Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mid-week menu!

At my house, slow nights mean big dinners. I enjoyed this meal so much, I hoped you would indulge me in a mini brag-a-thon.

Though I may use recipes more often than the other two in the RFC blogger trio, I occasionally trust myself to create my own meals. Simplicity is the key here, and since I am amazingly lucky enough to have regular access to fresh-picked organic produce, I am all about showing off the inherent flavors and textures of the foods I am cooking, rather than coming up with complicated creations (I don't have the training for that anyway, though I dream of someday going to cooking school). As we ramp up for the farmer's market season, I would like to encourage you to avoid disguising the amazing vegetables you buy at the market, rather just supporting them with delicious fats and wholesome spices. Here was tonight's menu, provided here for your inspiration:

Quick Sauteed Asparagus

Ingredients: just butter, salt and pepper and fresh asparagus. Melt butter in a skillet, toss asparagus in it for 2-3 minutes, season with salt and pepper and serve. I do not recommend doing this with asparagus from the grocery store, as it has been shipped from afar and is guaranteed to have lost some of the sweet, subtle spring flavor and crunchiness you find in fresh asparagus. Head to the Byrd House Market this Tuesday (the 28th) instead and get a bunch from Amy's Garden.

Tatsoi Pasta Toss

1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
as much organic and fresh-picked tatsoi as you can afford or get your hands on, chopped
8 ounces fettucine
olive oil
white wine
parmeggiano reggiano cheese

Cook fettucine and set aside. Saute onion in a generous amount of olive oil. Add garlic and saute for a minute or two more, just until you can smell it cooking. Throw tatsoi in, and as soon as it has wilted enough to be manageable, add a dash or two of white wine. Allow most of the wine to cook off, then add pasta and toss in the hot pan. Put pasta in a nice bowl and top with lots and lots of freshly grated parmesan cheese.

If you aren't in the know, tatsoi is a delicious asian green, a cool-weather plant that could best be described as a cross between pak choi and spinach. The leaves are dark green, spoon-shaped and textured; the flavor is almost citrusy, maybe like a little bit of sorrel added to that dark spinach earthiness. It's my all-time favorite green, and I eat it raw in salads as well as in sautes. Tatsoi is in the mustard family and grows into a big head if you don't pick it regularly! As always, the smaller leaves are the most succulent and flavorful, though I eat it all: big, small and even most of the stem.

Easy Hatteras Tuna

wild-caught hatteras tuna
freshly squeezed orange juice
thyme (fresh is best but I used dried.)
salt and pepper
olive oil

Cut tuna into thin slices (maybe 3/4 inch thick). Marinate in a generous amount of olive oil, orange juice, salt and pepper, thyme and olive oil. Other spices are more than welcome here, and the amounts don't have to be specific...just throw some in, it's going to be good no matter what. I usually use basil, oregano and thyme all together if I have them. Then just melt a bit of butter in a hot skillet and pan-fry the steaks. It's really quick. If your tuna is fresh, make sure to just sear it and leave the inside pink and creamy...we were using a frozen cut so we cooked it more. I really know very little about cooking fish, so I was proud of this even though it is incredibly basic.

Wine: Villa Sorono Pino Grigio 2007. If you listen to the podcast, you'll know I'm a total wine novice, but I'll try...Floral and a bit dry, with a little acidity to it...not too sweet. All right.

The fresh asparagus and tatsoi were, naturally, the stars of this meal...all my heating and spicing was just to dress them up. The fish wasn't bad either, though frozen can never compare to fresh-caught! On a final note, I beg you to notice our absolutely lovely new salt and pepper grinders. I had been coveting these for months, and we finally decided to go for them...they are imitations of authentic French Peugeot grinders, but those, at $50 apiece, were out of my price range. Same style though...I had to have something that didn't look like a chess piece! It's amazing how limited the styles are for salt and pepper shakers, and of course it's hard to find a set that has a salt grinder instead of a shaker. Aahh...culinary indulgence. Allow me this one. At least I make my own yogurt...

1 comment:

  1. Hi Natalie--

    Thanks for leading me to your blog. I haven't had a chance to dig in, but i'm impressed with this post, at least. I imagine this meal was...pretty great, actually.

    I just picked a whole bunch of fresh asparagus and I'm either going to do your recipe or i'm going to make a nice fresh soup with them. Actually, your recipe sounds better, it's just that I have all this bread and chicken stock....

    Anyway, don't forget to check out; I think you'll love the magazine. Send me an email at and maybe we can set up some kind of tatsoi/perennial trade drop off for next week, when I'll be back in Richmond.

    Keep writing, and we'll keep reading!