Kitchen Parade Extra: Parmesan Chicken ♥

Perfect to have on hand for easy summer suppers and out-of-town guestsJuly 1 is Canada Day and July 4 is, well, the 4th of July! And that means long weekends at the cottage, family picnics and neighborhood potlucks, hometown parades and of course, the fireworks.

To celebrate, here's a 2003 column for a long-time family favorite, Parmesan Chicken, published online for the first time. Parmesan Chicken is so perfect for summer, quick, easy, make-ahead, good hot or cold, as is or atop a salad or tucked into a sandwich. I made it recently for family visitors and oh, it was so convenient to have on hand.

And it's time to stock the frig with refrigerator salads, ones that mix up in a flash, travel well and feed a crowd. Here are some favorites:

Confetti Potato SaladConfetti Potato Salad Made with both sweet potatoes and white potatoes, also without mayonnaise so perfect for outdoor

Holy Slaw! A coleslaw with an unusual dressing that's a real hit all the time, made with peanut butter, soy sauce, garlic, ginger and a bit of heat

Bloody Mary Salad Tomato-y gelatin packed with vegetables and spiked with horseradish

For summer dessert recipes, ah the choices, here in the middle of heat and hot!

Blueberry Sour Cream PieBlueberry Sour Cream Pie All about the blueberries - need I say more?!

Peach Blueberry Cake Fruity and delicious

For more recipe ideas for Canada Day and the 4th of July, see special sections in the Recipe Box, 4th of July recipes, perfect for potluck recipes, plus recipes that celebrate summer's bounty.



SO WHAT IS KITCHEN PARADE, EXACTLY? Kitchen Parade is the food column that my Mom started writing for our family newspaper when I was a baby. Today it's published in my hometown newspapers in suburban St. Louis and features 'fresh seasonal recipes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences'.

Where A Veggie Venture is 'pure food blog', full of experimentation and exploration, Kitchen Parade features recipes a modern cook can count on. All are thoroughly tested by a home cook in a home kitchen and many are family and reader favorites. All recipes feature easy-to-find ingredients, clear instructions and because I believe so strongly in informed food choices, nutrition analysis and Weight Watchers points. Want to know more? Explore Kitchen Parade, including Kitchen Parade's Recipe Box!

WHY CAN'T I COMMENT ON THIS PAGE? Because I hope that you'll click through to the actual column and comment there!


How to eat more vegetables? A Veggie Venture is the home of Veggie Evangelist Alanna Kellogg and the best source of free vegetable recipes with 700+ quick and easy favorite vegetable recipes, the Alphabet of Vegetables, Weight Watchers low-point recipes and microwave vegetable recipes.


The How & Why Guide to Growing Garlic at Home

My garlic crop!I was feeling so proud ~ my first home-grown garlic! It's been a long row to hoe, as they say ...

MY FIRST ATTEMPT TO GROW GARLIC: THE LATE & LAME WAY I read somewhere - FarmGirl, perhaps? - that it is simple to grow garlic, just stick it in the ground and a few months later, harvest it. But thanks to perennial, ahem, garden procrastination, the garlic got into the ground late. I missed the fall planting, suddenly it was late winter, okay yes it was really early spring. (We plant nearly everything else in the spring, why not garlic?)

Standing next to the herb garden ready to plant, I wondered, Should I plant the cloves or the head? Dumb, dumb! Rather than look it up or give it any real thought or even ask a Smart Fifth Grader, I stuck the head into the ground and hoped for the best.

MY SECOND ATTEMPT TO GROW GARLIC: THE LAZY WAY Late last fall with snow about to fly, I stuck a few cloves (yes, that's right, you plant the cloves!) into a big pot on the patio, figuring that the garlic plants would provide 'winter green' (they don't) and could be harvested after the frost date to free up the pot as soon as summer annuals can be safely planted (wrong again).



WHEN TO PLANT GARLIC, THE RIGHT WAY Then I started to work with One Who Knows Her Garlic. Aha! She shared the garlic grower's calendar: in eastern Missouri (Zone 6), we plant garlic on Columbus Day (mid October), we cut off garlic 'scapes' on Memorial Day (late May), and we harvest garlic on the 4th of July - each give or take a couple of weeks, depending on Mother Nature's moods.

THE SCAPES A few weeks ago, I snipped off the scapes -- those are tall graceful curvy stems with pretty little white heads that emerge quite suddenly from the plant, you'll know when it happens! With the scapes gone, the plant will put its energy into the bulb. I also dug up a single 'head' to gauge its progress - it was small like a scallion and didn't even smell like garlic. This, I've learned, is 'green garlic' or young garlic; the garlic bulb is undeveloped and is prized in some culinary circles.

THE HARVEST With Independence Day looming, I harvested the garlic crop - and there they were, real heads of garlic with real garlic smell! I did feel so proud.

Fist-size heads of garlic from the garden of One Who Knows Her GarlicTHE REALITY And then I saw the huge heads of garlic - ones the size of a fist - that emerge from the garden of the One Who Knows Her Garlic. And they were so clean! You must wash the heads, I surmised. No! she said with horror. Just peel back the outside layer and cut off the roots.

Oh dear.

So will I plant garlic again? Sure! It was a kick. But I won't plant it in a flower pot, at least not one where I want flowers at the same time. The petunias planted in the same pot back in May haven't thrived, plus coaxing the rooted garlic out of the pot tore up the flowers' roots.

BUT WAIT Is fresh garlic treated differently than supermarket garlic? Does it deserve special treatment? I turned to the One Who Knows Her Garlic for the answer. "Most people have never tasted freshly dug garlic -- the difference is as dramatic as a freshly picked vine-ripened tomato compared to a tasteless commercial tomato. The papery garlic in the supermarket was harvested last July and kept in storage. Fresh garlic is juicy, not dry. Use fresh garlic the same as you normally do: eat it raw, cooked, roasted, minced, or whole -- fresh garlic is delicious any way it is prepared. But do know that yes, a little fresh garlic goes a long way."

SO HERE'S THE RIGHT WAY, IN SHORT, TO GROW GARLIC IN YOUR OWN GARDEN. To grow your own garlic, plant cloves in the fall, not the spring. They'll pop out of the ground in late spring. When the tall scapes appear later in the spring, snip them off right away.. A month or more later, pull a test garlic out of the dirt to see if it's ready for harvest. If it is, carefully dig up the heads. Wipe clean the heads with a paper towel (a very thin papery layer will come off), cut off the roots, store in a dry dark spot. Cook/eat as normal but use less until you understand its potency.

ME I'M OFF TO COOK With any luck, I'll have better success cooking with garlic. Roasted Garlic, perhaps?

Small heads but wonderful flavor!BUT WAIT! HOLD THE PIXEL PRESSES! So up until last night, this post was all about 'how' to grow garlic, ignoring the question of 'why'. This week, the One Who Knows Her Garlic lectured me in very polite fashion about how garlic from the jar just isn't up to snuff. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I thought, amused since sure, I chop and mince and slice and dice my own garlic cloves for special dishes. But weeknights? The stuff from the jar is good enough. But I have to tell you people, I'm converted. I get it!! I know the difference!! I taste the difference!!! I made my every-day salad dressing last night with a clove of pink-ish garlic straight from my garden (see? even my small heads clean up really pretty!) and it was something completely totally absolutely different, not only from my jars of garlic but also from the garlic from the store. Fresh garlic is something special, worth finding a couple of square feet of dirt for your own few cloves. I'll remind us all when it's planting time again in the fall. But in the mean time, the farmers markets should be full of fresh garlic: do get some!


How to eat more vegetables? A Veggie Venture is the home of Veggie Evangelist Alanna Kellogg and the best source of free vegetable recipes with 700+ quick and easy favorite vegetable recipes, the Alphabet of Vegetables, Weight Watchers low-point recipes and microwave vegetable recipes.


Easy Salsa Dressing ♥

Great salsa flavor, no chopping requiredSo yes, we could chop tomato and onion and peppers and then spice to taste. Or we could just make a great salad dressing from a jar of salsa!

And did I mention that I'm loving Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless? One more reason is that it includes sooo many recipes for unusual salad dressings. Some are a little more complicated. Others, like this, are no brainers.

NUTRITION NOTES I 'watered' the dressing a bit to create no-calorie volume and reduced the oil. So each tablespoon of dressing has zero points -- though 2 tablespoons does add up to a point. It was so easy and tastes great.



FROM THE ARCHIVES Check the Recipe Box for salad dressing recipes.

TWO YEARS AGO I was on vacation but featured a 2003 Kitchen Parade that just happens -- how lucky is this? -- three favorite salad dressings!

GREAT FOOD BLOGS that also USE SALSA in SALAD DRESSING
Kalyn's Kitchen ... South west Chicken Salad with Chipotle Ranch Dressing
The Savory Notebook ... Mexican Chicken Salad with Chipotle Salsa Dressing

EASY SALSA DRESSING

Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 10 minutes
Makes 1 1/2 cups

1/2 cup good salsa
Zest & juice of a lime (about 2 tablespoons)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup water (this was my addition, to create more volume without calories)
Salt to taste

Oil to taste -- Rick Bayless uses 3/4 cup, I used 1/2 cup

Mix all the ingredients in the blender except the oil. Then drizzle oil while processor is running - this creates a lighter dressing with more volume.


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How to eat more vegetables? A Veggie Venture is the home of Veggie Evangelist Alanna Kellogg and the best source of free vegetable recipes with 700+ quick and easy favorite vegetable recipes, the Alphabet of Vegetables, Weight Watchers low-point recipes and microwave vegetable recipes.

Custard with Rhubarb Sauce ♥

There's not a year that doesn't pass without serving this easy custard and rhubarb at least once. It's a favorite to take along to dinner with friends -- it's an old-fashioned treat but everyone loves it, especially rhubarb lovers! The custard is made on the stovetop and with whole milk (half & half and cream are too rich) so it's even, as desserts go, a healthy dessert recipe.

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

2007: We remember that rhubarb's a vegetable, right? Thank goodness -- otherwise, what lengths might a certain Veggie Evangelist be forced to take in order to eat vegetables for dessert?

All by itself, rhubarb sauce is one of the simplest of all luscious desserts. Pair it with a creamy stovetop custard, and, oh my, heaven in a bowl. Yet they're both so simple to make. With time to spare for kitchen busy-ness, I made both the custard and the sauce in 35 minutes -- and it would have taken maybe 25 if I'd used two pots simultaneously. Look for still more rhubarb for this week my Dad delivers a big load of rhubarb stalks and better still, rhubarb plants!

2011: Cold creamy custard, with a little cold and slightly sweet-slightly sour rhubarb stirred in. Heaven in a bowl, indeed.

Cauliflower Refrigerator Pickles ♥

Pretty in pink, thanks to (optional) radishes So if we have Those Pink Potatoes and That Pink Salad, why not These Pink Cauliflower Refrigerator Pickles?

Actually, the pink here is entirely optional. I hoped to capture the beautiful radish color (pink and purple and magenta from Easter Egg radishes -- thanks to reader Snowpea for the identification! Instead, like a stray red sock that gets into a load of white, the cauliflower 'sheets' turned pink. Oh well! They 'sleep' just fine.

NEXT TIME
  • I will remember to strain the hot liquid before pouring it over the blanched cauliflower. That, I suspect, will eliminate some of the cloudiness that would be especially apparent if it weren't for the pink color.
  • I will plan ahead to match the vegetable and herb/flavor with more care. I'm not sure cauliflower and ginger are a hot match. But carrots and ginger? That would be good.
  • I will double the sugar for a less sour result.




FROM THE ARCHIVES For more cauliflower recipes, see the Recipe Box. There are cucumbers, peppers and sweet onion in my favorite refrigerator pickle.

Cauliflower Refrigerator Pickles

Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Time to table: 24 hours
Makes 6 cups vegetables

PREP THE CAULIFLOWER
1 head cauliflower
A dozen radishes, if desired, trimmed and halved to roughly equivalent sizes

Put on a large kettle of water to boil (cover to retain the heat and liquid). Wash and trim the cauliflower. Cut it into bite-size florets of roughly equivalent size. When the water boils, drop in the cauliflower and let cook for 2 - 3 minutes, til just barely done if you want crunch, longer if you want something softer. Let in a colander.

PREP THE PICKLING LIQUID
1 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1 1/2 cups white wine vinegar (or some similar combination of clear vinegars)
1 cup water
2 tablespoons kosher salt (or if you're using table salt, maybe a tablespoon)
4 tablespoons sugar (vs the 2 I used)

1 tablespoon garlic (I used it from a jar, but cutting 2 - 3 pieces of garlic into chunks would minimize cloudiness)
1 tablespoons fresh ginger (again, mine came from a jar, I'd use maybe an inch of fresh ginger, cut in thin slices)
6 whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon fennel seed (next time, maybe dill?)

Bring these to a boil in a saucepan.

ASSEMBLY
Sterilize a one-quart glass jar (this isn't as important if you plan to use the pickles within a week, say) in boiling water. (After first warming the glass with hot tap water, this is to prevent it from shattering when it gets hit with the boiling water, I just filled the jar with boiling water from the tea kettle. Pour out the boiling water.) Layer the drained cauliflower and radishes in the jar. Cover with the boiling vinegar liquid to cover all the cauliflower, pressing a bit if necessary to submerge. Cover and refrigerate.



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How to eat more vegetables? A Veggie Venture is the home of Veggie Evangelist Alanna Kellogg and the best source of free vegetable recipes with 700+ quick and easy favorite vegetable recipes, the Alphabet of Vegetables, Weight Watchers low-point recipes and microwave vegetable recipes.
© Copyright 2002-2007

Kitchen Parade Extra: Those Pink Potatoes ♥

Surprising scalloped potatoes & beetsFrom this week's Kitchen Parade column:

"Summers back, friends hosted a backyard potluck, convening spirited folk from the different corners of their lives. The midsummer night was steamy, the kids rambunctious, the trees a rainbow of colored light, the Jimmy Buffet dulcet. Food-wise, the talk of the party was the ‘pink potatoes’ ..."

What makes potatoes pink? For the rest of the column and the recipe for Those Pink Potatoes and That Pink Salad (a family favorite with an addictive bite), read this week's Kitchen Parade column.



SO WHAT IS KITCHEN PARADE, EXACTLY? Kitchen Parade is the food column that my Mom started writing for our family newspaper when I was a baby. Today it's published in my hometown newspapers in suburban St. Louis and features 'fresh seasonal recipes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences'.

Where A Veggie Venture is 'pure food blog', full of experimentation and exploration, Kitchen Parade features recipes a modern cook can count on. All are thoroughly tested by a home cook in a home kitchen and many are family and reader favorites. All recipes feature easy-to-find ingredients, clear instructions and because I believe so strongly in informed food choices, nutrition analysis and Weight Watchers points. Want to know more? Explore Kitchen Parade, including Kitchen Parade's Recipe Box!

WHY CAN'T I COMMENT ON THIS PAGE? Because I hope that you'll click through to the actual column and comment there!

A Veggie Venture is home of the Veggie Evangelist Alanna Kellogg and vegetable inspiration from Asparagus to Zucchini. © Copyright 2007

How to Use a Japanese Mandoline (Benriner)

A Scarlet Queen turnip thin-sliced with a Benriner aka V Slicer aka Japanese Mandoline or MandolinFor a couple of years now, I've experimented with various mandoline-type slicing tools, including several hand-held ones (this one actually works but it was a freebie my sister received in the mail) and a couple of $30 - $50 'sliding slicers'.

Finally, I found the one I love! (Thanks to Karen from FamilyStyle Food for the recommendation!) It's a Japanese-style benriner, some times called a Japanese mandoline (or mandolin) or an Asian mandoline (or mandolin), some times called a V-Slicer.

Me, I call it extraordinarily handy in the kitchen, especially for transforming raw vegetables into perfectly thin and perfectly versions of themselves -- often this makes them edible (and enjoyable) uncooked, but for cooking small size means fast cooking.

In 2005, it was a technique for aggressively trimming broccoli that was 'life transforming' - at least the vegetable area of my life! In 2007, it's the Benriner that allows two of my four tips for transforming mundane vegetables into something new and exciting.

So yes, I'm sold.

Will the Benriner replace knives? No. Sorry, the knives aren't destined for Goodwill and they'll still need regular sharpening. Even so, there's no matching the perfectly thin and perfectly even slices that emerge from a mandoline. And the three interchangeable blades create different widths of vegetables.
  • The 'fine' blade creates light fluffy bits of vegetables, almost like a microplane does for lemon zest and Parmesan.
  • My favorite is the 'medium' blade, for 'noodles' of vegetables along with matchsticks.
  • The 'coarse' blade cuts narrow batons.

Is the Benriner better than the food processor for slicing? Yes. I love my 20-year old Cuisinart but don't like how it slices, except narrow vegetables, like carrots.

So you're sold, Alanna. How how do you use a Benriner?
To my mind, the benriner is very intuitive since there are only two knobs to adjust and one place for one of three blades to be inserted. But after pulling it out of the cupboard once or twice a week for a couple of months now, I'll pass along a few tips. I'll add new ones as more experience is gained but please, feel free to add your own tips in the comments.

Technique Tips for the Benriner
  • DO USE THE FINGER GUARD (unless you're happy to visit an emergency room)
  • Work slowly and deliberately, taking care each time you move.
  • If you're in the habit of pouring a glass of wine while you cook -- do so after using the Benriner! You know the warning, "Do not operate heavy machinery while sleepy or distracted or under the influence"? It applies to the Benriner, too.
  • Set the blade where you think you want it. Then do a test slide to see if the thickness / width of the vegetables is what you want.
  • Use a light touch. Don't push, just slide. This lets the Benriner do the work.
  • If it's 'hard' to slide, lighten your touch. Honestly, lighter is easier.
  • Vegetables seem to have a grain. If sliding one way is a little tough, turn the vegetable another way, again if necessary.
  • Whenever the area underneath is full, the Benriner will stick. It helps to 'count' to know how many slices that'll be.
  • Follow the Benriner's tracks. Keeping a straight edge along the side helps too. Some times it helps to actually cut a straight edge on the vegetable so it's automatically guided along the edge.
  • The finger guard is designed to run perpendicular to the Benriner but it works the other way too, making it easy to switch directions.
  • If the finger guard can't keep a grip because of an irregular top surface, after a slide or two, turn the piece upside down, flat edge on top so the finger guard can get/keep its purchase
  • Be prepared to throw away (or save for compost or vegetable stock) end bits, you just can't get that close, especially with the finger guard.
  • So far, what slices beautifully: potatoes, beets, celeriac, zucchini, kohlrabi, radishes, young turnips, carrots (though with carrots, be prepared to leave behind a good inch since you can't use the finger guard) -- and fingers, are you using the finger guard???
  • So far, what hasn't sliced well: green papaya
Benriner Clean-Up & Storage
  • Rinse the Benriner right away, especially the blades. This means right away, not after five minutes, not after supper. You really don't want the bits of very thin (and thus easily dried) vegetables to stick to the blades.
  • They're apparently dishwasher-safe but after a good rinse, I figure there's no need to risk the dishwasher heat warping the plastic. (And for the record, I one of those who puts everything that fits into the dishwasher, knives, cookie sheets, plastic. The blender. The food processor bowls. Well, okay, I don't put the cast iron skillet in there.)
  • I dry the removable blades on a paper towel, then wrap them in a clean towel and store in a small freezer bag. (The blades are truly sharp. You don't want to risk a bad cut by keeping them in a drawer, for example, even the mandoline box.)
Which Brand/Model to Purchase
  • The brand I'm happy with is from Benriner Co, Ltd and is made in Japan.
  • The model is the 'narrow' Benriner and has a 2 1/2 inch (64mm) sliding surface. So far, this width works fine and is so small it's handy to pull out a few times a week.
  • But if I were to purchase another, I'd be tempted to order the larger Super Benriner (95mm or 3 3/4 inches but sorry, Amazon seems to no longer have that item available) or even the still-larger Jumbo Benriner (115mm or 4 1/2 inches).
  • More important than width, however, might be getting one with a container that rests underneath to catch the vegetables as they fall -- at least, that's what I thought at first, since I had no luck operating mine over a bowl, as hoped, nor with balancing it on its end. Now I think it's a matter of personal choice and it might depend on how you'll use it since even a container underneath would fill up and it's lots easier to just lift up the Benriner than to open up a container. So: a choice.

What I Don't Know is how to pronounce Benriner! My mind pronounces it ben-REE-ner but of course, that would not be the phonetic Ben-RINE-er. Thoughts?



FROM THE ARCHIVES I'm so happy with the Benriner (and think you will be too) that there's a special spot in the Recipe Box for dishes where I use (or wish I'd had used) a Benriner. So here you go - the Benriner recipes.

A Veggie Venture is home of the Veggie Evangelist Alanna Kellogg and vegetable inspiration from Asparagus to Zucchini. © Copyright 2007

Beet Pesto ♥

Beet Pesto on Crostini with Goat Cheese
Today's Unusual Pesto Recipe: Pesto made from beets, with no added fat and piles of flavor and color. You might call this pesto, you might call it a beet spread or a beet appetizer. But I'm willing to bet, you will call it delicious!

~recipe & photo updated 2012~
~more recently updated recipes~

2007 ORIGINAL POST A special welcome to the CSA shareholders at Wolf Pine Farm in Alfred, Maine, serving Portland and the surrounding area. This is a big week for shareholders: the season's much-awaited first deliveries! (For faithful A Veggie Venture readers: What is Wolf Pine Farm? It's a Community-Supported Agriculture/CSA farm whose members buy 'shares' in exchange for weekly deliveries of glorious fresh vegetables, herbs and flowers throughout an entire season.)

In 2007, Wolf Pine Farm, Maine food blogger StephenCooks and A Veggie Venture join forces to provide easy access to vegetable recipes. Each week, a special Wolf Pine Farm page will list the week's share contents along with quick links to recipes – now quick and easy ways to prepare and enjoy the farm-fresh vegetables are just a click or two away!

To celebrate Wolf Pine Farm's first CSA deliveries, I tried a beet recipe shared by Natalie, the farm manager. Natalie and I are fellow beet lovers – and her beet pesto is my new favorite! It couldn't be easier: just toss roasted beets into the food processor with traditional pesto ingredients.

I served the beet pesto on crostini with goat cheese, where the earthy beets could shine against the tangy cheese. But I would also stir it into rice or mashed potatoes, use it as a pizza topping, and of course, stir it into hot pasta, maybe with some quick-cooked beet greens.

Fresh Green Bean Salad with Asian Dressing ♥

Fresh Green Bean Salad with Asian Dressing ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, re-inventing the picnic favorite.
graphic button small size size 10 Today's gorgeous summer salad recipe: A re-invention of that old picnic favorite, the green bean salad. Here, start with fresh green beans, toss them in an Asian-inspired dressing, then top with soy-glazed nuts. Vegan. Delicious! graphic button small size size 10

On Saturday, my street had its first neighborhood potluck in 16 years. On a decidedly steamy and buggy Missouri afternoon, we gathered in a back yard to meet newcomers and greet long-timers. Many thanks to Ed, Molly and Ellen for making it happen!

(All very neighborly, Alanna, but for the rest of us, what about the food?) Right. The food!

My contribution was a green bean salad made from fresh green beans, a welcome "whole vegetable" contrast to bowls of box-store creamy coleslaw and gloppy potato salad. My neighbors' unsolicited comments demonstrate how distinct the individual flavors remain, even as they meld together for something quite unusual:

graphic button small size size 10 "We loooove cilantro!"
graphic button small size size 10 "I taste sesame oil!"
graphic button small size size 10 "Oh the garlic!"
graphic button small size size 10 "Those nuts are delicious!"

All by themselves, the nuts are delicious, first toasted, then glazed in soy sauce – easy nibblers, for sure.

MORE COMPLIMENTS!
graphic button small size size 10 "I made the green beans last night - WE LOVED THEM! Ohhh and the nuts? My husband said he refuses to eat nuts if they aren't soy glazed from here on out." ~ La Mia Cucina

Lemon Mint Cucumber Water ♥

Refreshing drink, a switch from 'just water, please'One of the basic tenets of Weight Watchers is to make sure to get enough to drink. So I make it a habit when I take a five-minute move-a-bit break every hour or so, to drink a glass of water. The tap water here is good so there's no need to 'doctor' it except for a little variation. And I'm liking this water -- just slices of lemon and cucumber and mint -- but some times, just cucumber too.



FROM THE ARCHIVES Drinks are rare here -- we need to fix that! My favorite is the cucumber lemonade served when Nupur of One Hot Stove and her husband visited for the first time while on a house-hunting trip. There are piles of cucumber recipes in the Recipe Box.



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LEMON MINT CUCUMBER WATER

Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 5 minutes (flavor deepens over time, of course)
Serves thirsty souls!

1/4 a cucumber, sliced thin
a lemon, sliced thin
sprigs of mint
2 quarts water

Add cucumber, lemon and mint in a pitcher. Fill with water. Enjoy!



A Veggie Venture is home of the Veggie Evangelist Alanna Kellogg and vegetable inspiration from Asparagus to Zucchini. © Copyright 2007

First Tomatoes! ♥

No salt, no sugar, no oil, no vinegar, no herbs ... just tomatoGet out the champagne! (Or perhaps more fittingly, just a glass of cold water ...)

Slow down. Sit back. Savor. And do enjoy ...

And please forgive my silliness. I was just so pleased to see the first home-grown, vine-ripened and just-picked tomatoes at the Wednesday market last night!

This is the third year to celebrate perfect summer tomatoes -- yes I really do keep a special section for recipes that absolutely call for summer's best tomatoes!

In the first year, I discovered My First Panzanella ("How did I get to be ?? years old without panzanella? All those wasted years!?"). In the second year, it was a recipe for gazpacho that sent me over the top ("all about the flavor of wonderful local tomatoes ..."). Now at the start of the third year, what shall it be ... ideas, anyone?



PRINT JUST A RECIPE! (Though I promise, this doesn't qualify!) Now you can print a recipe without wasting ink and paper on the header and sidebar. Here's how.

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A Veggie Venture is home of the Veggie Evangelist Alanna Kellogg and vegetable inspiration from Asparagus to Zucchini. © Copyright 2007

Roasted Asparagus with Anise ♥

Simple and slightly out of the ordinaryBy this time of the year, we've all had our fill of asparagus.

Except me! As much as I appreciate the beautiful St. Louis-grown asparagus, I love that good asparagus can be found at the grocery store both "before" and "after" our own growing season. There are just so many great ways to cook asparagus.

And when it comes to fat-fat spears of asparagus, oh they're so good roasted! This is another simple treatment, just anise seed and salt and pepper. The anise draws something unexpected out of the asparagus -- and no, it's not 'licorice' or even licorice flavor. It's a keeper.

See the little white bowl? A year ago Christmas, a very generous Santa gave me a gift certificate to Cornucopia, the kitchen shop located in my little hometown downtown. A gift certificate turned out to be the perfect choice for a 'cook who has everything', or at least, everything she really wants. I've been surprised by the usefulness of the small mortar and pestle I selected: it's just big enough to grind a few spices, perfect for my needs. And it tucks easily into the cupboard for grabbing at the last minute.



FROM THE ARCHIVES Have you checked the Recipe Box for asparagus recipes recently? It's packed!

ROASTED ASPARAGUS with ANISE SEED

Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 30 minutes (assumes oven takes 15 minutes to preheat)
Serves 4

1 pound fresh asparagus, preferably thick spears
1 tablespoon olive oil (or use an olive oil mister)
1/2 teaspoon anise seed, ground in a mortar & pestle or in a coffee grinder
Salt & pepper to taste (go light on the salt, it can overpower the anise)

Preheat oven to 450F.

Wash the asparagus, snap off the woody ends. Toss with oil, anise seed and salt and pepper. Arrange on a baking sheet, with space between, and roast for about 10 minutes, turning once.



A Veggie Venture is home of the Veggie Evangelist Alanna Kellogg and vegetable inspiration from Asparagus to Zucchini. © Copyright 2007

Lima Bean Hummus ♥

Who says hummus must be made from garbanzo beans?Hummus is such a favorite quick appetizer. And it's so easy to make homemade hummus!

While hummus is typically made with garbanzo beans -- in fact, last week's Kitchen Parade column includes a recipe for traditional homemade hummus -- it needn't be. This version, inspired by Je Mange la Ville, a lovely food blog based in Portland, Oregon, uses lima beans.

Topped with a little goat cheese and fresh thyme: my book club loved it! And the green color is much welcome compared to the muddy gray of hummus made with garbanzo beans. Aren't those little crostini pretty?

THE HEART OF THE MATTER This is my contribution to an event hosted this month by JoAnna's Food -- and this month featuring, um, yes, vegetables. Hmmm. How hard do you think it was to pick a vegetable recipe to participate in the event? Not too hard, since A Veggie Venture is all vegetable recipes, 100% vegetables and nothing-but-vegetables! But the collection of recipes for the event will be great fun since the northern hemisphere is in the height of summer vegetables and the southern hemisphere cooks are enjoying their wintry finds.



FROM THE ARCHIVES The Recipe Box is full of vegetable recipes and includes a growing collection of appetizers made with vegetables. But believe it or not, this is the first time I've cooked lima beans on A Veggie Venture. I need more lima bean recipes!

TWO YEARS AGO Shredded Zucchini with Thyme ... "This zucchini is good -- very good -- and ever so simple."



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LIMA BEAN HUMMUS

See Je Mange la Ville's inspiring Greek Lima Bean Dip
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 60 minutes
Makes 2 1/2 cups

Salted water to cover
16 ounces frozen lima beans

4 garlic cloves (I used roasted garlic)
Zest of a lemon
Juice of 3 lemons (Michelle uses 2 lemons, I wanted more lemon flavor in front)
1/4 of a white onion, roughly chopped (this was important, Michelle suggests red onion or a sweet Vidalia onion)
2 tablespoons fresh herbs (Michelle used oregano, I used thyme)
1 tablespoon fresh mint
2 tablespoons olive oil (Michelle uses 1/4 cup and hers was more creamy, of course)
Salt & pepper to taste

Cook the lima beans and drain well. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and process til smooth. Serve on crostini with goat cheese and fresh herbs.



A Veggie Venture is home of the Veggie Evangelist Alanna Kellogg and vegetable inspiration from Asparagus to Zucchini. © Copyright 2007

Simple Arugula Salad ♥

Spare, simple and spectacularWhen you're gifted with an abundance of just-pulled-from-the-ground arugula, it's not to be squandered. And so I went looking for new ways to enjoy the late-in-the-season so slightly bitter greens.

Instead, I saw something extraordinarily simple and moved straight to the kitchen.

And honestly, even I feel half silly posting this 'recipe'. But I figure if Gourmet can, and 37 people make comments, it's a winner, even if ever so simple.

But another reason to post, it's a zero-point salad for those who follow Weight Watchers -- and there are never enough of these.



FROM THE ARCHIVES For other ways to use arugula, see the Recipe Box.

TWO YEARS AGO Brushed Eggplant ... "addictively good"



PRINT JUST A RECIPE! Now you can print a recipe without wasting ink and paper on the header and sidebar. Here's how.

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SIMPLE ARUGULA SALAD

Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 5 minutes
Serves 6 (I adjusted for two, just in the bowl)

6 cups fresh arugula, washed very well, drained on a towel or paper towels (otherwise the dressing won't adhere)

DRESSING
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon good salt

Whisk the dressing in a small bowl. Just before serving, gently dress the tender greens.



A Veggie Venture is home of the Veggie Evangelist Alanna Kellogg and vegetable inspiration from Asparagus to Zucchini. © Copyright 2007

Another Kitchen Parade Quick Supper: Chicken Greek Salad ♥

Summer nights create a thousand reasons to skip supper at home in the kitchen. This week's Kitchen Parade column features an antidote, a 'drive-by' quick supper salad that features one of the world's greatest conveniences, rotisserie chickens.

Plus, if you've ever wondered how to make hummus, the column includes a simple recipe for homemade hummus with canned chickpeas.

Perfect, yes, for a quick supper during summer!



SO WHAT IS KITCHEN PARADE, EXACTLY? Kitchen Parade is the food column that my Mom started writing for our family newspaper when I was a baby. Today it's published in my hometown newspapers in suburban St. Louis and features 'fresh seasonal recipes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences'.

Where A Veggie Venture is 'pure food blog', full of experimentation and exploration, Kitchen Parade features recipes a modern cook can count on. All are thoroughly tested by a home cook in a home kitchen and many are family and reader favorites. All recipes feature easy-to-find ingredients, clear instructions and because I believe so strongly in informed food choices, nutrition analysis and Weight Watchers points. Want to know more? Explore Kitchen Parade, including Kitchen Parade's Recipe Box!

WHY CAN'T I COMMENT ON THIS PAGE? Because I hope that you'll click through to the actual column and comment there!

A Veggie Venture is home of the Veggie Evangelist Alanna Kellogg and vegetable inspiration from Asparagus to Zucchini. © Copyright 2007

Garlicky Bok Choy ♥

Bok choy with radish for colorWhile developing the Alphabet of Vegetables, call me surprised to find a hundred carrot recipes and a thousand beet recipes, but no recipes for bok choy! Have I ever cooked bok choy? Maybe not.

Seems I'm not alone. While my food blogging pals regularly cook baby bok choy, the big heads of bok choy (also called Chinese cabbage, bai cai, bok choi and pak choi, according to my source, Jack Bishop) are rare.

It's in the cabbage family but is often treated like a leafy green. I chose to 'start' with something simple, something all about the bok choy. So this is a very basic recipe, just bok choy (local, even!) quick-cooked with garlic and for color, some sliced radish (also local!). Bok choy keeps a bit of its bite when cooked even as radishes soften and sweeten during cooking; they were quite perfect together.

UPDATE (6/14/07) After a little sleuthing, I've become convinced that what I cooked here was not actually bok choy (even if that's what the farmer I bought it from called it) but a somewhat different variety of cabbage mostly called Chinese cabbage. Food-wise, it's closer to Napa cabbage which can be eaten raw in salads or cooked, as here, where bok choy is fibrous enough that it's nearly always cooked.

UPDATE (6/16/07) Aha! I got some bok choy - some real bok choy this time - and made this same recipe. It turned out great! Watch for new additions to the bok choy recipes in the Alphabet of Vegetables.

LEFTOVER REPORT
I found this was even better cold the next day, chopped for the top of a salad.



TWO YEARS AGO Sherry Slaw ... "This slaw took a mere 10 minutes and was different than anything tasted before, still slaw, but different somehow. And good!"

A YEAR AGO THIS WEEK In Kitchen Parade, Tropical Salad Supper (made from Napa cabbage!) either stand-alone or paired beautifully with Tropical Pork Tenderloin.



PRINT JUST A RECIPE! Now you can print a recipe without wasting ink and paper on the header and sidebar. Here's how.

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GARLICKY BOY CHOY or CHINESE CABBAGE

Add 'Blush' to your blog!
Hands-on time: 20 minutes (could be done ahead of time, perhaps even by a day or so)
Time to table: 30 minutes
Serves 6

1 pound head of bok choy or multiple heads of baby bok choy
5 or 6 radishes, trimmed and sliced in half moons (my addition, for color and texture contrast)
1 tablespoon peanut oil (the inspiring recipe called for roasted peanut oil)
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup vegetable broth or chicken stock
Salt & pepper to taste

Wash the bok choy well. Remove the white stalks with a V cut, then chop. (For the Chinese cabbage, this takes a bit of time but you can start the skillet mid-way through.) Heat the oil in a large skillet til shimmery on MEDIUM. Add the chopped stalks and radishes, cook til just beginning to soften. Add the garlic and let cook for 2-3 minutes.

While stalks cook, roll four or five leaves into a 'cigar'. (No need to roll for baby bok choy, just chop the greens.) Holding the cigar together with your fingers, cut the cigar in half length-wise, then cut every inch or so cross-wise. (Or if you're a knife whiz, just roughly chop.) Add the leaves and broth, stir to wet greens, then cover and let cook, stirring once or twice, for about 10 minutes or til leaves are as soft as you like. Season to taste and serve.





A Veggie Venture is home of the Veggie Evangelist Alanna Kellogg and vegetable inspiration from Asparagus to Zucchini. © Copyright 2007

Farro with Asparagus & Green Onion Sauce ♥

Farro with Asparagus & Green Onion Sauce
Today's simple vegetarian supper recipe: Asparagus cooked with the lovely grain called "farro" and topped with a simple and most surprising green onion sauce. My version of Heidi Swanson's recipe has been "lightened" considerably, reducing the calories, carbs and Weight Watchers points.

~recipe & photo updated & reposted 2013~
~more recently updated recipes~

2007 ORIGINAL POST I'm betting that when Heidi Swanson titled her new cookbook Super Natural Cooking, by 'super natural' she meant something other than (1) three hours of afternoon errands (2) feeling oh-so-tempted to pick up supper somewhere, anywhere, on the way home (3) deciding otherwise and (4) then, the payoff, 30 minutes later, sitting down to a fast, delicious and healthful meal. (And colorful! Look at that plate!) In my book, anyway, one definition of 'supernatural' is helping us successfully battle the lure of the drive-through. Thank you, Heidi!

In fact, Heidi did mean something else by Super Natural, as the subtitle reveals: Five Ways To Incorporate Whole and Natural Ingredients into Your Cooking.

Heidi's cookbook is a thinking cook's friend, one to challenge your pantry along with your brain. I'm just beginning to explore its concepts and its recipes but if the farro/asparagus combination is any prediction, this is destined to be a favorite cookbook, perhaps one of my very own 101 Cookbooks (yes, that's Heidi's food blog/website).

Pan-Pickled Beets ♥

An aha moment, thank you, beets!A bit ago, I participated in academic research attempting to answer, 'Why do people blog?' I paged through dozens of canned responses, waiting to check off something that reflected my own reason, the wealth of learning that accompanies my own blogging efforts.

The 'I blog because I learn, I learn because I blog' concept returned to me tonight while slipping leftover beets through the Benriner , then moving them to a skillet to create, almost without thought, a quick and entirely new way to enjoy beets.

Aha! If we're bored with vegetables or simply want to experience vegetables in new ways, there are several techniques to turn the comfortable and familiar into the fresh and unexpected, terrific ways to turn vegetables upside down, inside out and sideways.

  • ISOLATE -- or MAKE FRIENDS If we always 'add flavor' to a vegetable (onion, salt and pepper, for example), try it all by itself, just to remember what the vegetable itself tastes like unadorned and unmasked. Or if we always cook a vegetable by itself, pair it with another vegetable, broccoli with fennel or asparagus with mushrooms or. or. or. Or. Or.
  • CHANGE the SIZE Just changing size makes a difference in texture and thus taste.
    • If we always cook a vegetable whole or in big chunks, cut it small-small-small; the Benriner makes this especially easy, but for some vegetables, a garden-variety carrot peeler will work, so will nothing more than a sharp knife. Try cutting 'ribbons' or 'noodles' or grating or shredding.
    • Or say, if we've only eaten cabbage in slaw, try cooking it in big wedges.
  • TRY IT RAW, TRY IT COOKED If we always eat a vegetable cooked, instead, try it raw -- or the reverse. Think cooked asparagus vs raw asparagus; think raw radishes versus cooked radishes.
  • EXPLORE the WORLD (or just the FRIG) If we always season vegetables one way, switch to flavor profiles from other cuisines, Thai, Indian, Mexican, so many more. Or if that's too much, experiment with simple flavors in the frig or pantry -- think broccoli tippled with a bit of mayonnaise or a splash of lemon juice.
Aha. All that from a beet that needed using up. Yes, I do indeed, blog to learn!



FROM THE ARCHIVES Gosh I love beets - some time I'm going to count all the beet recipes in the Recipe Box.

PAN-PICKLED BEETS

Add 'Blush' to your blog
Hands-on time: Maybe 10 minutes?
Time to table: Maybe 30 minutes?
Serves 4

Fresh beet, small or medium in size, about 1 pound, trimmed, peeled and 'made small' in some way

1 tablespoon butter
A couple of cloves of garlic, chopped
A hefty splash of good vinegar
Chives or fresh herbs

Prep the beets. In a large non-stick skillet, melt the butter til shimmery on MEDIUM. Add the garlic and let cook a minute. Add the beets and stir to coat with fat. Let cook, stirring often, til beets are mostly cooked. Add the vinegar and let cook into the beets til beets are down. Remove from heat and stir in chives or herbs. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.



PRINT JUST A RECIPE! Now you can print a recipe without wasting ink and paper on the header and sidebar. Here's how.

NEVER MISS A RECIPE! For 'home delivery' of new recipes from A Veggie Venture, sign up here. Once you do, new recipes will be delivered, automatically, straight to your e-mail In Box.



A Veggie Venture is home of the Veggie Evangelist Alanna Kellogg and vegetable inspiration from Asparagus to Zucchini. © Copyright 2007

Kitchen Parade Extra: Easy Summer Appetizers ♥

Olivada (tapenade) served on the patioA warm summer evening is good enough reason to share a glass of wine on the patio. And I like add a quick bite to eat, too, something from the frig that requires zero effort.

Easy appetizers are the subject of a 2003 Kitchen Parade column, published online today for the first time. Red Pepper Crostini, Olivada and Parmesan Crisps -- yes, they're that easy to make and easy to keep on hand for impromptu gatherings.



SO WHAT IS KITCHEN PARADE, EXACTLY? Kitchen Parade is the food column that my Mom started writing for our family newspaper when I was a baby. Today it's published in my hometown newspapers in suburban St. Louis and features 'fresh seasonal recipes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences'.

Where A Veggie Venture is 'pure food blog', full of experimentation and exploration, Kitchen Parade features recipes a modern cook can count on. All are thoroughly tested by a home cook in a home kitchen and many are family and reader favorites. All recipes feature easy-to-find ingredients, clear instructions and because I believe so strongly in informed food choices, nutrition analysis and Weight Watchers points. Want to know more? Explore Kitchen Parade, including Kitchen Parade's Recipe Box!

WHY CAN'T I COMMENT ON THIS PAGE? Because I hope that you'll click through to today's column and comment there!

A Veggie Venture is home of the Veggie Evangelist Alanna Kellogg and vegetable inspiration from Asparagus to Zucchini. © Copyright 2007