Archive for the ‘spring vegetables’ Category

We ate at our favorite Mexican restaurant tonight and the heartburn spreading evenly through my chest cavity is a constant reminder that refried beans covered in a rich mole sauce are not my true friends. Instead they are fickle, superficial companions that coax me into believing they won’t hurt me. I fall for their enticing smells and salty flavor every.single.time. I love the New Mecca Café in Pittsburg. Really I do. But seriously, the pain their food causes me afterwards leaves me feeling old. When did I get to the age where food hurts me?

It is after meals like tonight’s greasy potato tacos and refried beans that leave me yearning for a simple vegetarian meal. Brown rice, lightly braised tofu, a mess of collards and kale all covered in nutritional yeast and sprayed with a bit of tamari—these are the foods that make me feel healthy and cleansed after a weekend of decadent New Mecca tacos.

Last fall we signed up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box from our favorite organic farmers at Full Belly Farm. Once a week, on the way home from work, we pull into the hippy subdivision in town and pick up our brimming box of organic, seasonal fruits and vegetables.

I look forward to our weekly box of produce, but lately the bounty has started to wreak havoc on our refrigerator. Oranges and potatoes dominate the crisper boxes. Leeks, piled high on the shelf, enough for two to three batches of potato leek soup (that I can’t seem to make time to create) rest in a pile against the refrigerator wall. Bags of winter greens, sweet carrots and beets spill over onto the shelves, pushing out the soymilk and other staples. The vegetables in our fridge are threatening to take over the kitchen. They scream “Eat me! Create with me!” And every week I bring home more, dreading only slightly, the need to make room for the new additions in the fridge.

I try to stay on top of the vegetable madness by combing through our recipe books for menu inspirations on Sunday afternoons. A habit I picked up from my mother, weekly menus have helped to remove the dinner guesswork that religiously happens in our house. Even Full Belly Farms tries to help out by printing out recipes for people like me who need ideas on how to cook with Jerusalem artichokes.

If I don’t take the time to develop a weekly menu, the late weekday afternoon rolls around and inevitably Scott or I will IM the other at work and ask what the evening’s meal should be. On the weeks that I create a menu, the dinner decision is so much easier. Coming up with a meal on the fly after a long day of work can be difficult—my brain immediately pushes all creative meals out of my conscious mind and all I am left with are burritos, pasta with red sauce and take out Chinese food from Ding How.

Tonight, after eating a triple dose of Tums for dessert, I feel inspired to cook simple, tasty foods for the rest of the week. Organic, seasonal vegetables harvested from a local farm, though they may clutter my fridge like a messy roommate, will never mock my age and leave me reaching for relief.

Below is a recipe that is very adaptable and open for whatever seasonal vegetables you happen to have in your fridge. This time we used fresh chard still growing in what is left of our summer garden, asparagus from the Farmer’s Market, Romanesco broccoli from our CSA box, crimini mushrooms from the back of the fridge, and of course, lots of leeks.

Spring vegetables with penne in a white wine sauce

-two to three cloves of minced garlic
-two leeks (the white part only), chopped thin
-two heads of broccoli cut into small trees
-one bundle of thin stemmed asparagus cut into 2 inch segments (I prefer the thin stems to the thicker ones. They tend to be more tender and sweet)
-a handful of mushrooms, sliced thin
-one bunch of chopped chard
-one cup of white wine
-half box of vegetable broth
-a healthy dose of olive oil
-a couple of big shakes of thyme and marjoram (or your favorite herbs—fresh is always good)
-salt and pepper to taste
-one bag of organic penne pasta

-Bring a large pot of water to boil
-While waiting for the water to boil, heat the olive oil and sauté the leeks and garlic
-Add mushrooms and herbs, salt and pepper and sauté for a few more minutes
-Pour in white wine and vegetable broth and add in asparagus, broccoli and/or any other vegetable threatening to turn in your fridge and simmer
-While the pasta is cooking (don’t forget to add salt to the water), add the chard to the vegetable medley and cook down to a wilted state
-When pasta is finished, drain and pour into a past bowl or a large dish
-Smother with vegetables and serve with a warm crusty artisan bread and a lightly tossed salad


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