Category Archives: Vegetarian

A smoothie a day keeps the doctor away … a bowl a day keeps her further away

Published in Bob’s Fresh and Local newsletter, 9/20/2017

Pinterest reports that searches for Grain Bowls or Buddha Bowls are up over 200% in 2017, and there’s a very good reason for that! We’re paying more attention to health, and these bowls are an easy, creative and delicious way to do that.

The name “Buddha Bowl” is a contemporary creation, but it evokes the simple feasts of Buddhist monks, who historically began their days walking into town with begging bowls where householders would add to them what they had on hand and could afford. Coming before the days of processed foods, these bowls were likely both simple and healthy … and with the variety of foods provided by householders eager to fulfill their own spiritual responsibility, colorful.

Like smoothies packed with greens and seeds and nuts and fruits, frequent Buddha Bowls are another great way to ensure vibrantly good nutrition. People use a variety of schemes to build their bowls: one idea is starch-protein-veggies, another is grains’n’beans-veggies-nuts’n’seeds. Sometimes there is fruit in the mix. Bowls inevitably change color and texture with the season as available produce suggests new combinations. The main idea is to keep it simple, use what you have on hand, and make a great sauce to top it off.

Now about that protein: The average sedentary man requires 56 grams of protein per day and the average sedentary woman, 46 grams per day — 15-25% of the calories you eat depending on your activity level. If you’re eating a healthy, varied diet filled with things like smoothies and Buddha Bowls, you’ll meet that requirement easily.

Here’s how Buddha Bowls help you satisfy your protein requirement: protein is made of building blocks called amino acids. Of 21 amino acids, the human body synthesizes 12 of them. It cannot synthesize the other nine, and these are called essential amino acids. We have to consume these nine every day. Foods that have all nine essential amino acids include animal products like meat and chicken and fish and dairy — but also plant foods like soy beans and quinoa. You can also mix and match to create a complete protein by using foods with complimentary amino acids, for example, beans and grains. You don’t necessarily have to eat them at the same meal, just the same day.

So some of you may enjoy a bit of grilled chicken, a dollop of homemade yogurt or a hard-boiled egg with your bowl. But if you’re vegetarian or vegan, the grain and bean, seed and nut combinations in your Buddha Bowls make it easy for you too.

Here’s what I used in my bowl today: a mix of greens (lots of Asian greens and mizuna), chickpeas, wheat berries, zucchini, carrots, red onion and radishes. I even used some remaining fried eggplant as a last minute garnish. The peppers and tomatoes we’ll receive in our boxes this week will make nice additions to a Buddha Bowl as well. I topped it off with Tahina dressing. Here’s how I make that:

Tahina Dressing (sesame seed-based dressing)

Add the following to a blender, and blend until smooth.

  • 1-1/2 cups tahina (I like Ziyad brand, available in many stores in the Chicago area)
  • Juice of 1-1/2 – 2 lemons or at least 1/4 cup (I like a little more)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 TB salt
  • 1/2 TB cumin
  • pinch of hot paprika
  • 2 cups water (more or less for a good consistency)

So throw away the recipe book, get creative, use what you have and delight your family while you nourish them.

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

Summer days…driftin’ away

Published in Bob’s Fresh and Local Newsletter, 9/13/2017

I felt the first chill in the air while I was camping in Door County last week, and I thought with dismay that we’re closer to the end of summer than the beginning. Speaking of Door County, although I love outdoor cooking and would have loved to make some things with Bob’s beautiful veggies and get a few photos, it rained the entire time we were there. We managed a few hikes between the raindrops but no food photos. That means this first recipe comes to you without a photo.

MOROCCAN EGGPLANT PARMESAN

Slice eggplant into 1/8-1/4″ slices, salt and leave covered overnight in the refrigerator in a colander over a bowl to catch moisture. When you’re ready to make the dish, drain and pat the eggplant dry, then deep fry until golden brown and set aside. In a baking pan, layer the following in this order, at least two rounds:

  • Chickpeas
  • Fried eggplant
  • Tomatoes, sliced
  • Onions, sliced
  • Slivered spinach
  • Sliced green olives
  • Capers
  • Feta cheese (just with first set of layers)
  • Mozzarella (to top off after second set of layers)
  • Grated Parmesan

Bake the dish for 40 minutes in a conventional oven or until the mozzarella is bubbly and has brown spots. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Variations: You can spread whole sliced pita across the bottom of the pan before beginning the layers to absorb the juices if you wish, serving the pita along with the “slices” of Moroccan Eggplant Parmesan — or serve with garlic bread to soak up the juices. You can also leave off the cheese for a vegan version. The fried mozzarella makes the dish plenty “rich.”

ROASTED RADISHES

There are so many things to do with the humble radish, from vegetable art to pickles to salads to colorful salads of all kinds to creamy pink soups. One of the simplest things you can do is roast them for a colorful side dish or garnish to bring a platter of veggies to life.

STUFFED BELL PEPPER

I make stuffed peppers two ways: with the mushroom and rice filling I shared with you a few weeks back for cabbage rolls, my go-to stuffed veggie filling, or with Israeli couscous (pre-cooked) mixed with loads of (vegan) pesto. For the mushroom and rice filling (red and green bell peppers), I made a sauce with leftover tomato soup (pureed tomato, onion, a bit of fresh, peeled ginger, salt and hot paprika to taste). I pureed into the soup some cooked red bell pepper to brighten the color and create a more complex flavor. I made a straight tomato sauce for the couscous and pesto filled peppers (yellow). I always oil and roast the veggie I’m stuffing first until it’s almost as tender as I’d like it and perhaps just a bit browned. Then I add the filling to it — and set it on a bed of the sauce. Don’t those look pretty?

Here’s a hint: I’m not sure what color peppers we’ll get this week, but choose veggies for your soup/sauce that will compliment the color of the pepper.

So coming this week in addition to the eggplant, radishes and peppers, I hear we have sweet corn (can’t get enough of it at my house), Swiss chard, Mizuna, onions, tomatoes and maybe a little lettuce. Remember, any radishes you have left – or onions or greens make a great stir fry! Happy eating in these late summer days.

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

Simple is good…using those amazing greens — lots of them!

This summer, as I did last summer, I’m working on the farm for my CSA. I receive 3/4 bushel of beautiful, organically raised veggies for my efforts each and every week of the season. When I open my box each week, it’s like a gift. All those beautiful colors. My imagination starts to work overtime as I look forward to what I’ll make.

Gathering my ingredients and prepping the greens and onion…

Yet sometimes it’s challenging to use up those veggies, especially since Andy and I are just two.  On the other hand, after years feeding a family and friends, then operating a cafe, I never learned to make a small pot of food just for two…so I share. Or make lots of really simple things and graze my way through the day…like smoothies and soups and simple wraps or stir-fries. I add my scraps to a veggie waste bowl and throw it into my garden area, where it will enrich the soil for future veggies.

Prepping the Bok choy… As I did with the Asian greens, I start cutting at the stem end, cutting thin slices across the bunch until I get to the top of the greens. Then I separate the stem end since that will require a little more stir-fry time than the greens.

So I pretty much use my whole box every week and in the process find lots of interesting new things to make…and share. So it was all working nicely until…last week.  Here’s what happened:

Andy’s corporate office offers a wellness project.  It is an amazing benefit of working where he does, and there are a number of aspects to it, but the one I want to mention now is one they initiated this summer. They send home, with any employee who wants it, 3/4 bushel of produce every week for seven weeks. After the seven weeks, employees can continue to receive the boxes by paying half price for them.

All my greens and Bok choy prepped — and separated from the stem ends.

What an amazing project! I’m so impressed with this company for initiating this kind of effort. What better way is there to encourage vibrantly good health than to make certain that people have the opportunity to enjoy loads of fresh veggies and fruits?! Experience first-hand the wonderful variety of flavors and textures the earth offers us?

I believe that a 350 degree temp is when things brown. It’s a little hard to measure on a gas flame, so I used my electric induction burner this time, put in some extra virgin olive oil, then added the onions to saute. When they looked like this, I added in the stem ends of the Asian greens and Bok choy to stir-fry for a couple of minutes.

Admittedly the program helps the company as well since healthier employees mean reduced insurance premiums, reduced absenteeism and other cost reductions. But there is nothing at all wrong with gifts that give in more directions than one. And I certainly want to see how this great program works and support it — and let Andy experience the pleasure and pride of bringing home the proverbial (vegan) bacon.

And then I remembered this beautiful garlic that came in my CSA box this week. As a former associate used to say, you can never have too much garlic! These are big cloves, tho, so I just used one, smashed, peeled and minced it and threw it into the onion and stem mix in the pan.

So now I have a bushel and a half of veggies and fruits to figure out how to manage each week.  I must say that so far this week, I’m doing pretty well, although I didn’t get to some beautiful Asian green and Bok choy that were in his office box until a little too late to make them into a salad.

When lunch rolled around today and I went to get those greens for a salad, they didn’t look quite as perky as when I got them even though I stored them carefully when they came in — so here’s what I had for lunch instead: stir-fried garlic and onions and greens with some CSA-fresh tomatoes and delicious Field Roast (vegan) sausage.

The finished greens and onions! What I don’t eat for lunch will go into our rice and greens stir fry this evening. Check out my simple and delicious lunch in the featured picture with this post.

There were more than what I could eat, as usual, but that’s no problem! I knocked out two meals at once when I made those greens. I boxed up the extra and stuck them in the ‘fridge. Later today, closer to dinner, I’ll cook up a cup of brown Basmati rice, stir it and season it in a wok and add in those greens. Then even Andy, who doesn’t otherwise like greens, will eat them!

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

A delicious way to use mid-summer CSA veggies

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

My favorite recipes are healthy, colorful, beautiful, meals-in-themselves, easy and versatile. This week, I had some remaining red cabbage, and our boxes featured the first onions and green beans of the season as well as some carrots. Of course I thought of Pozole Soup (or Stew, if you like it thicker with veggies like I do!).

Pozole is corn — white hominy, to be specific. Since the kernels are large and grow even larger during cooking, one dried bean packager markets it in bags describing it as “Giant White Corn.” Along with a rich array of colorful veggies, pozole is the basis of this delicious Mexican-style soup. Although traditionally made with meat, my version is 100% plant-based, and the taste and texture of the pozole and variety of delicious veggies along with a little extra virgin olive oil and some avocado means no one will miss the meat at all!

Feel free to experiment with the veggies you add. I used some chard in mine this week along with the snap beans, carrots, cabbage and onions. If you have any garlic scapes left, they would also make a nice garnish.

Ingredients

  • Extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup
  • Red onion, 2-3 medium-large, finely diced
  • Garlic, 8 cloves, minced
  • Oregano, 1 TB
  • Salt, 1+ TB
  • Carrots, 6-8 small-medium, sliced on the bias
  • Snap beans, 16 oz., tipped and cut into 1″ pieces
  • Tomatoes, 8-10 medium, petite diced — or a 28 can of petite diced tomatoes
  • Pozole (whole hominy), 1 lb. dried
  • Water, 3-4 quarts, including hominy cooking water
  • Chipotle in adobo sauce, 1-2.5 TB, minced or blended
  • Avocado, Red Cabbage, Cilantro, Lime Slices (garnish)

Instructions

  1. Slow-cook the pozole until just tender, and set aside in cooking water.
  2. Add the extra virgin olive oil to a large soup pot.
  3. Dice and add the onions and garlic, followed by the green beans and petite diced tomatoes.
  4. Drain the pozole, reserving the cooking water. Add pozole to the pot, and measure the water, adding enough more to make 3-4 quarts depending on how veggie-filled you like it.
  5. Cook until all flavors blended and veggies are tender.
  6. Serve garnished with avocado, slivered raw red cabbage, chopped cilantro and lime slices.

You might like a little more salt — or a little less chipotle. This makes a slightly spicy soup.

This week I’m looking forward to receiving sweet corn, cantaloupe, more summer squash, chard and snap beans, green cabbage, leeks and kale. That sounds like some amazing meals!

There’s no question in my mind what I’ll do with that sweet corn. Last year Andy and I discovered a new taste treat, Mexican-style corn with mayonnaise instead of butter. I prepare the corn either in the husk on the grill or in the oven — or husked in simmering water. I use Just Mayo, a great vegan mayonnaise, flavored with dried chipotle seasoning to taste — and we slather it onto the ears when they’re done. Now that’s something delicious!

The cantaloupe is another easy one. I love cantaloupe, and it won’t last two seconds before I just spoon it out of the shell. As for the greens…can’t get enough of ’em! We stuff our smoothies full every morning, starting off our days with a health rush.

Last but not least, the scenes that remind me that all is still right with the world…

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.

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.

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.