Oh happy day, it's harvest time again. For those of us who planted a garden, we're up to our ears in root vegetables, squash, leeks, tomatoes, greens, and whatever else decided to pop up. If you don't have a garden, maybe your back porch is full of bushel baskets from the nearest stand, just waiting for your undivided attention. With all that picking, canning, freezing, and eating on the agenda, no one has time for fancy cooking. We've tried to help you ease into the harvest season gracefully with some easy favorites that you may not have tried before. And if you still have some leftover produce, don't panic, just bless the neighbors.
Greens have mainly been appreciated in Southern-style cuisine, but are gaining popularity everywhere.. They're rich in chlorophyll, which is what makes the leaves dark green and full of vitamin A and C, especially when eaten raw. If you're cutting back on dairy products and are concerned about your calcium intake, then greens are the solution without the cholesterol.
The Southern method is to boil them for about 30 minutes, drain, and then saute in bacon fat. Since we want to preserve nutrients and lower the fat, stir-frying is the best way to cook them. Stir the chopped greens in a hot skillet with olive oil, garlic, and hot pepper for a few minutes until wilted. The greens should be bright green, and a bit chewy.
Kale salad has loads of flavor, and holds up better than
when tossed with a hot dressing
Remember when we used to eat spinach salad with bacon dressing? Delicious, but too high in fat by today's standards and too soggy by the time the dressing soaked in. Since kale is one of the most nutritious greens, I prefer to make a kale salad, which has loads of flavor and holds up better than spinach when tossed with a hot dressing.
4 cups chopped kale leaves, packed down (chopoff the stems & cut across the leaf, cutting
4 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red pepper (or use 1 red & 1 yellow pepper) cut into thin strips
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
salt, pepper to taste
Put the chopped kale in a large bowl. Whisk together the lemon juice, mustard, sugar, and cayenne. Pour over the kale. Saute the peppers in olive oil over medium-high heat for a minute, then add the garlic. Saute until the vegetables start to brown. Stir in the vinegar and remove from heat. Toss into the salad with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with crusty bread or homemade croutons.
Sausage-Bean Soup with Greens
Since greens are durable and will usually survive until the first frost, this quick soup is perfect for a cool September day.
You can use any combination of greens with the exception of mustard greens, which tend to be too fragile for soup. Make sure that you cut off the tough stems before chopping the leaves. If you're going to be grilling, save some extra sausage for the soup.
1/2 lb. (or 2 pieces) cooked sausage such as chorizo,
turkey brats, kiebas, or linguica
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, minced 1 large onion, chopped one 15-ounce can chicken broth
5-6 cups water
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
salt and pepper to taste
4 medium red or white new potatoes (about 1/4 Ibs), halved and thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced diagonally into circles
one 15 -19-ounce can cannellini (white kidney) or northern beans, rinsed
6 cups loosely packed, coarsely chopped collard greens or Swiss chard.
Slice the sausage diagonally into 1/4-Inch circles. Set aside. In a large soup pot, saute the garlic and onion in the olive oil until translucent. Add the chicken broth, five cups water, potatoes, carrots, and spices. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add the sausages and beans, and cook for five minutes. Stir in the greens and simmer for another five minutes until the greens are limp. Add extra water as needed. Adjust salt and pepper. Serve with thick slices of bread.
Fortunately, the squash pumpkins will keep for a few months in a cool place, so there's no rush on these. When you do get to them, steam or bake four or five at once so you can puree the pulp in the blender or food processor. Measure out one cup of the puree into labeled freezer bags. For pumpkin bread, I usually use pureed buttercup squash (a turban-shaped, dark green squash) because of its rich flavor.
Squash or Pumpkin Puree
Preheat oven to 350°-375°. Cut the squash in half and scrape out the seeds.
Place cut-side down on a foil-lined cookie sheet and bake for about half an hour until the squash can be pierced easily with a knife.
Pumpkin or Squash Bread
1 cup pumpkin or squash puree
I egg and1 egg white
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/8 cup wheat germ
2 cups sifted whole wheat pastry flour (or unbleached white flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup carob or mini-chocolate chips or chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease the bottom of a loaf pan (not glass). Try not to use a non-stick pan-the bread may get too dark. Mix all the ingredients up to and including the wheat germ with an electric mixer. Sift the flour, baking soda, and baking powder into the measuring cups. Slowly mix in the flour until just blended. Stir in the carob chips, and pour into the pan.
Bake for 45-55 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. If the top starts to get too brown, reduce the oven temperature to 325° for the last 10 minutes. Cool on a rack before removing from the pan.
You can use almost any vegetable in this vegetarian stew and serve it one hour later over brown rice or couscous with a dash of cinnamon. Leeks are milder than onions and give the stew a nice flavor.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks, washed well and thinly sliced just past where the green tops begin
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 small piece jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 small turnips, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup baby carrots, cut into one-inch chunks
4 small red potatoes, quartered
1 cup cauliflower chunks
one 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed
one 15-ounce can chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 cup tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
1 medium summer squash or yellow zucchini-cut into one-inch pieces
cilantro or parsley, chopped
In a large pot, saute the leeks until light brown. Stir in the garlic and hot pepper. Add the vegetables, beans, broth, water and spices. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the summer squash and cook 15 more minutes until the vegetables are tender. Serve over the rice or couscous and top with chopped cilantro or parsley.
Most people cook beets, not realizing that they're delicious grated raw, especially when you've just pulled them out of the ground. They must be scrubbed well and only peeled with a potato peeler if the skins are tough. If you've stored some beets in the root cellar, this salad can be made a month or so from now.
2 cups each grated raw carrots grated raw
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon grated ginger root, peel before grating
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame or canola oil
dash cayenne pepper and salt
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted (optional)
Grate the carrots and beets using a food processor or hand grater. Whisk together the dressing. Toss with the carrots and beets in a large bowl. Chill for at least two hours before serving.
Toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, shaking the pan every few seconds until the seeds are lightly browned. Sprinkle on top of the salad.