Category Archives: Recipes

My favorite time of year…no, my other favorite time of year.

Published this week in my CSA Newsletter, Bob’s Fresh and Local.

This is my favorite time of year, when all the beautiful summer veggies come from the fields into my kitchen. Oh, wait, I think I said that about early spring and the first greens. OK, ok, I just love the whole year in any year that I can have a part in bringing beautiful veggies into the world.

So let’s talk about this particular favorite time of year. Summer squash. Early cucumbers. Cabbage. Broccoli. Cauliflower. And of course that beautiful kale (hasn’t Farmer Bob’s kale been gorgeous this year?)

I saved my summer squash from last week, so with what’s coming in this week, I’ll have plenty to make a soup to share. This squash soup is a lovely recipe with a very slight sweet flavor.

SUMMER SQUASH & CORN SOUP

Ingredients
• 1 pound yellow summer squash
• 2 ears corn
• 3 large shallots (or use some of the leeks)
• 2 large garlic cloves (or use some garlic scapes)
• 1 fresh jalapeño chile
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
• 2 1/2 cups water

Instructions
1. Cut up summer squash into cubes, and cut corn kernels away from the cob. Mince the garlic and finely chop the shallots or leeks.
2. Add some extra virgin olive oil to the bottom of a soup pan.
3. Saute the garlic and shallots or leeks.
4. Add the veggies and water to just barely cover, no more than 2-1/2 cups.
5. Return to simmer, add seasonings (I usually bump them up).
6. When done, pulse soup in a blender, preserving texture.
7. Pour back into the pot, check and adjust seasoning, and hold warm.
8. At serving time, garnish with jalapeno slices and/or sour cream or yogurt. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the surface.

I originally found this recipe at loveandoliveoil.com. I’ve used it many times with groups, and it always gets great reviews! I usually at least double it and bump up the seasonings a little.

We’ll enjoy cucumbers again this week as well. Of course, anything you don’t use right away can be pickled. Last week I pickled the rainbow chard stems along with a garlic scape (if you love garlic flavor, these scapes deliver a powerful punch). Can’t wait to see how that comes out! The cucumbers this week can also be pickled — just use the recipe I provided for refrigerator pickles.

But here’s another way to try them, and it’s delicious! A Hungarian friend shared her recipe with me many years ago — would you believe more than 40? It dropped out of my recipe repertoire somehow because I’ve just been doing vegan recipes. Sadly, I will have to wait on this one until Perfect Day perfects its milk, which they promise will have all the properties of cows’ milk but without using a cow. I’ve already translated most of my former cafe recipes.

Lots of yummy salads! The Creamy Cucumber Salad is at 5:00 in the right picture.

CREAMY CUCUMBER SALAD

Ingredients
• Cucumbers, 4, washed, sliced in half lengthwise, deseeded, thinly sliced across (thin slicer blade on mandolin or processor)
• Salt, 1 TB
• Garlic, 1 fresh clove (or some garlic scape)
• Sugar, 2 TB
• Vinegar, white, 1/4 cup
• Middle Eastern Labne or Greek yogurt, 3 TB – 1/2 cup

Instructions
1. Mix the deseeded thinly sliced cucumber in a bowl with the salt and minced garlic (or garlic scape).
2. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour, overnight if you wish.
3. Remove from refrigerator and drain accumulated liquid, squeezing it from the cucumbers.
4. Return drained and squeezed cucumbers to the bowl. Mix with sugar and white vinegar.
5. Cover and refrigerate for at least another hour.
6. Remove from the refrigerator and drain accumulated liquid, again squeezing it from the cucumbers.
7. Return drained and squeezed cucumbers to the bowl, and fold in Middle Eastern Labne. Greek yogurt, preferably full fat, makes a good substitute.

Just two weeks ago, our beautiful yellow summer squash was a small yellow flower.

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

It’s no use boiling your cabbage twice…Irish Proverb

So let’s just boil the cabbage once or even not at all! Oh, those beautiful cabbages, the red one, the green one. The humble cabbage turns out to be one of my favorite veggies. I make red cabbage slaw, green cabbage slaw, potato and cabbage soup with fresh dill, cabbage steaks with mustard sauce…and tonight I’m making stuffed cabbage rolls. This is an easy recipe as well as delicious. I use this filling in other stuffed veggies as well — grape leaves, summer squash, peppers. It has happened on occasion that the filling never made it into the veggies, but tonight I’m determined.

STUFFED CABBAGE ROLLS

Ingredients 

  • Cabbage, one head
  • Brown Basmati rice, 3 cups cooked
  • Mushrooms, sliced and pan roasted, 1 lb.
  • Salt, 1/2 tsp.
  • Za’atar, 1-1/2 tsp. (Za’atar is a Middle Eastern mix of herbs, available in bags at Butera, Garden Fresh and online – substitute with thyme and oregano to taste)
  • Olive oil, 1/4 cup
  • Tomato juice
  • Lemons, juice of 1-2

Directions

  1. Cook 1 cup of dried brown Basmati rice (which will make 3 cups cooked)
  2. Pan roast the sliced mushrooms until the liquid cooks off.
  3. Put the rice, mushrooms, 1⁄4 cup of olive oil, seasonings and lemon juice to taste in the processor, and pulse a
    few times.
  4. The mixture should be gravelly and cohesive.

To prepare the cabbage:

  1. Bring water in a large pot to simmer.
  2. Cut the core out of the cabbage and place the whole head in the simmering pot for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Take the head of cabbage out, remove outer leaves carefully and set aside to use.
  4. Place the remaining head of cabbage back in the pot for a couple of minutes, and again take out and remove leaves. Repeat this process until you have removed all the good-sized leaves.
  5. Chop the remaining cabbage to add to the bottom of your cooking casserole.

To make up the rolls:

  1. You can shave away some of the thick rib to make the cabbage leaves easier to roll.
  2. Place 2-3 Tb of the filling across the base of each leaf, and roll from the stem end up tucking in the
    edges along the way.
  3. Place in casserole with seams down.
  4. Add tomato juice to almost cover the rolls.
  5. Squeeze lemon over the rolls
  6. Cover withfoil, and bake 350°F for 45 minutes.
  7. Garnish with a bit of parsley.

This week we’ll receive kohlrabi again. I’ve tried it now stuffed and as a low carb “potato” salad — and I’ve pickled it. I think my favorite way to eat it is just sliced and used to dip into delicious Middle Eastern spreads like hummus or Muhammara. The bok choy made its way into a delicious stir fry my son made for us — and a soup with soba (Japanese buckwheat noodles. If you make a double batch of the mushroom and rice filling, you’ll be able to stuff the summer squash with them as well. Middle Easterners use an apple corer to hollow out the middle of the squash lengthwise, which makes a very pretty dish. Save up your garlic scapes for more of that pesto recipe I gave you a couple of weeks back. Use lots of basil with it and some summer greens. Speaking of greens, we’re still enjoying our summer chard omelets, and we can’t get enough of those greens like kale and kohlrabi greens — even cabbage and sometimes bok choy — in our morning smoothies. What a wonderful way to start the day!

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

Eat your pesto spread on bread or saucing up a cabbage head…

Published in Bob’s Fresh and Local CSA Newsletter, 7/5/2017

I’m excited to know that we have garlic scapes coming through again this week along with Bok Choi, kale, cabbage and Swiss chard, all favorites among my family and friends.

Garlic scapes and chard

My son makes a dynamite chard omelet for us all every Sunday as part of our traditional shared meal (and why not — he grew up on them!). Last week I made garlic scape pesto, and it was so good I’m looking forward to trying it again this week to slather on homemade bread or mix into pasta.

Bok choi I like to chop roughly, keeping the stems separate from the leaves. I stir fry the stems with loads of onions, green onions if I have them, thin-sliced regular onions otherwise. I add in the leaves for a moment and season. It’s a delicious part of lunch for me. Alternatively I add carrots Julienne to the stir fry and cook up brown Basmati rice to add to the mix with Asian seasoning. The peas coming in this week will also make a nice addition to that stir fry or to salads.

Here’s a delightful kale salad with a light, slightly sweet, slightly salty flavor. This recipe is from Israeli Chef Yotam Ottolenghi, and Palestinian Chef Sami Tamimi, co-owners of stellar restaurants in London and co-authors of some beautiful cookbooks.

Kale Salad with the spelt challot I cook at the shul on Fridays, see what I can come up with to add to Shabbat dinner or kiddush on Shabbat morning…

KALE SALAD

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale, ribs removed and roughly chopped into ribbons or shreds (about 8 cups)
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely grated (about ½ cup)
  • 1 crisp apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • ¼ cup sliced raw almonds
  • 3 tablespoons pitted oil-cured olives (about 9 olives), halved
  • Black pepper to taste

Directions

Note: Instead of steps 1 and 2, especially if I am short of time, I make a dressing of the olive oil, juice of the lemon and seasonings, drizzle it over the kale and toss in.

1. In a medium bowl, combine kale and olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Using your hands, massage kale until olive oil coats the leaves and they begin to wilt, about 1 minute.

2. In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice, cumin and turmeric. If you like these seasonings, you can add more, but begin with the recommended amounts. Add mixture to kale and continue to massage the leaves until well combined.

3. Add carrot, apple, raisins, almonds, olives, and toss until just combined. Season with salt and pepper. Let the salad rest for 10 minutes, then serve.

GARLIC SCAPE PESTO

I didn’t have my good camera with me at the shul where I was cooking, and that garlic pesto on the lower right of the pictures doesn’t show up well. We used homemade pita chips to dip in it or just slathered it on the spelt challah in the next picture.

Great to spread on bread, and in thinking up a title, it occurred to me it could make a great “sauce” for cabbage steaks.

Ingredients

  • Any sweeter flavor leaves, 2 very big handfuls (I use spinach when available — this week I used kohlrabi greens
  • Basil leaves, 1 very big handful (I tried it without the basil since I shared it with someone who doesn’t like basil, and it was good, though I prefer it with basil)
  • Pine nuts, 1/3 cup
  • Garlic scapes, woody stems and all, 6
  • Salt, 1 tsp.
  • Pepper, 1/2 tsp.
  • Crushed red pepper, 1/2 tsp.
  • Lemon, juice of one small (about 1/8 cup)
  • Extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 cup

Instructions

  1. Cut up the scapes and process them briefly in a food processor.
  2. Add all leaves and pulse until even and granular.
  3. Add everything else and pulse, then blend, to uniform texture — but do leave texture.
  4. When plated, top Middle Eastern style with a little additional extra virgin olive oil for garnish.
A few root veggies and some kohlrabi, washed and ready to cut up for dipping in hummus and muhammara. I’ll take a platter to a July 4 party…

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.

From the farm. Love seeing all those beautiful greens coming in:

Beets and Kohlrabi and Carrots Oh My

Published in Bob’s Fresh and Local CSA Newsletter, 6/28/2017.

I hope everyone is enjoying the greens of summer as I am. I used every single leaf this week, every green turnip top, every spinach leaf. My husband, Andy, who isn’t big on eating his spinach, looks forward to the greens-packed smoothies I make him every morning. Today I used kohlrabi greens. “Greenies” are our new regular breakfast, and I’m looking forward to greens during the winter from Farmer Bob’s new greenhouse.

This week we’ll see lots of other colors in our Meal Boxes as well: bright orange carrots, purple and white kohlrabi, deep ruby beets. I sampled a beet this past week, and it was the perfect addition to a big jar of Middle Eastern style pink pickled turnips. You’ll find that recipe in last week’s newsletter. I confess it was hard to get enough turnips to fill my jar, though, because I kept nibbling those tender, crispy, spicy nuggets.

Here’s another Middle Eastern favorite, Moroccan Beet Salad. You’ll find some version of it in many Moroccan Jewish cookbooks. I used to serve this one in my cafe, and even those who inexplicably didn’t like beets were addicted to it. I love it because it doesn’t use added sugar, just lets the delightful, sweet natural flavor of the beets come through.

Our beets will be smaller than I originally used with this salad, and we’ll probably have fewer, so adjust the recipe accordingly.

MOROCCAN BEET SALAD
Ingredients

  • Beets, 6 large
  • Red onion, 1/4 large (3 oz.)
  • Lemon, 2 lemons, juiced (about 4 TB)
  • Extra virgin olive oil, 6 TB (if you must refrigerate before eating, use canola oil so it doesn’t solidify)
  • Salt, 2 tsp. (to taste)
  • Cumin, 2 tsp.
  • Szeged Hot Paprika, 1-2 tsp. (to taste)
  • Cilantro, 1/4-1/2 cup chopped

Directions

  1. Place whole, unpeeled beets in water to cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook until done. Don’t over-cook, but you should be able to pierce the beets easily with a fork.
  2. Cool the beets in the cooking juices and rub off the skins.
  3. Julienne the beets.
  4. Add olive oil, lemon juice, spices.
  5. Slice onions thinly into the bowl with the beets, 1″-2″ long slices.
  6. Add chopped cilantro to the bowl.
  7. Stir all together gently, adding lemon, salt and hot paprika to taste.

Of course, these young beets at the early end of the season are so sweet and tender that you can just use them raw in salads. The same high-powered blender that makes your delicious greenie will also make an extraordinarily beautiful ruby red soup or smoothie.

Finally carrots, beautiful orange carrots. Another time, I’ll share some great carrot recipes, including Moroccan Carrot Salad. I also like to make a creamy carrot soup without an ounce of cream — it’s amazing what a blender will do!

But I’ll end as I began, with smoothies. Of course, I often use carrots in my smoothies. They actually help sweeten a smoothie in which there’s no added sugar — and straight-up carrot smoothies with some light-colored fruits to retain that bright orange color, maybe a little ginger or cinnamon, will please your kids or kid at heart, like my husband, Andy.

So get ready, get set, here comes another beautiful Meal Box from Farmer Bob thanks to some wonderful, soaking rains…at last.

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.

Fridays I like to cook at the shul

Our kitchen at the shul needs a little work, but it’s big and bright and airy, and I like to cook there on Fridays, prepare a little something for our Friday evening dinners, which more and more of our little family on the prairie are coming to enjoy, and Saturday morning kiddush. During the warmer months, I include veggies from my CSA box as much as possible.

Spelt vegan challot are a standard part of what I do, a couple for Friday evening and a couple for kiddush on Saturday. This week, in addition, I made a stir fry with green onions, red onion, lots of good greens, carrots Julienne and topped with a special treat, snap peas — all from the farm.

Somehow I feel as though the path to resolving the many issues that face us in these times is through food justice in all its dimensions. That’s a thought that will need to wait for another moment for unpacking. Right now I’m just immersing myself in the pleasure of planting, nurturing, harvesting and preparing things that are good to eat.

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.

5 Ways to Use This Week’s CSA Veggies

Prepared for Bob’s Fresh and Local CSA. Visit them on Facebook.

This week we’ll enjoy a wonderful variety of spring greens, mostly Asian and from the mustard family, including Mizuna, Tokyo Bekana, Hon Tsai Tai and Tatsoi as well as the more familiar spinach. We’ll also receive radishes, Hakurai, red stem turnip…and maybe some chives.

Greens, spinach, radishes and carrot with extra virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon, salt.

Most of these greens have a slightly peppery flavor. Hon Tsai Tai, somewhat similar to broccoli raab, is a bit more mild and delicious from stem to flower. Tokyo Bekana, closer to lettuce, is a little sweeter and crunchy. Tatsoi has pale lime green leaves in rosettes. The mixture makes beautiful salads, and I always like to make a simple one as soon as I get home with my Box. Spring radishes are a perfect addition. I dress these salads simply with extra virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt and freshly ground pepper.

But salads are only the beginning of what you can do with those flavorful greens! Here are five other ways to use your greens:

  1. Soba Salads or Entrees. Soba is a buckwheat Japanese noodle available packaged in many grocery stores. Prepare according to directions. Saute minced garlic and fresh ginger root in extra virgin olive oil. Add radishes and even turnips Julienne to the saute if desired. Add the greens and wilt. Turn off the heat. Add a little of salt or soy sauce to taste. Stir into the Soba noodles, or just top them off with a crown of sautéed greens. Serve warm or cold (for a salad).
  2. Patties. Make your favorite veggie patty. I like the Middle Eastern way (falafel), in which the beans are not pre-cooked, just soaked overnight. Try this: 1/2 lb. dried chickpeas rinsed and soaked in a covered container overnight, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/2 Spanish onion in chunks, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. allspice, 1 tsp. hot paprika and 3-6 oz. mixed greens, chopped. Using a food processor, place the garlic in first, then the chunked onion, the chickpeas, the seasonings and rough chopped greens. Place everything except beans in bowl, and pulse about 10 times, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Then run for about 30 seconds. Scrape down, add the beans, and run another 30 seconds or more, scraping sides periodically, or until you have a uniform gravelly mixture that holds together. If you plan to fry, form the mixture into (falafel) balls. If you plan to saute or bake, form into small patties (I use a 3/4 oz. candy scoop). Deep-frying, the balls will take 3-1/2 minutes. If you saute, you might need to experiment a little. The patties should be browned on the outside and soft but not raw inside. Enjoy with pita, Middle Eastern chopped salad and tahini dressing.
  3. Soups. I’m a soup-lover, in the summer too. Ramen soup is very easy. I use three items that I always keep on hand in my home: 1) Costco has a great Millet and Brown Rice Ramen from Lotus Foods, 2) I order Mori-Nu Silken Tofu Organic Firm by the case from Amazon, which can remain unrefrigerated until opened (I just open one 12.3 oz. package from the case at a time), and 3) quality Miso. Make a delicious Miso broth, and when the broth boils, drop loads of roughly chopped Asian (or other) greens. Finally, drop in a square of Ramen for a moment or two until you can pull it apart. For a more substantial dish and a protein boost, add a few squares of Tofu. The chives would work nicely with this soup as a garnish and for added flavor.
  4. Omelets, Frittatas, Quiches, “Shakshouka.” Those of you who get eggs with your Meal Box remember to enhance all your favorite egg dishes with greens and chives! You’re probably familiar with omelets, frittatas and quiches, but Shakshouka might be new to you. Traditional Shakshouka, made with tomatoes and peppers, originated in North Africa. When the rich and aromatic tomato and pepper sauce is hot, the eggs are cracked into it, poached briefly in a covered pan, then served. In this version, saute some garlic in extra virgin olive oil, add the greens, salt, pepper or other seasonings to taste, and when you have a hot, saucy mixture, add the eggs for poaching covered.
  5. Pizza! Make or buy a whole wheat pizza crust — or use 6″ whole wheat pitas. Pre-heat the oven to high heat (unless you’re fortunate enough to have a small pizza oven). Oil the top of the crust. Add briefly braised and wilted greens to the crust, then thinly sliced onions and halved grape or cherry tomatoes, some pine nuts if you have them, seasonings (oregano, salt, crushed red pepper). Bake until the edges of the pizza crust begin to brown a little. Enjoy!

Next week I’ll write about turnips and radishes, spectacular veggies we take for granted. For now, save those turnip greens to use with other greens in your soups and egg dishes, or just to use as a (sautéed and seasoned) bed for roasted turnips.

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.

How My CSA Box Keeps My Family Healthy

After 45 years as an off-and-on vegetarian (20 of them strictly vegetarian) including 7 years of owning and operating a vegetarian cafe, I decided four years ago to explore an entirely plant-based diet. This makes Farmer Bob’s CSA “Meal Boxes” (as I like to call them) perfect as the source of my meals, but what about the rest of my family?

For my nutritional advice, I follow drfuhrman.com. Dr. Fuhrman is a “board-certified family physician with over 25 years experience
in nutritional medicine…and an internationally recognized expert on nutrition and natural healing…” I like his nutrition recommendations between they are common sense and easy to understand and follow, graphically presented and based on wide-ranging reviews of medical literature.

Dr. Fuhrman is the originator of the Nutritarian Diet, based on Nutrient Density, the maximum nutrition for the calories. His ANDI (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index) scores put greens right at the top of the list as the most nutrient dense food we can eat. His Food Pyramid recommends whole plant foods for 90% of our daily diet. Based on these recommendations, I am confident that Farmer Bob’s Meal Boxes with the addition of some dried beans, grains, nuts and seeds, satisfy the bulk of my family’s nutritional needs.

As I eagerly wait for our first box, I’m thinking of what I want to make for my family during that week. The box will surely contain lots of beautiful young greens, including butterhead lettuce, kale, spinach, chard and bok choi. I’ll bet we also receive some radishes, which I enjoyed in salads and many a stir fry last year. Be sure to see my article in our last newsletter for information on managing and using those greens and a recipe for a Bok Choi and Radish Stir Fry.

This week I’ll share a few ideas for Kohlrabi, which we’ll see in our Meal Boxes in the early weeks of the season.

KOHLRABI SLICES FOR DIPPING
Last year we were invited to a local get-together at the peak of kohlrabi season. I made this hummus dipping tray with kohlrabi slices instead of pita, which worked very nicely. I regularly make several Middle Eastern style “salads” or dips, which I’ll share in this series as time goes on, including Hummus, Muhammara (walnuts, pomegranate molasses and red bell peppers) and Babaganoush (eggplant) and Matboukha (a Moroccan “salsa”).

Hummus with radishes, kohlrabi, zucchini & red bell peppers.

STUFFED KOHLRABI
Remove the stems from 3-4 kohlrabi and fully peel away the tough outer layers of them. Set aside the greens.

Using a coring tool, insert into the center of the peeled kohlrabi, but do not pierce through to the base. You will probably not be able to remove the plug. Insert again, slightly out more toward the edge, again careful not to pierce the base. Continue this process, circling around the original central plug. Then, using a small serrated knife, remove the plugs and scrape a little to make the central cavity fairly smooth. Reserve what you remove from the kohlrabi.

Oil and salt the kohlrabi inside and out. Add a bit of extra virgin olive oil to the bottom of a Dutch oven, place the kohlrabi cavity side down and saute until slightly browned. Turn the kohlrabi over onto its base, turn down the heat, add a little water (2-4 TB), put the lid on the Dutch oven, turn down the flame, and cook until the kohlrabi is as tender as possible (it remains fairly firm), checking the water occasionally. Set aside until ready to assemble.

 

KOHLRABI FILLING

Ingredients

  • Kohlrabi – inside pulp of 3-4 kohlrabi
  • Bok choy – stems, petite diced; greens, chopped 1/4″ pieces
  • Brown Basmati rice, 1 cup dried
  • Salt, 1/2 tsp.
  • Oregano, 1-1/2 tsp.
  • Lemon Juice, 1/2 squeezed

Instructions

  1. Cook the rice until done.
  2. Chop the kohlrabi pulp, and add to a pan with a little extra virgin olive oil, and saute.
  3. Add the Bok Chop stems, petite diced, and saute briefly.
  4. Add the rice to a food processor, then the sauteed ingredients and seasonings.
  5. Pulse several times until the mixture is evenly mixed and chopped and looks like coarse grains.
  6. Add seasoning to taste (salt, a little hot paprika if desired)
  7. Use this mixture to fill the reserved kohlrabi.
  8. Add marinara to a dish, and place the stuffed kohlrabi on top of it. Add a little more marinara to the top, and a few garlic scapes for garnish.

KOHLRABI SALAD
Last year, a friend of mine told me he loved the kohlrabi salad he grew up with, much like potato salad. I used my regular dill potato salad recipe (with lots of fresh dill) and substituted kohlrabi for the petite diced potatoes, and it was good! You can use your own favorite potato salad recipe and substitute kohlrabi — and I’d love to hear how it comes out. Or check out this Lebanese version, replacing the potatoes with kohlrabi:

  • 2 lb. kohlrabi, peeled, diced and simmered with turmeric until done)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1-2 tsp. turmeric (added to the kohlrabi cooking water)
  • 1/4 tsp. hot paprika
  • 2-4 TB chopped dill
  • 1-2 green onions chopped
  • 1 large dill pickle, chopped (I prefer Middle Eastern dills or cucumbers in brine, available through Garden Fresh Market in Buffalo Grove or Amazon, but Claussen dills work pretty well)
  • 1-2 TB lemon juice, to taste
  • 2-3 TB extra virgin olive oil

Oh, and those kohlrabi greens? Add them to your greens for the week and use in stir fries, smoothies, wraps and more! And the little stems you cut away when you peel the kohlrabi – save them as well. You can cut them up to saute whenever you use onion. It adds texture and flavor.

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

Introducing Meal Boxes! Beautiful CSA Veggies On The Way

Maybe you’ve heard about “meal kits.” These are packaged and shipped individual meals to make up fresh at home with recipes and pre-measured ingredients. Meal kits are quite an advance over TV dinners with their fresh whole foods and recipes that often come from  celebrity chefs.

Among the claims for these meal kits, offered by a number of lavishly funded start-up companies with various specializations (gourmet, organic, vegetarian, gluten-free, etc.), are things like “no waste” and “locally sourced.” It’s true that precisely measured ingredients allow you to avoid purchasing more than you need, but there’s the packaging, each ingredient in its own wrap, and the shipping box. And locally sourced? Would that be local to the business or to you?  Because first the ingredients have to reach the supplier for assembly into kits…and then they have to ship out to you.

These kits come at a time when Americans express an avid interest in cooking (witness all the popular reality TV shows, internet recipe services, and good old-fashioned cookbooks on Amazon). Apparently not so many actually want to cook, though. As for taking what’s on our plates a step farther back to its source in the ground…not so much that either.

But consider this rewarding and effective step you can take toward providing superior quality, truly local, affordable meals to your family with no waste whatsoever. This step makes you part of creating a movement for sustainable agriculture and part of reducing the vast food waste in this country, estimated at 40%. Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) near you!!

With most CSAs, there are a variety of levels for participation. The basic idea is that you buy a share for the season at the level you choose and receive fresh, local produce directly from the farmer on that basis. In doing this, you support local, sustainable agriculture and enjoy amazingly fresh, nutritious and delicious food.

Some CSAs offer a worker’s share, which is what I do. This gives you an opportunity to participate at a whole other level in bringing food to your family’s plates. My own participation is something I look forward to with excitement each year. It is spiritually rewarding and makes me feel that I have a part in restoring our earth and our relationship to it.

For those of you already in a CSA, this series of posts will provide suggestions and a couple of recipes to go with your box. I work for my local CSA, Bob’s Fresh and Local, and my recipes address what comes in Farmer Bob’s beautiful boxes each week. I plan to do more than single recipes, though, because what we really have are “Meal Boxes.” Each week, I’ll post about how to use the whole 3/4 bushel box, which at $34.50/week (a 20 week share broken down by the week) easily provides meals for a family with more to preserve for winter or share. I’ll focus on simple, flexible preparation directed at using the entire Meal Box with a couple of more detailed recipes.

In my first post several week back, I wrote about greens, how I handle them when they first arrive and what I do with them through the week. My next post, to go with the first of the boxes, will focus on how our boxes serve my family’s overall nutritional needs. Following that, I’ll dive into expanding our ideas of breakfast.

To follow these posts, other food and sustainability news and nonhuman rights commentaries, subscribe to this blog or like my Vegetating with Leslie Facebook page.

Hope to hear from readers about your own experiences with local sustainable agriculture, delicious whole food preparation ideas and related thoughts.

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

CSA Greens: Bok Choi & Radish Stir Fry

We will soon enjoy lots of spring greens in our boxes, and that’s great, because I LOVE greens and missed Bob’s beautiful assortment over the winter. Here’s what I do with them (other than the salad I make first thing when I get home from the farm).

The best way I found to manage my greens in the cafe was to immediately remove all ties and rubber bands, wrap them in a slightly moist towel and put them into the refrigerator. Of course if the greens arrive already moist, there is no need to dampen the towel. I use microfiber towels that I can get in big batches at Home Depot. Even the more sensitive greens keep well this way for several days, often as long as a week. I check the towel periodically to make certain it stays very slightly moist.

As soon as I can get to it, I cut up all the sturdier greens (I prefer Middle Eastern-style salads, where the greens are cut into small pieces). I put the cut greens into a salad spinner, fill it with cold water, swish around, lift the basket to drain the greens, empty the base of the spinner, and return the basket with greens for spinning to dry. If the greens have more dirt particles attached than usual, I may run them through twice.

Then I transfer the greens to a clean microfiber towel to wrap and store in the ‘fridge except for the portion I want to use right away. The stored greens are there, ready for use in various salads … and as they begin to get older, they’re a great addition to a stir-fry.
Speaking of stir-fry, here’s a Bok Choi and Radish Stir-Fry I made last season. Quantities will vary depending on what we get:

BOK CHOI AND RADISH STIR-FRY
Ingredients

  • Garlic, minced
  • *Onion, petite diced
  • Salad radishes, Julienne
  • Bok choi stems, Julienne
  • Bok choi greens, “diced”
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Soy sauce

Instructions

1. Wash and cut all the veggies
2. Heat some extra virgin olive oil in a wok and throw in a little minced garlic
3. Add the onions, sautéing until soft.
4. Add the remaining “hard” veggies, reserving any greens.
5. When the veggies start to brown a bit, add a little salt and soy sauce, stir and cover if needed to steam the veggies for a couple of minutes.
6. Uncover and add the greens, stir together and sauté briefly until the greens are wilted
7. Add salt to taste and/or a bit of soy sauce, and serve.

*Note about cutting onion: let the onion work for you! I cut off the two ends and cut the onion in half, then remove the brown skin. I put half of the onion cut-side down, then slice it at whatever width I want for the dish, keeping the onion together. Then I turn it one-quarter and slice again, perpendicular to the last cuts. This will give you whatever size dice you choose.