My first month as a member of the Chelsea CSA came to a close with this week's vegetable distribution (thankfully there are about five more months to go- and the fruit distribution has yet to begin!). Stoneledge Farm's Kavakos family brought a colorful variety of vegetables to CSA members during week four- green and yellow summer squash, sugar snap peas, red vein sorrel, escarole, Bright Lights swiss chard, summer spinach, red leaf lettuce, green solix lettuce, and garlic scapes. Excited to taste the newest additions, I focused on creating a meal that would incorporate the sugar snap peas (amazing on their own) and summer squash.
I used one of my favorite kitchen tools (a Microplane) to add lemon zest to fresh ricotta cheese. I put a dollop of the lemon ricotta in a shallow bowl, added a few sugar snap peas, sprinkled it with chopped mint and a dash of salt, and finished it with a drizzle of meyer lemon olive oil (purchased at Carter & Cavero in the Limelight Marketplace) for one of the simplest, and tastiest appetizers I've ever made.
For the main course, I set out to build a crunchy panini. I used the garlic scapes to make a lemon garlic aioli, roasted the summer squash, and sandwiched them on sourdough bread with slices of grilled chicken, parmigiano reggiano cheese and summer spinach. The result- a light, fulfilling dinner-worthy sandwich (recipe for lemon garlic aioli and instructions for grilled chicken and summer squash panini below).
Lemon Garlic Aioli (yield, approx. 1 cup)
2 tbsp garlic scape
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 egg yolks
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1. Add garlic scape, lemon juice and egg yolks to the bowl of a food processor with chopping blade attached. Blend until smooth.
2. With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in extra virgin olive oil until mixture is smooth and thick.
3. Finish with sea salt.
The garlic flavor is quite potent in this spread- use a lesser amount of garlic scape if you're not a garlic lover
Spread sliced summer squash in a baking dish and roast with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper at 400 degrees for approximately 20 minutes (whatever is not used for the panini can be eaten on its own)
Using a grill pan (or if you're lucky enough to have an outdoor grill) season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and grill until cooked through
To assemble the panini: cut two pieces of sourdough bread- slather one piece of sourdough bread with lemon garlic aioli and place several slices of parmigiano reggiano on top. On the second piece of sourdough bread layer two summer spinach leaves, several slices of grilled chicken, and roasted summer squash. Close the two sides of the sandwich and brush the outside of the bread with extra virgin olive oil
Press the sandwich in a panini maker or grill pan with a panini top (I love Le Creuset's panini press and skillet grill- for this meal I used it to grill the chicken and to press the panini) for approximately 5-6 minutes