Posts Tagged ‘beet’

Soup and Salad

February 2, 2011

The winter farmer’s market has made it possible to have salad!  One of the farms, and now I’m forgetting its name, is growing salad mix in unheated greenhouses.  The leaves are tiny and delicate, and packed with flavor and nutrients.  It’s a real treat, and it has become a weekly treat, too.  Here it is in a salad with beets stored from our summer CSA and local eggs from a nearby store.  The bread slice is also from the winter farmer’s market.

plate of salad

At $4 for a 5 ounce clamshell, the salad mix is an affordable luxury.  If we hadn’t been eating the seasons for so long, it would be easy to take such a thing for granted.   I do wish there were an alternative to the plastic clamshell, though.  If there’s one guiding principle to my food choices lately, it’s been minimizing packaging.

Today was another snow day, so I made minestrone soup.  I simmered a pound of dried garbanzos, then scooped most of them into a storage container to make other meals.  The remaining beans and all of their cooking water was the beginning of my soup.  I added a large grocery store can of diced tomatoes in juice, and spices (basil, oregano, garlic, salt, pepper).  The fun was throwing in a mix of vegetables from our freezer:  bell peppers, zucchini, corn, and beet greens, along with carrots from the winter farmer’s market.  It was a beautiful rainbow of soup.  I wish I had taken a photo!

Two Recipes

August 29, 2010

Cooking from a CSA is deceptively difficult.  After all, you get a beautiful bounty every week of the sort of high-quality ingredients you can’t go wrong with.  But they rarely come in familiar combinations.  We now have a stable of stand-bys (and you can find most of them in old blog posts).  Sometimes we make things up.  But when we’re stumped or making something new, we often look on-line or in cookbooks, find something close to what we want, and improvise from there.  Here are two such recipes from this summer:

July Scafata

We needed to use fava beans.  We get them one or two weeks each summer from our CSA.  We didn’t want to let them go moldy in our refrigerator again, but we couldn’t remember what we’d done with them before, nor whether we’d liked it.  Looking on line, we found that scafata was the best match for our ingredients.  It was definitely tasty enough to repeat.  Aside from shelling the fava beans, which would have to happen no matter what cooked with them, it’s easy enough to repeat, too.  I couldn’t tell you whose website the original came from, it shows up in multiple places, but if they give a source, it’s La Cucina Delle Regioni D’Italia: Umbria, by Antonella Santolini.  Here’s our version, which modified both ingredients and cooking times:

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook 10 minutes:

  • 3 T olive oil
  • 2 T minced garlic (would have been 1/2 C onion if I could eat onion, because that was in the original recipe and we got onions from our CSA, we just didn’t take them home)
  • 2 lbs fava beans, shelled and peeled (you could easily substitute a 10 oz box of frozen lima beans)

Add and cook about 5 minutes more:

  • 5 medium carrots, sliced

Add and cook about 10 minutes more:

  • 2 small or 1 large bulb fennel, chopped
  • Salt to taste

Add and cook about 5 minutes more:

  • 1 large can (28 0z) diced tomatoes (canned because we made this in July when we had fava beans and had run out of frozen tomatoes from last year, rather than waiting until August when we get more tomatoes)
  • Water as needed to make stew (I don’t remember whether we needed any)

Add and cook until wilted:

  • 1 bunch beet greens (because that was what we had, although we often have chard, which is what the original recipe called for)

Serve with some sort of starch.  Enjoy!

Refrigerator Sour Pickles

Because we needed something to do with lots of cucumbers, when we weren’t getting any other salad ingredients.  This is very loosely based on the recipe for 48-hour Sour Pickles in Putting Food By (see my References and Resources page for the full listing).

Mix together for brine:

  • 1 C white vinegar
  • 3 C water
  • 1/4 C salt
  • 1/4 C sugar

Pour enough brine to cover (but it won’t because the cucumbers will float) over:

  • 3 large cucumbers, sliced
  • garlic: 1 heaping tablespoon of jarred, or a few cloves pressed or chopped

Cover and refrigerate.  Best about 2 days later.

Local and Not Frozen

March 20, 2010

The weather today was sunny and around 70, which made me want to go almost anywhere just for the walk to get there.  Conveniently, there was an indoor farmers’ market in reasonable walking distance.  Unfortunately, it was a one-time event, connected to a “Health and Wellness Fair” held at Somerville High School.  We bought a couple of pounds of blue potatoes from Dracut, MA; lettuce, bok choy, kale, and cabbage from smaller-than-industrial organic farms in the “region” meaning southern Atlantic states;  and a pound each of barley flour and wheat berries from Northampton, MA.  I hadn’t known that it was possible to get Massachusetts grains.  I wasn’t ready to try their wheat flour at $5/pound, though.

That exercise in locavore-ism inspired me to finally sort through our refrigerator vegetable drawers.  They’ve been full of root vegetables since November.  That was back when I still had pregnancy-related nausea, so they mostly just sat.  They sat long enough that they looked scary, particularly because leeks and fennel bulbs don’t hold up as well as roots do.  Once the drawers got scary, the stuff in them sat even longer.  Vicious cycle.  But today we finally sorted through them.  About a third of the contents had to go straight into compost due to our poor management.

Once we determined that there were still edible vegetables in there, I started in on using them up.  Cubed beets and parsnips, tossed with a  bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper, are roasting in my oven as I type.  A half dozen smaller beets got boiled to be sliced and used in salad, along with the lettuce from the farmers market, lentil sprouts that my husband grew in a jar on our window sill, and hard-boiled eggs from southern New Hampshire.  I cubed a few of the turnips to get stir-fried with tofu and some of the bok choy we bought today, becoming tonight’s dinner.  Much as I’ve appreciated the supply of vegetables we froze last year, I’m very excited to be eating vegetables that are neither from the freezer nor the supermarket!

Eat your Greens

July 12, 2009

If you’re used to getting your vegetables at the grocery store, then you’re used to getting only the most sought-after or unique parts.  Or that’s all that survives the journey from wherever-far-away to the produce isle.  When you get farm-direct vegetables, either from a CSA or at a farmers market, you get much more of the plant.  Including those unfamiliar parts.  Most often, those unfamiliar plants are the leaves or greens.

Which are edible?  And how do you eat them?

The short answer is you can (and should) eat greens sold with pretty much everything except carrots.

Okay, the longer answer:  Radish, kohlrabi, and broccoli leaves are not only edible but nutritious.  Beet and turnip greens are not only edible and nutritious, but sought-after.  While you’re selecting beets or turnips for the best roots, the person shopping next to you may be selecting for the greens, with the roots as an afterthought.  Fennel fronds get used as an herb, although the stems are completely discarded (possibly after being used to flavor broth).

I’m told that radish greens can be added to the same salad as the radishes themselves, as a flavorful lettuce.  Their texture seems wrong for that, so I’ve never done so.  I simply toss the radish, kohlrabi, or broccoli leaves in with any other greens I’m cooking.  Radish greens are very much like turnip greens, while kohlrabi greens and broccoli greens are very much like kale.  Discard stems that are too tough.

Many vegetables just aren’t sold with their leaves.  Rhubarb leaves are poisonous, so the leaves are cut off before they’re sold.  Corn, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, and the like are picked off of plants and won’t come with leaves.  Turning over the earth to dig potatoes seems to separate them from their leaves.

Farmers markets are open

June 7, 2009

Since I last posted, both of most-nearby farmers markets have opened.  There’s a market I can get to easily by bicycle almost every day of the week, but only two are easy to walk to.  Our CSA will start drop-offs this week.  This is the beginning of the season when I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t eat locally.

This spring was an unusually good growing season.  Unlike last year when the farmers market had only radishes and rhubarb (and a bit of arugula) on opening day, this year there were all kinds of greens available, and turnips in addition to radishes. My husband brought home spinach (to enjoy as a raw salad), chard (which was my favorite green for a few years – I don’t think I have a favorite currently), collards, and rhubarb.  He could easily have bought enough things for us to eat a different vegetable every day all week, but we still have a lot of freezer stores to eat down.

We ate the spinach with beet wedges thawed from the freezer, under balsamic vinaigrette.  Blue cheese would have been nice but we didn’t have any.  The collards we enjoyed, as usual, cooked with black beans in olive oil, garlic, basil, cumin, cayenne, and salt, served over brown rice.  The chard joined white beans in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, sage, salt and pepper, served over pasta.  The rhubarb is probably going to become ice cream sauce and go into our freezer until we make ice cream to put it over.  Sauces freeze very well.

Our CSA farmer is concerned about losing some crops that matured too quickly for his drop-off schedule.  As I said, it was a weirdly good spring for growing greens and their roots.  I hope he was able to sell them at farmers markets instead.  When we saw him on Saturday, we asked the same question we ask all summer, “Is there anything here that we won’t get in our share this week?”  His answer was broccoli rabe so we bought some of that and then stopped at an Italian grocery on our way home to buy parmesan to use with it over pasta.

In anticipation of a glut of vegetables, I did a lot of cooking this weekend to get us eating down last year’s stores.  I roasted two full cookie sheets of root vegetables.  One of them was all carrots, an interesting mix of colors (yellow, orange, and purple) and sizes.  While they were still warm, I tossed them with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and parsley (the good part of what was left over from Passover – a lot of leftover parsley went into the compost).  We also had parsley in our freezer, and that went into a salad of bulghur and cooked lentils in a tabbouleh dressing.  The other cookie sheet was a rainbow mix of beets (one red, one yellow, and one red-and-white striped Chioggia), turnips, celeriac, parsnips, and more carrots.  Roasted in olive oil, salt, and pepper, they’ll be an easy side dish for some meal this week.

We didn’t make as many batches of applesauce last fall as I’d expected, and then we got more apples (local storage apples) through our winter CSA, so there are still lots of apples in our fridge.  Three of them went into an apples and spices sodabread that used a mix of applesauce and water as its binding liquid.  I don’t know yet how it came out.  A few others had to go directly into compost.  If the bread works, I still have enough apples to make many more loaves.

Weeks 46-47: April 8 – 21

April 22, 2009

As I typed the title, I noticed we’re closing in on the final stretch, only five more weeks to go!  We’ve learned a lot this year about where and how to get local foods.  When we started the year, we were planning on eating only local vegetables.  Then it became local fruits, too, over the summer, when they were readily available at the farmers market.  By the time apple season hit, we were determined to store apples to get us through as much of the year as possible.  Then the Eat Local Challenge in October pushed us to the next level.  For the month, we were pushed to not eat it if it’s not local.  Going forward, that segued into don’t buy non-local if we can buy a local alternative instead.  That means we now buy only local eggs and most dairy.  We also buy local maple syrup and honey.  Trying to keep eating well through the winter, we signed up for a winter CSA, but it was regional.  We backpedalled a bit, but only a bit, and  I enjoyed every bite of those organic, tree-ripened Florida grapefruits.

Passover was last week, and hosting a seder (cooking for 10) was a bit challenging given the season.  We still had a few butternut squash, so two of them got mashed with maple syrup and fresh ginger (from a jar), and got rave reviews.  Potatoes, celeriac, carrots, and cheddar cheese became a casserole, something like scalloped potatoes but much harder to cut into squares.  Unfortunately, our potato supplies were running low enough (especially bu the time the eyes all get cut out) that I actually bought a 5 pound bag of Prince Edward Island organic potatoes at the supermarket.

Salad was a fun challenge.  We boiled whole beets for about ten minutes to get the texture right, then sliced them.  Luckily, our winter CSA had provided us with both red and yellow beets.  Some of the red and Chioggia (striped) beets may have been left from our summer CSA.  We don’t segregate in our refrigerator.  The salad started with winter CSA Florida lettuce, topped by slices of red beetsyellow beets, Florida cucumbers, and feta cheese, and served with homemade balsamic vinaigrette.  It was very pretty and very tasty.

For haroses, a traditional Passover food made of chopped apples (local of course), nuts, wine, honey, and cinnamon, I needed more honey than I had.  I went to Harvest Co-op hoping to find some local honey.  Sure enough, there was honey from Reseska Apiaries in Holliston, MA.  And it had a bright yellow “local honey” sticker on it!

Weeks 38-39: February 10 – 24

February 27, 2009

It’s been more of the same.  Nothing exciting to write about,  so I haven’t.  I can only think of two times we’ve used local vegetables (as opposed to winter CSA vegetables, mostly from Florida).  One was a dish of cooked beet cubes, still warm, dressed in plain yogurt and prepared horseradish.  It would have been a lot better if the horseradish weren’t from last Passover and therefore very weak.

The other vegetable use of note was a pumpkin that was very much on its way out.  After peeling it, getting the remaining mold spots off still felt like getting the eyes off potatoes – lots of little spots to get out with the tip of a paring knife.  The bottom inch or two had to be discarded entirely.  I discarded the seeds in that section, too, which was probably overkill.  The rest of the seeds were still just fine to season, bake, and eat.  Yummy!  The  rest of the peeled pumpkin I treated sort of like potatoes for salad:  I cut them into cubes about potato salad sized, and boiled them until they were potato salad tender (not to be confused with tender enough to mash).  Some of them went with chickpeas and Florida kale into an Indian-spiced dish over rice.  The rest of them got Jamaican jerk seasoning, butter, and brown sugar, and became a tasty side dish.   I think I’ve found a way that I would again bother to prepare pumpkin.  :)

Weeks 36-37: January 27 – February 9

February 9, 2009

Our winter CSA shares have been more of the same:  a few root vegetables from around here, and lots of stuff from down South, which increasingly means Florida rather than North Carolina.  We’ve done a bit of noteworthy cooking, though, so I think this post will be worth it.

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve gotten apples and celeriac from Massachusetts; carrots, beets and parsnips from Quebec;  red and white potatoes from Vermont; sweet potatoes and a rutabaga from North Carolina; and lettuce, chard, parsley, bell pepper, eggplant, green beans,  and cherry tomatoes from Florida.

Some of the sweet potatoes, a pepper, and some of the parsley turned into a sweet potato salad, with a honey-mustard dressing, from Moosewood Cooks at Home.  Not only is it delicious, it’s pretty, with the bright orange sweet potato chunks accented by bright green pepper and parsley.  It’s also vegan, although I like to turn it into an entree salad by adding hard-boiled egg.  Their recipe calls for peeling the potatoes but we don’t, because it’s too much work and wastes a very nutritious part of the vegetable.  We brought it to a potluck and nobody seemed to mind at all that there were skins in it.

Some of the carrots and the rest of the parsley went into a lentil salad.  My husband cooked French green lentils until they were edibly soft but not falling apart – a delicate and important balance.  He grated carrots and chopped parsley, and mixed those in.  The salad was dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, very much like tabbouleh.  I have no idea where the carrots are from that ended up in.  I suspect they’re from our summer CSA because our farmer grows three varieties, including a chunky one good for grating.  The carrots we’ve been getting from our winter CSA are very slender, a shape which would make them good for steaming and elegantly serving them whole, but which is really not at all good for grating.  The lentil salad is good to pack for lunches, although it needs some sort of starch on the side.

Luckily, my husband also baked a cornbread rich with chopped apples and grated cheddar cheese, including some with hot peppers in it.  We keep not managing to make applesauce, but we’ve been cooking more with apples.  I sliced and fried up (in butter) a half dozen apples for serving over waffles.  I have to admit that we poured maple syrup over the waffles, apples and all.

I’ve gotten so accustomed to our produce coming from very nearby.  As a result, it feels now like our CSA food is coming from so far away.  I think I was reacting to that when I talked my husband into cooking a wholly-local breakfast last weekend.  The star of the meal was homefries made from potatoes we dug ourselves in November and diced peppers that I froze in September, both from our summer CSA.  Although he used non-local spices (what locavores sometimes refer to as Marco Polo spices), he used Vermont butter rather than oil from who-knows-where.  He also fried up New Hampshire eggs.  We’re very pan-New England around here.  Meanwhile, I mashed up a previously-baked butternut squash (summer CSA again) with New York maple syrup and more Vermont butter.  To cap it off, I remembered to take a photo.

eggtatersquash

We got a giant sweet potato a couple of weeks ago and I’m finally remembering to share photos of it.  The tiny white potato is one of the ones we dug ourselves.  We were so excited to find anything left underground, after so many other people had been harvesting before us in that same field.

bigtaterlittletater

giantsweetater

Week 28: December 1 – 7

December 6, 2008

This was the first week of our winter CSA.  We’ve done a summer CSA for years with the same farm, so we know pretty much what to expect for that.  The winter CSA is new to us.  What we got was kind of what I was expecting.  Amazingly, there was no squash this week! 

We’re splitting a large share with another couple who did a different summer CSA.  Some of their end-of-season surplus is different from ours, and that helped to determine who got what this week.  For example, they still have lots of sweet potatoes left, but our summer CSA doesn’t grow them at all.  So, we got all of the sweet potatoes in this week’s winter share.  Conversely, we still have lots of carrots, so the other couple got all of the carrots in this week’s share.  I can’t eat onions, so the other couple got all the onions, which I guess is why we got the one large turnip, because both couples still have turnips from our summer CSAs.  We also got the only cabbage.     Other things were split more obviously:  there were two kinds of kale so we got one and they got one.  They got the arugula and we got the mustard greens.  We split the apples and oranges, and also the thyme

Yes, we got oranges because they have some relationship with organic growers in Florida.  Some of them had stickers on them, which felt very odd coming from a CSA.  It’s less farm-direct than I’m accustomed to.  Also odd, the thyme was in a plastic box. 

Some of the produce is from their own farm (the greens), and, aside from the oranges, everything else was from farms in our region.  I wonder if they’d tell us where?  Maybe they’re getting odds and ends from lots of farms that are done for the season, and amassing enough to give some to all CSA members. 

What does one do with thyme?  It’s an herb I almost never cook with.  I’ve certainly never used it fresh.  Even splitting it with another couple, there’s an awful lot of it. 

Of the new CSA items, all we’ve eaten so far was some of the fruit and the mustard greens.  As usual, the mustard greens became curried mustard greens and chickpeas from Joy of Cooking.  We used a two-cup-lump of stewed tomatoes from our freezer.  We also added carrots because we have lots.  They worked well, adding a nice bit of color and a sweet flavor.  The key was to not over-cook them.

I noticed that some moisture was accumulating in the crisper drawer that has all the root vegetables we saved from summer.  That meant it was time to sort through and cull the ones that were soft, damp, or a bit moldy.  They got cleaned up (well trimmed), cut up, and oven roasted.  Before roasting I cut them into bite-sized pieces of varying shapes – wedges of beets and turnips, rounds of carrots and parsnips, and halves of radishes.  I tossed them with oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a blend of herbs de provence from the Herb Lyceum in Groton, MA.  The result was a colorful and tasty accompaniment to Thanksgiving leftovers.

Week 18: September 23 – 29 (with a catalogue of apples)

September 25, 2008

In retrospect, it should have been a no-brainer that leaving black-eyed peas (still in their pods) in a plastic bag in the fridge would cause them to get slimy and moldy on the outside.  It took a week and a half before we had the right greens to use them with.  I had been hoping for collard greens but had to settle for turnip greens.  In the end, it worked out fine.  I washed the pods to get the mold off, and the black-eyed peas inside were almost all perfectly fine.  We boiled them for about 10 minutes in enough water to cover but not much more.  Then we seasoned them with cider vinegar, honey, salt, pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika, cayenne, and rosemary.  The greens, all chopped up,  went in last, a bit at a time, because each pot-full had to wilt down and make space for the next pot-full.   Stems went in, too, and because they didn’t get over-cooked they had a delightful crunch.  We ate the beans and greens over brown rice for not just one delicious meal but two, because it ended up making four servings.  I think we started with about a pound of beans (before shelling), and one very large bunch of turnip greens. 

The turnip greens, with three small turnips attached, were in out CSA share this week, along with one bunch of carrots, one bunch of beets (with unimpressive and scant greens), two bunches of scallions, one bunch of tatsoi, two pints of tomatillos, two pounds of tomatoes, ten aneheim peppers, four bell peppers and one head of cauliflower

Most of this weeks tomatoes were so ripe already that I diced and stewed them along with last weeks four pounds of tomatoes.  They had all of a sudden gone from underripe to nearly-overripe that I had put them in the fridge.  Normally I’m a strict no-tomatoes-in-the-fridge type, but I figured these would end up in the freezer, so why not?  I ended up with nearly 8 cups of stewed diced tomatoes.  The whole pot spent a day in the fridge, and then I decanted it into two pint yogurt containers.  Because I’m likely to want the tomatoes only 2 cups at a time, I ladled each yogurt tub about half full, then put a big square of plastic wrap so that it rested on the tomatoes already in, but reached up and over the rim of the container on all sides.  Then I ladled more tomatoes on top of the plastic wrap to nearly fill the container, put the lid on (holding the plastic wrap still folded over the rim) and put the tub in the freezer.  With a contents-and-date label, of course. 

The tomatillos and anaheim peppers were, as always, inspiration to my husband to make salsa verde.  I’m guessing that 2 or 3 of the peppers will go into the salsa and the other 7 or 8 will get diced and frozen for things like chili this winter.  My husband made sure to get cilantro for the salsa when he went to the mid-week farmers market.  

His main concern at the farmers market was getting apples:  some to eat fresh, some to store.  We’re still having fun with our neighbor’s dehydrator, so there are rings from 7 apples drying in there even as I write.  We think the apples are McIntoshes, but the 10-pound bag wasn’t labeled.  At $7.50 for 10 pounds of local, IPM apples, who cares what kind they are?  If the apple rings don’t work, then the rest of the apples will become sauce. 

The $2.50 per pound fresh-eating apples that he brought home this week are Elstar apples.  They’re very flavorful, sweet, and crunchy.  I wonder how well they’ll last.  The Mutsu (also called Akane, I think) apples from last week were very crunchy, and likely to stay crunchy for a very long time in the refrigerator (one of the things I like about them) but they had very little flavor.  I remembered them being nicely tart, but not this year apparently.  One of the Ginger Gold apples from two weeks ago was still in our refrigerator, and when I cut it up today to throw in the dehydrator, I discovered it was still nice and crunchy, although not as crisp as when they were truly fresh.  Ginger gold apples are sweet and unusually crisp.  I already reported that the Zestar apples we got in week 13 were tart but unlikely to stay crunchy, and that the Gravenstein apples we got in week 14 were apple-pie flavorful and excellent for apple rings but not a good texture for eating fresh.  Our apple season started early, in week 8, with July Red apples whose main feature is that they’re early.  They’re also tart, but don’t have a good texture.  I’m looking forward to Macoun and Baldwin apples later in the season.  Every year we try different apples, and sometimes we’re really impressed and sometimes we’re really not, but we can’t usually remember from year to year which was which.  So this year I’m trying to write it down and keep track!