Category Archives: Vegetables

Summer Veg (grilled creamed corn and mixed roasted veggies)

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The story of my life:  I’m not sure what I’ve been up to, but I’m sure I’ve been busy.  Part of me actually does like being busy, having a sense of purpose and achievement.  But another part of me hates the part of me that over-glorifies being busy.  I love writing down and subsequently crossing things off a long to-do list, but I hate feeling trapped by the list, not actually caring about the doneness of the things on the list.  Who cares if I bleach the shower curtain?  Or if I put away that load of laundry? It’s just as clean sitting in a pile as it is crammed in a drawer.  Sometimes I’d just rather sit very still and try not to think.

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That being said, I do hate seeing a garden-grown vegetable go to waste, and summer is my time of excess.  I buy too many ears of corn at the market; the extra zucchini and eggplant in the garden look ignored and miffed in the August sun.  But I’ve found yet more ways to cope with my feelings of ineptitude (“I can’t believe I didn’t make eggplant parmesan with homemade tomato sauce on Friday night instead of pizza!” …Um, no.) and my overflowing crisper/garden.  Case in point: Luisa’s roasted vegetables, which make me feel virtuous.  Peppers! Carrots! Zucchinis! Throw it all in- together.  And that’s the brilliance.  But really, the brilliance is that the dish is amazing up front, but then a generous scoop is fantastic in a pan with a couple of eggs for breakfast, they’re delicious cold as a salad topping, and it’s easily and tastily reheated.   Check out her post here for the jist of it, or see below for my preferred ratio/mix of veggies.

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The second recipe I have to share with you is one for grilled creamed corn.  Do not underestimate how good this corn is, or how much fresh sweet corn a grown person can eat once it’s conveniently removed from the cob.  I’ve made this with 4 ears and we both stand over the pan, scraping up the very ends;  with 5 ears there is a small dish of leftovers that I try to nab for lunch before N does.  It’s a perfect accompaniment to anything grilled, as you grill the ears for 8-10 minutes while it’s heating up on high; then put your meat on, and let the corn rest while the main event is cooking.  About 15 minutes before your other grilled goods are ready to be eaten, slice the corn off the cobs and 5 minutes in the pan delivers a slightly spicy, tangy creamed corn with a hint of charred summer goodness.  It’s like sunshine in a pan.  With carbs.  And dairy. Win-win.

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My preferred method for cutting corn off the cob:  balance the ears on a small upside-down bowl that’s placed inside of a larger flat-bottomed bowl or baking pan (picture here is an 8×8 pan).  You elevate the corn so you can cut all the way down the length of the ear without hitting the side of the dish with your knife blade, but you still catch almost all of your corn nibs! Another great idea: use a bundt pan if you’ve got one.  You’re welcome.

Grilled Creamed Corn
Originally posted in summer 2010; updated and with new pictures

Serves 2-3

5 ears fresh sweet corn
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour (I use a generic glutenfree AP mix)
2/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. aleppo pepper flakes (or red pepper flakes)
1/8 tsp. cayenne

Shuck the corn and soak for at least 5 minutes, up to 1 hour.  Heat your grill to high.  Place the corn on the grill with the length of the slats, so the corn nestles in between the grill slats.  Grill for 2-3 minutes until the bottom is partially charred and then turn the cob about a quarter of the way; repeat on all sides of the corn, which takes approximately 8-10 minutes, but be sure to keep an eye on it and turn when needed.  Remove from grill and allow to cool.  Once cool enough to handle, cut the corn from the cobs.  Melt the butter in a large skillet on medium heat; whisk in the flour and allow to cook for about 1 minutes, stirring constantly.  Increase the heat to medium high and slowly pour in the milk and buttermilk, whisking constantly to form a roux.  Once the milk is all in and there are no clumps, stir in the corn, salt, and spices.  Simmer for approximately 5 minutes on medium high heat, stirring almost constantly, crushing some of the corn against the bottom or the sides of the pan with a heavy spoon.  Serve warm.  Excellent reheated as well.

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Summer Veggie Confetti (or, Mixed Roasted Vegetables for Summer)
Serves 2-6, depending on how much you like your veg

Directly from Luisa at The Wednesday Chef, though I like a slightly different ratio of summery veggies, as follows:

1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic  (I use 1 tsp fermented garlic paste)
1 medium tomato
4-6 carrots
1 medium potato
2 small zucchini or summer squash (I like one yellow and one green)
1 small eggplant
1 bell pepper- any color (Luisa calls for red or yellow, but I actually really like a green pepper, or a mix of red and green)
2-3 T. olive oil
1/2 tsp. kosher or crunchy salt (less if using table salt)1 tsp. dried herb/spice blend- I like an equal mix of dried basil, sage, thyme, and red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Quarter the onion, then slice thinly.  Mince or crush the garlic.  Dice the remainder of the vegetables into 1/2 inch to 1 inch pieces, not letting any one piece get to be much bigger an an inch.  Toss veggies in a 9×13 baking pan, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and herbs, and carefully mix to combine (careful not to crush the tomatoes too much).  Roast for 40-50 minutes, stirring twice- once after about 25 minutes, and again 10-15 minutes later.  Gorge. Feel virtuous for eating so many veggies. Repeat.

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Clean Eating, Gluten-Free, Side dishes, Summer, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Meatball and Kale Soup

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Saturday was probably my favorite date of the year.  Not day, necessarily; there was nothing particularly eventful, and it wasn’t full of great friends, great food, or everything going exactly as planned.  (Yes, that would be a requirement of my Type-A personality “Perfect Day.”  Pathetic.)  But more a perfect date, being one of the elusive longest days of the year.  It was sunny and warm and slightly humid but not oppressive.  The farmer’s market finally exploded with leafy greens and herbs, radishes and green garlic and pea shoots.  I made progress on goals and crossed things off lists, one by one, satisfying that Type-A personality.  A friend brought over a hand-picked peony bouquet.  We dug a hole and planted a tree in our front yard and wiped the sweat from our brows, warmed from the sun, sticky and dirty but satisfied.

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Funny that just a few weeks before was almost exactly the opposite.  A light drizzle had been falling for four days straight, and the damp and chill had permeated.  Cooped up in the house alone, I listened to melancholy songs on repeat and devoured a lovely book, story by short story, each one highlighting the inevitable disappointments of meaningful relationships.  The weekend required a long solo hike, a strong bourbon drink, and a bowl of steaming soup.  I granted it all three.

One bright spot was finding the first bit of leafy green at the farmer’s market, tucked away in a far corner.  A small Hmong woman was selling bunches of petite kale, freshly picked, roots and all.  The morning was gusty and cold, spitting rain and angry gray, and I was one of the few straggling around.  Not many seemed to make it back to the kale corner.   I considered myself lucky and in the solitary walk back home, decided I would consult my not-so-new but new-to-me favorite vegetable book for inspiration.

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As soon as I saw the recipe, I recognized it from a handful of food blogs, and my mind was made up.  There were green onions, mint, and the kale from that morning’s market; pork and chicken stock in the freezer.  No fresh chiles this time of year, so dried would have to do.  One soggy hike later and I was prepping meatball soup for supper.  The recipe came almost straight from the book, with the addition of a few potatoes cubed over the pot, thrown in to appease my deep-seeded and ever-present longing for carbs in all forms.  It was filling, but not in a extra-couple-of-pounds-in-winter kind of way.  After a bowl of soup and a whisky smash, the gloomy spring weekend didn’t seem so bad after all.

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Nigel Slater’s Chicken Broth with Pork and Kale from Tender (aka meatball and kale soup)
Serves 4

Even though it’s summer, I’ve made this twice since, once with fresh spinach in place of the kale, thrown straight into the soup pot (skip the blanching).  I highly recommend either variation.

1 pound ground pork (I used half pork and half beef)
3 green onions
a small handful each of fresh mint and fresh parsley
2-3 green garlic, or 2 garlic cloves
2 tsp. red pepper flakes (original calls for 2-3 thai or similar chiles)
2 tablespoons oil
4 cups chicken or veggie stock
2 small-medium potatoes, scrubbed
1 bunch kale, rinsed and coarsely chopped (approximately 3-4 cups)

Place the meat in a medium bowl.  Slice or chop the onions, fresh herbs, and mince the garlic or slice the green garlic.  Throw all of it, along with the red pepper flakes or diced chiles, into the bowl with the meat. Mix well with your hands.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saute pan.  Form the meat mixture into small balls, no more than 2 inches diameter, and place in the pan.  Brown well, in batches if needed- don’t crowd the meatballs or they’ll steam each other.  Once well browned, set aside on a plate.

Put the stock in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Cut the potatoes over the pot into bite-sized pieces (not on a cutting board- a lot of the starch is left on the board, and I like it in the soup to thicken things a bit) and carefully place in the hot stock.  Simmer for 5 minutes or so, then add in the meatballs and the drippings from the meatball plate.  Season with salt and pepper, and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil.  Blanch kale leaves for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how thick or tough they are.  (More delicate kale may only take 2 minutes, so be flexible and watch the pot.)  Depending on the size of the pot, you may want to blanch in multiple batches.  As the kale is blanched, lift from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and drop directly into the soup pot.  Once all the kale is in the soup, bring to a brief simmer, stir, salt to taste, and serve.

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Clean Eating, Gluten-Free, Main dishes, Soups, Spring, Summer, Vegetables, Winter

Easy pickled asparagus

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Spring came late this year.  Maybe you experienced it yourself; otherwise, these whiny posts might’ve clued you in.  No bother – We all still seem to be smitten with the token spring produce players.  Every year, an onslaught of rhubarb, asparagus, ramp, etc. posts flood the internet.  I’m a definite contributor…  and I’m not apologizing.  But the spring season seems so fleeting.  The ramps don’t stick around long, and then asparagus gets woody, stringy, and flavorless.  And with spring quickly turning to summer around here, I wanted to find a way to make that green, grassy joy-flavor stick around a little longer.

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Enter: the pickle.  Frozen and canned asparagus fall apart.  Freezing makes the cell walls burst, causing asparagus to go limp and lifeless.  Canning does the same, except in the form of overcooking.  But pickling…

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Pickling takes that grassy flavor and intensifies it.  It’s also perfect for those big stalks you find at the market a 3 or 4 weeks into the season that seem to be un-cookable when roasting or sauteing, then suddenly are overcooked and bland in the blink of an eye.  I like to blanch the spears briefly before dousing them in the hot vinegar solution, just to make sure each spear is cooked through.  But magically, pickled asparagus keeps some of it’s bite.  I wouldn’t say it’s crunchy… it’s certainly “bendy.”  But it’s also firm, and sliced into a salad or munched alongside an after-work beverage, pickled asparagus is one of my early summer favorites.

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Easy pickled asparagus
Makes 2 – 24oz. jars
Inspired by Simple Bites and She Simmers

*Note: I used the pint-and-a-half wide mouthed jars that are 24 oz. each.  You can certainly use wide mouth pint jars, but you’ll have to trim more of the asparagus bottoms off.  Also be sure to wash your asparagus well in cool water; gritty pickles are the worst.

1.5 pounds asparagus, trimmed to fit jars
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
2 tablespoons pickling salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 dried chiles de arbol, or 2 teaspoons dried chile flakes
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon mustard seed

Wash and trim asparagus.  Bring a pot of water to rolling boil and blanch the asparagus (in multiple batches, if needed,) for one minute; rinse with cold water and set aside. Combine the vinegar, water, salt, and sugar in a pot (I used the same one) and bring to a rapid boil.  While waiting for the mix to boil, put one chile (or one teaspoon chile flakes), one clove of garlic, and 1/2 tablespoon of mustard seeds in each jar.  Then place asparagus in jars.  Once the mix comes to a boil, stir to dissolve salt and sugar. Carefully pour the boiling liquid into the jars, and carefully top with a lid.  Leave at room temperature for 6-8 hours, then move to the fridge to store.
Pickles are ready to be eaten after 24 hours in the fridge, but I let them sit about 48 hours before digging in.

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Filed under Condiments, etc., Side dishes, Summer, Vegetables

Fresh red cabbage slaw

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There are a couple of big things that have happened in the last few weeks.  The first: I think spring might actually have arrived.  Secondly: I apparently now like cilantro.

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The first one is a big deal because IT’S MAY.  The last weekend of April was gorgeous.  Mid-60s and low 70s, sunshine, green grass, even budding tulips and the tips of iris and hostas poking through the mulch.  And then, on May 2nd and 3rd (!) the Midwest got hit with a nasty system that included snow (!) and sleet (!) and freezing rain (!).  Not just a dusting, but 18 inches fell in northwest Wisconsin.  18 freaking inches of white, dream-shattering, soul-crushing snow.

But between the 60s and 70s yesterday and today, the snow has melted, the grass is re-perking, and my rhubarb has unfurled an impossible number of frilly leaves.  Spring is here to stay, I think.

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The second part- the part about me finally coming around to cilantro- is a big deal because, c’mon, it’s cilantro.  It’s fresh.  It’s green.  I can grow it.  It’s a big deal in Mexican and Indian cuisines.  And I’m pleased to say that I actually have bought and used it three whole times in the last two weeks and it’s been awesome.

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I made this slaw to serve with carnitas, and it’s crunch and tanginess was exactly what the tender pork needed.  And after all, the recipe is a bit like the weather we’ve had lately: schizophrenic.  It combines winter staples (cabbage and carrot) with a few fresh things that pack a little more punch in the flavor department (jalapeno, cilantro, and lime).  Even if I have to keep buying cilantro for a another month while the weather warms up (*grumble grumble*), I’m adding cilantro to my seed-purchase list, and I’ll definitely be making this slaw frequently for the summer barbeque circuit.  It took me less than 20 minutes to prep, and it needs only an hour in the fridge to really come together.

Fresh red cabbage slaw
Serves 6-8
Adapted from Pezzo

juice of 2 limes
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 large clove garlic smashed (approximately 1/2 tsp)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (Greek yogurt might work?)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
salt and fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup diced onion
1 diced jalapeno (I removed the seeds; keep them for more spice)
1 medium carrot, grated
1/2 large or 1 small head of cabbage

In a jar or bowl, whisk together the limes, honey, garlic, mayo, and cilantro. Salt and pepper, and set aside.  Prep the veggies, and thinly slice the cabbage- you want approximately 4 cups of cabbage. Toss all the veggies together in a bowl; dress with the dressing.  Set aside in the fridge for the flavors to develop, at least 1 hour.  Taste before serving and add salt and pepper to taste.

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Clean Eating, Condiments, etc., Gluten-Free, Side dishes, Spring, Vegetables, Vegetarian

two notes-to-self

A couple things I’ve made, and made changes to, that I’ve enjoyed recently:

1.  Molly O’Neill’s Roasted Carrot and Red Lentil soup, via The Wednesday Chef.  I followed the recipe almost exactly the first time- doubled the paprika and introduced a little immersion blender action- and loved every bite.   A month or so later found myself with a small butternut squash, a lonely sweet potato, and some straggler carrots at the bottom of my crisper, but craving a creamy, bulky soup.  The combo of the three orange veggies worked just as well as the all-carrot version, immersion blender and all.  But as I sat down with the first bowl, and I felt it was missing… something.  A couple teaspoons of lemon juice stirred in at the end fixed it, and really brightened things up.

2.  Oatmeal Applesauce Muffins at Joy The Baker.  She used blueberries; I used a large peeled-and-chopped Honeycrisp and tripled the cinnamon.  Very welcome at the office on a chilly day. Healthy-ish too!

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Fall, Vegetables, Winter

Molly’s Braised Kale and Spaghetti

Made this last night for supper, and it was good, though incredibly garlicky.  I had some curly kale to use up, and though her recipe calls for lacinato kale, I found that the curly worked well when I braised it a bit longer than the 20 minutes she calls for, with a little bit more liquid too. 

No picture from me- but Molly’s story about kale is a good read (as expected).

 

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Clean Eating, Main dishes, Pasta, Side dishes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

asparagus risotto

 

This is not just a risotto with some asparagus pieces thrown in at the end- oh no.   This is a risotto swimming in miniscule flecks of asparagus, fully immersed in green and spring.  It’s my favorite kind of asparagus recipe- the kind that embraces the use of the entire stalk.  Instead of throwing out the tougher ends of the stalk [or adding them to the finished risotto to be picked around and pushed off to the side], we cook them a bit and then puree, producing a bright-green bubbly liquid.

Then this asparagus puree is stirred into the risotto, alternated with the traditional chicken stock, stirring and coaxing each little grain of rice to absorb as much of the asparagus- its flavor, nutrition, color- as it can.   A very asparagusy risotto indeed! 


Asparagus risotto
adapted from Mario Batali

Serves 4-6 as a side; 2 or 3 as a meal

1/2 to 3/4 pound asparagus stalks
3 to 4 cups chicken stock
1 shallot, diced
1 T. butter
2 t. olive oil
1 cup short-grain rice
3/4 cup white wine
salt and pepper
freshly grated parmesan for serving

Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Meanwhile, wash asparagus; trim off tough ends and discard.  Chop into 1-inch pieces, setting aside the tips and the pieces from the top two-thirds of the stalks.  Once the water is boiling, toss in the pieces of asparagus from the bottom third of the stalks.  Boil for 4-5 minutes; drain all but 1/4 cup water.  Puree aspargus and 1/4 cup of water in a food processor or blender; set aside.

Place chicken stock in a small saucepan and keep over medium heat.  In a heavy-bottomed skillet, melt butter and oil over medium heat.  Sautee diced shallot for 1 minute, then add raw, unrinsed rice.  Sautee for 4-5 minutes, then increase heat to medium-high.  Add wine and stir while reducing. Once wine is mostly absorbed, add the hot stock in 1/2 cup increments, stirring almost constantly.  Wait to add more stock until the rice has absorbed nearly all of the liquid.

Once 2 cups of the stock have been added and absorbed, alternate adding 1/2 cup of the asparagus puree and 1/2 cup of chicken stock, again allowing the rice to absorb almost all of the liquid before adding more.  At this point, check the rice frequently, wanting it to be cooked but with a bit of an al dente bite.  Once the risotto is creamy and the rice is fully cooked, season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with parmesan.

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Filed under Clean Eating, Gluten-Free, Main dishes, Side dishes, Spring, Vegetables, Vegetarian