Fall Dishes – By Patricia Welch

Fall Dishes  – By Patricia Welch, member Forest Hills Tuv Ha’Aretz CSA

rutabaga leek puree

On a recent trip to Upstate New York, I had an opportunity to visit the Ithaca Farmer’s Market.  This market, home to some 150 vendors (including fruits and vegetables, dairy, meats and poultry, Finger Lakes wines, craft beer, baked goods, and hand crafted items), is open to the public five days a week.  Running continuously since 1973, the Ithaca Farmer’s market is no doubt the grandfather of the modern farmer’s market.  We picked up some fresh garlic, dried lavender, sugar snap peas, garlic scape pickles, and a half pint of black raspberries.  Our shopping done, we stopped by one of the food stalls for an organic samosa with fresh chutney.   This trip got me thinking about some of my favorite CSA recipes.

Fall Dishes—
Last year, I had lots of parsnips and leeks left over from the share.I thought about making a potato-leek soup with parsnips—just to use them up.By the time I prepped the leeks, I had changed my mind.This is the resulting recipe. I served it under a roasted fish with other autumn vegetables.

Rutabaga Leek Puree

2 leeks (cleaned and sliced)
2-3 rutabagas (peeled and cut into medium pieces)
½ cup milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
1 T butter
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Slice and clean leeks: I typically remove bulb and green portions.  Slice lengthwise, then into thin half-moons.  Once sliced, I put in a salad spinner to soak off any dirt. Change water 2 or 3 times, depending upon how dirty the leeks are.
  2. In a medium size saucepan, saute leeks in olive oil over medium heat for about 6-7 minutes, adding minced garlic in last two minutes.  Don’t brown leeks, just wilt down until they are soft and the aroma is released
  3. Add chopped rutabagas and cover with water and milk mixture (around 2 cups, but it could be more depending upon the size of your leeks and rutabagas.  The vegetables should be covered with the liquid but only by ½ inch to an inch.  Bring to a boil and simmer until rutabagas are cooked.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  When the vegetables are cooked, puree with an immersion blender.  Add more salt and pepper to taste, one T butter, and nutmeg.

I use a water and milk mixture for texture, but this is not a requirement.  You can eliminate the milk, use water along, or replace liquid mixture with either vegetable or chicken broth.  The trick is not to use too much liquid, so that the resulting dish is a fairly substantial puree.

If you don’t have too many rutabagas (or if they scare you), sub one of the rutabagas with a starchy potato.  For a mild rutabaga flavor make certain that you use more rutabagas than potatoes.

If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can mash with the back of a fork or let cool slightly and puree in a regular blender.

Thai Style Squash Curry with Salmon

1 smallish squash, peeled and chopped*
1 onion (dice ¾, chop the remainder
2-3 garlic cloves, minced or grated
2 T Thai Red Curry paste*
1 can coconut milk or one packet coconut powder
1-2 cups water or broth
1-2 T minced or grated ginger (from a piece about 2 inches long)
2 green or red peppers, sliced
1 lb fresh salmon, skinned and cut into chunks
vegetable (or other neutral oil—olive is ok, but can be a bit strong)
basil leaves for garnish (thai basil preferred, but often not available).

  1. Saute onions in vegetable oil, add garlic after 2 minutes over medium heat.  Cook about 6 minutes
  2. Then add sliced peppers and ginger to vegetable mixture, cook about 1-2 minutes
  3. Add Thai curry paste and cook for about one minute, until spices release aroma
  4. Add coconut milk and water, salt (if desired, see note) and bring to a boil.
  5. Add chopped squash to mixture and reduce heat.  Add more liquid if necessary.  Partially cover pan and simmer for about 20 minutes, until squash is still firm but almost cooked.
  6. Add salmon and simmer about 7-10 minutes until cooked through
  7. Garnish with basil leaves and serve with rice

Options and notes
*This dish can be made with almost any kind of squash.  The type of squash alters the taste, but they’re all good.  Butternut squash is the sweetest, so I often counteract the sweetness with a splash of lime juice once the curry is cooked.

*I use prepared Thai curry paste.  Check the ingredient lists.  Some use no salt or very little salt.  I prefer those.

The dish can be made with raw or roasted squash. If you choose to use roasted squash (can be roasted ahead), toss the squash in olive oil and a little salt and pepper and roast the squash in a 350-degree oven for about 20-25 minutes.  May be roasted ahead of time.

This dish can easily be made vegetarian.  Two options follow. The first is simple: simply substitute vegetables of your choice for the salmon:  I typically substitute a small potato or two, mushrooms, or long beans.  Or, you can substitute tofu for the salmon.  Here, you should select a firmer tofu.  If desired, brown tofu before adding to the pan.

Patricia Welch has been living in Kew Gardens since 2001.  She is a professor of Japanese at Hofstra University, and has been a member—off and on—of CSAs since the 1980s. 

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