Monday, October 17, 2011

CSA: Potatoes

I get a CSA box (Community Supported Agriculture) every 2 weeks. It is one of my favorite things. I love getting packages as it is, even when I know they are coming. There is something exciting about getting a package delivered and ripping in to it. Although I know that I am getting my CSA box every other week and I get emails the Saturday before telling me what is coming my way that give me the opportunity to add on extra stuff like dairy or locally made granola, by the time I get it on Wednesday I have forgotten and it is like a fun food surprise every time. Also, part of the fun is food being delivered that I didn’t really choose to buy, as I would at the store, but the season has chosen for me, forcing me to be aware and creative with what nature is giving me. It is fun and challenging. The CSA system is good on all kinds of levels for everyone involved. The farmers get financial support, you get crazy fresh seasonal, local produce and get to develop relationships by buying from the farmer directly and support local economy. It feels good to do good.
Potatoes have held a presence for quite a few weeks now in my CSA boxes so I am trying to get creative with them. Although I have done all the usual suspects with the potatoes, baked, fries, mashed, gratin…I decided to take it a bit further. I crave good gnocchi and am always looking for different things to do with potatoes or ways to improve on some classics. Here are a few new ways to experience these incredible tubers.

GNOCCHI - Serves 4-6
1 pound baking potatoes, pierced all over with a fork
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced, about a cup
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for service
½ cup ricotta
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2-4 tablespoons butter, for service

Step 1: Place the potatoes in a glass dish with a lid and a bit of water. Cook in the microwave until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the microwave, cut in half and allow to cool, then peel the skin off
In a medium sauté pan heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft and beginning to brown around the edges, about 10-12 minutes then remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
Step 2: While the potatoes are still warm send them through a ricer, food mill, or a fine mesh sieve.
Step 3: Stir in the cooked onions, egg yolks, Parmesan, ricotta, and salt. Then stir in
1½ cups of the flour. Use part of the remaining flour to dust the counter and turn the dough out.
Step 4: Knead until the dough is soft and smooth, avoiding over kneading and using more flour only of necessary to prevent sticking.
Step 5: Divide the dough in half and roll into ropes about 12 inches long.
Step 6: Then in half again and roll out into a rope about the thickness of your finger.
Step 7: Cut into ½ inch pieces and shape
Step 8: if you desire…I couldn’t really get the hang of this) by using a fork facing away from you, use your finger to press 1 gnocchi against the front of the fork tines pulling toward the handle to create shell like indentations…this is not necessary. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
Step 9: Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil. Cook the gnocchi in batches, about 2 handfuls at a time. Drop them in and once they float allow them to cook for an additional 15-20 seconds then remove from the water, repeat until all gnocchi is cooked. Serve with your favorite sauce or with some more butter and parmesan.
***This step is not necessary but I like a little crunchy crust on my gnocchi or this is a good way to reheat them…I just heat some butter in a non-stick sauté pan and pan fry the gnocchi until golden brown and warm through…serve as you wish.

Grilled Potato, Sausage, and Onion Pizza - Serves 4
 Red skinned potatoes- ½ a pound, sliced in 1/8 inch slices
Onion- thinly sliced, 1 cup
Olive oil- 5 tablespoons, divided
Salt and fresh ground pepper
Bulk sausage- ½ pound
Large tomatoes- about 1 pound, cut into quarters
Pizza Dough*- 1, 16 ounces, whole wheat
Flour- ½ cup, for rolling the dough
Mozzarella- shredded, 2cups
Parmesan-grated, ½ cup
Fresh basil- a handful, torn

            Heat an oven to 425°F. Toss the potatoes and onions with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the potato, onion mixture out on a sheet pan in a single layer and roast until tender and beginning to brown, about 15-20 minutes. While the potatoes and onions cook, brown the sausage in a sauté pan until fully cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.
            Heat a grill to medium high heat. Remove the dough from refrigeration and allow to come to room temperature. Toss the tomato quarters in 1 tablespoon of olive and season with salt and pepper. Place the tomatoes cut side down on the grill, turning after about 4 minutes and cook until soft, about 8-10 minutes total. Remove the tomatoes to a bowl and using kitchen shears cut into small pieces. Taste and season again with salt and pepper if necessary.
            On a floured surface, roll the dough out to about a ¼ inch thickness and about 12-inches by 14-inches across. Place the rolled dough on a floured pizza peel, or an inverted sheet pan. Brush with 1 tablespoon olive oil and carefully flip topside down onto grill. Close the lid and cook for 2-3 minutes. Using tongs, remove the dough to peel or pan, brush top side with remaining tablespoon of olive oil and flip.  Immediately spread tomato sauce on dough, top with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, potatoes, sausage, onions, then with other cup of mozzarella and parmesan. Close lid and cook until cheese is melted, a few minutes more. Remove from the grill and let rest a few minutes before cutting. Sprinkle with fresh basil. Cut and enjoy!

*Available at Trader Joe’s or DeKalb Farmer’s Market

Note: You can also do this in an oven. Chop the tomatoes and sauté on the stovetop until soft and then mash to make a sauce. Roll the dough out as above, top with ingredients then cook in a 350°F oven on an oiled sheet pan or pizza stone until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.

 Roasted Potato Salad - Serves 4-6 
Red skinned potatoes- about 2 pounds, cut into ½ inch pieces
Olive Oil- 2 tablespoons for roasting and ¼ cup for the dressing
Salt and fresh ground pepper
Capers- 2 tablespoons, drained and chopped
Apple cider vinegar- 1 tablespoon
Squeeze of honey
Fresh parsley-chopped, ½ cup
Fresh chives- chopped, 2 tablespoons
Onion- finely diced, ½ cup
Garlic-1 clove, minced
Fennel bulbs- 2 small, thinly sliced (optional)

            Heat an oven to 450°F. Place the potatoes on a sheet pan and toss with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 20-25 minutes. Gently loosen the potatoes from the pan and set aside while you make the dressing.
            In a large bowl combine the ¼ olive oil, capers, vinegar, honey, parsley, chives, onion, and garlic. Add the potatoes (you can do this while they are still warm), and fennel if using and toss to coat. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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