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Out of the Box

out of the boxAre you familiar with Lynne Rosetta Kasper? She hosts a weekly public radio program called The Splendid Table. It’s centered around, well, food of course. Her vast knowledge is inspiring, as is her quiet, raspy voice and infectious chuckle when she talks about pungent cheese, perfectly cooked pasta, fruity olive oil or essentially anything pertaining to food. At the end of her program she has listeners call in to reveal the often lackluster and limited contents of their fridge in order for her to create meals that cause all of us listening to drool and wish that we too had such random ingredients lying around. As if inspiring herself, she rattles off a half dozen ideas getting more and more excited with each one. No matter what’s in the fridge, Lynne can concoct an incredible dish.

I’ve listened to her shows and longed to have such creativity and imagination. So I thought, “Why not attempt to ‘Lynne Rosetta Kasper’ this week’s produce box?” Meaning, I’ll see if I can come up with some clever and simple ideas for creating meals with your fresh produce. We’ll see how it goes.

Before we begin, there are a few rules. I’m going to assume you all have a certain number of pantry items, such as oil, salt, maybe some eggs or other type of protein, perhaps a bit of pasta or other starch and well, we’ll just see. 

The carrots and broccolini would be roasted—a little olive oil, salt and pepper and a hot oven until they are charred in parts and tender-sweet throughout. From there I’d toss with pasta and perhaps a little cheese—goat cheese or Parmesan perhaps—and then on top maybe a fried egg. 

If not the pasta, then a salad. Roasted carrots over the greens with the apples, sliced or maybe some segments of orange. For a dressing, a bit of oil and some of the juice from the orange or a splash of vinegar. 

I’m going out on a limb here and assuming you have ricotta in your fridge. Chances are you don’t. I sure don’t, but this one is worth a trip to the store (or make your own, really it’s quite simple).

On a plate, slather a good amount of ricotta. On top of the ricotta goes the roasted carrots or broccolini. Again with an egg on top of it all, if you want. The green onions would be lovely thinly sliced and casually thrown on top. 

Most likely, the apples and pears I’d bake into a cake. One in a loaf pan, so I could call it breakfast. It would be heady from brown sugar, tender, and perhaps an oat crumble would cover the top. 

I see you bok choy—and yes, I’m saving you for the end. I don’t particularly like you, mostly because I don’t often know what to do with you. So let’s just say we stir fry you after you’ve been chopped. Into a hot wok or saute pan you go, with oil (sesame if you have it), garlic, ginger and a splash of soy sauce. You are cooked about 5-7 minutes until you’re crisp-tender. On top of rice you sit and then along comes the green onion to give you a bite and some freshness. Not too bad, I’d say. Especially if your plate is shared with some grilled chicken, steak or, yes you guessed it, a fried egg.

Let’s assume you have some maple syrup. If not, honey will do. Cube the yams roughly then add a bit of your sweetness of choice. Also add a bit of oil and salt. Some cayenne, cumin or chile would be nice here too. Roast in a hot oven until the edges have crisped and the insides have succumbed to a sweet mash. Serve alongside anything, really, or atop your greens for a healthful salad. 

My goodness, look at that. We’ve managed to come up with quite a collection of ideas for this week’s selection. Sure, I’ve made some assumptions, but really, the fact is, when you have produce this good, there’s so little that needs to be done to make a delicious and healthy dish.

by Ashley Rodriguez
food blogger