Shrimp cook fast. Shrimp are high in protein. Shrimp taste good. I usually only need two good reasons to do something, so that's enough for me! This recipe has the added bonus of using spinach, which is a frequent part of our weekly CSA box. And it makes whole wheat pasta tolerable. That's five reasons to make it for dinner. Five!
This is one of those recipes that sounds too simple to be good. But, it is actually incredibly delicious. Any type of mustard greens works: red, green, curly, flat. Or a mix. Simply sauté some sliced garlic in a little peanut oil, them add the mustard greens. Cook for a few minutes until they are as wilted as you like them to be and sprinkle chopped peanuts on top.
Tamar Adler's book has gotten me excited to roast my vegetables all on one day, make a pot of beans and reheat the two for the rest of the week. But I know there will be more tomatoes coming in the produce box and we have to eat those first. She does have instructions for oven roasting tomatoes, but this soup, Ribolita, sounds better.
Late this summer, my family and I pitched a tent at Eatwell Farm, where most of the produce we eat is grown. Farmer Nigel Walker and his partner, Lorraine, had invited CSA members out to the farm for an event called "Do Nothing Weekend". We spent our days swimming and canoeing in the pond, drinking lots of house-made soda, counting feral cats and generally lounging around.
"Leftover risotto?" you ask, "why would I ever have that?"
For starters, risotto is an easy last minute dinner that is limitlessly flexible and requires little thought. It is the perfect solution to an overabundance of leeks, freezer space that needs to be reclaimed from bags of frozen shrimp, or a drawer full of green things preventing the fridge from closing.
Sometimes dinner needs to be fast and furious, and a plan made in haste can go badly awry. But occasionally a crazed forage through the pantry yields exciting surprises, like last night. In this case, Nigel Slater's Indian Inspired Spinach and Potatoes were on the menu (from Tender, my second favorite kitchen garden cookbook), but after dumping my son in front of TV and gearing up for dinner, I found no spinach and only a single potato in the house. Luckily, we had some sweet potatoes leftover from a past CSA box, fresh chard, spring onions and green garlic, all of which remade a semi-traditional take on saag aloo into a delightfully Springy Californian version. For a little extra protein that the kids would eat I warmed some frozen chickpeas with a little bit of curry powder and tossed those on top.
I may sound out of my head when I say this, but I had a great time making homemade gnocchi with my 3 1/2 year old son last week. It was the most enjoyable cooking experience I’ve shared with either of my kids so far. While I like to get messy and watch them engage their senses, I am not an unusually patient parent, so fully enjoying their help in the kitchen doesn't really happen very often. Anyone who has attempted cooking with young kids will probably know what I mean.
I have the most helpful children in the world, today. After a trip to the Bay Area Discovery Museum with their Dad, they came into the kitchen to assist me with dinner. The pasta needed breaking, the onion needed skinning, and my 3 year old son even chopped the onion with a knife from his play kitchen. He is a chef in training, I can tell, I just hope he doesn't grow up to do coke and smoke cigarettes like Anthony Bourdain.
We spent the holiday in Sonoma, soaking up sun in the pool of the house our friends rented to escape summer in San Francisco. What a great idea - while July third and morning of the fourth were warm and sunny here in the city, we returned to a chill wind and fog billowing down the street on the fifth. Yikes. I love our city, but really, the summer is just absurd. That said, we harvested our best strawberry yet from the garden on friday - nearly as big as a toddler's fist, it was candy sweet and red all the way through, unlike most store bought strawberries that are white and tasty as a sponge on the inside.
Orecchiette is fast becoming my first stop lazy dinner, one step short of pesto with Trader Joe's dried tortellini, which is the one my kids will always eat under any circumstance. Pesto pasta is what we leave for the babysitter to cook, the one I am teaching my daughter to prepare for her little brother, or perhaps vice versa, as soon as he or she is old enough to operate the stove without needing to call the fire department. I recently taught my four year old how to turn the stove off - so she can quiet the tea kettle while I am indisposed - and consider that a major step toward dinner independence.