Veggies!


I’m traveling this week, but still wanted to share my photo and recipe ideas. Which won’t be much, really. I picked up veggies on Tuesday afternoon, and pretty much just sorted them into their appropriate corners of the kitchen. Then I left super early on Wednesday morning.

Chicken, roasted cauliflower, and beet salad.
 
Last Week
My main push earlier this week was to clean out the fridge and save as many things as possible, so they didn’t spoil. It was a bit of a challenge, but I managed to either use or store all the veggies from last week, but only barely. Mainly, it happened in one big meal that we enjoyed over two days. I roasted a chicken, made this wonderful roasted cauliflower and couscous dish, and then made a salad with fresh lettuce and roasted beets. Yum!

I managed to sauté up the kale and greens, and then put them in the freezer for use in this and that. In fact, I made up some soups for Eric to eat while I’m gone, and included a hefty serving of chard in each. Also a couple of small tomatoes.

The green tomatoes got roasted up with a few peppers I had in the back of the fridge, and an onion, and then put in a jar in the freezer for a future pork chop or chicken breast.

Instead of the cauliflower and cheese dish I had been planning on doing, I went with a new recipe I found for roasted cauliflower and kalamata olive and israeli couscous on Oh My Veggies. “Oh my!” is right! I think this is my new favorite cauliflower recipe. I adjusted it a bit, and will continue to tinker with it. And then I’ll share it with you all.

I didn’t get to the braised broccoli or chorizo and bean soup. The broccoli got chopped and frozen. The beans are waiting in a jar on the kitchen windowsill.

November 13 Veggies
 
If it looks like a smaller haul this week it’s only because the scale is skewed by the size of this enormous cabbage! We also got three cups of cornmeal (which the farm grows and processes on site), a rutabaga, some small red tomatoes, a butternut  squash, a white onion, and one teeny shallot. (I traded endive and half a pumpkin for the whole squash and small shallot.)

This Week
Well, nothing, really. Unless I do some cooking for my hosts. If I do, I’ll be sure to share it. Otherwise, I’m going to enjoy my mini vacation, and visit with my friend and her parents.

The cabbage will keep for a week in the fridge. The cornmeal goes into the freezer. The rutabaga goes in the crisper, and the squash and onion will go on the counter. Eric has been instructed to eat the tomatoes.

Although I’m not cooking, I am already thinking of things to do with these yummy veggies. The rutabaga will get roasted with other root veggies, and the cornmeal is going to become delicious griddle cakes. I just need to come up with something fun for the cabbage.

Any ideas?

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Veggies!


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This week’s haul was enormous! Look at those beets! And, more importantly, look at those beet greens! More kale for more kale salad! Beautiful carrots. The last of the golden cheery tomatoes. (I just noticed that typo. I’m letting it stand. It makes me smile.) Some wonderful cauliflower. Potatoes and an onion. And, most exciting of all, lettuce! Look at those lovely little heads of greenery! I have special designs on those two teeny little red endives.

Last Week
First, before I dive into this week’s menu plan, a quick follow up on last week’s plan. OK, so, we had so many leftovers from the week before, and then there was an impulse to make pizza instead of soup, so, as of this writing, NONE of the recipes on the menu were actually made. Maybe later today. I’ll update this post with any changes.

This Week
Because of how little cooking happened last week, the plan for the coming week will probably a bit of a mash-up between things from last week and new things, because I’m going out of town for a week, starting on Wednesday, a lot of these veggies will probably get stored or frozen to use later. That’s how life goes, right? “Best-laid plans” and all that.

Sautéed Greens. Moving this up to the top of the list, as there are a whole lot of greens hanging out in my fridge right now. Kale, chard, beet greens, and broccoli and cauliflower leaves. So many greens. And mushrooms. And garlic and onions. And then into the freezer.

Roasted Green Tomato Salsa. Also still waiting are the green tomatoes. And green onions. And I found some peppers in the back of the crisper drawer that are still in good shape. So, they’re all going to get roasted up and turned into something delicious to go over fish or pork or something. Later.

Beet Salad. Like a real lettuce salad with roasted beets and some goat cheese. Oh, and maybe some dried, sweetened cranberries and walnuts. And a red onion. And balsamic dressing. Yum! I’ve been missing salad greens. They don’t grow well as a summer crop around here, but now that the temps have cooled off and the rain is back, we’ll be in tender greens for a while!

Roasted Cauliflower and Cheese. So I saw this post by Smitten Kitchen a week or so ago, and tried to make my own version of it but with a meat sauce and a bechamel sauce, thinking it would be kinda like a noodle-less pastitsio, but it didn’t turn out like I expected. It was still absolutely delicious, don’t get me wrong. And over orzo, it was probably the best meal we ate all week. But I think I should go back to the original plan of just cauliflower and cheese sauce in the oven. OK, maybe with extra garlic. And some wax potatoes. We’ll see what I actually come up with.

Bean, Chard and Chorizo Soup. This might get put on hold for a while. While I love it, I don’t know if I have time to make it this week, along with all the other prep work and cooking that needs to get done before I leave town. Since the beans are already dry, and the chorizo is still frozen, it can hold for a couple of weeks. It’s not like we’re going to stop getting chard any time soon.

Braised or Roasted Broccoli. I’m still craving this. In fact, I saw this recipe for roasted broccoli and faro that renewed my broccoli craving. I was actually toying with the idea of switching out the feta, or adding cauliflower. I’ll keep you posted.

The carrots will join the other carrots in the crisper drawer. The potatoes will keep well in the pantry. The tomatoes will get eaten as a snack, with every last one being savored in precisely the manner late-season tomatoes deserve.

Grill-Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese


I love beets. I like them grilled, roasted, boiled, stewed, and I bet if fried beets were a thing, I’d like them too.

Heck, I even like canned beets. I mean, not just to eat so much. I like them in salads.

When it comes to cooking beets, there are lots of easy, low-mess ways. One of my favorites in the summer is to grill them in foil packets. OK, being honest here, I like to grill almost everything in foil packets all summer long. And winter.

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Beets are often paired with sweet yellow onions and other sweet vegetables (carrots and winter squash, typically), and while I love them in that combination, I was craving something a bit more savory. So I decided to make a more purple/red mix, using a red onion and some of the lovely red garlic from the farm. I also added some parsley and thyme, and then, of course, some creamy Chevre.

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Look how beautiful (and enormous) this Chioggia beet was! This was a two-pound beet! I don’t know how he does it, but the farmer grows some the largest and most delicious beets. They’re never woody. In fact, this one was on the smaller side. He had some four-pounders on my last visit. FOUR POUNDS OF BEET?!

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I love how the beets and onion and garlic all compliment each other not only gustatorially, but also visually. Swirls of purple and red and white.

Everything got cubed and tucked into a double layer of foil, drizzled with olive old and tossed with the herbs. The foil was wrapped up tightly and placed on a medium grill for about 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes or so to let the juices mix and to make sure the beets cooked evenly. (Hint: you can also do this in the oven if you want.)

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Once they were done enough, I took them off the grill and let them rest on the counter with small steam vents cut into the foil packets while I cooked the rest of the meal (grilled Swedish style sausage — my favorite!).

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After they had a chance to cool some, I served them up in these cute little dishes I just love, and added a couple of dollops of creamy Chevre.

So so so delicious!

Veggies!


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A little late posting this. Oops!

Had a good haul last week! Chard, green onions, green tomatoes, broccoli, kabocha-hybrid squash, cilantro, flageolet beans, and smoked chipotle peppers.

Last Week
First, before I dive into this week’s menu plan, a quick follow up on last week’s plan. We had a pot roast and cabbage soup. I made more tomato soup for the pantry. And I even made up a roasted cauliflower with cheese and extra garlic and a delicious meat sauce. It wasn’t pretty, and didn’t exactly turn out how I thought it would, but it was absolutely delicious.

The kale is still in the fridge, but I have big plans for it this week. And the celery got put in the freezer for use later this winter.

This Week
Kale and Squash Salad. I made a version of this recipe last year for Hogsgiving, and have been thinking about it ever sense. When I saw pear cider at Trader Joe’s last week, I bought it and with this week’s squash, I’ve got enough of the main ingredients to make it again! Woo hoo!

Bean, Chard, and Chorizo Soup. I just love these flageolet beans. So tender and creamy. Perfect when paired with chorizo. I made this soup a while back, and can’t wait to make it again!

Roasted Green Tomato Salsa. Although the longer I wait, the pinker they become. Perfect for using the cilantro and green onions as well. The goal is to make this as a topping over fish.

Braised Broccoli. The freezer is full of broccoli and cauliflower (and zucchini), so I’m trying not to add any more. So this broccoli will be cooked and eaten this week! I’ve been craving something spicy, so it’ll probably be braised with red pepper flakes and extra garlic.

Sautéed Greens. You might notice some extra broccoli greens in the photo. Other folks take them off their broccoli heads before taking them home. I grab them all and then mix them in with the kale and other greens. I don’t know why more people don’t eat them. They’re delicious. Whatever kale is left over from the salad will get sautéed with onions, mushrooms, and garlic, and served up with breakfast.

 

Roasted Tomato Soup


Several years ago my friend Chuck turned me on to this truly magnificent recipe from Smitten Kitchen for Roasted Tomato Soup with Broiled Cheese. Seriously. It’s even better than it looks in that post, if you can believe it. It’s like tomato soup and grilled cheese had a baby. A delicious, delicious baby.

Unfortunately, that first year, it was late in the season, and I only got to make a couple of meals worth, and then I had to wait eight long months until tomato season rolled around again. Ever since, every year between August and October, I make it a point to buy up as many tomatoes as I could afford, and store away as many jars of this soup as I can. It’s become my standard sauce for pretty much anything using tomatoes. In addition to making that delicious soup with broiled cheese, it’s my go-to sauce for a quick pasta meal all winter. Yum!

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Instead of using paste tomatoes, I prefer to use more flavorful heirloom beefsteak or slicer tomatoes. The drawback is that they’ve got a higher water content than paste tomatoes, and reduce down to a smaller amount of tomato with more liquid. That’s easy enough to fix, though. I just skip the step of adding stock to thin the soup. And since they’re getting roasted right away, I’m happy to buy up bruised or ugly tomatoes, which discounted at my CSA. (Honestly, is there really such a thing as an ugly tomato?)

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I slice them and salt and pepper them liberally, and then drizzle them with olive oil.

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I place them in a 325-350 degree oven and cook for about an hour to an hour and a half, until they begin to caramelize. You can see how much liquid they give off. Because of that, I roast them in a casserole dish rather than a cookie sheet. I also include a whole onion cut into wedges in one of the pans.

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Once they’re done roasting, I pour them into a large stock pot and let them simmer while the next batch is roasting.

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I also roast up a whole head of garlic (peeled) in a foil packet, drizzled with a little olive oil. I mean… look at this gorgeousness! Can you imagine how heavenly the house smells while this is going on?

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At this point, I add basil and oregano, and let things simmer. Actually, this is a good place to note that I often do this in stages. The roasting going on one evening, and the simmering, blending, and canning happening sometime during the next day or so.

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Once I feel like everything has had a chance to simmer and let the flavors mingle, I send everything through the blender until smooth.

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Which is almost a shame. Look how pretty this looks, with the colors jostling up against each other. I especially love it when I’ve got a good mix of tomato colors in there.

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OK. So, I also think this uniformly red-orange mix is beautiful too. But more because I know how delicious it is.

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Then, pretty quickly, while the soup is still hot, I put it in jars and drop them into my canning pot with the water already boiling. Fifteen minutes in the canning bath, and then out onto the counter to cool while I enjoy the tell-tale pop of the seals sealing.

As of this writing, I have set a new record for how many jars I’ve put up in one season. My count stands at 20.5 quarts, in a mix of quart and pint jars. That’s from four batches, with each batch about 13 pounds of tomatoes each. I’m already dreaming of all the things I’m going to cook up this winter!


More info:

Can I freeze this instead of canning? 
Yes! Absolutely! If you use the jars, be sure to leave extra room at the top and keep the lids very loose. Or, you can use freezer bags or other containers. I can it because I can. Which is why I don’t put any meat or cheese in the sauce when I’m cooking it before canning, although I often do when I use it in meals later.

Can I change up the recipe? Add more veggies or other things?
You bet! I was toying with the idea of making some with mushrooms and other spices, but decided this time around to stick to the original plan of just tomatoes, onions, garlic, and herbs. If I get more tomatoes next week, I might make a roasted tomato and pepper mixture to can, using up a lot of the peppers I’ve been meaning to cook up over the last couple of weeks.

Can I make it chunkier?
Certainly! I like it smooth, but chunky would be just as delicious and easy to can or freeze.

Do I have to save it for later?
This is the question I ask myself every time I make this. And the question Eric asks me as well. I don’t always can up all the sauce I’ve made. Sometimes it’s too good to not eat right then. The original recipe from Smitten Kitchen is not for preserving, but for cooking and eating that night. The reason I put away so much is because I want to enjoy it all winter long, and refuse to buy tomatoes out of season.

Veggies!


Another week of beautiful vegetables, all from my farmer friends at Tierra Vegetables!

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Here’s the main haul: cabbage, carrots, parsley, acorn squash, an enormous celery, strawberries, potatoes, and cauliflower. So much food I couldn’t fit it all in my canvas bag! Such a bounty of beauty!

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So, I bought more stuff! More kale, basil, garlic, serano peppers, and persimmons.

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Oh, and more tomatoes! Although I didn’t really buy these as much as barter for them. But still… YUM! So many vegetables I’m feeling almost a bit overwhelmed by what to do with them all. But I have a few ideas.

This Week
Pot Roast. Still on the list. Our dinner with friends got pushed back again, but seem pretty definite for next week. Regardless, I will be cooking pot Roast next week, even if it’s just for me and Eric. Using the potatoes, some carrots, and the fennel left over from last week.

Cabbage Soup. Eric has yet to have the time to make his famous cabbage soup, although I suspect it will happen tonight. If it doesn’t use up this third head of cabbage, then I’ll have to come up with a back-up plan. Probably something to do with sautéing and using for breakfast. Or another type of soup. Fortunately, cabbage keeps for a long while in the fridge.

Tomato Soup. Yes. More. This will be my fourth batch. I’m hesitant to call it the last, because this warm autumn is keeping the tomatoes coming, and once it’s canned, it’ll keep for a long time! Right now I have something like 12 quarts put away. That’s one quart a month until next year’s tomato canning season!

Roasted Cauliflower.We’ve got a whole lot of cauliflower and broccoli (and zucchini) in the freezer for use in the winter when the weekly boxes turn into bi-weekly boxes. I’m tempted to use this cauliflower to make some kind of garlic, cheesy cauliflower thing that’s roasted and then puréed and topped with cheese. Oh! Maybe served over some seasoned ground beef! I’ll keep you posted!

Sautéed Kale. With onion, garlic, and mushrooms. And eaten with breakfast. Yum!

The celery is the sticking point, really. While I’m tempted to do up some really yummy cream of celery soup, I’ll probably just chop it up and add it to the celery in the freezer for use in soups later this winter. Boring, I know. But there’s only so much fresh-cooked food two people can make and eat in a week!

The acorn squash is going to be stored for later. Maybe for stuffing. 

The parsley is being dried in the kitchen window and will be added to my currently-running-low jar in the cupboard. The basil will be chopped and frozen in an ice cube tray with olive oil (my favorite way to save basil).

The strawberries are being eaten one by one every time we walk through the kitchen. And the persimmons are being sliced and eaten with breakfast.

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Last Week
Despite the lingering funk I’ve been experiencing, it’s been a pretty productive week. I got through quite a few things on the list from last week. I made the cream of broccoli soup, my third batch of tomato soup, roasted beets, and Eric made a huge batch of delicious salsa!

It’s fun to get back in to the kitchen again after taking so much time off for school. I still cooked, of course, but it wasn’t often that I had time to do anything more than just cook and eat the same go-to meals I seemed to rely on for years: pasta and sautéed veggies, happy bowl soup, and “clean out the fridge” frittata.

Veggies!


First, a quick check in on last week’s veggie plan. It went great! Frittata? Check! Tomato sauce? Check! Sautéed kale? Bean salad? Salsa? Check. Check. Check!

We didn’t make a roast chicken or a pot roast, as our dinner plans with a friend was postponed. But carrots and potatoes store well, and now that we have some fennel, that’ll make a perfect pot roast!

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