Recipe: Slow Cooker Kohlrabi Gratin

Cooking vegetables gratin-style is a delicious option–in the winter. Because a gratin is baked an hour or so, it’s tough to even think about making one in the heat of summer. Hence the slow cooker version in this recipe. Of course in cooler weather, you can also bake this dish at 350 (F) for an hour or so.

Although kohlrabi has been at the markets lately, with the arrival of August’s hot temperatures, this cooler weather crop may disappear for a while.  However, it frequently reappears in autumn, so keep this recipe handy.

For tips on peeling and cutting a kohlrabi, see the next post.

Serves 2

Step 1 Lightly Saute Onions

  • 1 med. red onion, sliced into strips about ¼” x 2” (or 1 cup sliced green parts of fresh onions)
  • ½ Tbsp. butter

In a medium-sized, heavy bottomed saute pan, heat butter over medium heat until lightly sizzling. Add onions and saute, just until lightly browned (about 5 minutes.)

Kohlrabi

See the next post for instructions on quickly cutting matchsticks or, for a more traditional style gratin, quarter and slice kohlrabi thinly.

Step 2 Combine and Cook

  • ½ Tbsp. butter
  • 2 medium kohlrabi (about 3 to 4” in diameter), cut into ¼” matchsticks (or thinly sliced and halved)
  • 1 cup milk or unsweetened almond or soy milk
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Grease a 3 to 5 qt. round slow cooker with butter, then add and stir together sauteed onion, kohlrabi, milk and salt and pepper. (Reserve onion pan for making breadcrumbs.)

Slow cook gratin a total of 6 to 8 hours as follows: Begin by covering slow cooker and cooking gratin on high for 2 to 3 hours until simmering vigorously, stirring occasionally. Once mixture is simmering well and kohlrabi has begun to soften, remove lid and continue cooking until most of liquid is evaporated–about 2 to 3 more hours, stirring occasionally.*  Then reduce heat to low and re-cover with lid and continue cooking until vegetables are cooked to taste, about another 1 to 2 hours.

Step 3 Toast Breadcrumbs and Serve

  • ½ Tbsp. butter or olive oil
  • 2-3 Tbsp. dried breadcrumbs

In pan used for sauteing onions, melt butter over medium heat, then sprinkle crumbs evenly across bottom of pan. Cook, stirring every minute or two, until crumbs are lightly browned and crispy. About 30 minutes before serving, return slow cooker to high and sprinkle evenly with prepared crumbs. Continue cooking, uncovered, for the last 30 minutes. Serve with optional garnishes.

Optional Garnishes

  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)

* Note:  cooking the dish uncovered allows moisture to evaporate, so the gratin comes out more like a baked dish than the kind of soupier dish that normal slow cooking produces.  While this means this isn’t a dish to fix and forget all day, the result is well worth the small amount of extra attention required.

Recipe: White Fish in Cilantro Broth with Sweet Potatoes and Broccoli

Simple, One-Dish Style Makes for Simple Dinner Times

Broccoli florets and julienned sweet potatoes surround delicate white fish kept moist and tasty with the springy tang of a cilantro broth.

Step 1:  Prepare Cilantro Broth  

  • 1 Tbsp. roughly chopped garlic (from about 3 cloves)
  • 1 Tbsp. jalapeno pepper, chopped roughly, more or less, to taste
  • ¼  cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ¼ tsp. salt, more or less to taste
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth, low sodium (divided)
  • 2 cups roughly chopped cilantro, both stems and leaves

In cup of immersion blender, combine garlic, jalapeno, lime juice and salt.  Allow to sit for several minutes to meld flavors.  Add half of broth and cilantro.  Blend until fairly smooth but with a little texture, then add remaining broth and blend just enough to incorporate it.  Reserve.

Even though this is a one-dish meal, two-pan cooking makes preparation faster–vegetables simmer-steam in one pan while the fish cooks in another.

Step 2:  Simmer Steam Vegetables

  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth, low sodium (divided)
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, cut about ½ to 3/4” in size
  • 1 lrg. Garnet or Jewel yam, julienned to about 1/8”, then cut into roughly 2” lengths

Combine broth and broccoli florets in a large frying pan with a lid.  Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat t o low and simmer just 3-5 minutes, until broccoli is halfway done.
Stir in yam strips and continue simmering until both broccoli and yams are almost done to taste, about 3-5 more minutes.

Step 3:  Pan Fry White Fish 

  • ½ to ¾ lb. cod, talapia or other mild white fish filets either fresh or frozen and thawed, cut into 2-3” cutlets
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil, to taste

While vegetables cook, warm oil over medium heat in a medium-sized, heavy bottomed saute pan.  Gently squeeze or pat cutlets dry, then season with salt and pepper.  When a corner of fish sizzles gently when touched in warming oil, use a spatula to spread oil evenly over bottom of pan, then lay cutlets in warmed oil in a single layer so they do not touch each other.  Set timer and cook for 3 minutes and flip over.  Reduce heat to medium low and cook another 1 minute, then remove immediately to a plate.

Step 4:  Combine and Serve

As soon as vegetables are almost done, stir in reserved sauce, then push vegetables to sides of pan and lay partially cooked cutlets in center.  Continue simmering, covered, just 1-2 more minutes, until fish is done.  Taste and add more salt, pepper, lime or jalapenos,  to taste.  Serve immediately, placing two or three cutlets in center of wide soup bowl surrounded by half of the vegetables.  Spoon broth over the top.

Optional:  Serve alongside a little brown rice to soak up the broth deliciously

NOTES:  See the next post for background information on preparing this recipe.

CSAs: Sign Up Now for Great Produce, Good Meat

Farmer's Market Photo

Hard to believe, but summer really is coming. Think ahead now and join a CSA to enjoy great summer produce at very reasonable prices.

Now is the time to sign up for a CSA, which stands for Community Supported Agriculture.

What  Join a CSA and you rise from passive grocery store consumer to farm member and supporter.  Every week you get a great box of produce (or meat) at amazingly reasonable prices.  Super fresh and super tasty.

Why  By the single step of joining a CSA you do all this:

  • get the best-tasting produce
  • at the most reasonable prices
  • that does the best job of supporting your and your family’s good health
  • while supporting sustainable growing practices
  • which protects the environment and preserves farmland
  • supports local farmers and local economy
  • and builds a stronger community.  What else can you do that is so beneficial?!!

Also be sure to see the previous post on the importance of clean meat–the kind you get direct from a farmer

When  CSAs deliver produce weekly, as it’s grown, so in Colorado that’s generally June through October.

Where  CSAs usually deliver to nearby towns and cities; it’s nice to find one that delivers to a fairly close location.

How Much  Pricing varies, depending upon farm and size.  Regardless, in my experience, the per pound price of produce was always very reasonable.  See the listing below for exact pricing.  And remember to start small.  There’s always next year to buy a bigger share as you get accustomed to this new way of “shopping.”

CSA Listing
The Daily Camera just printed a convenient list of CSAs that deliver in the Boulder area
Here is another good online source  (but note that Grant Family Farms is no longer in business.)

CSA Fair  Come Meet the Farmers!
Saturday March 15, 9:00am – Noon at Impact Hub Boulder, 1877 Broadway, Suite 100
Co-hosted by Local Food Shift and Boulder County Farmers’ Markets.  Connects people face-to-face with farmers, discovering all the ways to directly support them, learn about food production and enjoy local food–and join a CSA!   RSVP here.

Produce

We’ve been “trained” to seek out produce that looks good on the outside; CSA produce may not be as pretty on the outside, but it is stellar on the inside.

Think Ahead”  That’s the key to reaping the benefits of a CSA.  Remember we live in an instant food culture.  Anytime you get hungry, somebody has something to fill you up.  But you get what you pay for.  Little effort = little value.  Sadly we see the consequences of little effort all around us.

Why not try a new paradigm:  Think ahead.  You will be hungry this summer and autumn, just like you are every day.  That won’t change.  What can change is thinking ahead now and ordering a CSA.  Each week, you’ll have a magnificent box of produce and clean meat.  Then, when you’re hungry, you’ll fill yourself up with real food that nourishes and nurtures, i.e., what you really want to be eating.

Full Disclosure  CSAs offer great benefits, but as a member-supporter of the farm, you also get to intimately know and share some of the risks of farming.  In this way, you get very connected to the world outside our homes and offices where real food is produced.

Our farmers work tremendously hard and are so ingenious, but there are a lot of factors outside their control (e.g., floods, drought, shearing hailstorms, to name just a few from the last couple years.)  The fees paid by as a CSA member give farmers a cushion of security in this very risky environment.

Most often, those fees are repaid tenfold in the health-giving, delicious produce members receive.  But now and then, members take a hit alongside their farmers (albeit it a much, much smaller hit!)  Last year, for instance, our farm suffered a freak hailstorm in July.  In one hour, half of their crops were destroyed.  Talk about a force of nature!  But even though our shares were smaller, they were still very adequate, and I never felt “deprived.”

Members also help farmers by accepting and using up the less-than-perfect produce that is part and parcel of every harvest.  I was dismayed when the produce from my first CSA wasn’t nearly as nice as what my farmer sold at the Market.  Think about it, though:  for every perfect 7″ carrot, there are several 4-6″ carrots which taste just as good.  They may take a little more work, but by accepting them, they don’t go to waste and our farmer is further supported.

Finally, there is the dreaded, “What if I get 10 turnips” fear.  First, come to our healthy meal making classes with The New Kitchen Cooking School.  We learn systems for cooking a vegetable in multiple ways so you never feel over-dosed.  This summer we have three sessions all revolving around the summer vegetables you might receive in a CSA box.  Second, a CSA box always has plenty of variety to offset any vegetable you receive in plentitude.

Read more from Dan Moore’s volunteer website about why and how to join a CSA

Happy eating!

Eating Well–Without Trying So Hard or Worrying So Much

“Healthy eating:”  Two words with the power to spark enormous stress.  Those two words can easily send our minds swirling with confusion–and likely as not, a good measure of guilt as well.  “Am I doing enough?  Am I eating too many carbs?  Should I be juicing more?  Are eggs on the good list or bad?”

Suspended Judgment:  There’s a secret for happy and healthful eating, but can you first even imagine that eating well is a lot easier than you think?  Could you believe that it doesn’t have to be really hard, guilt-laden or worrisome?

 

Autumn Bounty

Seasonal Bounty. Limiting our produce choices to what’s in season has the curious consequence of making it easier to cook meals that are healthy and delicious.

Seasonal Eating:  The key to eating well, happily and easily, without worry or guilt.  Let me make the case, beginning with a definition of “seasonal eating.”  Seasonal eating is really place-based eating, i.e., for the place where you find yourself, eating what the earth provides, when the earth provides it, in the amounts provided by the earth.

“Place” is a critical to seasonal eating.  The term is otherwise meaningless since at any one point in time, a produce item is “in season” somewhere in the world and can be found in the produce aisle of your local grocery store.  Only when eating is tied to place do we reap the many benefits of a true seasonal approach.  In an interesting paradox, it is the limiting aspects of place-based eating that are the source of its many advantages.

Read on to discover the many benefits–health and otherwise–of seasonal eating. . . .  I’ve discovered at least a dozen.

In the meantime, if you’re ready to start the seasonal eating journey, join us for one of our Healthy, Seasonal Meal Making Classes.

Eating Well–Without Trying So Hard or Worrying So Much (part 3)

Making the Leap

Resisting Peer Pressure  If seasonal, place-based eating yields so many helpful benefits, why do we tolerate the many downsides of the global food system?  In a nutshell, most of us don’t really decide what we eat.  Food marketers largely decide what our hand reaches for at the grocery store.  So if this is your year to begin joining the wonderful convergence of good that comes with seasonal eating, begin by re-gaining the decision-making power over your food choices.  It often takes eating in a way that others view as strange and weird. So get comfortable making food choices free of the peer pressure generated by food marketing experts.

Start a Learning Adventure  If seasonal eating doesn’t generate immediate interest, it’s often because we have such a limited repertoire of meal ideas.  When spinach comes into season, for example, we eat it steamed with lemon juice every other day!  Actually, there are so many things that can be done with each vegetable besides piling it on the side of the plate.  So many flavor partners, produce companions, entrees to be brightened with their colors!  If you have trouble imagining spinach 15 different ways, then join one of our Whole Kitchen seasonal meal making classes and begin developing the valuable skill of weaving produce into meals every which way.

Enjoy a Non-Seasonal Food Budget  Seasonal eating is a choice we get to make.  Unlike our ancestors, we  don’t have to go hungry when the food landscape is barren, and no one is watching that you buy only seasonal at the grocery store.  Over the years, I’ve developed a “budget approach,” happily enjoying things like citrus, ginger, chocolate (of course), olive oil, fish sauce and so on, but being mindful to limit reliance on long-haul items to a dozen or so at a time.

Strawberries in a Basket

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” a sentiment that applies as readily to produce as the human heart. With no fresh strawberries in Colorado after September, imagine how extraordinarily gorgeous they look and taste when they reappear in June–a surprise that is lost in the global marketplace where strawberries are available anytime, any place.

There’s a way that good eating can be a natural, easeful part of our lives.  Can you believe that making and enjoying healthful meals can be just another part of life, no more or less issue-laden than going through our morning and evening routines, getting to work, finding time to meet with friends, getting to appointments and so on.

Ready to begin transitioning to this kind of eating?  Ready to make the joyful discovery that less is more:  less in the way of selections actually brings more interesting variety and nutritional depth to mealtimes.  Come join one of our classes and start the journey.

Recipe: Using Beans in Green Salads

Winter Green Salad with Cumin Dressing

Winter Green Salad with Red Beans

Red beans add a delicious warmth to this salad. Note that I substituted yellow corn chips since I had no corn in my freezer pantry.

This salad was inspired by Nava Atlas’ Vegetarian Express cookbook, which features a number of salads using canned and frozen mix-ins.  While Nava uses these convenient foods to quickly perk up a salad, they’re also great for adding color, texture and heartiness to salads in the winter months, when tomatoes, cucumbers and other common salad standbys are out of season (and are therefore quite expensive and not very tasty.)

For the Salad

I’m just giving an ingredient listing; use amounts that best suit your household size and tastes.

  • Lettuce and/or spinach
  • Canned tomatoes, diced (or reconstituted sun-dried tomatoes, sliced thinly)
  • Frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • Olives, black or green, sliced thinly
  • Red Beans, well drained
  • Cilantro, chopped, if desired for garnish

Notes 

  1. Lettuce:  A sturdier green, like Romaine, green leaf lettuce or bunch spinach will do the best job of holding up the heavier mix-ins.
  2. Canned Tomatoes:  As always, use a high-quality brand for best flavor, like Muir Glen.  So they don’t make the salad soggy, dice them, remove seeds and then drain well in a colander before adding to the salad.  Fire-roasted tomatoes are a nice addition.
  3. Corn:  For best results, remove from the freezer in the morning and thaw in the frig in a colander all day.  Otherwise, just microwave 1-2 minutes and drain, or place in a colander, rinse with hot water and drain well before adding to salad.
  4. Rice:  For a heartier salad yet, add a little warm brown rice.

For the Dressing

Fast Version:  Simply add the cumin and chili flakes (noted below) to 1/4 to 1/2 cup readymade Italian dressing.

Homemade Version:  Combine in the order given in a small, lidded jar.  Shake well to combine.  Allow to sit for at least 10-15 minutes for flavors to meld.

  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced (to taste)
  • 4 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp. chili flakes (more or less, to taste) or black pepper, to taste
  • Sea salt, to taste

Recipe: Sauteed Beet Greens composed with Toasted Walnuts, Bacon Bits, & Chopped Egg

Sauteed Beet GreensThis unusual–but very tasty and super nutritious–dish makes a nice light supper, or breakfast or lunch, especially if you play around with some of the options in the notes below.

Sauteed Beet Greens composed with Toasted Walnuts, Bacon Bits, & Chopped Egg

  • 1-2 slices bacon

Cook Bacon  Lay bacon in a medium-sized, heavy bottomed skillet, turn heat to medium and cook until bacon is browned on both sides.  Remove to a cutting board, gently shaking off excess fat into pan, and cut into ½” dice.  Reserve.

  • 1 med. onion, diced to ¼”
  • 1-2 tsp. freshly grated, loosely packed ginger, to taste

Saute Onion and Ginger  Pour off all but 1 Tbsp. bacon fat (reserving excess in a jar for another use), then reheat over medium heat until fairly hot but not smoking.  Add onion and saute about 5-7 minutes until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.  Add ginger and continue cooking and stirring occasionally, just 1-2 more minutes.

  • 4 cups loosely packed beet greens, chopped into roughly 1-2” squares
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Saute Beet Greens   Stir beet greens into onions along with any water clinging to leaves from washing.  Cook over medium heat until wilted and tender, stirring occasionally, about 5-8 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

  • 2 large eggs, softly hard-boiled, diced to roughly ½”
  • ¼ cup walnut pieces, toasted

Compose Dish   Arrange beet greens in the bottom of a wide bottomed bowl.  Arrange walnuts in a ring around the outside of greens and eggs in a ring nearer the middle.  Sprinkle with bacon bits.    Serve immediately.   Serves 2

Options

  1. Instead of using hard-boiled eggs, hollow out two “nests” in the sauteed beet greens while they are still in the pan.  Crack an egg into each nest, reduce heat to low, cover and cook until egg sets.  For this version, which is very nice for breakfast, you may prefer to nix the walnuts.
  2. For a savory dish, substitute Herbes de Provence (or Savory Spices’ Cantanzaro Herbs) for the ginger. Substitute crumbled goat chevre for the eggs.
  3. Make this dish vegetarian by using vegetarian bacon, but add 1 Tbsp. safflower oil to saute the onion.  The same goes if using turkey bacon instead of pork.
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