As I cast about searching for inspiration to guide me on my return to the kitchen and a more centered life pattern, I couldn't have asked for more perfect timing for the arrival of our CSA's new spring season!
A quiet evening with a glass of wine and an issue of Bon Appetit is quite soothing and uplifting as well...
We've received a few CSA boxes already, but they felt intensely winter-themed and lacked variety - although we were grateful for the miracle that any thing grows in the mid west in March, when snow and freezing temperature still threatens, even if it means Jerusalem artichokes and cabbages by the bushel. Still, there is something rejuvenating about the promise of spring vegetables. If you've celebrated (or suffered) your way through even one English class, you know Spring always equates to change and rebirth. So, while Zach slept soundly in his continual, work-imposed nocturnal state, I hummed along with Chopin piano concertos and cooked again. Two dishes, which I share with you here, both uncomplicated and soothing to prepare, the sort of dishes that allow your mind to wander without fear of a sauce breaking or souffle deflating. And both glorious excuses to jaunt to the farmers market and celebrate the first of tomatoes, peppers, and tender spring spinach...
Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce
8 oz Italian turkey sausage OR vegetarian Tofurkey Italian sausages, sliced
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
6 large tomatoes
2 bell peppers
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tsp Zaatar or oregano
1 tsp Italian seasoning
~ In a skillet over medium heat, add some cooking spray and brown the sausage, onion, and garlic.
~ Add the sausage mixture to the slow cooker along with all the remaining ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
~ Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, adding more broth if you think necessary.
~ Serve over whole wheat pasta with lots of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese!
This homemade tomato sauce goes splendidly with beans as well as pasta...
3 sweet potatoes
1 T olive oil
1 cup finely chopped green onions (including both white and green parts)
2 wild garlic bulbs, minced (If you can find wild garlic - otherwise, just use 6 cloves of regular garlic, minced)
1 large cucumber, diced
1/2 cup diced radishes
8 cups mixed leafy greens (I used a combination of Bok Choy, spinach, and radish tops)
1 T toasted sesame oil
3 T low sodium soy sauce
Slivered almonds, for serving
~ Cook the sweet potatoes (boil, bake, or microwave), and cut into 1" pieces
~ In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute the green onions, garlic, cucumber, and radishes until tender and lightly browned.
~ Scatter the greens on top, reduce the heat to medium, and drizzle the sesame oil on top of the greens. Gently fold the greens into the rest of the mixture, cover, and steam just until the greens are cooked.
~ Transfer the veggie mixture to a large bowl, and fold in the sweet potatoes and soy sauce.
~ Serve warm, topped with slivered almonds!