Swiss Chard & Mushroom Orzo Risotto

I am a big fan of leafy greens, but I had never had Swiss Chard until a few years ago! It is now a vegetable that we really like, and I was excited to see it in my veggie bag from Front Porch Pickings!! If you are a food nerd like me, check out this link and find out why it’s so good for you! It is packed with vitamins (vitamin K anyone?!) and antioxidants, one of which is great for regulating blood sugar. Double bonus! Anyway, back to dinner… I had a pork tenderloin that I needed to cook, so I chose to simply roast that with a few seasonings and make my side dish the star of the show! This recipe you has you standing at the stove a little bit, so grab a friend, a book, a glass of wine, whatever strikes your fancy, and get stirring! Hope you enjoy!

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Browned Butter

With my bag of delish produce in hand, I sat down to make my weekly menu. I used to do this every week. Religiously. Without fail. But then I had a baby. Two of them, actually (not at the same time!) and as the saying goes, life got in the way. So it felt good, and dare I say somewhat normal, to make a weekly menu plan! My 3 year old was eying those Brussels Sprouts from my Front Porch bag, so I planned to hit those early on. I knew I wanted to roast them and had in my head that I might do something involving balsamic vinegar. And then it hit me – balsamic browned butter! If you have never eaten one of my all-time favorite Cooking Light recipes, Roasted Asparagus in Balsamic Browned Butter, well, you are missing out!! A few minutes in the oven and a quick sauce made on the stove makes for a delicious side dish. We enjoyed these sprouts with a steak and some mashed potatoes. Heaven!!

Summer Squash & White Bean Saute

I feel like that commercial “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” I had great ideas of cooking up a storm while I was on maternity leave. Yeah, that didn’t happen! I’ve fed my family, but we’ve eaten a lot of frozen bag meals and spaghetti. Sorry guys! HOWEVER – We got a GREAT box from the CSA this past week and I just couldn’t ignore it, so I actually cooked a new recipe or two!! This was one I found in a stack of recipes on my dresser and it sang to me!! The beautiful squash had a place to go and we were not disappointed. The original recipe called for 1 medium yellow squash and 1 medium zucchini. I used 2 of each because I like to have a big side dish and adding the extra veggies is never a bad idea!! I also have to say I LOVE white beans. LOVE. We served this over brown rice. Please make this recipe! It’s so good!

Summer Squash & White Bean Sauté

Source: Adapted from Eating Well
Yield: 4 servings – about 1 1/4 cup each (very filling!!)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, halved and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 medium yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried (I used dried)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 15- or 19-ounce can cannellini or great northern beans, rinsed (see Tip)
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
1/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add zucchini, summer squash, oregano, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring once, until the vegetables are tender-crisp, 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Stir in beans, tomatoes and vinegar; increase heat to medium and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in Parmesan.

Addictive Little Carrots

I have to say, carrots are the poor little veggie side dish that get NO respect in our house. I like carrots. I ate carrots raw all the time – (until I got my dreaded braces, of course- Dr. G, don’t worry!). We never cooked them as a side dish though. I’m not quite sure why, but they took a back seat to green beans, broccoli, and salads. The green beauties.

Thanks to my CSA box, though, carrots have made their way into my consciousness and onto our dinner plates. How can you resist gorgeous fresh carrots like these?!

I am in love… lumps, bumps, and all.

So I’ve been living dangerously and made carrots for a side dish.  The recipe I used is from Cooking Light and it’s so simple. They are SO addictive and so easy!! Steam carrot coins, heat some butter and add maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss together & Voila! I found myself standing over the stove picking at the buttery goodness.  They are very mild and buttery, but the maple syrup gives them a slight hint of smokiness. I omitted the parsley because I was out (oops!). If you’re looking to mix up your side dish routine, these are worth checking out.

Click here for the recipe – enjoy!

Grilled Japanese Eggplant

Let me guess. You have a bag full of Japanese Eggplant from your CSA box (or your garden, or your neighbor’s garden) and you haven’t a clue what to do with it. Am I right? Because if so, you and I are so in the same place. I got these slender, gorgeous eggplant from my farm box but I was stumped on what exactly I should do with them. They were too small to make into eggplant parmesan and would have been too much chopping to make into ratatouille, so they went on the grill.

This marinade is easy to put together and it works for any size eggplant. If you have large eggplants, you can cut them into wedges (think thick steak fries), or if you have baby eggplants like me, just slice the tops off and cut them in half lengthwise. You could also throw in some other veggies – mushrooms would be an excellent addition!

Grilled Japanese Eggplant

Inspired by: Aubergines.org (a neat little eggplant website!)
Serves 4

1 to 1.5 lbs Japanese eggplant
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 cloves garlic finely minced
1 tsp minced fresh ginger

Slice tops from eggplant and cut in half lengthwise. Place eggplant in a large shallow baking dish or long tupperware with a lid (a plastic baggie will work too, but I’m personally trying to get away from using too many of those, so go for the reusable option!)

Mix together the soy sauce, sherry, sesame oil, garlic and ginger in a small bowl. Pour the marinade over the eggplant and let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes (up to 1 hr), tossing occasionally. Preheat grill. Grill eggplant on each side for 2-3 minutes, basting occasionally with the remaining marinade.

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