Day 29: Beets in Orange Sauce

Quick 'n' easy, with ingredients already in the pantry. Okay, except for the beets -- canned, mind you! - that are easy enough to keep on hand. And the ruby color can't be beat!

Canned beets are pretty good -- not as good as fresh cooked but not awful, like canned peas or canned carrots. I tried two brands tonight, one a national name brand, another a local chain's house brand. There was a 10 percent price difference but no discernible difference in taste.

BEETS IN ORANGE SAUCE
Active time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 15 minutes
Serves 4


1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon butter (omitted, didn't miss at all!)
1 cup orange juice
2 15 ounce cans beets
Salt & pepper

Place medium saucepan on MEDIUM heat. Working quickly while saucepan heats, mix brown sugar, cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in the saucepan with a wooden spoon, working out the lumps. Slowly add the orange juice, stirring so lumps don't form. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. While sauce cooks, drain the beets. Stack several slices and dice by cutting in thirds, first one way and then the other. Add beets to sauce and cook until beets are heated through and sauce bubbles. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.

Per Serving: 111 Cal (4% from Fat, 8% from Protein, 88% from Carb); 2 g Protein; 0 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 26 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; 41 mg Calcium; 4 mg Iron; 709 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

Source: The Finnish Cookbook by Beatrice Ojakangas (the book available on Amazon has a different cover than my 1964 edition but seems to have the same contents)

Mashed Potatoes & Carrots ♥

Mashed Potatoes & Carrots
These are definitely not your gramma's mashed potatoes! (Mine either!) But they belong in the category of "Why haven't we been doing this forever?" or maybe even a "genius recipe"! Just cook and mash potatoes and carrots together. You'll need hardly any (if any) fat and they'll be creamy beyond belief. Canadian Readers, these would be a great addition to Thanksgiving dinner. Do enjoy!

~recipe & photo updated 2005 & 2011 and republished 2011~
~more recently updated recipes~

2005 Original: Ooooo, if this isn’t comfort food, what is? Potatoes and carrots are verboten for Atkins followers but their extraordinary loss is our magnificent gain. Tonight I cooked and mashed a pound of Yukon golds and a pound of carrots with nothing more than a tablespoon of butter and salt and pepper. The color is extraordinary, the taste … well, let’s just say, oooooooooooooo.

Big TIp: Bypass those bags of prepeeled carrots for they have no flavor when cooked. And come on, it takes only eight minutes – EIGHT MINUTES – of prep work to dice the potatoes, peel and dice the carrots! Your family will thank you. Heavens, you’ll thank you!

2005 Update: Mashed Potatoes & Carrots swept my family. I told my 80-year old aunt, my dead Auntie Gloria, about them one evening last spring. She called an hour later to report, "I ate the whole pot." And here's a tip from my cousin Lynda who makes them all the time now. 'I've taken to using a smaller amount of water when I boil the veggies, and use all of it for the mashing - just add the salt, no butter. Delicious and no fat!' Atkins and South Beach and low-carb folks, if you're ever tempted to stray, here's a worthy temptation.

2011: This is one of a couple of dozen recipes from A Veggie Venture which I make all the time -- and if I weren't blogging, would make all the time!

Day 26: Broccoli with Ginger & Garlic

Tonight was a disappointment. The taste was okay but the color unappealing, thanks to the soy sauce. Still, it'd do in a pinch, since it's Fast and Easy. Another time, I'd use fresh broccoli, hoping it wouldn't absorb the soy color.

But we're learning. New Veggie Venture lessons include:
    In general, to serve four people, start with a pound of the main vegetable.
  • In general, a pound of vegetables cookied with 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil will result in each serving with 1 point in the Weight Watchers world, whose regimen, by the way, I recommend for both weight loss and every-day healthful eating.
BROCCOLI WITH GINGER & GARLIC
Active time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 12 minutes
Serves: 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh ginger (see ALANNA's TIPS)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (from a jar!)
1 pound frozen broccoli heads, thawed slightly if time permits (see TIPS)
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
Salt & pepper

Heat oil in a heavy skillet with a lid over MEDIUM HIGH until hot but not smoking. Add ginger and garlic and swirl a bit, cooking just barely, about 30 seconds. Transfer ginger and garlic to small dish, leaving as much oil as possible in the skillet. Add broccoli, cover and let cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until heated through. While broccoli cooks, place water, soy sauce and rice vinegar in a small dish. Add liquid to skillet, cover and let cook until liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and ginger. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Per Serving: 71 Cal (42% from Fat, 20% from Protein, 39% from Carb); 4 g Protein; 4 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 8 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; 70 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 711 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

ALANNA's TIPS
  • Check the Indian/Asian sections in an international market for jars of fresh ginger. It's inexpensive and a real time saver.
  • Thawing the vegetables for an hour or so seems to speed up the cooking time without loss of texture where completely thawing them seems to create a sort of soggy mess.

Day 25: Glazed Rutabagas

Today's vegetable recipe: Diced rutabaga (also called 'swedes') boiled, then finished in a glaze of butter, brown sugar, soy sauce and lemon juice. Weight Watchers 1 point.

~ recipe updated & photo added in 2008 ~

2005: Have you had rutabagas before? You'll find them in the produce section along with other root vegetables. They're often cooked like that too, roasted alongside parsnips, potatoes, carrots. This recipe comes from my mother's (and my!) long-time friend, a fellow Home Ec grad and terrific cook. She says she 'loves' these though her family only 'tolerates' them. Me, I'm somewhere in between -- including reminding myself how important it is to taste a new food more than once.

But the real magic here may be the cooking technique, so I'm going to suggest it as another "For Instance" recipe, a basic technique that can be applied to other vegetables. Tonight, for instance ;0), rutabagas, another time carrots or broccoli or green beans.

2008: The glaze is really good. I can see using it with other vegetables, perhaps cauliflower, sweet potatoes, turnip. I can also see substituting honey or maple syrup for the brown sugar. Definitely serve these rutabagas with something earthy and rustic like roast pork.



VEGETABLE RECIPES from the ARCHIVES
~ more rutabaga recipes ~


FOR INSTANCE II (Butter, Brown Sugar, Soy, Lemon, Worcestershire Glaze)
Tonight, For Instance,
GLAZED RUTABAGAS

Active time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 45 minutes
Serves 4


1 1/4 pounds rutabagas
1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon butter (reduced from 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt & pepper

Bring water to boil in a medium saucepan over MEDIUM HIGH, then add salt. While bringing water to boil, peel rutabagas with a carrot peeler (2008: this year's rutabaga took no less than a knife to get the tough skins off), then dice or chop. Add rutabagas to boiling water, cover and return water to boil. Reduce heat to MEDIUM and let simmer until soft, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, put remaining ingredients in a small bowl (there's no need to mix them, it's just to save time later, when they're needed). When rutabagas are cooked, drain in a colander. Add butter mixture to hot pan and increase heat to MEDIUM HIGH. Bring to a boil, stirring often. When mixture begins to bubble, add rutabagas. Toss well and continue to stir until sauce moisture evaporates and a glaze forms, about 3 minutes. Season to taste and serve.

Nutrition estimate, per serving: 95 Cal (28% from Fat); 2 g Protein; 3 g Tot Fat; 2 g Sat Fat; 16 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; NetCarb12; 71 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 517 mg Sodium; 8 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

ALANNA's TIPS
  • The smaller the pieces, the shorter the cooking time. Cut pieces of approximately the same size so they need the same cooking time.

Day 24: Baked Beets ♥

~ recipe updated & photo added in 2008 ~

2005: (F)ED, that is Easy and Delicious but no, not even close to Fast. Thus Baked Beets are a definite keeper but best saved for (1) eating some night when supper is 60 - 90 minutes away or (2) making ahead some time when the oven's already on anyway.

2008: Beets have turned out to be one of the great convenience vegetables. Once they're baked or roasted or cooked some way, they make for great quick salads. So I often throw a few into the oven whenever the oven's on for something else.



For more ways to cook beets, check out (what's turned out to be, as A Veggie Venture continued past its first intended month) a huge collection of beet recipes.

BAKED BEETS
Active time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 60 - 90 minutes
Serves 4


1 pound fresh beets, stems on
1 tablespoon butter, optional
Salt & pepper

Wash beets well, cut off all but about 1/2 inch of stems. (See ALANNA's TIPS.) If desired, peel. (See TIPS.) Wrap in foil and bake at 400F (see TIPS) for 60 - 90 minutes or until knife can be easily inserted into center. Remove from oven, peel, chop roughly and toss with butter, salt and pepper.

Nutrition Estimate with 1 T butter, Per Serving: 74 Cal (35% from Fat); 2 g Protein; 3 g Tot Fat; 2 g Sat Fat; 11 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; 19 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 109 mg Sodium; 8 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

Nutrition Estimate without butter, Per Serving: 49 Cal (3% from Fat); 2 g Protein; 0 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 11 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; 18 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 88 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 0 points


ALANNA's TIPS
  • According to Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, leaving a bit of stem helps preserve moisture and thus flavor.
  • Beets are easy to peel before cooking -- just use a carrot peeler. They are also easy to peel after cooking, even while hot -- just slice off the stem end, then peel back and discard the skin. Me, I appreciate the flexibility and would make the choice based on when I'd have more time.
  • Since the time estimate is so general, there's no advantage to preheating the oven. Just turn on the oven as soon as you start, then pop the beets in as soon as they're wrapped in foil.

Day 23: Acorn Squash Stuffed with Quinoa & Cherries ♥

~ recipe updated & photo added in 2006 ~

Veggie Venture Lesson: Try new foods more than once, even if you don't like them so much the first time. Here's why: Acorn squash is one of my favorite foods, reliably delicious. But tonight, it turned out bland and watery.

Was it a problem with the recipe? No. Then why? I don't know though it's possible that it was old, given that squash is harvested in fall not spring. But if I'd never had squash before, based only on tonight, I'd never try it again.

I don't often cook foods 'out of season'. But today felt more like winter than spring AND my good-cook, good-cousin recommended the recipe, so I did. And I'm glad! For even though the squash itself wasn't so great tonight, it re-introduced me to quinoa, a favorite from my vegetarian days.

Note 4/25: The quinoa is also great on its own, heated and served in individual ramekins.

2006: With subsequent attempts, I liked this recipe so much that the recipe is featured (along with a funny story about quinoa) in a 2006 Kitchen Parade column.

ACORN SQUASH STUFFED WITH QUINOA & CHERRIES
Prep time: 15 minutes hands-on + another 15 for quinoa to cook without attention
Oven time: 45 - 50 minutes
Time to table: 75 - 90 minutes
Serves 4


1/2 cup quinoa
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dried cherries (see ALANNA's TIPS)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (see TIPs)
2 tablespoon maple syrup (see TIPs)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 acorn squash
Olive oil

Quinoa: Cook quinoa according to directions, including 1 teaspoon salt if not specified. Mix cherries, walnuts and cinnamon in small bowl. Combine with cooked quinoa.
Assembly: Wash squash well, cut in half cross-ways and remove seeds. Cut tips cross-ways so squash will sit flat. Rub flesh with olive oil. Place in baking dish (with cover) lined with foil. Stuff squash with quinoa, tuck anything leftover between the squash.
Bake: Cover and bake at 350F for 40 minutes. Remove cover, bake another 5 - 10 minutes to brown filling.

Nutrition estimate, as specified, Per Serving: 368 Cal (20% from Fat, 8% from Protein, 72% from Carb); 8 g Protein; 9 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 69 g Carb; 12 g Fiber; 109 mg Calcium; 3 mg Iron; 13 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 7 points

Nutrition estimate with 1/4 cup cherries, 1/4 cup walnuts and 1 tablespoon maple syrup, Per Servings: 285 Cal (16% from Fat); 6 g Protein; 5 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 57 g Carb; 11 g Fiber; 103 mg Calcium; 3 mg Iron; 12 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 5 points


ALANNA's TIPS
  • If time/inclination allow, chop cherries in half so there's "more" to spread throughout the quinoa. My cousin also uses dried cranberries, I think dried apricot would be great, too.
  • For calorie-reduction, next time I'll halve the quantity of cherries, nuts and maple syrup .

Day 22: Beet Röesti ♥

~ recipe updated & photo added in 2006 ~

A real FED (Fast, Easy, Delicious) -- my favorite this month so far!

I bet you've never had beets like this. I bet, once you do, you'll cook 'em this way again and again. The recipe caught my eye because I well remember röesti, a traditional Swiss dish of wide, flat, crisp discs of grated potato often served with an egg: mountain-top ambrosia.

It comes from 'The Minimalist' Mark Bittman's 1998 How To Cook Everything, a terrific reference cookbook, very contemporary where the traditional ones (Betty Crocker, etc.) now seem dated. I turn to it often in learning mode and find 'just enough' detail. And it has nearly 90 pages of ideas for vegetables alone!

BEET RÖESTI
Active time: maybe 10 minutes
Time to table: maybe 15 minutes
Serves 4


1 tablespoon butter
1 large beet (about 1/2 pound), peeled and grated (see ALANNA's TIPS)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped (see TIPS)
2 tablespoons flour

Melt butter in a large, low skillet over MEDIUM HIGH and let cook until just starting to brown. Mix beets, salt, rosemary and flour in a medium bowl, combining well. Transfer to skillet in four piles (see TIPS). Use spatula to form round patties and flatten til quite thin. Let cook about 5 minutes, pressing occasionally, until bottom is crisp. Turn over and repeat. Serve immediately, topped with a dollop of sour cream and bits of chopped rosemary.

Per Serving: 55 Cal (47% from Fat, 8% from Protein, 45% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 3 g Tot Fat; 2 g Sat Fat; 7 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 13 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 663 mg Sodium; 8 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

ALANNA's TIPS
  • To my surprise, it was both quick and easy to peel (with a carrot peeler) and grate (with a hand grater) the beets. Still, if I were fixing this for a crowd, I'd get out the food processor to do the grating.
  • Chives might be great, dill too.
  • The recipe specifies a single large disc which is how I cooked it. But the flipping is a little clunky and so another time, I'd make individual cakes.
  • Notes from 2006:
    • Dill is perhaps even better than rosemary!!
    • The cakes didn't get crisp, even though the insides were perfectly cooked and soft. Too little fat? A function of very fresh garden beets?
    • A half-pound beet made four four-inch cakes.
Adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.

Day 21: For Instance I (bacon fat sauté with herbs & vinegar)

Yippeeeeeeeeeeee! From now on, when I think about vegetables, I want to be FED: Fast, Easy, Delicious.

It was a clean-out-the-freezer night and somehow I happened onto a great dish -- and, maybe, a new concept.

First, the dish: a simple sauté with bacon fat, some frozen vegetables and at the end, a splash of vinegar.

Second, the "for instance" concept: Perhaps the trick for cooking vegetables night-in-night-out is to have a few techniques, each one that works with several vegetables. For instance ... tonight I cooked a mixture of beans, carrots and peppers but it might as easily have been fresh broccoli or cauliflower. I'll continue to test this concept and report in!

FOR INSTANCE I (bacon fat saute with herbs & vinegar)
Tonight, For Instance,
MIXED BEAN, CARROTS & GRILLED PEPPER MEDLEY
Active time: maybe 5 minutes
Time to table: maybe 10 minutes
Serves 4

1 tablespoon bacon fat (see ALANNA's TIPS)
16 ounces frozen vegetables (see FOR INSTANCE), preferably thawed
1 tablespoon fresh herbs (see FOR INSTANCE)
Splash vinegar (see FOR INSTANCE)
Salt & pepper

FOR INSTANCE as tonight:
  • Vegetables:
    8 ounces Trader Joe's Brittany Blend -- haricot vert green beans (the skinny ones), wax beans (the yellow ones) and baby carrots
    8 ounces Trader Joe's Grilled Red & Yellow Pepper Slices
  • Herbs: basil
  • Vinegar: cider vinegar
Heat the bacon fat over MEDIUM HIGH in a large skillet. Add vegetables and saute lightly until heated through. Stir in vinegar and let liquid cook down, stirring occasionally. Season to taste and serve.

Per Serving: 67 Cal (40% from Fat, 7% from Protein, 52% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 3 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 10 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; 1 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 614 mg Sodium; 3 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

ALANNA's TIPS
  • Bacon fat has more flavor than olive oil, vegetable oil, even butter. Like butter and other animal fats, it's saturated fat which is less preferred than plant fats. I'm no dietician but it occurs to me that if increased flavor encourages eating more/some/any vegetables, the trade-off is worth it.
  • Bacon fat keeps in the frig nearly forever. (Forever might be a stretch but I keep it for a couple of years without trouble, just adding more to the top as it's available. If it smelled off, I'd throw it away and start over, but this has never happened.) So whenever you fry bacon, pour the grease into a glass jar and keep it handy in the frig.It might be worth having bacon some morning soon just to collect the fat for vegetables!

Day 20: Green Bean & Cabbage Tagine

Recipe & photo updated in 2007

2005: Hmmm. Worth nearly an hour's time? Perhaps. But no, not in my emerging definition of a meal's "vegetable".

With three weeks of a veggie-a-day under my belt, I am thinking that the only dishes that qualify require fewer than 15 minutes of prep time and fewer than 30 minutes to get to the table. And even THIS is feeling excessive -- feedback?

Still, this dish is good. Another time, to save time, I'd use a bag of shredded cabbage, frozen green beans and diced tomatoes -- in fact, at least as far as the beans go, I believe frozen green beans would be of much higher quality than the fresh I found at the supermarket yesterday.

2007: This was quite good, a simple vegetable stew and served over a baked potato, was filling for supper.

GREEN BEAN & CABBAGE TAGINE
Active time: 25 minutes (see ALANNA's TIPS)
Time to table: 1 hour (with occasional stirring)
Makes 8 cups -- a lot

1 tablespoon olive oil (reduced from 2 - 3 tablespoons)
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 pound cabbage, coarsely chopped
1 pound green beans, trimmed, snapped
5 cloves garlic (from a jar!)
2 teaspoons garam masala (see TIPS)
2 teaspoons basil
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/3 cup vinegar
1/3 cup dry wine (red or white is specified, I used dry marsala from the pantry)
28 ounces canned tomatoes (see TIPS)
1 cup water
Salt and pepper

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion, cabbage and beans as they're chopped. Saute until onion and cabbage start to brown. Stir in garlic and spices, stir well and cook 1 - 2 minutes. Add vinegar and wine, let cook til liquid is absorbed, scraping pan from bottom occasionally. Add tomato and water, bring to a gentle simmer, cover and cook until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring often. Season with salt and pepper.

8 Servings: 90 Cal (19% from Fat); 3g Protein; 2g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 17g Carb; 5g Fiber; 95 g Calcium; 2mg Iron; 733mg Sodium; 0mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

ALANNA's TIPS
  • To shorten time #1: Use a bag of chopped cabbage and frozen green beans.
  • To shorten time #2: Use a skillet with a larger surface area. My largest is only 10 1/2 inches in diameter. But is isn't deep enough to hold this much so I switched to a 10" Dutch oven. A half-inch change in diameter doesn't sound like much -- but reduces the surface area by 20%. The recipe specified a 12 inch skillet which has 1/3 more surface area than my Dutch oven. It had to make a difference.
  • According to Epicurious, garam masala is an Indian spice mixture that often includes pepper, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, cardamom, dried chiles, fennel, mace and nutmeg. In traditional Indian cooking, cooks pride themselves on their own variations. Still, you can buy a mixture in most grocery stores these days. Here are two recipes, one and two.
  • Do you ever hesitate to buy a new spice because you think you won't use it again? Me, too. I've learned to search the Web, especially Epicurious, for it and nearly always find other really interesting recipes. Epicurious has 18 entries, for example, for garam masala. NOTE: Epicurious doesn't pay me for these recommendations, I just really like it.
  • "Careful" cooks use whole canned tomatoes and crush them, just like, I read, chefs do, because better tomatoes are used. "Convenience" cooks are happy to substitute diced canned tomatoes -- to my mind with no difference in results. Do look for brands that don't contain unneeded corn syrup.
Adapted from Splendid Table, a great food-talk radio show on NPR. The host is Lynne Rosetto Kasper, one of the most knowledgable and creative folks EVER about food -- and in a real-world, cookin'-at-home way. Her notes with this recipe say that with the addition of egg noodles and Parmesan cheese, this would make a great casserole; I suspect she's right.

Day 19: Green Beans with Basil ♥

A spring vegetable? No, a late summer or fall vegetable
~ recipe updated & photo added in 2007 ~

2005: Day 19! April is 2/3 gone and it feels as if we're just getting started! Is there a summer of experimentation in our future? We shall see. If tonight's green beans are a summer forecast, perhaps. Even with supermarket beans and basil, this has some essence of what summer should taste like.

2007: 'Beans with basil' is not a good name for this dish, since it suggests fresh green beans bright with summer basil flavor, yes? A better name would be 'stewed beans and tomato', a fall name, something suggesting beans cooked til they're soft (an idea which cause tremors in many, sorry), paired with tomatoes that turn deep and dark, and paired together, yes, entirely delicious. It just takes a long time for beans to cook in a skillet and they turn color. Know that. And by the time the beans are cooked, they'll be soft and the tomato will be broken into tiny pieces. Know that too. But know that together, they'll also be slow-cooked good.

GREEN BEANS WITH BASIL
Active time: About 20 minutes
Time to table: About 30 minutes
Serves 4 generously


1 tablespoon olive oil (reduced from 3 tablespoons, see nutrition impact, below)
1 large onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic (yes, from a jar is good ...)
1 pound green beans
1/2 cup water
1 summer tomato (see ALANNA's TIPS)
1 cup fresh basil, chopped finely (see TIPS)
Salt & pepper

In a large, deep skillet with a cover, heat oil on MEDIUM HIGH. Chop onion. When oil is shimmery, add onion and garlic and cook until soft and just beginning to brown. While onion cooks, wash beans, break off stem ends and break each bean into about three pieces. Add beans and water (and tomatoes and basil as they're ready) to skillet, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to MEDIUM and let simmer until beans are fully cooked, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

ALANNA's TIPS
  • 2005: Even the best of roma tomatoes are a taste waste. Another time, I'd include tomatoes only if they're real garden-grown tomatoes, the ones we gorge on in summer and lust for in winter. 2007: A summer tomato was perfect. But if you like idea of this dish when summer tomatoes aren't available, I'd substitute slices of sun-dried tomato before a hard-as-rock supermarket tomato.
  • To quickly chop basil, pile large leaves flat, one on top of another. Roll jelly-roll fashion, holding tight with your fingers. Make one or two slits length-wise without cutting completely through, then cut cross-wise, cutting strips as thin as possible.
  • 2007: These beans took a lot of salt, I seasoned them several times during the cooking process. I wouldn't recommend waiting til the end.


NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Made with 1 tablespoon olive oil: Per Serving: 95 Cal (32% from Fat; 3g Protein; 4g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 15g Carb; 5g Fiber; 75mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 11mg Sodium; 0mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

Made with 3 tablespoons olive oil: Per Serving: 154 Cal (57% from Fat); 3g Protein; 10g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 15g Carb; 5g Fiber; 75mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 11mg Sodium; 0mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 3 points

Adapted from the May 2005 issue of Bon Appetit (the issue just arrived over the weekend so the recipes aren't yet posted on Epicurious)


Day 18: Frozen Turnip Greens with Diced Turnip

Great lesson tonight: if I hadn't something in the freezer, nothing green, nothing fresh, would have made it to the table. It's good to have insurance!

And these green, leafy things are growing on me. In this bag, the bits of diced turnip were a sort of sweet contrast to the musky leaves, chopped very small.

I did wonder, although too late for tonight, whether a full-flavored fat like bacon grease might do wonders over butter or olive oil. There's got to be a reason why all those "southern greens" are dripping with bacon grease!

FROZEN TURNIP GREENS WITH DICED TURNIP
Active time: About 5 minutes
Time to table: About 20 minutes
Serves 4


1 tablespoon butter
16 ounces frozen chopped turnip greens with diced turnip

Melt butter in a large skillet over MEDIUM HIGH. Add frozen greens, stir, reduce heat to MEDIUM, cover and let cook 10 - 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 59 Cal (45% from Fat); 3g Protein; 3g Tot Fat; 5g Carb; 4g Fiber; 1mg Calcium; 0mg Iron; 54mg Sodium; 8mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

Day 17: Ginger Asparagus

Love the new asparagus steamer -- if you love asparagus, think about an investment.

Make sure it'll fit in your cupboard, though. The steamer is tall (as tall as, well, asparagus spears) and narrow (as narrow as, well about 2 pounds of asparagus). The spears stand upright. while cooking; this means that that the tougher stalks are closer to the heat source than the tender tips.

Another tool I used tonight is called a mister: put in your own olive oil and spray -- all to use less oil. I like it and used it often but wouldn't call it a must-have either.

GINGER ASPARAGUS
Active time: 5 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes
Serves 4


1 pound asparagus
Olive oil
Ginger juice (see ALANNA's TIPS)
Salt

Bring water to boil in an asparagus steamer over MEDIUM HIGH. Rinse spears well, then cut off and remove the woody ends. Place spears in steamer, cover and cook for 5 - 8 minutes or until fully cooked. Remove and mist with olive oil and sprinkle with ginger juice. Salt generously and serve.

ALANNA's TIPS
  • Ginger juice is just that -- the extracted juice from ginger roots. The brand I know Ginger People and I've seen it at specialty stores, international markets and some higher-end supermarkets.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 33 Cal (29% from Fat); 2g Protein; 1g Tot Fat; 4g Carb; 2g Fiber; 27mg Calcium; 2 g Iron; 2mg Sodium; 0mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 0 points

Day 16: Lime Spinach

Tonight was a reprise of Day 9, Lemon Spinach.

Truth is, Lemon Spinach is delicious, Lime Spinach was ... nothing special. I did experiment with a fraction of the fat so that might have been the difference. I'll try again, with lemon and less fat. In the mean time, I'd recommend Lemon Spinach!

Day 15: Simple Swiss Chard

Today's vegetable recipe: Fresh Swiss chard quick-sautéed with garlic and ginger. Low carb. Weight Watchers 1 point.

~ recipe updated & photo added in 2008 ~

2005: A keeper -- if only because Swiss chard is so good for you! I'd give this a B+ hot and an A- cold on a salad the next day. Even so, Swiss chard may be an acquired taste. They say kids need to taste a new food many times (like a dozen?) before it tastes familiar. I'm on Taste #2 for Swiss chard and am beginning to like it.

SIMPLE SWISS CHARD
Active time: 10 minutes (8 to wash/chop)
Time to table: 20 minutes
Serves 4


Generous 1/2 pound Swiss chard (see ALANNA's TIPS)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic (2005: from a jar, naturally 2008: fresh)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger (see TIPS), optional (2005: didn't add much, wouldn't bother again 2008: agreed)
Salt

Rinse chard well under running water. (Do wash very well. It's easy for grit to get caught in all the crevices.) Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, deep skillet with a cover over MEDIUM HIGH. Trim the tips of stems and discard. Cut stems from leaves, gather stems in bundle and chop cross-wise. Add stems, garlic and ginger (if using) and sauté until soft. While stems are cooking, pile about five leaves flat on top of one another, roll together tightly, then cut cross-wise as finely as possible (see TIPS). Reduce heat to MEDIUM. Add leaves to skillet in big pile, cover and let cook about 10 minutes. Turn leaves, test for doneness, add salt liberally.

ALANNA's TIPS
  • 2005: The red stems are not only pretty but tasty so watch for bunches where there's plenty of stem. 2008: Red or white or green, the stems can be quite tasty so don't let them go to waste.
  • Watch for minced ginger in jars the international aisles of supermarkets. I think it's one of those conveniences that are more than worth any small sacrifice made in freshness.
  • A trick, here, is to have thin-thin strips as bigger chunks can seem a bit stringy.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 45 Cal (65% from Fat); 1g Protein; 4g Tot Fat; 3g Carb; 1g Fiber; 39mg Calcium; 1 g Iron; 456mg Sodium; 0mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

Day 14: Green Beans with Onion and Almonds ♥

Green Beans with Onion and Almonds
Today's green bean recipe: Beans cooked in well-salted water, then tossed with sautéed onions and almonds.

~recipe & photo updated in 2007~

2005: This recipe is a real keeper, thanks to the browned-buttery, nutty-crunch-ery almonds. How to serve beans in just 15 minutes? Use a bag of frozen French-cut green beans. You might re-acquaint yourself with the frozen vegetable section, especially if turned off by quality a few years back. Frozen vegetables are flash frozen so in a sense, they are 'fresher' than anything picked 10 days ago for shipping to your local grocery store. Do skip the boxes of frozen vegetables, focus on the bags. I think the supermarket brands are as good as the name brands and they are usually cheaper at regular price and more often on sale. There are only two frozen vegetables, so far, that I don't like, pearl onions (but then I think I just don't like pearl onions ...) and carrots.

2007 Update: I made this recipe with fresh green beans and wow, talk about good! Even with only a tablespoon of butter (I used all butter for more flavor, then sweated/sautéed the onion/almonds slooooowly while the beans steamed), they tasted so rich and delicious. This is a total keeper but worth considering the five minutes to snap the tips.

RECIPE for GREEN BEANS WITH ONION AND ALMONDS

Hands-on time: 5 minutes for frozen beans, 15 for fresh
Time to table: 15 minutes for frozen beans, 25 minutes for fresh
Serves 4

Water to cover
1 teaspoon table salt
1 pound bag frozen green beans or 1 pound fresh green beans, ends snapped (see ALANNA's TIPS)
1/2 tablespoon butter (see TIPS)
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, diced finely
1/4 cup slivered almonds
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine water, salt and beans in large, deep skillet with cover. Cover and bring to boil over MEDIUM HIGH. Lower heat and simmer until cooked, about 5 minutes for frozen French-cut beans, longer for frozen whole beans and 7 - 9 minutes for fresh green beans. Remove from heat. Drain, return to skillet and cover.

While beans cook, heat butter and olive oil in small skillet over MEDIUM HIGH heat until shimmery. Add onion and almonds, sauté until just beginning to brown, turning occasionally. (Watch so nuts don't burn with temperature so high.) Add onion/almond mixture to beans. Toss, season to taste and serve.


KITCHEN NOTES
Frozen green beans are especially good. I like all forms: the skinny French ones, the short lengths, the whole ones, and here, the French-cut ones (you know, the kind our mothers used to put in that "green bean casserole", the one with mushroom soup topped with those faux fried onions. Update 2007: Ha! This has me chuckling since it actually a fresh green bean casserole which is one of the most popular recipes on A Veggie Venture.
This can be a "one dish" vegetable if you have a bit more time. Cook the beans in the big skillet, drain in a colander, cover to keep warm. Then cook the onions/almonds in the same skillet.

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© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2005


Day 13: Roasted Asparagus with Feta ♥

No oil, lots of feta flavor
How to roast asparagus without oil, just salt and high heat. Here, the asparagus is topped with feta for sharp bursts of tangy saltiness.

~recipe & photo updated 2006 & 2011~
~more recently updated recipes~

TESTIMONIALS
"Alanna - it was fantastic!!!" ~ Pille
"At first I was skeptical - roasting a vegetable without oil? ... But, I have learned to trust Alanna and ... DELISH! And pretty enough for company." ~ Seashell

2005: A fast, flavorful favorite! This is a great way to use thick spears of asparagus (the thin ones are so delicate, they're better steamed). Throw in a little garlic if so inclined, too. Since the biggest time requirement is preheating the oven to 500F, asparagus like this is best made when the oven will already be hot, say a roast chicken night, so the asparagus roasts while the chicken rests before carving.

2011: Turns out, this is my very favorite way to roast asparagus. And yes, there's no oil used though the feta adds plenty of richness. For especially nice presentation, roast the asparagus in individual serving dishes or an oven-to-table serving dish, that way, there's no need to disturb the feta while transferring from a baking sheet to a serving dish.

RECIPE for ROASTED ASPARAGUS with FETA

Prep time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 30 minutes (including 15 to preheat oven so less if it's already hot)
Serves 4
1 pound thick spears of asparagus
Kosher salt
2 ounces feta cheese (see ALANNA's TIPS)

Preheat oven to 500F. Rinse asparagus, cut or break off the woody ends (see TIPS). Arrange the spears in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Place in hot oven, roast 8 - 15 minutes until fully cooked, turning spears (though I usually forget this step) and sprinkling the feta over top about half-way through.

ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
FETA My recipe notes mention that French feta will melt. I've only used Greek feta and like how it holds together in hot melty clumps for big bursts of saltiness. Greek feta doesn't always turn that pretty toasty brown, it helps to put the baking tray under the broiler for the last couple of minutes. The inspiring recipe called for a full two ounces of feta, to my taste, that's alot so I usually use just an ounce.
ASPARAGUS If possible, try to roast spears of similar width so they're done at the same time. Taste-wise, the thick spears are especially sweet and moist and delicious when roasted, thin spears are better saved for steaming or raw salads. Asparagus afficinados break off the woody ends just where the woodiness starts -- there is a natural, quite perceptible spot. My technique doesn't require examining every spear: I simply cut the spears to the same length all at once, cutting about half-way up, removing all trace of woodiness though sacrificing some of the good flesh.
TIMING Because of the high temperature, these move from roasting to roasted in a flash. At 10 minutes these weren't close to ready, at 15 they were a little too done. After 10 minutes, I'd check every minute or so.

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© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2005


Day 12: Carrots Glazed with Maple Syrup and Lime

~ recipe updated & photo added in 2007 ~

2005: A brilliant combination, maple syrup and lime, a sort of sunlit sweetness.

If you do the prep work ahead of time, reverse the order of preparation, that is, start the syrup and while it cooks, peel the carrots. The uncooked carrots can sit in the saucepan, no water, for a couple of hours without harm until you're ready to cook.

A light touch with the syrup is important. If it overcooks, as mine did tonight, the sugar will caramelize and turn into chunks of hard (and unusable) candy.

2007: This time, I used half the maple syrup, a good option for less sweetness.

CARROTS GLAZED WITH MAPLE SYRUP AND LIME
Active prep time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 30 minutes
Serves 8


Water to cover
Salt
2 pounds fresh carrots (see TIPS)

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 small onion, minced (about 1/4 cup)
zest and juice (about 1 tablespoon) from a lime
1/4 cup maple syrup (see TIPS)

Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, bring to boil just enough water to cover carrots and salt on HIGH heat. Meanwhile, peel carrots, remove stem ends and tips, cut in 1/2 inch thick pieces on the diagonal. Add carrots to water, cover and return to boil. Reduce heat to MEDIUM and simmer until cooked, about 15 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over MEDIUM heat. Add onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add zest, lime juice and maple syrup. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to MEDIUM LOW and let bubble for about 5 minutes, just until begins to thicken. (Can be made ahead to here and rewarmed later.)

Add cooked carrots to skillet and turn gently to coat. Season to taste and serve.

Per Serving: 101 Cal (27% from Fat); 1g Protein; 3g Tot Fat; 18g Carb; 3g Fiber; 47mg Calcium; 0mg Iron; 374mg Sodium; 8mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers, Weight Watchers 2 points

ALANNA'S TIPS
  • Salted vegetables DO taste better -- so unless you must limit sodium intake for health reasons, DO use salt liberally because you will enjoy vegetables more -- and eat more! According to Epicurious, the typical proportion of water to salt is 4 quarts: 1 tablespoon

  • The bags of peeled carrots and the bags of frozen carrots simply yield no taste. If you don't have five minutes to peel fresh carrots, think about making something else.

  • Contrary to what you'd think, Grade B maple syrup is more flavorful and coveted than Grade A.



  • Modified from a recipe published in the New York Times on April 10th

    Day 11: "Stir-Fried" Frozen Vegetables

    Ten minutes start to finish! While what I threw together last night isn’t yet perfect, it’s a great start. I especially like the technique of cooking the vegetables in virtually no-cal chicken broth (water would likely work as well since the source of flavor is soy sauce) rather than stir-frying in oil. I did add a bit of sesame oil to deepen the flavor but even it might not be necessary.

    If you haven’t recently checked out the frozen vegetables at the grocery store, do. They are often on sale and of course can be kept in-waiting in the freezer. And they’re good (well, except for the carrots!) and terrific to have on hand for nights it’s frozen vegetables or no vegetables at all.

    The mix used here was called “vegetable stand” and included broccoli, red pepper, sugar snap peas and water chestnuts. It would be easy to add an onion, mushrooms, zucchini, any vegetable on hand or that your family really likes.

    This could be the start of a supper stir-fry – just cook tofu, chicken or shrimp before the vegetables, set aside, then add in after vegetables are cooked.

    “STIR-FRIED” FROZEN VEGETABLES
    Active time: 5 minutes
    Time to table: 10 minutes
    Makes 4 generous servings


    ½ cup fat-free chicken broth (Cook's Illustrated taste testers recommend Swanson’s Natural Goodness)
    14 ounces frozen vegetables
    1 tablespoon cornstarch
    2 tablespoons soy sauce
    1 teaspoon sugar
    1 teaspoon sesame oil
    Dash red pepper flakes
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Cook broth and vegetables in a large skillet, covered and turning occasionally, until nearly cooked, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small dish, stir together cornstarch, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil and red pepper flakes. Move vegetables to side of skillet, pour soy sauce mixture into center and stir in middle area until thickened. Once thick, turn vegetables until fully covered with sauce. Season to taste and serve.

    Per Serving: 71 Cal (20% from Fat); 1g Protein; 1g Tot Fat; 10g Carb; 2g Fiber; 1mg Calcium; 0mg Iron; 544mg Sodium; 0mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

    Day Ten: Asparagus with Dip

    Very simple, very spare ... and to my mind, very good. The recipe (if you can call it that!) comes from a friend whose mother was born in Italy and says it's the "only way" asparagus was ever prepared at home.

    It works as an appetizer too, especially when everyone's hungry and supper seems a long way off! One more great reason to buy and cook double portions of asparagus when it's in season.

    ASPARAGUS WITH DIP
    Active time: 2 minutes
    Time to table: 2 minutes
    Serves 1 (multiply as appropriate)


    Cooked, chilled asparagus spears
    1 tablespoon light mayonnaise
    Lemon zest
    Splash skim milk
    Pepper

    With a fork, mix mayonnaise, lemon zest and enough milk to thin to desired consistency.

    Per Serving: 69 Cal (56% from Fat); 3g Protein; 5g Tot Fat; 6g Carb; 3g Fiber; 30mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 123mg Sodium; 1mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

    Day Nine: Lemon Spinach

    THIS is my idea of a vegetable heaven! Fresh and fast and flavorful!

    The inspiration for tonight came from this morning's visit to the farmers market. My favorite stop is to see Charles, a farmer in his late 70s, old and frail enough that I always breathe a sigh of relief when he returns each spring. Charles is a bit bent over but still spry, his eyes a bit bleary with cataracts but still sparkle for regular customers.

    I came home ruby-red spears of rhubarb and a huge bag of fresh spinach, dirt still on the roots, leaves deep in color, deep in flavor.

    The recipe comes from a favorite cookbook, French Food at Home by Laura Calder, one I turn to again and again for spare and simple -- and delicious -- food. I'll make this again soon -- trying supermarket spinach and halving the fat.

    LEMON SPINACH
    Active time: Maybe 10 minutes? (mostly washing spinach leaves)
    Time to table: Maybe 20 minutes?
    Serves 2


    1 pound fresh spinach
    1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    Grated zest of a lemon
    Salt and pepper

    Clean spinach well, drain but allow droplets to remain. Heat butter and oil over medium heat in a large, deep skillet with a cover. Add spinach in a big heap. Cover and let cook 3 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until spinach wilts and water evaporates. Remove from heat. Add lemon zest. Season and serve.

    Per Serving: 182 Cal (63% from Fat); 9g Protein; 14g Tot Fat; 10g Carb; 7g Fiber; 356mg Calcium; 5mg Iron; 169mg Sodium; 15mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 4 points

    Day Eight: Balsamic Peppers

    Decent! This "recipe" (really, just something I made up) makes good advantage of frozen peppers which are, out of growing season anyway, inexpensive compared to fresh.

    BALSAMIC PEPPERS
    Hands-on time: 5 minutes
    Time to table: 12 minutes
    Makes 4 half-cup servings


    1/2 tablespoon olive oil
    1 onion
    14 ounces frozen red-yellow-green sweet peppers (thawed maybe better?)
    1 tablespoon garlic (from a jar, of course!)
    1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
    Salt & pepper

    Heat olive oil in a skillet. Meanwhile, cut onion in lengths. Saute onion, peppers and garlic in skillet until soft, stirring regularly. Add balsamic vinegar, stir in and let cook down. Season to taste.

    Per Serving: 61 Cal (27% from Fat); 1g Protein; 2g Tot Fat; 11g Carb; 3g Fiber; 20mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 4mg Sodium; 0mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 1 point

    Day Seven: Asparagus Tapenade ♥ Recipe

    Asparagus Tapenade
    Today's vegetable recipe: Easy spread made from cooked asparagus, garlic and fresh herbs. Low carb. Weight Watchers 1 point.

    ~recipe & photo updated 2008 & 2010~

    2005: A Keeper. But then I knew that, this "asparagus guacamole" has been a favorite for some years. But my definition of what qualifies as 'vegetable' for A Veggie Venture may be changing. Asparagus Tapenade is made in advance and served cold as a ... yup ... side dish. Its main ingredient is asparagus. It's quick and easy. But for the remainder of this Veggie Venture, I'll try to err toward vegetables that can be cooked and eaten right away. (2008: Obviously, I changed my mind on this!)

    2008 & 2010: I just love returning to favorite recipes! This easy asparagus spread was just as good as remembered, maybe better. It's another good way to use the 'fat' spears of asparagus that show up early and late in the asparagus season. This thick spread can be used as an appetizer with crackers or bread, tossed with hot pasta, tucked into an omelet, dabbed onto a steak hot off the grill. Oh -- and eaten by the spoonful, straight from the jar. Yum.

    ASPARAGUS TAPENADE

    Active prep time: 20 minutes
    Total time: 20 minutes plus refrigeration
    Makes 1-1/2 cups

    Salted water
    1 pound asparagus (thick spears work fine)
    1/4 cup pine nuts (see TIPS)
    2 large cloves garlic
    1/2 cup fresh basil or fresh tarragon (see TIPS)
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    2 teaspoons fresh thyme, optional
    1/4 teaspoon fresh pepper
    Additional salt and pepper to taste

    Bring pan (see ALANNA'S TIPS) of water to boil over high heat. Rinse and trim ends from asparagus, then cut in 1 - 2 inch pieces. Add asparagus to water, return water to boil, reduce heat to medium. Cook until just soft and still bright green, about three minutes. Drain well.

    Meanwhile, toast pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium high, stirring occasionally, watching carefully to avoid burning.

    Meanwhile, add remaining ingredients to a food processor. Add toasted pine nuts and cooked asparagus. Pulse until thoroughly blended but still roughly chopped. Transfer to clean container and refrigerate until fully chilled. Serve with crackers or vegetables or on crostini.


    ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
    2005: This is so easy to make! Still, next time I'm steaming asparagus, I'll plan to cook an extra pound or so, just for this.
    2005: I haven't purchased an asparagus steamer yet but was inspired to try a 9x13 metal cake pan that happened to be on the counter waiting to be put away. Instead of cutting the spears into 1 - 2 inch lengths before cooking, I cooked the spears, bottoms to the center (directly over the flame) and tips to the ends (further from the heat source). And frankly -- it worked! Certainly an asparagus steamer is more elegant but if you've already got a 9x13, give this technique a try.
    2008: Fresh herbs from the supermarket are convenient (if expensive) as long as you remembered to buy them. This recipe is one of the reasons why I plant just a few herbs in my garden every year. I make no attempt to have enough basil on hand for pesto but I DO love having just a bit of sage, a bit of rosemary, a bit of chive, anytime I want just by stepping outside. See Never Buy Fresh Herbs Again, tips on growing fresh herbs in pots.
    2010: The price of pine nuts has jumped through the roof so I made the last two batches with toasted walnuts and roasted/salted sunflower seeds. Both worked great and are much easier to find than pine nuts. If using walnuts, toast them in a 350F oven until aromatic.
    2010: One batch, I added a ripe avocado, thinking I'd create a sort of asparagus guacamole. Too bad, the avocado taste and mouth-feel didn't come through and really too bad, the outside of the tapenade turned brown. Needless to say, I don't recommend adding an avocado!

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    Day Six: Cauliflower with Lemon Dressing

    A Maybe ... then again, let's make that Probably Not.

    Filling, yes, but oddly unsatisfying. And once again, time-intensive for a weeknight supper unless everything else was simple.

    Did the recipe have a fair chance? You decide. Served hot vs cold. Cilantro (a bit limp) vs parsley. Supermarket romas (it's April!) vs a good tomato. 1T olive oil vs 3T.

    Learned something about a favorite kitchen tool, the immersion blender: unless it's fully immersed, it makes a big ol' mess! (Oh right, it's called an IMMERSION blender.) I switched to the food processor attachment (so much easier than the Cuisinart) to make the dressing, worked great.

    CAULIFLOWER WITH LEMON DRESSING
    Active time: 20 minutes
    Time to table: 25 minutes
    Makes 6 cups


    Water to cover cauliflower
    1 tablespoon salt
    1 medium head cauliflower (about 9 cups when trimmed)

    1/4 cup cilantro (parsley was specified)
    1 tablespoon minced garlic (from a jar!)
    1 tablespoon olive oil (3 were specified)
    zest and juice from 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup juice)
    1 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
    1 tomato, chopped

    Bring to boil water (enough to just cover cauliflower) and salt to a boil. Clean cauliflower, cutting into bite-size pieces. Add cauliflower, cover and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Drain and return to pan.

    Meanwhile, mix remaining ingredients (except tomato) in a blender or small food processor. Pour over cooked, drained cauliflower. Add tomato. Toss until cauliflower and tomato are evenly coated with dressing.

    NUTRITION ESTIMATE
    Per cup made with 1T olive oil: 56 Cal (40% from Fat); 3g Tot Fat; 7g Carb; 3g Fiber; 25mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 216mg Sodium; 0mg Cholesterol , Weight Watchers 1 point

    Per cup made with 3T oil: 95 Cal (63% from Fat); 2g Protein; 7g Tot Fat; 7g Carb; 3g Fiber; 25 g Calcium; 1mg Iron; 216mg Sodium; 0mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 2 points


    Adapted from My Kitchen in Spain which has a great vegetable section. I've had this cookbook for almost two years and this is the first time I've cooked from it!

    Day Five: Sautéed Broccoli with Garlic, Orange, Oyster Sauce ♥

    ~ recipe updated & photo added 2007 ~

    2005: A keeper! The basic technique is a great way to skillet-steam/sauté broccoli, then add other flavorings. I will definitely do again in other ways. Frozen broccoli crowns might work too.

    But: this veggie business takes time! This took only 20 minutes but it was hands-on the whole time. Perhaps vegetable "recipes" are best planned for nights when cooking tasks are shared, when the rest of the meal is super simple like heating up leftovers, something in the oven, omelets or sandwiches?

    2007: Agreed, this is a keeper! I skipped the sesame seeds. I toasted fresh garlic (gorgeous) in just a tablespoon of oil (which drops the calories and Weight Watchers points) and used lemon zest instead of orange. Next time, I'll use either the garlic or the oyster sauce, instead of both, with the zest.

    SAUTÉED BROCCOLI WITH TOASTED GARLIC, ORANGE AND SESAME
    Hands on time: 20 minutes
    Time to table: 20 minutes
    Serves 4 generously


    2 teaspoons sesame seeds (skip this step, added little)

    1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil (2005: the recipe called for 2; 2007: with experience, I now know that a tablespoon of oil of plenty for a pound of vegetables)
    2 heaping tablespoons minced garlic (2005: from a jar! 2007: fresh! different animals, I use them both, just at different times)
    1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (2005: substituted a good shake of cayenne pepper 2007: just did a good shake of red pepper flakes)

    1 medium head broccoli (about 1 1/2 pounds before trimming) or 1 pound broccoli crowns
    1/4 cup water

    1 tablespoon oyster sauce
    zest from an orange or lemon
    Salt and pepper to taste (for my taste, oyster sauce added all salt necessary)

    If including, toast sesame seeds in a large, deep dry skillet over LOW heat for about 5 minutes, transfer to small dish.

    Otherwise (or afterward) heat oil and garlic in same skillet over LOW heat until garlic is toasted, about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in red pepper. Transfer to small bowl, leaving oil in skillet.

    Meanwhile, trim and chop broccoli. [2007: See how to trim broccoli aggressively, a technique that has helped me eat a LOT more fresh broccoli.] A stalk at a time, rinse, remove tiny leaves and peel stalks. Cut off stalk very close to florets. Cut or break florets into small pieces. Cut stalks lengthwise about four times, then crosswise, to create small pieces. This should yield about 8 cups.

    Over HIGH heat, toss broccoli and water in skillet. Cover and let steam/sauté for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. When cooked, add oyster sauce and orange zest. Stir in toasted garlic. Season to taste. Serve topped with sesame seeds.

    Cooked with 2T olive oil, Per Serving: 100 Cal (59% from Fat); 4g Protein; 7g Tot Fat; 8g Carb; 4g Fiber; 75mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 151mg Sodium; 0mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 2 points

    Cooked with 1T olive oil, Per Serving: 70 Cal (43% from Fat); 4g Protein; 4g Tot Fat; 8g Carb; 4g Fiber; 75mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 151mg Sodium; 0mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 points


    Modified from a recipe published in the New York Times on March 30

    Day Four: Honey Carrots

    Simple, flexible, easy for every-day
    ~Recipe updated &
    photo added in 2007~

    A favorite! Unfortunately for those of us who love shortcuts, frozen carrots don't work, nor do those little pre-peeled bags of carrots. But good news: it takes only 6 minutes to peel two pounds of carrots! (Yes, I've timed it ...)

    No cilantro? Try honey and black pepper, or honey and curry powder, or honey and chive, or honey and basil as pictured.

    2007 Note: This recipe was first published on only Day Four of A Veggie Venture, before I'd figured out standard serving sizes for vegetables and so the recipe specified 2 pounds of carrots for four (generous) servings. It's likely the quantity came from the source recipe, which unfortunately wasn't documented. But it wasn't too many days later when I determined that my standard would be, one pound vegetables = four servings, and so it continues to this day.

    HONEY CARROTS
    Hands-on time: 10 minutes
    Time to table: 30 minutes
    Makes 8 servings


    2 cups water
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    2 pounds carrots (sorry, frozen and pre-peeled don’t work)
    2 tablespoons honey
    2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Bring water and salt to boil in a medium saucepan. Meanwhile, peel carrots. Cut off and discard ends, then cut in bite-size pieces on the diagonal. Add carrots to boiling water, cover and cook 15 minutes or until soft. Drain in a colander and return to the hot pan but turn off the heat. Stir in honey and cilantro. Let rest 5 minutes for flavors to blend. Season to taste.

    Per Serving: 63 Cal (4% from Fat, 6% from Protein, 90% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 0 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 0 g Mono Fat; 15 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; NetCarb12; 9 g Sugar; 39 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 227 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 1 point

    Day Three: Lemon Asparagus ♥

    Today's vegetable recipe: Simple steamed asparagus with a lemon-garlic butter. Weight Watchers 1 point. Low carb.

    ~ recipe updated & photo added in 2008 ~

    2005: Tonight I learned about a new must-have for the kitchen: an asparagus steamer. The spears cook upright, spears down, tips up. So even thick spears didn't need peeling, which is a pain. Even though it's a single-purpose tool, for my money (and space) it's a winner.

    This recipe is so simple, who'd think it could be so delicious. Be generous with the garlic -- although I know purists will scoff, I'm happy with minced garlic from a jar.

    2008: Ah, the simple pleasures of asparagus. This time I used my own asparagus steamer and fresh garlic. Delicious!



    VEGETABLE RECIPES from the ARCHIVES
    ~ more asparagus recipes ~
    ~ more spring recipes from Kitchen Parade, my food column ~


    LEMON ASPARAGUS
    Hands-on time: 10 minutes
    Time to table: 30 minutes
    Serves 4


    1 pound asparagus
    1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    3 garlic cloves, slivered
    1 tablespoon lemon juice
    Salt and pepper to taste

    2005: Snap off woody ends of the asparagus spears and discard. Place in steamer over boiling water for 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to serving dish, toss with remaining ingredients.

    2008: I melted the butter in a small skillet while the asparagus steamed, then added the garlic and cook til golden, letting the butter brown a bit but being careful not to burn. Near the end, I added the lemon juice and seasoned, then drizzled over the steamed spears.

    NUTRITION ESTIMATE
    Per Serving: 49 Cal (48% from Fat); 3g Protein; 3g Tot Fat; 5g Carb; 2g Fiber; 28mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 150mg Sodium; 8mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

    Day Two: Steamed Frozen Broccoli

    Oh dear. It's only Day Two and already I'm resorting to an old standby, a bag of frozen broccoli (or green beans or ...) steamed, then sprinkled with good salt.

    My excuse is that there was no ignoring spring's call today and I spent the afternoon hauling and spreading mulch for the garden, where every day, some times it seems every hour, new tendrils poke through with confidence. The laughing daffodils, the bright forsythia, the flowering trees bursting into blossom: if ever there were a good day to spend time in the garden, not the kitchen, this was it.

    Day One: Roasted Cauliflower ♥ Recipe

    Tips and tricks for roasting cauliflower, one of the classics of roasted vegetables, especially in winter.

    Roasted Cauliflower was the very first recipe that launched the year-long odyssey called A Veggie Venture. Since then, it's a recipe that I've made again and again, some times without thinking, some times paying close attention. Here's what I've learned.

    Roasting cauliflower -- roasting it well, anyway -- takes more than just chopping up a head of cauliflower and throwing it into a hot oven. A few tricks and techniques really make the difference between great roasted cauliflower and so-so roasted cauliflower.

    Cauliflower needs to be cut into bite-size pieces, otherwise the cooking time is really lengthened.
    When cutting the cauliflower, cut through the florets to create flat surfaces that will more easily caramelize against the hot pan. It's a little fussy but when putting the cauliflower onto the pan for the first time, place the cut sides down.
    Stir the cauliflower really well before cooking to fully distribute the olive oil; a big bowl helps, so does using your hands.
    Like many vegetables, cauliflower shrinks when it roasts. A large head will feed four people but honestly, one hungry cauliflower lover could maybe gobble it all down!
    To make roasted cauliflower a little bit ahead, roast for an hour at 350F. This will 'cook' the cauliflower but not brown it. Just before supper is served, blast the cauliflower at high heat 400F or 425F or even 450F for 5 - 10 minutes, just to rewarm and add some color and caramelization.
    Fresh cauliflower is wonderful roasted, frozen cauliflower, not so good.

    NUTRITION NOTES I've tried using less oil to roast the cauliflower, including by attempting to 'stretch' the oil with chicken broth as a delivery vehicle. But it just doesn't work, the olive oil is needed to encourage the deep roasting. I've been able to get it down to two tablespoons per large head, by combining the cauliflower and oil really well but more oil means the cauliflower becomes especially dark and caramelized and roasts more quickly -- and has many more calories. Life is full of choices!

    ~recipe & photo updated 2010~


    TESTIMONIALS
    "[My husband] encouraged our veggie-phobic 4-year-old, 'I don't like cauliflower either, but it tastes like popcorn.'" ~ MomJamin
    "It was very tasty and good." ~ Didi
    "I made this over the long weekend, and it was absolutely fantastic! Hands down, the BEST way to serve cauliflower!" ~ Gilly
    "What a delicious recipe, especially for a South Beach dieter like me." ~ Sunny
    "It was so good! I wished that I had 2 or 3 heads of cauliflower, I could have eaten it all." ~ Dazbee


    RECIPE for ROASTED CAULIFLOWER

    Hands-on time: 5 minutes + occasional stirring
    Time to table: 50 minutes
    Serves 4

    2 tablespoons olive
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/4 teaspoon pepper
    1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets

    Set oven to 425F. Stir together all ingredients in large bowl until cauliflower is uniformly coated with oil. Transfer to baking sheet in single layer (use a second sheet if needed). Roast 35 – 45 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes for last 15 minutes, until cauliflower is dark brown but not burned.



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    © Copyright Kitchen Parade 2005


    Q & A: Comments on Food Blogs

    [ yes, I collect food cartoons! ]

    QUESTION: Is it okay to comment on food blogs? A reader asked via e-mail, "I am not a blogger ... but a real 'food blogger' junkie. I have often wanted to comment but since I don't have a blog I wonder if I would be doing the right thing or would I 'sorta' be intruding? So my question is then, is it appropriate to comment when you do not belong to the food blogging community? Most of the comments I read are usually from other bloggers."

    ANSWER: Yes! And everyone is welcome! For one moment, I'll speak on behalf of all food bloggers: we love, covet even, the comments from outside the blogging community!
    • If you're intrigued by a food blogger's post, or if it triggers a memory, or if you make a similar dish or ... whatever comes to mind ... SAY SO.
    • If you don't understand a technique, wonder about a substitution, question a quantity (most of us are writing fast, it does happen!) ... ASK.
    • If you tried a recipe and loved it, or tried a recipe and applied a personal touch ... TELL ALL.
    • If you tried a recipe and it didn't work out and you think that maybe something is wrong with the recipe (vs your own taste), contact the blogger privately, via e-mail.
    The topic of food blogging may be food ... but the reason food blogging continues is community: writers AND readers. If it were only writers, few of us would do this for long.

    QUESTION: How do you comment on a food blog?

    ANSWER: It's easy! Here's how ...
    • At the bottom of a post, click on "xx comments" or "post a comment" (or similar language).
      • Write your comment.
      • Many sites ask your name: use a first name, a nickname, a real name, or remain anonymous. (Some sites don't allow anonymous comments but you can still remain anonymous by using a nickname.)
      • Many sites ask for an e-mail address. This makes it easy for a blogger to respond in person. The e-mail addess is not disclosed online. (Some sites require an e-mail address; this is to discourage spam comments. )
      • Many sites ask for a web address; this is optional.
    • Press "preview" to look over your message and then "publish" once you're happy with it. (Usually, you may also publish without previewing.)
    • Many sites require commenters to replicate funny-looking letters or numerals in order to publish. (It's a pain but it's the best way to prevent automated spam comments.)
    • Some sites use 'moderation'. This means the site's author will preview and approve comments before they're published.




    (c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

    What's Where Index

    A Veggie Venture's Recipe Box has moved -- visit its new home here!

    Artichoke Recipes ♥ Alphabet of Vegetables

    Artichoke Recipes from A Veggie VentureIn a rush? Skip Straight to the Recipes

    ARTICHOKES: THE BASICS
    The artichoke season is "spring". Did you know that the edible portion of an artichoke is really a large flower bud of a kind of thistle? Artichokes are native to the Mediterranean region and are celebrated in Italian, Greek and North African cookery. Today we best know the "globe" artichoke, mostly large but also in small, younger and more tender artichokes. In the U.S., nearly the entire artichoke crop comes from a single county in California. To cook a whole fresh artichoke, first snip off the thorns which protect the outer leaves. After cooking it by steaming or microwaving, break off the leaves one by one, then scrape one between your front teeth, releasing a tiny pocket of flesh. The "choke" itself is at the bottom, thistle-y and inedible. The "heart" is the most coveted part of the artichoke. Artichoke hearts are sold in frozen and canned form, they're good for casseroles and dips and yes, convenience, but nothing like the luxurious seduction of slowly tackling a whole artichoke leaf by leaf. It's a spring tradition!

    ARTICHOKE NUTRITION INFORMATION

    What's your favorite artichoke recipe? or what artichoke recipe did you hope to find here? I'm always looking for new ones, especially healthy artichoke recipes. Leave me a quick note in the comments! ~Alanna

    ARTICHOKES: BASIC TIPS & TECHNIQUES
    How to Cook Artichokes in the Microwave