Weekend Cooking: Fruit & Veggie Baskets

4364859374_cf4d91b356_mI work at a business school, and one of our student groups has recently started a partnership with local farmers to sell organic fruit and vegetable baskets. I try to buy locally and I like cooking according to what’s fresh and in season, so I jumped at the chance to take part and have started ordering a basket every week.

From the first week, I noticed two things. First, what is considered a normal amount of produce for a family of four is a LOT of produce. What I’ve gotten in the baskets is easily 2-3 times more than I normally buy at the grocery store. Either we don’t eat as much as other people or we really don’t eat enough fresh fruits and veggies (I’m betting on option two).

Secondly, I’ve realized that this is going to mean changing the way I plan and cook meals. I’m having to seek out new recipes for things I don’t normally buy, and I’m having to come up with new ways of cooking things I do, as the portions are often big enough for more than one meal. For example, I will often buy one leek to use in my favorite vegetable soup recipe. Now I might have three to use in one week, so I have to come up with two more recipes that incorporate leeks.

I think all of this is going to mean good changes for our family nutrition, but it’s going to take a little getting used to as well. This week in my basket, I got a red cabbage, which I can honestly say I have never cooked with before. After poking around, I’ve come up with two recipes I’m going to try to make this weekend–one hot and one cold. The hot one I’ve never made but have eaten before, so I know it should be good. I’m planning to serve this with some kind of pork.

Braised Red Cabbage with Chestnuts (from simplyrecipes.com)

INGREDIENTS
2 strips thick-cut bacon (about 3 ounces) cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips (I’ll use lardons.)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 red cabbage head, about 2 pounds, quartered, tough core removed, quarters sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices
1 large apple
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
6 Tbsp sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste
Freshly ground pepper
8 ounces canned or jarred roasted chestnuts (NOT water chestnuts), roughly chopped

DIRECTIONS
1 Cook the bacon slowly in a large pan (with cover) on medium-low heat until most of the fat has rendered out, and the bacon is lightly browned, not crisp.

2 Add the sliced onions, increase the heat of the pan to medium high and cook, stirring often, until the onions have softened and lightly browned.

3 While the onions are cooking, peel the apple and cut it into 1/2-inch thick pieces. Once the onions are ready, add the sliced cabbage, chopped apple, cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and sugar. Carefully toss to combine. Bring to a simmer, cover the pan, lower the heat, and simmer until the cabbage is cooked through and soft, about 40 minutes.

4 Uncover the pan. Add the chopped roasted chestnuts. Add salt and pepper to taste. Increase the heat to boil off excess moisture for a few minutes.

If you have any fabulous ideas for cooking with winter vegetables, I’d love to hear them. Also in the basket this week: leeks (my old friend), endives, two kinds of salad greens and turnips.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs…

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15 thoughts on “Weekend Cooking: Fruit & Veggie Baskets

  1. Beth F

    I love braised cabbage. I haven’t made that in ages. We too get a a box meant to serve a family of 4. We are 2 people and we never have trouble finishing the box. One trick is to plan your meals around the box instead of the other way around.

    Use turnips like potatoes. I generally make a big salad of mixed greens and store it well covered in the refrigerator. We eat it with lunch and dinner, so it goes fast.

    Braise those endives! Yummmm.

    Reply
  2. Patty @ A tale of three cities

    I like all of the produce in your basket, and even for those I don’t normally use – like the red cabbage – I would turn into a salad, and have for a snack. Leeks you can cut up in chunks and freeze (another of my favourite occupations – freeze things…). Endives are great in the oven with a bit of sausage and a bit of cheese on top. Turnip is just a potato, like Beth says – I would turn it into mash! Looks like I’m going to buy veggies in my supermarket now…

    Reply
  3. jama

    Mmmm, I like braised cabbage too. Can’t say I have much experience with either leeks or endives, though. I’m sure you’ll become a much more versatile cook as a result of these baskets!

    Reply
  4. Joanna @ CreateYourWorld

    I used to get a veggie basket like this, but decided that it was too difficult to plan around, in the end. We got too many things we either didn’t like or didn’t like enough and it was a constant struggle. We ate a lot of soup though, I’d just add whatever was there! 🙂

    Reply
  5. Marie

    I made a very similar red cabbage and pork dish for New Year’s Day & oh my, it was amazing – so delicious. I eat leeks all the time (I live with a proud Welshman!), these are three recipes that we have regularly that are really easy and tasty. Adding bacon to a leek and potato soup makes it wonderfully smoky.

    http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/3505/leek-bacon-and-potato-soup
    http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/408651/smoked-haddock-and-leek-risotto
    http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/chicken-recipes/mustard-chicken-quick-dauphinoise-greens-black-forest-affogato

    Reply
  6. Carole

    I mainly use cabbage in slaw and as leaves instead of lettuce in burgers. For me the less you cook it the better. Getting the box sounds like a fun way to discover new ways to cook things.

    Reply
  7. bookworm

    I’ve been making an effort to cook with seasonal products and it is amazing how many winter veggies there are that I had been ignoring. Not leeks though, they have been my favourite winter vegetable for a while; my new favourite way of using them is in a chicken and bacon pie.

    Reply
  8. Leeswammes

    I love leek! Besides soups you can put it in any stew or vegetable sauce (consider cutting it up in tiny rings and add it to pasta sauce, for instance). You can also make leek and potato soup or recipes with leek and cheese (use as keywords to google for recipes).

    Have fun with your basket. Sounds like a bit of a challenge, but I’m sure you’ll discover some great new recipes this way.

    Reply
  9. Chinoiseries

    I’m excited to hear about your veggie basket 🙂 I used to subscribe to one as well, but this particular company didn’t deliver all the way to Rotterdam… so I had the basket delivered to my office and then took the produce back home by train. Not the best arrangement… since I canceled my subscription, I haven’t found a new local one that suits me. I’m (pleasantly) surprised to hear that your box contains much more produce than you’d normally get in a week. My experience with these local “veggie bags” is that they usually don’t last more than 3 days!
    I think the Dutch usually eat red cabbage stewed with apple and raisins and serve it as a side dish with the main meal. I’ve got to confess that I’ve not often eaten it this way. Leek -> quiche? Turnips do well in soups, but you could consider roasting them?
    Happy experimenting 🙂

    Reply
  10. Laurie C

    I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a chestnut! I didn’t even know they came in jars. The combination of bacon and cabbage sounds good, but I’m really curious about what the chestnuts are like. Hope the recipe is good!

    Reply

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