Here is what we made for dinner (and a few lunches) the past four weeks, using many vegetables and mushrooms from our community-supported agriculture share in a farm here in Pennsylvania. I hope it gives you some new ideas for meals based around the local foods of the season!
I plan our menu a few days ahead, based mainly on what we already have in the house from the farm and from stocking up at sales.
- Lunch: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and apples.
- Dinner: Seven-year-old Nicholas and I ate pizza at his friend’s birthday party. Daniel had leftovers.
- Monday: We celebrated an excellent parent-teacher conference with dinner at Curry on Murray, a newish Thai restaurant in our neighborhood. Everything was delicious! It’s a bit more expensive than we’d like, so this will be a special occasion restaurant for us.
- Tuesday: Honey-Apricot Tofu, Salty String Beans, and rice. This is one of Nicholas’s favorite meals lately.
- Wednesday: Daniel made a Brown Rice Salad for the church potluck; I planned it thinking he would use onion, red pepper, and carrot from the farm. However, when he cut open the red pepper he found that it was moldy! He called me at work, and I picked up another pepper at the grocery store on my way home, and he diced it and mixed it into the salad which had been marinating all afternoon.
- Thursday: The farm share we’d received the night before included a big head of cauliflower, so we roasted all of it including the leaves. I tried to make a cheese sauce by melting some grated cheese in some milk. This did not work very well–it was less like a cheese sauce than like some globs of cheese in warm milk–but Nicholas liked it a lot, and Daniel and I were willing to eat it. A whole meal of cauliflower! I worried that there would be some sort of digestive side effects, but we felt fine.
- Friday: Spaghetti with more of my September 16 Marinara Sauce, topped with crumbled crispy cauliflower leaves.
- Lunch: After spending the morning exploring a cornfield maze, we ate at a King’s Family Restaurant. They have veggie burgers and several seafood options.
- Dinner: Nicholas and I had spent the afternoon making food for church coffee hour the next day, including Yogurt & Herb Bread from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen; we claimed one loaf for our family and served it warm for dinner! We cooked frozen tilapia and broccoli to go with it.
- Lunch: We ate lots of our healthy, substantial coffee hour food!
- Dinner: I was very tired after running errands and doing housework all afternoon, so I made ramen noodles with scrambled egg in them, and we had some canned pineapple.
- Monday: Corn on the cob from the farm. I couldn’t think what to eat with it, but Nicholas suggested beans, which was handy since we’d opened a giant GFS can of black beans to make the Bean Fudge for coffee hour; I had bagged some of the excess for the freezer and put the rest in a pickle jar in the fridge. Daniel converted the ones in the jar into his classic Mexican-style beans. We had a green-turning-red bell pepper from the farm, which he sauteed separately because Nicholas was in an anti-pepper mood.
- Tuesday: Apricot Lentil Soup with the last of the Yogurt & Herb Bread and some cheddar cheese.
- Wednesday: We brought a pickle jar full of leftover soup to the church potluck and warmed it up in a pot on the church stove while helping to set the table. We also brought some lettuce from the farm and made it into a salad. I forgot to bring any dressing, but as usual there were 5 or 6 bottles of random salad dressings in the church refrigerator!
- Thursday: Honey Baked Lentils baked alongside butternut and acorn squashes from the farm. No, that didn’t seem like too many lentils in one week–red and green lentils are as different from each other as beef and pork, we think, especially when they’re seasoned differently.
- Friday: My menu says, “Sauteed eggplant & mushrooms. N’s choice of fake meat. Pasta/rice/couscous.” I knew Nicholas was unlikely to eat the eggplant & mushrooms, but we had these from the farm and I love them! So this meal was an ideal time to let him have some of the soy “chicken” nuggets that he enjoys but we avoid eating very often because they’re such a weird, heavily processed food. He also got an apple, since he wasn’t eating the vegetable. I forget which starch we wound up having. I remember that the eggplant & mushrooms were delicious!
- Lunch: Excited to be returning from Costco with frozen pizzas and frozen spinach ravioli–both of which were on sale–Nicholas and I baked a pizza and heated up some ravioli and some of my marinara sauce.
- Dinner: We roasted small cauliflower and its leaves to eat alongside Garlicky Lentils & Tomatoes from a recipe Ann Kroeker happened to post on Friday, which perfectly used up the rest of the can of tomatoes from Tuesday’s soup! It was delicious and very easy to make. Seriously, this was not too many lentils in one week. Yum!
- Lunch: Spaghetti with marinara sauce. It’s my favorite food!
- Dinner: Nicholas and I collected all the bread heels from the bottom shelf of the refrigerator and made a Cheesy Vegetable Bread Pudding, with frozen thawed sweet potatoes and tomatoes and plenty of dill, that filled a 9″x9″ pan as well as our 2-quart casserole dish! (The leftovers made lunches for me all week.) He objected to my putting mushrooms or kale in it, so I sauteed these in olive oil with plenty of garlic, and Daniel and I used them as a topping for the casserole. I used an entire royal trumpet mushroom from the farm and some kale that I’d frozen when it came from the farm in June. The tomatoes in our casserole also had come from the farm earlier in the season. The sweet potatoes were the last bag of the ones I froze during the plague of mice.
- Monday: Bean Burritos made with thawed black beans and a green pepper from the farm.
- Tuesday: Leftovers!
- Wednesday: The avocados we’d bought last Saturday were finally ripe, so I made a batch of guacamole while Daniel cooked some more beans with another green pepper. We dipped corn chips in our beans and guacamole. Nicholas insists on having each of these foods in a separate bowl, plus a bowl of salsa, so his placemat is crowded with bowls! (There was no church potluck this week due to preparations for our big annual fundraiser on Saturday.)
- Thursday: We baked a bunch of potatoes from the farm. Daniel and I ate leftover mushrooms and kale on ours, with nutritional yeast. Nicholas had just butter on his potato and ate some baked tilapia and an apple from the farm.
- Friday: We had some kind of greens from the farm–maybe they were turnip greens?–sauteed with crimini and shiitake mushrooms, olive oil, and garlic, over reheated baked potatoes. Daniel also cooked the last box of mac-n-cheez and opened a can of tropical fruit salad, to make sure Nicholas would eat something. Nicholas was enjoying a special treat of eating dinner on a picnic cloth in front of TV. At the commercial break, he looked up and said, “I ate four of these leaves, but I don’t superly like them; do you want them?” I did, but I was very glad that he at least tried them!
- Lunch: Leftovers.
- Dinner: I baked a quintuple batch of Honey Baked Lentils as our contribution to the buffet dinner at AuctionFest! (When making a large batch, I recommend mixing them up several hours in advance letting them soak at room temperature before baking, to avoid crunchy or wet spots.) This is our church’s annual fundraiser, which includes dinner on real plates with the admission charge. Then there’s a silent auction, a live auction, and several types of raffles, plus live music and socializing. It’s always a fun time, and this year we got to meet the new bishop!
- Lunch: Our church very practically schedules a parish lunch after church on the day after AuctionFest so we can eat the leftovers from the buffet! There was still more food left after that, so we brought home a quart of eggplant-tomato-onion stuff and 4 baked potatoes. Daniel argued that eggplant is “dangerously high in yin” so not appropriate food for men, and Nicholas argued that it was “gray and mooshy,” but I thought it was delicious, and my lunch at work for the next 3 days consisted of a baked potato chopped up in a Pyrex bowl, covered in eggplant stuff, topped with peanuts for protein, and microwaved.
- Dinner: After getting a free sample of a 5-layer Mexi-dip at Trader Joe’s, Nicholas tried to convince me to buy it. I said, “$3.99 for that little box?! We could make that!” so then I had to follow through. I got a 2-cup bag of frozen black beans out of the freezer and placed them directly into a skillet with olive oil and diced onion. Thawing beans in the pan, breaking them apart with a spoon, smashes open a lot of the beans, so with a little extra on-purpose mashing I got a texture almost as smooth as refried beans. We placed a layer of this in the bottom of a Pyrex bowl for each person and topped it with a layer of grated cheddar, a layer of diced bits from the one avocado that hadn’t been ripe last Wednesday, a layer of salsa, and a layer of plain yogurt. Our Mexi-dip didn’t taste exactly like Trader Joe’s, but it satisfied Nicholas and looked very pretty in the clear bowls.
- Monday: I had to work late. The guys had a frozen pizza and some apples.
- Tuesday: Spinach ravioli, and cauliflower from the farm sauteed in olive oil and garlic. (The leaves on this head of cauliflower were frost-blighted and bug-nibbled, not appetizing.)
- Wednesday: We had planned to enjoy our neighborhood’s trick-or-treat scene 5:30-7:00pm and then have a late dinner at one of the restaurants–but trick-or-treating was rescheduled to Saturday due to rain. We decided to go out anyway, to Cuzamil Restaurante Mexicano. We highly recommend their vegetarian combination platters.
- Thursday: Masoor Dal with lettuce from the farm, and rice.
- Friday: Nicholas had asked for “soupy noodles” when I was planning the menu. We try not to eat a lot of ramen (it’s tasty, cheap, and easy, but it’s a whopping dose of salt and food additives and not-so-healthy oil) but I figured twice in two weeks would be okay. I also wrote “broccoli” on the menu thinking Daniel would just steam the broccoli from the farm, but Nicholas wanted it sauteed like the cauliflower on Tuesday. It was delicious!
- Lunch: I cooked an enormous bunch of Swiss chard from the farm, in the ubiquitous olive oil and garlic, and it turned into a much smaller volume of vegetablage! We ate it over spaghetti with marinara sauce.
- Dinner: After trick-or-treating, we ate at New Dumpling House, our favorite Chinese restaurant: It’s delicious, it’s reasonably priced, there are plenty of vegetarian things on the menu, and they make the best steamed vegetable dumplings ever!