Hello everyone, this is my first post in my new special category of vegetable basics! I’m going to start placing what I know about certain vegetables and fruits in regards to their storage and preparation methods as I continue cooking. Hopefully this will be a helpful place to turn when figuring out how to work with different ingredients!
Storage: keep tomatoes at room temperature or in a cool spot, they keep in a single layer best to prevent bruising.
- How to Peel Tomatoes: Prepare a bowl of ice water. Bring a pot of water to a gentle rolling boil. Slice a small “X” in the bottom of the desired number of tomatoes. Drop several tomatoes into the boiling water and wait 10-90 seconds for the skins to start to wrinkle. Then scoop out with a slotted spoon and place into the ice bath. When the tomatoes are cool peel the skin off the tomatoes!
- **the amount of time your tomatoes will need in the boiling water will vary based on how fresh your tomato is, about 10 seconds for a super ripe farmers market tomato almost about to be overripe to around 60 seconds for your average grocery store tomato that is not quite as fresh
I absolutely love fresh guacamole. I was excited to check out the Food 52 Genius cookbook from the library and decided to give this recipe a whirl. Finely chopping the ingredients and using a mortar and pestle are the main differences that help to elevate this guacamole. I never had jalapeno as called for in the original recipe, it was tasty without but if you have jalapeno on hand then I would add it in!
The method I learned here for removing the avocado in chunks it my new favorite way to quickly add avocado to my favorite salads, sandwiches etc in addition to using it in this guacamole.
Food 52’s Guacamole
Adapted slightly from Food 52
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped white onion
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 large Mexican Hass avocados, halved and pitted
- squeeze of lime
- optional** 1 Tbsp minced fresh serrano or jalapeno chile (including seeds if you want your guacamole more spicy)
- Mash the onion,salt and half of the cilantro to a paste in a mortar (and chile if using).
- Score the flesh in the avocado halves in a crosshatch pattern (do not go through the skin) with a knife and then scoop it with a spoon into the bowl.
- Add the rest of the cilantro and lime juice and mash the avocados, leaving some larger pieces with a fork.
- Add additional salt and/or chile to taste.
I was browsing the cookbooks in my favorite technical bookstore in Seattle when I ran across A Girl and Her Greens by April Bloomfield. I was intrigued by the wonderful colors and recipes featuring vegetables. I went home and reserved the cookbook from the library and ultimately decided to try out the kale polenta. This was my first time making polenta and it was delightfully warm and creamy.
Treat yourself to something special and try this out tonight!
Kale Polenta Recipe
April Bloomfield’s Website
I had extra mascarpone cheese from polenta I made earlier in the week so I began searching for other savory ways to use it. I came across this recipe on The Kitchn
and decided it was a great way to try out meyer lemons for the first time. I have never cooked with meyer lemon before but this recipe made me eager to try it out more often!
I also splurged and bought fresh pasta in the refrigerator section and would say that it elevated this dish to transcendent. If you have never branched away from boxed pasta let this be an excuse to do so. Fresh pasta cooks in about 2-3 minutes and is soft, tender, and well worth the extra price.
*I used fresh pasta instead of boxed spaghetti
I love baking with banana. When I have an extra banana that is overripe I put it in the freezer until I get to 3 bananas and then I let them thaw and use them to make delicious cakes and muffins.
I wanted to go for a slightly healthier take on banana bread so I tried this recipe with oats. It was moist, light and had a great banana flavor.
Banana Oat Muffin Recipe
I’m always looking for ways to use potatoes from my CSA and non-mayo potato salad with fresh corn was a delightful choice! This potato salad is refreshing with fresh vegetables and lasts for a few days in the fridge.
I added fresh parsley in addition to the fresh dill.
Potato Salad Recipe
As usual, the Smitten Kitchen blog does not disappoint. Chocolate peanut butter is one of my favorite combinations. These cookies were chewy and moist and the sugar coating added a little something extra. Check out the recipe here, the only change I made was to use all chocolate chips and no peanut butter chips.
Smitten Kitchen Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
I’ve come across Dorie Greenspan’s name a few times while looking at other food blogs. Last year I finally checked out her cookbook Around My French Table which I found to be full of delightful recipes. I found myself with celery on hand and that is what inspired me to make this salad. I am absolutely in love with grain based salads. In fact, I just had the most incredible farro salad at Wondering Goose.
This was my first time using wheatberries and I was pleasantly surprised. They are a little chewy while also light in texture. Give yourself a hearty salad treat this weekend!
adapted from Dorie Greenspan
- 1 cup wheatberries
- 1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
- 4 1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus 1 tsp more for tossing)
- Salt, fresh ground pepper, red pepper flakes
- 2 celery stalks, trimmed and chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 red or green bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
- 1 medium red apple, cored and diced
- 4 cups mixed salad greens
- optional add-ins: chopped avocado, chopped cherry tomatoes, chopped hard boiled eggs, 2 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley, 1/2 cup chopped swiss chard
- Cooking the wheatberries: Start a few hours before you want to eat the salad by cooking the wheatberries. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the wheatberries. Lower heat to a simmer and cook the wheatberries stirring occasionally until they are tender but not mushy (1-1 1/4 hours). Drain and rinse the wheatberries in cold water. (Can refrigerate up to 24 hours before using, bring to room temperature before assembling salad)
- Make the dressing: Whisk together in a small bowl the mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, olive oil, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
- Make the salad: Place wheatberries in a large bowl and toss with the vinaigrette. If time allows, let the wheatberries soak in the vinaigrette for 1 hour. Add the celery, onion, apple, and pepper and toss gently. Add more salt and pepper to taste if needed. Mix in a few additional add-ins if desired (I did fresh parsley and chopped raw chard). Enjoy!
**Note: when I make this to have for lunch multiple days in a row, I keep the dressing separate until the day of eating and mix a small portion in before having lunch!
My advisor recommended that I check out Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Jerusalem. I checked out the cookbook from the library to take a look. Checking out books from the library has been my new go to in order to try not to fill my entire house with cookbooks. There are so many beautiful new cookbook’s and it is so difficult to choose, thus I began checking them out at the library and trying out a recipe or two.
This cookbook was absolutely gorgeous to flip through and I loved all the different Mediterranean flavors. This recipe calls for ground sumac which was a first for me. The sumac bush produces red berries and is one of the main components of za-atar. When in doubt, I venture over the The Kitchn to learn about various ingredients or cooking tips. Check out their blurb on sumac!
I had some beautiful kohlrabi and purple carrots so I altered the recipe to be mostly carrot based with a little chopped kohlrabi and I think you will find that this combination is refreshing and delightful!
Carrot and Kohlrabi Salad
adapted from Jerusalem
- 6 medium carrots, peeled and shredded
- 1 medium kohlrabi, peeled and chopped into small pieces (about 1/4 inch x 1/2 inch rectangles)
- 1/3 cup Greek plain yogurt
- 5 Tbsp sour cream
- 3 Tbsp mascarpone cheese
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- 1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
- 1/4 tsp ground sumac
- salt and pepper
- Mix together the shredded carrots and chopped kohlrabi in a large bowl. Set aside.
- To make the dressing, place the yogurt, sour cream, mascarpone cheese, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil in a medium bowl. Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a grind of fresh pepper. Whisk the ingredients together until smooth.
- Stir the dressing into the kohlrabi and carrot mixture.
- Stir in the mint and sprinkle the top of the salad with sumac.
This was my first attempt at stuffed squash and I am now a complete convert. Once again, my CSA has pushed me to stretch my vegetable boundaries. I had a delicata squash and an acorn squash that I needed to use before leaving for vacation. Both the delicata and acorn squash work well with this recipe, I bet any winter squash would be successful. If you are choosing a squash then I recommend going with the delicata squash because you can eat the skin!
Wild Rice Stuffed Delicata Squash
Recipe adapted from Chowhound
- 4-6 delicata squash, halved lengthwise and seeds removed
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
- 4 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 2 cups cooked wild rice mix
- 2/3 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper,
- Heat the oven to 450°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
- 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 salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until just fork tender, about 20 minutes.
- While the squash is baking, 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.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the rice, pecans, cranberries, and measured salt and pepper. Add more salt and pepper to taste if needed.
- Divide the rice filling among the roasted squash halves (about 1/2 cup for each)*. 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.
* I had a lot of extra wild rice mixture that I served on the side of the stuffed squash. The rice mixture is also delicious by itself and can be served independently.