Happy Summer Solstice!
With the rains slowly stopping and July 1st just a couple of weeks away, the bounty from our farms is starting! This is a most exciting time; Saturday mornings I stop at the farmer’s market before the grocery store and coop. In the picture you’ll see this week’s picks: pea shoots, scallions, basil, breakfast radishes (named by the British, but I put on an evening salad instead), kohlrabi, spinach, garlic shoots, and more. Saturday evening’s salad was a simple one, assorted greens topped with leftover avocado, those British radishes, and pea shoots. Two teaspoons of olive oil, a dash of champagne vinegar, and some salt and pepper. Divine! Stay tuned, while the season got a late start, I think this is going to be a fantastic one for recipe creations!
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Friday night dinners are always a conundrum. After a week of work, I’m tired, yet don’t want to go out, but am willing to cook if it’s really simple. In the winter, this usually means homemade pizza or soup. Throw it in a pot and turn on the heat–or toss the crust on a pan, add some sauce, cheese, and veggies and pop in the oven. Last Friday I had no clue what I wanted to eat for dinner. Every meal I thought of just didn’t appeal to me, and I dislike going to the grocery store and searching for something to strike my fancy. So as I was driving there, I thought of the vegetables I had left in the bin from last week (peppers and carrots), some dried shiitake mushrooms in the cupboard, and some shallots and garlic on the counter. A few more veggies, a package of chicken, and a can of coconut milk and I could make a tasty red curry stir fry over rice. Exactly what I wanted! Some asparagus and chicken and I was ready for dinner, except the coconut milk. After a thorough search, I found the spot where the coconut milk was supposed to be–empty. Foiled!
I saw a recipe last week called “Sherry Vinegar Chicken Nuggets and Herbs” or something like that, so I was intrigued by the name, so I decided to make my version. It was delicious, nutritious, and best of all, really easy for a Friday night; the only thing that really took time was chopping the veggies and chicken! I put five shiitakes in a small bowl with boiling water to reconstitute them; you can used dried mushrooms, fresh one, or leave out. I’m not sure what vinegar to suggest for substituting the sherry vinegar, so I would urge you to buy a bottle. It’s my new favorite vinegar, I used it on salads all winter long. It’s tangy yet subtle, and its flavor is divine. It may be hard to find, my supermarket has just one brand, and although it’s a small bottle and a little pricey (yet under $4), I think it’s totally worth it and a little bit goes a long way. Depending on your own vegetable bin, you can use more, less, or substitute whatever would be tasty in a stir fry! Oh, and by using the skillet for both the veggies and the chicken, clean up is two knives, a cutting board, a bowl, a skillet, and plates!
Lazy Friday Night
Serves 2 with plentiful leftovers
2 boneless breasts of chicken, diced into bite-sized pieces
1 cup chopped asparagus
1/2 chopped carrots
1 red pepper, sliced thinly
4-5 dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted (you can leave out or use fresh mushrooms)
A couple gloves of garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
A pot of cooked brown or white rice
In a skillet, heat a couple teaspoons of olive oil. When warm, add the asparagus and carrots and cook for a few minutes until soft. Add red pepper, mushrooms, and stir. When the veggies are just about done, add the garlic and jalapeno and mix until they become fragrant. Take the skillet off the stove and put mixture into a bowl.
In the same skillet, add a little bit more olive oil. When warm, add the diced chicken. Add about 1/3 of a cup of the sherry vinegar and mix it in the chicken. Since the chicken is bite sized, it should take about five minutes or so to cook, but make sure the meat doesn’t absorb the vinegar, you want a little bit left for flavoring the stir fry. On a plate, add the rice, veggies, and chicken, relax, and enjoy!