Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Autumn Arugula Salad with Fennel, Apple and Delicata Squash - Caity

An October without a trip to the pumpkin patch is a sad October in my opinion. Yes, you could go to the grocery store and struggle to get your large pumpkin out of the bin while some jerk steals your cart as you say "Oh um... that's actually my cart" and he says "Doesn't look like it" as he continues taking your cart, leaving you struggling with the heavy awkward pumpkin.  Sigh... Apparently I'm still not over it. Pumpkin patches, on the other hand, are great places where you can feast on roasted corn while enjoying a nice cold beer and casually peruse the pumpkin selection before taking a hay ride back to your car. 

The  Pumpkin Patch on Sauvie's Island sports a small market where you (or your friend's 5 year old daughter, Lily) can select all sorts of squash you didn't know you needed. Lily chose me a lovely little delicata squash which I am happy to say, was put to good use in this Autumn Arugula Salad.

I have complained for years that I cannot make a decent salad. The idea seemed so simple but I could never master it. Some people (my mom in particular) just throw the fridge leftovers on a bed of lettuce and it turns out amazing. I was not born with this talent! I have improved with much practice and this recipe for Autumn Arugula Salad is my golden child. I created it one day when I threw it together AND I actually liked it! I love the balance of the savory delicata squash, the crunch of the fresh fennel and sweet apple.  

Even if you think you don't like fennel, I urge you to please try it, sliced thinly, in this salad! Try serving with Peruvian Style Roasted Chicken and Orzo with Parmesan and Basil or with Butternut Squash and Sage Soup for a lighter meal

Notes from October 2016: I am still loving this salad a year later! I have made a few "this is what I have in my fridge changes" lately that I wanted to share with you. I love adding a handful of sliced lacinato kale into the arugula! And when I don't have pomegranate syrup on hand, I have used IKEA's lingonberry jam instead and results have been great! 

Serves 4-5

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Tomato and Feta Phyllo Tart - Cathy

It's still tomato season in Utah!  In our garden we are fortunate enough that they're still going strong.  But I know from some of the food blogs and Instagram accounts that I follow that in some parts of the country tomato season is officially over.  Even if your season is done, perhaps the cherry tomatoes are hanging in there--if not at your house, then definitely at the farmer's markets.  Erin and I went last Saturday to Salt Lake City's huge downtown farmer's market, and the stands there had so many cherry tomatoes in all colors and shapes.  They were all so beautiful! 

Here at my house, we definitely still have plenty, though...

But you won't catch me complaining.  No way!  Not even when all of my counters, bowls, everywhere--are covered with tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes.  And even though I keep canning them, supplying all of my friends with them, and we keep eating them, we still seem have so, so many tomatoes! But they are gorgeous, organic, and bursting with ripeness and flavor.  These are the treasures that Farmer Kevin carefully tends and works so hard to fend off (very carefully) all of our beautiful but destructive deer visitors and other invaders to protect. 

These visitors are too pretty to chase off, so we have to use other measures to save what we can of our garden.  They sure do lots of other damage to our yard though!  But even our dog, Molly knows that she is not to chase them, so she lies down carefully in the grass and watches them wistfully.

  Then there's these guys that showed up one day while I was drinking my coffee and reading the paper.  Pretty sure they don't eat the tomatoes, though...

But I digress...back to those tomatoes!  As many as we have right now--and they will continue on until the first frost, we are happy to have our precious tomatoes.  We will have lots of fresh Tomato Soup (coming someday here), BLTs, Caprese Salad, Panzanella Salad, Spaghetti alla Margherita, Heirloom Caprese Pasta, and just straight off the vine, still warm from the sun, maybe with a little salt and pepper, juice dripping off your chin... So many ways to eat wonderful summer (and fall) tomatoes!

Here is one more way, and a quick and easy dinner or lunch. Really! I promise! Even if you've never worked with phyllo before, this will make you totally lose your fear of it.

I tore out this recipe many years ago from a Sur La Table catalog because it was so gorgeous.  Much to my delight, I had all of the ingredients at home so I made it right away and have made it often since.  It's great for when you have a ton of cherry tomatoes to use up, but works great in the wintertime too, with those sweet grape tomatoes from the store. 

I know that phyllo can seem intimidating, but as long as you buy it from a store that has a good turnover of product so that it's not too old, and you don't try to rush thawing it out from its frozen state, it's easy to work with.  I like to buy brands that separate the phyllo into two packages per box so that you can only thaw out half the package at one time and save the rest for later.  Make sure to defrost it in the plastic package in the fridge or at room temp.  As you work, keep the phyllo covered with a damp towel as it dries out very quickly--especially in ultra-dry Utah!

You just lightly brush the layers of phyllo with a mixture of olive oil and butter, sprinkle them with a bit of a cheese/herb mixture, keep adding a few more layers (and no big deal at all if they tear, really--there are so many layers!), then top it all off with more cheese and tomatoes. 

It all turns out to be crispy-brown, light and delicious!  Nice crusty edges, with just a bit of cheese and herbs and some sweet and tart tomato flavor and juiciness.  So good.  It would be great on its own, or with a salad (like Summer Zucchini Noodle Salad, or with soup (like Butternut Squash and Sage Soup, Elephant's Tomato  Orange Soup, or Spinach and Fontina Soup).

Serves 6 as an appetizer or side
or maybe 4 for a meatless meal

One year ago: Spinach and Fontina Soup
Two years ago: Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal, Mushrooms on Toast
Three years ago: Hungry High Schooler Beef Sandwiches, Pumpkin Spice Creamer
Four years ago: Hearty Lasagna, Snickerdoodles, Coffee Cake Muffins