CreamedSpinach

Mastering Perfect Spinach

When my friend Justin opened a restaurant in Maine, I fixated on his strategy to train kitchen staff: cooks would learn the best one or two ways to prepare each vegetable, so they’d be optimally equipped to deal on the fly with unpredictable supplies of local vegetables and a daily changing menu.

Let’s try this method together – and make perfect creamed spinach like skilled professionals.

Spinach can deserve its reputation, but it’s delicious when done right. Plus, it’s a nutritional powerhouse.

Why creamed spinach, specifically? Because it’s emerald green and perfect with a steak. And because like the names of our great-grandparents, food like this is coming into style again.

Thank you to the New York Times Cooking section for providing me the hankering and the recipe for creamed spinach. And to Justin for helping me make that original recipe more awesome and for taste testing.

–Bethany Fleishman,Vital Communities’ Transportation Program Assistant and former pastry chef, is contributing recipes this spring for our Valley Food & Farm program.

Creamed Spinach
Recipe adapted from The New York Times Cooking section

Ingredients

About 2 pounds spinach (from a local farm or garden – that’s the whole point!)Raw Spinach
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour (gluten free flour is fine as long as it has some thickening power)
1 cup milk (ideally whole, but use what you have)
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Bay leaf (OPTIONAL)
1 clove of garlic (OPTIONAL)
A healthy sprinkle of grated Parmesan or other sharp cheese (OPTIONAL)

Directions

1. Pick over the spinach to remove any debris, tough stems, and blemished leaves.

2. Rinse the spinach and shake dry.

3. Stuff the spinach into a saucepan with a quarter cup or so of water and cook on medium heat, stirring, until the spinach has wilted and turned bright green. You’re doing a combination sauté and steam here. (I like this method because it’s quick, and I have a completely unfounded suspicion that it preserves the most nutrients.)

4. Run the spinach under cold running water until chilled.

5. Grab the spinach by the handful and squeeze out the liquid. This is important to prevent watery creamed spinach.

6. Thoroughly blend the spinach in a food processor or blender. Set aside.Roux

7. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour, stirring with a whisk.

8. Add the milk, stirring rapidly with the whisk. For extra flavor, add a whole clove of garlic (or minced if you like a lot of garlic flavor) and a Bay leaf.

9. Add nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes until it thickens.

2Bowls10. If you used them, fish out the Bay leaf and garlic clove (unless you minced it), and add the cheese (if using).

11. Add the spinach. Stir to blend. Heat
and serve with more ground black pepper.

You’re building your skills: Did you know that the sauce you just made for the spinach is called Béchamel sauce, and is one of the five “mother sauces” in French cuisine? You can use this for the base for cheese sauce and so much more.

Elena peppers

Simple Ideas Preserving Your Food

It is October, and as the days inch towards winter, there is a frantic rush to harvest what is left in our gardens and find a place in the cupboards, pantries, coolers and freezers. You see it at the markets too, with displays stocked full and overflowing with fresh eating produce, cabbages, greens, gourds, squashes and roots. It is delightful!

Elena apples

My favorite season for cooking is autumn. The heat of the kitchen seeps out into the rest of our house, staving off the morning and evening chills that punctuate this time of year, while I happily chop, stir, simmer and bake the hours away, not only putting food on the table, but putting food “by” for the cold days of winter.

Beginning in September, we are making apple cider, sauce and butter, picking herbs and hardy greens for the freezer, grabbing garden tomatoes for ripening, freezing whole or making chutney and looking forward to the fall berry season. By October, we are picking what is left in the garden for storage in our makeshift root cellar and the various drawers where we can tuck every onion, potato and squash we have harvested or bartered for. By November 1, with only a few hardy vegetables that like the cold, we are putting beds away for the winter and preserving what we can.

There are many ways to preserve food; some are simple and some are not, but most everyone can preserve a good portion of food and stock their larders. With a few simple tools, some supplies and a range, see below for some ideas of how to preserve our favorite vegetables.

Elena chardFreezing: If you have plenty of freezer space, freezing your food is a fantastic way to preserve fresh food quickly, safely and with nutrition intact. Some foods require blanching or cooking, while others just need a quick rinse and an airtight seal.

 

  • Try freezing whole tomatoes, berries, apple slices, peeled cloves of garlic, sliced or chopped onions.
  • With a pot of boiling water and a colander, you can blanch (boil briefly) and drain greens like spinach, chard, kale as well as vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and carrots before freezing in bags.
  • For herbs like parsley, cilantro and basil, process into a paste with olive oil and then freeze the resulting pesto/pistou into ice cube trays or roll into logs, wrap in parchment and plastic first.

Canning: There are two methods of canning and lots of great information on the interweb, magazine articles and in books to give you the details, but the main thing to remember is that high-acid foods (berries, citrus) can be canned using the water bath method and low-acid foods (most vegetables, meats) can be canned using the pressure cooker method. Check out this site for more information.

Dry Salting: Different from pickling, which uses a salt AND acid based brine, salting is an ancient and very simple way to preserve food. The salt brings out the moisture from food and makes it “inhospitable” to the microbes and bacteria that would normally cause spoilage. Lacto-fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, use a low salt concentration to not only protect against spoilage, but also to create an environment that welcomes gut-friendly bacteria. High salt methods of preserving create an inhospitable environment for ALL bacteria and is still used by some to preserve things like green beans.

  • Layer shredded carrots and zucchini, sliced onion, minced garlic with sea or kosher salt and pack tightly into canning jars with lids. “Burb” the jars everyday to prevent buildup of pressure. Refrigerate or store at 40F or less to stop fermentation and keep.
  • Make kimchi or sauerkraut out of cabbage, radishes, carrots and onions. Use a wet brine of salt and keep vegetables submerged and away from air.
  • Check out the site Home Preserving Bible for a great collection of tips, techniques and recipes on dry salting.

Elena canningSyrups and Shrubs: Both of these old fashioned methods work especially well for berries and other fruit, but I have had equal luck with tomatoes, herbs and spices too. Use them in beverages, dressings and marinades!

  • For syrups, mix together two cups of berries, one cup of water and one cup of granulated sugar in a pot. Bring to a slow boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Pour the syrup, solids and all, into a wide mouth canning jar and cap. Let cool completely before refrigerating.
  • For the old fashioned shrubs, make an infused vinegar then turn that into a syrup. Check out detailed, but simple, instructions at The Kitchn.

HerbsButters: An often overlooked way of preserving some herbs and fruits is by making compound butters. With sharp knife, you can make quick work of herbs and fruits, mixing and mashing them into softened butter. When done, roll logs of butter into parchment and freeze or put into ice cube trays and pop the frozen chunks into a freezer bag for easier storage.

  • Herb butter of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Call it Scarbo-butter Faire, just for fun.
  • Fruit butter of blueberry, cinnamon and a pinch of sea salt
  • Basil or cilantro butter mixed with garlic
  • Hot pepper butter with lemon rind

 

 

by Elena Gustavson, RAFFL‘s Everyday Chef

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Drink Your Greens

I have to admit, as much as I love cooking, at just about any time of day, sometimes I don’t do so well in the breakfast department. On mornings when I’m just trying to get out the door and perhaps the kitchen sink is still full of last night’s dishes (and this is more often than not, as I’m not the most efficient dish washer), I’ve resorted to a number of poor choices. Everything from a piece of whatever I’ve baked last – sometimes this isn’t completely terrible (bicottti) other times there’s no hope (cupcakes, pie, cookies) – while some days I just try to fill up on coffee and maybe a spoonful of peanut butter. But continuous consumption of strong, black coffee on an empty stomach will do a number on your digestive tract.

OK, I’m exaggerating a little. I was on a consistent oatmeal run for awhile and on weekends I take the time for eggs or fresh fruit topped pancakes. But for the past couple of weeks or so my breakfasts have consisted of green smoothies.

Before you click away in disgust, bear with me for a minute, especially as I tell you that these fruit and vegetable filled beverages don’t taste anything like spinach. Also of equal importance: they’re filling, as in I can last until lunch without starving.

And unlike some mornings, these drinks provide a healthy source of energy to get me going for the day. If breakfast really is the most important meal, then it makes sense to start off with foods that are actually going to have some nutritional value to offer. It’s also much easier to carry around a smoothie than a bowl or oatmeal, as I’m often walking or driving somewhere.

While a green smoothie isn’t a revolutionary concept, I have enjoyed the enhanced version that Katherine Natalia calls a “green thickie” over at greenthickies.com. Personally, that doesn’t sound like the most appetizing of names, so I’ll just stick with smoothie. But you should really check out the many many smoothie combinations she has posted about, as well as other topics like making your own coconut milk and peanut butter.

Her base recipe – which contains spinach (or any other green you like), also includes grains, nuts/seeds, liquid, bananas and an optional sweetener like dates – is great. It results in a nice blend of flavors and complete proteins. You can then customize with whatever additional flavors you like, as the many suggestions on Natalia’s site suggest.

<!—green smoothie—>

I like that I can quickly make this either in the morning or the night before. The recipe makes two servings, which means I only need to pull out my immersion blender once every other day – saving half of the smoothie in the fridge for the next morning. If you’re still using a traditional blender, that is fine, of course, but I certainly don’t need an extra, multi-pieced dish to wash.

Before I share the recipe, a few thoughts:

    • Frozen berries, if you choose to play around with the recipe, made this really watery. I’d suggest using fresh or well defrosted berries.
    • Surprisingly, I like the taste of the smoothie better with quinoa than oats. I’ve noticed that quinoa also keeps me feeling full longer (perhaps because of the extra protein it contains).<!—quinoa—>
    • Another surprise: Romaine lettuce works really well. Though you miss out on some of the extra nutrients from the spinach. I’m betting kale would be nice too.
    • Give dates a chance. I stocked up on dates awhile ago and then never got around to using them. They are excellent sweeteners, though, in baking as well.
    • Stick with the two bananas. Any less, and the smoothie isn’t all that thick. And I read once that the thicker a beverage is, the more it will tell your mind you’re full. In other words, a thin smoothie may not fill you up as well.

Green Smoothie

  • 2 cups water (or milk or dairy free milk like almond or coconut)
  • 1 cup oats (or grain like quinoa)
  • 2 cups greens
  • 2 bananas
  • 1/4 cup dates
  • 1/4 cup seeds or nuts

Blend everything together and enjoy. Then check out greenthickies.com for more ideas. Let me know what you’ve tried and recommend.

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Sausage, Barley and Spinach Soup

Friends often ask me how I find the time to cook so much. While I get paid to do so at times, I also make it a priority in my non-work life. That is, when I can actually distinguish the two. Some people spend their evenings at the gym or the pub. I usually spend them in my kitchen. But here’s the thing – I probably cook way less than they imagine.

When I cook, I almost always make meals that go further than just one occasion. I embrace leftovers and usually get at least a lunch or second dinner out of each meal. You might find me almost always enjoying a home cooked meal, but that doesn’t mean I cook up something new every single day.

Soup is the perfect example of winter cooking that really stretches itself during the week. Even if it’s just me I’m cooking dinner for, I’ll make a big pot of soup anyway. If for some reason I realize I won’t finish it all within a few days, I just freeze it. Soup freezes great and will defrost in no time. I’d rather make more than necessary to have ready to go than scramble on busier nights or opt to eat out more often than I can actually afford.

While beef and barley is the classic soup combo, I had some ground sausage hanging out in the freezer and figured it would work just as well. If you have beef, certainly use that here, instead. I started the soup, as most soups start, by browning onions, carrots, garlic and herbs in olive oil. These are the aromatics.

 

I added the sausage and broke it up with a wooden spoon, letting it cook until browned.

Next, I added the barley, letting it sauté for a minute or two. I think barley is excellent in soup. It doesn’t turn mushy or puff up like how most other grains or pasta. Barley maintains a nice chewy texture and adds some heartiness. Try subbing it for other grains in your favorite soups or those soups needing something to make them more filling.

 

Then in went the liquids – broth and crushed tomatoes. I used vegetable broth I already had opened, but beef broth would work too. I also found a couple of turnips hanging out in the fridge that I decided to add in as well. That’s what I love about soups. You really can add in a little of anything. It’s the perfect way to clean up those odds and ends you might have accumulated.

 

After letting the soup simmer a good 30 minutes, I mixed in a few cups of spinach. It’ll cook down a ton, as I always seem surprised to find, so don’t worry if it seems like too much at first. Then, the soup just needed a few minutes more for the spinach to wilt. Before serving, I added a splash of lemon juice for brightness and salt and pepper as needed. Adding acidity like citrus or vinegar at the end of a soup will help bring out the flavors and add a level of freshness.

Sausage, Barley and Spinach Soup

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1/2 lb ground sausage
  • 14 1/2 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 6 cups of your favorite broth
  • 2 turnips, diced
  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • 5 cups spinach
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium high heat. When hot, add the garlic, onion, carrots and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables start to brown and become tender, about 7 minutes or so.
  3. Add in the ground sausage and break up with a wooden spoon. Let start to brown for about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the barley and let cook for a couple of minutes.
  5. Next, pour in the tomatoes, broth, and turnip. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer and cook about 30 minutes until the barley and turnips are tender.
  6. A couple minutes before serving, stir in the spinach. Let it wilt, then add the lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning.
photo courtesy of morguefile.com

Eat Your Freezer Clean! Week Two – Vegetables

Thank you for joining us on our second installment of the Eat Your Freezer Clean challenge! By treating our freezer like an organized and important tool in our kitchen, not only can we feed ourselves and loved ones with wholesome, nourishing meals, but we will save time, money and reduce waste.

It is (finally!) spring in the Upper Valley and the opening day of the season’s outdoor farmers’ market is weeks away.  While we wait in anticipation of all the good things that warmer weather will give us, let’s take a closer look at the vegetables you saved from last year; a teaser to the variety we can all look forward to in the summer and fall months.

Recipes abound on the internet on how to use your frozen vegetables, so below we gathered a few of our personal favorites and inspirations that are quick, easy and flexible.

 

CORN

  1. Quick and Easy Pan Roasted Side Dish– Choose a large skillet with a lid. Heat the skillet over medium heat, add a teaspoon or two of olive oil. When the oil begins to shimmer (takes several seconds) and slips around easily in the pan, but isn’t smoking, throw in a cup or two of frozen corn and quickly stir to coat with oil. Cover the pan and shake the corn over the heat occasionally, letting the corn steam for a few minutes. Uncover and continue to stir while the corn softens, browns and slightly carmelizes. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a pinch of red chili flakes. I like to drizzle a bit of maple syrup on top when eating as a side dish with savory meats.
  2. Use in Soups, Chilis and Stews – Add a cup of corn to a pot of simmering soup, chili or stew during the last few minutes of cooking. Top with any fresh herbs you might have on hand or might be getting leggy in the window, parsley or cilantro being two readily available favorites.
  3. Salad – Thaw frozen corn overnight in the refrigerator and drain in a colander. Because corn is blanched before frozen, it is just toothsome enough after thawing that it pairs wonderfully in a crisp salad. Try topping chopped romaine with black beans, thawed corn, your favorite salsa and chopped cilantro.

cookedspinach_ccmorguefile_small

Greens, Cooking

  1. Thaw, Drain, Dry – This method applies to all sorts of greens, but is especially useful with spinach as the leaves tend to retain a lot of moisture. Thaw your greens and drain in a colander. Using a clean dish towel with a tight weave, gather a large handful and wrap in the towel, twisting and squeezing out the water. OR just use your bare hands, as I tend to do because I hate to do more laundry than I need to. Or better yet, click on over to The Kitchn and give this ingenious tip a try, especially if you have a potato ricer gathering dust in your drawer.
  2. Green Smoothie – This works best with small frozen chunks, rather than large or thawed greens, but if you have ice cube sized frozen greens, try throwing a few in a blender with a bit of your favorite liquid (dairy or dairy-free milk, juice or even a bit of water), some fruit (I like to use frozen apples or fresh past their prime, frozen bananas or berries) and a tablespoon of nut butter. Give it a whirl, sweeten with honey or maple syrup if you need to and you have yourself a tasty, healthy treat!
  3. Use in Soups, Chilis and Stews – Throw frozen greens into a simmering pot either a two or three minutes or several minutes before (if they are LARGE chunks) your favorite ladle-friendly meal is done cooking. Easy, delicious, healthy. We like that.

potatoescutcolander_ccmorguefile

Potatoes

  1.  Casseroles – There is nothing tastier than a comforting, warm casserole on a cool spring day. Frozen potatoes can be thrown into any egg or potato based casserole of your choosing. For a nutritious and filling one dish meal, toss frozen potato cubes (or shred), frozen greens, frozen corn and fresh or frozen onions with a glug of olive oil, salt and pepper. Put in a casserole dish and pour on a bowl full of eggs beaten with a bit of flour and milk. Dollop with ricotta cheese and bake in a 350 degree oven until puffed and lightly brown or about 25 to 35 minutes depending on the size of your dish.
  2. Soups, Chilis and Stews – Are you beginning to see a pattern here? Frozen potato cubes can be thrown into any ladle-friendly meal about 15 minutes or so before it is finished simmering. You can also make a quick potato soup by covering two cups of frozen potatoes with your favorite salted/seasoned broth and simmering until tender and either pureeing for a silky bisque-like soup or keep it chunky and throw in other quick cooking veggies or leftover cooked meat.
  3. Get Ethnic! – Many cuisines use potatoes and two of my favorite are Indian curries and the delicious Spanish tortilla. Use care when cooking any frozen potatoes in oil and use the moisture they release to help cook them further by covering or partially covering the pan with a lid.

frozen-rhubarb_ccmorguefile_smallfrozen rhubarb_ccmorguefile_small

Other Frozen Friends:

  1. Rhubarb – bake in a pie with strawberries or stew with sugar and water to make a sauce
  2. Tomatoes – chop frozen whole tomatoes with a sharp knife and add to ladle-friendly meals or cook with butter, garlic, pesto or dried herbs for a quick pasta sauce
  3. Zucchini – add to ladle-friendly meals or thaw, drain and dry like you would frozen greens and add to muffins, cake, bread or saute in bit of butter and chopped onions until tender for a delicious side dish.
  4. Peas – beside the usual steaming or throwing into macaroni and cheese, try making soup! Here is a link to my absolute favorite recipe for fresh pea soup. And it is JUST as delicious and beautiful if you do not puree it.
  5. Winter Squash – Boil until tender, mash with a fork or whisk and serve as a side dish with a touch of salt and butter. Also try it in pancakes, make a silky coconut milk bisque or substitute the sweet potato in this delicious southern recipe for cake.
  6. Mixed Veggies – Use for stir-fry, fried rice, ladle-friendly meals or bake into a vegetable lasagna or make pasta primavera. It is that easy.

 

Resources:

The Kitchn – How to Make Your Frozen Vegetables Suck a Little Less

Epicurious.com

New York Times Diner’s Journal

BBC Good Food

bean-grain-and-green-salad

Bean, Green & Grain Salad

We’ve talked about cooking with grains in the past. If you don’t recall, here is a chart of how to cook 10 common grains for your reference.

September_Handout-2

And cooking dried beans was another past topic in the post on RAFL’s Everyday Cehf titled A Beginner’s Guide to Dried Beans.

beans
spinach-2

What I love about this recipe is that everything is interchangeable. Use the grains, beans and type of greens that you like most or have on hand – it doesn’t matter.

Serve it hot or cold, as a side or main dish, vegetarian or chock full of bacon. (If you go the bacon route try a maple smoked variety – adds some amazing flavor.) It’s all up to what you like and want to do. And in the end, you can even top it with your preferred dressing.

bacon1


Bean, Green & Grain Salad

Serves 4 as a side or 2 as a main dish

  • 2 slices bacon, chopped (optional)
  • 1 tbsp butter or oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces of spinach or other spring greens
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans or your favorite bean variety
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa or your favorite grain variety

If using bacon: Heat a skillet on medium heat and add chopped bacon. Fry until golden brown, then remove bacon with a slotted spoon and let drain on a paper towel, keeping the bacon drippings in the pan.

If not using bacon: Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat.

Add onions and mushrooms to the pan and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and
spinach and stir for 2-3 minutes, until spinach is wilted down.

Add in beans and quinoa. Turn off heat and stir in bacon (if used). Serve as a main entree or side dish. Dress with your favorite dressing for extra flavor, if desired.

bean-grain-and-green-salad

squash

Wonderful Winter Squash

Winter squash is versatile, delicious, and healthy – and it’s the December Vermont Harvest of the Month being featured through our Upper Valley Farm to School program and others across the state. This fruit makes a comforting soup, a sweet side, or a fabulous main dish. Stock up on local winter squash at your farmers’ market or farmstand and try these satisfying dishes.

Curried Squash Soup
courtesy of Taste of Home

Ingredients

1 butternut squash (1 3/4 pounds)

1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsp oil

1 tbsp flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp curry powder

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

5 cups chicken broth

1 bay leaf

 Directions

  1. Cut squash in half lengthwise; discard seeds. Place squash cut side down in a greased or foil-lined baking pan. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 40-50 minutes or until tender. When cool enough to handle, scoop out pulp; set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, saute onion and garlic in oil until tender. Add the flour, salt, curry powder, and cayenne until blended. Stir in broth. Add bay leaf. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Cool to room temperature.
  3. In a blender, combine half of the broth mixture and squash; cover and process until smooth. Repeat with remaining broth mixture and squash. Return to the saucepan; heat through. Combine the topping ingredients; place a dollop on each serving.
    Yield: 6 servings.

 

 

 

 

 

Roasted Stuffed Acorn Squash
courtesy of chow.com

Ingredients
3 medium acorn squash, halved lengthwise and seeds removed
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp packed dark brown sugar
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
4 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 tbsp minced fresh thyme leaves
2 cups cooked wild rice mix
2/3 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 450°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
  2. Place the squash cut-side up on a baking sheet, brush 1 tablespoon of the melted butter over the tops and insides of the squash halves, sprinkle with the brown sugar, and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until just fork tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, place 1 tablespoon of the melted butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. When it foams, add the onion, shallots, and celery, season with salt and pepper, and stir to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until just softened, about 6 minutes. Stir in the thyme and cook until just fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in the rice, pecans, cranberries, and measured salt and pepper.
  5. Divide the rice filling among the roasted squash halves (about 1/2 cup for each) and drizzle the remaining tablespoon of butter over top. Continue roasting until the squash is completely fork tender, the edges have started to brown, and the filling is heated through, about 20 to 25 minutes.

 

 

 

 

Caramelized Butternut Squash
The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, 1999 All Rights Reserved

Ingredients
2 medium butternut squash (4 to 5 pounds total)
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut off and discard the ends of each butternut squash. Peel the squash, cut them in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into 1 1/4 to 1 1/2-inch cubes and place them on a baking sheet. Add the melted butter, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. With clean hands, toss all the ingredients together and spread in a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast for 45 to 55 minutes, until the squash is tender and the glaze begins to caramelize. While roasting, turn the squash a few times with a spatula, to be sure it browns evenly. Taste for seasonings and serve hot.

Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Soup

When we do cooking demos at our farm to workplace sites, attendees are always looking for quick, minimal effort recipes and methods. These are the 9-5 type of folks who have full schedules or families and need to get home and put something together for dinner in a relatively short amount of time. Although personally, I love to spend hours in my kitchen, I also love to show people that cooking good food doesn’t have to be difficult or take long.

Yvonne Brunot prepared this recipe at a recent demo and I thought it was an ideal fit for our soup theme. First, it showed that soups don’t have to take hours, in fact, just half an hour can work fine. Similarly to the Green Lentil Soup with Curry Butter recipe, the extent of the active cooking here is just chopping an onion and mincing some garlic. What does that take – five minutes maybe? Easy. Then, the soup simmers for short period of time while you get other things done and you’ve got diner in no time.

Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Soup

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, medium diced
6  cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 heaping teaspoon sweet paprika
2 cups or 1 14oz can chopped tomatoes
3 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
1 quart vegetable broth or reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon sugar
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
5-ounces baby spinach

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until the onions begin to turn translucent; lower heat if browning starts to occur. Add spices and saute a minute or so. Add tomatoes, chickpeas and broth. Season with a couple pinches of salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper. Stir well. Chickpeas should be just covered with liquid. Add some water, if needed.

Bring to a simmer, then lower heat to low and gently simmer for 25 minutes.

Remove soup from heat. Use a potato masher or immersion blender to mash up some of the chickpeas right in the pot. Stir in the spinach and let heat through until wilted, just a couple minutes. Season again, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve.

Adapted from Dave Lieberman at foodnetwork.com

coconut-curry-lentil

Green Lentil Soup with Curried Brown Butter

I don’t know about you, but I have this habit of really getting into a food or ingredient, stocking up on it, and then forgetting about it for awhile because I found something else, equally as awesome, to cook. I realized this the other day when I noticed I hadn’t touched my jar full of green lentils (they come in red and pink too!) in quite some time. Considering how quick they cook (20 – 30 minutes) compared to other beans, I didn’t even need to do any planning to get them on my plate (or bowl) for dinner.

And this soup rocks. I know I’ve probably said that about all of the soups at this point – but I guarantee you won’t be able to get enough of this rich, sweet, nutty and just plain delicious lentil soup. I’m really growing to appreciate the combination of coconut milk and curry. Mix these two ingredients together, pour over anything and I’ll be happy. I used a sweet curry powder this time, but I’m confident any would work well. It’s all about experimenting too, right?

 

Did you know that after soybeans and hemp, lentils have the highest amount of protein by weight? They also contain fiber, folate and Vitamin B. Not too shabby. Combine with a grain and you’ve got yourself a complete protein. So grab yourself some bread and dig in.

Green Lentil Soup with Curried Brown Butter

Prep time: 5 min – Cook time: 45 min

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, ghee, or extra-virgin coconut oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
5 1/2 cups good-tasting vegetable broth or water
1 1/2 cups  green lentils or green split peas, picked over and rinsed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 cup coconut milk
Fine-grain sea salt
A few handfuls of chopped spinach or other green
1 bunch fresh chives, minced (optional)

 

Combine the butter, onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a large soup pot over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the onions soften, a couple minutes. Add the vegetable broth and lentils and simmer, covered, until the lentils are tender. This usually takes 20 to 30 minutes.

In the meantime, warm the 3 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and let it brown. When it starts to smell nutty and fragrant, stir in the curry powder and sauté until the spices are fragrant, less than a minute.

When the lentils are finished cooking, remove from the heat, stir in the coconut milk and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and puree with an immersion blender. You can leave the soup a bit chunky if you like, or puree until it is perfectly smooth. Then add in the spinach.

Stir in half of the spiced butter, taste, and add more salt, if needed, typically a couple of teaspoons if you used water instead of a salted broth. Serve drizzled with the remaining spice butter and sprinkled with chives, if using.

Serves 4 to 6



Adapted from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson

Frittata with Spring Greens

A frittata is a tasty combination of eggs, vegetables, and cheese cooked on the stove and then finished in the oven. This is a basic recipe that can be widely adapted.

Frittata with Spring Greens

Ingredients • One large sweet or yellow onion, diced • One clove of garlic, minced (if desired) • 2 tbs of butter or olive oil • One bunch of green vegetables: chose one or more: spinach, asparagus, swiss chard, kale, arugula, scallions, leeks, etc., rough chopped • 3/4 to full cup of your favorite cheese: shredded cheddar, ricotta, goat chevre, feta–just about anything works! • 1/4 cup grated parmesan for the top • 8-10 eggs • ½ cup cream, half and half, or milk • salt and pepper to tastePreparation Melt butter or warm oil in a heavy, ovenproof, non-stick or cast iron skillet (approximately 10 inch). Saute onion and garlic in the butter or oil until translucent. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk eggs, milk, and cheese with salt and pepper. Add chopped vegetables to the skillet and saute briefly (longer for thicker veg like asparagus). Add egg mixture to skillet; fold gently to combine. Cook until almost set. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top. Broil until frittata is puffed and cheese begins to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

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