An Organic Taste of France, India, Russia and Spain
You can have an organic taste of France, India, Russia, and Spain this week just by using your WhitePicketProduce.com veggies and fruits!
I don’t promise these recipes would all pass the “grandmother test” in any of these countries, but the flavors and ingredients are real. The best part is that the produce is delivered to your door, fresh, and with no passport or security check needed! Enjoy the trip.
Organic spinach came to Spain via the Arab Mediterranean as did rice. Rice was earlier in the 8th century introduced by the Moors. Spinach made its way to Spain by the 12th century. For our purposes, they are both an integral part of Spanish cuisine and are available here in the USA for our enjoyment.
Organic Squash and zucchini are native to the Americas and, like the tomato, traveled to Europe after the age of exploration when the two cultures mingled.
Organic Spinach, Rice and Chorizo Stuffed Yellow Squash
2 organic yellow squash
1/3 cup chopped organic onion
2 slices uncured bacon, cut into pieces
6 slices Spanish Chorizo, chopped
1/2 cup cooked short grain rice
2 cups organic spinach, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh organic basil leaves
1/4 cup crumbled smoked cheddar or gouda
Sherry Wine Vinegar
Preheat oven to 375
Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds to make a hollow.
Cook the bacon pieces in a skillet until browned and crisped. The add the chopped chorizo and onion. cook for a few minutes until onion is translucent and softened.
Toss the chopped spinach and basil into the skillet. Add a little olive oil if the bacon fat seems insufficient. Let the spinach wilt and cook down.
Stir the rice into the skillet, and mix thoroughly. Add about half the cheese.
Place the squash halves in a baking dish and stuff it with the spinach and rice mixture.
Top with remaining cheese. Add some water or broth to the dish and cover with foil.
Bake for 30 minutes until squash is cooked and soft. Uncover and cook for another 5 minutes to brown and melt cheese. Drizzle with a little sherry wine vinegar.
For Vegan: Omit cheese or use Vegan cheese. Use sun-dried tomato or mushrooms in place of chorizo and bacon and season with hot pepper flakes and smoked paprika.
For a richer version, make a béchamel to bind rice and spinach mixture. Add the cheese to the béchamel.
You may also serve this with a tomato sauce instead.
French meals are always accompanied by bread. So you can imagine, there is always bread around the house ready to use for something!
But the French go a step further and have turned what we would call “toast” or an open-faced sandwich, into something with flair and an elegant sounding name: Tartine.
These open-faced sandwiches are currently in vogue. They fit the desire for quality in our fast-paced twenty-first-century lifestyle.
The Tartine has a long history. Back in the Middle Ages, a large slice of bread was the “platter” for your meal. (Saved washing dishes!) Seriously, those pieces of bread with all the flavorful remains and juices from the feast were discovered to be pretty tasty, and a new dish was born.
There are no rules for making Tartine other than using a good quality, hearty slice of toasted bread as the base. In homes, toast made from country bread with homemade jam and butter was the Breakfast Tartine. Then came lunch and dinner…
Open-faced bites and sandwiches are nothing new. They are popular all over the world, think crostini in Italy, Smorrebord in Scandinavia, etc.
Tartine is larger and can be a meal-in-one.
Maybe a Turkey Tartine with Salad on top after Thanksgiving would be welcome.
These are a few Tartine I made featuring some of the produce coming this week. Use your own imagination and what you have on hand. Tartine is to be fun and whimsical, not a culinary chore!
Toasted Bread with Dijon Mustard, Ham, Organic Green Pepper and Melted Cheese
Tartine with Garlic and Herb Pastured Butter, Organic Radishes and Black Olives
My favorite (think Pizza!)…Vegan Mozzarella, Organic Spinach, Tomato, Basil, Olive oil, and Sea Salt.
Try this one with leftover spinach and bacon from the Squash stuffing recipe above.
Toast the bread. Spread it with Dijon Mustard. Top with cooked and well drained chopped, organic spinach, cooked, crisp bacon pieces and a good, richly flavored, melting cheese such as Gruyere. Put in a toaster oven or oven at 450 for about 3-5 minutes or until cheese is gooey and melted. Add any additional veggies you wish!
Let’s now jump continents and try some comfort food tastes from India that is right at home in our SW Florida kitchens too.
Organic Green Pepper and Red Lentil Curry
1 organic green pepper, cut into pieces
1/2 organic onion, chopped
2 cloves organic garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon organic fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper. powder ( like Aleppo or cayenne)
1/2 cup dried red lentils, thoroughly rinsed
1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 tablespoons Ghee or Coconut oil
(1/4 teaspoon whole mustard seeds and 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds, optional, omit ground cumin if using)
1/4 cup tomato sauce or paste
Heat 1 tablespoon of the Ghee or oil in a skillet or saucepan. Add the garlic, ginger, curry, chili, cumin, turmeric and hot pepper seasoning. Heat until fragrant. (If using mustard seed and cumin seed, add them here.)
Add the lentils and brown for a couple of minutes.
Then add the onion and green pepper, one at a time to layer the flavors for richness.
Pour the broth over the lentils and veggies. Bring to a boil, then turn to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes until lentils are done. Red lentils can turn mushy very quickly. They still taste delicious, but if you want a toothsome bite to your lentils, watch the timing.
Uncover and finish cooking until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add some tomato sauce for deeper color. Red lentils also lighten substantially when cooked.
Serve in a bowl with garnishes ( I used grated carrots and pickled onions), and Naan or Chapati on the side, or serve over Basmati Rice.
For Vegan, use the coconut oil and vegetable broth.
Additional organic veggies may be added such as potatoes, carrots, spinach or winter or yellow summer squash. Cook or par-cook in order not to overdo the lentils.
Coconut milk may also be added for a smoother texture and flavor.
If you are Paleo, add some ground meat or chicken.
For dessert, we will go to Russia.
The original, Charlotte Russe, is a far more complex dessert, created by a famous chef. The Russian version, Sharlotka, is easy and homey, with roots like our American Apple Pie. From what I have read, Smitten Kitchen has the most authentic recipe from her Russian Mother-in-law! I would not argue with that and her photos look more than scrumptious! (Do people still use that word? To me, it means beyond delicious!)
Even though the history of this dessert involves several countries and famous people, it eventually brings us back to a simple Apple Cake or Pie! Russian Sharlotka or Apple Cake.
This is the simplest recipe for the apple cake:
Organic Apple Sharlotke
3/4 cup organic flour
1 tablespoon organic butter