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients, aside from the salt and pepper, into a small jar.  Put the lid on the jar and shake vigorously. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking.  Dress your salad or use as a marinade for veggies.  Makes about 1/2 cup.

Sweet and Sour Bok Choy

I found this recipe from Cooks.com when I started with Fresh Earth Farms last year.  It makes a nice side dish for any meal.  Sweet with brown sugar, slightly spicy from the fresh ginger root, and tangy vinegar makes for tasty bok choy.  Experiment with the recipe – if you don’t have brown sugar, try a little maple syrup (flavor to taste, as 1/4 cup brown sugar might not be equivalent to a 1/4 cup of maple syrup).  If you’re not a fan of red wine vinegar, then try using cider vinegar or white balsamic.

3 tablespoons Olive Oil or other cooking oil
1 head bok choy, washed, leaves trimmed and set aside, & cut into 1″ pieces
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 – 1 teaspoon  minced fresh ginger root
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 sliced sweet onion (vidalia or similar)
1 tablespoon soy sauce (low sodium recommended)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar (cider vinegar works as well)

Heat the oil in a large skillet, add bok choy and  onion and cook and stir over high heat for 1 minute.
In a small bowl blend the sugar, vinegar, and ginger.
Add mixture to the skillet and mix well.
Cover and steam for 1 minute.
Combine the soy sauce and cornstarch with 1/2 cup cold water.
Once combined, add to the skillet.
Add the bok choy leaves to the pan.
Cook and stir until thickened.

Depending on portions, serves approximately 4.