Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mango Salsa

Mangoes are plentiful right now and relatively cheap. A mango salsa is a great way to use mangoes for a refreshing spring or summer dish. In the late afternoon I made the following recipe and let the flavors "marry" in the refrigerator for a few hours.
  • 1 ripe mango - peeled and diced
  • 1/2 medium red onion - peeled and finely diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper - seeded and finely diced
  • handful of cilantro leaves - coarsely chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 avocado - diced (optional - add at the last minute)
Last night I cooked halibut following this recipe:
  • Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
  • Sprinkle halibut with salt and pepper
  • Heat olive oil in a skillet
  • Sear one side of the halibut in the skillet. Cook until browned
  • Carefully turn the fish over and sear the other side
  • Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 5 minutes
  • Add mango salsa and serve
A side of roasted baby (tiny!) Nantes carrots and a salad from the CSA box completed the meal.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Roasted Asparagus

Last night was the first night of the BBQ season. Since the weather was nice enough, I fired up the BBQ to roast a bunch of asparagus to have with dinner. The inspiration was the latest email newsletter from the Splendid Table radio show where author, Lynne Rossetto Kasper, wrote about roasting spring vegetables:

Roasting may be the easiest way to cook asparagus (or just about any vegetable) and it deepens flavors like no other method. Just toss the spears in a shallow pan (a half sheet pan is ideal) with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and fresh ground pepper. Slip into a hot oven for a few minutes and you're done.

When buying asparagus, choose uniform sized spears. I prefer pencil-slim ones because they don't need peeling, and cook faster and more evenly than thick stalks. Check for tightly closed tips and stalks that appear plump and fresh. Trim away tough ends by bending one stalk to find the natural break point then line it up with the remaining stalks and cut.

If you like a squeeze of fresh lemon juice on asparagus and other green vegetables, hold off until right before serving. Acids like lemon juice and vinegar take green vegetables from bright to olive drab in a few minutes.

I've been roasting asparagus lately since reading Alice Water's "The Art of Simple Food" where she recommends:

To roast asparagus, place uncooked peeled spears in one layer on a baking pan with sides. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roll the spears back and forth to coat them with oil and salt. Roast in a 400 degree oven until tender, about 9-11 minutes.

In the winter I do the Alice Waters' recipe. In spring and summer I like to roast them in the BBQ. Either way, it's all good. In addition to the lemon juice option mentioned earlier, other options include: a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar, furls of Parmesan cheese, or a generous sprinkling of Penzey's FoxPoint Seasoning--my favorite vegetable seasoning.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Soil Preparation

A few years ago our town began accepting kitchen scraps in the green "yard waste" bin. They have a program that takes all of the yard and kitchen waste and turns it into compost. Then at the end of March, they give each resident two bags of free compost!

So I recently got my two bags and began preparing the soil in the two raised beds. I used this website as my guide this year. The unique tid bit I took away from that article was to let the compost sit in the soil awhile:

...mix the organic material into the soil to a depth of at least 6 inches. This should be done several weeks before planting to allow time for it to decompose.

So I will do that and later this month I will begin planting vegetables.