Home Assignment #2

Vegetables – I like most vegetables but I’m not very creative when I use them. We eat lettuce-type salads often, and other vegetables are usually steamed or roasted or raw. I decided to try kale because I never use it and cauliflower in a recipe (instead of raw with hummus or dip).

The first kale recipe was a salad with wild rice (maybe I will count for week #3 too!), feta, pecans and dried cranberries with a vinaigrette dressing. The original recipe called for walnuts and pomegranate seeds but I subbed with items on my shelf. It was delicious, we had it as a side for dinner with enough leftovers for a few lunches.


For the second recipe, I made the Sesame Ginger Sauce from class and sauteed/steamed the kale. My husband really liked this one, maybe not the kale as much as the Asian flavored sauce. We have some leftover sauce that he wants to use for a stir-fry this week.


I made the French Cauliflower Soup from class. The recipe intrigued me – I like the creamy texture using the butter and egg yolk. My husband really liked it, (he had seconds!), and I have enough for a couple of lunches.


I don’t know that we ate any more vegetables than we usually do, but we certainly used them in different ways.

Assignment 2

Shopping for produce that I have never used was a fascinating experience.  In the end,  I chose fennel and Red Chard.  While in the store, I did look up potential recipes for both options.  I wanted to ensure that I would find something that could potentially be a success at our home.

I made three dishes:  Fennel – I made broasted fennel and carrots with garlic and lemon; I made an egg dish with the red chard, potatoes, and ham and sauteed the red chard with smashed garlic and red pepper flakes.


Produce – shopping

Week Two Assignment

For this week’s assignment I chose celery root (celeriac) because the mention of it in last week’s class intrigued me – I’ve never used it before and never really had heard of it being used; and eggplant – not because I’d never used it but because my younger son suggested it and I thought (wrongly) that this might get him more interested in trying to eat it!

The first thing I made was eggplant parmesan, which was pretty easy to make, and my husband and I both liked it but it was a thumbs down for both kids. I think I’d still make it again – eggplant is a flavor that takes some getting used to if you’re not familiar with it. Also, the sauce recipe that came with this was pretty yummy.


I was excited to cut into those wacky looking celeriac bulbs so I cut one up and roasted it to go with some ribs my husband was making. In all the recipes I had looked at, it seemed like it might take this vegetable a while to roast in the oven, but one recipe I found called for putting it into some aluminum foil (sealed around the edges) for 25 minutes before opening it up and roasting for 15 minutes. It has a nice mild potato/celery flavor to it. Kids were noncommittal but ate a few bites.


One thing I’ve discovered about celery root is that it has a lot higher water content than a potato. I had a second bulb so I made a small amount of potato celery mash and after I boiled the veggies I had to heat it on the stove for a little longer than you’d normally have to do with just potatoes to get the mixture to dry out enough. I thought the end result was quite tasty, and adding the potato mellowed out that celery flavor.



Finally, I really love baba ganousch and have never made it. I had one more eggplant left so I found a recipe online. Who knew it was so easy to make! (although I had to go back to the store to buy some tahini) And turned out quite yummy with pita bread. Kids wouldn’t go near it but I think I can get them to come around.


I don’t think I really changed the amount of produce that we ate this week, I think I just changed it a bit from the veggies we normally have. Also, I feel I didn’t really do a good job of incorporating these dishes into our meal routine. They all ended up being more like little food experiments I sprinkled in throughout the week (but the experiments got me a little more comfortable with these veggies so perhaps I’ll be more likely to use them in the future). I would say that produce did not end up being more prominent in our meals, other than the night that we had eggplant parmesan, which was the main course that night. I think I still need some more work in that area.

Home Assignment 2: Using Unfamiliar Produce

It’s easy to get comfortable using only a few types of produce in day to day cooking, neglecting the rest of the assortment in the produce section.  I’m guilty of this myself, typically favoring a relatively small selection of fruits and vegetables.  Occasionally I’ll splurge and get myself an avocado (as you can see, I really live on the edge).  It’s time to get more adventurous on a regular basis.

I decided to use this as an opportunity to try two new pieces of produce because I’d like to add to my standard repertoire in the grocery store.  I was adventurous (for me) in selecting two seasonal pieces: leeks and turnips.  I’ve eaten both in the past on few occasions, and have never cooked with either, so I took them home, got on my computer, and found some ideas for how to prepare them.

Recipe 1: Sweet potato, carrot, and leek soup:  I happened to have some carrot puree in my freezer from when I needed to prevent geriatric carrots from going to waste (I hoped carrot puree would be fancy, but in reality it was basically just baby food), and I knew I could count on the trusty sweet potato to prevent this from being a total flop.


These, plus water, garlic, and seasonings, were used to make the soup.

Preparing was pretty simple.  It just involved cooking the chopped leek stem in olive oil, then adding broth (in my case, water and chicken base), carrot puree, and mashed sweet potato.  I seasoned it with two cloves of garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, turmeric, and a little cinnamon.  Some of it went through the Magic Bullet for a smoother texture.  I cooked the leek greens separately and then put them in the soup to simmer for a while.


This recipe made enough for a bowl for dinner (served with greek yogurt) plus leftovers for two more meals.

Recipe 2: Finnish Turnip and Carrot Casserole:  I didn’t mean for carrots to be a secondary feature, but here they are yet again.  I followed this recipe, going a little light on the sugar (next time, I would halve the sugar used). All of the carrot puree was used in the soup, and only had baby carrots were present in my refrigerator, so I made due and hoped for the best.  Another place where I made due was dealing with not having any milk.  Diluted greek yogurt made a (hopefully) adequate substitute.


Finished Finnish Casserole.  Despite the color of the edge, it didn’t taste burnt at all.  Next time I’d like to find out how to serve it without making it look like a victim in a horror film.

Its sweetness makes it work as dessert or breakfast, and it was good both hot and cold.  To me, halving the sugar would give it that perfect balance between sweet and savory where it could fit into either category.  Removing it from my dish in one piece was tragically unsuccessful; perhaps it needed to cool more.

Recipe 3: Sautéed leeks and turnips: The first two recipes nicely incorporated these new ingredients as part of a whole dish, but I wanted to see how the two hold up on their own without anything else to hide behind.  I did some light reading on their cooking times and noticed leek greens take more time to cook compared to other greens I was more familiar with.  I simmered the leeks for about 5 minutes to soften, then removed water, added turnip cubes, and sautéed for 15 more minutes.  Next time I would include the turnips in the simmering, as they weren’t quite soft.  I seasoned them with one clove of garlic, salt, and pepper.  They came out well.  Turnips, like potatoes, seem a little bland, and benefitted from being with the leeks and from seasoning.


1 cubed turnip and 1 leek.  Used all of the leek greens and a third of the stalk.  The turnips didn’t come with their own greens, something to watch for next time.


Delicious accompaniment to salmon.

While I wouldn’t say the amount of produce eaten this week was drastically greater than  from typical weeks, the added variety was warmly welcomed.  The soup was certainly a more produce-dense meal than I typically make, and a welcome diversion from baked sweet potato fries or mashed sweet potato.  Leek greens/stalks together make a nice substitute for onions and spinach all in the same plant, which is pretty convenient.

Completing this assignment was a good exercise in focusing on how I can use produce in different ways.  Using it as the main dish, incorporated in a sweet dish, and as a side dish was a good demonstration of the range of these items.  I did complete this task feeling motivated to think a little more outside the box when coming up with ideas for meals.  I hope to continue incorporating new pieces of produce in my regular diet and step away from the tried and true spinach from time to time.