Thursday, July 29, 2010

Healthy Junk Food: Carrot Fries and Kale Chips

Here are two great recipes for satisfying junk food cravings using vegetables in our CSA share!

Carrot Fries

You can use any root vegetable to make these delicious, nutritious "fries"--beets, parsnips, sweet potatoes, etc!

serves 2

6 medium carrots or 3 large carrots

2 tbsps olive oil or to taste

1 tsp salt or to taste

Spices to taste (I like paprika, cumin, and black pepper)

Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400. Cut the carrots into french fry shapes by cutting the carrots in half across the middle, then cutting slices lengthwise. Put your "fries" in a bowl and drizzle with the olive oil. Add whichever spices you like, as well as the salt. Toss to coat--with tongs or with clean hands. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 12-15 minutes (check for doneness). Serve with ketchup or make a dipping sauce (I like mayonnaise, ketchup, turmeric, and cumin)

Kale Chips

A bunch of kale

2 tbsp olive oil

Salt to taste

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp garlic powder

Cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 350. Cut the leaves of the kale away from the stem in the middle. Take the leaves and cut or tear them to potato-chip size. Wash the kale and dry thoroughly (kale must be absolutely dry to crisp up!). Put in a bowl and drizzle olive oil on the leaves. Add salt and spices. Toss to coat completely. Put kale chips on a sprayed baking sheet (they don't need to be in a single layer)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Interview with Brenda and Benjamin: CSA members

(pictured: Brenda)

The first of a series on getting to know our fellow CSA members.

Last week, we caught up with a couple from our CSA who volunteered to set up collection day at our site, Brenda and Benjamin.

Living in Parkchester since: October 2009.

Favorite thing about Parkchester: It’s cheap and there is a diversity of people.

Favorite place to eat: The Mexican restaurant on McGraw (They forgot the name of it—ed. Note: It is Taqueria Tlaxcalli on Starling Avenue)

Favorite Type of Food: Brenda says she loves Asian food, especially Korean and Vietnamese because she didn’t have much of it while she was growing up. Benjamin agrees, saying his favorite type of food is Thai food, and that he only grew up eating soul food.

Professions: Brenda is a scientist; she studies bacteria. She says that she loves science but it’s a lot of work. She also says because she knows too much for her own good, like the harmful bacteria that could be on a dirty tabletop; she likes things to be clean. Benjamin is a lawyer.

Heard about Turf by: Googling “CSAs in Parkchester”

Joined CSA because: Brenda thinks that it is important to eat locally grown food and that it is also good for the environment. She wants to support the CSA. Benjamin just said his wife made him join, and that he wants to eat healthier.

Favorite Vegetable: Brenda says she loves garlic because, “you can put it in anything and it makes everything taste really good!” Benjamin loves baby carrots; he says he likes to snack on them.

Best part about being part of a CSA: So far, they love getting to know and meet new people in their neighborhood. Brenda also thinks it’s a learning experience since she is introduced to new vegetables.

Advice for CSA members: Washing and starting to prepare your vegetables beforehand makes it a much easier task to eat them throughout the week because all you have to do is just pick it up and eat it.

Interview by Erika; watch this space next week for more interviews with CSA members!

Monday, July 19, 2010

White Beans w/ Pesto

Cathy, one of our csa members, has given us another recipe. This time it is for basil. An herb we have been receiving in our csa for the past three weeks. She highly recommends this easy recipe that pairs basil with beans.


2 cups dried white beans, picked over and soaked for four to six hours, or 3cans white beans, drained and rinsed

1 onion, cut in half

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 bay leaf

Salt to taste

1/2 cup pistou (pesto without the pine nuts) or arugula pesto


Drain the beans, and place in a pot with 2 quarts water, the onion,garlic and bay leaf. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce the heat to low, coverand simmer one hour. Add salt to taste, and simmer for another 30 minutes toan hour until the beans are soft and fragrant. Remove the onion and the bayleaf, and drain the beans through a colander set over a bowl.

Return the beans to the pot with some of the broth, and stir in thepistou or, pesto. Thin out as desired with the broth from the beans. Ifusing canned beans, use a little warm water to thin out the pesto ifdesired. Serve warm or room temperature.

Yield: Serves six.

Advance preparation: The cooked beans freeze well and can be cooked up tothree days ahead. Toss them with the pesto, so long as you don¹t add thecheese, and freeze. Alternately, you can freeze the beans with their brothand drain after thawing. Stir in the pesto just before serving.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Swiss Chard Tacos

We’ve been getting a lot of Swiss Chard the last couple of weeks, so I thought my fellow CSA members might appreciate this unusual recipe for swiss chard tacos. I made them last week and our only complaint was when we ran out of tacos! I bet some grated carrots would go well as well.

I recommend making the salsa ahead if you are using it, so all the flavors are married.

Swiss Chard and Caramelized Onion Tacos

from Mexican Everyday, by Rick Bayless (A highly recommended cookbook for easy, healthy 30 minute recipes). I also used this site because my book wasn't handy

Serves 4

12 oz. bunch of Swiss chard, thick lower stems removed (you can also sub a variety of greens—perhaps even some braised lettuces would do here!)

1 1/2 tbl. oil, lard or bacon drippings (I used olive oil)

1 large onion, thinly sliced (I used 2 red and white onions from last week’s share)

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tsp. red pepper flakes (or you can also use real chili powder such as ancho chile powder)

1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth (water works well too)

Salt to taste

12 warm corn tortillas

1 cup (4 ounces) Queso Fresco or other fresh cheese such as feta or goat cheese

Smoky Chipotle Salsa for serving (recipe below, but you can use storebought too)

Slice the chard crosswise into half-inch pieces. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until golden but still crunchy, about 4-5 minutes. To the onions add the red pepper flakes and garlic. Stir for about 20 seconds until aromatic. Add the broth or water, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the greens. You should get steam rising from the pan immediately. Lower heat and cover. Cook until the greens are almost tender, about five minutes.

Uncover the pan, adjust the heat to medium-high then cook until the mixture is almost dry. Taste and add salt if you think it needs it.

Serve with the corn tortillas, crumbled fresh cheese and Chipotle salsa.

Chipotle Salsa

An extremely easy salsa recipe that packs a whole lot of flavor.

3 garlic cloves, peeled

4 medium tomatillos, husked, rinsed and cut in half

2 canned chipotle chilies in adobo (if you want to cut down the spiciness, you can take out the seeds and rinse off the adobo)


Place a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. If you don’t use Teflon, add a thin layer of oil to the pan.

Place the garlic and tomatillos (cut side down) in the skillet. Roast for 3-4 minutes. Turn everything over and brown on the other side. Roast for another 3-4 minutes. Tomatillos should be fully soft before you puree.

Place the garlic and tomatillos into a blender or food processor, along with the chilies and 1/4 cup water. Blend to a coarse puree. Taste and adjust salt. A little sugar also helps cut down the tartness of the tomatillos.

Refrigerate before serving and preferably make ahead.

Demystifying Curry: Curry Basics 101

Much thanks to Ajita M for fact-checking and giving me some information on the origins of the word "curry", as well as providing the title.

For many of us choosing to either limit the amount of meat we eat or eliminate it completely, learning how to make curry is a very easy way of cooking vegetables, especially vegetables the taste of which may not be to our liking since vegetables readily absorb the flavor of the sauce they are simmered in. Once you learn the basics of curry, it is simple to replicate. All you need to know are the components of curry, the spices usually used in curry, and where to get them. At the end of this article, I will also provide a recipe for beet and mushroom curry, since beets are a vegetable that many people find difficult to get a taste for.

What is curry?

The way that I am using the word curry in this article is the way that British meant it when the term was first created by the British, meaning vegetables and/or meat cooked in a sauce made with fried spices that are used in North Indian cooking (South Indian cooking also uses these methods, but when referring to curry, it is the North Indian variety that is usually referred to). The word “curry” can also mean to the powder mix, which I recommend that you not use if you’d like an authentic curry. Curry can also refer to a dry preparation with no sauce but fried spices, such as in aloo gobi, a potato and cauliflower dish, which you will find easy to make after you have the ingredients that are used in Indian cooking.

Vegetables that go into a curry can range from those used in traditional North Indian cooking (potatoes, cauliflower, peas, eggplant) or you can also add whatever vegetables you would like (red peppers are great, as are sweet potatoes and the aforementioned beets).

There are a vast amount of ready-made curry simmer sauces on the market today, some more heathy and flavorful than others. This is the simplest way to make a curry as you usually bring the jarred sauce to a boil, add vegetable and additional water if you need to thin out the sauce, and simmer everything until the vegetables are to your desired tenderness. However, it is simple to make a curry from scratch as well.

What are the components of a curry?

A curry has a few basic parts that you can later play with and rearrange to create a versatile array of different colors and tastes for your curry.

The “Indian trifecta”: Onions, garlic, and ginger usually create the base of the curry. Traditionally, these are blended in a paste, but if you’re in a hurry, chopping these ingredients finely will also do. Onions typically go in first so they have time to fry to a nice brown color. Then, garlic and ginger is added.

Spices: A mixture of spices, called masala, is added to the onion, garlic, and ginger mixture. I will go into spices further down the page. Eventually you will find your own preferred mixture, but a basic mixture of garam masala, turmeric, ground cumin and ground coriander is a good way to start.

A liquid for simmering: This also has its varieties. North Indian cooking usually does not use coconut milk, but this is a great liquid for curries. Tomato sauce is also very good, although I would suggest some tomato paste as well to thicken the sauce. Use as much as needed to nearly cover the vegetables and make sure to stir the onions, garlic, ginger, and spices into the liquid to mix.

What spices do I need to make curry, and where can I get them?

Spices are usually where people gets stuck in terms of making curry. The process can be very overwhelming. However, once you have a well-stocked spice rack, you will find yourself more able to experiment with curry sauce, other Indian dishes, and even other cuisines in general. Here are the spices I recommend as essential:

Garam masala: A mixture of spices, like curry powder but better and more traditionally used. You can make your own at home or you can buy it already made.

Turmeric: A bright yellow spice, one of the benefits of which is containing a property that may prevent Alzheimer’s. Wonderful in any curries with potatoes, or even sprinkled on French fries.

Ground Cumin

Cumin Seeds

Ground Coriander

Cardamom (Whole or in seed form)


Chilies: This is really up to you. Whole cayenne is often used, but it is hard to find. You can easily substitute jalapeno, Serrano, or other chilies to your liking, as well as regulate the amount.

Brown mustard seeds

Many of these spices are easily found at any supermarket, but for those spices, such as the ground coriander, the garam masala, etc, that are not as easily found, the store Deshi Bazaar on White Plains road has a staggering selection of Indian spices to experiment with, as well as ready-made spice mixes, garlic-ginger paste, and sauces.

What is a recipe that I can try right now?

Mushroom and Beet Curry (modified from Madhur Jaffrey’s excellent vegetable recipe compendium, World Vegetarian):

3 tablespoons oil of your choice

½ tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp brown mustard seeds

6 oz mushrooms, cleaned and halved

14 oz beets, peeled and diced

2 tsp grated ginger

1 tsp minced ginger

½ green chile, such as jalapeno, finely chopped

1 cup tomato sauce

salt to taste


Handful of cilantro, chopped

Dollop of plain yogurt

Heat oil over medium-high heat. When hot, put in mustard and cumin seeds. When the mustard seeds begin to pop (a few seconds), add the mushrooms. Stir for a few seconds and add the beets. Stir-fry beets for 2 minutes. Add ginger, garlic, and chile. Stir and fry at the same heat, for another two minutes. Add tomato sauce and 1 cup water, as well as salt if needed. Stir to mix and bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat, and simmer for 40 minutes or until beets are soft. To serve, garnish with a dollop of yogurt and sprinkle the chopped cilantro. You can also serve this with brown rice and/or naan, although I also like it with tortillas.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Resources for vegetable recipes

Cathy, a CSA member, shared the following link with our CSA as a resource for recipes using our fresh produce, as well as tips on storage and preparation, via the Green Earth Insitute:

Thursday, July 8, 2010


We are entering the fourth week of our csa and receiving vegetables that are unfamiliar to us. Last week it was a beautiful, leafy, purple vegetable called Amaranth. Our farmer told us that we can cook Amaranth like spinach, but below is more info on this plant/grain courtesy of eHow.

Amaranth, meaning "unfading" in Greek, is an annual grown for food and as an ornamental.

History--Amaranth is native to the Americas and was an essential food crop of the Aztecs. After the arrival of the Spanish, amaranth cultivation declined and almost ceased in the Americas until its resurgence in the 1970s. However, the grain became a staple crop in India, Africa, China and Nepal in the interim.

The Plant--The grain amaranth, Amaranthus hypochondriacus, is most commonly grown in the U.S. Plants reach 4 to 8 feet, with large (4- to 12-inch) crimson or maroon seed heads; the seeds themselves are only 0.04 inch. Amaranth is drought tolerant and flourishes in warm climates but is vulnerable to frost.

Food--Although most people use only the seeds of the plant, the leaves are also edible. The seeds can be flaked, popped, extruded and ground into flour; amaranth is commonly found in "health food" cereals and can be baked into most any product, such as breads and crackers.

Other Uses--Some species of amaranth are grown as ornamentals. Hopi red dye comes from Amaranthus cruentus.

Advantages--Amaranth is high in protein and fiber. It is a prime source of lysine, calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin E and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Amaranth is gluten-free.