Arugula Toast and Garlicky Roasted Veggies

Last week's Take Home bag was a brand new recipe. Inspired by the 'let's put everything on toast" craze, which has moved on from avocado to include just about every ingredient one can mash, spread, sprinkle, crush or otherwise adhere to a piece of toast.  I decided to try a take home bag version. But something adaptable and kid friendly.

My first thought was goat cheese, but we had a big order this week and I was afraid it would break the budget. Plus I always want to include ingredients in the bag that folks will feel comfortable buying on a regular basis.

So I went with cream cheese. I also packed up the ingredients for my favorite veggie dish right now, roasted green beans and potatoes. I still can't get over this, and it's been months since I first made it this way.  I can't help it, it's just delicious and it goes with everything.

So, here's the packing table on Friday afternoon: each bag got a loaf of bread for toast, cream cheese, arugula, olive oil, green beans, potatoes, and garlic. Oh, and a few sprigs of fresh thyme  I ordered from Black River.

I suggested toasting the bread pretty well, then spreading with cream cheese, and topping with some arugula, a tiny drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Roasted Green Beans and Potatoes have appeared here before in a slightly different form, but here they are again.

Lemony French Bean Salad 

Steam 4-6 cups of french beans until they are juuuuust past crisp tender. Still a bit of crispness, but not too much. Check after 4 minutes and go from there. 
Drain and transfer to a large mixing bowl. 

Wash 3-4 medium red potatoes and chop into 1/2 inch pieces. Toss with a few Tbsp of olive oil and some salt and pepper, and roast at 400 for 20 minutes or so, until the start to brown and crisp on the edges. Remove from oven and shake the pan a bit, then let cool slightly. 

Add them to the beans in the large bowl. 

Now make some dressing. 

1/3 cup olive oil
3-4 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp each salt and pepper

Whisk well, drizzle over the salad, and toss it all together. If you have any fresh thyme laying around sprinkle it on top.
If you want to get fancy, serve with extra lemon wedges. 

Happy Dinner!


I'm resisting the urge to title this post something ridiculous like "Ramp It Up!"  So, you're welcome, I guess.  But I am exactly that excited about these beauties. Terrific BCS teacher Colleen harvested these locally and brought a big bag to the kitchen last week.  

First I made pesto with the leaves. 

Ramp Pesto
6 cups ramp leaves, tightly packed
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp sunflower seeds
1/4 cup good parmesan cheese, grated

Whizz it all in a food processor, add a few drops of extra olive oil at a time if you need to. You want a thick paste, and it should smell amazing. 

Mix a Tbsp or two with  1 lb of hot, cooked pasta. Spread a little on toast or sliced baguette. Serve it as a condiment with grilled chicken or fish. Dip raw carrots and cucumbers in it. Eat a spoonful straight. Wish it was always ramp season. 

The next day I roasted the remaining bulbs and made Roasted Ramp Bulb Quinoa!

2 cups quinoa
3 cups vegetable broth
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
salt and pepper
a lemon wedge or two
About 3/4 cup ramp bulbs, with some leaf still attached

Bring the quinoa and veggie broth to  a boil in a medium saucepan with a dash of salt and one Tbsp of olive oil. Turn heat to low and cover, cook for 20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. 

Toss the ramp bulbs with the remaining olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Roast on a baking sheet at 400 while the quinoa cooks. 
When they're nice and soft and the ends are turning brown and crispy take them out and let them cool slightly, then roughly chop them. 

Fluff the cooked quinoa with a fork.  Add the roasted ramps and toss well. 
Finish it off with a quick squeeze of lemon juice. 

It was hard not to eat the roasted bulbs on their own, especially the crispy bits.
Ohhhhhh ramps.

Friday Food Bag Recipe : Bread Bowl Egg Bake

Hi there!
So, even though this is coming way late to help you out with any brunch plans for today, I want to use the last of this week's bonkers full moon energy to start a new regular practice - posting the week's food bag recipe!
Sammy and I also made a Parent.Co video with this one, and I was super pleased with how it turned out. Plus I can happily report that all three kids loved it. This is a simple version, but feel free to improvise. Next time I think I'll try some caramelized onions and smoked gouda, or baby spinach and feta in a sourdough loaf, or rosemary, sage and sausage. You get the idea.
We sent home a loaf of bread, eggs, chives, red pepper, butter, cheddar cheese, and a quart of strawberries, just for fun.

Brunch Bread Bake

1 8-9 inch diameter loaf of whole grain bread
6 eggs
1/3 cup chopped red pepper
1/4 cup chopped chives
1/2 cup shredded cheese - we used sharp cheddar
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil for brushing

Cut off top of loaf and scoop out center to make a bowl - leave about an inch on all sides and keep bottom intact. 
Brush inside of bread bowl with olive oil, then sprinkle with about a third of the cheese. 
Beat eggs well, add salt and pepper to taste.
Pour into bread bowl. 
Sprinkle red peppers and chives evenly over the eggs. 
Top with another third of the cheese. 
Place bread in a foil lined oven safe dish - we used a 10 inch cast iron skillet. Curl the foil around the bread edges to keep it from browning too fast. 
Bake at 400 for 25 minutes, or until eggs puff and cooked through. 

Let cool slightly before slicing. Top with chopped tomatoes, the rest of the cheese and chives to serve!

Weekend Dinner Recipe - Cauliflower Steaks

I'm kind of obsessed with cauliflower. I roast it for the kids at school often, with just olive oil, salt and pepper - sometimes a little spice mix of some sort like curry or cumin and paprika. My love of it is shared by many teachers and has rubbed off on even some of our most veggie-skeptical kiddos.

So it's kind of funny that it's taken me so long to learn how to properly cook a cauliflower steak. Like avocado toast, this is a concept that's been done nearly to death by foodies. But unlike avocado toast, there are not really a million ways to interpret it, as I discovered after finding this recipe in an old issue of Bon Appetit Sarah gave me (because she knows I hoard old food magazines. )

I did tackle the whole recipe, including cauliflower puree for the  base and my own take on the special walnut caper sauce for the top, but the real story here is the cauliflower steak itself.
I urge you to make these at home for dinner. I made a smallish portion just for myself one night last week because I didn't think it would interest anyone else in my family, but I was dead wrong. My 9 year old was eating the walnut caper mixture with a spoon, and when I sat down with the whole dish plated EVERYONE wanted to share.

I hesitate to do a cauliflower steak food bag at BCS because I make a rule of avoiding recipes that require specialized equipment,  and you do need a pan that can go from the stove top to the oven to make these properly. Cast iron works best. And if you're making them for say, 4 people, you'll need a fairly large pan to do it all at once. But if you own a 12 inch or larger cast iron skillet you need to give these a try, even if you don't think you love cauliflower. You will.

Here's what you do:
Preheat your oven to 425
Remove the thought outer leaves from your head of cauliflower. Slice off the bottom of the stem to make a level base. Using a sharp knife, cut off about a 1/2 inch of two of the rounded sides of the head, reserve those bits.
Cut the remaining head in half, then in half again - you should end up with four "steaks, each about an inch or so thick. If you started with a big head of cauliflower they could be up to an inch and a half each.
Now, heat a Tbsp of olive oil in your oven proof pan over medium heat (cast iron if you have it). When it's nice and hot, swirl a Tbsp of butter in the pan until it melts. Then add the cauliflower steaks. They should sizzle a bit when they hit the hot pan. Salt and pepper the tops. Cook for 5 minutes or until you get a nice brown sear on the bottom. Flip and cook the other side until it browns as well. A little more salt and pepper.
When both sides are nice and brown, pop the pan into the hot oven. Roast the steaks for 8-10 minutes, until you can easily pierce the center with a fork.

If you have time and you're feeling ambitious, you can boil the leftover bits of cauliflower in a small saucepan of salted water until they're very tender, about 10 minutes, then puree them in a food processor with a tsp of tahini, some salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon.
Set aside.

If you want to make a topping you can go for the walnut caper salsa in the original recipe, or you can try my easier, spicier version.

Just combine:

1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 Tbsp chopped pickled jalapeƱos
2 Tbsp sliced scallions
1 Tbsp capers
sprinkle of salt, pepper
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp red wine vinegar

When your steaks are ready, you can spread a little of the puree on a plate, lay down a steak, then top with a little walnut "sauce" OR just sprinkle with a little parmesan and go to town.
Either way, these are super, super delicious.

Happy dinner!

Family Dinner Recipes!

We had the most delightful Family Dinner last week, the first of the year to feature outdoor eating!! So I tried to keep it (mostly) light and start the transition into veggie filled meals. I made some coconut rice, and a few giant salads. The dressings were the real story though.

Salad number one was just mixed local greens, quinoa, chick peas, and yellow peppers,  with a lemon garlic dressing I make at school and home all the time. Then we had warm, slightly roasted carrots, green beans, and potatoes with an awesome curry vinaigrette I adapted from Epicurious. These are both pretty versatile, and would be great drizzled over just about anything, as far as I'm concerned.
They were enjoyed my kids and grown ups alike, and many folks asked for the recipes. Here they are, for all of your spring salad needs!

Lemon Garlic Dressing

3 cloves garlic, finely minced
juice of 1/2 fresh lemon - about 3 Tbsp
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary  - use minced fresh herbs if you can, otherwise, dried is fine
1 tsp salt
fresh pepper
1 tsp honey
3/4 cup olive oil

Whisk all ingredients well! Let sit for 20 minutes or so if you can before serving. Store in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to a week.

Curry Viniagrette

2 Tbsp curry powder

1 cup olive oil

3 Tbsp cider vinegar

1 tsp salt

black pepper

1 small clove
garlic, minced

1 tsp honey

Mix 2 Tbsp curry powder in a small bowl with enough water to make a paste. Let sit for 5-10 minutes. Add 1 cup olive oil and stir. Let mixture sit for 1-2 hours.
Pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer lined with a paper towel. Discard the leftover solids.
Mix the curry oil with 3 Tbsp cider vinegar, 1 tsp of salt, a few shakes of pepper, the garlic, and the honey. Whisk well!