Grilled Nectarines with Cinnamon Mascarpone

Last year, our CSA added fruit shares to their stock of available produce deliveries. Like a crack dealer, they included some cherries and these beautiful little miracles called donut peaches in a couple of our regular vegetable shares to tantalize us and get us hooked. We somehow managed to resist adding a fruit share until this summer. After seeing email notifications that shares included apples, berries, nectarines, cherries, and those delicious donut peaches, we caved and added a fruit share mid-season. As with all things that are or are not newsworthy, I posted the news to Facebook and received the following, lovely quote from my friend Thom who said he’d look forward to seeing what I do with our fruit share on this blog:

“I love working with what nature hands me as opposed to forcing nature’s hand to give me exactly what I want! It’s an adventure.”

That pretty much sums up what I’m trying to do here, so in exchange for this quote, Thom– this post is for you.

Well so far, in the two shares we’ve received, there hasn’t been a ton of variety, mostly nectarines and peaches. But this isn’t a complaint mind you– each piece of fruit has been sweet, juicy, and delicious. I welcomed downing those donut peaches even more during the days of hot (for Seattle) 80 degree weather we had last week. Also in town last week? Lots of family, mostly in-laws, here to officially meet the baby at her Chinese One Month party (held a month late.) We had so much fun spending time with family and were especially grateful for all the offers to babysit, particularly from Jane who claimed she didn’t mind since she missed her own grandchildren. Although Jane and my father-in-law offered to babysit one more time on Monday night, John and I opted to thank them and spend time with them instead by making dinner. A last-minute affair, I grabbed what looked good for entrees and sides from the store and from our fridge, then John panicked that we didn’t really have anything for dessert. That’s when I spied the CSA nectarines that had otherwise been neglected by the showier peaches. Since we were firing up the grill for steaks and sides, why not grill the nectarines too?

I split the nectarines in half and removed the pits then lightly brushed them with neutral flavored canola oil. To help them caramelize and add flavor, I sprinkled them with a mix of brown sugar and cinnamon. They went on the grill while we finished up dinner until they were all sweet, warm and gooey. It seemed a shame not to pair them with something cool and creamy, so I topped them with dollops of mascarpone cheese that was flavored with more of the cinnamon sugar combo along with a tiny splash of almond extract. As a finishing touch, I added crushed amaretti cookies, giving some nice crunch and added sweetness. Slightly sticky, sweet, and spicy, this was a light but flavorful summer dessert, perfect for the cooler but still summery weather we had the other night.

  • 1.5 lbs (or 4 medium) nectarines, split in half and pit removed
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 6-7 amaretti cookies

Heat grill, setting coals to one side so that there is both direct and indirect heat. Brush flesh side of each nectarine half with oil. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl then sprinkle half of the mixture on the nectarines. Grill over direct heat for 1-2 minutes or until grill marks form then remove to cooler, indirect heat. Cover grill and cook until nectarines are cooked through and soft, about 5-10 minutes. While nectarines finish cooking, combine mascarpone cheese with remaining sugar mixture and almond extract. Place cookies in a small plastic bag and lightly crush with a rolling pin. Plate dessert by placing two nectarine halves in a bowl then top with a 2 tablespoons of mascarpone cheese mixture and a sprinkle of cookie crumbles.

Serves 4

CSA Count: 1

Nectarines

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Grilled Caponata

Here’s my disclaimer right from the start: I don’t think I’ve ever actually eaten caponata, at least I’m not aware of doing so. The one and only time I’ve been to Italy was a beautiful trip to Milan, Florence, Venice and Rome when I was 12 and therefore long before any sense of my culinary being was formed. (Seriously– what’s Italy to a 12-year-old other than plain cheese pizza and chocolate gelato?) So I in no way claim that this recipe is authentic or looks/tastes anything like caponata should. I’ll tell you this though– you should make this as it is freakin’ delicious.

Caponata is an eggplant relish. What makes it interesting is how it embodies the Italian concept of agrodolce— the balance of sweet and sour. That balance comes from the mix of sweet tomatoes, eggplant, and sugar with acidic flavors of vinegar and capers. While researching recipes, there seemed to be two main variants of caponata– an Italian version and a Sicilian version. The Italian versions called for added sweetness from dried fruits like currents or raisins plus an added bright finish of fresh mint, while the Sicilian versions were more briny, skipping the dried fruit and adding chopped olives as well as capers. I drew my inspiration from both kinds of recipes, adding to my relish what I thought were some of the tastiest ingredients to make a caponata I could really love.

To add further depth of flavor, I decided to try grilling the vegetables for my relish rather than sautéing them in a pan. I thought that grilling would not only save me some of my discomfort with how much oil it takes to cook eggplant in a pan but would also add an undercurrent of smoke and char which would pair nicely with those sweet and sour flavors. Besides, my intent for this caponata was to spread it on a sandwich with some grilled summer squash. Since the grill would be fired up in order to cook slices of zucchini for the sandwich, I might as well take advantage of the effort and grill space by grilling the eggplant, tomato, and onion.

The grill imparted fine bits of char to the tomatoes and white onion and the heat of the grill gave me nicely browned pieces of eggplant, the flesh rendered silky smooth, with just a mere brushing of olive oil. A quick pulse of the vegetables in my food processor did all the chopping for me and all this required was a simmering in a pan with the other ingredients of garlic, fresh basil, pine nuts, golden raisins, capers, balsamic vinegar, and spices. I spread some of the finished product on pieces of ciabatta, layered on the grilled squash and slices of fresh mozzarella cheese, then cooked them in a pan, weighted down with additional pans so that the bread would get crisp and the cheese would melt quickly. I loved how everything played together– sweet squash, milky cheese, butter pine nuts, and refreshing notes from basil and mint. I long to go back to Italy now and give the real caponata a try… and some more chocolate gelato couldn’t hurt too.

Note: This caponata recipe yields about 4 cups. You only need a few tablespoons for the sandwiches but the rest of the caponata is really good spread on pieces of toasted bread or mixed into pasta.

Caponata

  • 2 medium eggplants, trimmed and sliced lengthwise into 1/2 inch thick slices
  • 3 large Roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 medium white onion, trimmed, peeled and sliced cross-wise into 1/2 inch thick slices
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons capers with their brining liquid
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chiffonade
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Grilled Squash Sandwiches

  • 1 medium and 1 large zucchini, trimmed and sliced lengthwise into 1/4 inch thick slices
  • olive oil
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella
  • 1 loaf ciabatta, ends trimmed off and remaining loaf cut in half and split
  • salt and pepper

Heat your grill, testing whether your grate is hot enough by holding your hand 5 inches above the grill and you can’t last for more than 10 seconds. Brush both sides of the eggplant, tomato, onion, and squash (if making sandwiches) slices with olive oil. Grill over direct heat until dark brown grill marks form. The time will vary depending on the vegetable– for the onions and tomato, this will likely take 5-10 minutes, while for the squash and eggplant, this will take 10-15 minutes. Remove tomatoes when grill marks form. For the other vegetables, flip them over and continue to grill until marks form on the other side. Remove the squash and the onions when tender and striped with grill marks, but for the eggplant, brush both sides with oil again and continue to cook until flesh is deep brown, flipping as necessary to avoid burning. Total cooking time for the eggplant is about 40-50 minutes.

Let the grilled eggplant, tomatoes, and onion cool to touch then roughly chop before adding to a food processor bowl fitted with a steel blade. Add the garlic too then pulse until eggplant, tomatoes, and onion are no bigger than 1/4 inch pieces. Add the food processor contents to a small sauce pan. Add the rest of the caponata ingredients except for olive oil and mint and stir to combine, simmering over medium heat for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste then mix in the fresh mint right before serving.

If making sandwiches, spread a tablespoon or two of the caponata on one side of your sandwich, spreading caponata on two of your four bread pieces. On the other side of your sandwiches, add the mozzarella slices and the squash slices. Season the squash with salt and pepper to taste. Top with the other side of your sandwich then brush the top and bottom of the sandwiches with olive oil. Set down the sandwiches in a large skillet that has been heating over medium heat. Squash down the sandwiches with a couple of smaller pans or with a plate and a large heavy can. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until cheese melts and bread is toasty brown without burning. Flip and repeat cooking on other side. Cut the two sandwiches in half– one half is large enough for one serving.

CSA Count: 3 (4 if you make the sandwiches)

Onion, garlic, basil, and zucchini squash

Garden Count: 1

Mint

Asian Style Turkey Burgers

Back in May, John and I made a trip back to Cleveland. We lived there together for two years while he finished medical school. We had an amazing time visiting good friends, seeing how our old neighborhood has changed, and devouring delicious new finds in Cleveland’s always amazing dining scene. One of our favorite discoveries was Happy Dog. When we lived there, Happy Dog was a concert venue with a huge bar but lacking a liquor license, but now it’s got liquor license intact and sells hot dogs with a toppings list a mile long.

We’re talking everything from grape jelly to kimchi. I perused the menu trying not to drool too much before finally settling on a combination of black truffle honey mustard, caramelized onions, and garlicky escarole with a side of tater tots with saffron aioli. Never have I been so deliriously happy with a hot dog… well, okay, there’s one other hot dog place that makes me that happy. I soon grew sad that we didn’t live in Cleveland because there were still so many other toppings I wanted to try. My full stomach said no, but my heart kept wanting me to order one more dog so I could try another topping– their coca cola baby bok choy stir fry.

Alas, John forced me to listen to reason and we walked away before I could order a second dog, but I thought about the idea of baby bok choy as a topping for a sandwich when I looked at yet another giant bag of the vegetable from our CSA. With ground turkey on sale from our grocery delivery service, I thought why not make turkey burgers with some garlicky, wilted baby bok choy?

Our CSA share also included a bunch of cilantro and when I see cilantro and bok choy together, my taste buds automatically start anticipating the flavors of hoisin sauce and the crunch of water chestnuts– it must be something embedded deep in my memory from childhood. So I added soy sauce and hoisin sauce to the ground turkey for flavor then chopped up some water chestnuts, a bit of the baby bok choy, and some cilantro and chives to ensure that these burgers had plenty of elements to add texture as well as moisture since lean turkey has little fat in the first place to keep the burgers moist after cooking. I then chopped up the rest of the baby bok choy and cooked it with plenty of garlic while the burgers were on the grill, topping off the burgers with that stir fry in place of your usual lettuce and tomato burger topping.

Man oh man were these burgers delicious! The hoisin and the garlic add a little bit of spice that paired nicely with the cooling, green flavors of the cilantro, chives, and baby bok choy. The water chestnuts added a pleasing crunch, contrasting with the softness of the turkey meat, reminiscent for me at least of what I enjoy the most when eating dumplings at dim sum. If you’re looking for a way to switch up your burgers for your Labor Day weekend cookout, you should definitely give these a try.

Note: I topped my burgers with a mix of mayo and a pistachio hazelnut cumin nut butter that was purchased at a local outdoor market. The mayo mixture was also great on the grilled sweet potatoes that we had on the side. Realizing that the average pantry is not likely to have this delicious nut butter, you could try mixing some mayo with a bit of garlic, cumin and Asian five spice powder. Alternatively, I bet a mix of ketchup and Sriracha hot sauce would also be amazing on these burgers. That mix is certainly a favorite in this household for grilled french fries.

  • 5 baby bok choy
  • 1.25 lb lean ground turkey breast
  • 3 medium cloves of garlic, minced and divided
  • 8 oz water chestnuts, chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Tamari soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • toasted sesame oil
  • canola oil
  • Montreal steak seasoning
  • hamburger buns

Finely chop one baby bok choy and place into a large mixing bowl. Add the ground turkey, 1 minced garlic clove (about 1 teaspoon), the chopped water chestnuts, chives, and cilantro. Add the soy sauce, hoisin sauce and 2 teaspoons of toasted sesame oil. Using your hands, mix all of the bowl contents together until just combined then form into four patties. Sprinkle both sides of each patty with steak seasoning.

Grill patties over direct heat on a hot grill, 6-7 minutes per side or until burgers are completely cooked through. While burgers are on the grill, rough chop the remaining baby bok choy and heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil mixed with 1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. When oil is rippling, add the chopped baby bok choy and the remaining minced garlic cloves and stir fry until the stalks of the bok choy are tender and the leaves have wilted, about 4-5 minutes. Place patties on buns and top with the stir fry bok choy. Yields 4 burgers.

CSA Count: 4

Baby bok choy, chives, cilantro, garlic

Grilled Stuffed Squash

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” This quote has had many applications in my life, and in this case, it rang true again when it came to my stupid broken oven.

Here’s the deal: When I made this, John and I had just gotten back from a short but sweet (and most importantly QUIET as compared to the Blue Angels buzzing our house) camping trip to the North Cascades where we’d had a delicious dinner of burgers grilled over an open flame in softly drizzly weather. Now back at home with a bunch of summer squash from the CSA, I craved a simple dish– I’d stuff the squash with a mix of cooked Italian sausage and bake it with a cozy blanket of provolone cheese and a sweet tomato sauce. I anticipated the sweetness and crunch of vegetables (which our burger meal had otherwise lacked) but it would still have all the cheesy goodness and comfort to make up for the damp that is an inevitable component of any Northwest camping trip.

The oven, however, did not see eye to eye with me on this plan. Yes, the oven had been on the fritz for nearly a month, but fearing the costs of fixing what had alternately been proposed to me as either replacing only a $60 part or such a monstrous expense of replacing the electronic control board so that I was advised to just buy a whole new appliance, I kept putting it off. Not so entirely crazy since the oven kept resetting itself, albeit sporadically. Well, not this time. An hour passed, and the oven was still 100 degrees. With the tomato sauce and filling already prepped, there was no turning back on having stuffed squash. After my tirade venting my frustration, John started the coals for the grill.

Cooking on the grill meant that my original plan of baking the squash with sauce and cheese was no longer feasible since the sauce would just fall through the grill grate. No problem– I decided to still use the sauce, sitting it under the plated squash and instead of a layer of cheese, I went for a different kind of comfort ingredient, the textural contrast of a light sprinkle of crunchy panko crumbs. Now the one problem that remained was the amount of time that grilling further tacked on to waiting for dinner with grumbling bellies. It took us 45 minutes to get decently lit coals, and we had to wait at least another 45 minutes for the squash to cook until they were tender.  It was 8:30 when we finally sat down for dinner. I was cranky at this point, tired and hungry and resenting how the lovely buzz that camping leaves me had dissipated with the whole oven issue, but my spirits quickly changed for the better once I took a bite of the squash. Here, I had the sweet summer vegetal flavors of squash and tomato like I had originally envisioned, enlivened with heat from the hot Italian sausage stuffing and little prickly licorice spikes from basil and fennel, but the best part? An underlying flavor of smoke and char from the grill– the whole reason why camping food tastes better. In fact, it was like taking home a little bit of our camping trip with us.

So as September is quickly flying in upon us, I can’t think of a better meal to cook right now than this one. There’s the late summer/early fall rush of squash and tomatoes, not to mention we all need to take advantage of grilling weather while we can. Our oven has finally been fixed (with no worries– just the cost of replacing 2 cheapish parts), so if I want to try out my original vision for this dish, I suppose that could happen; however, as long as the summery weather sticks around, I think I’ll stick with this grilled adaptation for as long as I can.

Note: Since we were only grilling the squash and nothing else, we lit a small amount of coals, filling the chimney about 1/3 full or about 33 briquettes. The lit coals were arranged in a single layer on one side of the grill so this meant that the grill was relatively low in heat and added to the prolonged cooking time. If you’re grilling other things and thus have more coals lit or are using a gas grill, you probably don’t need to grill these nearly as long. In that case, I would probably grill over direct heat until grill marks form (guessing 10 minutes) then move them to the cooler side of the grill (no coals or no lit gas flame) and cook with the lid down until tender, probably another 20 minutes.

  • 28 oz can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium white onion, halved
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
  • 3 zucchini or long green summer squash
  • 13 oz bulk hot Italian sausage (or if you have sausage in casings, remove the casings before cooking and crumbling)
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced (yields about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1/4 cup panko crumbs
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

In a medium sauce pan, combine the crushed tomatoes, butter, and halved onion over medium low heat. Let the sauce gently simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly. Remove the onion and stir in basil. Set aside on low flame until ready to use.

While waiting for grill to heat, prepare the filling. Cut each squash in half then split each half lengthwise for a total of 12 pieces. Using a spoon, scoop out the squash meat from each piece, leaving a 1/4 inch thick border. Chop up the squash meat and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the bottom of a large skillet and heat over medium heat. Add onion, chopped squash meat and garlic and gently saute until onion and squash are softened, about 10-12 minutes. Add the sausage and continue to cook until sausage is browned and cooked through, about 10-12 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and let filling cool for 15 minutes before using.

Add the panko crumbs to a small bowl and drizzle with a couple of teaspoons of olive oil. Mix together so that crumbs are coated. Lightly brush the outside of the squash shells with a little bit of olive oil then fill each hulled out shell with the sausage and squash mixture. Each shell should hold a few tablespoons. Lightly sprinkle the tops of each stuffed squash with panko crumbs.

Grill squash over direct heat with the lid down and top vents open for 30-45 minutes (see note) or until squash is tender. Plate a ladleful of tomato sauce on each plate then place three squash halves on top of sauce. Sprinkle with more basil or perhaps some grated Parmesan cheese before serving. Yields 4 servings of 3 squash pieces each.

CSA Count: 3

Summer squash, garlic, basil

Grilled Turkey Cobb Salad

Lettuce, tons of lettuce this year. I think we’ve been averaging at least two heads of lettuce per CSA delivery this year. My crisper drawer overfloweth with leafy greens.

Who knew there was more to lettuce than just romaine or iceberg? The names are actually pretty cute, even if I still don’t necessarily know which one is which: French summer crisp, little gem, flashy butter gem, Sucrine romaine. And they’re rather pretty too– the little gem (I think) has scalloped edges and is a bright jade green, the flashy butter gem (I think) has purplish spots speckling a light green background. Eh– who am I kidding? It’s still lettuce, and its use is still limited to lettuce wrapped goodies or salads.

The challenge is to keep the salads interesting, and the trick to keeping salads interesting? Fat. No seriously– even if you think you’re a health conscious, light vinaigrette only, no cheese or bacon salad eater, well guess what? What makes your salad tasty to you is the fat in your vinaigrette. Our palates crave fat, for better or worse, and the cobb salad– with its piles of bacon bits, blue cheese, hard-boiled eggs, avocado chunks, and thickly layered with a creamy dressing– is perhaps the ultimate in dressing up lettuce with fatty goodness.

I decided to make a cobb salad but try to maximize the potential for good kinds of fat and variety of flavors in the salad. For the meat, I grilled lean turkey tenderloins, the grill imparting a slight smokey flavor which would mirror the bacon. The bacon is a lean, uncured bacon from a local butcher– a friend had given us a tip that the butcher near where John works sells the best bacon you’ll ever have. That doesn’t even begin to describe how good the bacon is. In any case, it yields little fat when you cook it up in the pan having little fat to begin with yet crisps up beautifully. Lastly, I played around with making my own dressing, blending together yogurt, cucumber, dill, and lemon juice so that the dressing was creamy yet cool and refreshing. As we sat down to eat this, John said that this was the quintessential big ass salad. True– this is a salad that I crave, and as we move into late summer heat, I’ll definitely make this again. Easing the burden on my crisper drawer is just an added benefit.

  • 16 oz turkey tenderloins
  • 1.5 tablespoons Montreal steak seasoning
  • canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 strips bacon
  • 1 head flashy butter gem lettuce
  • 1 head little gem lettuce
  • 1/2 cup snow pea pods, trimmed and chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
  • 1 small avocado, diced
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Danish blue cheese
  • 2 medium beefsteak tomatoes, diced into 1/4 inch pieces

Dressing

  • 1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • juice of a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
  • salt and pepper

Season turkey tenderloins with steak seasoning. When your grill is hot, quickly wipe it down with a piece of paper towel that has been soaked in canola oil. Grill tenderloins for 6-8 minutes per side or until dark grill marks form and an instant read thermometer reads a temperature of 160 degrees F. Remove tenderloins to a plate and tent with foil. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing tenderloins on a bias, 1/4 inch thick.

While tenderloins cook, cook the bacon and hard boil the eggs. For perfectly hard-boiled eggs, place eggs in a pot then fill with cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat so that it gently boils for five minutes before turning off the heat, covering the pot with a lid and letting eggs continue to cook through for another 12 minutes. Drain water, and run eggs under cold water until cool to touch. Peel eggs and chop into 1/4 inch pieces. Crumble bacon into 1/4 inch pieces as well.

To make the dressing, place cucumber in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse until cucumber is finely chopped, about 5-6 1 second pulses. Add the yogurt, lemon juice, sugar and dill and process until dressing is runny, about 15-20 seconds. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Wash and spin dry the torn lettuce with the chopped snow peas. Plate the lettuce and snow pea mix. If you want to be fancy, make rows on top of the salad, each row containing a single salad topping ingredient: tomato, avocado, hard boiled egg, blue cheese crumbles, and turkey. Make sure there are two rows of bacon turkey since it’s the star of the show. Drizzle dressing on top and serve remaining dressing at the table in case you wish to add more. This yields 2 very large entrée salads, but can be divided to make 4 smaller side salads.

CSA Count: 5

Flashy gem lettuce, little gem lettuce, snow pea pods, chives, dill

Thai Beef Skewers

Sometimes I over think things. Take these Thai style beef skewers for instance. I craved those thin slices of beef that balance sweetness with citrusy lime juice, salty fish sauce, crisp and caramelized edges and bright herbal flavors from fresh basil. I searched and searched the internet for marinade recipe ideas, convinced that the ingredient list must be a mile long, but found that it really wasn’t anything more than a mix of sugar, fish sauce, and soy sauce.

So I mixed together my own marinade with those basics plus a hint of toasted sesame oil and fresh garlic for added flavor then next set upon how I should slice the piece of well-marbled chuck eye steak that I’d purchased so I could get the slices nice and thin. In the past, I’d sliced thin pieces of chicken for Thai style stir fries by taking mostly frozen pieces of chicken and slicing them using the slicing blade in my food processor. That blade is sorely neglected, so why not try it here? I put the steak in the freezer for 45 minutes and set about slicing, except oops– the steak wasn’t frozen enough. I ended up with some pieces of minced beef instead of the 1/8 of an inch thick clean slices I sought. Oy… how would I ever manage to skewer that? I took the rest of the steak and sliced against the grain super thin slices with just my knife, no appliance needed.

Like Scarlett O’Hara, I went about dumping all of the steak, slices and minced bits, into my marinade, putting off thinking about the problem for another day, well, actually for a few hours. When it came time to skewer, I carefully threaded the slices onto skewers then haphazardly clumped the minced pieces together, skewering what I could. I handed them off to John to set on the grill thinking that we’d lose half of our main course as those minced pieces would surely fall off through the grate, but to my surprise, all the skewers came out in tact. A quick drizzle of lime juice and a sprinkle of fresh basil and chives was all that these skewers needed before being served. The meat was so tender and was that balance of salt, sweet, and citrus that I’d sought. Despite over-thinking things, we had a fine, simple meal. Let the simplicity of the following picture speak for itself.

I'd be remiss if I didn't point out John's amazing shiso leaf martini which was the perfect accompaniment for our meal.

Note: This makes a dinner for 2-4 or could be an appetizer for a party of 8. If you don’t trust your knife skills and want to try the food processor slicing blade trick, I’d recommend freezing the steak for at least 1.5 hours or until the steak feels mostly frozen with just a little give when you press it. Since you’ve got the grill out, why not try grilling baby bok choy as a side?

  • 16 oz boneless chuck eye steak
  • wooden skewers, soaked in a glass of water for at least 3 hours
  • 1/4 cup Tamari soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon each chopped fresh basil and chives
  • steamed rice (optional)

In a baking dish or glass bowl, mix together the soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar, garlic cloves, and sesame oil. Slice steak against the grain, about 1/8 of an inch thick. Place steak slices in the marinade, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to over night.

While grill heats, carefully thread steak slices on skewers, weaving each piece up and over skewer like you’re sewing a stitch at least 2 times then stretch out the piece so it lies flat. This maximizes the surface area of each piece of steak with the contact of the grill. Cook on direct heat for 3-4 minutes per side or until beef is slightly charred. Remove skewers to a plate and squeeze lime juice over the skewers then sprinkle with basil and chives. If serving as entrée, place two skewers on top of a small pile of steamed rice per plate.

CSA Count: 3

Garlic, chives, basil

Grilled Bok Choy & Glazed Snow Peas

As previously complained before, my one problem with getting baby bok choy and snow peas in bulk from the CSA is that I can’t really think of what to do with them other than put them in a stir fry. As delicious as stir fry may be, it can be tiring if you end up eating it 3 or 4 times a week trying to use up all those bok choy and pea pods. And so therein lies the challenge: find new ways to use up these vegetables to keep things interesting.

This would be one of those efforts. I looked at these vegetables and the bundle of basil we received in the CSA share box and some beef that I bought on sale and thought… well, stir fry. But then I looked at our grill which seemed kind of lonely and suddenly, the beef no longer wanted to be cooked in a skillet but skewered and grilled (recipe for that to come later this week.) Since the beef was going on the grill, why not try cooking the bok choy with it? After all, I’d seen recipes for splitting heads of Romaine lettuce in half and lightly charring them for salads, heck, even tried it myself with more or less good results with a head of radicchio. So I split each baby bok choy in half, lightly painted them with a mix of sesame and canola oils and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, then handed the plateful of them over to John to set on the grill.

Don’t they look pretty? All bright green with light caramelization and crispy edged leaves? These would have been delicious on their own as a simple side, but there were those snow peas… those damn snow peas. I quickly sautéed those suckers with a little bit of garlic and a glaze of honey, soy sauce, and sesame oil until the snow peas were bright green and still crisp. I then combined them with the grilled bok choy which bulked them up into a more substantial side dish. All together, the vegetables were crunchy with subtle flavors of smoke from the grill, sweetness from the honey, and nuttiness from the sesame oil. A light but hearty side dish, perfect for a summer meal courtesy of the grill.

  • 3 baby bok choy, split in half lengthwise
  • canola oil
  • toasted sesame oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 pound snow peas, trimmed
  • 1 large clove green garlic, chopped (yields about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons Tamari soy sauce

In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 tablespoon of canola oil with 1 teaspoon of sesame oil. Brush all sides of bok choy halves with oil mixture then sprinkle with about 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper. Grill over direct heat for 4-5 minutes per side or until vegetables are bright green with light brown grill marks and slightly charred, crisped edges of the leaves.

While bok choy is on the grill, heat about 2 teaspoons of canola oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the snow peas and garlic then saute until pea pods are bright green, about 4-5 minutes. Drizzle with honey, soy sauce and about 1 teaspoon of sesame oil. Mix in the grilled bok choy then season with salt and pepper to taste.

CSA Count: 3

Baby bok choy, snow pea pods, green garlic