What’s a CSA, you may be wondering? Well it stands for “community-supported agriculture” and it’s when a bunch of folks get together to support a local farm by subscribing to a service whereby they receive regular fruit and/or veggie boxes of whatever may be in season. It’s a pretty awesome alternative food system—one we’re both satisfied participants of—especially if you’ve ever stood at the Whole Foods cash cursing the cost of your organic veggies. (For the record I still do, but not as often.)
In short, CSAs are the shizzle. A truly great idea for anyone trying to eat healthy on a budget, and support their local community.
My veggie box, which costs a reasonable $25, is delivered to me every other Friday, making it ridiculously convenenient. While sometimes it’s more veggies than I can handle, which then makes me feel awful about the fact that I don’t compost yet, it usually forces me to come up with new ways to trick my husband into eating vegetables and has been the catalyst behind many an unexpected culinary creation.
Many of you are surely already CSA subscribers and we’d love to hear about your experiences: Do you find it hard to eat your veggies? Has it forced to you get creative in the kitchen? Below are some of my best hits for veggies that could currently be in your box.
- Avocados: You can’t ever go wrong with an avocado, but if you’re looking to cut back on butter or mayo, this fruit-cum-veggie makes for an excellent vegan fat substitute. Try it blended into salad dressing like this one instead of mayo, or spread it on toast instead of butter. So. Good. (Especially with salt, pepper, and some sliced tomato.)
- Beets: Even LA is feeling wintery right now, so while I’m still wild about this skin-loving raw beet soup recipe, I’m craving something warm. Ever had a traditional borscht? Delicious. Here’s a basic vegetarian recipe that is close to what I do, though I recommend vinegar instead of lemon as the acid.
- Brussel Sprouts: To me there is one way to do brussels best, and it’s this way.
- Carrots and Baby Potatoes: This idea came to me last week. I was craving something kind of Greek, so I roasted rough-cut potatoes and carrots in olive oil (same way as the brussels), and when they got good and brown I took them out of the oven and tossed them in lemon juice, salt, pepper, adding chopped green onions and dill. I served them with a garlicky Greek yogurt dip too. Nom nom nom.
- Cabbage: I love cabbage and lately I’ve been treating it as the ultimate wrap vehicle. Trying to avoid gluten or corn? Concerned about spiking your blood sugar? There’s not much you can’t wrap up in cabbage, whether it’s a stir fry, some egg salad, tofu, fish, avocado, taco filling, whatever. Softer stuff pairs especially well with the awesome crunch of the cabbage.
Happy cooking, chickens.
P.S. It’s Siobhan’s birthday today!!!!! Three cheers for Siobhan who is so special and awesome. I know I’m not alone when I say I’m happy this girl was born. :)
I’ve developed a full-blown internet crush on a lady who lives in Copenhagen. Her name is Sarah Britton, she’s a nutritionist, a vegetarian chef, and she does things like make heart-shaped beet ravioli for her husband in her spare time—which she documents charmingly on her site My New Roots.
Also, most of her recipes are gluten-free or easily made gluten-free, many are vegan, and she has gorgeous photos that run along with her recipes, making them ever-more appealing. Poke around her site and I bet you fall for her too.
Then hit command-T and visit Svelte Gourmand, a health-focused site run by two hyphenate-heavy friends of mine, Sara Reistad-Long and Camille Noe-Pagan. They share delicious recipes with a health spin, often pegged to solid research about what we should be eating, when and why.
Then once you have that bookmarked, hit command-T again and go hang out with my friend and colleague Joy Manning at Oyster Evangelist. She’s a cookbook author, cooks a lot at home and her recipes are inspiring, accessible and delicious. She’s also a total crack-up.
So with Sarah as our inspiration, I’d like to know what food blogs you love. The more vegetarian-friendly the better, seeing as it’s Monday, but I’m all ears, really.
Image via My New Roots
Last week our content pals at Well + Good told us about some interesting new research: Apparently, the healthy phytochemicals in broccoli and other cruciferous veggies are much better absorbed when the vegetable is eaten whole—not juiced or in green-powder form—and either raw or barely cooked. From their post:
The researchers [from Oregon State University] concluded that the body couldn’t absorb the nutrients in the supplements as well because they were missing a necessary enzyme found in the whole food.
Raw foodies can pat themselves on the back, too, since the researchers also found that intensive cooking stripped the broccoli of the same enzyme, making the body less likely to absorb the nutrients. (Steaming or sauteing was fine as long as the veggies remained crunchy.)
This reminded us of a favorite recipe that we shared in the food section of the book. It comes courtesy of Andrew Weil and it doesn’t get a whole lot simpler than this. Here goes:
—Fill a sauce pan or pot with about an inch of water.
—Throw in some broccoli florets (whatever size you prefer) and squeeze in a clove of garlic.
—Cover the pot and turn the heat to high, bringing the small amount of water to a boil and flash steaming the broccoli and garlic.
—As soon as the broccoli turns bright green (literally after a minute or two in the steam), take off the lid and let some of the water boil off.
—Turn off the heat and add a tablespoon or two of olive oil along with salt and pepper to taste. If you like heat, throw in some crushed chillis.
Behold a delicious side dish, with those phytochemicals perfectly intact.
How do you cook your broccoli?
Image via Well + Good
Happy Monday, people. I hope everyone affected by the hurricane had a safe, not-too-crazymaking weekend cooped up inside (and the rest of you, well, I hope you had a good weekend, too).
I took advantage of the weather by cooking up a storm, and one recipe turned out to be such a hit that I had to share. Below is the exact dish I created, but you can basically do this with whatever vegetables you have on hand. (That said, I highly recommend you try this one at least once because it’s very tasty.)
(Vegans, this one isn’t for you, sorry.)
Before I dive in. I’d like to give credit where credit is due. This was inspired by a different mostly-vegetable frittata by the always great Mark Bittman, whose recipes I love almost as much as his thoughtful, provocative Op Eds about the environment and food politics. (Actually, it’s probably a tie.)
Now, let’s get cooking.
The Perfect Veggie Frittata (Made With Very Few Eggs)
2-3 organic farm eggs
8 little red potatoes
salted butter or olive oil or both
1/2 pint of baby tomatoes (heirloom, if possible, since they’re in season)
2 cups arugula, lightly packed
1/2 cup fresh basil, lightly packed
1 medium sweet onion, sliced small
Salt and pepper
1. Pour a little olive oil or a small pad of butter * in a cast-iron skillet heated on low. When it’s nice and warm, toss in 1/2 cup of your chopped onions and heat until they’re soft and translucent, about 7 minutes. Salt and pepper the onions.
2. Throw in your potatoes. If you have a mandoline, you could thin-slice them with that ** or just use a knife. Slice them about 1/8 of an inch thick, or thinner if you prefer. Raise heat to medium and cook them in the onion until the potatoes are soft but not mushy, and the onions slightly caramelized, about 15 minutes (maybe a little longer—be patient).
3. Remove potatoes from heat and put them in a bowl. Then throw in the rest of your onion, heat again, 3-5 minutes this time, so they retain a little more bite than the caramelized ones, and then lightly wilt your arugula and basil together (reserving a few leaves for garnish), about 3 minutes.
4. Remove your greens.
5. Cut your baby tomatoes in half.
6. Grab your now-empty skillet and layer your potatoes on the bottom of the pan to form an even layer. This is your “crust.” Then place the greens on top of the potatoes in another even layer.
7. Pepper it up liberally.
8. Whisk 2 or 3 eggs together in a bowl and pour the eggs on top of the mixture.
9. NOW place your tomatoes on top, again in a layer. (It’s easier to add the tomatoes after the eggs are in so they stay put.)
10. Turn the heat on LOW (don’t rush this part!) and let it cook slowly undisturbed until the eggs are set. Once they’ve set or almost set, about 10 minutes, fire up the broiler and put the pan under the fire for one minute, no longer. If you are feeling fancy, put some parmesan on there before you broil.
11. Garnish with a few pieces of basil, and some more pepper or salt if you like.
That’s it! It tasted good warm and at room temperature.
Do you have a frittata recipe you love?
* The potatoes will taste better if you cook them in butter, obviously.
** I have a good $20 mandoline from Crate & Barrel but it eats my fingers. I can’t seem to remember, ever, to use the guard it came with, so I have put it on time-out for now.
More seasoned home cooks in the crowd can probably skip this post and get straight to work on the Summer Hair Challenge. Go on! We’re working on ours.
But for those of you who maybe didn’t use the kitchen until you left Moms, or only discovered vegetables in your thirties (paging my husband on both!), these tips will serve you well.
Ever been to a really amazing Italian restaurant and wondered how they get those simple veggie sides tasting so good? Or maybe you’ve had the experience of perfectly-browned brussel sprouts that turned disdain to devotion in a single bite? Well I have one word for you, and that word is: roasting.
The following method is great for most vegetables but especially the brassica family—like brussels, cauliflower, broccoli and even kale (hello kale chips!)—because they hold up so well to heat. One note: Stick to one vegetable at a time for the sake of simplicity and because combining these types of vegetables can result in tummy troubles for some. So, here goes: the super simple technique that will change your life as a vegetable eater.
1. Olive oil. Once you’ve cut your vegetable to a desired size—know that the pieces will shrink somewhat as they lose their water during roasting—toss them in a decent amount of olive oil. Let’s say about two tbsp for a small head of cauliflower, maybe a little more. If you’re using brussel sprouts, cut them in half. Do the tossing in a bowl with your (clean) hands so that you are certain that each piece is generously covered. Now…
2. Salt. Don’t be afraid of it, and use the good stuff if you’ve got it. When you can’t believe how good vegetables taste at your favorite restaurant, the answer is often salt. We’re told to watch our sodium intake, and for good reason: Most processed foods are ridiculously high in the stuff. But if you generally avoid those foods don’t be afraid of seasoning at home—it’s actually really hard to exceed your daily sodium limit with a salt shaker and whole ingredients (like vegetables!). So salt and toss. Pepper’s good too. And then place your veggies in a single layer on either a pyrex (covered in tin foil to avoid stick and damage) or some kind of sheet pan (nonstick makes things extra easy, though that’s probably thanks to chemicals?). If you’re using brussels, place them flat side down.
3. Oven. You have a few choices when it comes to temperature. EVOO’s smoke point is 405°F, so if you’re concerned about retaining nutrients set your oven a little below that. This is still still plenty high and will get those suckers browned. Sometimes when I’m in a rush though, or after something really crispy, I throw caution to the wind and finish my veggies under the broiler. At around 400, depending on the size of your cut, roasting will take anywhere from 20-30 minutes for anything other than kale. Kale crisps up very quickly so keep an eye on it. After 15-20 minutes, check your veggies and give them a good toss. You will be able to tell if they’re ready just by looking at them. When they start reminding you of french fries you’re done. Add more salt and pepper to taste if needed. Or, take it to next level…Getting fancy: These will be delicious as is, but there are ways to mix it up. There are things you can add to these roasted vegetables and never go wrong (warning: not all suggestions vegan) like a squeeze of lemon, a little more olive oil, a pad of butter (this gives a real yummy richness), parmesan cheese, bacon (that’s been cooked and crumbled separately), some chili flakes, a little balsamic vinegar, some greek yogurt and garlic for dipping, or any favorite homemade vinaigrette. Added bonus if you’re feeding others: Kids, fussy friends, and even super picky manchildren, will love vegetables done this way. Whenever I make vegetables like this for others, they get way more praise than the more complicated items on the table. Not that we cook for compliments. ;)
Are you an oven roaster? What tricks to you have when cooking vegetables? Image via