csa august 4: more damn zucchini, and beets!

Greenbeans, zucchini, yellow squash, lettuce, radishes, green onions, beets.

We got a lot of zucchini this week. And I . . . am not a fan of zucchini. It’s not too bad when it’s raw and young, but there’s something about the texture of cooked zucchini that I find off-putting. Yellow squash I don’t mind for some reason– I’m happy to eat yellow squash steamed with a little lemon and butter, or sauteed, or tossed in soup, but zucchini the same ways I’m wildly unenthusiastic about.

Yet, we’ve been getting a lot of zucchini. I already foisted zucchini off on J’s brother, and made soup out of it, and ate it raw, and flashed back to the summer in Pittsburgh when the garden zucchini got out of hand, and glared at it hoping I could intimidate it into turning into something else.

Do not try to staredown a zucchini. The zucchini will always win.

Fortunately I was able to shove more zucchini at J’s brother this week, but he wouldn’t take all of it. Unfortunately, he also took the lone yellow squash (since we kept it last week). I didn’t want to resort to making zucchini bread or muffins even though I have several recipes for both, partly because I don’t like zucchini bread or muffins. And I don’t like zucchini in stir-fry, so that was out.

J’s been wanting to make something-in-a-packet for a long time now. He really likes the idea of one-pot meals (though he doesn’t call them “one-pot,” they’re “something-in-a-bucket”) and in-a-packet is similar enough to be interesting.

Anywhere else, it might be called “en papillote.” Here, it’s “in-a-packet.” I didn’t find a recipe that I liked immediately, so I adapted and just made it up from parts that looked good.

Start with two pieces of parchment paper cut into heart shapes.

Use a vegetable peeler to shave one zucchini and one or two carrots into long ribbons. Mix with garlic and butter, and a little bit of thyme and basil. Divide in half and mound on one-half of each heart.

Plop a chicken breast on top of each veggie mound. Sprinkle with a little more thyme and basil, some salt and pepper, about a teaspoon of dry white wine or vermouth per heart, and some thin slices of butter.

Fold the other half of the heart over the chicken and packetize. This is the tricky part. I start at the cleft of the heart and roll the paper in, moving along the edge towards the point. You might be able to just fold the point underneath the packet and have it all hold together– but there’s nothing wrong with using a staple or two if parts want to come unrolled. You can see a staple in mine at the wide part of the bottom packet.

Bake at 400F for 18-20 minutes, or until chicken is done. The chicken will steam itself inside the packet, so you don’t have to worry overmuch about it getting dry– but it’s also really hard to check it without destroying the packet and letting the steam out, so you may have to guess. We stuck a food thermometer into fat part of the breast after about 18 minutes, which didn’t leave a large hole for the steam to leave.

Transfer to plates, slice packets open, and eat.

Beets, on the other hand, I haven’t gotten tired of yet. I may never get tired of fresh beets; canned beets just don’t have enough flavor to get excited about.

I roasted the beets we got, which turned out to be yellow beets. For some reason they were partially black when I peeled them; I’m not sure if that’s from the roasting, or because I left them in the fridge overnight still wrapped in their foil. The black parts still tasted fine, though.

The parts that were cooked, that is. The centers were still hard.

J wondered if perhaps there was something wrong with the oven mode on the toaster, so when I rewrapped the sliced beets and tossed them back in, he put the oven thermometer in with them. And as it turns out, the temperature inside at the back is exactly 50F lower than the oven thought it was– which not only explains the hard beets, but may also help explain the pound cake incident. Subsequent tests (that is, we didn’t bother to take the thermometer out) revealed that it doesn’t matter what temp you set the oven to, it’s always 50F lower.

Because the recipe that I used wanted six beets, and I made a whole thing of dressing before I remembered that I only had three, I opened a can of red beets, drained and rinsed them, and then cut them up and added them to the dressing to marinate with the yellow beets.

They still leached red out, and turned the dressing and the yellow beets pink. Then the quinoa absorbed it and turned pink, which is why instead of a nice white-with-yellow-and-red-bits salad, it’s overwhelmingly pink. Still tastes good, though.

Honeyed Beet and Quinoa Salad
slightly adapted from one at Mariquita Farm

  • 6 roasted beets, sliced and cubed (or three beets and one rinsed/drained can of)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cups orange juice
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 t mustard powder
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (I slightly undercooked ours)
  • 1/2 cup cubed feta
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup shredded basil
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 4 thinly sliced green onions

Mix honey, juices, oil, and mustard together in bowl. Let beets marinate in honey and juices for a while before adding other stuff, or just mix it all together and let it sit in the fridge an hour for the flavors to blend. It’ll taste good, either way. Eat cold on salad greens, or pita, or straight out of the bowl.

The quantities are not strict; I would have used more feta if I had more. What I would do next time is cut the whole recipe in half, since it took us nearly a week to eat it all, and then the dressing amounts down again. Especially after four days, there was a lot of wet on the bottom even with the undercooked quinoa absorbing a lot of the dressing.


  1. Mia Karen Sherman

    I have zucchini bread and muffin and cake recipes. Trouble is, I don’t like zucchini bread or muffins or cake. :)

    I think we’ll make pickle with what we got this week. Will you eat radish pickle if I send it down? I don’t like radishes and Jeff only seems to want them in salad.

  2. Annie Lessem

    I will eat almost any pickle any time – but I especially like them as a bedtime snack. Send down whatever and I will be very thankful. And FYI – if we remember, we will be sending a 19″ flat screen HD TV back with Matt/Naomi. Jeff said it might work in the bedroom and we aren’t using it so he would take it.

  3. Omi Salavea

    Oh wow, the “In the Packet” looks so delicious. I recently started Atkins for Diabetes, and I’m getting so very bored with my food… Maybe I can take the carrots out of it and add something else… Great job!

    PS: Found you on BlogHub on Ravelry!

    • mia

      It’s pretty easy, too. You can also do it with fish or just vegetables, but I wouldn’t recommend using beef or pork. Just meat with no veggies won’t work terribly well either– part of what cooks the meat is the steam from the veggies. :)


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