The middle of winter is not necessarily when you expect to find tomatoes, is it? These, though not vine ripened, did actually grow on a farm in Massachusetts. They are Ugly, an apt name for this variety, and they were delicious!
Basic Caprese Salad
- Ripe tomatoes, washed and sliced at about 1/4 inch
- Fresh mozarella cheese, sliced
- Fresh basil leaves
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Coarse salt and pepper
- Wash and slice the tomatoes and arrange on a serving dish
- Slice the cheese into rounds, put one round (or 1/2 a round, if the fresh mozarella is quite large) on each tomato slice
- Top with a freshly washed and dried basil leaf
- Drizzle with olive oil
- Sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- Serve at room temperature or cold. Enjoy!
We visited a local market, Idylwilde Farms in Acton this week – one of my favorite places to go. It is a place where high-end food products and wines can be found right next to the most beautiful produce imaginable. Our challenge this week was to find locally grown produce and, despite the fact that we’re right smack in the middle of January, we were able to do just that.
The parsnips and carrots are both from Western Massachusetts. One of my favorite winter veg side-dishes is, roasted root vegetables. Roasting brings out the sweetness of both the carrot and parsnips making this one satisfying treat for a winter meal.
Roasting vegetables, especially root vegetables, is a fairly simple process: hot (400 F) oven, chunks of cleaned veggies coated with olive oil, some seasonings of choice, and about 20 minutes. Here’s the “master” recipe for tonight’s dish:
Roasted Carrots and Parsnips
- About 3 large parsnips, cleaned, quartered and chunked (2 inch long chunks)
- About 3 large carrots, cleaned, quartered and chunked (2 inch long chunks)
- Good quality olive oil to coat. Tonight I used half basil infused, half good old EVOO
- A couple of handfuls of herbs – tonight we used fresh rosemary, salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 F
- Clean and cut the parsnips and carrots. Place in a large bowl.
- Add the olive oil to coat generously.
- Toss in the herbs and salt and pepper. Mix well.
- Spread in a single layer in a large baking pan.
- Place in preheated oven and roast for 15-20 minutes. Test vegetables for doneness, remove from oven and serve.
We finally got an opportunity to visit the Chelmsford Agway Winter Farmer’s Market this weekend. Not only was a great excuse for breaking out of the house after the end-of-week snowstorm, it was reinvigorating to visit with and buy from local farmers and businesses.
And it was the perfect catalyst for getting both Adrien and me back on track with our food collaboration project, Four Nights a Week. Check out Adrien’s blog for more great photos.
This week the kale looked great so we bought a bunch from local farmer, Jones Farms and some very tasty salsa from Town Farm Gardens in Brookfield, MA.
Kale Chips (adapted from many many recipes)
- Bunch of kale
- Olive oil
- Coarse Salt
- Thoroughly wash the kale leaves. Cut the thick spines off the leaves and rip into bite-sized pieces.
- Dry the kale (water and oil don’t mix). I used my salad spinner for this. Put the kale in a large mixing bowl so you can toss the olive oil and salt with the leaves.
- Drizzle on the oil – enough to coat (not drench). I’m guessing a couple of tablespoons were enough. Now sprinkle on the coarse salt.
- Spread the kale in a single layer on baking sheets. Don’t make the mistake of putting all the kale on one sheet or the leaves won’t crisp up.
- Bake at 325 F for 10 minutes or so — watch the leaves so that they dry and crisp but don’t brown. Also, I know there are some bloggers recommending using a microwave, but I would not….. too easy for leaves to catch on fire.
- Take the pans out and let things cool off until you can handle. Serve and enjoy.
Is there anything better than a nice hot soup on a wintry evening? I don’t think so. Another item we picked up on our visit to the Chelmsford Agway Farmers’ Market was sweet potatoes. Not the beat up ones you see in big box food stores either. These were inspirational.
And that’s how the idea for making a Greens and Sweet Potato Soup came to fruition. I already had fresh baby spinach left from a previous shopping trip in the refrigerator, so creating the soup just became an exercise in putting together what tastes appealed. So here’s the result, but if you’re feeling inventive, substitute away.
Greens and Sweet Potato Soup
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- Small bunch of fresh baby spinach, cleaned and stemmed
- Stalk of celery, chopped finely
- Half an onion, minced
- Clove of garlic, minced
- Olive oil for sauteeing
- About 2 tsp of Garam Masala
- Couple of shakes of red pepper flakes
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- Start by sauteeing onions, garlic, and celery in oil until the onions are limp.
- Throw in the Garam and pepper flakes for a few seconds so their oils are released.
- Add the cubed sweet potato and give them a minute or two.
- Now add the 4 cups of vegetable stock. Cover the pot and simmer until the sweet potatoes are soft.
- Add the spinach, stir around a bit, cover and cook until the spinach is wilted.
- Adjust seasonings (add salt and pepper if you wish) and serve.