There's a certain sense of accomplishment I feel when I am getting dinner ready, realizing that somehow I should be working in disparate ingredients from the CSA cooler. It's like being on one of those cooking shows, handed a box of odd ingredients and told to make dinner with it.
Certainly it pushes me out of my comfort zone and into inspiration. And sometimes ... every so often ... it pushes me into a place where my family is delighted with the inspiration.
Yesterday, for example, I was making Baked Salmon with Horseradish Sauce. I had picked up some fresh green beans at the store last weekend but was wondering what starch to have with the meal. Then I remembered the red potatoes from the CSA, some of them were fairly small. I could have potatoes and green beans.
Super simple in first boiling a pot of water, then putting in the potatoes, and toward the last 10 minutes or so dropping in the tailed green beans. (If the potatoes are different sizes, I just pull the smaller ones when they are done and pop them back in to warm up right before I drain the whole thing.
When I opened the fridge to get the beans out, I smelled the fresh basil that the farmer also brought last weekend. Basil. When was I ever going to use that? Pasta was my usual use for basil and that wasn't in my sights until way after that basil went bad.
And then I remembered. An Italian region makes green beans, potatoes, and pesto. Or at least it seemed as if I had read something about that. But I had no time to look up recipes and, truth be told, no inclination.
I pulled the basil, washed and dried it, threw it in the food processor along with a pinch of salt, a clove of garlic, and a small handful of walnuts. I whirred it until everything looked as small as it was going to get (pretty grainy, not smooth) and then I glugged in some olive oil until it was less solid but not really runny. Then I threw in a couple handfuls of grated Parmesan and whirred again. Done.
Yes, all of this was off the cuff so those are the best descriptions you're gonna get. Blame Nigel Slater and my ongoing reading of Tender.
When the potatoes and beans were tender (should've snapped those beans in half, but there's always next time), I tossed them with the impromptu pesto.
And nervously put it in a dish in front of Tom.
Who tentatively tried it, said, "This is really good!" and reached for more.
It was really good.
The chances would have been slim of me actually looking that up in the cookbook and deliberately getting the ingredients to put that dish together.
But thanks to the mystery box each week from the CSA, we got a delicious, semi-authentic Italian dish and I had a sense of creativity that is all too rare.