Day 56: Butter-Simmered & Chutney-Glazed Carrots ♥

~recipe & photo updated in 2007~

Two recipes tonight. Make them separately or together. (Hey, wait a minute? Do I get a day off now? No way!)

The first is a new way to boil carrots. Water and salt, right? Tonight The Minimalist Mark Bittman has convinced me otherwise. He cooks them in a bit of water, a bit of butter (or olive oil if you insist), salt and pepper. And wow: they're the best simply cooked carrots I've ever tasted.

The second comes from a Weight Watchers cookbook from the grocery store last week. (It's a winner. The cover says it'll be on sale through June.) It adds chutney and mustard to cooked carrots. Again, delicious.

2007 PHOTO UPDATE: Very simple, almost cook themselves while you prepare the rest of supper. These might also be good for someone who needs to limit their sodium intake: even to my salt-happy palate, these tasted quite delicious with ZERO salt. I also liked the summer brightness of fresh mint tucked into the carrots after they'd cooked.



VEGETABLE RECIPES from the ARCHIVES
~ more carrot recipes ~
~ more favorite vegetable recipes (this was my very favorite recipe in May 2005!) ~


BUTTER-SIMMERED CARROTS &
CHUTNEY-GLAZED CARROTS

Active time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 15 minutes
Serves 4


1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil (next time I'll try just 1 tablespoon, 2007: 1 tablespoon was more than fine, try 1 teaspoon, just a tiny bit for flavor)
1 teaspoon sugar
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper to taste (2007, I happily skipped both)
1 pound carrots (okay, okay, pre-peeled are fine, get the baby ones if possible)

2 tablespoons prepared chutney
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (the recips suggests whole-grain Dijon, smooth was fine)

Combine water, butter, sugar, salt and pepper and carrots in medium saucepan over MEDIUM HIGH (get a small head start by turning the stove on with water and butter, then adding other ingredients) and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to MEDIUM and cook for about 5 minutes. Uncover, raise the heat a bit, then cook, stirring occasionally, until water boils away and carrots are cooking in the butter or oil. Reduce the heat a bit and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots are cooked. (If you're making Chutney-Glazed Carrots, move to the next paragraph.) Season to taste with additional salt and pepper and serve.

For Chutney-Glazed Carrots, stir in chutney and mustard. Serve.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Butter-Simmered Carrots only
Cooked with 2T butter, Per Serving: 102 Cal (51% from Fat, 4% from Protein, 45% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 6 g Tot Fat; 4 g Sat Fat; 12 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; 40 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 374 mg Sodium; 15 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 2 points

Cooked with 1T butter, Per Serving: 76 Cal (35% from Fat, 5% from Protein, 59% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 3 g Tot Fat; 2 g Sat Fat; 12 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; 39 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 373 mg Sodium; 8 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

Chutney-Glazed Carrots
Cooked with 1T butter, Per Serving: 98 Cal (29% from Fat, 5% from Protein, 67% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 3 g Tot Fat; 2 g Sat Fat; 17 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; 41 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 405 mg Sodium; 8 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

Cooked with 2T butter, Per Serving: 123 Cal (43% from Fat, 4% from Protein, 53% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 6 g Tot Fat; 4 g Sat Fat; 17 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; 42 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 405 mg Sodium; 15 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 2 points

SOURCE
Butter-Simmered Carrots: How to Cook Everything, Mark Bittman
Weight Watchers 5 Ingredients 15 Minutes Cookbook

Day 55: Swedish Vegetables

Pretty food simply tastes better!Here I thought I was being sooo smart, making supper-time vegetables first thing in the morning.

The recipe was a reprise of Day 36's Swedish Beets, the food obsession of the moment.

With a freezer full of frozen vegetables needing cooking+consumption, I piled a couple of bags - still frozen - into a big glass jar while the vinegar mix was heating up in the microwave, tossed them together and threw the jar in the frig.

The idea: The hot liquid would thaw the vegetables. The vinegar would cook them.

Eight hours later - the vegetables were still a bit icy and, well, raw.

Twenty-four hours later - delicious, a summer standby.

SWEDISH VEGETABLES
Active time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 24 hours
Serves 8


1 cup cider vinegar (I'm liking cider vinegar a bit more though the white is perfectly good too)
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar (reduced from 1/2 cup in Swedish beets)
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper (a defining ingredient, don't skip it)

16 ounces cut frozen green beans (or whatever you like)
16 ounces frozen stir-fry vegetables (snow peas, red pepper, broccoli, water chestnut - or whatever you like)

Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper in a microwave container. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring to boil in the microwave, stirring after 1 minute to help sugar dissolve. Meanwhile place the frozen vegetables in a storage container. Pour hot liquid over the vegetables and refrigerate for 24 hours, turning the container occasionally if a few vegetables aren't immersed in the liquid.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 55 Cal (1% from Fat, 8% from Protein, 91% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 0 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 11 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; 23 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 603 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 0 points



ALANNA's TIPS
  • Even after 24 hours of 'cooking' in the vinegar, the vegetables may have more crunch than everyone appreciates. Try steaming a bit before adding the hot liquid.
  • These do look absolutely stunning in a glass jar - worthy of a purchase!

Pretty food simply tastes better!

Here I thought I was being sooo smart, making supper-time vegetables first thing in the morning.

The recipe was a reprise of Day 36's Swedish Beets, the food obsession of the moment.

With a freezer full of frozen vegetables needing cooking+consumption, I piled a couple of bags - still frozen - into a big glass jar while the vinegar mix was heating up in the microwave, tossed them together and threw the jar in the frig.

The idea: The hot liquid would thaw the vegetables. The vinegar would cook them.

Eight hours later - the vegetables were still a bit icy and, well, raw.

Twenty-four hours later - delicious, a summer standby.


SWEDISH VEGETABLES
Active time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 24 hours
Serves 8


1 cup cider vinegar (I'm liking cider vinegar a bit more though the white is perfectly good too)
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar (reduced from 1/2 cup in Swedish beets)
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper (a defining ingredient, don't skip it)

16 ounces cut frozen green beans (or whatever you like)
16 ounces frozen stir-fry vegetables (snow peas, red pepper, broccoli, waterchestnut - or whatever you like)

Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper in a microwave container. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring to boil in the microwave, stirring after 1 minute to help sugar dissolve. Meanwhile place the frozen vegetables in a storage container. Pour hot liquid over the vegetables and refrigerate for 24 hours, turning the container occasionally if a few vegetables aren't immersed in the liquid.


NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 55 Cal (1% from Fat, 8% from Protein, 91% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 0 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 11 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; 23 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 603 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 0 points



ALANNA's TIPS
  • Even after 24 hours of 'cooking' in the vinegar, the vegetables may have more crunch than everyone appreciates. Try steaming a bit before adding the hot liquid.
  • These do look absolutely stunning in a glass jar - worthy of a purchase!

Day 54: Spinach Pancake

Look, a vegetable jelly roll cake!What fun!

Sure, I would make this differently another time - but I will definitely make it another time. It's a crepe-textured pancake rolled with sauteed spinach.

It's more special-occasion than every-day fare but still, easy to make. The results are considerably more impressive than the level of difficulty.

And it's surprisingly low in calories. I even checked the nutrition analysis - it's all that spinach and relatively small, but still generous, servings.

SPINACH PANCAKE
Active time: 30 minutes (including 10 to clean spinach which isn't necessary with bagged spinach and 15 when there's lots of open time but you can't really leave the stove)
Time to table: 50 minutes
Serves 8


2 eggs
2 cups skim milk
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 tablespoons butter (original recipe specified 3 but 2 seems fine)
1 pound spinach, chopped
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (original recipe specified 1/4 teaspoon, think 1/2 is better)
Kosher salt
White pepper

With a hand mixer, blend eggs and milk. Add flour (see ALANNA's TIPS), baking powder and salt and beat lightly until fully combined. Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. After 20 minutes, preheat oven at 350F. Place 1 tablespoon butter on a 11 x 15 rimmed baking sheet and place in oven. When butter melts, remove from oven, spread over entire surface. Gently pour batter into pan. When oven is fully heated, bake about 20 minutes or until golden but not brown.

While pancake bakes, heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet or Dutch oven over MEDIUM HIGH. Add spinach in batches, adding more as it cooks down, until fully cooked but still bright green. Add nutmeg and season to taste with sale and white pepper.

When baked, leave pancake in pan. Lift the edges to make sure it's going to release. Spread spinach evenly over top, right to the edges. Roll pancake into using the long end. Slice crosswise and serve.

(See ALANNA's TIPS)
  • Flour settles so heavily that it should always be stirred until quite light before spooning out for measuring. Stirring it first means you'll actually use 25% less flour (in weight not volume) and the difference in cookies, bread, pancakes, muffins and other baked goods is noticeable - for the good.


NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 160 Cal (36% from Fat, 20% from Protein, 44% from Carb); 8 g Protein; 7 g Tot Fat; 4 g Sat Fat; 18 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 221 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 455 mg Sodium; 74 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 3 points

Nutrition with 1/2 pancake ingredients: Per Serving: 108 Cal (45% from Fat, 18% from Protein, 37% from Carb); 5 g Protein; 6 g Tot Fat; 3 g Sat Fat; 10 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 155 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 249 mg Sodium; 43 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 2 points


THOUGHTS FOR ANOTHER TIME
  • The pancake was too thick - consider using only half the pancake ingredients. The baking time will be affected. Half may be too drastic - you still have to spread the spinach on the hot pancake so half may be it too thin and delicate, too easy to tear when rolling.
  • The original recipe called for a 10 x 14 pan so the pancake would have been really - really - thick.
  • Watch baking time, tonight was underbaked at 20 minutes but because recipe cautioned about over-baking, I took out thinking it was done enough.
  • There was too little spinach, probably because I started with a pound of home-grown spinach and then removed all the stems and heavy veins. A pound is probably enough if using baby spinach.
  • The spinach should be chopped before cooking - pureeing it made it too fine and dense but doing nothing made it too thick to spread.
  • Spread spinach right to edges to improve the appearance of the end pieces. Consider slicing ends off so all eight slices have sharp-cut sides.
  • Roll along the long edge if possible so spirals are thinner although this may not be necessary with a thinner pancake.
  • Serve on a bed of tomato or red pepper coulis, maybe topped with a spoon of hollandaise or similar sauce.



SOURCE
The Finnish Cookbook by Beatrice Ojakangas
What fun!

Sure, I would make this differently another time - but I will definitely make it another time. It's a crepe-textured pancake rolled with sauteed spinach.

It's more special-occasion than every-day fare but still, easy to make. The results are considerably more impressive than the level of difficulty.

And it's surprisingly low in calories. I even checked the nutrition analysis - it's all that spinach and relatively small, but still generous, servings.

SPINACH PANCAKE
Active time: 30 minutes (including 10 to clean spinach which isn't necessary with bagged spinach and 15 when there's lots of open time but you can't really leave the stove)
Time to table: 50 minutes
Serves 8

2 eggs
2 cups skim milk
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 tablespoons butter (original recipe specified 3 but 2 seems fine)
1 pound spinach, chopped
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (original recipe specified 1/4 teaspoon, think 1/2 is better)
Kosher salt
White pepper

With a hand mixer, blend eggs and milk. Add flour (see ALANNA's TIPS), baking powder and salt and beat lightly until fully combined. Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. After 20 minutes, preheat oven at 350F. Place 1 tablespoon butter on a 11 x 15 rimmed baking sheet and place in oven. When butter melts, remove from oven, spread over entire surface. Gently pour batter into pan. When oven is fully heated, bake about 20 minutes or until golden but not brown.

While pancake bakes, heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet or Dutch oven over MEDIUM HIGH. Add spinach in batches, adding more as it cooks down, until fully cooked but still bright green. Add nutmeg and season to taste with sale and white pepper.

When baked, leave pancake in pan. Lift the edges to make sure it's going to release. Spread spinach evenly over top, right to the edges. Roll pancake into using the long end. Slice crosswise and serve.

(See ALANNA's TIPS)
  • Flour settles so heavily that it should always be stirred until quite light before spooning out for measuring. Stirring it first means you'll actually use 25% less flour (in weight not volume) and the difference in cookies, bread, pancakes, muffins and other baked goods is noticeable - for the good.
NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 160 Cal (36% from Fat, 20% from Protein, 44% from Carb); 8 g Protein; 7 g Tot Fat; 4 g Sat Fat; 18 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 221 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 455 mg Sodium; 74 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers

THOUGHTS FOR ANOTHER TIME
  • The pancake was too thick - consider using only half the pancake ingredients. The baking time will be affected. Half may be too drastic - you still have to spread the spinach on the hot pancake so half may be it too thin and delicate, too easy to tear when rolling.
  • The original recipe called for a 10 x 14 pan so the pancake would have been really - really - thick.
  • Watch baking time, tonight was underbaked at 20 minutes but because recipe cautioned about over-baking, I took out thinking it was done enough.
  • There was too little spinach, probably because I started with a pound of home-grown spinach and then removed all the stems and heavy veins. A pound is probably enough if using baby spinach.
  • The spinach should be chopped before cooking - pureeing it made it too fine and dense but doing nothing made it too thick to spread.
  • Spread spinach right to edges to improve the appearance of the end pieces. Consider slicing ends off so all eight slices have sharp-cut sides.
  • Roll along the long edge if possible so spirals are thinner although this may not be necessary with a thinner pancake.
  • Serve on a bed of tomato or red pepper coulis, maybe topped with a spoon of hollandaise or similar sauce.
  • Nutrion with 1/2 pancake ingredients: Per Serving: 108 Cal (45% from Fat, 18% from Protein, 37% from Carb); 5 g Protein; 6 g Tot Fat; 3 g Sat Fat; 10 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 155 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 249 mg Sodium; 43 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 2 points

SOURCE
The Finnish Cookbook by Beatrice Ojakangas

Day 53: Fresh Kohlrabi


Fat bulbs of kohlrabi from the farmers market on Saturday, they held well in the refrigerator

Day 53: Fresh Kohlrabi ♥

Fresh Kohlrabi
Today's quick vegetable snack: Fresh, raw kohlrabi, as a snack, just like carrot sticks or cucumber wedges.

~updated 2011~
~more recently updated recipes~

2005: Thanks to more back-breaking work in the garden late today, it's more raw food tonight, thick slices of almost-peppery kohlrabi. Kohlrabi (pronounced kall-ROB-ee) is a member of the turnip family and is some times called 'cabbage turnip'. Maybe that's because the color is just like a green cabbage! I liked raw kohlrabi better than last night's radishes and spring onions, it just seems more edible than, well, raw. (Later: And it tasted good the next day too, a desktop munch while working.)

2011: Raw kohlrabi is a great before-supper snack, wet and crisp, wetter than a carrot, crisper than a turnip. It's good!

Day 52: Just-Picked Radishes & Spring Onions


Radishes and spring onions from the farmers market (that's kohlrabi on the right for another night this week)

Day 52: Just-Picked Radishes & Spring Onions

Radishes and spring onions from the farmers market (that's kohlrabi on the right for another night this week)Tonight was an adventure in raw food, graceful lengths of rose-colored radish and thick bulbs of spring onion.

Both were locally grown and purchased at Soulard Market, St. Louis' old farmers market. There are newer and closer (and more fru-fru, hmmmm, how exactly does one spell fru-fru?) markets with organic eggs and bison meat and omelets made to order. But Soulard -- one of the few places where city folks and suburbanites mingle, where you'll hear a half dozen languages in a half hour, where the chickens and ducks are sold live -- remains my favorite.

Radishes and green onions -- new vegetables? Of course not.

But for the first time, I paid attention, close attention. What did they really look like? smell like? taste like? What was the texture? the lingering taste? What happened with the Asian Dip leftover from the other night? A smear of butter?

JUST-PICKED RADISHES & SPRING ONIONS
Time to table: 5 minutes
Time to enjoy:
Serves 4


about 8 radish lengths
about 4 spring onions (also called green onions)
time to experiment, experience, savor

Clean vegetables well, leaving leaves attached to radishes. Arrange artfully on individual plates or a serving platter. Examine each vegetable, take a small nibble, consider its taste and texture, scent and sensation. Dip each vegetable in a dip of some sort or smear with a bit of butter. Taste and consider again. Dip each vegetable in a good salt. Taste and consider again. Repeat.

Kitchen Parade Extra

Nearly always, fish makes for a fast supper. Visit the Kitchen Parade weekly blog for a recipe for Roasted Salmon & Asparagus, a delightful combination that takes 10 minutes of preparation and can be delivered to the table in just 35 minutes .

Day 51: Fiddlehead Ferns


Delicate fronds of fiddlehead ferns, also called ostrich ferns

Day 51: Fiddlehead Ferns

Delicate fronds of fiddlehead ferns, also called ostrich fernsWhat a surprise to come upon fiddlehead ferns in the supermarket today! Did I never notice unusual vegetables before? Or are supermarkets experimenting with new items?

Three years ago, my family published a cookbook. My cousin Laura lives in British Columbia and has been a vegetarian for years and years -- though her four children and her husband are not -- and is an inspiring cook. One of her many contributions to the cookbook was a recipe for fiddlehead ferns.

So when I discovered these at the supermarket today, there was no NOT bringing them home (even at $10 a pound) and I knew right where to turn to learn how to cook them.

Laura's recipe calls for scads of butter -- I just couldn't do it. But these were utterly delicious and so very, very pretty! Look at those curlicues!

What do they taste like? I wondered that as I ate them tonight. They taste like nothing I've ever had before. The only words I know to describe the taste are 'green' and 'alive'.

Keep your eyes peeled, decide for yourself.

2012 UPDATE: A careful reader suggests reading the comment, below, from Emily about the risks of under-cooking fiddlehead ferns. In fact, Health Canada has issued a notice about this, see Food Safety Tips for Fiddlehead Ferns. My own experience with fiddlehead ferns is limited to this one occasion, but I don't think my cousin would have put them into a family cookbook without good experiences herself.

FIDDLEHEAD FERNS
Active time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 15 minutes
Serves 2


1 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 pound fiddlehead ferns
Salt & pepper to taste
Lemon juice

Melt butter in a skillet over MEDIUM until shimmery. Add garlic and saute until just beginning to soften. Wash ferns well and add to skillet. Saute about five minutes.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
The USDA database includes a listing for fiddleheads (both fresh and frozen) but no underlying nutrition data. With a tablespoon of butter for two servings, I counted 1 serving as 2 Weight Watchers points.

Day 50: Roasted Green Beans

~ recipe & photo updated in 2007 ~

2005: I took advantage of what's likely a last cool day -- and ran the oven, ran it, that is, without the air conditioning on as well.

My first reaction to these green beans was that they were, well, chewy. Make that very chewy. Once I slowed down and appreciated the texture and the salty grit, I liked them. And they're so easy to throw in the oven for 10 - 15 minutes when it's on for something else, this is a definite keeper. And I love the tin-foil covered pan - nothing to wash afterward!

2007 PHOTO UPDATE: In 2007, I fell in love with green beans all over again. But here's what I think, with two+ years of experience of cooking vegetables: green beans just don't work roasted. This time, I used a similar recipe, but from Cook's Illustrated, the folks who test again and again to perfect every little detail. I tossed the beans fresh from the farmers market in the recommended amount of olive oil (just a tablespoon for a pound, which happens to be the standard proportion on A Veggie Venture) and roasted them at 450F for the recommended 20 - 22 minutes (with a toss after 10 minutes). They really didn't finish cooking until after 30 minutes. And even then, to my taste, there's just better ways to cook green beans. See all the green bean recipes for ideas. Watch for the , they're favorites. Now, that said, my beans weren't as wrinkled and crinkly after 30 minutes as Cooks Illustrated's were pictured after supposedly 20 - 22 minutes. Maybe that would make the difference? Maybe.

ROASTED GREEN BEANS
Active time: 8 minutes
Time to table: 30 minutes
Serves 4


1 pound fresh green beans
Butter-flavored cooking spray (or for Cook's Illustrated, 1 tablespoon olive oil)
Salt & pepper

Set the oven to 450F. Cover a baking sheet with tin foil. Wash the beans and remove the stem ends. Be sure to dry them well, you can wrap in a towel for a minute or two. Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast 10 - 15 minutes or until just beginning to shrink and brown. (see ALANNA's TIPS)

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 37 Cal (5% from Fat, 18% from Protein, 77% from Carb); 2 g Protein; 0 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 9 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; 48 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 3 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 0 points

ALANNA's TIPS
  • If I were in a hurry, I'd throw the beans in the oven as soon as they were cleaned, even if the oven weren't preheated. I know of nothing to stop this practice -- does anyone else? I'm happy to be educated if there is -- but if you can save 10 minutes when the masses are starving, isn't that something?
  • While the fresh green beans were good, I suspect that frozen beans would work as well.

SOURCE
A new Weight Watchers cookbook that I spied in the supermarket checkout lane last week. It's called Five Ingredients, 15 Minutes and the vegetable section is terrific and the rest is pretty good too. The cover says it'll be on display until June 21.

Day 49: Asian-Style Dip with Fresh Vegetables

This dip is easy to make. And fast. And it's good. And yet ... I wouldn't make it again.

"This is different," was the consensus reaction. There are times when 'different' means GOOD and others when different means, HMMM. This was a Hmmm.

That said, for anyone who likes sesame seeds, it might be a good choice. If one thing makes this dip stand out, it is the nutty toasted sesame seeds - don't be tempted to leave them out.

ASIAN-STYLE DIP with FRESH VEGETABLES
Active time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 15 minutes
Dip makes 1 cup


2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1/4 cup non-fat yogurt (the original recipe suggested sour cream)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger (from a jar)
1 teaspoon chili paste (cayenne might be good substitute)
1 teaspoon Dijon or other good mustard
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil (maybe 2 teaspoons would be better? even 1?)
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt & pepper to taste

Fresh cucumber, carrots, grape tomatoes

Toast sesame seeds in a small skillet on MEDIUM heat, stirring occasionally, until browning and fragrant.(See ALANNA's TIPS.) Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl with a wooden spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add sesame seeds. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Clean vegetables and serve.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per tablespoon of dressing: 40 Cal (80% from Fat, 4% from Protein, 16% from Carb); 0 g Protein; 4 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 2 g Carb; 0 g Fiber; 2 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 182 mg Sodium; 3 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point


ALANNA's TIPS
  • Dry toasting sesame seeds is easy but once they begin to brown, they go fast. So keep careful watch so you don't end up with blackened crisps.
  • The original recipe included 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped basil - I had none on hand and couldn't imagine the flavor combination. But basil might improve the dip's color which is a dull soy-brown -- it might take on an especially nice green cast if mixed in a blender.

SOURCE
Adapted from Bon Appetit, December 1998

Day 48: French Green Beans with Lemon-Garlic Sauce

Romano beans and new potatoes with a thick version of lemon-garlic sauce, here used as a dip
Recipe updated & photo added in 2007

May 2005: "Can't say I've ever made a 'sauce' before, you know, the la-di-da sauces in French cooking. Tonight's first-ever attempt yielded less than perfect results but I won't be intimidated again -- I think this Florence Fabricant recipe is forgiving. And delicious. And flexible. My mistake was focus, to be precise, failure to focus. Imagine a stack of dominoes collapsing. I started cooking during the next-to-last episode of the enigmatic Lost. While the castaways struggled, the white wine/shallots/garlic burned. When it ended, I started over. But short on white wine, I resorted to part white / part (decidedly pink) pinotage which likely affected flavor and noticeably affected color. Rules for the next attempt. Stay in the kitchen. Pay attention to the pot. Revel in the result."

August 2007: I tackled this sauce again and found it easy if slightly fussy. The good news is that the sauce can be made ahead of time and can be done in a thick version (like the one pictured) for dipping or a thin version for drizzling. I also used fresh Romano green beans, which are gorgeous. And honestly if you're making a sauce like this, a fair amount of trouble, go to the extra 'trouble' of fresh beans.

FRENCH GREEN BEANS with LEMON-GARLIC SAUCE
Active time: Maybe 20 minutes
Time to table: Maybe 30 minutes
Beans serve 4, sauce makes 3/4 cup (use 1 tablespoon sauce per serving of beans)


2 quarts water
1 tablespoon table salt
1 pound fresh green beans, ends trimmed (in 2005, I used frozen French beans)

2/3 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1/2 cup lemon juice (from 2 - 3 lemons) (see ALANNA's TIPS)
3 egg yolks, lightly whisked
2 teaspoons cornstarch blended with 1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
As much as 1/2 cup chicken broth (the original recipe suggests fish or vegetable stock as well)
Salt & pepper to taste
Minced herbs or pesto, optional (I didn't use any)

Bring salted water to boil in a large pot, one that leaves room for the beans to move around as they cook. Add the beans and cook for about 7 minutes or until tender-crisp or until reach desired tenderness. Drain.

While beans cook, make the sauce. Cook wine, garlic and shallots over MEDIUM heat in a small heavy saucepan until wine cooks down by about half and garlic and shallots are soft, about 10 minutes. (While the wine cooks down, prep the lemon juice, yolks, cornstarch mixture and herbs and get out the olive oil, chicken broth and salt and pepper; once the eggs are added, there's no time for anything else.)

Remove from heat and whisk in lemon juice and egg yolks. Return to heat and cook, whisking constantly - pay attention for the sauce will cook very quickly from here. Sauce will thicken to consistency of heavy cream, don't let it boil. Continuing to whisk, add cornstarch mixture and then, slowly, the olive oil. Add chicken broth to achieve the desired consistency, more for a thinner sauce, less for a thicker one. Strain sauce through a sieve to remove the garlic and shallot solids. Season with salt and pepper, add herbs if desired. Top each serving of beans with 1 tablespoon sauce.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 100 Cal (50% from Fat, 11% from Protein, 39% from Carb); 3 g Protein; 6 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 10 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; 56 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 18 mg Sodium; 51 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 2 points


SOURCE
Adapted from a Florence Fabricant recipe published in New York Times May 18, 2005

Day 47: Jerusalem Artichokes as Crudités

Knobs of Jerusalem artichokes, straight from the packageOdd little knobs, these Jerusalem artichokes. And who'd guess that something named such would neither be from no where near the Wailing Wall nor an artichoke?

(And here I was thinking this could be one artichoke I'd actually like ...)

Like hapless-prunes-turned-chic-dried-plums, these are now marketed as sunchokes. The new name fits. Supposedly they're related to sunflowers. And well, to be frank, peeling them is a bit of a choke.

That said, I'm glad I tried these. They're all about crunch. Good crunch. I'd add them to a crudité platter any time, like tonight. Well except for the fact that they turn a dull gray after about 15 minutes of air exposure. No matter, just eat fast. Or close your eyes.

However, people do cook Jerusalem artichokes. I found recipes that called for peeling scads of them for gratins and mashed somethings. I can't imagine: peeling is extraordinarily tedious, especially because even with great care, they just don't look that great in the end.

So, try them. They taste good. And then wait until the genetic manipulators remove the knobs to make them easier to peel.





JERUSALEM ARTICHOKES AS CRUDITÉS
Active time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 15 minutes
Serves 4


1/2 pound Jerusalem artichokes

Wash well. Peel. Slice thin. Serve.

... and peeled and sliced.
Odd little knobs, these Jerusalem artichokes. And who'd guess that something named such would neither be from no where near the Wailing Wall nor an artichoke?

(And here I was thinking this could be one artichoke I'd actually like ...)

Like hapless-prunes-turned-chic-dried-plums, these are now marketed as sunchokes. The new name fits. Supposedly they're related to sunflowers. And well, to be frank, peeling them is a bit of a choke.

That said, I'm glad I tried these. They're all about crunch. Good crunch. I'd add them to a crudite platter any time, like tonight. Well except for the fact that they turn a dull gray after about 15 minutes of air exposure. No matter, just eat fast. Or close your eyes.

However, people do cook Jerusalem artichokes. I found recipes that called for peeling scads of them for gratins and mashed somethings. I can't imagine: peeling is extraordinarily tedious, especially because even with great care, they just don't look that great in the end.

So, try them. They taste good. And then wait until the genetic manipulators remove the knobs to make them easier to peel.

JERUSALEM ARTICHOKES AS CRUDITES
Active time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 15 minutes
Serves 4

1/2 pound Jerusalem artichokes

Wash well. Peel. Slice thin. Serve.






Day 46: Green Beans with Jalapeño Lime Butter ♥

~ recipe updated & photo added in 2007 ~

2005: Simple butter can be sublime. But tonight, by pure accident, I learned the virtue of 'doctored butter' when using up a shallot, lime and jalapeño butter leftover from last week's fish. (It worked great for an omelet too.) Other 'doctored' butters come to mind. Garlic and ginger. Lemon and wasabi. Let your imagination -- and your pantry -- inspire you!

2007: In the early months of A Veggie Venture, I cooked one bag of frozen vegetables after another: such was my habit, 'before blog'. It really wasn't until much later, when I was tallying 'favorite' recipes, I realized how few there were from the first couple of months. And virtually none started with frozen vegetables. I still like frozen vegetables, but these days, whenever I can, turn to fresh vegetables for enjoyment. These simple beans were simply delicious.

FOR INSTANCE IV (doctored butter)
Tonight, For Instance,
Green Beans with Jalapeño Lime Butter
Active time: 5 minutes (longer if you need to mix the butter, too, about 15 minutes to make the butter and use fresh beans)
Time to table: 30 minutes
Serves 4


Doctored Butter
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon minced shallot
zest of a lime
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 teaspoon minced jalapeño pepper (2007: I used pickled jalapeño)
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 pound frozen green beans (or 2007: fresh beans)
Salt & pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients except green beans. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Steam or boil green beans according to package directions. Combine with ONE TABLESPOON doctored butter. Season to taste and serve.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 64 Cal (39% from Fat, 12% from Protein, 49% from Carb); 2 g Protein; 3 g Tot Fat; 2 g Sat Fat; 9 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; 49 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 78 mg Sodium; 8 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

Day 45: Nana's Cucumbers with Non-fat Yogurt

Fresh chive in blossom in a pot on the patioI wonder if farmers and home vegetable gardeners get as much satisfaction from pulling fresh corn and tomatoes from their gardens as I do from stepping outside to snip a few strands of fresh chive. Or rosemary. Or dill. It's not too late to put in a few pots of herbs!

This is a yogurt-lightened version of what my grandmother used to make with sour cream. The yogurt version was good -- but I remember the sour cream version as delicious so will try again, her way.

On Day 65, I happened to have both the cucumber and sour cream on hand. Swoooooooooooon. Some things are worth investing calories in.

NANA's CUCUMBERS with NON-FAT YOGURT
Active time: 10 minutes
Time to table: Just over an hour
Serves 4


1 English cucumber
1 tablespoon sea salt or kosher salt

1/2 cup non-fat yogurt
Generous bunch of fresh chive, snipped with scissors (See ALANNA's TIPS)
Pinch sugar
Salt & pepper to taste

Slice the cucumber in thin rounds. (See TIPS.) Combine with salt and let rest for an hour. Rinse well in water. Combine with remaining ingredients and serve.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Made with non-fat yogurt, Per Serving: 25 Cal (3% from Fat, 24% from Protein, 73% from Carb); 2 g Protein; 0 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 5 g Carb; 0 g Fiber; 13 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 19 mg Sodium; 1 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 0 points

Made with sour cream, Per Serving: 75 Cal (70% from Fat, 7% from Protein, 23% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 6 g Tot Fat; 4 g Sat Fat; 5 g Carb; 0 g Fiber; 47 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 17 mg Sodium; 13 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 2 points

ALANNA's TIPS
  • Green onion would work, too.
  • If the cucumber is thick at one end, consider cutting just the end in halves or even quarters before slicing thin.

Day 44: Asparagus Jam

Vegetable jam? Hmm.

The idea intrigued me. And I had asparagus in the frig that needed attention. So, yes, why not? It can be fun to 'play' with food!

This might be good along roast pork or some other rich meat where the sweetness would contrast richness. By my measure, though, it's a side dish or condiment and another time wouldn't count as a 'vegetable'.

ASPARAGUS JAM
Active time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 40 minutes
Makes about 1 1/2 cups


2 teaspoons olive oil
3 shallots
1 tablespoon water (see ALANNA's TIPS)

1 pound asparagus (see TIPS)
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped fine
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup water

Heat large skillet on MEDIUM HIGH, add oil and let heat until shimmery. While it heats, mince the shallots. Add the shallots and 1 tablespoon water to the skillet and saute until shallots begin to turn gold, 5 - 10 minutes.

Trim tough, woody ends from asparagus, then cut in half-inch lengths. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to MEDIUM, cover and let cook until asparagus is cooked through, 15 - 20 minutes. If liquid still remains, remove cover and continue to cook until it is nearly gone. Remove from heat. Taste and add more sugar and vinegar to suit your taste. Refrigerate overnight to let flavors blend.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per 1/4 cup serving: 80 Cal (17% from Fat, 9% from Protein, 75% from Carb); 2 g Protein; 2 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 16 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 32 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 7 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

ALANNA's TIPS
  • The original recipe called for 1 1/2 pounds of asparagus. Another time, I'd use less sugar with only a pound.
  • First now and again later, the recipe uses oil for flavor but water for actual cooking. This is an excellent technique for improving nutrition.
  • The original recipe added 1/3 cup toasted almonds after the asparagus cooked. I had none on hand but think the nuts would provide nice texture contrast.
SOURCE
Clotilde Dusoiler of Chocolate & Zucchini fame. The recipe in its original form is at NPR .

Day 43: Cucumber with Mustard & Dill - photo only - DO NOT DELETE

Day 43: Cucumber with Mustard & Dill

Stop! It's too early for full summer heat! It's been too hot to cook so the frig is filling up with cold-served vegetables, tonight a simple cucumber dish that was good with fish. It wasn't 'special' but to my taste -- well, let's just say that 'good' can be 'good enough'. I would definitely make this again!

CUCUMBER WITH MUSTARD & DILL
Active time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 10 minutes
Serves 4


2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon or other mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh pepper
2 tablespoons fresh dill

1 English cucumber

Whisk together all ingredients except cucumber. Cut cucumber in half length-wise (or in quarters if it's quite big as was the one tonight) and then cut in thin slices cross-wise. Combine cucumber with dressing. Serve.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 43 Cal (68% from Fat, 5% from Protein, 27% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 4 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 3 g Carb; 0 g Fiber; 15 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 326 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

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.

A Veggie Venture - Printer Friendly Recipe Graphic





© 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.