Category Archives: Sides

Tomatoes! Cucumbers! Green Beans! Basil! CSA riches of summer…

This post was published in Bob’s Fresh and Local newsletter 8/23/2017 under a different title. 

“The breakfast of champions is not cereal, it’s the opposition” …Nick Seitz

Hopefully you’ve had fun with “greenies” (smoothies with loads of greens) over the summer with all that gorgeous kale coming from Farmer Bob.

Here’s another way to think out of the box about breakfast. Put away that boxed cereal, and learn to make an Israeli-style breakfast! This is the perfect time of year to give it a try, when the cucumbers and tomatoes weigh down the vines and fill our CSA boxes.

Israeli breakfasts feature a salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, onion and perhaps cilantro or avocado, dressed with olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Other typical components of the meal are soft cheeses, hard-boiled eggs, smoked fish, pickles, olives, bread and even hummus (a chickpea “dip” — I shared that recipe a few weeks back).

I love to make Israeli Salad. It’s “vegetative,” that is, a meditative exercise involving beautiful vegetables:

ISRAELI SALAD

Ingredients
Plum (or other small) tomatoes, 6 ripe but firm
Pickling cucumbers, 2-4, depending on size
Red onion, 1/4-1/2, to taste
Red bell peppers, 1
Avocado (opt.), 1 ripe but firm
Cilantro (opt.)
Extra virgin olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper

Directions
Although not necessary if the salad is eaten immediately, deseeding tomatoes extends the time the salad will last without drowning in its own juices. To deseed, quarter the tomatoes, scoop out the seeds and pulp (set aside). Cut the tomato flesh, cucumbers, pepper and opt. avocado into a uniform 1/4″ dice. Chop the onions and cilantro. Add extra virgin olive oil, the juice of a lemon and salt and pepper to taste.

VIDEO #1: For a demo of the dice, see the fun video my son created of himself preparing Israeli Salad in my cafe (mandolin optional – I do it by hand): http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bzEcBa9bzu0.

TOMATO & SQUASH PULP SOUP

Hold onto that tomato pulp! I combined it with the pulp that I scooped out of the summer squash when I stuffed them and made this beautiful soup by cooking the pulp in a pot with a cut up onion, peeled ginger root, salt and hot paprika. When the veggies were soft, I pureed them in my VitaMix and at the last pulsed in some of that beautiful basil we received in our boxes (and which we’ll enjoy again this week. This is a variation of one of our favorite soups!!

Last but not least for this week, my favorite way to eat snap beans, Moroccan-style Beans, also using the tomatoes arriving to us straight from the fields of Farmer Bob. I shared this recipe last year but simplified it a little this year.

MOROCCAN-STYLE GREEN BEANS

Prepare a quart of beans by washing and cutting into 2″ pieces. Add extra virgin olive oil to a pot with a cover, and saute minced garlic — lots if you love it, scapes if you have any left. Add at least 1/2 minced onion and saute. Add prepared beans and 1-2 good size tomatoes, petite diced. Bring to simmer, turn down heat, cover and let cook until beans are tender. Check occasionally to be certain there is enough liquid in the pan from the tomatoes to cook the beans, adding a little water if necessary. Toward the end of cooking time, stir in 1-2 rounded TB tomato paste, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. cumin and 1/4-1/2 tsp. hot paprika. Cover again and simmer a while longer until flavors blend. When finished, squeeze in fresh lemon juice if you like. Enjoy!

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

Salads of Summer

The colors are coming, the colors of summer, sunshine on a plate, beautiful and strong…corn, summer squash, multi-colored beans, carrots, chard, fennel and more. But the most beautiful color of all, the deepest and richest…beets!

Beet Couscous. I didn’t get to this dish until a week after we got our beets in our boxes, but I can’t resist sharing this picture of couscous cooked up with matchstick beets and sweet onion, a bit of salt, cumin, hot paprika, some extra virgin olive oil and a splash of freshly squeezed lemon. I added Clementine wedges toward the end of the cooking time and a mint garnish — which could easily be minced and part of the seasoning. Oh, and some broken walnuts. Just as beets turn my pickled turnips into the most beautiful color, so with the couscous.

I use whole wheat couscous (a pasta), by the way. The one that I buy locally in the Middle Eastern section is called Maftoul, and they make a lovely whole wheat version that cooks up in no time according to the box directions to add to the beets and onions.

Navy Pea Bean Salad with Dill & Lemon. The beet salad contrasted nicely with another dish I took to a party this weekend, one of my favorite summer salads topped with roasted summer squash, Navy Pea Bean Salad with Dill and Lemon. I did treat myself to the luxury of getting some fresh dill to add to my cooked beans. That minced dill (lots) with freshly squeezed lemon juice (lots), some extra virgin olive oil, chopped red onion, salt and a bit of hot paprika make a simple but so delicious and nourishing entree for me — or one among several salads I’ll enjoy through the week. The trick is not to overcook the pea beans.

Moroccan-style Beans. This coming week, I’m going to make Moroccan-style Beans with the multi-colored beans we have coming. Here’s the recipe for those:

  • Green beans, 1 lb.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1/4 cup
  • Plum tomatoes, 4 petite diced
  • Tomato Paste, 4 TB
  • Garlic, 3-4 cloves minced
  • Turmeric, 1.5 tsp.
  • Cumin, 1.5 tsp.
  • Salt, 1.5 tsp.
  • Hot paprika, 1 tsp.
  • Lemon, juice of 1/2

Sauté the minced garlic in the olive oil, add the petite diced tomatoes, tomato paste and other seasonings and simmer for a short while. Add the prepared beans, stir, cover and cook for about 30 minutes, less for very fresh, tender beans. Then stir, replace the cover and cook another 30 minutes (or less if beans are tender), and adjust the seasonings to taste.

Mixed Greens Salad. Last but not least, my salad the day I get home from working at the farm. Our fresh greens with some remaining radish, red cabbage and cucumber dressed with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and some crushed red pepper…sitting out on my deck enjoying the day and my simple meal, reminiscing about a beautiful (if hot) day out in the fields planting and weeding and harvesting. Oh my.

So I’ll end with calling your attention to these amazing colors once again. In the winter we have to look a little to find color. In the summer, our senses are flooded — not to mention the way these colors announce their healthy benefits in every bite.

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

Saving The Planet: Eat Your Greens, But Don’t Forget Those Roots

Published in Bob’s Fresh and Local CSA Newsletter, 6/21/2017.

If you are interested in sustainable agriculture, and your CSA membership says you are, you probably know that those veggies are a lot easier on the environment and our water resources than animal agriculture — so much so that Frances Moore Lappe suggested in 1972 in Diet for a Small Planet that we would be better served to eat the grains we grow for animals than to feed them to animals and eat the animals.

So I’m always excited to bring home my box of CSA veggies! It is one contribution I make to taking care of this beautiful earth. As with last week, we’ll see a lot of greens, wonderful greens, a sure sign that it’s early in the season, and we have many luxurious, fresh vegetable-filled weeks to go. So I want to say a word about greens, but I want to focus this week on turnips and radishes, root veggies which we are also enjoying now.

GREENS. Today was a banner day for me. This morning I enjoyed a kale, spinach, soy milk, seeds, fruit and ice cube “Greenie” for breakfast, a delicious way to start the day.

For lunch, I enjoyed the rest of my greens from last week, two lettuces, one red and one green, some mizuna, tokyo bekana, and kale, topped with red onion, radishes and walnut pieces and dressed with extra virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt and pepper. Be sure to mince the stems and throw them into your salad along with the broken walnuts. Any little bits of veggie waste can go into compost.

ROOT VEGGIES & THE ENVIRONMENT.

Cooked white beans, roasted turnips, chopped & sauteed turnip greens, olive oil, white Balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

I just learned this week that of all the veggies, root veggies are some of the easiest on environmental resources. Last week we received two kinds of turnips, white Hakurei turnips and red turnips. I cut mine up, coated them with extra virgin olive oil and roasted them, chopped and briefly sauteed the turnip greens with olive oil, garlic and seasonings, then mixed both with cooked white beans. With the addition of a little more olive oil, white Balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, I had a lovely dish to eat warm or cold (as a salad).

RADISHES are also great roasted. They’re delicious as an unusual side dish or make a colorful addition to a roasted veggie platter.

One of my favorite things to do with turnips is to pickle them, Middle Eastern style.  Beets thrown into the pickling mixture give the beets their pink color, which deepens with more beets or longer pickling.  On the occasion pictured here from last summer, I enjoyed my pickled turnips with scrambled  tofu and greens — and beautiful tomatoes included in my box. Next time I make beet pickles, I’m going to try it without the vinegar, let them ferment to get that tangy flavor, which results in a denser population of probiotics.

PICKLED TURNIPS
Make a brine of 4 cups water, 1 cup vinegar and 3 TB kosher salt. Set aside. Wash a wide mouth glass jar. Prepare your pickling veggies, in this case turnips, by washing and cutting (peeling for older or larger turnips). Add sliced garlic if desired. Pack the veggies into the jar, and pour brine over the veggies until the jar is filled, stirring the brine as you work to be certain it stays evenly mixed. you may need a small dish held down by something with weight to keep the turnips under water. If you put your pickles directly into the refrigerator, it will take a couple of weeks for them to pickle. Alternatively, let them pickle on your kitchen counter for 2-5 days, and move to the refrigerator when they taste as you would like.

I love these spring and summer veggies!

If you’d like more information about the CSA, please visit Bob’s Fresh and Local (produce) and All Grass Farms (livestock, chickens, milk and cheese).

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

One thing I love about my CSA

Stir fry of onion, Bok choy, radishes.
Stir fry of onion, Bok choy, radishes.

I love having a box of fresh veggies, many things that I don’t ordinarily get, then trying things out with them. Sometimes combinations surprise me! – like this Stir Fry of chopped onion, Bok choy stems, salad radishes (that’s the Julienne veggie) and Bok choy greens, added last. Add a bit of salt, a few drops of soy sauce if you wish, and oh, my, was it good!

Here’s a note about how I stir fry: I cut all the veggies first. I heat some extra virgin olive oil in a wok and often throw in a little minced garlic first. This time, I don’t believe I did. Then I add the onions, sauteeing until soft. Then I add the remaining “hard” veggies, most “hard” first, sauteeing for a few moments after each — reserving any greens. When the veggies start to brown a bit, I add a little salt and soy sauce, stir and cover if needed to steam the veggies for a couple of minutes.  Uncover and add the greens, stir together and sauté briefly until the greens are wilted, adjust seasoning, and serve.

I also made Fatoush with what I had on hand instead of the usual, and it, too, was delicious with a creamy vegan dressing:

FATOUSH

Ingredients

  • Mixed greens, any you have on hand or like. Bok choy and Butterhead Lettuce featured heavily in this one.
  • Garlic scapes
  • Green onion
  • Red cabbage (I usually use it but don’t see it here – must have forgotten)
  • Tomatoes – organic grape tomatoes, quartered
  • Radishes – organic, Julienne
  • Cucumbers – organic, sliced and quartered or Julienne
  • Pita – Whole wheat Lebanese pita, cut into squares and toasted
  • Sumac  to sprinkle

Ingredients for Sauce

  • Mayonnaise, 1 cup (I use Hampton Creek Just Mayo – vegan)
  • Tahina, 1/4 cup
  • Garlic, 1/2 – 1 clove mashed (opt.)
  • Salt, 1-2 tsp. (start with 1 tsp. for dressing, add additional to salad after mixed)
  • Hot paprika, 1/4 tsp.
  • Lemon, freshly squeezed, 1/4-1/2 cup, to taste (start with 1/4 cup for dressing, add additional to salad after mixed)

Procedure

  1. Prepare salad ingredients: slice greens 1/8-1/4″, then cut across into 2-3″ pieces. Quarter grape tomatoes or petite dice plum tomatoes. Julienne cucumbers and radishes.
  2. Stack the pita pieces, cut through them lattice-work style so you end up with 1-2″ squares, roast in a 200 degree oven until crunchy, cool thoroughly and set aside or bag for later use. I like to use whole wheat Lebanese pita, available through a local Arab bakery. Lebanese pita is larger than pocket pita and thinner. Makes a great “crouton.” Stored properly, they keep for a long time once toasted and thoroughly dry.
  3. Make the dressing. For a vegan salad, use a vegan mayo. Your dressing should taste salty and lemony because by the time you add it to the salad with its moisture, it will lose some potency. I start a bit lighter on the seasoning, then add the remainder if needed when the salad is made up. You don’t need to use all the dressing at once — if you have leftover, just store in a covered jar.
  4. Put all salad ingredients into a bowl. Add toasted pita so you have 2 parts salad to 1 part pita. Add some dressing and a pinch or two of sumac (available in Middle Eastern stores and online), and mix gently but completely. Add more or less dressing to your liking.
  5. Sprinkle additional sumac over the salad and serve.

If you’d like more information about the CSA, please visit Bob’s Fresh and Local (produce) and All Grass Farms (livestock, chickens, milk and cheese).

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

A few dishes I made with my CSA veggies

These are some things I made during the last week with the veggies from my CSA, sometimes a few additional things. I don’t always note quantities…they’re kind of simple, pinch and toss type dishes.

Stir-fry with Bok choy, green beans, red bell pepper, mushrooms, garlic, lots of onion, fresh ginger root, salt and a bit of soy sauce.
Stir-fry with Bok choy, green beans, red bell pepper, mushrooms, garlic, lots of onion, fresh ginger root, salt and a bit of soy sauce.
Fast food on a night I didn't feel like cooking - edamame pasta with marinara, Bok choy , onions.
Fast food on a night I didn’t feel like cooking – edamame pasta with marinara, Bok choy , green onions.
Miso Soup - 1 TB miso and 1/2 tsp. soy sauce to 1.5 cups water (I think I made a soup of about 6 cups). I sauteed onion and Bok choy stems first, then prepared the liquid/soup in the same pot. When it was hot, I added cut up Bok choy leaves and tofu squares. Checked the seasoning, added a little pepper and topped it off with green onions.
Miso Soup – 1 TB miso and 1/2 tsp. soy sauce to 1.5 cups water (I think I made a soup of about 6 cups). I sautéed onion and Bok choy stems first, then prepared the liquid/soup in the same pot. When it was hot, I added cut up Bok choy leaves and tofu squares. Checked the seasoning, added a little pepper and topped it off with green onions.
Corn and potato chowder. Saute chopped onion in extra virgin olive oil, add some cut up carrots. When soft, add lots of cut up potato and organic corn. Cut up greens come in at the end when finished cooking. I think I might have used kale or maybe a mix of kale and Bok choy for this, but any tender greens are fine. It was simply seasoned with salt and pepper, and I happened to have some fresh marjoram as well.
Corn and potato chowder. Saute chopped onion in extra virgin olive oil, add some cut up carrots. When soft, add lots of cut up potato and organic corn. Cut up greens come in at the end when finished cooking. I think I might have used kale or maybe a mix of kale and Bok choy for this, but any tender greens are fine. It was simply seasoned with salt and pepper, and I happened to have some fresh marjoram as well.
Lots of delicious sauteed onions and Bok choy stems, sauteed tofu squares, Bok choy greens at the last minute and a bit of soy sauce. Mmmm...mmm...good!
Lots of delicious sautéed onions and Bok choy stems, sautéed tofu squares, Bok choy greens at the last-minute and a bit of soy sauce. Mmmm…mmm…good!
As usual, I sauteed lots of chopped onion in some extra virgin olive oil, added a bit of carrot, then 1 cup of red lentils and 6 cups of water, 2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. curry...pan roasted some cauliflower and added it when the lentils were done, then collard greens at the very last moment. Topped it with some garlic "sprouts" (I forget what you call them).
As usual, I sautéed lots of chopped onion in some extra virgin olive oil, added a bit of carrot, then 1 cup of red lentils and 6 cups of water, 2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. curry…pan roasted some cauliflower and added it when the lentils were done, then collard greens at the very last moment. Topped it with some garlic “scapes.”

If you’d like more information about the CSA, please visit Bob’s Fresh and Local (produce) and All Grass Farms (livestock, chickens, milk and cheese).

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

Practising for summer: Pickles!

pickles05_sm

Fermented foods: enjoy some every day

Many of you are probably getting underway with your summer gardening plans. Be sure your plan includes things you can pickle!

Fermented foods are great for you. And there’s one quick and easy way to make certain you have some delicious fermented products with every meal: pickles.

Pickles and olives are part of every meal in the Middle East. When they’re this easy to make, why would you ever get canned? Better yet, when you make your own, you can season them exactly as you’d like.

For the batch of pickles you see pictured here, I used Persian cucumbers, the small, thin, denser variety I can often find in my neighborhood. Regular pickles will work just as well. In fact, you can pickle almost any firm veggies in this way.

A couple of my favorites are cauliflower with red cabbage – or turnips with a beet. Sometimes I throw carrots in with my regular pickles for the color, and the carrots pickle nicely as well. Pieces of red bell pepper or colorful whole mini-peppers work the same way.

One more word about the pickles you see in the picture: I love spicy things. Not everyone does in my world. That’s why I made two jars of pickles to have in the ‘fridge: one has hot peppers in it and the other doesn’t.

For the hot peppers, habanero work perfectly to spice up the whole batch. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any so am trying red “finger hot” peppers. They weren’t hot enough for me last time, but I thought I might give them another chance.

I can't wait 'til these are ready! I've got my ingredients together (except the garlic) and am ready to go.
I can’t wait ’til these are ready! I’ve got my ingredients together (except the garlic, vinegar and salt) and am ready to go.

PICKLES

Ingredients

  • Pickles, 8-10 large, green & firm Persian pickles (or any other firm veggie in about the same amount)
  • Garlic, lots – about 8-10 large cloves
  • Dill, lots – a good-sized bunch
  • Hot pepper/s – to taste (I prefer habanero and would use 2 or 3 for this size batch)

BRINE

  • Water, 4 cups
  • Vinegar, 1 cup
  • Kosher salt, 3 TB

Directions

  1. Use clear, clean glass containers for your pickles. I prefer a glass lid as well so I can re-use it. The metals lids require too much care. Be sure your containers have a wide mouth.
  2. The glass container I used for these pickles was a 2 quart container. That means you might need a recipe and a half of the brine per two quart container.
  3. Clean all veggies — those you are pickling as well as the dill and peppers.
  4. Put plenty of fresh dill in the bottom of the container along with garlic slices. Add veggies, layering if appropriate, fitting in more dill and garlic slices wherever you can.
  5. Top off with more dill and garlic.
  6. Pour brine over the contents in the jar until it reaches the top of the jar. Be certain everything is completely submerged.
  7. Close the lid and place in the refrigerator for at least two weeks.
  8. These pickles will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 months. I have had them as long as six months. They still seemed fine, but I thought it best to make a new batch. Usually they don’t last more than a couple of weeks in my house.

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.