This week’s Farm to Table Friday Dinner was inspired to be a Belgian-style Feast! We were so excited to eat this meal, that we forgot to take a good picture of the completed recipes together (oops!), so enjoy photos of the individual completed dishes with their respective recipes. Warning – we made a LOT of food (we had to call in reinforcements to help us eat it all!), so it’s a lengthy – but delicious – post. Here’s what was on the menu:
Mussels with Beer, Shallots, and Garlic
Mussels in Bacon, Apple, and Potato Cream Sauce
Pasta in Cream Sauce with Sauteed Swiss Chard Ribs
Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Pecans
Mussels Two Ways
As soon as we settled on a goat cheese beet side salad, I was drawn right to mussels! Yum! Okay, well..I’ve never made mussels. I’ve eaten many but never attempted them on my own. I will say it was a successful adventure. First of all, mussels are not that expensive. I got 2 pounds for six dollars at our local Wegmans. I bought three bags for 6 people and started to plan.
For both recipes I started by cleaning off the mussels. I put them in a sink of cold water and cleaned off the shells. If any were open, I tapped the shells on the counter. If they closed, then they were still alive and okay to eat. If not, they needed thrown away. I had to throw away only about 6 out of the six pounds. Next I put them in the fridge and got ready to prepare the sauces.
Mussels with Beer, Shallot and Garlic
- 3 lbs Mussels
- 1 bottle Palm or other Amber Beer
- 1/2 stick of butter
- 1/4 cup mined garlic
- 1/4 cup diced shallots
- 1/4 cup chopped spring onion
This one was traditional but very easy. I started with a 1/2 stick of butter in the pan. I got the pan hot then added minced garlic and diced shallots. I sauteed these in the pan and got everything browning. When the pan was ready, I deglazed the pan with a bottle of Palm beer. (Go Belgium!) I let the beer get warmed up, then added about 1/4 cup of diced spring onion. Next I added about half of the mussels. I put a lid on the pan and waited. Every few minutes I’d hold the lid down and toss the mussels around in the liquid, mixing them up. When the shells were all opened, in to a bowl went the mussels, ready to eat!
Mussel in Bacon, Apple & Potato Cream Sauce
- 3 lbs Mussels
- 3/4 lb diced bacon
- 1/4 cup diced shallots
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/4 cup spring onions
- 2 Granny Smith Apples
- 1.5 pounds diced fingerling potatoes
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 bottle Hoegaarden or similar beer
- 1 pint heavy cream
- dash of salt and pepper
This one was slightly more complicated, but not too bad. I started, instead of using a big saute pan, I used a large pot. I started out with about 3/4 lb of diced bacon. I cooked this in the bottom of the pan until the bacon started to get crispy. Next I added 1/4 cup of shallots, and about a tablespoon of minced garlic along with about 1/4 cup of the spring onions and two diced granny smith apples and about 1.5 pounds of diced fingerling potatoes and a dash of salt and pepper. After this all cooked down, I deglazed the pan with about 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar, a pint of heavy whipping cream, and a bottle of Hoegaarden beer. Next I let the liquids heat up then when the potatoes seemed mostly cooked with a fork test, I added the mussels. I put the lid on the pot and let them cook until the mussels were done.
Swiss Chard Ribs in Cream Sauce
I had never made anything using Swiss Chard Ribs before, but when I saw this recipe, I knew I had to give it a go! Swiss Chard leaves can also be eaten, but for this dish, I used the vibrantly colored, mild tasting ribs. We were cooking so many things simultaneously for this dinner that we ran out of burners and had to get a little creative…
- 2 cups of chopped Swiss Chard Ribs
- ¼ cup of Butter
- 1 diced Shallot
- ½ cup of chopped Spring Onions
- 1 pint of Heavy Cream
- 1 lb. of Pasta (we used this gluten free option)
- Salt and pepper
Step One: Separate the ribs from the greens, and cut the ribs into 1/2-inch pieces.
Step Two: Blanch the ribs by boiling them in lightly salted water for 3 minutes, then draining them and transferring them immediately into ice water until cooled. Once cooled, drain again and set aside.
Step Three: Melt butter in a saucepan on medium heat. Add the blanched ribs, diced shallot, and chopped spring onions. Simmer for 4 minutes.
Step Four: Add heavy cream and cook, stirring frequently, until cream reduces by two-thirds. While the cream is reducing, cook pasta, drain, and transfer to a serving dish.
Step Five: Once the cream has finished reducing, season to taste with salt and pepper, remove from heat, and toss with the pasta. Serve immediately.
Beet & Goat Cheese Salad
I’m not a big fan of beets. At all. In fact, most of my beet-cooking adventures have ended horribly, so I was a little apprehensive when I found out that beets would be on our menu this week. When we saw this recipe, though, it sounded too tempting to pass up!
- 8 cups mixed Baby Greens
- 4 small Beets
- 2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
- 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 tbsp Honey
- 4 oz of Goat Cheese
Step One: Wisk together the Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil, and Honey to make a dressing, and set aside.
Step Two: Wash, trim, and peel the beets, then cook until tender. Beets can be boiled, baked, or microwaved… we opted to chop them into cubes and microwave them since we were short on time. Lesson learned: make sure you use a well fitting lid in the microwave. If you don’t, your microwave will look like something exploded in it.
Step Three: Add the cubed, cooked beets to the salad greens. Add the honey balsamic dressing and toss to coat.
We put the goat cheese and pecans in separate serving bowls and let everyone add their own to taste. The combination of the honey balsamic dressing with the creamy goat cheese really made this salad pop. Those flavors took center stage, while the beets added subtlety and depth to the overall flavor and texture.