A Special Occasion Vegetarian Feast

Why not try THREE totally new, more complex than normal recipes for a special holiday meal? All three turned out about as perfectly as I could imagine, and I would definitely make them all again (although not obvious with the poor iPhone photo showing).

First up: Beet, Orange, Rhubarb & Endive Salad inspired by Epicurious
I had three ginormous beets, boiled them for an hour, peeled, sliced and chilled them for another hour. The rhubarb, fresh from Watauga County Farmers Market, was sliced diagonally dropped in warm but not boiling water/sugar mix and left to simmer 2 minutes, followed by chilling. Mix those two together with cut navel orange chunks and endive, plus a dash of feta, and you have a sweet tangy crunchy salad.

Next on tap: Vegetables Wellington Redux from Vegetarian Times
This was actually pretty simple, but required a lot of prep. Chop red pepper, asparagus, onion, and Rowan County chard, then saute for 10 minutes (adding chard at about 6 minutes). Mix in some homemade pesto and set aside. Working with thawed pastry crust sheets laid on parchment paper (essential, do not skip!), line a loaf pan with the pastry like a box. Spread marscapone on the bottom, sprinkle with rosemary and garlic powder and poke holes in the pastry. Add the asparagus mix, sprinkle with parmesan, and fold the top edges around and over to make an enclosed roll. Brush exposed pastry with an egg and chill 20 mins. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 and bake another 45 minutes. Serve with marinara sauce on the side.

And lastly: Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
I combined and modified about 5 recipes into the following.

1 c whole wheat flour
1 c white flour
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/4 t ginger
1 T cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
pinch of salt
1/2 c softened butter
1/2 c packed brown sugar
3/4 c sugar
1 c egg beaters

2 c mashed sweet potato (just nuke ‘em for 6-8 mins)
dried cranberries

Combine first eight ingredients and mix well. In separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients, except sweet potato, mix well. Gently fold flour mix into wet ingredients. Do not over mix, and then gently fold in sweet potato (clumps are ok!). Place into greased muffin tins and bake 20-24 minutes until springy.

1 package low fat cream cheese
1/2 c powdered sugar
2 T cinnamon
1 T vanilla extract

Stir cheese to loosen, then gently beat in remaining ingredients until creamy. Frost cupcakes and top with dried cranberries.


7 Ways to Use All Those CSA Greens

If you were lucky enough to sign up for a local community supported agriculture (CSA) program this Spring and Summer, you’ve probably gotten a few baskets and noticed a theme with the contents:

GREENS! They are a staple of Spring CSAs and the varieties are endless. They are one of my favorite things about these weekly baskets. They can also be one of the most challenging since the shelf life is pretty short. Here are a few options for making the most of what you get, especially if you have a house of only two eaters like we do!

1. Pesto

  • Most people know about making basil pesto, but arugula makes an excellent pesto when paired with garlic, walnuts, and olive oil. You can also make pesto from cilantro, garlic scapes, spinach, mint, collard green & olives  - try different types of nuts, cheeses, and oils to compliment flavors.

2. Blanch & Freeze

  • Chard, spinach, kale, mustard greens (etc) can all be dropped in a large pot of boiling water for 30-45 seconds, cooled in an ice bath, packed in a freezer bag (don’t worry about drying, the water prevents freezer burn) and stored to drop in soups, casseroles, and sauces throughout the year.

3. Quiche

  • Dark leafy greens are an excellent addition to quiches, which freeze fantastically. Prepare as usual, let cool, wrap in foil and place in a freezer bag. Be sure to write the contents on the bag!

4. Marinara Sauce

  • I almost always add frozen spinach when I make homemade sauce. Why not add the fresh right in and freeze or can it for Fall.

5. Soup

  • If you haven’t noticed, the freezer is your friend for keeping greens. Thick soups like potato freeze well and adding a little kale tastes delicious. You can also add just about any dark leafy green to thinner, broth-based soups.

6. Smoothies

  • Have you had a green smoothie? Don’t write it off until you try it! This is a healthy way to use up any of those greens, especially kale and lettuce. Plus, you can make a double batch and freeze it for later!

7. Unwiches

  • I think lettuce is the hardest of the CSA greens to use up. Sammiches are summer staples, but instead of just putting a few leaves in between your bread, ditch the bread altogether and use large outer leaves to wrap the guts up Jimmy John’s style!