Grow, Cook, Eat — Locally!
The smell of warm butternut squash and apple soup filled the air at the Swarthmore Farmers’ Market on November 5th, 2011. Folks followed their noses to my table, sampling dishes like that soup, topped with sage and apples; simple pickled carrots, kale with butter and currants – people couldn’t believe how naturally sweet they were; a shredded raw collards salad with pickled apples; and the dish that went the fastest — warm butternut squash with chickpeas, lemon, cilantro, and tahini.
People sampled one, then another, reaching for recipes until I ran out.
What was I doing there, they wondered.
The Co-op, along with Swarthmore Sustainable Table and the Good Food Project of Swarthmore College, sponsored last weekend’s Real Food Festival, with a myriad of activities supporting sustainable food, including Grow, Cook, Eat: A Hands-on Farmers’ Market that enhanced the regular market.
I was at the market to highlight the terrific local foods available all winter long at local stores like the Co-op or directly from local farms through Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) like Winter Harvest or Sunny Harvest. Vegetables like chard, kale, and collards can be grown locally in hoop houses or green houses during the winter, while winter squash and other root vegetables grown locally in summer and fall can be stored for months. Buying local – or better yet, growing your own vegetables – means that these foods don’t have to be shipped long distances, reducing your family’s carbon footprint.
I also wanted to encourage people to try a vegetable that was new to them — or get excited about a new way to prepare an old favorite. My greens and collards disappeared, eaten by people who told me they had never liked them before. Cooking more at home is more healthful than eating out, and can be fast, less expensive, and delicious with the right recipes.
So buy and cook local produce this winter as a way to make sustainable food choices! To help you get started, here are the recipes I mentioned above. Enjoy!
– Helen Nadel
Local and Seasonal: Vegetables for All
Jen’s Quick Pickled Carrots
These lightly pickled carrots keep in the refrigerator for a week. But they won’t last that long! They are however, better the day after you make them. Carrots are a fabulous source of vitamin A.
1 lb. carrots
seasoned rice vinegar to taste
- Bring a large pot of water on to boil.
- Peel carrots and cut into 2-inch lengths and then into sticks 1/3 – ½ inch wide.
- Blanch in boiling water for 1 minute.
- Drain well and place in shallow dish.
- Sprinkle generously with seasoned rice vinegar. Allow to cool to room temperature, tossing carrots with vinegar a few times.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with apple and sage
Roasted and caramelized vegetables give great flavor to this smooth, velvety soup. Garnish with at confit of onion, apple and sage if you wish. Butternut squash is a great source of vitamin A, with one cup containing 150% of the recommended daily intake. Serves 6-8.
3 lbs. butternut squash
3 T olive oil, divided
2 celery stalks
1 apple (Granny Smiths are great)
2 cloves of garlic
2 t ground coriander
½ t ground allspice
1 t salt
7-8 c broth
1 t fresh herb (sage, rosemary or thyme are great)
pepper to taste
for apple confit
1 small onion
1 T olive oil
½ t herb of your choice
salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Prepare the butternut squash: cut squash in half crosswise. Cut off the ends. Peel with a vegetable peeler or small knife. Cut in half crosswise. Scrape the seeds out of the bulb end. Cut into 1or 2-inch chunks. Place on rimmed baking sheet with 1 T of olive oil, and stir to coat. Roast 25 minutes until soft and starting to brown and caramelize in places.
- In the meantime, chop the onion and place in a large pot with 2 T olive oil over medium low heat. Cook for 7-10 minutes, until translucent, stirring occasionally.
- Chop celery and carrot and add to pot. Cook for another 5 -10 minutes, until softened.
- While vegetables are cooking, peel and chop apple. Add to pot, and cook another 5 minutes, until tender.
- Mince garlic or put through a press and add to pot. Add salt, spices, and herb of choice. Stir for one minute, then add roasted butternut squash and 6 cups of broth. Simmer for 15 minutes.
- Put soup through a blender. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding a bit more broth for a thinner soup.
- While soup simmers, make the confit: finely dice the onion and place in a small pan with 1 T olive oil. Sauté over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Cut apple into fine dice, then add to pan. Cook for about 5 minutes.
- 10. Add remaining ingredients.
11. To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with a bit of confit, if you wish.
Greens with butter and currants
The sweetness of the butter and currants complement the greens deliciously. Greens are the powerhouse of the vegetable world. It’s high in Vitamins A, and C, and minerals like magnesium and calcium. You can use lacinato or curly kale, Swiss chard, or spinach in this dish. Serves 3-4.
2 bunches of greens
1 T butter
1-3 T currants (or raisins)
salt and pepper to taste
- Prepare chard: remove leaves from the center rib and rinse in a colander. Boil a kettle of water, and pour over chard leaves. Alternatively, bring a pot of water to a boil, blanch chard for 2 minutes and drain. Press excess liquid out of the leaves.
- Remove to a cutting board and finely chop the leaves.
- Place chard and butter in a large pan over medium low heat. Add currants. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. If leaves begin to stick to the pan, add a bit of broth or water and turn the heat down.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
Shredded collards with pickled apples
Raw collards are crisp and mild – a surprising change from typical, well-cooked preparations. Packed with vitamins A and C, collards also have minerals like manganese, and are one of the best plant-based sources of calcium. Like broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and cabbage, collards contain sulfur compounds linked to liver health. This recipe is from the September 2000 issue of Gourmet magazine. Serves 4-6.
2 red apples
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pickling spice
1/2 cup walnut halves (3 ounces)
1/4 cup olive oil (or a mix of olive and walnut oil)
1 bunch collard greens (1 pound)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Quarter and core apples, then cut each quarter lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick slices.
- Boil vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and pickling spice in a saucepan, stirring, until sugar is dissolved.
- Add apples and return to a boil. Then turn heat off, transfer to a heatproof bowl and cool.
- Set apples aside and chill, uncovered, until cold, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- Toast walnuts for 7 minutes. When cool, coarsely chop 1 T nuts and finely chop remaining nuts.
- Halve each collard leaf lengthwise with kitchen shears or a sharp knife, cutting out and discarding center ribs. Stack leaves and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide strips. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Just before serving, mix collards with nuts, oil, and ½ t salt and pepper to taste. Add apple slices, discarding pickling liquid and spices, and toss again.
Warm butternut squash salad with chickpeas and tahini
This dish has a terrific interplay of flavors and textures. Butternut squash is rich in vitamin A, as well as vitamin C, fiber, and several minerals, while chickpeas are a good source of protein, fiber, and minerals. Sesame seeds provide lots of vitamin E as well as zinc. This dish is from Sam and Sam Clark’s cookbook, Casa Moro. Serves 4-6.
1 large butternut squash, about 2 pounds
2 garlic cloves
½ t ground allspice
4 T olive oil, divided
1 ½ c cooked chickpeas
2 small shallots, chopped fine
¼ c cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
3 ½ T lemon juice
3 T tahini (sesame paste)
2 T water or broth
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Prepare the butternut squash: cut squash in half crosswise. Cut off the ends. Peel with a vegetable peeler or small knife. Cut in half crosswise. Scrape the seeds out of the bulb end. Cut into ½-inch chunks. Place on rimmed baking sheet.
- Mince or crush one clove of garlic. Toss the butternut squash chunks with the garlic, 2 T of the olive oil, the allspice, and some salt and pepper and place on rimmed baking sheet.
- Cook squash in oven for 15-20 minutes, until pieces are soft and some are turning golden brown.
- While the squash cooks, prepare the tahini sauce. In a mortar and pestle, crush a garlic clove with some salt until a paste forms. Mix with lemon juice and add tahini. Thin with water or broth and the remaining 2 T of olive oil. Set aside.
- Chop the shallot fine and set aside.
- Chop the cilantro and set aside.
- To assemble, place squash, chickpeas, shallot, and cilantro in a bowl and drizzle with the tahini sauce.