Cooking With This Week's Box
This week’s box is another full and bountiful box filled with a wide variety of colors and vegetables. As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday next week, we realize we have a lot to be thankful for this year. While this year’s growing season had its ups and downs, our fall harvest has been bountiful and this week we’re sharing some of that bounty with you and your families!
From a culinary perspective, Thanksgiving is a fun time of year for cooking. All of the cooking magazines boast beautiful layouts and articles featuring a variety of festive, fall recipes. Whether you’re looking for recipes to include in your Thanksgiving dinner or not, this is a great time to scout out new vegetable-centric recipes for the fall. I’ve been poking around the internet at some of my favorite cooking sites to see what they have to offer this Thanksgiving season and I’d like to cast my vote to Food52 for a very nice feature on their website. They’ve created Food52’s Automagic Thanksgiving Menu Maker. This is a great one-stop shop feature that is basically a collection of recipes they’ve gathered and categorized based around the typical components of a Thanksgiving dinner. This is a helpful tool for gathering recipes, tips and suggestions for your Thanksgiving dinner, but it’s also packed with a lot of great recipes that can be prepared at any meal this fall. So lets get started cooking!
|Photo from Food52.com|
Carrots are the topic of this week’s vegetable feature and we have two delicious recipes in this week’s newsletter. The first recipe is for Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Parsnip and Potato Mash (See below). I came across this recipe on Food52 where they suggested it as a vegetarian main dish for Thanksgiving. I think it’s a great recipe for any meal in the fall or winter and it incorporates several of the root crops in this week’s box including parsnips, carrots, onions and garlic. It also calls for celery, but you can easily substitute celeriac with delicious results. While there are multiple steps required to put together Shepard’s Pie, the end result is a flavorful, hearty, nourishing meal. The author of this recipe also comments that it can easily be frozen, so while you’re making a mess consider doubling the recipe and making two pans of this—one to eat now and the other one to go into the freezer.
|Photo from food52.com|
The other recipe in this week’s newsletter is for Sticky, Spicy, Sweet Roasted Carrots and Chickpeas with Date Vinaigrette (see below). This is another recipe from Food52 and I thought it to be a fitting recipe for the week since we have dates in this week’s fruit box! This dish is beautiful made with different colors of carrots and can stand alone as a vegetarian main when served, as suggested by the author, alongside couscous, bulger or pita bread. You can also use this as a side dish to serve alongside lamb or chicken.
I mentioned using parsnips in the Shephard’s Pie recipe, but here’s another idea for using parsnips that will also make good use of any leftover Thanksgiving turkey. This recipe for Turkey Hash with Brussels Sprouts and Parsnips would make a great post-Thanksgiving brunch or dinner when served with a fried egg on top. Speaking of Brussels sprouts, if you’re looking for more ways to put your Brussels sprouts to use, check out this collection of 20 of Our Best Brussels Sprouts Recipes for Thanksgiving featured at cooking.nytimes.com.
Butternut squash has a wide variety of uses, but I’m going to make two very different suggestions for how to use it this week. First, I have to honor the memory of my grandmother with Grandma Yoder’s Squash Pie. This is a light, fluffy alternative to pumpkin pie and is a recipe my grandma always made for our Thanksgiving family dinners. The other suggestion for butternut squash is from, you guessed it, Food52. Check out this recipe for Herbed Butternut Squash Chips. Serve these as a snack while Thanksgiving dinner is being prepared, or serve them with a leftover turkey sandwich.
There are a lot of things you could do with sweet potatoes this week, but one of my favorite dishes this time of year is this recipe for Ginger-Coconut Sweet Potatoes. This is one of Heidi Swanson’s recipes and it’s a keeper. It’s easy to make, reheats well and is tasty served along with some tangy cranberries!
|Photo from naturallyella.com|
We’re happy to have some fresh greens for this box! We took our chances and left the tat soi in the field covered with a double layer of row cover to protect them through several very cold nights over the past two weeks. When we peeled back the cover we were happy to see they were alive and well! This will be the last leafy green vegetable we take from the fields this year, so savor its goodness! Last week I came across this simple soup, Ginger Bok-Choi Soup with Noodles. Tat soi is related to bok choi and they can be used interchangeably. You have enough tat soi in this week’s box to double this recipe. The recipe calls for vegetable broth, but you could also make this using turkey broth if you take advantage of the leftover turkey carcass to make a flavorful broth.
Richard will be packing up a big box of beauty heart radishes to take with him when he visits his family in South Dakota next week. Beauty heart radishes are an essential part of the de Wilde Thanksgiving celebration. We slice them up and serve them with dip as a snack before the meal and with leftover turkey sandwiches. Richard and I also like to pack slices of beauty heart radishes and some cheese slices to take with us for road food while we’re traveling to South Dakota. We eat them like cheese and crackers with the slice of radish serving as the “cracker.” Several years ago we featured this recipe for Beauty Heart Radish and Sesame Seed Salad in one of our winter newsletters. This is a stunning salad that is super-easy to put together. If you’re looking for something different to wow your holiday guests, consider using this recipe.
Another one of our favorite fall vegetable salads is this Celeriac & Apple Slaw. I like to add chopped, fresh cranberries to this salad, so thought I’d mention this recipe while cranberries are available. This slaw is delicious with a wide variety of meals. I’ve served it with ham and pork chops as well as roasted chicken. It is also good with a simple cheeseburger!
Now that it’s cold, it’s time to make more soup! Several weeks ago this recipe for Vegetarian Cabbage Soup was posted at Alexandracooks.com. This is a simple, yet hearty soup that makes a complete meal when served with some crusty bread and butter.
Well, that covers nearly everything in the box except for the sugar dumpling squash. This week I’m going to try Andrea Bemis’s recipe for Sweet Dumpling Eggs in a Nest. Eggs are our go-to quick fix, so I’m always interested in ways to pair them with vegetables to make a quick meal. You can bake the squash in advance and then just reheat them before adding the egg. Serve this with a piece of toast or a biscuit and a bit of fruit for a simple dinner or breakfast.
That’s a wrap for this week. I hope you enjoy your cooking adventures over the next few weeks. If you stumble upon a good recipe or take the time to try something I’ve suggested here, please post pictures in our Facebook Group! Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at HVF!
Vegetable Feature: Carrots
As we move into the heart of winter, carrots become an important staple food for Midwesterners who eat a diet based on local foods. Carrots are packed with important nutrients, specifically beta carotene which is an important antioxidant and vitamin for our bodies. It’s important for vision, immunity and a whole host of other health benefits. Because they are a staple vegetable, we try to include carrots in as many summer and fall boxes as possible. Carrots aren’t always an easy crop to grow. The varieties selected for winter storage are planted in the summer when growing conditions can be hot and dry. It takes an observant farmer to get enough moisture to the seed so it can germinate. Once they are up, it’s a battle against weeds to keep the crop clean and make sure they have enough nutrients to produce a healthy plant and a tasty carrot! This year we grew several different colors of carrots. In the last box we included red carrots. This week your bag includes purple carrots and we hope to send some of our new white carrots before the end of the season.
The carrots in your box this week can are storage carrots meant be stored for months if you keep them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. They are a bit more dense than some of the earlier season varieties that are more tender but have a shorter shelf life. Carrots are versatile in their uses and can be eaten raw, roasted, boiled, baked, and even fried! They can be added to soups, stews, braised meats, root mashes, pancakes, bread, cookies and a whole host of other uses. Since they are such a common vegetable, I think sometimes they get overlooked and we forget that there are so many more things you can do with a carrot aside from the traditional carrot sticks in dip.
I’d like to challenge you to think “outside the box” this winter and try some different ways to use carrots throughout the winter months. I love making carrot salads for something fresh, light and crunchy. Carrots pair well with a variety of herbs & spices as well as fruits such as apples & citrus. You can make a very simple, quick, and easy salad with just a few ingredients. Soup is another great way to use carrots---either as the main ingredient or as part of a mélange of vegetables in say, chicken soup. Carrots are also delicious in baked goods such as carrot cake, carrot cookies, apple-carrot muffins, and carrot pancakes.
Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Parsnip and Potato
Yield: 6-8 servings
2 ½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
6 medium parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
1 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy option of your choice)
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 large onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots, medium diced
2 ribs celery, medium diced (may substitute celeriac)
6 oz baby bella, cremini, or button mushrooms, sliced
1 ½ cups brown or green lentils, dry
1 cup vegetable broth or water
1 tsp dried rosemary
¼ tsp dried thyme
- Place potatoes and parsnips in a large pot and submerge in cold water (there should be at least 1 inch of water over the vegetables). Salt water well. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and allow potatoes and parsnips to cook for approximately 25-35 minutes, or until both vegetables are very fork tender. Drain, return the vegetables to the pot and add ⅔ cup milk, 2 Tbsp olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Mash well with a potato masher. If you need more milk, add the remaining ⅓ cup. Set the mashed potatoes and parsnips aside.
- While potatoes are cooking, bring 1 ½ cups lentils and 3 cups water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until lentils have absorbed all liquid, and are soft (about 30 or 35 minutes). Set lentils aside.
- Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large saute pan over medium. Add onions and garlic and cook until onions are translucent and golden (10 minutes or so). Add the carrots and celery and cook till both vegetables are tender (another 8 minutes). Add the cremini mushrooms and cook for another 3 minutes before adding the lentils, the rosemary, the thyme, and ½ cup vegetable broth. Simmer the mixture, stirring well to incorporate flavors. Add more liquid as needed: you don’t want there to be too much broth or liquid in the bottom of the pan, because you’ll get a runny shepherd’s pie, but you do want it to be quite moist. When everything is warm and well mixed, season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large casserole dish, pour the lentils into the bottom and then evenly spread the vegetable mixture on top. Spread the mashed potatoes delicately and evenly over. Bake for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are browning. Sprinkle with extra rosemary, if desired, and serve.
Sticky, Spicy, Sweet Roasted Carrots and Chickpeas with Date Vinaigrette
Yield: 4 servings
5 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped into small pieces
1 small garlic clove, roughly chopped
¼ cup sherry vinegar, plus additional to taste
Finely grated lemon zest plus 2 Tbsp lemon juice, from 1 small lemon
Salt, to taste
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 4 Tbsp warm water
1 ½ pounds carrots, cut into even pieces ( ¼ inch thick coins or cut lengthwise)
1—15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tsp Aleppo pepper (may substitute ⅛ tsp cayenne and ¾ tsp sweet paprika)
1 tsp cumin seed, lightly crushed
1 tsp coriander seed, lightly crushed
Salt, to taste
Coarsely chopped dill or cilantro, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- First, make the vinaigrette. Combine the dates, garlic, sherry vinegar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt, stirring a few times to ensure the dates and garlic are fully submerged. Do this step in the blender jar if using a standard blender, or a glass measuring cup or other suitable container if using a stick blender. Let macerate for 20 to 30 minutes while prepping the carrots and other ingredients.
- After 20-30 minutes, add the extra-virgin olive oil and the warm water (starting with 2 Tbsp) to the macerated dates and garlic in the blender jar. Blend until the vinaigrette is smooth, adding a few more teaspoons of warm water at a time to thin the vinaigrette. You’re looking for a slightly thick vinaigrette, but one that can still be drizzled or poured. Add salt and sherry vinegar, to taste. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the carrots & chickpeas with ¼ cup of the date vinaigrette, Aleppo pepper, cumin seed, coriander seed, and a few large pinches of salt. Toss to combine and ensure everything is evenly coated. It may seem like too much vinaigrette, but it’ll reduce down and coat the carrots and chickpeas—so don’t skimp!
- Spread the carrot mixture on a sheet pan or baking dish lined with parchment that’s large enough to fit them in a single, even layer. Roast until the carrots and chickpeas are golden and the carrots are fork-tender, stirring 4 to 5 times to ensure even roasting and to avoid the vinaigrette from burning in open areas of the pan (but don’t be too concerned—it’s why you’re using parchment!). The roasting time will depend on the size of the carrots—anywhere from 25 minutes to 45+ minutes. If the carrots are browning too quickly but aren’t tender, lower the oven to 375°F and continue roasting until tender.
- Scatter the dill or cilantro over the carrots and chickpeas, ad adjust seasoning to taste. Serve warm, making sure to drizzle more of the vinaigrette over the carrots and chickpeas before serving.