I Can Grill That?

Last week I found out that one could grill green beans. My first thought was, “don’t they fall between the grates?” (HAHAHA.) (No, really, that really was my first thought.) It turns out that beans do very nicely with a bit of char – you can use a grill basket or heavy duty aluminum foil. But it made me wonder: what other vegetables can I grill? Here is a short list of recipes with veggies that you’re sure to see at the market this week.

Corn. (Corn!) Everyone’s favorite. If you make this, you can also make this. And this. (Trust me, elote is going to be your new obsession.) Grilled corn is beautiful with grilled sweet peppers, too.

So…PEPPERS. Are you a fan of jalapeño poppers? Well, here you go. (No need to go out for this anymore – make it at home with truly excellent, local peppers.) And if you’re a fan of spicy dishes, try a grilled jalapeño potato salad. 

Squashes and zucchini are a popular choice, and you can add any range of flavor profiles – even just a bit of sea salt. Here is one with basil (definitely in season!), and it’s also great with mint. Oh heck – here’s one more. It’s just all so good.

Eggplant is another veggie that loves the heat. This recipe might just make an eggplant lover out of a skeptic (I know you’re out there!). I love that this dish has an easy, flavorful yogurt sauce. Looks fancy; very easy.

Panzanella (bread and vegetable salad): another summer classic.

Fruit! Grilled peaches can pair with a main course as a side, shine in a salad, or as a super-easy dessert.

Lettuce! (Yes, lettuce!) Romaine lettuce, in particular, holds up just fine to a hot grill.  (At the market, you might try another variety – ask a farmer which varieties are sturdy like Romaine.) Lots of flavor options with this, too.

And while we are on the subject of lettuce, we should consider how salads don’t just come in the cold and raw variety (or even include lettuce, of course). Great salads often combine both hot and cold elements, cooked (or grilled) and raw ingredients, salty/sweet/crunchy, etc. It’s all about having a combination of flavors and textures – and using local, fresh veggies means that the flavor is going to be just that much better (and will need very little dressing up!). Check out this grilled corn and nectarine salad (you could easily sub peaches).

Lastly…BEER CAN CABBAGE. (Seriously!) Why let the chickens have all the fun? (And you can grill cabbage without a beer can, too.)

We are in the heyday of summer vegetables. I can’t stop smiling. You, too?

Happy summer, and enjoy.

Week 5 Market Menu: Summer is Coming!

This week at the Downtown Bloomington Farmers’ Market and Artists’ Alley:

Seasonal: Greens: Arugula, LOTS of Lettuces, Kale, Swiss Chard, Spinach and Collard Greens!  Root Veg: Beets, Carrots, Potatoes, Radishes, and Turnips.  Summer squashes, including Zucchini!!  Herbs: Cilantro, Dill, Mint.  Kohlrabi and Cabbage!  And Strawberries!!!!

All Summer: Eggs, chicken, beef, oats, wheat, cornmeal, pork, cheese, honey, baked goods, lavender, mushrooms, popcorn, and much more. See the complete list of vendors at this year’s market for more information about produce and products.

 

 

It’s a short one this week!!

Breakfast Ideas:

I’ve been starting to crave smoothies in the morning, now that it’s getting warmer. And it might be all in my head, but I do feel like greens in the morning help keep me awake and alert until lunch. A quick trip in the blender, pop it in a cup and I can hit the road with my breakfast, which is an extra plus for me. I usually wing it, as far as a recipe. I start with around 12 oz milk (almond or soy milk works, too!) and protein powder. Then, flavor!  Frozen bananas and a handful of kale is my go-to, but I also like kale with frozen peaches, or spinach and frozen mango and banana!  Citrus is a nice balance to the green. I use a regular blender, and just start with a handful of greens at first. Search “Green Smoothie” and you’ll find literally dozens of recipes/combinations. Check out this list from DailyBurn.com.

 

Lunch Ideas:

Last week, I mostly stuck to a bagel or crackers, some Little Bloom on the Prairie with a touch of honey, and a handful of greens for lunch. Add just a touch of good olive oil and a splash of your favorite flavored balsamic vinegar to the greens, and you’re good to go! Here are a few other ideas for enjoying local produce in your lunches this week:

  • Radishes with garlic scape butter – add some crackers and cheese, and you have lunch!
  • Roast chicken (whole or parts) w/ a little olive oil, cool, then break down and portion out
  • Wheat berries are delicious in salads!
  • Hard-boil some eggs over the weekend, and add them to your lunchboxes during the week

 

Dinner Ideas:

  • If you’re grilling burgers or brats, slice up some turnips (less than 1/4″ thick) and put the finished grilled meat on top of the slices. The heat (temperature) of the meat softens up the turnips and dulls the heat (bite!) of the turnip. For someone like me, who’s not accustomed to the flavor of turnips, it’s a nice way to enjoy their flavor without the spiciness.
  • Pasta salads are a lovely way to avoid having the stove on at dinnertime. You can cook the pasta the night before, and dress it with your favorites. This one with swiss chard and garlic scape pesto looks delicious. Green garlic or garlic scapes would be great, especially with a little lemon zest and radishes.
  • Did you remember to pull some meat out of the freezer for tomorrow’s dinner? I wish I could consistently remember to do that!
  • Double up on things that require the oven, like casseroles or roasted veggies or meat. Plan to have leftovers for dinner the next day! Something like this chicken and kale casserole, or this spinach and egg strata.
  • If you grill or roast veggies and have leftovers, and are wondering what to do with them, why not try a Buddha bowl? Just add some grain and your favorite things from your fridge, basically. It works. Surprisingly well.

 

 

Prep-Freeze-Cook(ish), Part 1: Putting a Meal Together from Your Freezer

In our household, no one likes to cook during the week. I envy those people who say that cooking dinner helps them relax – executing a meal on a Tuesday night is right up there for me with being tied to my couch and forced to binge-watch The Lawrence Welk Show.

So in order to avoid a Weekday Jennifer Meltdown, we (and we is mostly me unless it’s grilling season) do as much batch cooking on the weekends as possible with the plan to get lunches and dinners for two through Thursday. In short, we live for leftovers – prized in our household for thrift, convenience, and the chance to eat more of what you enjoyed a night or two ago.

I’ve also learned to help myself out by stocking the freezer with meal “parts” in the same way you stock a pantry: items that you can pull out, thaw, pair with fresh items (or other leftovers), and get on with your evening.

A great, cheap, nutritious staple to have in the freezer is brown rice. I freeze large batches of brown rice so that I can make Bhudda bowls, a stir fry, or a quick pilaf, and rice is a great supporting character when you’ve got fresh vegetables to use.

The most ingenious way to make brown rice – ready for this? – is in your oven. Alton Brown’s strategy is one that can easily be doubled or tripled and frozen in small batches. (My go-to freezer storage is an old school deli container. For years I hoarded/obsessively guarded a collection of containers from Thai and Chinese takeout until it dawned on me that you can buy anything on the interwebs.) I store 32-ounce containers of rice and take them out a day or two ahead of when I’ll need to use them – or in a pinch, you can certainly defrost in the microwave.

Along with fresh vegetables, I also try to keep things like edamame beans, peas and other frozen veggies around for stir fry.

We’ve got an entire season of fresh veggies just begging to make friends with brown rice, so here are some options to check out to help you avoid Weekday Meal Meltdown:

Spring Green Stir Fry: Fried Rice with Collards (any green leafy will work here)

Mid-Summer Buddha Bowls: Oh She Glows Summer Bhudda Bowls, One Green Planet Veggie Bowls,

Almost Anytime Bowl: Sweet Potato Chick Pea Buddha Bowl

 

Enjoy!

— J.S.

Week 3 Market Menu

This week at the Downtown Bloomington Farmers’ Market and Artists’ Alley:

Seasonal: More greens, more vegetable plants for your gardens! Arugula, Asparagus, Carrots, Chard, Collards, Kale, Mint, Potatoes, Radishes, Rhubarb, Spinach, Turnips, and more!

All Summer: Eggs, chicken, beef, oats, wheat, cornmeal, pork, cheese, honey, baked goods, lavender, mushrooms, popcorn, and much more. See the complete list of vendors at this year’s market for more information about produce and products.

Coming Soon:

vegetannual (1)
the mythical vegetannual: an imagining of all the vegetables we harvest, as if borne from a single plant, over the course of the year. More on this idea later, but for now, keep an eye on the vegetables that branch out near the “June” label above — they’re coming next!

 

 

Breakfast Ideas:

Muesli! It requires no heat, no chopping, and no prep. As close to “cereal and milk” as you can get with whole foods. 4 parts flaked grain (oats, wheat, etc.), 1 part nuts or seeds, 1 part dried fruit. My favorite is a combo of flaked rye and oats, flax meal (lightly ground seeds) and raw pumpkin seeds, and dried apricots. I may have to switch to it soon, when the heat comes back!

 

Lunch Ideas:

little bloom on the prairie, by prairie fruits farm

Greens w/ cheese and fruit and crackers – boom, lunch!  Last week, I went through a round of Prairie Fruits Farm’s Little Bloom on the Prairie at work with some of their homemade crackers, some local honey, milk and carrot sticks and apples.

But if you’re looking for something more, well, MORE, I’m very partial to The Kitchn at the moment for salad ideas.

 

Kale and Quinoa Salad – The Kitchn
This is a simple variation of the grain-kale salad. No having to choose your combo, just make it as is, and it’s a super tasty one. I’m not sure on local sources for the dates — I love the whole medjool dates that I know you can get at Fresh Market, but check Green Top and Common Ground!
Pantry check: onion, quinoa, lacinato kale, dates, almonds, orange, lime, maple syrup

 

Golden Beet and Barley Salad – The Kitchn
No need to wait for golden beets, this is just as delicious with red! Another easy grain salad that you can make ahead and have waiting for packed lunches for at least a couple of days.
Pantry check: beets (golden or red), barley, red onion, swiss chard, lemon juice, feta cheese

 

“Airplane Salad” (The Kitchn) – so easy, I’ll post the basics here. It’s not that different from the Oh She Glows mighty protein salad, or other grain/green salads; it’s simple and eminently packable, even if you’re traveling.

  • ~ 3 c chopped kale
  • ~ 1 c chopped carrots or chopped steamed broccoli
  • 1/2 c chopped frozen blueberries or peaches
  • 1/4 c cooked and cooled grain brown rice, wheat berries, or farro
  • 1/4 c nuts (I like pecans), seeds (flax or sesame) and/or craisins
  • 2 T. evoo
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

 

Dinner Ideas:

I don’t know about you, but when it’s as hot as it’s been recently, I don’t feel much like standing over a stove after work.  Grilling, though? Maybe. So this week, I’ve gathered a handful of non-stove recipes that I like. Grill on!

Garlic-Mustard Glaze – Bobby Flay / Smitten Kitchen
Deb (of sk) uses this on skewered chicken, but it’s great on any meat!
Pantry check: Dijon mustard, whole-grain mustard, white wine vinegar, soy sauce, honey, rosemary, paprika

  • Lemon-Parsley Bean Salad – Cookie and Kate
    Quick and pantry-friendly this time of year — w/ the exception of the tomatoes! Just don’t bother, until you can find them locally.
    Pantry check: kidney beans, garbanzo beans, red onion, celery, tomato (not this time of year, but later!), cucumber, parsley, fresh dill or mint, lemon juice.

 

Split Whole Cumin Chicken – Food Network
Wondering what to do with a whole chicken from your chicken CSA? Here’s one option!
Pantry check: 4-6# whole chicken, honey, cilantro, buttermilk, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, cumin, fennel seed

  • On the side: a quick carrot salad:  Grate 2-3 carrots, add a bit of minced garlic, toss with evoo, lemon juice, salt and pepper, parsley, and a little cayenne if you like some heat.

 

Chicken Salad w/ Arugula, Lemon and Pine Nuts – Food and Wine
I haven’t made this one before, but I’m definitely going to this week! It’s too early for zucchini around here, so I’ll probably leave it out. There will be PLENTY of time for zucchini-friendly recipes later in the season!!
Pantry check: currants (or raisins or craisins), cumin, lemon, zucchini, shallot, chicken breasts, pine nuts, arugula

 

Perfectly Grilled Steak – Bobby Flay
Pantry check: steak!!

  • Cowboy Caviar – Cookie and Kate
    SO much better than dumping Italian dressing on beans, which I’ve done to great disappointment.
    Pantry check: black-eyed peas, black beans, corn (I suggest frozen), bell pepper, red onion, cilantro, jalapeno, red wine vinegar, oregano, basil, honey, red pepper flakes