What's this vegetable?
If you're getting a CSA/Farm share or browsing a farmers market or produce section you may see unfamiliar vegetables. Each vegetable page in the sidebar offers an overview and storage tips as well as recipes.
How to integrate unfamiliar vegetables into favorite dishes?
I have so much lettuce, zucchini, collard greens . . . !
Are vegetables and herbs piling up, especially during the peak growing season?
Recipes that use a lot of something: sauteed cabbage, leek, cabbage & white bean soup w/ herb stems, parsnip & parsley hash, kale pesto, braised greens, vegetable ragouts, roasted winter squash & onions w/ tahini lemon sauce, onion tart, cabbage pancakes.
Preserve some of your produce:
How can I use up random bits of vegetables/herbs?
Some types of dishes and recipes lend themselves well to deploying one carrot, a bunch of turnip greens, 1/2 a zucchini, a few stems of herbs or whatever mix you happen to have.
Recipe ideas: fried rice, rice bowl w/ vegetables & peanut sauce, chicken/tofu & vegetable teriyaki, grated vegetable saute, beef & vegetable stir-fry, minestrone, chili, grain salad w/ roasted vegetables, frittata, spring vegetable ragout, vegetable curry w/ red lentils, quick Thai green curry, vegetable savory pancakes, lentil soup.
Each vegetable page includes suggestions on storage. Some vegetables are a little harder to wash and or prep.
How can I make cooking doable, flexible and fun?
Stock your pantry: stock the basics that reflect your likes and needs and you’ll eliminate many a last-minute trip to the store and save money.
Use templates, i.e. a recipe framework within which to work. You can vary the ingredients based on what you have, often change the ratio (use more vegetables!). If you get good at dishes/templates like curries, fried rice, vegetable pancakes/latkes, stir-fries, slaws, frittatas, soups, you’ll eat well and rarely waste anything.
Braise greens, saute greens, saute summer squash, dice onions, lightly pickle onions, roast vegetables, grate vegetables to saute, braise carrots, make a slaw with cabbage, mash potatoes or root vegetables, quick pickle cucumbers, roast, steam, boil, or grate beets, cook vegetables in same pot/at same time as these noodles or these noodles, etc.
When you have a little spare time you can add semi-prepared items to your fridge/ pantry that will make life much easier and tastier when you don’t have those extra few minutes to get a meal on the table.
- Make a jar of vinaigrette and keep it in the fridge. Dress lettuces and greens as well as roasted vegetables or plain chickpeas/beans with the same vinaigrette, adding some chopped herbs and toasted seeds. . .
- Cook a good quantity of beans.
- Cook twice as much rice, barley or farro as you need for any given meal and freeze half of it to make fried rice, rice and beans or a soup the following week.
- Toast sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Use in salads or as a snack.
- Make a green sauce with parsley or cilantro sauce with garlic, olive oil, lemon juice or vinegar. Stir in some yogurt for a creamy version. Use to top a plain bowl of rice, beans or a fried egg.
- Make chicken or any other meat, fish or vegetable stock and freeze.
Ditch the Strict Recipe and Learn to Improvise!
Tasting along the way and being willing to season to your liking and learning from mistakes will pay-off in confidence and speed. Less measuring and more tasting and adapting is fun and efficient! The more you cook—and you will be cooking (!)—the easier and more fun it is to substitute and adapt as you go.
Families of vegetables such as brassicas and alliums have certain common characteristics that in many cases let you substitute one for another. However, there is no real short cut to learning how to do this so experiment as much as you can—you’ll have plenty of opportunity. Here are a few general guidelines to get you started.
- Root vegetables loved to be roasted, as do brassicas like kohlrabi, cauliflower, romanesco, Brussels sprouts and broccoli. Cut up, tossed with a little oil and salt and roasted in a single layer they are delicious as is or serve as the foundation for soups, mashes, salads, etc.
- Onions, like their allium compatriot’s shallots, scallions, leeks and garlic are pungent raw and quite sweet cooked. If you don’t have an onion by all means use a leek, though leeks are sweeter and you might add a little acidity to balance it out and leeks are not so good raw. Scallions (green onions) and shallots can be substituted for onions and vice versa in many recipes, raw or cooked.
- Sweet potatoes, potatoes, celery root, rutabagas and turnips and sometimes winter squash can often stand in for one another in mashes, gratins, soups and stews.
- Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, spring rabe, and romanesco, all brassicas, have similar flavors and behave similarly in many dishes, though certainly not all. Mashed cauliflower is delicious though I would not mash Brussel sprouts.
- Leafy greens are eminently substitutable. Chards, beet greens, kale and collards, are all good raw (very thinly sliced) when young and tender. They behave quite similarly cooked and can be mixed and substituted for each other at will. Turnip, radish, and mustard greens are all tender and often interchangeable though radish tops are a bit fuzzy raw so blanch those.