Tag Archives: cooking

Cilantro Mountain

What do you do with a mountain of cilantro?

First, you make pesto (with some fresh chives, mint, olive oil, toasted pine nuts, salt, pepper, and lime juice). Some of this you will freeze in an ice-cube tray.

Then you make an enormous batch of guacamole.

Then you get creative, and you swirl the cilantro pesto into some homemade bread. It works beautifully.

Yet you’re still left with half a mountain of pesto and more to come. Other ideas?

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Filed under Feasting, Putting Up

Starting With What You Have: Stir-Fry with Udon Noodles

This week I collected the last bits of broccoli from my fall plants and then pulled them out of the ground for compost. It wasn’t enough for a major broccoli project (a broject?), but combined with some other ingredients I had on hand, plus some particularly good garden bounty, they wound up in a delightful lunch today.

I’ve had a spectacular cilantro crop this spring—a result of my late summer planting. I’ve had harvest after harvest this month (and if anyone has any ideas for preserving cilantro, let’s hear it!). Also have been pulling quite a few carrots lately.

There are some ingredients I just like to have around because they keep well and are easily combined with other things. These include some that I used today:

  • Pasta (in this case, udon noodles)
  • Extra-firm tofu
  • Raw cashews
  • Onions
  • Sesame oil
  • Peanut butter (in the sauce)
  • Limes

So here’s what I ended up doing today. I sliced a half an onion, the broccoli,  a carrot, and a cake of tofu. I also chopped up a massive quantity of cilantro.

I scrounged in the fridge until I found the leftover spicy peanut sauce I had made last week for another dish (this sauce was so easy and delicious and versatile that it wound up on a grilled pork chop a few days ago, too. I substituted chives for the scallions called for here because I have tons of chives growing right now).

While the udon noodles cooked for about eight minutes, I heated some sesame oil in my wok on very high heat and stir-fried the tofu until golden brown.

Gradually I added in the other veggies, starting with the onions, then the carrots, then the broccoli, then finally the cashews. I stir fried everything until just cooked through. Then I poured in the peanut sauce (it was just enough!).

That’s when things got crazy.

Instead of draining the pasta and just topping it with the vegetables in a bowl, I decided to stop the pasta al dente, drain but reserve about 1/4 cup of the liquid, and then mix the pasta into the veggies and sauce in the wok, along with the reserved pasta liquid. Everything simmered and sizzled for about 45 seconds, then I turned off the heat, threw in the cilantro,  squeezed 1/4 of a lime on top of everything, and pronounced it done.

I call it “A Wok Through the Garden with a Couple of Nuts.”

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Filed under Feasting, Gardening

Starting with what you have: homemade pizza

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I had some sweet peppers, some tomatoes that had ripened on my kitchen counter, and garlic. In the bowl are the tomatoes, the garlic, some pesto I had made from my basil crop last summer and frozen in ice cube trays, plus a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Great bruschetta or pizza topping.

Sunday night, and once again I want to take something yummy to my weekly gathering with musical friends. The rest of those green tomatoes have turned a lovely red, and I have lots of garlic from the CSA. I also have some sweet peppers that I picked last week.

Pizza, anyone?

I have a simple and delicious recipe for pizza dough from the Everyday Greens cookbook: yeast, sugar, salt, flour, olive oil, a little cornmeal if you have it (and I do). Once I have gotten that started, I turn to the toppings. I decide to make two different pizzas.

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Roasted sweet peppers

The first is a kind of bruschetta mix: the tomatoes chopped and mixed with minced garlic, plus some pesto I had made and frozen in cubes back during the summer from my garden basil. I mix that with a little extra olive oil and salt.

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Picked and minced some oregano from the garden

For pizza number two, I roast, peel, and slice into strips the the sweet peppers. I caramelize some onion and add that to the peppers, along with a balsamic vinegar reduction. I run out into the garden and pick some fresh oregano and mince and add about a tablespoon. Then I open a can of black olives and chop them in.

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The pepper/olive/onion/balsamic/oregano mixture for one pizza

The pizza dough goes down on parchment paper sitting on a wooden pizza paddle. I add the topping, then throw some shredded mozzarella, parmesan, and asiago cheese over both pizzas. Each takes about 15 minutes at 400 degrees in the oven on a pizza stone (preheated in the oven).

And the reviews are in: one Sunday jammer said, “It was so deliciously beyond mere pizza . . . mmmmm.”

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Voila!

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Filed under Community and Citizenship, Feasting

Starting with what you have

Tonight I’m getting together with some friends to play music. We do this weekly, and usually we try to bring a bit of something to munch on as we socialize before we sit down with our instruments.

tomatillos, tomatos, and cilantro

tomatillos, tomatoes, and cilantro

This afternoon, with the evening in mind, I did a study of those tomatillos in the bottom drawer of my fridge (if you’ve been following the harvest, then you know they’ve been collecting for some time now). I also have a number of green tomatoes on my countertop, collected from the vines before I yanked them up a couple of weeks ago. Some of them—surprise!—turned red before I could bread them and fry them.

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Roasted tomatoes and tomatillos

Then I recalled the cilantro seeds I’d tossed into the dirt back in September. They’ve sprouted and are coming along nicely in this cool weather, so I pinched a few leaves. Add to that a couple of the jalapeño peppers I picked a few days ago,  and what do you have? The start of a mighty fine salsa.

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Jalapeños and garlic roasting

So I roasted the tomatillos and tomatoes under a broiler, and I skillet-roasted the jalapeños along with some garlic (from my CSA) on top of the stove. Chopped a bit of white onion and the cilantro.

I scraped the tomatillos and tomatoes—juice, skins and all—plus the peppers and garlic into the food processor and pulsed until it was chunky. Added in the onion (which I had minced and rinsed), cilantro, a pinch of sugar, a generous teaspoon of salt, and a squeeze of lime juice. Darn tasty, and took about 20  minutes.

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Voila!

Instead of thinking, Now, what do I want to take to the Sunday jam tonight?, I started with what I had: tomatillos that were going to rot if I didn’t use them, the last red tomatoes of the year, jalapeños, garlic, onion. Add to that stuff I keep around anyway (salt, sugar, limes), and it’s not too difficult to get creative and come up with something delicious in about the same amount of time it would have taken me to drive to the store and pick up something for tonight. It was cheaper, too.

Of course, it’s just luck that I happen to have a bag of tortilla chips in the pantry to go with it!

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Filed under Community and Citizenship, Feasting