Monday, July 29, 2013

CSA Farmshare and an Impromptu Dinner Party!

I was really lucky again this summer.  My friend Melissa (follow her blog here) is part of a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture AND she likes to take long trips in the she offers up her farmshare to friends so it doesn't go to waste!  Last year I picked up her share one week and learned to make Salsa Verde from tomatillos!   One of the best parts of CSAs is that you are given a variety of vegetables, typically including something you don't know what to do with, each week.

In this share I received:

  • 4 potatoes
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 green pepper
  • 12 jalepenos (really should have been 4, but another lady and I traded onions/garlic for peppers)
  • head of cabbage
  • 4 peaches
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • a big bunch of basil
  • a big bunch of sorrel
  • 6 eggs
  • a purple basil plant
I immediately started thinking about what I could make with all this....since another part of the CSA charm is the freshness.  Everything is organic and has no preservatives sprayed on (like at the grocery store) so you need to use it quickly!

My friend Amy came over Sunday afternoon to hang out and we decided it was perfect reason for a dinner party.   I made Paleo stuffed peppers and a mixed greens salad with peaches.  Yumm!  And a perfect way to use a lot of these yummy veggies!

First up - Paleo Stuffed Peppers.  

I added a few ingredients to the farmshare for this one:   a head of cauliflower, 6 red bell peppers, shredded mozzarella cheese (optional), ground beef and my home canned tomato basil sauce.
Rice your cauliflower.  Yes, Rice is a verb!   Basically, to do this, you cut the cauliflower up into florets and then pulse in a food processor (you can see we tried to grate it with little success).  You will get something the texture of fine grain rice.  I used about a cup and a half.  This gives your ground beef some bulk without a grain...and keeps your peppers from feeling like they are stuffed with a little meat loaf!   Saute (just a little!) your cauliflower rice and a bunch of torn basil and 3 chopped up jalepenos (take the seeds out).  Set aside.

Brown your ground beef.  I used organic, grass fed 85% lean from Costco.   This gives you very little extra grease in your pan. Set aside.

Chop up one green bell pepper and one red bell pepper and 2 tomatoes.   Saute in a skillet, just till they soften and mix in with the ground beef.

In a large bowl (maybe a giant Tupperware bowl if that's all you can find) mix all these ingredients together - cauliflower/basil/jalepeno and ground beef/peppers/tomatoes.   Add in 2 pints of tomato basil simmer sauce.   Stir together well to mix.

Cut the tops off of 5 red bell peppers and clean out the ribs and seeds.  Stand them up in a baking dish.  (If they won't stand up, stick them in ramekins or fill the extra space with ramekins!)  Spoon the beef mixture into the peppers to fill them.   Put any additional meat mixture into a baking dish for leftovers. (I used the Pampered Chef Mini Baker).  These leftovers will be great on Romaine lettuce boats! 

Bake for about 45 minutes at 350.   Top with shredded mozzarella cheese if you eat dairy and bake for the last 15 minutes. 

Mixed Green Salad with Sorrel and Peaches

For this salad I ripped up some romaine hearts, cut some basil and sorrel and mixed all these greens together.   I probably used 2/3 romaine and 1/6 basil and 1/6 sorrel.   

Sorrel - this has a tart, lemony taste.  It is too tart to have a whole salad of it (for me at least!) but worked really well with the romaine and basil to balance it.   A lady at the CSA pickup gave me the tip to wash it in cold salt water when I got home, then put it in a papertowel in a ziplock bag in the fridge so it would last longer.  It also made it super easy to snip into my salad since it was already washed.

Peaches - I cut the peaches into bite size bits!  Yum!  They were so ripe and juicy!

Dressing - I wanted something light, just a little extra flavor.  In my blender I mixed two tbsps coconut oil and the juice from 1/2 of a ruby grapefruit plus salt and pepper.  It was the perfect dressing for this!  

This was a perfect dinner party meal and a great way to use the delicious CSA veggies!  We are getting ready for a move (in less than 2 weeks) so packing up is certainly underway.  It was nice to clear off the table from all the packing materials (can you see the boxes in the background?) and sit down for a nice homemade meal with a great friend.  She brought a decadent chocolate cake and ice cream that was the best final touch for the non-paleo eaters at this healthy meal!  

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