Archive for Vegetable

Recipe ReDux: Orange you glad it’s fall?

Do you know any nutrition nerds, in particular the card-carrying expert kinds called RDs? When I was doing some informational interviews, trying to decide if I was interested in the profession, I asked one RD how she would characterize the people working in dietetics. Her answer (“We’re all very… organized.”) was an understatement – what she meant is that dietetics is full of whip-smart, ambitious, detail-oriented over achievers.

Since I’m not yet an RD but play one on TV, I followed in those type A footprints for this month’s Recipe ReDux. We were tasked with creating recipes that feature fall’s plentiful, orange-hued, carotenoid-rich foods like pumpkin, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes and golden beets.

Butternut squash came right to mind – I love these tasty, versatile gourds, which have something like a billion percent (slightly less) of your vitamin A needs, and a nice chunk of vitamin C, potassium, manganese and more. But why stop a just one orange ingredient, or even two? So I backed those squash and stuffed them full of dried apricots, carrots and lot of other goodies.

The result is a baked stuffed squash with cinnamon-infused barley, tart apricots and cranberries, healthy little legumes and a sweet-tart dressing.

I angled for some extra credit with this triple-orange dish, and if you want to boost your kitchen grades too, have a go at the recipe:

Roasted butternut squash stuffed with cinnamon-infused barley, apricots & carrots

2 servings, approx. 500 calories each

1 cup pearled barley

3 cups water

1 cinnamon stick

1 butternut squash

1 carrot, peeled and diced into very small pieces

1/3 cup dried apricots

¼ cup dried cranberries

¼ cup sliced almonds

½ cup chickpeas

1 Tbs apple cider vinegar

½ Tbs olive oil

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp maple syrup

1/8 tsp nutmeg

Grated cinnamon to taste

Bring barley, cinnamon stick and water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 45-50 minutes (until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the top off the squash near the stem, then cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and membranes, and use a paring knife, melon baller, or whatever other kitchen wizardry you’ve got going on to make a good-sized “bowl” from each half.

Put the squash cut side down in a large baking dish with ½-1 inch of water, and bake for 30-40 minutes (more for larger, thicker squash).

While the squash is baking, mix ½ cup of the cooked barley, apricots, cranberries, almonds and chickpeas in a mixing bowl. In a small bowl, combine the apple cider vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup and nutmeg. Pour the dressing over the barley mixture and toss to coat.

When the squash has finished baking, remove the pan from the oven and turn the heat down to 375 F. Carefully remove the squash from the pan. Empty the water from the pan, line the bottom with foil and spray with cooking spray.

Put the squash back in, cut sides up, and spoon half the barley mixture into each half. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon, return the squash to the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes. Remove, let cool for 5 minutes or so, and serve.

I’m not the only one orange-minded over-achiever, so check out the links to recipes from my fellow ReDuxers:

Pest Control Week: Beneficial brassicas + Brussels sprouts frittata

If asked, many people would tell you they try to avoid pesticides in their food – by buying organic produce, growing their own food using non-chemical pest control, or eating meat that was raised on low-or-no-chemical feed. But getting ready to make the whaaaaaa face when I say you should deliberately eat some pesticides.

No, not the kind brewed up by Industrial Chemicorp, LLC. I’m talking about the natural pest-resisting compounds in brassicas, better known as the cabbage and mustard family or as cruciferous vegetables.

Cabbage, broccoli, mustard, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kohlrabi and other members of the plant genus Brassicaceae are chock full of phytochemicals, notably indoles and isothiocyanates. The plants use them to ward off pests, but it turns out those compounds also help humans ward off some other insidious invaders. Research shows that the indoles and isothiocyanates in brassicas can increase DNA repair, and that people who consume more cruciferous vegetables are at lower risk of developing some cancers.

Brussels sprouts frittata

My own research, however, shows that they are not effective at warding off dachshunds (who stole several of my recently harvested Brussels sprouts right out from under my hand).

The sprouts that survived the Dog-Shaming-worthy onslaught went into a new recipe I worked up for lunch – Brussels sprouts frittata with capers, parsley and parmesan cheese. With a splash of balsamic vinegar on top, it has a taste that is savory, nutty, slightly sweet and a smidge bitter all at once.

The frittata recipe follows, but you should also take a tour through the other beneficial brassicas with this week’s worth of recipes from around Teh Interwebs:

  • Brussels sprout and shallot hash from Epicurious (here)
  • Roasted kohlrabi from AllRecipes (here)
  • Roasted broccoli and garlic soup from Not Eating Out in New York (here)
  • Rigatoni with roasted cauliflower and spicy tomato sauce from Herbavoracious (here)
  • Thyme-roasted root vegetables from Eating The Week (here)
  • Sweet potato sandwich with cabbage slaw from Dorm Room Dinner/Big Girls Small Kitchen (here)
  • Roasted brussels sprouts with cranberry and barley from Cookie + Kate (here)

Brussels sprout frittata

Two servings, approx. 285 calories each

½ red onion, chopped
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup Brussels sprouts
½ cup water
4 whole eggs + 1 egg white
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tbs capers
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Balsamic vinegar, to taste

Cut the stem ends off the Brussels sprouts and cut them into halves or quarters, so that you have leaves and roughly ½-inch size pieces.

Heat the olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally until they are turning translucent.

Add the Brussels sprouts and a pinch of salt; cook another 3-4 minutes, until the leaf edges are turning brown. Pour in the water and cook for 4-5 minutes or until the water has evaporated.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, mustard and parsley. Grate in some black pepper, then pour the mixture over the onions and Brussels sprouts in the skillet. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook for 12-15 minutes.

Heat the broiler to high. When the frittata is done cooking on the stove, remove it from heat and sprinkle the cheese over the top. Put the pan under the broiler for 3 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cut into four wedges (two per serving). Top with a little balsamic vinegar, if you like.

Garden Week: Eating from the Lynch Farm

It’s that time of year: the temps are ever hotter, it’s juuuuust noticeable that daylight hours are getting shorter, and Lynch Farm is starting to yield a few edible crops.

Last year, every chipmunk and squirrel within a 75-mile radius seemed to have heard about our vegetable garden, and they were merciless about eating seeds, sprouts, and anything that wasn’t nailed down. But (I think) thanks to a milder winter that left more wild food sources for the critters, the fava beans, chard, tomatoes and more are all ours for the picking in 2012.

Maybe these “guards” did the trick?

Leaving us to wonder – what the heck are we going to do with the bazillion heirloom tomatoes, piles of brussel sprouts, waves of rainbow chard, and an army of fresh mint? Well, the earliest edibles (fava beans) made for a simple dinner with zucchini and pasta in a recipe I’ve posted previously. Then the big lumpy “black” tomato that came off the vine first went into gazpacho (without bread, as my husband has a fearsome wet-bread phobia). When the next ones are red and ready, this “evolution tomato salad” with beans, basil and tuna from Jamie Oliver sounds like a tasty use for them.

For more garden-centric recipes, head past the jump.

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Lettuce Week: Salads are great, but…

Lettuce  just get the pun out the way up front, so we can jump right in and make good use of the leafy green bounty in the spring garden.

From the Lynch Farm

I’m pretty thrilled that our little lettuce crop survived the bizarre hot-and-dry-then-rainy-and-cold spring, and didn’t end up as groundhog food. But now there’s the question of how to use all of it. We’ve been eating plenty of simple green salads, and tried a strawberry and goat cheese salad from Eating Well that was very tasty. Some of our lettuce also has ended up in tacos when we had make-your-own taco bar recently.

From there, though, I ran out of lettuce ideas besides just eating green salads for 27 days in a row. Thankfully, Teh Internets provided a week’s worth of recipes that make creative use of the leafy green stuff. Head past the jump for the list & a recent award.

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Stalking the Week: Waving the magical celery wand

Maybe it’s the wand-like shape of a celery stalk which suggests it is imbued with magical, “negative calorie” powers. Let’s just get this out of the way up front: it’s a myth that you burn more calories digesting celery than are actually in the celery itself. And nutritionally, it’s not really a big standout – there’s a reasonable amount of water and vitamin K in each stalk, but mostly it’s just a fiber delivery system.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy this relative of carrots and parsley for its other merits, like the crunchy texture and clean, distinctive flavor. Those firm green ribs stand up great to all sorts of dips and schmears, making celery a perennial favorite on the veggie-and-dip tray at parties. But there are several other ways to enjoy it, especially in crunchy salads with fruit or other veggies.

The recipe that got this all started for me was a vegan creamy celery soup in the recent issue of Vegetarian Times. But that recipe isn’t yet posted on their site, and I’m not a big fan of copyright infringement, so I can’t share it with you here. I did manage to find a very similar recipe from Pamela Goes Primal, however, linked in the recipe list at the end of this post.

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Cauliflower Week: The wallflower steps out

For me, things like kale, sweet potatoes, Greek yogurt, spinach, nut butters, beans, and carrots are always top of mind. They get scribbled onto our grocery list week in and week out, and their absence in the fridge or pantry is immediately noticed. But on the other end of the spectrum is a food that rarely emerges from the recesses of my edible memory, one that when I stumble upon a recipe using it, I honestly think, “Oh, right, people eat that.”

Cauliflower doesn’t really deserve the wallflower treatment – inside those nubbly white florets are the nutrients common to the cruciferous vegetable family to which it belongs. Plants in this family are rich in sulphoraphanes (or in cauliflower’s case, precursor glucosinolates), which are associated with a lower risk of many cancers. But what finally snapped my neck in cauliflower’s direction was not the nutrition nerdery, but a simple roasted cauliflower soup:

Thick, earthy, and crunchy with the hazelnut topping, this soup from Sprouted Kitchen was all that. The mushroom-y flavor makes no sense (because there are none in there), but it is fantastic. The leftovers were nearly turned into a 10:00 am lunch, I was so eager to dive back in.

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The Week in Sports: Well, the week in salsa, anyway

There’s some sort of sporting thing going on this weekend, right? Big national cricket competition, or a curling match or something? If you’re reading the Internet Foodosphere, you can easily be excused for forgetting what the actual game is; here, the food rules the track and field. Potato skins, wings, chili, HUT! So let’s all don our lacrosse helmets and join the fray, with a week’s worth of salsa recipes with a twist.

Sweet potato salsa from Running to the Kitchen

Why not conventional salsa? It’s not for a lack of appreciation – I personally go through at least one 16-oz jar of salsa every week. I put it on quesadillas and eat it with chips, sure, but I also put it on salads, in sandwiches, and in my mouth directly from the jar (Tim still looks incredulous when he sees me do this). It’s mostly about taste, but my inner nutrition nerd also loves this stuff: salsa is an easy way to add to your veggie (and often fruit) intake for the day, with relatively few calories and a good hit of flavor.

Cucumber avocado salsa from Weelicious

But you don’t need me to give you recipes for that – it’s easy to grab some really tasty typical salsa from the store. Anything farther afield, however, is rarely in the ready-made aisle. So we’re going to have to sharpen our knives and roll up our sleeves to try some variations on the salsa theme. I don’t have any recipes of my own to share, despite my unabashed love of salsa paired with anything else edible. Thankfully, there are plenty of novel salsa recipes from other folks on Teh Internets, so here’s your week’s worth of the super scoopable stuff:

  • Feta salsa from Smitten Kitchen (here)
  • Black bean salsa with heirloom tomatoes and pear from Tonya Staab (here)
  • Mango strawberry salsa from Allrecipes (here)
  • Grilled peppery mushroom salsa from Epicurious (here)
  • Apple walnut salsa from Allrecipes (here)
  • Cucumber avocado salsa with mint from Weelicious (here)
  • Sweet potato blackberry salsa from Running to the Kitchen (here)

And let’s go team!

The Missing Week: Vegetables and the chocolate Trojan Horse

Have you heard me extol vegetables’ virtues previously – colon-friendly fiber, blood-pressure-loving potassium – but haven’t yet felt compelled to consistently eat your daily recommended servings? Maybe you’re suffering from Vegetable Nutrition News Fatigue (symptoms include rolling eyes and sighing after repeated exposure to vegetable-related health-benefit messages). If that’s the case, then I clearly need to resort to the heavy artillery: chocolate.

What’s that, you say? Chocolate.

Do I have your attention now? Good, because something else yanked my attention back to the topic of produce-heavy diets: a British study found not eating enough fruits and vegetables is the 2nd greatest modifiable risk for developing cancer in men, and the 5th greatest modifiable risk in women (approximately 40% of overall cancer risk is due to modifiable/lifestyle factors). This news isn’t entirely new, since research has previously linked a lack of dietary produce with risk of many cancers. But the fact that it is second only to tobacco among modifiable risk factors in men startled me, and I realized it was time to step up the vegetable evangelism.

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Recipe Redux: Whole grains – accidental warm spelt salad

What food blogger – especially one with Obsessive Pun Disorder – wouldn’t love the chance to say they bit off more than they can chew? Thanks (I think?) to Recipe Redux, I had the opportunity to do just that. For November, we Reduxers were charged with using a new whole grain. So I dove right in and tried to modify a recipe I’ve never made before (pan-seared oatmeal) with a grain I’ve never eaten, much less prepared – spelt.

The idea was to modify the sweet breakfast recipe into a savory version that would highlight the richer, mushroom-y flavor of spelt. The result? Well, let’s call it Accidental Spelt Salad, because there were some… structural issues that required a salvage job and a bowl.

I mixed cooked spelt with egg and Dijon mustard and layered it with some Gruyere cheese in the middle. This chilled for about an hour; I then inverted it and cut it into neat little triangles. Alas, here’s where things went south.

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Mushroom Week: tasty little recyclers

We now know that mushrooms are tasty little buggers, adding earthy flavor and filling texture to all kinds of recipes. Nutritional science has also revealed that they are decent sources of B vitamins, copper, and selenium, and a few varieties even boast surprisingly large amounts of vitamin D. But I sometimes wonder, before all that, who first saw a bulbous fuzzy growth atop a pile of decomposing matter and thought, “That belongs in my mouth?”

Maybe we shouldn’t think about that too much, actually; my job of extolling their dietary virtues would become more difficult if we’re fixating on terms like “gilled fungi” or “spore-bearing fruiting body” (thanks, Wikipedia). Instead, let’s focus on melty risotto, savory pancakes, and the recipe that saved my relationship with veggie burgers: pecan mushroom burgers with gorgonzola sauce.

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