Category Archives: Entrees

Peter, Peter, stuffed pumpkin eater

Published in Bob’s Fresh and Local CSA Newsletter 10/10/2017.

Farmer Bob’s pumpkins and winter squashes are beautiful this year, and they deserve to be the centerpiece of a meal, maybe even Thanksgiving dinner. This pumpkin feast is something you can feel proud to serve as your main dish for a vegan Thanksgiving — or right along with your turkey to satisfy vegetarian and vegan guests or as a festively colorful side dish. Even Peter will eat it and thank you, and he knows pumpkins!

This dish has three parts: the pumpkin, the pumpkin filling and the apples with their beautiful cranberry sauce topping.  You’ll have more filling than you need for the pumpkin, so you can just spread the extra around the pumpkin on the platter and put the apples on top of it. As you can see, the colors are amazing and will make any meal a special meal.

 

STUFFED PUMPKIN
Pumpkin and Stuffing (serves 4+ as a meal, many more as a side)

  • 1 Sugar or Pie Pumpkin
  • 2 Cups (Pre-cooked) Brown Basmati Rice
  • 2 Cups (Cooked) Chickpeas
  • 4 Cups Almonds/Raisins/Craisins/Apples
  • 4 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 TB + 2 tsp. Sugar
  • 2 tsp. Cinnamon
  • Pinch Hot Paprika

Cut off top of pumpkin. Cut stem to 2 inches. Scrape out seeds. Season inside of pumpkin with olive oil and honey (or unfiltered sugar). Rub outside of pumpkin with olive oil. Roast one hour at 350 degrees.

Cook two cups brown rice. Set aside. Sauté almonds, raisins, craisins and apple slices with olive oil, sugar, cinnamon and a pinch hot paprika. Add to rice with chickpeas. Stir together and re-season. Set aside.

Apples and Cranberries

  • 3 Baking Apples
  • 6 Cloves
  • 1 LB Bag Cranberries
  • Pinch Cinnamon
  • Juice of 1 Oranges
  • 2 TB Honey (Unfiltered Sugar for Vegans)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 Cup White Sesame, Toasted

Halve and oil the apples. Bake with cinnamon and cloves.

For sauce, juice orange and add 2+ TB honey (or sugar). Reduce sauce. Add cranberries and cook very briefly. Remove cranberries. Reduce sauce further. Recombine sauce and berries.

Assembling Pumpkin Meal
If you make everything ahead, warm each part separately. When ready to serve, fill the pumpkin loosely, replace pumpkin lid, and plate the pumpkin. Surround the pumpkin with the remaining filling, and place the apples on top of it around the pumpkin. Top the apples with cranberry sauce, and garnish with white sesame.

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

Nothing against my favorite, pumpkin pie…but there’s so much more!

Published 10/3/2017 in Bob’s Fresh and Local CSA Newsletter

I always make pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving, and I like to make them “from scratch,” with real pumpkin, not canned. It’s so easy — why not? All it requires is to slice the pumpkin in two, scoop and scrape out seeds and pulp (and set aside for roasted pumpkin seeds), oil, and place face side down on a roasting pan in a 350 degree oven for about an hour. At the end of the cooking time, remove from the oven, cool, and easily scoop out the pumpkin flesh.

And of course there are the seeds, which I’m munching as I write. You don’t get those with canned pumpkin! I put them in a colander with the pulp, run cold water over them, rubbing the seeds and pulp together. The seeds easily pull away, and I discard the pulp. Usually I dry the seeds briefly, then oil and salt them and oven roast in a shallow pan. This time, for some reason, I decided to pan roast them in a cast iron pan. I had just made some sweet pita in that pan using maple syrup, and I was too lazy to wash the pan, so I just threw in the seeds over the bits of darkened maple syrup and stirred constantly until they browned slightly and voila! Done. Delicious.

There are so many ways to use pumpkin that I can’t even count them. I get my inspiration from Morocco most of the time. Those folks love pumpkin and are so creative with it! Pumpkin soups, kibbee, stews, stuffed.

This week I’m going to share two pumpkin hummus recipes, the first with a slightly sweet profile, the second a savory Lebanese version. The Lebanese version didn’t have chickpeas in it, and it was lovely, but I confess to having an aversion to calling things hummus that don’t have chickpeas since in both Hebrew and Arabic, “hummus” means chickpeas as well as the “dip” in which they are used. When I finished the slightly sweet hummus, I had a few extra chickpeas, so I threw them into the Lebanese hummus mix, and it was delicious. I could have used more and will next time.

PUMPKIN HUMMUS

Blend the following until as smooth as you like it:

  • Chickpeas, 2 cups cooked (I always make my own from dried beans, but if you used canned, rinse and drain)
  • Pumpkin, 2 cups prepared as above
  • Cinnamon, 2 tsp.
  • Ginger root, peeled and minced, 2 tsp.
  • Salt, 1/8-1/4 tsp.
  • Nutmeg, 1/8-1/4 tsp.
  • Cloves, 2-4
  • Hot paprika, 1/8-1/4 tsp.
  • Sugar, 1 TB slightly rounded

For the “chips” on this one, I use whole wheat Lebanese pita, available in the Middle Eastern section of many stores. Cut it into chips and oven-crisp at 200 degrees until lightly toasted. Remove, cool and bag up for use later.

For this slightly sweet hummus, I stirred the chips in a hot pan for a few minutes with a bit of olive oil, maple syrup and cinnamon. Yum.

LEBANESE PUMPKIN HUMMUS

Blend the following until as smooth as you like it:

  • Pumpkin, prepared as above, 600-700 grams
  • Chickpeas, 1/2 cup
  • Lemon juice, freshly squeezed, 2 TB
  • Garlic, 1 clove, minced
  • Tahini, 5 TB
  • Salt, 1/2 tsp.
  • Hot paprika, 1/4 tsp.
  • Extra virgin olive oil for garnish
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds for garnish

Serve this one with the regular pita chips from the Lebanese pita, not sweetened. Enjoy these delicious variations on a classic Middle Eastern favorite.

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

Tradition…tradition! Old traditions with fresh CSA veggies

Published in Bob’s Fresh and Local CSA newsletter, 9/27/2017

When I got cold, working in a food trailer during the winters, I decided to move inside to work. For a while, before I opened my Woodstock cafe, I had a little concession in Caputo’s Fruit and Vegetable Market in Algonquin. Many of the staff used to come over to the counter and ask me to make up special items for their lunches.

During Lent, a frequent request from my Catholic friends was for egg and peppers sandwiches, something that was new to me. I asked how they did it, and everyone had a different style and approach. This is what I came up with:

I use Italian rolls, whole wheat if I can find good ones, slice and toast them and set them aside. I cut up the peppers in 1-2″ pieces and toss them into a cast iron saute pan with some extra virgin olive oil and minced garlic, a little salt and some crushed oregano. I let them cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, then add a little bit of white Balsamic vinegar and put a lid on the pan to let the peppers simmer until softened.

While the peppers are cooking, I scramble some eggs gently in another cast iron pan and when barely cooked through, I remove the pan from the heat and push the eggs to its edge. (For a vegan alternative, scramble some tofu with salt and turmeric). When the peppers are finished, I arrange the eggs on top of one half of the bun, spoon the peppers over and voila! Egg and peppers sandwiches.

I missed Lent this year, but when we started getting our peppers from Farmer Bob last week…and more coming this week…I thought longingly of those sandwiches and made some up last night for my family. They definitely got the all-out seal of approval, so I think I’ll make them again this coming week.

I also enjoyed this Asian greens, radish and red onion salad during the past week and I expect will enjoy something similar in the coming week with the lettuce we’ll get. I used a simple dressing of extra virgin olive oil, white Balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. That white Balsamic vinegar is a new favorite of mine. I’ve always used olive oil and lemon for my salads, but the vinegar is a nice alternative.

Finally, I’m gearing up for pickles. Farmer Bob is sending us all the basic ingredients for dills: pickles, garlic and dill. I only make refrigerator pickles, and they keep for months — deliciously. Wash the pickles and layer them with lots of cut garlic and dill into a glass or earthenware jar with a lid. Pour a cold broth over them made of 4 cups of water, 1 cup of distilled vinegar and 3 TB kosher salt. Refrigerate, and let them pickle for 2-3 weeks. If you like them spicy, add a cut habanero to the broth. Yum, can’t wait ’til mine are finished!

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.

CSA summer veggies…kinda like in the movies

Published in Bob’s Fresh and Local Farm Newsletter 9/6/2017.

Remember the Pixar movie, Ratatouille? My grandson showed it to me a couple of years ago as part of his educate grandma project. I loved it! This week I thought it might be fun to try out their special version of ratatouille, called “Confit Bayildi,” created by Chef Thomas Keller.

Confit Bayildi after cooking with extra sauce drizzled on top. Best to use a cast iron pan with vented lid. I was preparing three smaller portions so had to improvise.

The difference between Chef Keller’s recipe and the ratatouille I usually make is mostly about technique and presentation. Ratatouille is a savory veggie stew, and it’s a must at the peak of the growing season since it uses everything: tomatoes, bell peppers, onion, garlic, summer squash, zucchini, eggplant, basil and/or rosemary. This special version, though, includes arranging the veggies for cooking and serving in concentric circles on top of a rich sauce, making a beautiful, colorful dish.

ChefSteps has a Youtube video (https://youtu.be/iCMGPRiDXQg) that demonstrates the technique, which is great to know not just for Confit Bayildi but for other wonderful dishes like a crustless creamy apple tart. First select, wash and cut up your veggies, trying to choose veggies approximately the same circumference: zucchini, summer squash, plum or smallish tomatoes, eggplant. In the video, the chef peeled and cut the tomatoes by hand into thin, round slices, then used a mandolin for the rest. I cut them all by hand and didn’t peel the tomatoes since I know ours are organic, and I like eating the peel. Any parts of these veggies you don’t use should go into your blender along with lots of garlic, a cut up onion or two and a cut up red bell pepper or two.  Add some extra virgin olive oil, salt and rosemary or basil, and blend until you have a smooth, thick sauce. Check the seasoning, making certain it is strong enough to carry the veggies. I like adding a little crushed red pepper as well.

Spread the sauce at the bottom of a cast iron pan or other heavy dish, and arrange the cut up veggies rhythmically in concentric circles on top of the sauce: zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, tomato, then repeat. When the dish is filled, drizzle additional olive oil over the top, and sprinkle with salt. Cover with parchment with a steam hole so the veggies don’t stew, and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. When finished, drizzle a little more extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with fresh chopped herbs — and I squeezed a few drops of lemon juice over the top as well, which always seems to me to brighten the flavor. Finally, I drizzled remaining sauce over the top.

Ratatouille soup…mmm mmm good.

I had some extra cut up veggies after I made this, so I made ratatouille soup, easy peasy. Just put lots of garlic and minced onion into a soup pot with extra virgin olive oil, and saute briefly. Add tomatoes and a little water, and simmer for a few moments. Add all the other cut up veggies and water to barely cover. I usually start with about 1 TB of salt to a gallon of soup and 1/2 tsp. hot paprika. I add chopped fresh herbs like parsley, basil or rosemary after the soup finishes cooking and I turn off the heat. Taste and reseason to your taste. Less or no water would, of course, give you the traditional ratatouille. Enjoy!

And a few memories of this week on the farm:

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

Too many zucchini from the CSA? Never!

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

Years ago I had a cookbook called, Too Many Tomatoes. I remember the chapter on zucchini that featured Zucchini Chocolate Cake. Wow, was it good!

Another thing I like to do with zucchini is stuff them…well, sort of. What I really like to do is halve the zucchini lengthwise, scoop out the middle and set aside, rub the halves with extra virgin olive oil, lightly salt and season them with the seasonings that will be in the filling, and roast them. Then I pile one or another delicious topping on the roasted zucchini halves.

Here are two of my favorite toppings: one Mexican influenced, the other Middle Eastern. Some parts are cooked, some raw — and I serve them either slightly warm when they’re freshly prepared or later, cold. I don’t like to roast the whole thing altogether but prefer a lighter summery “salad” approach.

MEXICAN-STYLE “STUFFED” ZUCCHINI

Ingredients

  • Brown Basmati rice, dried, one cup
  • Black beans, dried, one cup
  • Corn, 1 cup cut from ear
  • Red bell pepper, 1
  • Red onion, 1/4-1/2 large
  • Chard, ribs cut away and chopped, 2 cups
  • Avocados, 2 good size
  • Limes, 4 juicy
  • Salt, 1 slightly rounded tsp. plus 1/4-1/2 tsp. (for the avocado sauce)
  • Hot paprika, 1/4 – 1 tsp.
  • Cumin, 2 tsp.

Instructions

  1. Cook rice with extra virgin olive oil, 2-1/2 cups water and 1 tsp. salt. Set aside.
  2. In a separate pot, cook black beans until barely tender. Set aside.
  3. Lightly steam corn and set aside.
  4. Chop the chard, petite dice the red onion and red bell pepper.
  5. Toss the prepared veggies together with a tsp. of salt, 1/4-1 tsp. hot paprika (to taste), cumin, juice of two limes.
  6. Pile onto roasted zucchini halves and top with a dollop of avocado sauce (avocados, juice of two limes, salt and hot paprika to taste).

Here’s one more filling/topping from one of my favorite chefs, Yotam Ottolenghi, a Middle Eastern version. In his recipe he uses eggplant, but it works just as well with zucchini:

MIDDLE EASTERN-STYLE “STUFFED” ZUCCHINI

Chermoula Sauce Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp chili flakes (I used 1 tsp hot paprika)
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 2 TB finely chopped preserved lemon peel (If you can’t get preserved lemon, you can use the same amount of lemon peel)
  • 2/3 cups extra virgin olive oil

Bulgur “Filling” Ingredients

  • 1 cup fine bulgur (#1 cracked wheat)
  • 2/3 cups boiling water
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 3.5 TB warm water
  • 1/3 oz. (2 tsp) cilantro, chopped, plus extra to finish
  • 1/3 oz. (2 tsp) mint, chopped
  • 1/3 cup sliced pitted green olives
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1.5 TB freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup tahini sauce
  • Salt

Instructions

  1. Add all the ingredients to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
  2. After hollowing out and rubbing the halved zucchini in extra virgin olive oil, brush the chermoula sauce on the cut halves. Roast halves until done.
  3. Add 2/3 cups boiling water to the cracked wheat, soak until tender, then drain and ring out the wheat.
  4. Soak the golden raisins in 3/5 TB warm water.
  5. Lightly toss the raisins, cilantro, mint, green olives, almonds, green onions and lemon juice into the cracked wheat. Add salt if needed.
  6. Pile topping/filling onto the hollowed and roasted zucchini.
  7. Drizzle tahini sauce over all (tahini, lemon juice, salt, cumin, water).

Have fun with this method! Try other versions like Italian or Asian. Oh, and the zucchini pulp you scoop out of the middle? Save it for later use in a pureed soup. I’m going to cook and blend mine with leftover tomato cores from another salad, some onion, a bit of ginger, salt and hot paprika. Yummm!

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

A little of this, a little of that…an alphabet of things to make with CSA veggies

This post was published in Bob’s Fresh and Local newsletter 7/25/2017

It was fun to have so much variety last week and even more variety this week. I thought I might share a few things I made as well as what I plan to make with this week’s veggies. Some of these things aren’t recipes per se but just “throw-in-what-you-have” type dishes.

Beets. See the recipe I shared earlier for a great beet salad!! I sometimes make beet soup with these as well, a simple purée of peeled cooked beets, onions, a bit of ginger and seasonings.

Cauliflower & Broccoli. I didn’t make them this time, but maybe next week I’ll include recipes for a spicy Middle Eastern style Cauliflower and Chickpeas…or for Cream of Broccoli Soup.

Chard. We’ll probably get this again soon. I made something inspired by “koshari,”, a popular Egyptian dish, a layering of pasta, chickpeas, black lentils, rice, and a richly flavored tomato sauce with petite diced tomatoes and lots of garlic. I had an extra layer of sautéed chard and onions. I topped it off with a garlic scape garnish.

Cucumbers. I made a beautiful Israeli/Jerusalem Salad with these. I’ll share a recipe at a later time.

Fennel. This week we’re getting Bulb Fennel, such a wonderful, flavorful veggie. While I was still in the cafe, I made up an absolutely delicious Fennel Salad to go with Dill Potato Salad and No Meat Loaf (a chickpea base). The Fennel Salad is on the upper right corner. It is made up from the fennel bulb, sliced, some sliced tomato, sliced red onion, minced fennel top, extra virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt and pepper. The fennel brings unique flavors and texture to the salad.

Kale. Kan’t get enough of them!! Smoothies!!! Huge ones! Every morning!! The smoothies — or better yet, Greenies, I make for Andy and me pack a wallop of nutrition and help us start the day super-charged. Would you believe, I make a half-gallon — and we each enjoy a full quart of this nourishing breakfast.

Summer squash. I do many different things with summer squash, but when I have a lot coming in fast, I usually end up making a quick and easy soup. This week I had leeks left from last week so put some extra virgin olive oil in the pan, added cleaned and sliced leeks, petite diced peeled potato (more or less depending on how thick you want it), petite diced summer squash and garlic. My veggies came to about one gallon. I sautéed them for a bit and added 6-8 cups of water (to barely cover). I added a TB of salt to start and 1/4 tsp. hot paprika. I simmered until everything was soft, then ran on low in my blender. You can adjust the thickness to your liking between the amount of potato you use and the amount of water. I put it all back in the pot, added 2 cups of any kind of unsweetened milk (I used rice milk), brought back to simmer, added in some snipped rosemary and turned off the heat. You could replace the rosemary with any available seasoning…like fennel? Alternatively…squash Napoleons?

If you’re still looking for ideas, check out my page in Pinterest, where I go for inspiration. My files are under LeslieCooks.

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.

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.