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The Box Meal Plan

Every market day, we seek out recipes to make it easy for you to use all the items in the box. We recommend looking through previous posts if you don't like this week's recipes.
Posted 12/3/2011 10:16am by Bill Pastellak.

-Last Saturday I went with some friends from out of town to Ancora. There they had a delicious dish of pickled beets, blue cheese, pistachios, and strawberries. Sounds crazy, but man was it good. Anyways, it got me thinking about all the beets in the box how how I could make some pickled beets at home. This recipe for Quick Pickled Beets is easy as pie and does not require the complicated canning process which can deter many from making pickles.

-Ever since I started working at the market & farm I've been hearing about how good Baked Kale Chips are, but I've never actually taken the time to make them. Fortunately, I have some kale in the fridge that's a little long in the tooth, (plus I don't have any Zapp's) so I figured why not give em a try to see if they can satisfy my salty, crunchy snack fix.

-Turnips? No thanks. I think they are watery, flavorless, and I just plain don't like them. But they are in the box, so I must find SOMETHING to do with them. Fortunately, in my cooking classes for Hollygrove kids, I realized the best thing to do with veggies is disguise them so you don't even know your eating them. I figured why not try this little trick on myself? This recipe for Turnip Gratin uses all the flavors and textures of delicious potato gratin so I don't even realize I'm eating turnips. Almost.

 

 

 

Posted 11/21/2011 3:08pm by Bill Pastellak.

So this week we're not doing the regular box meal plan, but rather giving you an arrangement of thanksgiving dishes you can make with your local produce. There are some items not from the box, but its Thanksgiving so we think its okay to to mix in some non-local produce.

Cranberry Satsuma Relish

Lemon Glazed Sweet Potatoes 

 

Stuffed Winter Squash

 

Lemon Curd Pie  

 

Butternut Squash Soup 

Sage & Honey Cornbread

Gratin of Greens

 

Posted 11/18/2011 10:24am by Bill Pastellak.

 

- Last Sunday we held a going away potluck for our former general manager Paul Baricos. I wanted to make something special and different, so I spent some time looking for recipes and ended up finding a delicious one for Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup. I switched out the ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg for three teaspoons of five spice powder for a slightly brighter flavor. I also added in a tablespoon of Steen's Cane Syrup to bring out the sweetness of the sweet potatoes. This soup was amazing.

-The organic meyer lemons in the box this are quite possibly the best citrus ever. They are larger and juicer than normally lemons and have a slightly sweeter flavor that makes them perfect for desserts. I fell in love with lemon curd a few years back and have been making it ever since. This recipe for lemon curd does a good job of explaining the cooking process, since it can curdle if it is not heated properly. Healthy? Absolutely not. But delicious? Oh yeah.


- Beets are finally in the box this week (nice!). This recipe for  Roasted Beets & Sauteed Greens takes advantage of both the beet root and the greens. Make sure to cook this soon after you get your box as the beet greens only last a day or so in your fridge.

Posted 11/15/2011 11:52am by Bill Pastellak.

 

- So often I get caught up seeing how creative I can get with ingredients, I forget some of the tried and true classics. This recipe for Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing is a staple at restaurants everywhere. As is the case with many "classics", these recipes are executed poorly and end up being rather bland and flavorless. When it's done right with fresh ingredients, this recipe makes for a delicious lunch or light dinner.

-I'm surprised to see green beans in the box this week, but you won't see me complaining. Fresh green beans are my favorite vegetables and have been since I was a kid. I've never found a need to do much more than quickly blanch them and saute in some salt in butter, but since we have lemons in the box, why not toss them into the mix? This recipe for Green Beans with Lemon & Garlic is a perfect side dish for any dinner.

- Radishes & cucumbers make two of the best pickles out there and this recipe for Japanese-Style Cucumber & Radish Salad is basically a quick pickle recipe. This asian flavored dish is a nice change of pace from the glut of greens and sweet potato dishes that are typical this time of year.

Posted 11/11/2011 12:26pm by Bill Pastellak.

 

- So often I get caught up seeing how creative I can get with ingredients, I forget some of the tried and true classics. This recipe for Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing is a staple at restaurants everywhere. As is the case with many "classics", these recipes are executed poorly and end up being rather bland and flavorless. When it's done right with fresh ingredients, this recipe makes for a delicious lunch or light dinner.

-Kale is awesome. You can eat it raw, stir fry it, braise it, put it in a soup, and even make chips! Plus, there are a number of different varieties, all which have their own unique flavor. This week we have Red Russian Kale from the Vintage Garden Farm in Chalmette. I'll be honest, I tend to stick with the curly kale or Tuscan kale, so I'm not too sure how cook it. Luckily, I found these three recipes which give you some choices when putting together your own box meal plan.

-On a recent trips to Whole Foods, I stopped on over at their sandwich station to pick up dinner to go. I had never tried their po-boys before, so I decided to try out their fried green tomato & goat cheese po-boy. It was heaven. Here is a recipe that you can do yourselves. Feel free to put in on a Leidenheimer loaf instead of sliced bread to make it a real po-boy.

 

Posted 11/8/2011 9:48am by Bill Pastellak.


-It's my belief that any vegetable can be turned into a delicious soup. I've tried out cauliflower, broccoli, cucumber, butternut squash, roasted red peppers...you name it, I've made a soup out of it. This week, instead of making traditional tomato basil soup, I figured I would try out this recipe for Spicy Green Tomato Soup. Top with some cilantro from the community gardeners and greek yogurt from Ryal's to finish off this dish.

 

-I'm sure many of you have seen (or tasted) the delicious sweet potato pies our community gardener Erskin Taylor sells on each market day. I'm not sure this recipe for Sweet Potato Pie tops those, but at least it gives you something to do with the sweet potatoes that are a staple in the box almost every week.

 

-Here's another cheese, bitter green, and pasta recipe using the rapini from the box and feta from Ryal's dairy.. Quick, easy, and you get your starches, veggies, and proteins all at once. Feel free to use a whole wheat or gluten free pasta instead your plain old white pasta. The strong flavors of the rapini and feta will stand up to the hearty varieties of pasta.

Posted 11/4/2011 5:29pm by Bill Pastellak.

-Green tomatoes are a funny thing. Take any other fruit and try and it eat in unripe and tastes gross. But green tomatoes, for some reason, are delicious unripe and offer a flavor completely different than there ripe counterparts. And what better way to prepare green tomatoes than to fry them. This recipe for Fried Green Tomatoes comes from our market manager Alyssa Denny. I recommend frying these guys in refined coconut oil. Not only does it have a nice, neutral flavor, but it does not oxidize easily when heated and create those nasty transfats like many other common cooking oils.
 
 
-One of my favorite breakfast foods ever is pancakes. Growing up, I remember eating stacks upon stacks of Bisquick pancakes until I couldn't move. Smothered with butter and fake maple syrup, it was heaven. Healthy, no. But delicious? Absolutely. Fortunately, as I have grown up I 've realized homemade pancakes taste infinitely better and lack all the additives found in pre-made pancake mix. With sweet potatoes in the box this week, I figured why not combine two of my favorites things and make sweet potato pancakes.  To make it even healthier, I use a few tablespoons of maple syrup and mix into some plain yogurt as a spread instead of the traditional heaps of butter and syrup.
 
 
-I absolutely love the combination of broccoli and cheddar. The richness of the cheese and the slight bitterness of the broccoli make for a wonderful flavor combo. Unfortunately, this combo has been defiled thanks to nasty products like cheez wiz(?). I still remember the cheez wiz commercials showing kids happily eating their broccoli (or other vegetables) thanks to the addition of that disgusting neon flavored cheese-ish product. WHY!! Fortunately, making your own "cheese wiz" doesn't require a laundry list of unpronounceable ingredients, but a just a few, all of which you can pick up at the market. This page has a couple of recipes for making cheese sauce and also explains some does and dont's when making roux-based sauces.
Posted 10/31/2011 4:31pm by Bill Pastellak.

The past month I have gone through a ton of recipes trying to figure out fresh ideas for the box items. Today I'll be sharing some of my favorite recipes and changes I found made them just a bit better than the original. 

 

-Long have I neglected the mushrooms in the box. Outside of using sautéed mushrooms to top a steak, I am clueless as to what to do with them. Fortunately, The Flavor Bible (my favorite book) informed me that the cremini mushrooms in the box this week go well with arugula (in the box) and goat cheese. Who would have thought? I'm not sold yet, but I'll definitely be trying out this recipe for Cremini Mushroom Pasta with Arugula & Goat Cheese for my Sunday dinner.

  

*Don't use spaghetti in this recipe. Rather, use a a tubular macaroni like penne or elbows. Plus, thin the goat cheese with a little cream or milk prior to mixing with pasta to make it easier to mix all the ingredients together.

 

-Without a doubt, the first thing I'll be making is an arugula-citrus salad. My two favorite items of early fall in one dish? You betcha. Feel free to substitute the almonds for pecans if you wanna keep it local as possible.

 

*Make sure to add a dash of salt to this salad to bring out all the flavors

 

-Spinach is back for the fall & winter and I want to make y'all aware of a delicious flavor combo: spinach, feta, & cumin. These seemingly random items come together to make a delicious flavor that is more than the sum of the parts. This recipe for Open faced Spinach and Feta Borek is all the delicious goodness of spanakopita without the hard work of putting together lasagna. Squirt a little lemon juice on top of this dish to balance out the saltiness of the feta and the earthiness of the spinach.

  

-It's the first week ever we have broccoli rabe in the box, so I spent some time looking for a good recipe that will do justice to this relatively unknown bitter green. Broccoli rabe looks like tiny heads of broccoli, but the flavor more closely resembles that of a mustard green with a bit more bitterness. I'm a fan of the bitterness though, as it stands up strong to the starchiness of ingredients like pasta and potatoes. You can also turn this recipe for Sauteed Broccoli Rabe & Potatoes into a Sunday brunch frittata by pouring beaten eggs over the finished dish and tossing it in the oven for a few minutes. If not, it's a perfect combo of starches & vegetables that make for a delicious side dish for a weekday dinner. 

 

*Add a 1/2 lb. of mild or hot italian sausage to this skillet dish to make a delicious hash  

 

Posted 10/28/2011 12:35pm by Bill Pastellak.

 

-Pesto has always been a fave of my due to its versatility and great flavor. It's great on pasta, sandwiches, and even mixed with mayo for a delicious spread. Basil & arugula pesto are great, but this week's recipe for Spinach Kale Pesto has me really excited. The earthiness of the spinach and the bitterness of raw kale should make this a flavor combo something entirely different from the run of the mill pesto. Also, I like eating raw greens whenever possible and this recipe allows me to do that.

-Everyone loves satsumas. They're easy to peel, have few seeds, and aren't nearly as acidic as some other forms of citrus. There really isn't a need to much with a satsuma other than eat it, but what's the fun in that? This recipe for a Satsuma Mojito from Cochon combines cocktails AND local produce. What could be better than that?

-Looking over the recipes, I realized I haven't really done any dessert recipes for the meal plan. I'm not sure why, since about half my time in the kitchen goes towards baking or some other sweet. This week I found a recipe for Brown Jasmine Rice Pudding that is a perfect comfort snack for these cool, fall nights. And if you are a regular buyer of the box like me, you probably have enough brown jasmine rice in your pantry to feed a small army, so here's an easy way to use some of it up.

-Sweet potatoes are a box staple this time of year, so it gets pretty difficult to come up with new & exciting recipes every week. Fortunately, I found a great recipe for Baked Sweet Potato Fries which I used at a cooking class for Hollygrove kids last week. Don't be thrown off by the egg whites; they provide the crunch that you can usually only get from deep frying potatoes. Feel free to experiment with a variety of seasonings. I used a generic cajun seasoning mix and they came out fine.

Posted 10/24/2011 2:31pm by Bill Pastellak.

 

-I talk about it all the time to the rest of the staff and I can't recommend it enough. CooksIllustrated.com is the BEST online database for recipes. Tried and true recipes by the 1000s, there is not a dinner that goes by without me checking out their website. Why? Because they're the best. Period. Anyways, I brought this all up because of a wonderful Caldo Verde (Portugese Kale & Potato Soup) recipe that I found on Cook's Illustrated that is my number one favorite soup. This recipe is not that one, but it is pretty close. What better way to celebrate the cool weather and the first week of kale being in the box than this delicious soup? Serve with Broa, a traditional Portugese corn bread, to make it ultra-authentic.

 

-A few weeks back I put up a recipe for Coconut-Flavored Sweet Potatoes with Mustard Greens. I'm doin' it again this week for those who may have missed it, but also because it is pretty darn good. Plus, I'm not fooling anyone into thinking I cook 365 completely original dinners a year. I have my faves for each season that are in heavy rotation for my dinners, with this being one of them. Make sure to add substantially more salt than listed in the recipe. Serve over brown jasmine rice for a complete meal.

 

-Spinach is back for the fall & winter and I want to make y'all aware of a delicious flavor combo: spinach, feta, & cumin. These seemingly random items come together to make a delicious flavor that is more than the sum of the parts. This recipe for Open faced Spinach and Feta Borek is all the delicious goodness of spanakopita without the hard work of putting together lasagna. Squirt a little lemon juice on top of this dish to balance out the saltiness of the feta and the earthiness of the spinach.

 

-The combination of radishes, salt, & butter on bread seems (to me) like an incredibly underwhelming snack that just leaves something to be desired. But apparently the French eat this combo on the regular for breakfast and they seem to know their food, so who am I to argue. This not so much a recipe, but directions for the Open-Face Butter and Radish Sandwiches. And please, if there are any French ex-pats out there, please let me know if this "radishes for breakfast" is for real in France or just a myth perpetuated by innumerable food blogs.

The Box Meal Plan: December 20th through December 22ndDecember 19th, 2014

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