Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Veggie adventures

Recently my husband and I signed up for organic produce delivery from Farm Fresh To You.  I had known about this company and ones like it for a while, but had resisted signing up for it because the idea of having random fruits and vegetables delivered to my house kind of stressed me out.  What if I got something I didn't like and/or didn't know how to prepare and it went to waste?!  I just knew that having a bunch of vegetables sitting in my refrigerator would be super stressful, and I didn't want to deal with it.  However, when a woman approached us near the entrance of our local grocery store and said they were offering a promo, my husband got really excited and before I knew it, we were members.
Produce at my doorstep
The contents of my latest Farm Fresh To You box
The great thing about this company (and maybe others like it...I'm not sure) is that you can go online to select items that you never want delivered, as well as check to see what's being delivered in the next box so you can call and make changes to the contents if necessary.  I've only set a few exclusions (things like kohlrabi and collard greens that are a bit too foreign to me!), and I have yet to call to make any changes, because I'm kind of liking the idea of being forced to prepare and eat vegetables that are a bit unfamiliar to me.  I tend to buy the same vegetables every time I go shopping, but now I have a refrigerator stocked with things like leeks, radishes, bok choy, and romanesco, and I'm learning to use them to make some pretty yummy dishes.  Even though it's been a little stressful because I'm pretty busy with school and work these days, I must say it's turning out to be a fun experience trying new recipes and discovering what vegetables I like that I had never considered preparing before.

In the process, I've also rediscovered a pretty amazing book I've had for many years that had been collecting dust on my book shelf.  It's called Vegetables Every Day, and besides containing recipes for almost any vegetable you've ever (or never) heard of, the book also explains how to store each type of veggie, how to prepare it, and during what time of year it's available.  From this book, I found my first successful recipe using two items from my produce box: leeks and red potatoes.  Here it is:

Creamy Leek and Potato Soup
4 medium leeks
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
Freshly group black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1/2 cup heavy cream (I happened to have half-and-half in my refrigerator, so that I used that instead)
1. Trim and discard the dark green tops and tough outer leaves from the leeks.  Remove the roots along with a thin slice of the nearby white part.  Halve the leeks lengthwise and then cut them crosswise into thin strips.  Wash the sliced leeks in a large bowl with several changes of clean water, or until no grit falls to the bottom of the bowl.
2. Heat the oil in a large casserole or Dutch oven.  Add the leeks and saute over medium heat until tender and golden, about 10 minutes. (Do not let the leeks brown.)
3. Add the potatoes, stock, bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.
4. Remove and discard the bay leaf.  Puree the soup in a blender or food processor. (Do not puree any longer than necessary or the potatoes will become gluey.)  Return the soup to the pot and stir in 1/2 cup heavy cream and the parsley.  Bring almost to a boil, adjust the seasonings, and serve immediately.

Unfortunately, I didn't have the foresight to take a photo of this soup, but I can tell you that it was quite good with some french bread dipped in it.  Yum!  And it tasted even better the next day when all the flavors had had a chance to meld together.

As I've said in my previous blog post, I'm not the biggest fan of vegetables, but something like this makes trying new vegetables fun, and I believe that eating should be a fun experience, and it's even more enjoyable when you're challenging your taste buds to try something new.  I'm certainly not forcing myself to eat these vegetables (that wouldn't be intuitive!).  Instead, I'm simply expanding my horizons, hoping I find more food items that I like so that when I'm hungry, I might listen to my gut and decide that a dish made with leeks or bok choy is exactly what I'm craving.

I'll keep you posted on all my other veggie adventures as the boxes keep coming, and next time I'll try to take photos of my veggie-based creations.

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