Imagine a vegetable: growing in the ground, pulling nutrients from the earth below and from the sun above, gathering and storing all that richness in a tasty tangle of fibers perfectly adapted to deliver those nutrients to your body. How can you not be amazed by vegetables? The variety and enticing shapes and textures and scents and flavors? Each Monday, when my big green bag of organic, locally-sourced veggies is delivered by South Mountain Veggies, we plan what we’ll be cooking or I begin hunting the internet for recipes and lessons in cooking. Here are some of my favorites so far.
Andouille Roasted Potatoes
Slice 4 large organic potatoes into large chunks and boil in salted water till tender to a fork. Drain and arrange in a suitable baking dish (you may want to add a drizzle of your favorite oil – I use olive or sesame – to the bottom of the dish to prevent sticking). Top with 3/4 cup or so of finely diced Andouille sausage, 4-5 small shallots, diced, and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese that suits your taste. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes. Delicious!
Brussels Sprouts to be Proud Of
The lowly Brussels sprout is often maligned. I hearby apologize for every judgment against them I ever made, because I’d never tasted one. And when I did, I fell in love with the little guys! Here’s my recipe for roasted Brussels Sprouts.
Preheat oven to 400F. Rinse a pound of so of Brussels sprouts – I think this is usually 20-24 small ones. This is for 2 people, so adjust accordingly. With a sharp knife, cut off the hard core end – maybe a quarter inch in from the end of the core. Keep the leaves that fall off, they will soon be delicious. Put your sprouts into a shallow baking dish, along with those stray leaves. Drizzle them with olive or sesame oil – lightly! Maybe a total of 2 tablespoons. Splash them apple cider vinegar, and if you have it (recipe will be added soon) hot pepper vinegar. Sprinkle with kosher salt or with your favorite salty seasoning like Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning. Add some fresh cracked pepper to suit your taste. Cover the dish with foil and bake 20 minutes. Uncover and bake 5-10 more minutes. YUM!
Once you’ve made them once, adjust the roasting time to make them firmer or softer to your preference. I like them a little firmer, but the Monkey prefers them very tender. They’re sweet and savory. I’m sure you’ll find ways to adapt them to your own taste.
Quick Swiss Chard
I wanted to try this mouth-watering recipe for Swiss chard on my first attempt to cook it, but I did not have cream, so I took some of her advice and adapted a quick recipe of my own. I’ll try this one another time.
Per the other recipe’s author’s advice, I rinsed my chard well, then separated the colorful stems from the thick, supple green leaves. I left the leaves to continue to drain in a colander while I diced those rich-hued stems into chunks. While I was doing that, I had a tablespoon of sesame oil heating in a large stock pan on the stove. I threw in the stem pieces, along with 3 cloves of diced garlic. I added about a quarter cup of water, a generous splash of apple cider vinegar and a light splash of the Monkey’s hot pepper vinegar. A few red pepper flakes sounded good too so I added that. I stirred those up then let them cook about 5 minutes. Then I stirred them up and lightly packed the fresh green leaves on top. I put the lid on the pan to capture the steam and let them steam about 5 minutes before stirring the leaves and the stems together in the liquid left in the bottom of the pan. When the leaves were “done” to my taste (not completely wilted and still holding some of the brightness of their green color) I sprinkled a bit of kosher salt over everything and gave it a stir. I served it with a bit of parmesan on top. And it was amazingly delicious. There was just a hint of bitterness to the leaves which I would like to work out, but the stems were heavenly – colorful, flavorful and lightly crunchy. I look forward to more chard in my winter veggie deliveries!
Refridgerator Pickles (great for snacking, dieting and bento boxes!)
(photo coming soon, recipe is one I found on cooks.com)
1 bell pepper (green or red)
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons celery seed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar
Wash and scrub cucumbers. Slice into a medium sized bowl, leaving peel on, about 1/8″ thick. Wash and remove seeds from pepper; remove skin from onion and scrub well under cold running water. Finely chop the onion and pepper; add to cucumbers. Sprinkle with salt and celery seed. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside for 1 hour.
In a small saucepan, bring vinegar to a boil then remove immediately from heat. Stir in sugar, stirring until dissolved. Allow to cool, then pour over cucumbers (after they have been sitting for 1 hour, as above).
Mix well; cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving.
Decadent Twice-Baked Irish Potatos with Stout Onions and Kale
I’m not even kidding! Doesn’t that sound delicious?! Well it’s even better than it sounds, so make it today. (Please check out the great blog it came from, Cooking Up a Story. The original recipe is there, this is my account of my adaptation.
Bake two large baking potatoes at 400 degrees while you go buy a bottle of very good stout beer. I say bottle because the really good ones can be bought by the bottle and might, not saying they did, but they might cost $13/bottle. If you possibly can, you should buy it from D’vines on 14th and Irving and tell them Katie sent you.
When you get home, take those potatoes out to cool but leave the oven on. In a large skillet, heat about a tbsp of olive oil. Slice an onion into rings then cut the rings in half. Saute these slices of onion till they start to brown – you’ll need to monitor the heat a little, I used a high medium. Pour about a cup of your beer into a glass, then drink the rest while you cook. When the onion begin to brown and stick to the bottom of the pan, splash about 1/4 of that beer in there to deglaze the pan, keep sauteeing. As the beer cooks down, add more, till you’ve slowly added and reduced the entire cup. Between the additions of beer, remove the ribs and slice your kale into strips.
You’ll have soft, fragrant dark brown onions and a fair amount of thick brown beery stock to add about half that kale into. Stir it in well and cover the skillet for a couple of minutes. When that kale is cooked down, add the rest, stir and cover. Add just a bit of salt. When the kale is a consistency you like – wilted but not cooked to death – remove from heat and let cool uncovered.
Cut a wide hat off the top of your potato and scoop out the insides, leaving enough against the skin to keep the potato from collapsing. Mash the insides with a little milk, butter and salt to taste. Then the good part: stir into the potato mash the onion and kale blend. It will begin to smell amazing in your kitchen. Plop the whole mix back into the potato skins, top with a little cheese and bake for 10-15 minutes. You can turn the heat off and leave them in there while you finish other parts of your meal. I made spicy turkey meatballs and sauteed zucchini. The potatoes were the star of the meal though, for sure.
This is a delicious and addictive way to prepare kale. Very simple. Preheat the oven to 325. I begin with about 1 lb of kale. Wash kale leaves and tear the stems out of the kale. Put the leaves into a gallon-sized ziploc or other bag (hang onto pita bread bags for this!) Splash in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of a good vinegar. I like to use red wine vinegar or our homemade hot pepper vinegar. Seal the bag and use your hands to massage the oil and vinegar over the surface of the leaves. When the leaves are well coated, empty the kale onto a baking sheet, in a single layer. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Bake at 325 for 30 minutes (depending on the heat of your oven, the chips may need less time – keep an eye on them so they don’t get too charred).
When they’re done, take them out and let them cool just a bit. Eat to your heart’s content!