Tag Archives: Vegetables

On Vegetable Stock

Last year I did a silly thing. I bought vegetables to make vegetable stock. I measured out water. I meticulously chopped. But with the big bags of carrots, I ended up with MORE vegetables than I started with. This year I learned an important thing. Something every grandmother knew but we forgot. Never buy vegetables to make vegetable stock. Save (almost) all of your scraps – every little bit – and soon you will have everything you need for vegetable stock. FREE vegetable stock.

One of the greatest benefits of homemade vegetable stock is the nutritional value. The more vegetables you use, the wider range of vitamins and nutrients your stock will have. And since it’s salt-free, you can determine how much salt to add while you’re cooking. It is also a great way to mellow out a recipe that is over salted.

It takes me 3-4 weeks to fill up a one-gallon freezer bag of scraps, and the 6-8 cups (~2 quarts) of stock I get out of it usually lasts me until the bag is full again. Maybe it won’t last me as long now that the season of soups is upon us, but it’s certainly working out so far.

Since onions, carrots, and celery make up the backbone of vegetable stock, it is important to have a good amount of them in your freezer bag when you go to make the stock. If I’m using carrots or celery in any recipes during the month, I try to chop up 1-2 of each and put them into my freezer bag for when it comes time to make stock! That way, I don’t have to go out and buy a big bag of the two and get stuck with leftovers and nothing else to use them in.

If you’re going to use the vegetable stock within a week, keep it in the fridge. Longer, keep it in the freezer. I freeze my stock in 1- or 2-cup amounts in tupperware containers, then pop them out and put them in a big freezer bag. It takes a couple rounds to get all of the stock frozen, but it saves a lot of containers from filling up my tiny freezer!

Vegetables to use: Onions, carrots and celery are the basic ingredients for stock, but the more vegetables you use, the greater the flavor and nutritional value. Save any scraps (roots, stalks, leaves, peelings etc.) from other vegetables like leeks, scallions, garlic, fennel, chard, lettuce, potatoes, parsnips, green beans, squash, bell peppers, eggplant, mushrooms, and asparagus. You can even add corn cobs, winter squash skins, beet greens and herbs. Vegetables that are wilting (but are NOT spoiled) are perfectly fine to use.

Vegetables to avoid: Bitter vegetables are overpowering in the stock and better off avoiding. You don’t need to save cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, rutabagas, or artichokes. You may want to avoid beet roots and onion skins, because they turn stock dark red/brown. Don’t include anything that has spoiled.
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Cabbage, Potato and Leek Soup

Cabbage, Potato and Leek Soup

My latest batch of soup comes from my latest batch of inspiration from Tamar Adler’s book An Everlasting Meal. Her book is filled with chapter after chapter of vibrant prose that feels like her ingredients are leaving the page and entering your own kitchen. She writes eloquently about understated ingredients like cabbage and anchovies, which I believe would inspire any obstinate eater to give them another taste.

For me, I had a sudden urge to cook cabbage. How many people can say that they crave cabbage? Rabbits aren’t people, so they don’t count. The giant cabbage head I bought at the farmers market cost me a whopping $1. Combined with leeks and potatoes from the market and my vegetable stock made from scraps, this recipe came to a grand total of… $3. Economical, graceful, and delicious. That’s what Adler’s cooking is all about. That’s what my kitchen is all about.

Cabbage, Potato and Leek Soup

This recipe requires a little patience; the soup has to cook for at least an hour to get its savory and deliciously melty flavors. But it doesn’t need much watching. I went down the street to get some more coffee beans and talk to a few friends while it cooked. Double win.

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Pasta with Skillet-Roasted Root Vegetables

Pasta with Skillet-Roasted Root Vegetables

How do you take something that is normally awful and turn it into totally awesome?
For example, biking home several miles in a complete downpour.
Normally awful.
Add waterproof gear from head to toe.
Totally awesome.

Exclude the follow factors: my backpack has no protection (laptop was intentionally left at home this day), a homeless man crossing the street laughed at me (a big, bellowing “HA!”), and the tops of my pink striped socks are getting a little damp (but only a little, and only right at the end).

I think if it hadn’t have been for my sopping backpack and subsequent impending doom for my psychology notes and cellphone, I would have kept going. The roads were almost empty, my breaks mostly worked, and I felt like a TOTAL BADASS.

Complete bad-assery. Adrenaline pumping through my veins, pedals spinning round and round, and a slight sense of I’m-speeding-through-the-air-and-still-waterproof-haha-suckers superiority over the umbrella/wind/Midwest-fighting sidewalk dwellers.

Pasta with Skillet-Roasted Root Vegetables

Pasta with Skillet-Roasted Root Vegetables

This dish is the perfect steaming plate of goodness ready for you when you get home from a rainy night, back from a big homecoming football win (!!), or a snack on a chilly afternoon. You know how I know? Because I’ve eaten this for four days straight. I’ve made two batches. I’ve eaten the leftovers at every meal. And I’m still not tired of it… Isn’t that proof enough that you have to try this? Thought so.

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Spiced Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Vegetables

Spiced Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Veggies

The farmers’ market is bursting with winter squashes; every table at every turn is offering colorful squashes in all shapes and sizes… or a surprisingly mutant, warty gourd. My roommate and I made a quick dash to the market this morning before a rainstorm hit… once it did, there’d be no leaving our apartment.

The farmers market has become our Saturday morning tradition. It’s what gets us out of bed and moving and what inspires our meals all week. The produce is indescribably better than anything at the food shop on our block, and it surpasses Whole Foods by a mile in taste and price. Today’s special: 3 squashes for $2! I also appreciate the enormous variety of produce; each week I try to pick at least one ingredient I’ve never cooked with before. This week I came home with four! Beets, acorn squash, delicata squash, and of course, spaghetti squash. It’s going to be an adventurous few days…

Spiced Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Veggies

Spiced Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Veggies

While most schools started mid-August, Northwestern decided to begin classes the very last week of September, meaning schoolwork ramped up just as the fall weather did. Leaves changing, farmers market stands slowly transforming to winter vegetables, and 900 pages of The Brothers Karamazov to read for Russian Lit.

Clearly a quick, hearty and healthy recipe was in order that made use of the best squashes this season has to offer. Two great things about this recipe are how affordable and versatile it is. I had a tomato from the farmers market left over, so I roasted that along with the broccoli. But peppers, cauliflower, carrots, celery and/or onion could be thrown in the oven just as easily. As Ivan from The Brothers K famously states, “Everything is permitted.” Okay, that is totally out of context, but in the end the spaghetti squash, chickpeas and spices bring it all together in harmony.

I hope you’re all enjoying the fall weather, rain or shine, and the delicious flavors the season brings along with it!

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Stuffed Zucchini, Turkish Style

Stuffed Zucchini, Turkish Style

Adventures with my Dad’s old copy of The Moosewood Cookbook. This isn’t the NewMoosewood Cookbook either. No, sir — this one came from 1977 when my dad was a student at Cornell in Ithaca, NY (where the Moosewood restaurant can be found). “It was a great restaurant, but not an all-the-time restaurant” for poor college student Dad. Fortunately, the majority of the recipes are interesting, tasty takes on affordable ingredients.

Stuffed Zucchini, Turkish Style

I was planning to cook on Wednesday night, but remembered halfway through the day that I had made dinner plans with a friend that night! I had to make the heartbreaking phone call to my mom to tell her that, no, I would not be cooking dinner for her that night. But the seafood risotto I had that evening was a good replacement for home cooking.

Okay — fast forward to Thursday. Time to tackle three recipes from Moosewood. Stuffed Zucchini, Turkish Style (the one I will be sharing), along with Spicy Tomato Soup and Carrot Loaf for dessert. They were all delicious and incredibly straightforward recipes. Just how I like it!

Stuffed Zucchini, Turkish Style

Stuffed Zucchini, Turkish Style

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