Cooking with vegetables – something new, something different

I’ve been in the cooking mood lately and, for a change, I’ve been trying some new dishes featuring vegetables. I tend to fall into a rut this time of year, when fresh vegetables grown locally are non-existent. I love broccoli and Brussels sprouts, but I’ve had a craving for something new. I had some really nice asparagus this past week. They were from Mexico, but there is hope on the horizon!

I found a couple of new pasta recipes that I haven’t tried yet, but I’ll tell you that one of them has oven roasted parsnips, bacon and leeks, which I think sounds delicious.

Strangely enough, I had parsnips in the crisper, so I’ve already roasted those in preparation for the finished dish tomorrow (I’ll let you know how it turns out.)

There was also half a head of red cabbage in the crisper, so I shredded it and stir cooked it with onion and a bit of balsamic. I’m not big on lettuce salads, to tell the truth. I do like to have prepared veggies on hand for lunch or dinner, so I can add a piece of fish or chicken,  an egg or maybe a baked potato or some rice, and have a meal ready pretty quickly.

Saturday I made ratatouille. I’ve made it before, but this time I followed instructions that suggested cooking the eggplant separately, then the zucchini separately in olive oil until lightly browned, then salting to taste.

I cooked and seasoned the onions, bell peppers and garlic together in a dutch oven, then added red pepper flakes (a new addition for me), some tomatoes and a little bit of tomato paste, the cooked eggplant and zucchini, a bay leaf and some dried herbs de Provence. You could substitute fresh basil and thyme, if you have them. If you had some really nice fresh tomatoes, you could peel and seed those and cut them into 1″ pieces, but it’s March, so I used some canned tomatoes, drained really well, instead.  Another thing you can add is fresh diced fennel bulb (cook with the peppers and onion), but I couldn’t get any this week.

I followed instructions to make and add a cartouche, a parchment paper lid with a hole in the middle that lets the steam escape, brushed with olive oil so that the paper doesn’t singe, then popped the pot in the oven for about an hour at 300 degrees F.

The results were perfect, I think. The vegetables were tender but not mushy, and there wasn’t too much liquid; I think that’s because of the cartouche, which lets steam escape. I had some for dinner Saturday night with leftover pot roast, and for Sunday brunch with eggs (add a bit of snipped chives on the eggs, if you have them.)

Speaking of the old staple, broccoli, another pasta dish I made recently is a variation of the usual. It is completely vegetarian and completely delicious. Here is the recipe:

Rigatoni with Broccoli Sauce

1           Pound broccoli, stems and florets separated
*            kosher salt and pepper
1-1/2   Cups packed baby spinach
2          medium garlic cloves, roughly chopped
4          Tablespoons salted butter, cut into 1 TB pieces
1           Tablespoon drained capers
1/2       Teaspoon red pepper flakes
2           Tablespoons finely grated lemon zest, divided
12         Ounces Rigatoni pasta
1           Ounce Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup) plus more to serve

  • Boil and salt a large pot of water
  • Peel the broccoli stems and cut into 1/2″ rounds, and add those and any broccoli leaves to the boiling water and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, 20-30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the stems and leaves to a blender; keep 1/2 cup of the cooking water for the sauce.
  • Cut the broccoli florets into 1″ pieces and add to the boiling water and cook until crisp tender, about 3 minutes. Using the slotted spoon, transfer to a colander and rinse under cold water until cooled.
  • To the blender, add the garlic, butter, capers, pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon of the lemon zest and the 1/2 cup of broccoli cooking water. Puree until smooth and bright green, about 30 seconds. Taste and season as needed.
  • Cook the rigatoni in the boiling water, reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, and drain the pasta. Return the pasta to the pot and add the broccoli florets, the broccoli/spinach puree, 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water, the remaining tablespoon of lemon zest and the cheese. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens slightly and the pasta is well coated, 1 or 2 minutes.
  • Season as needed, and serve with additional cheese.
  • Enjoy!

Are you cooking up any new dishes? Or an old favorite that will be new to us?

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25 Responses to Cooking with vegetables – something new, something different

  1. That looks delicious! There is a rumour in England that parsnips are an aphrodisiac! 3 days ago, I made a lentil and root vegetable soup. Started with Andouille sausage, Leeks, onion and garlic, with carrots, parsnips, turnips, a potato, red lentils, bay leaf, thyme and some Goya ham seasoning. A bit of salt and pepper! I ended up with a huge pot of soup that fed us for 2 days, plus a container in the freezer! Best soup ever! If you have it, a wee bit of orange juice at the end will not go amiss.

    Liked by 1 person

    • stella says:

      A little bit of citrus is a brightener! Sounds really good.

      My dad used to fry parsnips, which brings out the sweetness (as does the roasting), so I developed an early love for them. We grew them in the garden, and would leave them in the ground over the winter, which my dad said brings out the sugars in the veg. I never did develop a love for turnips; don’t know why, as I love most vegetables.

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  2. I’ll have to do that Broccoli! Our Favorite Veg. We eat it at least twice a week.

    Liked by 1 person

    • stella says:

      I eat broccoli that often too. I think you will like the rigatoni with broccoli sauce. The spinach really does make the sauce a bright green. If you happen to have broccoli with lots of its own leaves, it has the same effect.

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  3. mistimaan says:

    Looks nice and tasty 🙂

    Like

  4. I just made a large pot of soup based on items we had around–chicken scraps (cut from chicken breasts used in another recipe), a whole boneless chicken breast, & several pieces of chicken (legs & wing) that one of my kids brought home from their restaurant job & I’d had in the freezer.

    My son made several boxes of mac & cheese the other day & we’d saved that pasta water (that I’d later poured back in his mac & cheese pot to scrape off the flavorful residue). There was a partial can of chicken broth from a recipe my daughter made a few days ago & some veggie scraps. All of that went into a pot & cooked for an hour or so. I pulled all the solids from the pot & deboned, de-fatted, & de-grissled the meat giving scraps to a happy dog & cut the chicken into smallish pieces. I also broke the large bones in half & returned to the pot to fortify the stock with the marrow. From the veggie scraps I salvaged what was edible (like the soft interior of fibrous broccoli stems) & returned that to the pot.

    Then I added chopped fresh veggies that we had on hand (potato, carrot, & onion) & cooked until those were cooked through. When heating to serve I added a can each of corn, mushrooms, & diced tomatoes along with some chopped garlic. Then we threw in some wine left over in the fridge & cut up some spaghetti from a recent meal into bite size pieces & added it at the end just to heat through. I added a lot of garlic salt, freshly ground pepper, & various Italian spices (including rosemary, sage, thyme, & basil). We had this soup with grilled (meat for some &) cheese sandwiches. Most of my family really liked the soup as is. I thought it needed a bit more seasoning, but then perhaps my taste-buds are changing with age.

    This was completely experimental soup loosely inspired by some that my mom makes & the Olive Garden’s pasta fajoule (sp?). It’ll probably never be repeated exactly…& this is the closest I’ll come to recording it. It’s not as fanciful or flavorful as my grandma’s “garbage soup” made from various kitchen scraps she’d accumulated over time (everything she made was Amazing–my cooking is adequate–my husband is the food genius of our family!) but based on the principle of not letting usable food go to waste. I’d wanted to add celery but someone had pitched the few stalks we’d had left. I also wish I would have added some fresh garlic, but by that point my back hurt so I settled for the residue from the jar. This was the first pot of soup I’d ever made that was seasoned in a more Italian manner…One of twins just had his first bowl & said it was “really good”. He only added some garlic salt & crushed red pepper to his taste. I guess around here that constitutes success!

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  5. Pingback: Chicken Soup–for the Soul? | Special Connections

  6. Menagerie says:

    Here is a recipe I keep n the fridge frequently. I always put it in my salads.

    https://www.thedailymeal.com/recipes/tupelo-honey-pickled-beet-salad-recipe

    I served bacon wrapped carrots at Christmas and my family went nuts for them. Unusual. They typically only like carrots in soups and stews.

    Just wrap the carrots with bacon, cook at 400 degrees about 40 minutes, basting with maple syrup halfway through. You want the bacon to be good and browned. Works better with a thinner cut of bacon, of course.

    Liked by 1 person

    • stella says:

      Recipe for beets is similar to what I do, except I use balsamic vinegar, which is already sweet, and don’t add any other sweetener. I have some in my refrigerator right now. Do you boil or bake your beets? I bake mine wrapped in foil and peel after they cool. (the recipe link to the instructions for prep doesn’t work).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Menagerie says:

        I don’t cook them. I slice them very thinly and then mix them with the onions in the marinade mixture, let them sit in the fridge for a day at least, and then they are good to go.

        Liked by 1 person

        • stella says:

          I’ll have to try that too. Good work for the mandoline, or the Feemster slicer (a dangerous, but cheap and effective tool) that a friend gave me.

          Liked by 1 person

          • stella says:

            I looked up the Feemster on Amazon. It seems that it is now more expensive (used to be a couple of bucks) and not as good (used to be made in the USA). If you have one, hang on to it. A couple of the people commenting said they had one inherited from their mother, and it was much better quality.

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          • czarowniczy says:

            I’ve got two mandolines and a food processor but for the two of us I’ve found a very sharp knife to be my best bet, just never got the feel of the machines. Plus my really REALLY sharp knives give Czarina the heebie-jeebies so that’s a small ‘plus’.

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            • stella says:

              When I am doing a dish where uniform thinness is important, it is faster (for me) to use the mandoline. Example is a potato gratin.

              PS: I also have two food processors – one large, and one small. I love my old, small, Cuisinart. I hate to hand shred, so it’s really good for shredding carrots. Also making pesto.

              Liked by 1 person

              • czarowniczy says:

                I can’t remember when the last time was I used the processors or finger-slicer-disguised-as-a-kitchen-tool device. I can get where I’m comfortable with using my big, razor-shard, Czarina scaring knives. I’m at the point where my stuff’s ‘close enough for government work’ , only two eating it are the two of us or someone from the TV Dinner Brigade at Czarina’s office who’ll sniff the outgassing from her microwave.

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                • stella says:

                  You make pesto by hand? I know it’s possible, but it doesn’t involve knives.

                  Like

                  • czarowniczy says:

                    Easy one – I don’t make pesto as there’s someone in the house who doesn’t like pine nuts. Ifb it comes down to it I have a blender with a small ja, one of those jars with a spring loaded chopper and that about does it. If I needed it I’d use the various slicer attachments for my Cuisinart but I just don’t really need them.

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  7. czarowniczy says:

    I take thick, smoked bacon, chop it into bits and use it to sautee the onion. When the onion’s sweated I add thinly shredded red cabbage, white sugar to taste and sliced fresh apples and cook it down. You can add apple cider vinegar or a rice wine vinegar at serving. It’s usually found at the Thanksgiving/Christmas table though it goes well with pork or duck any time.

    Like

  8. czarowniczy says:

    Awwwww man, ya got me goin’ now. I was just going to make crab tacos with potato salad tonite but instead of just boiling them I used little red ones and boiled ’em like we do for a crawfish boil. Crab boil, oniuon, garlic, lemons and celery all goin’ in together. When they cool it’s a creamy dressing with onion, celery and red bell peppers mixed in.

    Liked by 1 person

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