Chopped Caprese 

These Sungold Cherry Tomatoes, tucked inside my CSA box,  were the inspiration for today’s post.  I love little tiny tomatoes, and these ones deliver huge flavor in a vibrant, exciting color.  

One of the best ways to highlight the flavor and texture of a great tomato is a simple Caprese salad.  Usually a larger tomato is used, one similar in size to a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese, but this time we are going to make a chopped Caprese so that we can utilize these cherry tomatoes and feature their awesome flavor in a more accessible and portable way!img_2806
In this recipe you also get to enjoy the aromatic goodness of fresh organically grown basil from Sage Mountain Farm.  I think that the smell of basil is the perfect smell of summer.  If you love basil check out our Strawberry Basil Lemonade!  it’s great for a change from the traditional.

Speaking of breaking with tradition, this salad not only is chopped, but it also uses firm tofu instead of mozzarella cheese.  Now if you are a purist, please use the cheese, but if you’re up for something different or just prefer to keep dairy at arm’s length, then read on farm blog followers…

I followed the method for “curing” the tofu from the Vegan Caprese Salad recipe on the Whole Foods Website.  So to deal with your tofu, please visit that link and then come back here to continue.  A note: the Whole Foods recipe calls for white balsamic, and I used regular (you know, the dark-brown-almost-black-deliciousness that can be used on many treats, both savory and sweet).

So once you have your tofu (or mozzarella if you really couldn’t help yourself, lol) ready, then simply cube it up into pieces roughly similar to the size of the cherry tomatoes when halved.

Halve your cherry tomatoes, all of them that are left after snacking on them straight from the container…yes, I saw you eat them…

Pull basil leaves off their stems until you are tired of doing it, or you’ve got a big ‘ole pile.  Stack several leaves together then roll ’em up like a tiny log.  Use a knife to slice them narrowly into strips, it’s called chiffonade, or simply give them a good choppy-chop.

Toss all of the components in a big bowl; halved tomatoes, cured tofu cubes, and chopped or “chiffonaded” basil.  Then I added salt and pepper to taste and a little more balsamic love, also to taste.

Stir, serve, eat!

This can be a great picinic/potluck bring along item and it staysjust fine in the fridge overnight.  Caution, while awesomely delicious, if left for more than a day in the fridge the basil begins to oxidize and will not be vibrantly green.  Nothing to worry about though, because it never lasts that long anyhow…

Yes, it’s that good.

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A week in pictures…

 

Instead of reinventing the wheel again, this blog post I decided that I would show you all what I did with the delicious organic produce from my Sage Mountain Farm CSA box.   I also wanted to share with you something fabulous that I discovered at my (not so) local Barron’s this month.  Flavored vinegars.  Now I know that flavored vinegars have been around for a while, it’s nothing new, but I wanted to encourage you to try my new favorite flavor…Mango!  It is a white balsamic vinegar and it makes eating salad a real treat.  The smell alone is enough to go gaga for, but the flavor will really get you to clean your salad bowl for sure!  This week my salads featured lettuce, green onions, and radishes from Sage Mountain Farm’s awesome organic CSA box!

I used my produce for the usual salads and added lettuce to a veggie burger here and there, but the recipes that I want to highlight are the two from Forks Over Knives.  Chef AJ’s Red Lentil Chili always gets rave reviews, but this was the first time I had ever tried it.  Sure enough, it lived up to the hype…delicious and quite popular with most members of my family.  This dish was garnished with organic green onions from my weekly CSA box.  We decided to call it “red lentil stew” because my kids thought that it didn’t really fit with their concept of chili, but whatever you call it, give it a try.  It’s a keeper in my book!

The next recipe from Forks Over Knives that we tested out this week was Enchilada Casserole.  This one got mixed reviews from my crowd, I think because of the chunks of vegetables.  Texture can be an issue for kids.  Based on flavor, it was a good recipe and although it won’t take the place of our usual bean and vegan cheese enchiladas, I know it will show up again from time to time.  Pretty easy to toss together and it uses CSA greens, and you all know how I love that!

As for the other photos above, I made kale chips in the oven.  They were seasoned with nutritional yeast flakes and Bragg’s Liquid Aminos.  Funny story, I make these every once in a while with just the Bragg’s, which is like soy sauce, and they go over well.  I like them when I am craving something salty and I have excess greens to use up.  This time I was really wanting a salty snack, and I think it turned out a bit like grocery shopping on an empty stomach, because they were S.A.L.T.Y. In fact, I was dared by my hubby to eat a whole plate of them, which I did, but boy…talk about too much of a good thing!

Last photo is of some cute  little rice rolls.  I used short grain brown rice and filled them with slivers of carrot, radishes, and greens along with a tiny bit of soy chorizo.  All yummy things from my CSA box (except the soy chorizo)!  And you know, Sage Mountain also offers wholesome green-fed pork so…you could make rice rolls with some veggies and some pork from the farm as well!

Have a great week!  If you liked this post, let me know in the comments.  I’ll post again soon with more ideas for enjoying the delicious organic produce from Sage Mountain Farm!
 

Salad Sprinkles

Beets + Carrots = No more boring salads!

Sage Mountain Farm
So pretty! So colorful!

This week I decided to pair up these root veggies for some color on my salads.  Shredded carrots are a pretty standard topping for a green salad, but add some shredded beets and you have added a pop of vibrant color along with four times the protein of carrots and twice as much potassium!  Carrots are no slouch, however because they’ll give you twice as much Vitamin A as you need in a day and are lower in carbs than beets.  Paired up, these two colorful veggies make some nutritious eye candy for your lettuce!

So, I know that this isn’t really a recipe, buuuuuuuuut sometimes just an idea from someone else will spark inspiration and get you thinking outside of your routine.

However you shred your carrots, be it box shredder or food processor, shred your beets the same way.  WARNING: Beets are so messy!  I like to put a paper towel or a cutting board under the surface that I am working on so that clean-up is a bit easier.  Use equal parts of carrots and beets for the perfect look!

I am thinking of trying the combo out in other dishes as well.  Wherever you use shredded carrots you could sub these “salad sprinkles” instead for a new twist.

I will share with you the salad that I made using these “salad sprinkles”.  Try it out and let me know what you think!

Pineapple Salad with Salad Sprinkles

All I can say is YUM!
All I can say is YUM!

Ingredients:

1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped to your liking

1 cup of pineapple chunks or tidbits

1 cup Salad Sprinkles (equal parts shredded carrots and beets)

Sage Mountain

2 T of citrus vinegar* (I use Trader Joe’s Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar)

*If you don’t have any citrus vinegar you could use pineapple juice or orange juice

Gently toss the ingredients together and enjoy!

Once you have tried the salad, let me know if these “salad sprinkles” end up in any other recipes you make this week.  I’m thinking stir fry, chili, or even a quick bread…. The possibilities are endless.

Cimmaron Cherry Smoothie

Cimmaron is a red Romaine variety.

Cimmaron lettuce is beautiful and unusual with its garnet color and its long slender leaves.  I read that this type of Romaine lettuce has been around since the 1700’s!  It has a great mild taste and the color is spectacular.  I usually grab another lettuce first though.  Why?  I don’t know.  Maybe because I think green = lettuce and so subconsciously I just grab the green stuff more often?  Whatever the reason, the Cimmaron is usually left in my crisper, alone and aloof, like a princess in a tower (sigh).  Well, the color of this royal beauty was what inspired me to pair it with cherries for a great way to drink your greens(reds, lol!) in the morning, or anytime!

According to an article on cherries over at Livestrong.com, cherries can help you sleep better, they can prevent disease and they can keep you healthy and fit.  They have a good amount of fiber per cup and they are high in Vitamin C and Potassium.  The health benefits though, for me anyway, are second to the taste.  I love the sweet/tart combination of flavors that cherries have perfected!  All in one tiny jewel colored package!

For this smoothie I opted to use water as my liquid of choice for two reasons…#1 Water is zero calorie.  #2 Water is free, hey practicality has its place, right?!  Some people prefer to add apple juice to their smoothies for more sweetness.  Others prefer any number of milks, plant or animal based, for creaminess and flavor.  Whatever liquid you add will change the flavor, but like I have said before…”Taste it as you make it”.  I did.  When testing this idea out, I started with only one banana.  It wasn’t sweet enough so I added another, bingo!  Just sweet enough to drink lettuce for breakfast without being dessert-like, which I don’t’ prefer first thing in the morning.

Sage Mountain Farm
Have you tried lettuce in a smoothie?

Ingredients

1 bunch/head Sage Mountain Farm Organic Cimmaron Lettuce

2 frozen overripe bananas

1c frozen cherries

2c water (or other liquid)

Blend and enjoy!  Makes 5 cups of smoothie!

As always, I would be thrilled to get your feedback on this (or any other recipe).  Just leave me a comment below!  Do you drink green smoothies?  Have you ever tried lettuce in one?  Let’s have a conversation!

Kumquat Salad

Sage  Mountain Farm
Tart and Citrusy!

Today I wanted to share with you a salad that I created “on the fly” to go with last night’s dinner.  It was zesty and fresh tasting, I loved it!  I used things that I had on hand and created a citrusy salad that was a great accompaniment to our meal and used several different items from my CSA box!

The star of the recipe is the kumquat, a small relative of the orange that grows on a shrub and is packed with vitamin C.  Kumquats can be eaten as is, they can be used as a cocktail garnish, a flavor addition for green or black tea, or sliced into salads (which I did with this recipe here).

Also from our fabulous Sage Mountain Farm CSA box I used the gourmet salad mix and green garlic.  I really like Sage Mountain Farm’s gourmet salad mix.  It is my favorite of our salad mixes.  The flavor is mild; it is a neutral background for many flavor profiles.  The best part of the gourmet salad mix is the texture, smooth and buttery, almost velvety in your mouth.  Can you tell I eat a lot of salad?  It is not, as one of my favorite comics Jim Gaffigan says, just a “bag of yard work”.  Salad can be a stand-alone meal or a complementary starter or side dish.  It is a great way to eat your greens!

Kumquat Salad

1 bag organic gourmet salad mix (or any lettuce, for that matter)

1 green garlic, thinly sliced from the white end up to the light green

½ C sliced kumquats

½ C dried cranberries

2 T of a citrus vinegar (I used Trader Joe’s Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar)

Shavings of fresh parmesan or other hard cheese (optional)

Instructions:

Chop the salad mix roughly, most of the lettuces included in the gourmet mix could be eaten without chopping but some are larger that would be polite to put up to your mouth in a single bite (at least, on front of other people anyway!).  Next, slice the green garlic and the kumquats.  Place these into a small bowl with the dried cranberries and mix together.  Sprinkle this yummy trifecta all over top of the chopped salad and then get out your cheese (if you are choosing to add it).  Shave the cheese over the salad bowl until you reach your desired amount.  In this salad I would say that the cheese should be an occasional taste, here and there, to give a salty-savory balance to this sweet-tart salad, so a little should be enough.  Finally, add to the salad the citrus vinegar.  “Taste it as you make it” applies here too, you know what your taste preferences are.  Trust yourself!  Gently incorporate all of the ingredients and distribute the dressing.  Try to lift from the bottom, so that all of the goodies don’t get left under the greens.

I hope that you enjoy this salad, let me know in the comments below!