Vegetables Every Day

Vegetables Every Day
Carrot Tarator with Beets

Monday, March 5, 2007

Whatever to do with all the veggies?

Still trying to figure out what to do with all the veggies?  One suggestion:  Pasta.  We eat a variation on this most weeks (usually mid- week – when you have a one leftover sausage, some random vegetables, you’re hungry and it’s 6:30pm!) . 

This is more a technique than a recipe, and sometimes it will come out better than others.  I never measure while doing this (it goes much faster), and its always different which makes it possible to eat every week.   If you are having a hard time visualizing (or are planning trip to the store as opposed to sorting through the vegetable bin to figure out what’s a week old vs. 3 weeks old) here are few ideas:  Asparagus, onions, guyere, and ham…  or Mushrooms, broccoli, garlic and onions with chicken sausage.   Last week we did onions, garlic, lots of red pepper flakes, zucchini, red bell peppers, leftover grilled chicken sausage,  with bow tie pasta, white wine and cream sauce…

The Gadget:  Boos Block cutting board.  Really any big cutting board will work so that you are able to just cut up the veggies and leave on the board until you are ready to use.  Handy accessory:  a chef’s scoop  to move stuff into the pan.

The Ingredient:  Chicken and/or turkey sausage.  There are several brands out there, Adelle’s is pretty commonly available, lately we have mostly been getting Gerhard’s from Trader Joe’s.  They come with feta and pine nuts, or pesto, sometimes smoked.. lots of options. They have a long shelf life so you don’t need to cook right away. They are pre-cooked, great on the grill.  But we can’t each the whole package (4 or 5 sausages), and the left-overs are great in pasta, pizza, salads… what-ever.

Pasta Whatever

Serves 2 plus some leftovers for lunch

Start boiling water (with some salt) for pasta.  Use whatever pasta you have around, I like the chunky kinds best (like penne or bow ties), but spaghetti works too.  Below proportions are for 1/2 pound of pasta, which are perfect for the 2 of use plus one or two lunches. 

Meanwhile, prep whatever else:
  • Vegetables (blanched):  Use up to 1-3 cups of asparagus, peas, broccoli or other vegetables cut in bite size pieces.  The trick -- add to pasta pot and cook (need to judge how much time to cook the veggies, generally add 2-3 minutes before the pasta is done).
  • Aromatics and other Vegetables (sautéed): I always use some onions or garlic or shallots.  Use up to 1-2 cups of onions, shallots, mushrooms, zucchini, and/or bell peppers.  Red pepper flakes are good to throw in too.  Spinach or other greens are great (best if chopped a bit), add just before adding the pasta.
  • Meat (optional): Leftover roasted or grilled meat, chicken or sausage (cut into chunks),  or black forest ham (cut sandwich slices into strips).  Bacon or other raw meats (chicken, shrimp) are also great, but you will need to start in a separate skillet while pasta cooks.
  • Herbs: whatever you like, .  Fresh basil (when I get from my herb garden in the summer) is great, if I don’t have fresh herbs, I usually don’t bother.  Add with the pasta.
  • Cheese: Usually I use a hard cheese (like parmesan)  but again, whatever you have on hand.. about ½ cup, shredded.  Goat cheese is also yummy, but do try to avoid anything stringy when it melts (like mozzarella).
  • Nuts:  A nice addition if there is no meat.  Walnuts or pine nuts, toasted in the toaster oven (1 cycle through “toast” on a foil lined pan) are good.
  • Other… Tomatoes (good fresh ones, chopped), olives, other leftover veggies…

When the pasta (and vegetables if you cooked w/ pasta) is done, dip a 1 cup measuring cup in the water and set aside, then drain and leave pasta in the colander.   Put the pasta pot back on the stove over medium high heat  and add a bit of olive oil (a little less than a tablespoon), add red pepper flakes if desired, and sauté vegetables.  When they get soft, or dry (which ever comes first), add white wine or broth or pasta water or a combination, total about 1/2 cup.  Or – if you are feeling rich, add some cream (1/4 a cup) along with broth or wine.  Put the cooked pasta and veggies back in the pot, add the cheese (and nuts if you are using), warm up a bit on the stove..  If it seems a bit dry, add some pasta water.  The give a good twist of pepper and serve… 

[Edit:  Today, I cook the pasta in one pot, and the veggies in a large saute pan.  If using veggies that need to cook a bit, I just steam in the saute pan.  When the pasta is done, I transfer from the pasta pot to the saute pan with a large slotted spoon or tongs]

Next day – make into pasta salad… add a few drops of vinegar, maybe a little salt and pepper.  Best if let warm up little before eating.

Let me know if you like it!

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