Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Weekly Meal Planner Using Produce from my Abundant Harvest Organics Box

Summer has brought many yummy treasures in our Abundant Harvest Organics produce boxes! The boxes keep getting heavier every week as they are loaded down with fresh sweet corn, juicy stone fruits, delicious melons, and ripe tomatoes.

Ma must have really loved summer!

We don't eat much corn in our house since it is really just a starchy grain but when it comes in the box we do indulge. As you can see from the smile on little Jad's face he is a fan!

More corn is on its way this week along with the other usual summer goodies. I also ordered some irresistible extras this week.

So what is coming in the box this week?

  • melon
  • seasonal stone fruit
  • corn
  • eggplant
  • green beans
  • lettuce
  • mint
  • summer squash
  • tomatoes
  • turnips
I also purchased these lovely add-on items:

  • 20 lb of freestone peaches for just $12!
  • delicata squash
  • spaghetti squash
  • a good sized sugar baby watermelon for only $3!
What to do with all this wonderful fresh food?

Here are my ideas:

mint and/or melon water

I have seen a product called hint water in the stores. I even bought it once before on a hot day when I wanted something with a little flavor. They cost about $1 to almost $2 dollars a bottle. Stop and think about how ridiculous it is for you to pay that price. Personally I am going to take a tiny bit of my $3 watermelon and add it to a pitcher of purified water and make my own hint water for a fraction of the price!
I may do mint melon, I may do just melon, I may do just mint. So many choice! Water is going quick around here in this summer heat so something tells me I will be able to try more than one flavor this week.
In my experience it is best to leave the fruit and/or mint in the water for about half a day or less. It all depends on how you like the flavor. That also determines how much fruit or mint you put in the pitcher in the first place. You can put chunks of melon or even some melon puree if you want more of a aqua fresca with some fruit pulp. Crushing the mint leaves in the water will release more flavor. Play around with it and see what you like best.
Cool mint water on a hot day is sounding pretty dreamy. I am looking forward to making mine!

Meal 1
crunchy fresh green beans served with fish or chicken or steak
I have a confession to make. I have been eating my green beans raw right out of the box the past few weeks. They are so good! I have been reading a lot of raw cookbooks lately out of curiosity and working more raw items into my meals. These green beans are so good they do not need to be cooked. Cold crunchy greens beans are the perfect side to any main item. Serve them up chilled and raw and see what you think. Now that is fast food!

Meal 2
raw pasta with fresh or dried tomato sauce
We don't eat gluten in our house so regular pasta is out. We do indulge in the occasional treat of rice pasta when we are feeling nostalgic but something about the hot summer days makes a plate of any kind of pasta seem too heavy.
Squash pasta however is the perfect summer meal! If you have a fancy spiral slicer or julienne veggie peeler this will be easy but I am pretty sure you can do ok with a regular grater using the big grate size if you are patient. I will try it out myself this week just to make sure this is true!  The idea is to grate the squash into long thin noodle shapes. No cooking needed if you get them thin enough. If they seem too thick do a light saute to soften them a bit.
Now on to the sauce. My preference is to dry my tomatoes and then make them into a sauce. This eliminates the need for any tomato paste.
Here is a quick method for oven dried tomatoes. Slice the tomatoes and line them on a greased foil lined cookie sheet or skip the grease and use parchment paper.
Brush the slices lightly with olive oil or expeller pressed coconut oil. Then sprinkle them with salt.
Pop them in the oven on 300 for about 1 hour. You may want to give them an extra 30 minutes if they are still too juicy.
Blend some of them together with a little water and whatever else you like in tomato sauce. Maybe some basil and garlic. Serve on top of the raw squash noodles and add a few more dried tomatoes on top for garnish.

Meal 3
salad with fresh made corn chips
We get lettuce almost every week and that means salad is always on the menu! I am going to add some fresh corn kernels to mine this week. I also have a recipe for making fresh raw corn chips using a dehydrator but I bet it would work in the oven too. You take all the kernels off the cob and puree them with some salt and whatever other seasoning you might like. You line them on a tray in thin corn shape chunks and then you pop them in your dehydrator for about a day. In the oven I would suggest putting the oven on the lowest setting and putting them in over night and see if they are done in the morning. If anyone tries this out let us know how it goes!

Meal 4
baba ganoush(roasted eggplant puree) served with grilled meat
Don't be scared to try and make baba ganoush it is actually pretty easy. Take the eggplant and roast it in your oven under the broiler using the low setting. Turn the eggplant every few minutes with tongs so you can get it nice and charred all over.
When it is black all over and soft it is done. Leave it to cool for at least 15 minutes.
Cut it in half and scoop out the soft roasted flesh into a mixing bowl or blender or food processor if you have one and want a really smooth texture. I like to use my immersion blender right in the mixing bowl so I don't have to dirty as many dishes.
To make classic baba add lemon juice, tahini paste (ground sesame seeds), olive oil, and a little freshly minced garlic. If you don't have some of these ingredients try to use what you do have a see how it goes.
This is great served with grilled meats and veggies or pita bread if you eat bread.
You can also purchase tahini sauce to mix in to make this simpler, that will already have the lemon juice and some olive oil.

Meal 5
homemade fermented turnip slaw served with grilled sausage
Making your own fermented veggies is SUPER easy and so good for you! My husband and I took a class recently and learned how to do this.
All you need is a clean wide mouth mason jar,  fresh purified water, real mineral salt, and some veggies.
The one key is to use at least a little bit of a veggie with a high sugar content like some shredded carrot. This gets the fermentation process really going.
I have not tried this with turnips yet but since that is what is coming in the box this week that is what I will try!
For turnips it would be best to grate them into a bowl and then add a little grated carrot.
Add a teaspoon or two of real mineral salt  and a little bit of water.
Then start mixing and crushing the turnip slaw with your hands for about 5 minutes.
Pack the slaw into the mason jar and add fresh purified water to the jar until all of the slaw is completely submerged under the water.
Put this off to the side in your kitchen or under the sink or in a cupboard with a paper towel under it.
Leave it for a day and then check on it and carefully open the jar over the sink to release the pressure and then tighten the lid again and put the jar back to rest for another day.
It should be ready to eat in about 3 to 4 days. Check it once a day and open and close it to release any pressure.
Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 or 3 months.
When you eat it, eat it cold or leave it out to get to room temperature. Heating it will kill all of the good bacteria you created with the fermentation. Don't kill all those lovely probiotics!

Fresh Stone Fruit!
No recipe needed, just wash and enjoy! Make sure you have a napkin handy, these babies are juicy!

Happy cooking and eating!