Eating Local for Urban Families. Gluten-free and Dairy-free, too!

Thursday, September 27

Seasonal Transitional Dinner

The kind ladies at Enviromom, Renee and Heather, whom I met at Green Sprouts last weekend, gently pointed out that I haven’t been posting a lot of recipes. And they’re right. It’s been so hectic around here I haven’t been taking the time to make notes and take photos. But last night I did, and here’s a great example of what we’re eating for dinner these days.

This meal is “seasonal transitional,” meaning it’s taking the best of the end of summer and the beginning of fall. It has a few non-local (to me) ingredients but most ingredients can probably be found just about anywhere in North America right now.

Potatoes have become our new pasta. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this. I appreciate that they’re loaded with good vitamins and minerals. Clara is still boycotting them, but everyone else seems to like them fine. I used to dislike potatoes, too, because I thought they took too long to cook (they don’t if you slice them thinly) and they’re high on the glycemic index, something I try to avoid, at least at dinner. I think I also wasn’t storing them correctly and that affected the flavor. Now I keep them in a paper bag in a cupboard and I’m enjoying them much more.

Fennel still feels very exotic to me as this is the first season I’ve ever cooked with it. I know! I love the licorice taste and Iris devours the celery-like stalks. Even Aaron, who dislikes licorice, likes it. Clara hates it. Shocker!

Chop the fennel bulb like you would an onion. Chop the stalks like celery.

Apple Fennel Salad

-1 fennel bulb, chopped in half and then into thin slices (See Note)
-1 Granny Smith apple, or any variety of your choice, chopped into 1” chunks
-1 small carrot grated, more if you like
-1/4 cup red cider vinegar
-2 tbsp. olive oil
-2 tsp. local honey

1. Toss together fennel, carrot and apple in a salad bowl.
2. In a separate bowl combine oil and vinegar and stir in honey. Whisk or stir briskly with a fork. Toss with salad to coat.

Note: You can dice the ends of the fennel stocks like you would celery.

Apple Fennel Salad

What do you call this kind of potato dish? It’s not casserole, it’s not a hash (though if you diced the potatoes it could be, I’m just too lazy to go to that much work). So I’m just calling this a “Fry Up.” Because that’s just what you do—throw potatoes and meat together and fry it up. This will not win any culinary awards. This dish is pure sustenance. Given our budget constraints with the Eat Local Challenge it works because it's a filling, nutritious and tasty, cheap dinner.

I seriously made this up as I went. That’s how I cook most nights. The beauty of cooking with fresh, whole foods is that you know the flavors will be strong and present and the texture of the foods will be at their best. If you've got those things, you don't have to do much else to the food.

In the case of this particular potato dish I wanted it to complement the salad, since that was the dish with the strongest flavors. I didn’t want to add onion or garlic, like I normally do with my staple potato dishes. And I certainly didn’t want to add anything too sweet. So I decided, as the potatoes were cooking, to chop up a carrot and toss that in. Then I actually added a few sprinkles of dried fennel seeds. I know that seems like fennel overload but the dried seeds are considerably less potent and have an earthy flavor. The flavors just faded into one another, like different hues of the same color. And Clara ate the carrots.

The Fry Up

Potato and Ground Pork Fry-up
-1 lb. of ground pork (or turkey or beef)
-1 tbsp. olive oil or butter
-2 red potatoes, cut into 1/8” slices
-1 small chopped carrot (more if you like)
-Dash of pepper and salt
-¼ tsp. of dried fennel seeds

1. Sauté the meat in a frying pan until cooked but not browned. Set aside in a separate bowl.
2. In the same frying pan heat the oil or butter on medium heat about 30 seconds. Add the potatoes and carrots (see note). Cook covered about 4 minutes, separating frequently. Add ground meat to potato mixture. Cook 4 more minutes or until potatoes are tender and meat is browned.

Note: Add the carrots later in the process if you like a really crisp carrot.

And there you have it. A simple, flavorful salad and a total peasant dish, literally meat and potatoes. Virtually all local and pretty cheap, too.

Edited for picture correction.


Kale for Sale said...

Thanks for the apple fennel salad. I keep seeing fennel at the market but wasn't sure what I would do with it. And we have tons of apples so this will be perfect!

Anonymous said...

Oh YUM! Fennel is one of my very favorite veggies and this looks not only awesome but also like it might be really appealing to my increasingly picky eater.

You go girl! Thanks for all the inspiration and I'm loving the recipes!