28 May 2011

Eating Seasonally

So as I mentioned a few posts ago, I am now a proud member of community supported agriculture! My friend and I split a weekly "full share", which consists of 12 pounds of freshly grown, seasonally available produce and a dozen fresh eggs. Since then, I have also purchased some new cookbooks which are organized by the seasons- getting ideas for meals is so much simpler now! I just flip to the season I'm in (somewhere between spring and summer) and I can find a slew of recipes based around what's being grown! I even find recipes that utilize more than one vegetable I found in my weekly share.

I also read Mark Bittman's Food Matters in the past week and I feel utterly rejuvenated about my decision to stick with vegetarianism. The book as a whole provides a variety of reasons why overall America should look to change how they eat. Bittman isn't asking that we all become vegetarians or vegans, just that maybe one day a week we give up food. It could not only help our own health, but will impact our deteriorating environment greatly and decrease the rate of global warming! What an idea! The book ends with a slew of amazing recipes for all meals of the day, as well as snacks. Really, if there's one book I could recommend right now, it's to go and find a copy of Food Matters, whether from the library or by spending an afternoon in the bookstore, and just give strong consideration to one of his numerous suggestions.

With this said, after spending the past day dealing with airway representatives and the last 8 hours traveling, I came back home to MA only to cook my parents, my grandmother, and myself a healthful meal reflective of the food books I have read recently. I used what vegetables were in the refrigerator and off of the flavor profiles I could construct around them, and it was a success! Do I know what to call it? No, but I hope with time I'll get better with naming my concoctions..

Lemon and Parsley Whole Wheat Pasta with Veggies
  • 1/2 of a medium yellow or white onion, chopped roughly
  • 8 mushrooms, sliced roughly
  • 3 heads of broccoli crowns, chopped into small florets
  • 1-4 to 1-2 c of chopped fresh parsley
  • 1-2 tbs of butter
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c milk (I used skim and it still added plenty of richness)
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Nutmeg
  • Shredded parmesan (optional)
  • Large pot for boiling water
  • Sauté pan
  1. Heat sauté pan on medium high heat with butter, onions and mushrooms. Allow onions to sweat and mushrooms to cook until aromatic, then turn the heat down to medium low.
  2. Meanwhile, fill the large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add broccoli florets to boiling water and leave there until broccoli is bright green and just barely fork tender (3-4 minutes).
  3. Transfer broccoli to mushroom and onion mixture, but be sure to save the water! There are plenty of nutrients leftover in the water that the pasta can absorb as it cooks.
  4. Boil whole wheat pasta of choice in the leftover water until al dente.
  5. While pasta is boiling, beat together the two eggs with the milk. Save this for later.
  6. Zest the lemon into the vegetables and add half of its juice. Also, season the mixture at this point with a dash of nutmeg (trust me on this one!), salt and pepper to your taste, and with half of the chopped parsley.
  7. When pasta is al dente, toss it with the vegetable mixture. Add the milk and eggs at this point; the heat will cook eggs.
  8. Once the sauce has thickened and is well incorporated (2-3 minutes), top with the remaining parsley and freshly shredded parmesan, if you please.

19 May 2011

Spinach... something!

Alright, I don't really know if what I just made would be best described as a pesto, a spread, or a dip, but it's mighty tasty and I intend on putting it on everything. I just had it on a slice of whole wheat bread, but I bet it would be exceptionally tasty on fresh pasta, some fresh Italian bread, with grilled cheese, and even in egg & cheese sandwiches. In truth, I had intended on making this Spinach Arugula Pesto recipe to use up the last of my CSA produce in a way that would allow me to store it while I'm gone this weekend, but it didn't quite get there.

Spinach "Multitasker"
  • 2.25 oz shelled walnuts
  • 1 can cannellini beans
  • 1 tbs minced garlic
  • 3.5 tbs reduced fat parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 3-4 cups fresh spinach (baby spinach will work fine)
  • Food processor
  • Spatula
  1. Toast shelled walnuts on a pan for 5 minutes on medium heat or until aromatic.
  2. In food processor, puree the walnuts, beans, garlic, and cheese together until well blended.
  3. Scrape down sides of the processor, add spinach, and stream olive oil in processor while pulsing together the mixture.

17 May 2011

Thai Curry

On gloomy days where there is a nonstop drizzle outside accompanying the sound of my sniffles and cough, I dream of a bowl of piping hot, spicy Thai curry to warm me up on the inside and help clear out all of my congestion. This used to require going to my favorite local Thai restaurant, which has since shut down, but now I have mastered what must be the simplest recipe (if you can even call it that) for Thai curry. And on a side note, what is curry? Is it an entree? Is it soup? Things I ponder in this congested haze..

I've made it twice so far, both times served on a bed of instant brown rice, and in the time it took for the curry and rice to cook, I managed to do all of the dirty dishes that were waiting for me in the sink, while the second time I unloaded all of the groceries in that same time. On both occasions it was outstanding, although when I made it with green curry it was actually too spicy for me to handle, so I had to add more liquid.. and it was still too spicy. The key then is having good coconut milk. While I am all in favor of using low fat options, this recipe really calls for full fat, full flavor coconut milk. So if you're going to try and lighten it up, only go so far as to use one can of low fat or fat free coconut milk.

Thai Curry
Yields: 8 servings

  • 4 oz can of Maesri curry paste, use whatever type of curry you fancy! I found them at the local Asian grocery store, but they might be sold in larger "regular" grocery stores in the international section. For reference, they look like the following.
  • 2-3 13.5 oz cans of good coconut milk, depending on your spice tolerance
  • 2 bags of frozen "Asian medley" vegetables
  • 1 block of tofu of choice.. extra firm, soft, fried, whatever you desire!
  • Lime
  1. Place large pot onto burner set to Medium.
  2. Add curry, coconut milk, and vegetables to pot.
  3. Cut tofu into bite-sized pieces. Add to pot.
  4. Allow pot to heat until it comes to a boil.
  5. Dish out curry into a bowl, squeeze fresh lime over it, and an enjoy!
I know, I know, this recipe is a joke. In truth, it produces a really hearty and perfectly flavored curry. It's pretty close to what you order at your favorite Thai restaurant, but right at home!

12 May 2011

Big news!

Alright, blahg readers, get ready! I just went through with a friend and registered for a full share CSA (community supported agriculture) membership for 28 weeks. Starting next week, I will be receiving 12 pounds of locally grown fruits and veggies, as well as a dozen eggs from humanely and locally raised chickens to split between myself and a friend each week from May 17th through the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Until then, with then only being Tuesday (so close!), I fully plan on raiding the local farmer's market tomorrow. Oh, how my vegetarian-self is squealing with excitement inside!