Given the abundance of turnips, beets, and radishes we receive, and given Mark Bittman’s eloquent defense of them this week as vegetables of the cold season, I will make a lazy effort to pass on a few ideas through his most recent article.
Here is my go-to recipe for when “I don’t know what to make tonight for dinner, but I have some rice and a can of coconut milk.” It uses up veggies, it is tasty, and it is infinitely variable. I’ll give a rough outline for what we received this week, but you can improvise at will.
Simple Thai-type curry (4 servings)
2 cloves garlic, diced
thumb sized chunk of ginger, diced
small onion, diced
1/2 large, 1 medium, or 2-3 small eggplants, peeled and cubed
1 bell pepper, chunks or thin strips
about two cups of diced tomatoes
1 can coconut milk
Thai style curry paste to taste (this is cheating, but super convenient and tasty – it comes in a jar and stores well in your fridge)
Saute the garlic, ginger, and onions in some oil until beginning to soften. Add eggplant and pepper, again until beginning to soften. Add the tomatoes for just a couple minutes, then the coconut milk and curry paste. Simmer a couple of minutes and serve over rice.
I’ve made this almost entirely out of various colored peppers, added potatoes / sweet potatoes / winter squash and skipped the rice, added shrimp / chicken / very firm tofu / garbanzo beans, diced up a kohlrabi or two instead of the eggplants, and started from scratch with hot peppers, more ginger, and lemongrass instead of cheating with the curry paste. Cut it with more coconut milk / soup stock, add a couple tablespoons peanut butter, and garnish with basil and roasted peanuts, and you have a killer Thai style soup as well.
We are about to inundated with peppers, squash, and corn. Well, maybe not corn, as David doesn’t grow much of it, but you can find good quality corn anywhere right now. Here are some good tips for freezing summer squash, peppers, and corn for a couple of different uses. The frozen corn/squash/peppers are perfect for pulling out in the cold months and throwing into a skillet saute for summertime flavor in the snow. Frozen veggies are a little soft for raw use, but they can go into breads, sautes, and soups without compromising flavor and texture.
Roasting and Freezing peppers (hot or sweet)
All those Anaheim chilies we’ve been receiving can be strung up and air dried if you’re not getting to them while they’re fresh. Tie them together by their stems and hang in a dry, warm place (which is basically anywhere in Utah but under your swamp cooler vent).
You can also shred your zucchini like you would for making zucchini bread, portion it out, and freeze it in baggies with all of the air pushed out. Who wants to bake in a hot summer kitchen? And who wants to use squash from the Southern Hemisphere to make bread in the winter?
There are lots of people who know lots more about preserving veggies than I do. I tend to eat them, freeze them, share them with neighbors, or feed them to the chickens (if I ignore them too long — at least they turn into eggs). Here are a few great articles about storing your produce that do a far better job than I do.
From Wild Fermentation – Making Sour Pickles — This site and the author of the books featured there is a fantastic resource for fermented and preserved foods.
Here are two recipes that I made last night. They were simple and easy, and made use of small numbers of carrots and large amounts of chard. And while I don’t have a recipe for it, I wanted to suggest that the small carrots and their tops work really well in fried rice dishes. The tops give green flash and texture, and fried rice just doesn’t need very many carrots.
Buttered Spiced Carrots
one bunch baby carrots, tops removed
1-2 Tbsp of butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dry ginger
1/4 tsp turmeric
roughly 1/4 cup water
Melt butter in small skillet over medium-low heat. Throw in scrubbed carrots and saute for a couple of minutes. Season, add water, and cover. Add a little more water if it dries out before the carrots are tender enough to poke with a fork. The buttery sauce from the bottom of the skillet is good on the carrots and even better over meats. This would also be tasty with smaller amounts of nutmeg or cumin replacing the turmeric.
Sunflower Chard Braise
2 Tbsp olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 onion, minced
1/4 cup sunflower seed meats (I think mine were tamari roasted, which might be why this tasted so good)
2 double-handfuls of chard, washed and very roughly chopped
a splash of soy sauce or ponzu (citrus soy sauce)
roughly 1/2 cup water
In a big skillet or non-stick stock pot, saute the garlic and onion in the oil until starting to brown. Add the sunflower seeds and stir occasionally for a couple of minutes. Add the chard, water, and soy sauce (or a couple pinches of salt), stirring periodically as the chard wilts and the flavors combine. This will take less than ten minutes for the chard to be finished cooking.
Ragout of Turnips, Kohlrabi, and Peas
Here is a great way to use at least three ingredients from the shares this week. It is a little hot for soupy things, but this would be good not-piping-hot as well.
1 Tbsp Butter
6 green onions, halved (or diced scapes, if yours are still good)
4-6 smallish turnips, scrubbed and quartered
2 or 3 small kohlrabi, peeled and quartered
1 tsp thyme
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound pea pods, shelled (about half of our snap peas are big enough to shell, or simply dice the more tender snap pea shells into pea sized pieces)
a few handfuls shredded chard (or baby spinach)
dollop Mexican crema (or creme fraiche or sour cream)
4 large basil leaves, slivered
1. Melt the butter in a skillet and add the onions, turnips, kohlrabi, and thyme. Add water to cover halfway and a teaspoon of salt. Simmer while you shuck the peas.
2. When the vegetables are tender (12-15 minutes), add the peas and chard and cook until the spinach has wilted down, a few minutes more. (Add the peas at the 10 minute mark if you’re using the pods, too — they take a little longer to cook). Stir in the crema and add the basil. Taste for salt and season with pepper. Serve as a side or main dish, with some crusty bread or even over robust pasta.
Adapted to this week’s share from Local Flavors, by Deborah Madison. I recommend the book as it focuses on using ingredients from farmer’s markets when they’re in season. If they’re ripe at the same time, they’re probably in the same recipes.
I so rarely eat artichokes that aren’t hearts in a jar that I always have to look up what to do with them. So rather than pretend to know what I’m talking about, I’m going to link you all to a very good visual instruction guide!
Beets, I know something about. Scrub the beets very well, trim off most of the stems (leave less than an inch), and the little tail if it is bugging you. Wrap them individually in foil. Pop them in the oven at 400 degrees for an hour (small ones) to an hour and a half. Remove, cool, unwrap, and slip the skins right off. They are delicious as is, or dice them up with butter and salt, or put into your favorite recipes. This is the least-stainy way to deal with them, but don’t do any step in the process in a favorite shirt (or on your unspoilt new wooden cutting board).
Cherries. I challenge you to not just eat them all. I just needed a C. However, they make a really great combo with the apricots that come into season at the same time. Or make a cherry salsa to top meat or grilled veggies. 1 part diced red onions left to sit with a squeeze of lemon juice to take the edge off, 3 parts pitted and chopped cherries, basil to taste. You can just chop it all and combine, or you can throw it through the food processor. Surprisingly delightful.