Posts Tagged ‘carrot’

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!

Advertisements

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.

Bulk fun

December 14, 2009

We tried a new way to cut down on packaging and on trips to the grocery store, and ordered some bulk grains through Harvest Co-op.  I ordered 25 lbs (the smallest bag size) of organic brown rice, and 25 lbs of organic whole wheat couscous.  I don’t know if something got messed up in the order, or the retrieval, or in the information I was given when I placed the order, but the rice they brought out to us was brown organic basmati (which is not the same as regular brown rice) and the couscous bag was 25 kilograms (not 25 pounds).

These huge bags, which are sitting on the floor in a corner of our kitchen, don’t re-seal.  Our priority now is to get the grains out of the bags and into more useful containers.  A ball jar that I used to use as a sugar canister was pressed into service, as was another random very large glass jar.  We already had a couple of food service containers, wide-mouth plastic jars that used to each hold a gallon of salad dressing, and they now each hold a bit more than 6 pounds of couscous.  When we went out to brunch this weekend, we asked for empty containers and came home with two tubs that each used to hold five pounds of whipped butter.   Next week they’ll probably have more for us.  At least the volume in the bag is now low enough to roll the top down and hold it with a bag clip.

I have an appetite for vegetables again, which is a good thing when meal planning is all about what’s good atop couscous.  Last night’s meal plan was Tunisian vegetables, using green cabbage that has been sitting happily in our fridge since we bought it at the farmers market a month ago, carrots that have probably been in the fridge longer than that, and green bell peppers frozen some time last summer.   Adapted from a recipe in Moosewood Cooks at Home, the vegetables join chickpeas and currants (or raisins) and are generously seasoned with coriander, some cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne, plenty of salt of course,  and at the very end a generous splash of lemon juice.  Because the flavors are so different from other things we cook, and because the recipe so flexibly works with many different combinations of vegetables, it has become one of our standbys.  It’s delicious over couscous.

In a different sort of adventure in bulk foods, my husband made 20 pounds of apples into sauce this weekend.  One batch was Spencer and the other was Roxbury Russet.  All of the apples were from Kimball Fruit Farm, a large local IPM farm that was selling 10 pound bags of apples for $5 by the end of the season!

Fennel Tabbouleh

July 22, 2009

During the summer, I find myself making a lot of variants on tabbouleh, depending on what vegetables I have around.  It’s great for using pretty much any veggies that are good raw, especially when I don’t have lettuce to make salad.  I often add chick peas to turn tabbouleh from a side salad into a satisfying lunch.  Last week’s tabbouleh confetti-colorful with orange carrots, purple-skinned kohlrabi, and green fennel.  I diced the carrots, halved the small fennel and quartered the large then sliced it thin, and the kohlrabi I made into matchsticks to make sure every piece showed some purple.  (You’ll notice a total lack of the traditional tomatoes or even cucumbers.)  While fresh parsley is best, frozen-thawed works fine.  When I don’t have either of those, I use some dried parsley, which mostly serves to add some color.

I liked the crunch of fennel in my confetti tabbouleh, and I liked the way its flavor played off the lemon juice.  Then I had an inspiration: I could use the fronds!  We haven’t had parsley the past few weeks, so it was easy to leave parsley out all together and use fennel fronds as the green instead.  Here’s my recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups bulgur
  • 4 cups chopped fennel:  bulbs and fronds (but not stems), which is probably 3 bunches
  • 1 tablespoon dried mint (fresh would be lovely if you have it)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups boiling water

Directions:

  1. Put the bulgur and dried mint into a large bowl.
  2. Pour the water over the bulgur and mint, stir, and let sit until water is absorbed (about half an hour)
  3. Stir the salt, lemon juice, and olive oil into bulgur.
  4. Stir in the fennel (and fresh mint if using).

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 52: May 20-26

May 26, 2009

The first nearby farmers market opens tomorrow!  Our experimental year of eating only local produce is at an end.  The experiment was a success!  We’ve made a lifestyle change.  It’s a change that was building for a while, and we took it to a higher level over the past year.  Next year, I hope that my planning ahead pays off well enough that we don’t feel the need to join a winter CSA, or buy the occasional grocery store tomato sauce or potatoes.  (Flashback to my first post shows what I thought we were getting ourselves into.)

In this last week of the year, we’ve eaten more generously of the vegetables we’d been hoarding.  Green beans, frozen spread out on a cookie sheet to stay separate, then transferred to a pint yogurt container, really did stay separate and were easy to cook with.  They joined frozen stewed diced tomatoes and grocery store raisins and chickpeas in a Tunisian stew based on a Moosewood Cooks at Home recipe.  It gets coriander, some cinnamon, turmeric, and cayenne; salt of course; and at the very end a generous splash of lemon juice.  The recipe as written involves a few vegetables, none of which are green beans.  It also, as written, involves measuring out the spices.

My husband more closely followed another recipe from Moosewood Cooks at Home, this one for Vegetable Stifado.  He tossed in potato, eggplant, green pepper, kale, carrots, and more stewed diced tomato, a list which overlaps the vegetables called for in the recipe.  There were a lot of colors, shapes, and textures, making it an attractive meal.  It’s spiced with dill, rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper, and lemon juice, and was excellent with leftover red wine added in, too.

As the first harvests of spring become available to us, we’ll be eating the sorts of season-blending meals that have come to feel so unnatural.  Butternut squash stored on a kitchen shelf since November can join corn frozen mid-summer and fresh new spring radish greens in a single year-spanning meal.  Fittingly, the Jewish holiday Shavuos is later this week.  It celebrates the first produce of the year.  That’s truly something worth celebrating.

Weeks 48-49: April 22 – May 5

May 9, 2009

Spring is my favorite season.  I watch the plants in my neighborhood and on my walk to work to see how every day there are new shoots, new buds, new flowers, new leaves.  In my own yard, I watch the progression from crocuses, to daffodils and tulips, to phlox, and then on to everything else.  I watch the way that people, normally content in their bubbles of temperature-controlled homes, cars, and offices, open the windows or even come outside and notice it’s spring, temperatures are warming, things are growing.  In New England, spring is so short.  Maybe that’s why I treasure it all the more.

It’s now less than a month from the start of farmers markets in my area.  We still have plenty of frozen vegetables (and two butternut squashes) to get us through.  Especially if we’re as uninspired to cook as we have been.  All through the CSA season, fresh vegetables coming in ever week inspire us to prepare them into meals.  Because the vegetables are  so fresh and so good, the meals can be quite simple and still delicious.

That all breaks down in the winter.  I no longer know how to say “what I want for dinner tonight is…” and go out and assemble ingredients.  I can, of course, reach into my freezer, pull out a baggie of vegetables at random, and prepare it however I normally prepare that vegetable.  Somehow, though, I just haven’t been.  Which isn’t to say we haven’t been cooking.  It’s just that the vegetables are the frills, not the center, of our meals.

Some carrots from the veggie drawers and anaheim peppers (moderately spicy, frozen in week 19) from our freezer went into a huge batch of chili made from a mix of dried black, kidney, and pinto beans.  The canned tomatoes that went in were from one agri-business or another, slightly better for being organic.

A small head of green cabbage, stored in our refrigerator from our winter CSA, became a stir-fry with some carrots and tofu.  (Cabbages  seem to store only about 2 1/2 months, not the 5 or 6 months it would have had to last from summer CSA or farmers market)

A bag of greens whose label had fallen off went into the skillet with cannelini, garlic, oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and sage, in what has become my husband’s signature dish for serving next to or over pasta.  In a fun little challenge, we tried to identify the greens.  We’ll never know if we’re right, but our conclusion was collard greens.  When we froze them, we expected to use them in my usual way, the recipe given in week 30.

Sweet potatoes from our winter CSA with grocery store parsley left over from Passover became a batch of sweet potato salad in honey-mustard dressing, using the recipe in Moosewood Cooks at Home (photo in weeks 40-41).

My only really creative cooking recently was a quinoa dish.  We hadn’t eaten quinoa in quite a while.  It’s a seed that only sort of counts as a grain, very light, high in protein.  I made a sort of pilaf.  I toasted the quinoa with garlic and olive oil in the bottom of my saucepan briefly before adding water, dried basil and oregano, and chopped dried tomatoes (from Turkey, but bought at Rivermede Farm in week 31).  After about 2/3 of the cooking time, I stirred in cut green beans from our freezer and some salt.  I should have added pepper, too.  It came out the wonderful trifecta of colorful, tasty, and healthy.

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 40-41: February 25 – March 10

March 10, 2009

Our winter CSA has continued to bring us the lushness of Florida.  And it’s the same thing week after week after week.  I hadn’t realized how much I enjoy the way foods come into season, are abundant for a while, and then go out of season again.  I really, really do.  I’m looking forward to summer.  We will not be joining this same CSA next winter.  Our goal is to buy what we need over the summer when we can get it from local producers, supplementing our summer CSA with  local farmers markets.

It was very exciting to get some bok choy for variety this week!  The green vegetable I was most interested in, though was dino kale, I think because it goes happily into foods that feel seasonal.  I just can’t eat much salad in the winter, so lettuce and grape tomatoes week after week doesn’t work for me at all.  At least tomatoes cook into lots of things.  I’ve heard of cooked lettuce but it’s not my type of adventurous eating.

roots_dishes

We did manage a pair of very local meals last week.  The first, as seen in the photo above, was rather involved.  One of the dishes was colcannon.  Instead of my typical white potatoes and purple cabbage, it used green cabbage and got a bit of color from some red-skinned potatoes as well as the caraway seeds.  (Recipe in week 13.)  The color in the meal came from carrots and parsnips in a mustard-maple syrup glaze from a Vegetarian Times recipe.  (We “fleshed” out the meal, pun intended, with vegetarian bratwurst.)  All of those vegetables could be local.  Because our winter CSA produce has gotten intermingled with our local storage vegetables, I honestly don’t know how much of it was local.  But it could have been, and next winter it will be.

The steaming water from the carrots and parsnips along with the boiling water from the potatoes and cabbage became the broth for a wintry soup.  In went dried beans, seasonings, and a lot of  root vegetables cut to bite-sized:  carrots, celeriac, and rutabaga.  The vegetables could have been local.  I think the celeriac and some of the carrots were local, and the rutabagas and other carrots were not.  Dried beans are a winter storage food, but mine came from the supermarket.  I’d like to find a local source.  On the other hand, if I had a local source then I’d feel compelled to get all of my beans that way and we go through an awful lot of beans.

We finally made applesauce from a 10-pound bag of Northern Spy apples that had been sitting around since fall.  A half dozen of them were completely rotten and had to go straight to compost.  Another half dozen had siginificant bad spots that had to be cut out.  We still ended up with a whole lot of applesauce.

Since our winter CSA seems to know no seasons, I don’t know when the photo below is from.  I found it when I downloaded the colcannon and carrots-parsnips photos.  We’ve made this sweet potato salad a few times this winter.  It’s vegan (well, it would be totally vegan if you replaced the honey in the honey-mustard dressing with some other sweetner) and the recipe is in Moosewood Cooks at Home.  To make a version this colorful, first find a kitchen with orange counters.  Then mix cooked orange sweet potatoes, raw green bell peppers and parsley, and raw red bell peppers, and toss with dressing.

sweetpotatosalad

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