Vegetables – a missing ingredient in my diet. When I do get them in, they’re routine and rather boring (salads, vegetable soup, steamed things). This would definitely be another nutrition-expanding week.
Mississippi Market was my starting place to peruse and chose produce. After spending 20 minutes looking, touching, reading (checking recipes online) and finally choosing, I walked away with 1 artichoke, 6 brussels sprouts, and 1 Molokai purple sweet potato. Yes, I started small (it’s a pilot testing experience – I’ll expand next time if successful). I’ve cooked artichokes before (canned in artichoke spinach dip) but never tried a live one. Brussels sprouts have always seemed odd to me and I’ve never eaten them so this was my new vegetable experience. And the Molokai sweet potato – I just had to try one because it is really odd looking and purple.
While shopping, I thought about the challenge to purchase vegetables in bulk. I’ve learned the hard, expensive way that it’s better to only buy bulk for vegetables I can cut up and freeze for later use. I do this with the basics – carrots, celery, onions, corn, spinach, zucchini, etc. It spurred me to research other vegetables that can be frozen. I found guides for freezing tomatoes (!) and cucumbers (in a brine – basically frozen pickles) and much more. My interest is now piqued to explore this further so I’m ready for all the farmer’s market produce next summer.
With vegetables in hand, I planned my attack starting with the artichoke. How hard could it be?!? I found a simple-sounding Williams and Sonoma recipe for artichoke soup using a pressure cooker (http://bit.ly/2kJ9nUc). The process was straight forward – cut up the artichoke; saute onions and garlic then simmer with chicken stock and wine; add with artichoke pieces, diced potatoes, thyme, salt, pepper in a pressure cooker; cook for 20 minutes; blend and strain; finish off by adding warmed cream. I quickly realized this wouldn’t be so easy. The recipe called for 4 large artichokes but I only had 1 medium so needed to adjust all the other ingredients – simple enough. But this reduced the liquid in the recipe to less than needed to use the pressure cooker. Looking at what I had, I added in cauliflower florets in the fridge to bulk out the vegetables allowing me to increase the chicken stock. I’d seen cauliflower as an additional ingredient in another recipe (http://bit.ly/1jPhJ6H) and thought it sounded good.
Cutting up the artichoke was harder than anticipated (it wasn’t anything like the pictures I found online) which made me worry that artichoke parts that shouldn’t be included were thrown in the pot. Next, the pressure cooker didn’t work. This was my 1st time trying one at home and I couldn’t get the pressure up (the toggle on top never moved). By the time I figured out this wasn’t going to work, I’d boiled down the chicken stock to the point I needed to add in more. Unfortunately there was no more stock. Luckily, I found a jar of chicken base I didn’t know I had so created stock with base and water. The vegetables were pretty soft at this point so I finished cooking the soup in a non-pressure manner. At this point I blended the mess with an immersion blender which immediately got clogged with the artichoke fibers. I assume this was a sign that I didn’t cut up the artichoke correctly at the start. I had to strain the resulting soup twice to manage these fibers. In the end, I had was left with 1 decent sized serving of soup.
Given the complicated process, I didn’t anticipate good results. To my absolute surprise, the soup was REALLY delicious! Even my daughter whose favorite food is frozen chicken nuggets (she buys her own) found it good. I’d definitely make this again but this time with frozen artichoke hearts and plenty of stock!
I kept things simple with the brussels sprouts. I knew they had an intense taste and this made me think of a recipe I’d used for another vegetable that I didn’t care for – roasted kale chips. I’ve made kale chips for years as an easy-to-make snack. A simple internet search found a similar recipe for brussels sprouts (http://bit.ly/1KY42U8). It was a simple but fussy process: cut off the sprout ends and peel off the tiny leaves; toss with olive oil and sea salt; roast at 450 degrees for 7-10 minutes. This process worked like a charm and the result was a snack equally enjoyable as the kale chips.
Next was the Molokai purple sweet potato. My plan was to steam and mash the potato (http://bit.ly/2kOfeqC) but my dog changed this plan. While I was at work, she stole the potato off the counter and chewed it to pieces. She didn’t experienced any ill effects thank heavens but having only 1 potato, I had no back-up. This is what it would have looked like had I been able to cook it (http://bit.ly/2kOfeqC). Very purple! Part of me is rather glad that Lucy got to it first. But I decided to try it so next time I’m at Mississippi Market, I’ll pick up another Molokai and try it again.
The result of this week’s adventure was an expansion of vegetables in my diet (it even spurred me to add spinach and asparagus into my morning scrambled eggs) and increased interest in doing more. I’ve realized that soup is the easiest way to expand my vegetable repertoire so I’ll work to expand my soup recipe collection.