Day 42: Thai Eggplant

Lustrous globes of Thai eggplantLook what I found in the market yesterday!

These Thai eggplant were so pretty, I couldn't resist. It took some effort (to say the least) to figure out how to cook them. Sources suggested standard eggplant cooked Thai-style (not what I was hoping for), eating them raw (I did ... that, ahem, might be an acquired taste), deep frying (I just couldn't bring myself) or long lists of unfamiliar and likely hard-to-find ingredients.

So ... armed with a few ideas and a big sense of adventure, I moved to the kitchen. Cooking, the eggplants remained a pretty green, the turmeric later added a yellow cast -- very pretty.

And ... yes, quite tasty, a complete, if time-consuming, Veggie Venture success. How fun, sheer fun, is can be to 'play' with your food!

Enjoy --

THAI EGGPLANT
Active time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 20 minutes
Serves 4


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic (from a jar!)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger (this, too, from a jar!)
1 pound Thai eggplant, about 16
1/4 cup water

1/4 cup low-fat coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon chili paste (see ALANNA's TIPS)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over MEDIUM HIGH until it shimmers. Add garlic and ginger, stir and let cook about 1 minute. Meanwhile, remove stem ends from eggplant and cut in quarters. Add to pan, stir well. Add water, cover, reduce heat to MEDIUM and cook for about 10 minutes or until eggplant softens. (See TIPS.) While eggplant cooks, combine remaining ingredients. Add sauce and let simmer for about 5 minutes for flavors to blend. Taste and adjust seasoning.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 94 Cal (58% from Fat, 5% from Protein, 37% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 7 g Tot Fat; 4 g Sat Fat; 9 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; 15 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 306 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 2 points

ALANNA's TIPS
  • Chili paste has bite so start with less if your family has little apprecation for heat.
  • Since I was unfamiliar with the cooking time, I kept taste testing for doneness. Tip: the eggplant was cooked long before it looked done.

Day 41: Carrot Coins with Dill

~ recipe updated & photo added in 2006 ~

Simple! Tasty! Fast! A good recipe, especially if you have leftover fresh dill ... or later in the season, dill that needs cutting back.

Lesson: A hand-held julienne tool is worthless, at least for something as hard as a carrot. I fiddled a bit then got out a sharp knife: in a couple of minutes, there was a satisfying pile of thin, orange coins.

I'd love a mandoline but haven't yet made the investment. (2007 Update: I love my new mandoline.)

A food processor would have worked fine either for slicing or grating. For only a pound of carrots, however, in my world, the food processor wasn't worth the trouble (getting it out even though it's handy, making room in the dishwasher, putting it away ... you get the picture!)

June 2006 Note: These were just as good the second year!
  • Next time I'll get out the food processor and cook up two or three pounds to keep on hand.
  • I used only a teaspoon of peanut oil. The verdict? A teaspoon is great but next time, I'll skip the oil entirely ... it's just not necessary.
  • My sense is that carrots served like this are best on the al dente side, not carrot-crunchy but not smooshy-soft either.

CARROT COINS WITH DILL
Active time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 15 minutes
Serves 4


Water to cover
1 pound carrots, peeled
1 teaspoon table salt

1/4 onion, chopped finely
1 generous tablespoon fresh dill
Optional: 1 tablespoon peanut oil (another vegetable oil would be fine)
1 tablespoon red or white (or other) vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Salt & pepper to taste

Bring water to boil in a medium saucepan over MEDIUM HIGH. While water heats, cut carrots into thin-as-you-can coins. Add salt to water. Add carrots and return to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to MEDIUM and cook about five minutes or until just cooked. Drain carrots and plunge into bowl of ice water (see ALANNA's TIPS).

Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredient. Add cooked carrots and combine. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve immediately at room temperature or refrigerate for serving cold.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
With 1 tablespoon Oil, Per Serving: 93 Cal (33% from Fat, 5% from Protein, 62% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 4 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 15 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; 41 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 668 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

With 1 teaspoon oil, Per Serving: 73 Cal (16% from Fat, 6% from Protein, 78% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 1 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 15 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; 41 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 668 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 1/2 point

With no oil, Per Serving: 63 Cal (4% from Fat, 7% from Protein, 90% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 0 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 15 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; 41 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 668 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 0 points


ALANNA's TIPS
  • "Plunge xx into a bowl of ice water" is kitchen code for preparing a dish of ice and water (enough ice and little enough water so the ice doesn't melt) to stop the cooking process. It's often used when parboiling carrots, asparagus, peas and other tender vegetables just to the point of perfection, then removing the direct heat source (the fire) and the internal heat source (the vegetables themselves).
SOURCE
The online Old Farmer's Almanac has a large collection of interesting looking vegetable recipes.

Day 40: Easy Refrigerator Salad ♥

Easy Refrigerator Salad
Today's easy make-ahead vegetable salad: A 'concept' recipe for a refrigerator salad that keeps, made from frozen vegetables and chopped onion, celery and pepper. Low carb. Weight Watchers 1 point or no points. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real".

~recipe updated & reposted 2008, updated 2012 ~
~more recently updated recipes~

2005: Another make-ahead recipe, another keeps-awhile recipe - this time from my mother who kept a jar in her fridge year-round. Her favored frozen vegetable mix was that classic round peas, square carrots and oval corn combinations. But it was good! Tonight I used what was in the freezer, broccoli and cauliflower. But another time I would use the stir-fry mixes that the supermarkets carry. But I'd experiment, too: lima beans, anyone?

2008: My friend Mary recently shared a favorite recipe, one she calls "Weight Watchers Festive Vegetable Salad". The ingredient list was so familiar: sure enough, it was nearly the same as a recipe of my mother's already on A Veggie Venture. So I combined the two for a perfect "concept recipe" for a make-ahead refrigerator salad.

2012: This is such a good salad, just combine frozen and fresh vegetables with canned or frozen beans. It keeps for several weeks! It has enough liquid that I use a spoonful as "dressing" with my nearly-every-day salad, Quick 'n' Easy Raw Salad.

Day 39: Coconut Yams

Pretty good!

Tonight I took advantage of a microwave bag of yams picked up at Trader Joe's last week. Cooking couldn't have been simpler: slit the bag, toss it in the microwave for eight minutes, mash the contents, then start doctoring.

The bag's doctor directions called for 4 tablespoons of maple syrup and 6 tablespoons of butter. OH MY! Of course it's good with that much sugar and fat!

My version is considerably lighter and certainly tastes like - surprise! - yam because its own flavor isn't masked by sugar and fat.

And my version would probably make your real doctor happier, too. Even so, Coconut Yams are higher in calories than I prefer for an every-day vegetable.

Yams do taste a bit like the sweet potatoes we're more used to. Their texture is different, starchier and heavier, though not unpleasantly so.

COCONUT YAMS
Active time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 15 minutes
Makes 6 half-cup servings


20 ounces Trader Joe's diced yams in microwaveable bag
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 cup low-fat coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Cook yams according to package directions. Mash with a hand mixer, then add remaining ingredients and mash until smooth. Taste and add more salt and pepper.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
As made, per serving: 170 Cal (32% from Fat, 0% from Protein, 67% from Carb); 0 g Protein; 6 g Tot Fat; 5 g Sat Fat; 28 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; 5 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 24 mg Sodium; 5 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 3 points

As specified on the package, per serving: 241 Cal (44% from Fat, 0% from Protein, 55% from Carb); 0 g Protein; 12 g Tot Fat; 7 g Sat Fat; 32 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; 14 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 16 mg Sodium; 31 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 5 points

NOTE: Kitchen Parade has no relationship with Trader Joe's or any other food company. I''m just another home cook in a home kitchen passing on tips I think people might find useful.


Day 38: Summer Dill Salad ♥

~recipe & photo updated in 2007~

Scary thought but this has been a summer favorite for 14 years - the original recipe card is dated July 1991! Like Swedish Beets, it's made ahead and refrigerated until serving time. It makes a lot so lasts a few days.

Does this recipe stray from A Veggie Venture's intent? Heavens, it's even called a 'salad' -- that's no 'vegetable'!

Hmmm. Decision time. Here it is: the main ingredient is a vegetable. Since A Veggie Venture's real intent is to help us get out of a rut, look for similar recipes in coming weeks, especially since they're so well suited to relaxed summer cooking and eating.

Are we agreed?!

PHOTO UPDATE 2007: The dill in my small herb garden is very sad-looking but the basil, now the basil is happy -- and so is this salad, with basil as a substitute for dill.

SUMMER DILL SALAD
Active time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 2 hours
Makes 6 cups

Water to cover
1 teaspoon table salt
2 pounds frozen peas

1/4 cup non-fat yogurt
1/4 low-fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
Zest & juice of a lemon
1/2 package (about 1/3 ounce) fresh dill, stems removed, chopped
1 tablespoon kosher salt (see ALANNA's TIPS)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Few drops of Tabasco

Bring water to boil in a large saucepan on MEDIUM HIGH. Add salt and peas, return to a boil. Reduce heat to MEDIUM, cover and cook about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.

While peas cook, combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add peas. Taste and adjust seasonings. Refrigerate until ready to serve, about 2 hours.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per half-cup serving: 87 Cal (29% from Fat, 19% from Protein, 52% from Carb); 4 g Protein; 3 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 12 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; 20 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 891 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point


ALANNA's TIPS
  • Few recipes call for a whole tablespoon of salt. It's the actual amount I used and thought enhanced the peas the most.
  • But still -- especially if you're watching sodium intake -- use less to start and then adjust to your own taste.

Day 37: Roasted Salmon & Asparagus

Tonight was a special supper, a one-dish meal, fish and vegetable all in one. It's available here, as a Kitchen Parade extra.

Day 36: Swedish Pickled Beets ♥ (Refrigerator Pickled Beets)

One of my favorite recipes on all of A Veggie Venture, pickled beets made with canned beets. These are "refrigerator pickles" and keep for several weeks in the refrigerator without being canned.

~first published 2005~
~recipe & photo updated 2006 & 2010~
~more recently updated recipes~

2005: Delicious! Especially in summer, keep a jar of these on hand in the refrigerator, ready to add to salads at lunch, to plates at supper. They even just look pretty, all ruby-aglisten, waiting to be eaten!

2006 Update: I make these beets ALL the time! Plus I've become a huge fan of beets, some times I'm even called the 'beet queen'! All the beet recipes except this single one start with fresh beets, so it's nice to have one recipe for something so easy and so convenient and, let's not forget, so good. I've also collected quite a few recipes for refrigerator pickles that require no canning.

Swedish Beets
2010 Update: Turns out, I keep a jar of Swedish pickled beets in the refrigerator nearly all the time. It's just so convenient to grab one or two for a quick salad or a vegetable snack. I've never made them with fresh beets, I almost don't want to. Chances are, they'd be better -- they'd be "fresh" beets after all -- but I so love the convenience of using canned beets, I don't want to know! For the last while, I've been serving beets at family potlucks, too, and they're a huge hit. I cut them into chunks and then toss with a little fresh mint, Swedish Beets for a crowd.

SWEDISH PICKLED BEETS

Hands-on time: 7 minutes
Time to table: 24 hours
Makes 8 cups

1 cup cider vinegar or white vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspooons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 or 5 15-ounce cans beets, preferably chunks or small beets, drained (see ALANNA's TIPS)

OPTIONAL (see NOTES)
1 cinnamon stick
5 cloves allspice

Mix vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper and bring to boil, either in the microwave or in a saucepan, stirring occasionally to lift the sugar and salt from the bottom. Meanwhile, put beets in large glass (see TIPS) container with cover. When liquid boils, remove from heat and pour over beets. REFRIGERATE 24 HOURS BEFORE SERVING.

ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
I suspect the beets will absorb liquid better when in irregular chunks since beet slices tend to stick together. Del Monte sells a 'chunk' product but if you can't find it or something similar, consider chopping the slices into irregular pieces. I'm more than happy with the price and quality of house-brand canned beets from Schnucks, the largest grocery chain in St. Louis. They are small and of excellent quality.
Beet juice stains so glass is preferable. Plus, it looks so pretty in the fridge!
My container actually holds five cans of beets -- and since they keep a long time, I'm happy to have more on hand. For the first few days, however, I turn the jar upside down so the beets on top get 'pickled'.
A commenter suggested adding a cinnamon stick and some allspice -- and so I tried. This adds a 'spice' dimension similar to commercial pickled beets. I "like" it but find the spices a bit much.


A Veggie Venture - Printer Friendly Recipe Graphic



MORE FAVORITE BEET RECIPES
~ My Favorite Way to Roast Beets ~
~ Red Onion Beets ~
~ How to Make a Roasted Beet Salad ~
~ Beet Pesto ~
~ more beet recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture

~ Karelian Borscht (Russian Beet Borscht Soup) ~
~ Those Pink Potatoes ~
~ Borscht Beets with Sour Cream ~
~ more beet recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade


© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2005

Day 35: Summer Vegetable Stew ♥ Recipe

Summer Vegetable Stew
A great master recipe for a vegetarian stew, packed with easy-to-find and inexpensive fresh vegetables and their frozen counterparts. Low carb. Weight Watchers 0 points or 1 point.

~recipe & photo updated 2007 & 2010~
~such a favorite recipe, republished in 2010~

May 2005 Original: "Pretty good! It's like a vegetable soup without meat or broth, just big chunks of vegetables. It's good hot and cold and at room temperature -- and on a pizza! It would be a great contribution for a potluck where vegetables are a rarity."

August 2007 Update: Delicious! Lesson: It pays to make something called 'Summer Vegetable Stew' in summer (duh!) when the farmers market is overflowing with fresh vegetables. I also streamlined the recipe, which put it on the table in 40 minutes although I've also learned that the stew really melds overnight so now I make it one day to serve the next. It's a sort of 'soupy stew' delicious topped with nothing more than a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan. This is a great "master recipe" for a summery vegetable stew, one that moves and adjusts based on what's available or tastes good, lima beans, fresh okra and tiny new potatoes would be great additions. The only thing that's really essential is the tomato, which provides the cooking liquid.

2010 Update: Turns out, this is one of my most-made recipes from more than 1000 recipes on A Veggie Venture, it's a really special stew and is such a great way to take advantage of the cornucopia of vegetables from gardens and farmers markets at the height of summer.

RECIPE for SUMMER VEGETABLE STEW

Active time: 35 minutes
Time to table: 40 minutes
Makes a bunch, 9 cups

1 tablespoon olive oil (or a splash of water but do stir more often)
1 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
2 bell peppers, green, red or yellow or a mixture, diced in large chunks
1 pound eggplant, skin on, trimmed and cut into 1" cubes
1 yellow squash, trimmed & diced (zucchini would work too, yellow provides color variation)
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed & snapped in bite-size lengths
3 medium perfectly ripe tomatoes (blanched to remove skins of you like), cut in pieces or 30 ounces canned diced tomato
2 ears corn, kernels removed and "milked" (see TIPS) or frozen corn
1 teaspoon dried oregano, ground between fingers before adding (see TIPS)
Salt (you'll use quite a lot) & pepper
1 tablespoon good vinegar (don't skip)
Tabasco - few drops

Heat Dutch oven or large kettle over MEDIUM HIGH. Add olive oil and warm until shimmery. Add onion, stir to coat with fat, sauté for about 5 minutes until just soft. Add garlic and peppers, sauté another 5 minutes. Add eggplant, cook another 5 minutes. Add squash, beans, and any other vegetables and let cook for about 5 minutes. Finally, add tomato, corn, oregano, and season to taste. Reduce heat to MEDIUM, cover and let cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are done but still crisp-tender. Stir in vinegar and Tabasco, adjust seasoning to taste. Serve immediately or better yet, refrigerate for 24 hours. I love this served cold, with a spoonful of yogurt or a splash of cream!


ALANNA's TIPS
The flavor is mild, the texture soft. For a bit of heat, add Tabasco or red pepper flakes after cooking. For a bit of crunch, add the green pepper after cooking.
HERBS Crumbled dried herbs between your fingers before adding. Your fingers will smell good -- and the herb's essence will be more pronounced.
WEIGHT WATCHERS This recipe gets attention from Weight Watchers fans, because if cooked without oil, it can be a zero-point vegetable. That said, (1) my practice is to calculate all calories, no 'free' foods, even vegetables. (How you count, that's up to you!) (2) It's hard to measure points since every pot will vary with different vegetables.
EGGPLANT If you worry about bitterness in eggplant, this technique from the inspiring recipe can be used before starting the cooking. "Cut eggplant in cubes, leaving skin on. Transfer to colander in several batches, sprinkling each batch liberally with salt. LET DRAIN ONE HOUR. (Don't rinse away the salt.)" That said, I find this technique unnecessary and didn't use it when remaking in 2007.
CORN Much of the flavor from fresh corn is in its 'milk'. Remove the husk and silk, then, holding the ear upright inside a bowl, slice off the kernels with a knife. Then run the side of the knife along the cob top to bottom, 'milking' the corn juice into the bowl.

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© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2005


Day 34: Lemon & Honey Glazed Spinach

Pretty good! And easy! And fast! Thus: a keeper!

Cooking the spinach in the lemon and honey -- vs adding them afterward -- inserts a brightness I've not noticed before. And I really liked the underlying bite from the red pepper flakes.

LEMON & HONEY GLAZED SPINACH
Active time: 20 minutes (including 7 to clean farmer's market spinach)
Time to table: 20 minutes
Serves 4 with small portions, 2 with generous portions


1 pound spinach greens (see ALANNA's TIPS)
1 tablespoon olive oil (see TIPS)
1 tablespoon garlic (from a jar!)
Zest of a lemon
Juice from about half a lemon
1 tablespoon honey (next time, try doubling)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper

Clean greens well, removing tough stems. (See TIPS.) Heat a large skillet on MEDIUM HIGH. Add olive oil and let heat. Add garlic, zest, lemon juice, honey, salt and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, then stir a bit. Add about half the greens and stir well continuously. As the greens begin to cook down, add more until they're all in the pan. Continue to stir until spinach is cooked. Taste and add more red pepper flakes (and additional salt and pepper) as desired.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Cooked with 1T oil, 4 Servings: 85 Cal (39% from Fat, 19% from Protein, 42% from Carb); 5 g Protein; 4 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 10 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; 181 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 674 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

Cooked with 1T oil, 2 Servings: 153 Cal (40% from Fat, 16% from Protein, 44% from Carb); 7 g Protein; 8 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 19 g Carb; 5 g Fiber; 236 mg Calcium; 6 mg Iron; 1360 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 3 points

Cooked with no oil, 4 Servings: 56 Cal (11% from Fat, 27% from Protein, 61% from Carb); 5 g Protein; 1 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 10 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; 181 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 674 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 0 points

Cooked with no oil, 2 Servings: 93 Cal (7% from Fat, 24% from Protein, 68% from Carb); 7 g Protein; 1 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 19 g Carb; 5 g Fiber; 235 mg Calcium; 6 mg Iron; 1359 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point


ALANNA's TIPS
  • Another time, I'll try a bag of spinach because it's so easily available and convenient and ... you know, all those good things. However, I do wonder if the greens might actually be too tender for this cooking technique?
  • With the lemon juice and water from the spinach, there's enough liquid to cook the spinach without oil, I think, which I'll try another time.
  • Spinach can be gritty. I get good results cleaning it under running water, running my fingers across the leaves, then moving it to a colander to drain a bit while continuing on with the rest. Many cooks, however, advise filling a sink with a few inches of water, swirling the leaves around in the water, letting the leaves sit a bit while the grit drops to the bottom. Some cooks even advise doing this twice.
  • Usually it's time efficient to wash/chop vegetables while the olive oil heats in the pan. Tonight, however, cleaning the spinach took long enough that I turn the stove on mid-way in the cleaning process.
Lemon & Honey Glazed Spinach is adapted from Alton Brown. He hosts a Food Network program called Good Eats. His approach is a bit kooky but thoroughly informative. If you want to learn about the chemistry/physics of cooking, I highly recommend it. He recommends it for "hearty greens" such as mustard or kale.

Day 33: Mashed Rutabaga & Apple ♥

Mashed Rutabaga & Apple
A silky smooth 'mash' of rutabagas and apples. Gorgeous color.

~recipe & photo updated 2011~

2005: Who knew it would work out so well?! I was just using up the leftover rutabagas in the fridge!

Tonight's big lesson: Just because you don't so much like rutabagas cooked one way, (Glazed Rutabagas, say) doesn't mean you won't love them another way (mashed like tonight, say). And this means that just because you don't like [pick one: eggplant, zucchini, broccoli] cooked one way doesn't mean you won't like [pick one: eggplant, zucchini, broccoli] cooked another way.

Mashed Rutabaga & Apple is really, really good -- and if you liked Mashed Potatoes & Carrots, you'll love this, too. I imagine it best served in the fall, with roast pork, I think.

2010: Once again, I adored this combination of a vegetable and fruit. It is sooo smooth. In fact, don't drain the mixture and include the cooking water when sending through the food processor, it could be a soup.

RECIPE for MASHED RUTABAGA & APPLE

Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 50 minutes
Makes 5 cups

2-1/2 pounds rutabaga, (to yield about 2 pounds after peeling)
3 cooking apples (see TIPS)
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Generous salt & pepper

Fill a large pot with water to cover rutabaga and apple, bring to a boil over MEDIUM HIGH. While water heats, slice the heavy skin off the rutabagas, cut the flesh in a half-inch dice. Add to boiling water and let return to a boil. Reduce heat to MEDIUM, cover and cook until soft, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, peel (see TIPS) and chop apples. Once rutabagas are soft, add apples and cook another 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and transfer to a food processor. Add butter and maple syrup, process until quite smooth. Taste, season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
If you're unsure which apples are good for cooking, check the signs at the supermarket. If all else fails, avoid any "Delicious" apple, nearly all others will work great.
Most times, I leave apple skins on -- it saves time, the texture contrast is usually good, the fiber is good for you, etc. So I left them on tonight, too. But next time I will peel the apples before cooking. Even in a Cuisinart, the remaining skins detracted from the overall texture.





MORE FAVORITE RUTABAGA RECIPES
~ Rutabaga & Butternut Squash Purée ~
~ Scalloped Swedes & Finns ~
~ more rutabaga recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture




© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2005


Day 32: Poke Sallet ♥

Tonight's Lesson: No matter what your mother used to say, it's perfectly okay to "play with your food".

On Saturday, I made an early trip to Soulard, the big St Louis farmers market. My favorite farmer is Charles, who has the best rhubarb, spinach and basil in the market. This week his stand also displayed bundles of greens tied with string. 'Poke' read the hand-written sign. I wondered out loud, What in heavens is poke? and another shopper answered, Don't you know that old song, Poke Salad Annie? (I didn't but listened to it here.)

There was no leaving the poke behind! No matter that I hadn't a single clue how to cook it.

Online I learned that 'poke salad' is a citified 'poke sallet', that Harlan County, Kentucky holds an annual Poke Sallet Festival, and that most recipes call for a 'mess of greens' and specify cooking the tender-looking shoots in fresh water three times, then cooking them with onions in a 'heap of bacon grease' with eggs.

The result? Yummy.

I may never make Poke Sallet again -- heavens, I may never come across poke again! -- and Veggie Venture followers may never make Poke Sallet but really, it was fun to try something so very completely new and just see what happened. THAT was tonight's lesson.

POKE SALLET
Active time: Not much
Total time: Awhile
Serves: A coupla folks

Mess of poke, new leaves
Heap of bacon grease
Onion if you want
Coupla eggs
Lotsa salt

Bring a pot of water to boil. Wash the dirt and bugs off the poke, tear off any tough stems too. Throw it in the water, let it boil again then let it cook for about five minutes. Do this three times, rinsing the poke under running water each time and starting with fresh water in the pot each time. Meanwhile cook some bacon, leave grease in pan. Throw some onions in there, then the greens and stir them around. Whisk the eggs and throw them in too, swirl 'em around to mix 'em up pretty good. Throw in a bunch of salt and some pepper too. Eat hot.

Day 31: Leeks & Asparagus

~ recipe updated & photo added in 2006 ~

Tonight was good, completely worth repeating. It was tasty, easy and fast - and a great way to take advantage of the piles of fresh asparagus that are at farm stands and the supermarket. Tonight I served this atop mostly-white omelettes: delicious.

Leeks have an almost-sweetish onion essence. Paired with butter, they are delicious. When seeking a sweet touch of onion, why not use a "sweet onion" like a Vidalia? Sweet onions lose their onion-oomph when cooked so are best used raw. Leeks, however, will impart that sweet touch.

LEEKS & ASPARAGUS
Active time: 5 minutes + occasional stirring
Time to table: 15 minutes for thin spears, 25 for fat spears
Serves 4


1 tablespoon butter
1 large leek or 2 small leeks (see ALANNA's TIPS)
1 pound asparagus, thin or thick spears, woody ends removed, and if thick, stripes of skin removed with a vegetable peeler
Salt & pepper

Melt butter in a skillet over MEDIUM HIGH. Reduce heat to MEDIUM, add leeks and stir well to coat. Saute lightly until soft, about 3 minutes. Cut asparagus in one-inch lengths and add to skillet, turning well. Cover. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is cooked through but still bright green, about 5 minutes for thin spears, about 15 minutes for thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Per Serving: 62 Cal (40% from Fat, 16% from Protein, 44% from Carb); 3 g Protein; 3 g Tot Fat; 2 g Sat Fat; 8 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; 41 mg Calcium; 3 mg Iron; 7 mg Sodium; 8 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

ALANNA's TIPS
  • As they grow, leeks collect grit between their layers. Luckily, cleaning them is easy. First slice off the dense part of the root end, crosswise. Then slice off the leaf end, leaving about an inch of light green leaves. The cut piece will probably be about six inches long. Now cut the leek in half, lengthwise. Wash each half under running water, using your hand to loosely separate but still gather the layers. Cut leek halves crosswise into 1/2 inch half-rounds.
  • June 2006 Note: In 2005, I made these with thin spears of asparagus and called them "preferable". And they are preferable, if you're in a rush, for they cook more quickly. But for flavor, I'm learning to especially appreciate the fat spears.

Day 30: Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan ♥

~ recipe updated & photo added in 2007 ~

A keeper, magnificent in its simplicity especially on nights when the oven is already hot.

Roasting is especially good for fat spears of asparagus and takes only a few minutes to clean, trim and prep the asparagus and then only a few minutes in the oven, too.

Two great kitchen tools were put to use tonight:

Mister - Put your favorite olive oil in a non-aerosol olive oil mister, then spray vegetables, salads or pans. The mister makes a light, even coating of oil - the theory is (and I believe it) that you use less oil. I especially like the mister when roasting vegetables for it's easier to coat a big pile of vegetables with a light spray than tossing them in a tablespoon or two of oil.

Microplane - A microplane makes a big pile of fluffy parmesan in a flash. It's ten times better than your best grater. Multi-tasks with citrus zest, chocolate and coconut too. [Update 4/07 There are several models and I have now invested in two different microplanes.]

So, Day 30 arrives. What now? At first a vegetable-a-day was hard. On April 1, I wondered if I'd make it to April 30 - in fact, launching on April 1 made it easy to quit, laughing, April Fool's.

Now it seems like I'm just getting started and there's so many dishes to try. And the summer vegetables haven't even arrived! So visit often - the Veggie Venture shall continue!

ROASTED ASPARAGUS WITH PARMESAN
Active time: 7 minutes
Total time: 20 - 25 minutes
Serves 4

1 pound asparagus, preferably thick spears
Olive oil
Parmesan cheese, grated

Heat oven to 400 or 450F. While oven heats, wash and trim asparagus spears. If the skins are thick, use a carrot peeler to remove skins from ends. Arrange on baking sheet and mist with oil. Toss well and mist again. Roast until cooked through, about 15 minutes at 400F, about 10 minutes at 450F. Top with grated Parmesan and serve.

Nutrition Estimate (assumes 1/2 tablespoon olive oil for misting and 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan per serving) Per Serving: 65 Cal (46% from Fat, 28% from Protein, 26% from Carb); 5 g Protein; 4 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 5 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 97 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 98 mg Sodium; 6 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

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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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