Posts Tagged ‘broccoli rabe’

Eating seasonally: winter

January 31, 2010

Eating seasonally has been less local this year, because of pregnancy.  Which foods are appealing has changed, and that at least somewhat correlates with my different nutritional needs.  The biggest change from past years is that I fully succumbed to the citrus fruit cravings that I get every winter.  The only local fruit available over the winter is homemade applesauce.  While I’ve been eating some of that almost every day, it’s no substitute for raw, whole fruit. 

Citrus is in season now, not locally, but in season.  Relative to California, Florida isn’t so far away.  I’ve been buying Florida grapefruits and minneolas, although I also bought long-distance clementines while they were fully in season in December.  As long as I’m buying fruit at the supermarket, I figure I may as well get things that I can only get at the supermarket, so we’ve been enjoying a variety of tropical fruits:  mangoes (while they’re 50 cents each), papaya, and bananas. 

We’ve been eating greens from our freezer, and roots from our fridge.  Tonight it was pasta with broccoli rabe, veggie sausage, parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, and Italian spices.  Yesterday, chard went into soup that started with a can of tomato bisque, but also included canned tomatoes (the blight this summer meant we couldn’t freeze enough local tomatoes).  Earlier this week, turnip greens from the freezer joined turnips from the fridge in a tofu stir-fry.  Turnips and parsnips made a lovely pureed soup a couple of weeks ago, with caraway seeds, salt, and pepper, and served with a pat of butter in each bowl. 

The most exciting of our local foods this winter has been sprouts that my husband grows in a jar on our kitchen windowsill.  When nothing else green, fresh, and crunchy is local, we can have nutritious, delicious sprouts that have traveled no distance at all.  Commercially grown sprouts are more likely than other vegetables to harbor bacteria, and are therefore off-limits to pregnant women.  Homegrown sprouts, though, seem perfectly safe.   Now I just need to figure out where to get sprout seeds locally.

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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.

Week 15: September 1 – 7

September 9, 2008

In week 15, our CSA share consisted of two bunches of kale, one bunch of arugula and one bunch of broccoli rabe, six green bell peppers, two pints of tomatillos, one pound of green beans, four pounds of tomatoes, and one bag of mixed baby lettuce.

The broccoli rabe we had with pasta.  We didn’t have parmesan but we did have a hard, sharp provalone so we grated that to use instead.  We didn’t have veggie Italian sausage, so we put in cubes of tempeh.  We had tomatoes, so one of those went in, too.  As always, lots of garlic and olive oil was involved, and maybe some lemon juice, and hot pepper.  It was okay, not as good as the parmesan-and-sausage recipes I described in week 5

With so many bell peppers, I looked through my cookbooks for inspiration.  I found it in the form of “Tunisian Vegetable Stew” in Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home.  Of course, I modified it greatly to fit our tastes and ingredients.  This came out so well that we made it twice:

  1. In a large skillet, soften 2 or 3 green bell peppers (in bite-size pieces) in olive oil (generous quantity, we didn’t measure) and either garlic (one heaping teaspoon) or onion (could probably use more, the flavor would work better, I just can’t eat onion). 
  2. Add seasonings:  1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 teaspoons coriander, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne, and some salt. 
  3. Add 1/4 cup currants (raisins can also work), 2 cups (one can) of chickpeas, 1 chopped tomato, and 1/2 pound of green beans (cut to bite-sized).
  4. Cook until the tomatoes break down and the green beans brighten and soften to taste. 
  5. Serve over couscous.

When Saturday was cold and rainy, it was a good day to make soup.  I used one of the fresh bunches of kale to make the lentil-kale soup whose recipe I gave in week 5, and added in four large red potatoes (week 12).  I cubed the potatoes and added them about ten minutes before the kale. Here’s a photo of it:

We got a lot of freezing done this week.  After we had eaten kale soup, there were still 2 quarts of it left, so I froze them to be easy meals later.  The tomatoes kept being underripe until they were overripe, so of the 12 or 13 in the four pounds, 3 were cooked with (broccoli rabe with pasta, Tunisian vegetables) and 2 were eaten raw.  The rest I diced, simmered about 10 minutes, and froze in 2-cup tubs, so they’re perfect subsitutes for 16 oz cans of diced tomatoes.  My husband blanched and froze the bunch of kale that did not go into soup (yet – it probably will in January).  He also sliced, blanched, and froze about 4 cups of carrots, which he estimated to be half the volume of carrots in our crisper drawer.  They’ll be very good in split pea soup this winter, and I’m sure we’ll find other uses for them, too.  Our freezer is starting to fill up, which feels very good!

Week 5: June 22-28 (part III)

July 1, 2008

When I washed the mustard greens, while cooking supper last night, I noticed broccoli-like florets in them. The weren’t mustard greens at all, they were broccoli rabe (sometimes spelled broccoli rabi, and sometimes called rapini).  That meant a complete change in recipe.

If I were planning a meal around broccoli rabe, what I’d usually do is to sautee garlic and sliced vegetarian Italian sausage in olive oil.  When the sausage is browned, I then add crushed red pepper, mix it in, then add chopped broccoli rabe.  Maybe a splash of lemon juice, too.  It’s done when the broccoli rabe is all wilted, which happens faster if you have a lid to put on your skillet, because then the greens get steamed.  Meanwhile, I cook a pot of pasta.  Then I mix the pasta and broccoli rabe in a serving bowl, and mix in shredded parmesan cheese, letting the hot pasta and vegetables melt the cheese.  Delicious!

Broccoli rabe also makes good sausage rolls.  Heat garlic in olive oil, add crushed red pepper, then chopped broccoli rabe.  Mix parmesan cheese into the greens mixture.  Meanwhile, heat 2 or 3 vegetarian Italian sausages (for one bunch of broccoli rabe).  Put each sausage in a roll, and divide the cheesy greens among the rolls.  Bakery-fresh Italian rolls make all the difference.

When I got surprised by the broccoli rabe while making supper last night, I didn’t have vegetarian Italian sausage around, nor did I have rolls.  I could have made pasta, but I rice already made.  So I did another variant.  The skillet started with garlic and olive oil, of course.  Next in was a can of cannelini beans.  Then the red pepper and chopped broccoli rabe, then lemon juice last.  Thinking about arrancini, I put parmesan cheese (powdered, not shredded, because that was what we bought for pesto) directly into the rice.  The cheesy rice made a base to serve the beans and greens over.  Definitely good enough to make again, even if I knew in advance that I was cooking with broccoli rabe.