Or perhaps I should call this the “don’t fear unusual vegetables” edition. It’s easy enough to know what to do with most summer vegetables, since they’re the most popular, which means they’re often the most accessible and the ones that even beginning cooks know the most about. But fall is coming back around, and you’re starting to see stuff that causes many people to wonder what to do with it: greens, winter squash, root vegetables. Do not be afraid! One of the things that trying to eat more locally has taught me is that I’m capable of far more than I ever knew.
It’s also taught me that knowing your basics is far more important than knowing recipes, the most important thing you can learn about cooking, and the main reason I thought I’d do this Community Supported Agriculture project. Bittman’s book is good for basics, but when it comes to the book I love the best in terms of hand-holding through unusual vegetables, I have to recommend Melissa’s Great Book of Produce: Everything You Need to Know about Fresh Fruits and Vegetables. It is this book that taught me to be unafraid of unusual squashes, and to accept in my heart that even unfamiliar greens aren’t that much different from the ones I already knew. It also covers a lot of vegetables associated with various Asian dishes, so if that’s something that there’s lots of in your local selections—or is available cheaply at your local grocery store—this book can really help you out. Be not afraid of the bok choy!
I suggest using this thread to express your fears about unfamiliar vegetables and ask for help, or give helpful (non-condescending, please!) stories from the trenches of how you finally overcame your fear of certain vegetables. Now on to the cooking of the past week.
For various reasons, I hadn’t really been able to do much dinner cooking, and I still had zucchini and snap peas that I didn’t want going bad. So I stir fried them with tofu, with various spices, and poured it over lettuce. Made enough that I had some for lunch the next day, as well. Since I was just doing a quick lunch, presentation was the least of my concerns. I just dumped all the stir fry in the rice, mixed it up, and ate it.
I had some stale bread, so I thought I’d make a basic stuffing to use with, well, whatever. The main thing was getting it broken down so it stopped taking up room in my fridge. So I put the bread, some green onions, a hot pepper, and chick peas (that I’d cooked earlier for protein) in the food processor. Cooked it briefly in a pot with a little butter and garlic, then put it in the fridge for later.
Had a lot of chick peas left over and Marc wasn’t home, so made myself a quick burrito with some of them, a bit of cucumber and the little tomatoes. Plus salsa and a little cheese and some salt and pepper.
1) Marc was still working late, but I figured I’d make him a plate. I cut the acorn squash in half, scooped it out, put the slices face down in a baking dish, and cooked it for half an hour while I worked on the final touches of my podcast. Which it dinged, I pulled out the squashes, filled them with stuffing I’d made the day before, put foil on top, and popped them in for another half hour. I also used all this time making squash to boil my vegetable cuttings that I store in the freezer. An hour or so on the stove in water, strained, and then put in a pitcher with some salt = veggie broth to have on hand for various occasions.
3) Steamed broccoli and served it with a little of that spray-on dressing, which is truly the greatest thing since sliced bread. When I put it all on a plate, I hit it all with parmesan cheese, as well as salt and pepper.
Time: About an hour, if you have the stuffing made ahead of time. You can definitely get at least half the dishes done while cooking in this time.
Leftovers: A ton of the stuffing, seriously. Which is great, because this stuffing turned out to be fucking fantastic. I just want to eat it all the time.
Soundtrack: An X live concert on vinyl. dork
Sorry the picture is shaky. I took like four, and they were all shaky. I must have been hungry, or at least extremely eager to eat that delicious squash.
I have a lot more meals planned out for this upcoming week, so next week’s should be more interesting. Still, stuffed squash! And please, share your veggie fears overcome stories and/or questions about veggies still feared in comments.