Potato Salad with Peas and Mint

I love to cook.  I love trying new recipes and experimenting with flavors and spices.  Before I went to college, I was sure I was going to go to culinary school.  I started working in restaurants when I turned 16.  I started out in the kitchen and thought I’d found my niche until I realized that I would never have a weekend off and I’d have to spend hours slaving in a hot kitchen and all for a measly salary because, let’s be honest, there are few out of hundreds of thousands that actually make it big.

So now my husband and friends get to reap the benefits of my cooking adventures.  Joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) has been the best decision ever for someone like me.  Each week is like an episode of “Chopped”.  What will be in my CSA box this week?  What recipe can I come up with that uses as many of the ingredients as possible?  I’m a freak, I know, but it’s fun.

This week brought us red skin potatoes, mint, goat’s milk feta, ramps, popcorn, maple syrup, spelt flour, and eggs.  I first thought of just a pea salad with mint and red onion, but then I thought about throwing the potatoes in and then topping with the feta…YUM!!  It was one of my better ideas.

Potato Salad with Peas and Mint
Adapted from this recipe I found

2 lbs redskin potatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces **It’s better if you chop the potatoes smaller, so they blend with the peas better
12 oz peas (thawed if frozen)
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
2 ramps, chopped (or substitute a shallot or onion)
2 tablespoons vinegar (I used apple cider because that’s what I had, I think red wine would be my first choice)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 oz feta cheese, crumbled
Fresh cracked black pepper and kosher salt to taste

Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold, salted water.  Bring the potatoes to a boil on high, then reduce heat to medium and allow to gently boil until fork tender.  Drain potatoes.  Mix potatoes with the next 5 ingredients.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Top with crumbled feta. I like to mix everything while the potatoes are still warm so they soak up the oil and vinegar.  Serve cold or at room temperature.


Barley Risotto with Mushrooms and Greens

I didn’t grow up eating greens.  The closest thing we got was spinach out of the freezer.  In an effort to eat healthier, I’ve been attempting to incorporate a variety of leafy greens into our diet.  So far we’re up to broccoli rabe, kale, arugula, and dandelion greens.  I feel like an inept foodie by saying that I find them to be incredibly bitter and I feel I have to brace myself before each bite.  I’ve tried blanching before sauteing, but that just doesn’t seem to help.

However, this does not mean I’m claiming defeat.  I know they have to be good.  Rachael Ray is all about the leafy greens… and if she can do it, so can I.

This recipe is a great introductory recipe for leafy greens.  The barley (which is a heart healthy whole grain) cooks into a creamy risotto, paired with meaty mushrooms, and slightly bitter dandelion greens.  It just works.  Plus it’s really healthy, especially if you use low sodium, low fat chicken broth.  Serve this dish as a side, or beef it up by adding cooked chicken.

Barley Risotto with Mushrooms and Greens
Barely Adapted from Eating Well cookbook by Williams-Sonoma

6 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups mushrooms, sliced (baby bella, cremini, button, etc)
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup pearl barley
3 cups dandelion greens, cut into bite sized pieces (or you can substitute baby arugula for a less bitter taste)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

In a medium saucepan, over medium-high heat, bring broth to a simmer.  Turn off heat, cover and keep warm.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  add onion and garlic and saute, stirring frequently, until onion is soft.  Add mushrooms, 1/4 salt, and a few grindings of pepper.  Cook, stirring frequently until mushrooms have released their juices and start to brown.  Add wine and bring to a boil for about 1 minute.

Add 5 cups of hot broth and the barley.  Cover and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally and adding more broth 1/4 cup at a time if the barley becomes dry.  Cook until barley is tender, approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Stir in greens and more broth, if necessary.  Cook, uncovered, until greens are wilted, about 2 minutes.  Stir in parmesan and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.

Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan Crispies

I love Tyler Florence.  His philosophy on food is easy and simple, and I have yet to find a bad recipe.  This recipe is adapted barely from a recipe found in Tyler’s Ultimate.

There isn’t much to say about this, except that it’s delicious.  I love recipes that are super easy and taste great.  This one fits that perfectly.  I love roasted vegetables, it’s an easy way to bring out a lot of flavor without coating them in velveeta or butter.

Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan Crispies

2 heads of broccoli
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Fresh cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bring a pot of salted water to boil.  Trim about one inch off the ends and peel the stalks with a vegetable peeler.  Cut the broccoli into long spears.  When the water comes to a boil, add the broccoli and cook until it’s just tender (about 3 minutes).  The broccoli should still have its bright green color.  Drain in a colander.  Arrange the broccoli on a non stick oven proof pan (I use a rimmed cookie sheet sprayed with Pam).  Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the broccoli and top with a generous amount of fresh black pepper.  Bake until the cheese melts and is crisp and brown, about 10 minutes.  Use a spatula to lift the broccoli out of the pan, and serve.