An early morning scramble out the door. A day at work when I forget to pack a lunch. A night I’m not in the mood to cook. It all leads me to my favorite deli counter, where I can grab a few items, add them to my own fridge finds at home — and as quick as that, the table is set. The problem comes when my habitual favorites start to take a toll on my pocketbook.
PCC Community Market is home to such a deli. Home to deliciously easy bites fresh, packaged and ready to feed my family. They’re also home to several beloved dishes that until now, we had only guesswork as a recipe — I’m talking to you, Emerald City salad.
“Cooking from Scratch: 120 Recipes for Colorful, Seasonal Food from PCC Community Markets” features Northwest recipes that come together quickly and promise all the flavor of your favorite PCC deli dishes.
The recipe for PCC’s iconic Emerald City salad delivered. Its bright lemon dressing and earthy flavors of wild rice and lacinato kale paired beautifully with red and yellow bell peppers, fennel, green onion and parsley. This made a weeknight dinner alongside toasted cheese and turkey sandwiches. Snappy flavors and healthy greens paired with buttery greasy goodness — yes, please!
I eyed the fennel and basil lasagna, preserved lemon with anchovy salad and the Italian sausage with roasted grapes served over creamy polenta. But I opted for the “too good to pass up” chicken pot pie topped with dill biscuits. It’s exactly what it sounds like: chicken pot pie, topped with buttery dill biscuits. Our dinner plates were all scraped clean. It came together easily, and we all loved the swap of dill biscuits for our usual (and more labor intensive) pie crust.
My youngest chose the Finnish buttermilk cake, which we had trouble telling him was not a cake awarded at the “finish” of chores, a race or getting dressed for school. The orange and cardamom made this a perfect teacake, and the kids enjoyed it as an afterschool snack — when they’d finished their school day. (Ha!)
The tarragon corn chowder was our favorite with creamy fresh corn flavor with the additional intrigue of tarragon — an underused herb in our household. We added smoked ham pieces to what little was left to bulk it up for the next day’s lunch. The salty smoky ham highlighted the soup’s flavor even more, and when I make this again, I’ll add ham to the recipe.
As with the other dishes, our soup meal was scarfed down. The recipes proved themselves deli favorites for a reason, and PCC’s cookbook won its way into the heart of our weekday meals.
Emerald City salad
PCC’s iconic salad. If you’re running behind, use one of those quick microwavable pouches of pre-cooked rice. You can find a variety of pre-cooked grains in the rice aisle. This is a versatile salad that works well with all kinds of vegetable substitutions. Follow the recipe the first time, then experiment at will.
3 cups water
1 cup wild rice
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1½ medium lemons)
1 clove garlic, minced
Freshly ground black pepper
½ bunch lacinato kale
½ bunch chard
½ medium red bell pepper, diced
½ medium yellow bell pepper, diced
½ medium fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced (both green and white parts)
½ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Season generously with salt and stir in the rice. Stirring occasionally, return the water to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 60 to 65 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked. Remove from the heat, take off the lid and cool to room temperature.
In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice and garlic, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Transfer the cooled rice to a large serving bowl and toss with the dressing.
Remove the tough stems from the kale and chard and cut the leaves into thin ribbons. Collect the ribbons into a pile and cut across them, so you have very small pieces of the leaves, about ½-inch squares. In a medium bowl, combine the greens with the peppers, fennel, onions and parsley. (If you’re making the dish in advance, you can pack this mixture into a sealed airtight container).
Just before serving, combine the dressed wild rice with the vegetables. Use tongs to mix well. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Makes 8 servings.
Tarragon corn chowder
If you’d like meat in your chowder, this one pairs well with chopped uncured ham.
5 medium ears white or yellow corn
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh tarragon, plus chopped leaves, for garnish
¼ cup dry white wine
2 cups water
2 cups whole milk
1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, cubed (about 3 cups)
½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
Shuck the corn, removing as much silk as possible. With a sharp knife, slice the kernels off the cobs and collect them in a broad, shallow bowl with as much liquid as possible; set aside. Trim off the stems and break or cut the cobs in half.
In a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and celery; cook until the onions are soft and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, bay leaves, tarragon sprigs and cobs; cook for 2 minutes, until the garlic is soft. Pour in the wine and reduce by half, about 2 minutes. Add the water and milk and bring just to a boil. Promptly reduce the heat to low and gently simmer for 20 minutes. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, carefully remove the bay leaves, tarragon sprigs and corn cobs.
Add the potatoes, salt and pepper. Return to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, until the potatoes are beginning to soften. Stir in the corn kernels and continue to cook until the potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes more. Season to taste with more salt and pepper.
If you want a thinner soup, carefully puree one-third of the soup using a blender until smooth and then return to the pot (or briefly use an immersion blender). Heat through and serve garnished with chopped tarragon.
Makes 4 servings.
Finnish buttermilk cake
PCC recommends that if using pre-ground cardamom, you might like to add an extra ½ to 1 teaspoon, as the flavor of cardamom tends to fade quickly after being ground. I backed off on the baking soda, because I hate when I can taste even a hint of it, and the recipe still worked beautifully — but make it as you desire.
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for the pan
2½ cups all-purpose our, plus more for the pan
1⅓ cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons freshly ground cardamom
2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
1 teaspoon baking powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1½ cups buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter and flour a 9- or 10-cup Bundt pan.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, cardamom, orange zest, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the dry ingredients and slowly add the butter, followed by the buttermilk. Using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, stir just until the batter is smooth, no more than 1 minute. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, until there is a shiny brown crust and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool for 15 minutes, then gently loosen the cake from the pan and invert onto a wire rack. Cool completely before slicing.
Makes 8-10 servings.
— Excerpted from “Cooking From Scratch” reprinted with permission by Sasquatch Books.
Who should buy this?
Anyone running to the deli in search of the day’s meal. Fans of quick and delicious Northwest fare made with recipes as reliable as America’s Test Kitchen.
“Cooking from Scratch”
From PCC Community Markets
Sasquatch Books. 304 pages. $24.95.