Vegetables in new ways

I mentioned in my first post that I’m more of a spontaneous menu planner.  This type of “planning” also means I tend to pick up produce based on the recipe I planned to make.  For lunches, however, I tend to keep bagged greens, carrots and cucumbers on hand to at least have a base for a salad.  Salads are an easy way for me to get lots of vegetables in a meal, but I also find I get tired of them quickly.  My intention is often to mix up what goes in my salad, but that seems to be easier said than done for me.  I’m trying though!

A few years ago, I signed up for a summer CSA.  This totally opened my eyes to the large variety of produce available; particularly in the summer!  After that summer of cooking so many different vegetables, I found there weren’t too many items in the produce area I haven’t tired.  So I went with some produce that I could use in recipes I haven’t tried yet.  The first was a butternut squash and pancetta pizza.  The recipe officially called it a tart.  I made this for a baby shower I hosted on Saturday and it was a big hit!  When I roasted the squash, I also added a bit of maple syrup and lots of pepper.  Seriously, this recipe is quite good and I would recommend at your next gathering. http://acozykitchen.com/pancetta-goat-cheese-tart/.  I was in party prep mode when I made this and completely forgot to photograph it.  The blogger’s post with the recipe has much better photos than I would have taken anyway!

I had leftover squash so I decided to a make a butternut squash soup.  I often buy squash in the fall and winter, but usually roast it for a pasta dish.  I’ve often thought of making a soup with it and now seemed like a good opportunity to try it!  I also got an immersion blender for Christmas and could use it for the recipe I found: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/curried_squash_soup/.  I halved the recipe as I didn’t have as much squash as the recipe indicated.  I also think I sautéed the squash a bit longer than the recipe creator (more browning) since mine turned out a bit darker.  But it was delicious!  And I had some pancetta leftover from the tart so I sprinkled some of that on top.

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For my third recipe, I used the prompt from the homework assignment encouraging us to use produce for breakfast.  I took that as challenge to use veggies in my breakfast, which rarely happens.  I roasted the broccoli the night before so it was ready to use in the morning.  In the morning, I sautéed some onion and broccoli and threw in some diced Canadian bacon making a sort of hash.  If I had some sweet or white potatoes on hand, I would have prepared those as well, but I didn’t.  I added a fried egg on top of the hash with some avocado and really enjoyed it.  Eggs are a frequent breakfast food for me, but it felt good getting some green in the meal too.

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This week was similar to others with my veggie and fruit intake.  I try to be intentional about making sure I fit in veggies at every meal.  I will usually only have fruit in the morning or maybe an apple in the afternoon.  During the summer, I definitely increase my vegetable intake due to all the fresh produce at farmers’ markets.  The summer also allows us to use the outdoor grill which adds more opportunity to try veggies in different ways.  I feel like I tend to get in a rut with using the same vegetables.  This homework assignment made me pay closer attention to the produce section and think about ways to incorporate more produce.

I have been in situations buying fresh produce in bulk where it worked well and was an advantage, but also where it didn’t work and felt like I wasted money instead of saving it.  Usually it works when I have a menu or recipe in mind when buying in bulk.  Even for just two people, I can find a few recipes to use the bulk produce.  It doesn’t work when I pick up produce in bulk thinking I will use it, but don’t have a plan or spontaneously decide to eat out more that week.  In those cases, I usually have to throw out the produce for not using it quick enough.  This is a good example of not saving money by buying in bulk due to wasting my purchase.  I feel as though I have encountered these “disadvantage” opportunities enough where I’m more aware of not buying only for the sake of a good deal.

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