Every once in a while (not that often, considering the food-oriented circles in which I run), I meet someone who says they don't cook. I just sort of smile and nod and suggest they get a crock pot. For me, cooking is fun and therapeutic even when I'm tired or short on time, and the delicious end product pretty much makes life worth living. But it's busy weeks like this one when I totally get not cooking. I curse my fridge for being full of delicious goodies and guilting me into sautéeing greens or peeling sweet potatoes when I could be lounging on the couch with a beer and some ma po tofu if I'd just let myself order delivery.
All of which is to say that if you plan just a little better than I did this week, fall's bounty can be your friend for busy weeknight meals that are healthy, tasty, and homemade (not to mention easy). Salad greens - like Taproot Farm's beautiful and tender RED BUTTERHEAD LETTUCE and crisp CURLY ENDIVE - mean you've already got the base for a great salad, so make sure you keep some leaves in the crisper; wash the leaves when you get them home and store in a plastic bag with a paper towel to make salad even easier. Pick up a pack of Vera Pasta's GEMELLI or PUMPKIN RAVIOLI from our freezer for super-quick pasta dishes (and stop by the Farmstand this Friday from 10-2 to try a sample and meet pasta master Joe D'Andrea)!
Take HEIRLOOM LUTZ BEETS from Trauger'sFarm - this variety is prized for its large size and tender, never-woody flesh - roast or steam them, and stash in the fridge to add to salads, eat as a side with some creamy goat cheese, or even puree into a pretty pink hummus. Grab a bunch of ORGANIC RED RUSSIAN FINGERLING POTATOES (tiny taters means no chopping!), some ORGANIC RED GARNET SWEET POTATOES, ORAGANIC PARSNIPS or CELERIAC (for fresh, bright flavor and a little sweetness), or any of your favorite Farmstand root veggies. Cut into bite-size chunks as needed (don't bother skinning if you don't want to!), toss with olive oil, salt, and your favorite herbs/spices, and roast at the start of the week. Eat these babies as a side on their own. Toss them with BABY ARUGULA, wilted BABY SPINACH, or fresh DILL for a seasonal take on potato salad. You can even throw them in a basic frittata recipe. Meals into meals into meals.
And if you do have time to kill in the kitchen, we're featuring a rare and delicious veg this week (and maybe this week only): the cardoon. It's a relative of the thistle and artichoke, and its thorny stalks, once peeled, have a pleasant, tender texture and artichoke-y flavor in soups, sautés, or fried crisp and golden, New Orleans style. Pick up a bunch this week to prepare when you're ready to spend a little time on a dish that's both rare and indulgent like the gratin or pureed cardoon soup here -all the flavor of artichokes for less green and yes, less work.
I'll mention one last tool for quick deliciousness in the kitchen: BLACK GARLIC! We just started carrying Obis One's bulbs of fermented garlic, and they're a hit. The garlic, grown atObisquahassit, New Jersey's oldest working farm in Pennsville, NJ, is fermented at a high temperature for about a month. This process doubles the antioxidants; makes the flavor sweet, savory and rich; and creates a smooth and spreadable texture, all while turning the garlic a deep black color. Think roasted garlic with more oomph...and no garlic breath. Use it as you would regular garlic in dishes, or spread it on crackers or bread with cheese, blend with honey and butter and pour over steamed turnips, or - my favorite - buzz it into a pesto with walnuts, olive oil, and your favorite firm grating cheese and toss with pasta. I think can get up from the couch long enough to make that happen.