Category Archives: greens

Not so special dinner

I tried, I did. I wanted to make a special Sunday night dinner, the kind that Jewish grandmothers dream of. I made roasted cornish hens and rice pilaf, enhanced with roasted vegetables and plenty of garlic. It was all fine, but the salad– my basic, beloved salad, that I somehow haven’t blogged about, stole the show.

You see, for a long time, even though I loved veggies, I hated salad. Couldn’t stand it.

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You see, for a long time, I hated salad. Hated it. Loved veggies, hated salad… and then I realized that it wasn’t salad I hated. It was lettuce (I’ve since found varieties I like), croutons, processed cheese, and most salad dressings. So I started making salads with other vegetables as the base, cucumbers being my favorite. The only consistent thing about this salad is large amounts of cucumber, onion (red or sweet), vinegar, salt, and pepper. Sometimes I add lemon juice, feta, mozzarella, tomato, basil, dill, small chunks of red pepper, and even raw garlic. Key to know, though, is that this salad needs to sit a few hours at least– the longer, the better. Think refrigerator pickles.

Hope you love this as much as I do.

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Filed under greens, pepper, vegetarian, veggies

Ethical Eating (3)- Organics and Mishigash*

*Randomness. Sometimes Yiddish is fun.

This is part 3 of of a three-part series on my views on eating ethically. The first one focuses on why I try to eat locally (and the resources I use to do so). The second one will focus on why I’m not a vegetarian (even though I love veggies), and this third one will be (yep, modified) organics– plus! a bonus, easily vegan-izable winter meal idea; I would have discussed the comments, especially on the second post, but they really discussed themselves. Go check it out.

You may have noticed that this post has taken a little longer to come than the other two. Part of it is that it’s less specific, and thus less inspiring, by nature– but it’s also that my thoughts are more conflicted on organics than on anything else related. You see, at one point I was *very, very* careful about buying everything organic. Then, I met the farmers market… where the milk and dairy products were not organic, for the most part. Hmmmph. I asked the farmers why they weren’t, and, amazingly, they didn’t  beat me up for being so rude! Instead, they patiently explained to me their methods of farming. To be honest, the methods varied.

Some of our local dairy farms were, for all intents and purposes, organic but the certification process was too unwieldy and expensive. Some couldn’t afford to buy supplemental organic feed when their farms didn’t produce enough, and some just felt that non-organic chemicals did the best job and made it possible for them to spray much less, ultimately lowering the toxicity (note: not all organic-approved chemicals are happy and fuzzy.) I thought about that and accepted that they really knew what they were doing, choosing to buy dairy from them rather than organic dairy from the supermarket.

Next came the fruits. When I found the farmers market it was summer. and most of the fruits (though not all) were organic. I was still buying primarily organic fruits and vegetables, but that– that’s easy in summer. When it came to fall, though, I was stumped. Why? Because nobody grows organic tree fruits near DC. They’re nearly, if not totally, impossible to track down from a commercial source (I have to assume that some people have fruit trees in their yards, but that doesn’t help me much, as I don’t know them.) And so, again, a choice– organic tree fruits shipped in from far away, or local in-season fruits from small farms. Again, I asked the farmers. Turns out it’s just not profitable in this region to grow them, and so they can’t afford to– but all of them spray minimally and responsibly, and are happy to discuss their methods. One  farmer even gives paper handouts out so you can go home and learn more about his methods– really cool! Again, thought about it, bought the fruit, haven’t looked back.

There are, however, some things I make a special effort to buy organic, especially when I’m not at the farmer’s market. Corn and wheat products, wherever possible, because I’m concerned about the amount of genetic modification that goes on (besides which I’m willing to bet that topical pesticides are ground into the flour without adequate cleaning at some places) . The standard list of “most risky” foods. Eggs, meats, and dairies when I don’t personally know the producer (if you’ve taken high school biology, you might remember how toxins concentrate as they go up the food chain.)  Berries, tomatoes, and strawberries. Root vegetables that have been marinating in toxins. The list goes on.

Tricksy, huh? So now that you’ve got your stash of organic, locally grown vegetables, what do you do with them in winter? Well, if you’re me, you boil a few potatoes until very soft, then mash them with skim milk, a little butter, a little cream if you’ve got it around, and some sharp or stinky cheese (vegan equivalents are fine, I prefer rice milk, and you can leave out the cheese– it will still taste fabulous so long as you add a little salt).  While the potatoes are boiling, you sautee a lot of garlic and some crushed red pepper in some olive oil, add some greens, and cook until they’re tender, finishing off with some mustard and lemon juice if you’ve got them around. Make a “nest” of the mashed potatoes, and throw the greens in the middle. This is great on its’ own, but if you’ve got some beans lying around, make a bean salad for extra protein.

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Filed under beans, cheese, ethics, greens, Other Interests, vegetarian, veggies

Mmm. End ‘o Root Vegetables

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Spring seems to have finally decided to stick around for a while… and while I’m happy about this for many reasons, I’m sad for many more. The loss of root vegetables (the last of which were roasted for the above salad), the loss of the lettuce lady at the farmer’s market close to me (she’ll be back next winter), the loss of the “milk man” from Blue Highland Dairy (never to return– a tragic barrier to the eat local challenge I’m starting as soon as I return from vacation in June, and also a sad story– such a nice man, always a smile– but the farm’s closing down and the cows are being sold), and… my roomie moved out! (ok, that’s half hapy and half sad– she’s living in an apartment one floor down, so no shoes and no jackets are required to see her, she’s over for dinner all the time, and i get my 220ft studio back to myself again.)

 

Speaking of my 22o’ studio, this is how big my kitchen is. I took it standing in my doorway, and the fridge literally touches the bathroom doorway. Should give you an idea of scale.

 

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Yup, it is true that from my doorway, you’re so close to my stove that you can’t actually get all of it in pic. In addition, that counter space? That’s it. Normally you can’t even see it cause it’s covered by my drainboard. Sad! I thought they didn’t get any smaller than that… but the Roomie’s kitchen is even smaller! Perhaps I’ll have her guest-blog w/ a pic tonight cause it’s her night to cook.

For the salad (to serve 2): roast 1 cup each beet, parsnip, and carrot in matchstick form with a little olive oil and salt at 375 until limp and slightly brown, about 30 minutes. Toss with 4 cups of lettuce (spinach or arugula would be nice, but I had butterhead and it was lovely) and a dressing of your choice (I used buttermilk-horseradish). If you want to make it a bit heartier, feel free to add a nice sharp cheese- I believe I added feta after the picture was taken.

Enjoy your antioxidants, and enjoy the rest of the blogosphere’s inspiring ARF-rich creations over at Sweetnicks.

 

Also, a few of you may have noticed that I’ve been tagged with a Thinking Blogger award. I’m getting to properly writing about that (oh, and, I don’t know, writing about food again?)– but things are chaotic and tumultuous around here. Mostly in a good way, not to worry, but the times– they are a changin’. More soon.

 

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Filed under arugula, greens, Uncategorized, veggies

Mmmm. Pasta.

I had not one, not two, but three! pasta recipes to choose from this week for Presto Pasta Night. However, I chose the one that looks like worms, because it was the most fun.

worms

Just in case you thought I was kidding. Of course, the pasta did not look like worms in the package. In fact, it was a brilliant purply red. Any guesses?

It’s roasted-garlic beet pasta from the Dupont Circle freshmarket. And, while I was at the farmers market, I picked up kale and herbed goat cheese to go with it.

No real recipe, for the sauce, just sauteed some garlic and oil, added slivered kale, and dumped in some cheese and milk. But beet pasta? Once you get past the color, it’s fantabulous; rich, flavorful, slightly softer than al dente, and you can feel yourself getting healthier as you eat (um, yes, still a little bit of a priority. Whoops. )

Next time I might try it with a simpler sauce, it’s that good. I’m still kicking myself for not saving the bright red pasta water for risotto.

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Filed under greens, pasta, Uncategorized

Health Food

(Or, what I eat when I’m sick.)

Plate

Stuffed butternut squash and garlic kale. Isn’t that what you eat when you’re sick and there’s no soup in the house?

Well, maybe not. But this was fabulous. I’m sick, gross-sick, and I don’t want the roomie to get sick (cause then who’ll take care of me?), so I needed to make something so very healthy that the sick germs would take one look at her and run. As I subscribe to the colorful plate theory of nutrition, I pulled out the brightest things in my cabinets/ pantry, and tried to make them work together. I decided that kale and butternut squash didn’t go together well enough to be cooked together, which left me butternut squash and my newest impulse purchase, black “forbidden” rice.

This rice? It’s fabulous. I’m not entirely sure that it counts as rice, really, in terms of taste– it’s very nutty and firm, more so than brown rice. Of course, this makes it perfect for stuffing something soft and sweet, for more contrast. I was inspired towards the end (interestingly, after the addition of feta), to make this almost Moroccan style, with raisins, cinnamon, and almonds. Of course, then it needed Parmesan before baking, which made this even more of a cultural hodge-podge. Nevertheless, it’s something I could taste even with the gross, and the roomie kept saying “wow, it’s so good” from the other side of the quarantine-box.

Here’s how:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Slice 2 small butternut squash in half. Remove seeds and fiber, then place, cut side up, on a baking sheet and cover it with foil, placing it in your oven. (Total cook time: ~ 1hr)

Meanwhile, sautee 1/2 an onion and 1/4 cup parsley in olive oil for about 5 minutes, until onion is transluscent. Add salt, pepper, 1 cup black “forbidden” rice, and 2 cups vegetable stock (or water.) Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, approximately 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, sautee 1 thinly sliced carrot in olive oil . Add garlic (I like lots, you may not), 1/4 cup of corn (I used frozen) and 10 brussel sprouts (sliced thinly), until brussel sprout “wilts.” Let cool 5 minutes, then add salt and pepper to taste, a healthy squirt of lemon juice, half a pack (40z?) of feta, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/4 cup of raisins, and 1/4 cup of slivered almonds ( I like mine toasted first). Mix together.

When rice is done, take squash out of oven and spoon out most of the flesh, so that you have a hollow bowl-like shell with about 1/2″ of flesh left in. Put the shells back in the oven, cut the squash pieces up into small chunks, and mix together with the rice. Let sit for 5 minutes, then mix in the vegetable-cheese mixture. Stuff the squash shells with the stuffing (as pictured below), sprinkle the top with parm, and bake another 10 minutes.

Serve hot. Enjoy.

squash

Of course, I couldn’t make something so brightly colored, on a Tuesday no less, and not submit it for Sweetnicks’ ARF-5 A Day blogging event. Thanks Cate! Check out the other healthy entries here.

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Filed under cheese, greens, Uncategorized, veggies

Steaming Bowl of Jewish Comfort (Passover Safe)

You may have noticed that meat doesn’t appear very much in my kitchen. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I bought any. However, I do eat it occasionally, with great enjoyment, and when my sister came in from San Diego last month, she was kind enough to roast a chicken for us. Now, meat-squeamish girl that I am, it seemed a shame to let all those nice chicken bones go to waste, so I made my first-ever chicken stock, and stuck it in the freezer.

Spoonful

The stock didn’t come out perfectly– more like a vegetable stock w/ chicken flavoring due to being overpracticed at making vegetable stock. However, the resulting mazto ball soup was perfect, a mixture of steamy herby chicken goodness, fluffy matzo balls, and hearty veggie goodness. Even better, with the matzo balls coming from a mix, this took almost no time or effort, and was perfect during a sickly midterms afternoon.

1 package Manischevitz Matzo Ball Soup
2 eggs
1 quart (or slightly more) chicken or veggie stock (homemade, please!)
Olive Oil
1/2 onion
3 cloves garlic
2 carrots
2 celery stalks
2 cups kale, chard, spinach, or other bitter greens
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix matzo meal and eggs and cook in a large pot of boiling water (note: these will expand significantly.) Meanwhile, in a large pot, sautee onion and carrot on medium heat with a little olive oil until onion is translucent and fragrant. Add minced garlic and celery, sautee another two minutes (do not let garlic burn). Add greens and stock and cook until carrots and celery are as soft as you enjoy eating. Add matzo balls and serve.

Just as a sidenote, I love serving this with a buttery or creamy noodle dish. Yes, it may be too carb-heavy for some, but isn’t that the point of comfort food?

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Filed under greens, Jewish, matzo, soup, Uncategorized

Guest Blog! (Amanda from SexualEvolution)

I’ve never been much of a cook. I’ve had my moments, like in the 7th grade when I made dinner for 12 as a project for foods class (chicken amandine, sweet potato casserole, and some kind of soup), or when I decided that July was the perfect time to make an big pot of vegetarian chili. For the most part, though, anything involving more than a single pot or pan, a utensil, and a bowl is too much for me, unless I’m feeling adventurous.

 

Or unless it’s Greek food. I studied in Greece for a semester in college, and fell in love with good cheese and real yogurt and fried pita. When I came back to the states my favorite Greek dishes weren’t always easy to find, so I started making them myself. Last week I made tzatziki (with fried pita) and spanakopitaki for Roomie. I got the impression she approved when she asked me to guest-blog them!

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For the tzatziki:

Set aside 2 cups or so of Greek strained yogurt. Theoretically you could strain regular yogurt yourself with cheesecloth, but real Greek yogurt is just so tasty.

Peel either 1 large English cucumber or 2 smallish regular cucumbers. Grate on a cheese grater and put the (very wet) cucumber confetti that results into a strainer. Salt it lightly, toss it, press it, then let it drain for a while – as long as a couple of hours, although a half-hour did the trick for me this time.

Mince 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, and mix them into the yogurt along with a tablespoon of vinegar, two of olive oil, salt and pepper, and a generous pinch of dried dill (or about a tbs of fresh chopped mint).

Mix in the drained cucumber, and voila! Tzatziki will taste better if you let it sit in the fridge (overnight or even just an hour) before serving it, so while you’re waiting on that you can make…

 

Spanakopitaki (or little spinach pies):

 

First, make the filling:

½ lb. feta

2 eggs, lightly beaten

Some parsley, depending on how much you like it

 

1 lb. fresh spinach, chopped and sautéed with diced onion

A stick or so of butter, melted

 

 

Crumble the feta and mix in the eggs, and then the parsley. Use a fork to crumble the feta even smaller – the smaller the better — then mix in the spinach and onions.

 

 

Take 10 sheets of defrosted filo dough from the fridge. Slice them to make 2-inch strips; you’ll probably get about 4 from each sheet. Take two strips together and cover the rest with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out.

 

Brush the top of each sheet with butter, then stack the two together. Put a spoonful of filling at the bottom and fold the edge up diagonally, as though you were folding a flag, and brush the triangle with butter after each fold. Put the completed triangle seam-side down on a buttered baking sheet and repeat with the remaining strips. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes and enjoy!

Spanakopitaki

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Filed under cheese, greens, Uncategorized, veggies