Kitchen Parade Extra: Plant Sale Soup ♥

Have you planted herbs yet? It's time! Even if only a pot of chive, do!

This week's Kitchen Parade recipe is called Plant Sale Soup -- that's because a local reader makes a big pot every year to sustain the volunteers at her Herb Society's annual sale. I'll definitely be in attendance tomorrow.

This hearty, heart-warming soup is my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging at Kalyn's Kitchen.

(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

A Veggie Venture: The Back Story

On April 1st, 2005, I launched A Veggie Venture. That "I" was me, Alanna Kellogg, already second-generation author of the food column Kitchen Parade which my mom started when I was a baby.

Half lark, half April Fool's joke, the goal for A Veggie Venture was to cook a vegetable with new recipes and new vegetables every single day for an entire month. (It seemed so ambitious at the time!)

Why? Because our diets need more vegetables. Because vegetables are too often an after-thought. And because it's easy to get stuck in a veggie rut. But after a month, it felt like I was just getting started. And the asparagus was calling. And then:

after three months, I discovered the vibrant food blogger community and home-grown tomatoes were just coming in
after six months, I was still learning and oh! it was time to roast fall’s squashes
after nine months, the daily rhythm somehow sustained itself and the wintry root-vegetable purees tasted so good
and in the twelfth month, I came full circle, greeting the first spring vegetables like old friends not seen in a long while.

And so A Veggie Venture produced 365 days of vegetables cooked in new ways. Lots of lessons. Lots of new-to-me-vegetables. Lots of new favorites. Along the way, a fellow food blogger dubbed me the Veggie Evangelist and I suddenly realized, Yes, that is my calling!

Today I am committed to providing continuing inspiration Asparagus to Zucchini and streamlining the Recipe Box to make it still easier and faster to find a quick vegetable for supper, the best low-carb vegetables, the best vegetable salads, even the occasional “vegetable for dessert!

So explore away! All the recipes include nutrition estimates, Weight Watchers points and net-carb counts plus time requirements and cooking tips. Personal favorites are marked .

Many thanks to Robin whose tomato spiral so perfectly symbolizes the seasonality of all food but especially fresh vegetables.

A Veggie Venture is home of 'veggie evangelist' Alanna Kellogg and the
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2006

Asparagus with Anchovies & Garlic ♥

WHAT a winner -- a terrific treat for spring!

This asparagus side -- it's simple, it's quick, it's easy, it's low in calories, it's low in carbs, it's a tad unusual AND it tastes great.

My first-time use of anchovies during December's Paper Chef was so successful, I felt emboldened to try the stinky little fishies again in a warm pepper salad -- also delicious.

So expectations were high for this saute of fat asparagus spears, garlic and anchovies.

But I was completely enchanted -- the asparagus essence remained firmly intact but was at the same time turned into something entirely different.

This is a complete keeper!

  • Starting out, I wondered if this treatment would be good for fat asparagus spears, also if the stem ends should be peeled.
  • No problem on either count: the strong flavors are perfect for thick asparagus and there was no issue with stringy skins.
FROM THE ARCHIVES ... See the Recipe Box for other ideas for cooking asparagus.

Bookmark or print Asparagus with Anchovies & Garlic
Hands-on time: 10 minutes (then stirring every few minutes)
Time to table: 25 minutes
Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic (at my house, it's from a jar ...)
Red pepper flakes to taste
1 pound asparagus, washed, woody ends broken or cut off, then cut in one-inch lengths, tips put aside
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons anchovy paste (it comes in a tube, or you can mince an anchovy fillet)

Heat the oil until shimmery on MEDIUM HIGH in a skillet large enough to mostly hold the asparagus in a single layer. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook a minute, stirring constantly. Add the asparagus spears (leave the tips out for now), water and anchovy paste and stir gently but thoroughly to disperse the anchovy. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the cover, reduce the heat to MEDIUM, add the asparagus tips. Continue to cook, stirring often, until asparagus reaches desired level of doneness - my preference is a shade past tender-crisp.

Per Serving: 79 Cal (53% from Fat, 20% from Protein, 27% from Carb); 4 g Protein; 5 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 6 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; NetCarb4; 35 mg Calcium; 3 mg Iron; 453 mg Sodium; 8 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 1.5 points

  • When you see this or in the title or and the Recipe Box, you know the recipe's a personal favorite. Tastes vary, of course, but the mark is one indication of another vegetable recipe that's worth paying attention to.
Adapted from Eating Well, April/May 2006

(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Kitchen Parade Extra: Quick Supper: Sole with Mushrooms & Onions

It's that time of year when there's no coming in until near dark.

Neighborhood strolls to devour the brilliant color of azaleas, spring phlox and the delicacy of dogwood and flowering pear. Mulching the garden. Yes, even lawn mowing!

Supper? Oh, right.

A perfect quick supper for spring nights is featured in this week's Kitchen Parade column, a light and simple baked fish, sole topped with mushrooms and onions.

Are fast and easy suppers your kind of cooking? A new "Quick Supper" recipe is featured every month at Kitchen Parade. Just check the Quick Supper archive! Right now I have a hankering for Roasted Salmon & Asparagus. Hmm. Supper?

(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Kitchen Parade Extra: Hot Cross Buns

Just in time for Good Friday and the Easter weekend: hot cross buns, redolent with spices. Are the ingredients waiting in your pantry? I'm willing to bet but check for yourself.

Looking for recipe ideas for Easter morning, Easter brunch or Easter dinner? Check here in Kitchen Parade's Recipe Box.

Or vegetable ideas for Easter? Check here in A Veggie Venture's Recipe Box!

(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 365: Carrot Cookies ◄

To my proper mind, every good meal should end with a sweet note.

And so here for Day 365 (!), by good luck vs good management, is a carrot cookie that expresses my convictions about food and nutrition and balance and pleasure.

The inspiring recipe was SO! unnecessarily indulgent. It was hellbent on turning a 'healthful sounding' carrot cookie into a double order of fries with an apple pie on the side.

The big issue was two cookies (the double order of fries) sandwiching a cream cheese frosting (that'd be the apple pie).
  • The sandwich cookie (the one iced Too Much in the photo) racks up 329 calories and, in the Weight Watchers world, 8 whole points -- EIGHT! Have another, why don't you?
  • After my adjustments, a single satisfying cookie has only 114 calories and 2 Weight Watchers points -- and that's still a lot
My cookies aren't abstemious-tasting in the least. They're very good carrot cookies -- in fact, they're very good cookies, no qualification, especially after sitting a day. They're less cakey than most carrot cookies and packed with the vanilla and spice flavor I added. The drizzle of icing was an added touch but hardly necessary.

SO ... DAY 365 ... You'd think the words would be pouring forth ... but they're not. It's been quite a year, one I'll look back on with considerable pride, remembering how much I learned, realizing how many new vegetables and combinations I tried just because it was fun, all the people who've welcomed me into their kitchens. What's next? I'm not sure. I've been vascillating back and forth for a few weeks now. End on a high (as well as sweet?!) note? Continue as is but posting less frequently? Less likely, launch another venture? For now, I'm going to take a few days off to see how "life without blogging" feels.

Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Time to table: 60 minutes
Serves 24

1/3 cup pecans (vs 1 cup walnuts)
1 cup grated carrots (from 2 medium carrots)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar (vs 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons)
1/3 cup brown sugar (vs 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons)
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla (vs 1/2 teaspoon)
1/3 cup currants (vs 1/2 cup bigger raisins)

1 cup flour (vs 1 1/8 cup flour)
2 teaspoons Penzeys baking spice or cinnamon (vs 1 teaspoon cinnamon)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (my addition)
1/4 teaspoon ginger (my addition)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt

4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese aka Neufchatel (vs 8 ounces cream cheese)
1 tablespoon honey (vs 1/4 cup honey)

Preheat oven to 375.

Place pecans in a single layer oven dish, put in oven immediately, before oven is preheated. Remove when aromatic and toasted (about the time they're needed for the cookies, as it turns out), then chop finely.

Grate the carrot and let drain over a colander.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars til smooth. Add the egg and vanilla, beat for about 2 minutes. Gently add in nuts, carrots and currants.

(What follows is an unorthodox but effective technique. It substitutes for separately mixing the flour, spices, baking soda and salt.) Measure the flour, spices, baking soda and salt onto the top of the wet mixture but don't incorporate. With a spoon, gently and lightly stir together the dry ingredients on top of the wet mixture, still not incorporating. Now turn the mixer back on and mix the wet and dry ingredients until combined.

Using two spoons, one to scoop and one to scrape, transfer scoops of dough (it'll be wet) onto a cookie sheet (use parchment if you don't have good cookie sheets) leaving space between the cookies for spreading. Bake for about 12 minutes. Let cool and drizzle with icing.

ICING Mix the icing ingredients in a small bowl with a spoon. Transfer to the corner of a small ziplock bag. Spin the corner and drizzle the cookies with icing. (It's a soft icing so if you're going to transport, you might want to do this after arrival.)

AS SPECIFIED BY THE RECIPE, per cookie: 329 Cal (51% from Fat, 7% from Protein, 42% from Carb); 6 g Protein; 19 g Tot Fat; 9 g Sat Fat; 36 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; NetCarb34; 42 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 209 mg Sodium; 57 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 8 points -- EIGHT POINTS!!

AFTER "ALANNA-SIZING" per cookie: 114 Cal (49% from Fat, 6% from Protein, 45% from Carb); 2 g Protein; 6 g Tot Fat; 3 g Sat Fat; 13 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; NetCarb 12; 15 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 103 mg Sodium; 24 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 2 1/2 points

Adapted from Gourmet, April 2004

(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 364: Oil & Honey Dressing for Salad Greens ◄

Oil & Vinegar is a standard. But Oil & Honey?

Oil & Honey is the new favorite salad dressing at Diva Marketing, inspired by last month's Zucchini Lemon-Honey Salad.

I had to try it!
Toby drizzles olive oil and honey on salad greens. I went a half-step further by misting -- vs drizzling -- the greens with good olive oil, then swirling maybe a half tablespoon of agave nectar over top, then seasoning with salt and pepper.

My report?
It's not only very easy -- it's very good, definitely a new standby.

What is agave nectar? It's the plant-based vegan substitute for honey, also a baker's substitute for refined sugar. And Shake off the Sugar reports that agave nectar has a low-glycemic index so is good for low-carb diets.

My only challenge is to not mix up agave nectar with the dog's flax seed oil (on the left)!

FROM THE ARCHIVES ... The Recipe Box has other ideas for green salads but be sure not to miss the Celery & Apple Salad and the Napa Cabbage, Herb & Mango Salad with Asian Dressing.

Print or bookmark Oil & Honey Dressing for Salad Greens

Per Serving: 61 Cal (32% from Fat, 6% from Protein, 62% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 2 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 10 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; NetCarb9; 23 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 10 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 1 point

When you see this in the title and the Recipe Box, you know the recipe's a personal favorite. Tastes vary, of course, but the mark is one indication of another vegetable recipe that's worth paying attention to.

(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 362: Roasted Pepper & Hummus Sandwiches ◄

If you spend two hours roasting peppers, they're worth more than one vegetable post, right? OK OK, I'm milking the peppers, no doubt.

But after oberving all the chickpea-mashing going on in the food blog world, I decided to match up leftover roasted peppers and 28 Cook's Thai basil hummus for an easy weekend lunch. (Like hummus? You and the whole world! It's here on BlogHer.)

Twas tasty!

FROM THE ARCHIVES ... In case you wondered, yep, the Recipe Box.
has vegetable sandwich ideas.

(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 361: Roasted Pepper Soup ◄

Roasting the peppers was painful but -- at least! -- yes, the soup was worth it.

During the other night's first taste test, I worried the whole pot was destined for the disposal. You see, the 'spice' in this soup is chili powder. It seemed an odd choice from the git-go but because this cookbook (Vegetarian Celebrations by Nava Atlas who blogs with the rest of us at In a Vegetarian Kitchen) is so reliably good, chili powder it was.

Straight out of the pot, the chili powder tasted strident, overpowering and mismatched with the pepper. After resting overnight, the soup was ... yes, delicous! And the chili powder had mellowed into the background, letting the sweet pepper flavor come forth and shine.

NEXT TIME ... I'll try the soup with two-buck, two-second Trader Joe's frozen roasted peppers or the equivalent of jarred peppers.

  • Even on a damp spring day, this was tempting cold, a red-pepper gazpacho, if you will.
  • As garnish, the roasted green/yellow peppers (as suggested by the inspiring recipe) were a waste. They sank straight to the bottom and added nothing taste-wise. Photo-wise, luckily the bowl was shallow ...
  • For garnish, think croutons or a swirl of Greek yogurt or a snippet of chive or slivers of basil or chunks of feta.
FROM THE ARCHIVES ... Like soup? Me too! There're both hot soups and a handful of cold soups in the Recipe Box.

Bookmark or print this recipe only
Hands-on time: With pre-roasted peppers, maybe 10 minutes
Time to table: Maybe 30 minutes
Makes 7 cups

1 tablespoon olive oil (reduced from 2 tablespoons)
1 large red onion, diced (1 1/2 red onions yielded 3 cups which I used)
2 tablespoons minced garlic

6 large red peppers, roasted and skinned (I had 5 but they were extra large)
1 cup water

3 cups water
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 teaspoon chili powder

Juice of a lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1/3 cup fresh minced herbs (I used basil and cilantro)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil until shimmery over MEDIUM HIGH in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion and saute until very soft, stirring often, adjusting heat as necessary. (I let them cook and cook and cook while the peppers were roasting so the onion flavor was very sweet and mellow.) Transfer to a food processor. Add the roasted peppers and 1 cup water to the food processor and process until smooth. (For a special occasion, I'd be tempted to use a chinois to achieve real smoothness.) Return to pot. Add the 3 cups water, wine and chili powder and bring just to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and herbs. Season to taste. LET REST OVERNIGHT for FLAVORS TO MELD. Reheat, garnish, serve and enjoy!

Per Serving: 97 Cal (22% from Fat, 9% from Protein, 69% from Carb); 2 g Protein; 3 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 18 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; NetCarb14; 32 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 10 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 1-1/2 points

  • When you see this in the title and the Recipe Box, you know the recipe's a personal favorite. Tastes vary, of course, but the mark is one indication of another vegetable recipe that's worth paying attention to.
Vegetarian Celebrations by Nava Atlas

(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Kitchen Parade Extra: Lemon Turkey Noodle Soup

Spring's bursting out in all its blossom glory here in the Mississippi Flyway. And that means temperatures in the sunny 70s one day, rain and chilly 40s the next. (And occasional trips to the basement when sirens warn that the two aren't getting along so well.)

The quick answer for days of unpredictable temperature is soup, but a lighter soup than the heavy winter fare that tasted so good only a month ago.

Lemon Turkey Noodle Soup is featured in this week's Kitchen Parade column. Lemon and creamy Parmesan twist otherwise familiar soup ingredients into something entirely new. I think you'll find it luscious!

(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 360: Spring Asparagus with White Bean Sauce ◄

When your kitchen's not well-suited for the conviviality of cooking with someone else, what to do?

Two kitchens! Two kitchens in two states and two time zones! And for good measure, stir in the cookbook of still another cook, in still another state and time zone.

On complete whim, Catherine from Albion Cooks and I decided to cook from Cooking by the Seasons, which Brendon from Something in Season recently raved about and which prompted both Catherine and me to hustle up our own copies! (Okay, so now I've met two famous cookbook authors. Mark Bittman and Karina Allrich. Yes. That! Karina! our very own Gluten Free Goddess.)

(Catherine and I plan to cook "together" again in a week or so. And since Kalyn's ordered a copy; and so has Peanut Butter and Purple Onions; and of course, the guy who started it all, Brendon: Wanna join the fun with the next recipe? Anyone else? Maybe even, I don't know ... Karina???)

Catherine picked the first recipe. But I was happy about her choice for I'd also had my eye on the asparagus with a sauce of white beans, garlic and a splash of vermouth.

And it was GREAT! The simplicity of the asparagus isn't lost, yet the beans add an element of heartiness that makes this almost -- almost -- an 'entree' if paired with a good green salad or a bowl of soup. I can even see making it a vegetarian entree, the asparagus cut in short lengths and served with the bean sauce over, say, spaghetti squash.

I did steam the asparagus vs pan-sauteeing them as Karina suggests.

FROM THE ARCHIVES ... It's spring! This is the first time I've cooked asparagus this year but there're many other asparagus ideas in the Recipe Box. But I'm partial to the Asparagus Tapenade. And if you're looking for a Quick Supper? There's no beating Kitchen Parade's Roasted Salmon & Asparagus.

Bookmark or print this recipe only
Click here for Albion Cooks' version
Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 25 minutes
Serves 4

16 ounce can white cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic (from a jar! but Karina calls for 4 crushed garlic cloves)
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon fennel (I used fennel seed)
Salt & pepper to taste

2 tablespoons dry vermouth (Karina suggests vermouth and white wine)
2 - 4 tablespoons vegetable broth (I used water)

1 pound asparagus, washed and ends trimmed, steamed (I LOVE my vertical asparagus steamer though cobbled it together for maybe $10 vs paying a lot more)
Juice of half a lemon

Prep the beans, letting them drain while starting the sauce. Heat a large skillet over MEDIUM HIGH. Add the olive oil and heat til it's shimmery. Stir in the garlic and cook for a minute, then the curry and fennel and cook for another minute. Add the beans and stir together. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon HALF the beans into a food processor. (Karina suggests a blender. If cooking the sauce in a saucepan, vs a skillet, an immersion blender might work and save a dish.) Add the vermouth and broth, process til very smooth. Return to the skillet and gently warm. If the sauce thickens too much, add a bit of water.

While the sauce warms, steam the asparagus. Arrrange on a platter and squeeze lemon juice on top of the spears, then spoon over the spears. Serve and enjoy!

Per Serving: 156 Cal (22% from Fat, 21% from Protein, 57% from Carb); 9 g Protein; 4 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 23 g Carb; 7 g Fiber; NetCarb16; 70 mg Calcium; 4 mg Iron; 397 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 2.5 points

  • When you see this in the title and the Recipe Box, you know the recipe's a personal favorite. Tastes vary, of course, but the mark is one indication of another vegetable recipe that's worth paying attention to.
Cooking by the Seasons by Karri Ann Alrich

(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 359: How to Roast Peppers in the Oven ♥ Technique & Tips

How to Roast Peppers in the Oven
How to best roast bell peppers, red peppers, green peppers, poblano peppers and even chili peppers. My favorite way to roast peppers is right in the oven.

~recipe & photo updated 2008 & 2011~
~more recently updated recipes~

In 2006, my first experience with roasting peppers was, to say the least, not good – so much so that it took me two years to come back. But once I did, with a new technique, the results were great – and now I roast peppers all the time, red ones, green ones and especially, my favorite roasted peppers, the smoky poblanos. Here's what I've learned, my tips about how to roast peppers:


If you have a gas stove and want to roast just one or two peppers, consider this technique, How to Roast a Pepper on a Gas Stove. But even if you have a gas stove, roasting them in the oven if the better choice for roasting a lot of peppers all at once.

Don't roast whole peppers. Why? Because it's hard to separate the seeds from the flesh once the peppers are roasted. And because it takes forever since, at least in my oven, whole peppers either sit too close to the broiler (and burn) or too far away. And because whole peppers have to be turned.

Instead, cut whole peppers in half lengthwise. Circle out the stem and discard. Pull or slice out the inner membrane and the seeds and discard. Flatten onto a baking sheet, preferably one with a rim in case a lot of juices are let off. (For extra-easy clean-up, put a piece of foil beneath.)

When roasting multi-colored peppers at the same time, green peppers finish first, red second and yellow third. Try arranging the peppers with the green ones furthest from the fire, the red and yellow ones closer.

Is oil needed? No but a little bit does help the skins come off more easily. In 2008, I tested four ways to roast peppers.
  • MY FAVORITE - a light mist of olive oil using an olive oil mister, just enough to wet the skins.
  • WORKS BUT WASTEFUL - olive oil rubbed on with my fingers, used a lot more oil.
  • COMMERCIAL OLIVE SPRAY - left that metallic odor that comes with commercial sprays.
  • NO OIL - this blackened the skin just fine but the skin was a bit harder to get off.

Now put the pan under the broiler for about 10 minutes, parallel with the burner so that all the peppers are as close as possible. Start checking at five minutes, those in the photo were under the broiler for 8 minutes and could have used another minute or two. Remove from the oven.

You can let the skins get really, really black. The upside is that the flavor is i-n-c-r-e-d-i-b-l-e. The downside is that the yield is so small, as the peppers really really shrink. Somewhere in the middle is the happy medium.

If you used foil, fold it up and around the peppers to form a tight case. Otherwise, put the peppers into a container that seals or inside a paper bag. The peppers are still cooking so that later, the skins will separate easily. Let rest 5 - 10 minutes.

Peel off the skins with your fingers and discard. This is easier when the peppers are still warm. And besides, once they're cold, they're cold and clammy and slippery and yuck.

Some times people rinse the peppers under running water while peeling off the skins. This is a BAD idea! So much flavor is washed away, including some small black bits that can remain on the flesh, no problem.

This is an especially good way to roast a lot of peppers at one time, especially in early fall when peppers are so plentiful and inexpensive. I use two cookie sheets, swapping one for the other like when making cookies.

While it's easy to roast peppers at home, there are also great 'convenience' products from peppers. I use frozen roasted peppers from Trader Joe's in this Warm Pepper Salad and jars of roasted peppers in Pepper Sandwiches with Goat Cheese Pepper Spread. Unfortunately, the frozen peppers aren't available all the time and jars of roasted peppers are quite pricey!

A Veggie Venture - Printer Friendly Recipe Graphic

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2006

The Best of March

In March "spring" appeared on the kitchen table here at A Veggie Venture.

Early in the month, I was still cooking wintry vegetables, potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower. Then, like a page turning, a leaf opening, a crabapple bursting into blossom like the ones on my street today, suddenly the vegetables that appealed were lighter and simpler, zucchini, beets, Napa cabbage.

So what were March's best veggie side, best soup and best vegetarian supper? And because we've been cooking broccoli rabe all month, the best rapini?

Once again, there's no picking just one.

A winter-into-spring transition dish with a to-die-for sauce (read : calories), Cauliflower Cheddar Horseradish Gratin.

For those slim-on-time and slim-in-diet, opt for the fresh-tasting, low-cal and low-carb Zucchini Lemon-Honey Salad.

MARCH's BEST SOUP The oh-so-romantically named (and tasting!) Gypsy Pot.

MARCH's BEST VEGETARIAN SUPPER From the Kitchen Parade column archives, Kitchen Stir-Fry served atop the baked brown rice from Cook's Illustrated, the recipe published with their permission!

MARCH's BEST BROCCOLI RABE Broccoli Rabe with Red Peppers - a snap to make, very tasty. And the running-round-up has many other ideas. (Many thanks to everyone who participated in the Broccoli Rabe Festival!)

FROM THE ARCHIVES For other months' favorites, the Best of the Months, see here!

(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 358: Napa Cabbage, Herb & Mango Salad with Asian Dressing ◄

I need to make big salads more often! Even late on a chilly spring evening, this tasted so fresh and alive and paired perfectly with soup. It was light but still filling and flavorful -- all for hardly any calories.

The salad itself calls for four strong flavors: watercress, basil, cilantro AND mint.

I wondered if they'd fight, if one'd overpower the other, if one'd make shy. But instead, they formed a quartet that works as much in concert as in striking their individual notes. Still, if one had to be sacrificed, make it the watercress.

The dressing was a definite keeper, too. There is NOTHING on the grocery store shelves to compare with simple ingredients whisked together in five minutes -- in flavor, in cost, in healthfulness.

The mango was still underripe, despite sitting on the counter in a paper bag for three days. Still, the "bones" were good, mango works beautifully with the dressing.

NUTRITION NOTES ... For carb watchers, make this salad fit your low-carb diet by eliminating the fruit and either eliminating the sugar or switching to Splenda. (Right, Kalyn?)

FROM THE ARCHIVES ... See the Recipe Box for inspiration for other Green Salads.

Bookmark or print this recipe only
Hands-on time: 5 minutes for the dressing, 15 minutes for the salad
Time to table: 20 minutes
Serves 4

1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil (reduced from 2 tablespoons)
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil (reduced from 1 1/2 tablespoons)
1/4 cup lime juice (tonight, from 4 limes)
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce (this was excellent!)
1 tablespoon sugar (reduced from 2 tablespoons but important)
2 dashes Tabasco
Black pepper

Whisk together ingredients.

1 head Napa cabbage, chopped (about 6 cups)
1 bunch watercress, stems removed, leaves chopped (the inspiring recipe calls for 6 cups, I had maybe 1 cup, it was enough)
1 carrot, grated
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1 mango, sliced

Gently toss salad ingredients, then toss in dressing. Top with mango. Serve and enjoy!

Per Serving: 131 Cal (24% from Fat, 9% from Protein, 68% from Carb); 3 g Protein; 4 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 25 g Carb; 6 g Fiber; NetCarb19; 105 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 402 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 2 points

  • When you see this in the title and the Recipe Box, you know the recipe's a personal favorite. Tastes vary, of course, but the mark is one indication of another vegetable recipe that's worth paying attention to.
Adapted from Gourmet, October 2003

(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 357: Miso Soup

So is this "scratch cooking" or not? Look at the four convenience packages it took to make this simple soup! (It seemed as much like "cooking" as a Minnesota hot dish with a can of Campbell's, frozen vegetables, a few slices of Velveeta and canned onion rings for garnish.)

And anyone who's familiar with miso soup will laugh.
(Hey! at least I know from someone who lived in Japan that miso is pronounced mee-zo with a fuzzy sz sound.)

But apparently you don't eat the kelp? (It didn't kill me. And I kinda liked it. And aren't you supposed to eat your greens, anyway??? NOT eating it would have felt like picking tomatoes off a pizza.)

I claim no expertise in miso soup. What did I miss? What should it have looked like, tasted like? How should it have been cooked? What should I have/ could I have added? Is it "scratch cooking"? or not?? Help, please!!

My own BIG LESSON: This confusion, these questions, the uncertainty, THIS is what it's like to cook when you don't understand the language, the tools, the ingredients, the techniques, the outcome. And even aftering reading up a bit, it all still seems well, like Greek, er, I mean Japanese. And while it's likely I preach to the members of my own choir here (who reads food blogs except other cooks?), it's a good lesson for those who consider ourselves evangelists of home cooking. Do we "dumb down" the kitchen code language, the searing, the sauteeing, the simmering, the scalding? There are good discussions about this happening at Simply Recipes and Tigers & Strawberries and The Accidental Hedonist.

SO THE MISO SOUP, ALANNA, WHAT ABOUT THE SOUP? ... The broth was delicious, soft and subtle and comforting, a less salty, less strident chicken broth. I'm told that the broth is flavored by the kelp and bonito flakes but that miso, added near the end, is that bit of lagniappe that makes miso soup, well, miso soup.

NUTRITION NOTES ... There're hardly any calories here and yet lots of volume. It made for a great light supper after a few days of too-much-too-rich food. But it didn't last: I reached for the peanut butter before bed.

FROM THE ARCHIVES ... The Recipe Box features a whole section of New to Me vegetables. Perhaps, new to you, too?

Bookmark or print this recipe only
Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 25 minutes
Makes 4 cups

"What I did" and not necessarily how it "should be done"

Kelp / seaweed (in the package I bought, it seemed to be packed in salt)
4 cups water
Bonito flakes (the small box held a dozen packets, I used 1/2 a packet)
8 ounces shirataki noodles (these are tofu noodles, virtually no calories, no fat, no carbs and with texture "close to Italian pasta")
4 tablespoons white miso (which is actually tan not white in color)

Rinse the kelp in running water, then soak it for 5 minutes in cold water. Rinse it again and place in a saucepan with the water, bring just to a boil. (If you're going to eat it, you might want to chop it before adding to the saucepan.) Stir in the bonito flakes. Add the shirataki and return to a boil. Stir in the miso, stirring until it melts, keeping soup hot but not boiling. Serve -- and wonder what in heavens you just ate.

Per Serving: 46 Cal (26% from Fat, 24% from Protein, 51% from Carb); 3 g Protein; 1 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 6 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; NetCarb4; 29 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 38 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 1/2 point

(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 356: Nasty Fruit & Carrot Drink

So what do you do for a "vegetable" on a day when ...
  • Wind shear takes out eight large trees within a couple of blocks?
  • One tree with a five-foot trunk falls RIGHT where your car travelled only the MINUTE before, when it was barely stormy?
  • And traps a man and his dog who, thankfully, are both okay?
  • And the electricity is out for nearly 24 hours?
  • And the neighborhood takes on a festive air and impromptu block parties spring up and Home Improvement-type guys manfully man chain saws and pass out beers and kids kick balls in the blocked -off streets?
Well, AFTER scrambling for the lantern and heading for the basement and AFTER you know everything's okay if pretty dark ... you move to the pantry for Plan B.

THE NASTY DRINK ... This tangerine-carrot-apple juice from Bulgaria was worse than Tang. Sickly sweet. Strident in color. Flavorless. One sip and the sink was the final stop.

NEXT TIME ... I'll read the label more closely. I actually love these juices in antiseptic packages, lychee, black currant, passionfruit. But this one told me it would be awful, I just missed it. It was only half juice, the first ingredient was water, the second was sugar.YUCK.

FROM THE ARCHIVES ... The Recipe Box has some other "Plan B" ideas, some which worked, some which didn't.

(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 355: Caraway Cabbage Quiche ◄

In recent years, my family's switched from birthday cakes to birthday pies. The contingent in Hot Houston goes for ice cream pies. My Dad lifts his fork with alacrity whatever's placed on the table but is partial to cream pies; earlier this week for his x0th, it was banana caramel cream. (No recipe! No pictures! Just pure pleasure in cooking ... and yes, eating.)

For A Veggie Venture's 1st birthday -- yes, it's happening here, too! just like at one blog after another, a birthday celebration -- pie also seemed appropriate, a quiche to be precise, a quiche packed with vegetables, of course!

Prepare to meet ... Caraway Cabbage Quiche! And oh man, talk about good. (And oh so different ... and yet the same the inauspicious beginning on Day One.)

NUTRITION NOTES ... Bon Appetit's inspiring recipe said, quite seriously, "Serves 4". A quarter of a whole pie? Who are they kidding? Whose waistlines are they deforming? At my house, pie gets cut in EIGHT pieces if it's a special celebration, otherwise it's TEN. Just LOOK at the calorie differences in the nutrition estimate (below).

NEXT TIME ... I'll increase the caraway, or use seeds whose concentration might create 'bursts' of flavor. It could handle less bacon, maybe 2 strips versus 4. And I might allow time to cook-n-cook-n-cook the cabbage so it'd get soft and extra flavorful, almost to the melting point.

SO ... If it's A Veggie Venture's birthday, why isn't this Day 366? Because I took time off and then re-started the Day Clock! But yes, it's a countdown now, only 10 more days to go in an incredible journey.

FROM THE ARCHIVES ... If the idea of caraway and cabbage is appealing, you might like this simple side dish from a Kitchen Parade archive column.


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Hands-on time (not including crust): 25 minutes
Time to table (not including crust): 90 minutes
Serves 8

1 baked crust in a ten-inch quiche pan (see ALANNA's TIPS)

4 slices bacon, chopped small
1 large onion, diced
4 cups finely chopped cabbage (about half a medium head)

1 cup half and half
3 eggs
1 cup grated Gruyere (from about 4 ounces)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon ground caraway (the inspiring recipe called for seeds)
Freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375F. Cook the bacon in a large, deep skillet, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Add the onion and saute until it softens. Add the cabbage (in batches if necessary) and stir into bacon and onion, coating well with the bacon fat. Cook til the cabbage becomes golden brown, stirring often. (This took longer than I thought, about 30 minutes. I kept a timer going, it needed stirring every 3 or so minutes.)

While cabbage cooks, whisk the remaining ingredients. Stir in the cabbage. Transfer to baked pie crust and bake for 40 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

8 Slices - Per Serving: 371 Cal (64% from Fat, 14% from Protein, 22% from Carb); 13 g Protein; 27 g Tot Fat; 12 g Sat Fat; 20 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; NetCarb18; 241 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 670 mg Sodium; 139 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 9.5 points

4 Slices - Per Serving: 742 Cal (64% from Fat, 14% from Protein, 22% from Carb); 25 g Protein; 53 g Tot Fat; 24 g Sat Fat; 41 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; NetCarb38; 482 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 1341 mg Sodium; 279 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 18.5 points

  • For quick and convenient, I'm happy with Pillsbury refrigerated crusts. That said, they do improve considerably if you simply roll them a bit thinner, which is needed for a quiche pan of this size anyway.
  • But by all means, if you enjoy making crust or would like to learn -- do make your own! The filling is worthy of an equally delicious crust.
  • When you see this in the title and the Recipe Box, you know the recipe's a personal favorite. Tastes vary, of course, but the mark is one indication of another vegetable recipe that's worth paying attention to.
Might be a first! I seem to have followed the recipe from Bon Appetit, December 1990, exactly!

(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade