Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Weekly Vegetable: Menu Exercise, Week 1

I still consider myself fairly inexperienced in the kitchen, and I know nothing about recipe development. I generally cook by thinking of an ingredient or style, searching for a variety of recipes related to what I have in mind, and then improvising from the information gathered from those recipes.

As a mental exercise, I'm going to plan a hypothetical menu for each week of the CSA, including every item I receive, and not too many extras. In reality, I don't want to eat everything at once, so these menus will probably not come to life in whole, but I might draw from them throughout the week.

What I received this week: beets, Swiss chard, kohlrabi, broccoli, red Russian kale, romaine, red leaf lettuce, and cilantro. For more information about all the ingredients, read yesterday's post.

The menu:

~Kohlrabi and Beet Salad~
romaine, red leaf lettuce, and chopped swiss chard stems
cilantro dressing

~Pan-Fried Gnocchi~
spicy kale with chard and beet leaves
broccoli cornbread

For the cilantro dressing, I found this recipe, which looks quick and easy (and hopefully delicious). Thinly sliced kohlrabi and beets would be the featured ingredients, while the small chopped pieces of chard stems would add a little extra texture.

I initially thought I'd be receiving collard greens instead of kale based on the pick-ups earlier in the week, so the main course is based on a spicy collard greens recipe, basically greens sauteed with Frank's Red Hot. (You can never go wrong with Frank's!) I did end up making this dish Thursday night (minus the broccoli cornbread), and I'll tell you more about it tomorrow.

For the cornbread, I'm having trouble finding recipes that don't contain cottage cheese, an ingredient that, to be honest, really grosses me out. I've heard that you can't actually taste it, though - and Joel's parents make fantastic cottage cheese pancakes that even I enjoy, so I guess I know it's possible to use it and not taste it! Still, I'd rather avoid using it if possible. Do you know of any good cornbread recipes?

How'd I do? Does this menu look absurd, just edible, awesome? What would you do with these ingredients?

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