This is something I'm just beginning to learn about. I'm about 100 pages in to "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver. The concept of eating seasonally makes sense to me. Eat it when it's fresh and move on to the next big thing when the seasons over. Doing this would definitely expand my fruit and vegetable consumption - I'm currently stuck on the apple, orange juice, banana, broccoli, baby carrots and salad routine beget of convenience. Feeling adventurous today, I hauled my quasi-agreeable daughter out of bed early to go to our local Farmer's Market. You know, that place you always mean to stop by on your way to work, but never remember until it's too late? Anyway, apparently a lot of good stuff is "in season!"
1. Basil. To symbolize my "turning over a new leaf" I bought myself a basil plant (yes, I'm rather literal) for a whopping $1.50 (see profile photo).
I love cooking with basil, and HATE buying those awful little pre-packaged plastic boxes with what has to be stale-imitation-basil, which is the only basil I can find in our local grocery stores. I am known to have the blackest of thumbs, but the friendly vendor assured me that I just needed to plant it, stick it in the sun and pick from it when the new little leaves were starting to sprout. Here goes nothing!
2. Cherries. With stems and seeds and NOT the kind that comes in fun mixed drinks. Hmmm. I bought a big bag full (for $5, I think). Too big, as it turns out. I need to do some research ahead of time. Anyway, I got home and looked up cherry recipes and found an easy one for Cherry Clafouti (basically a giant cherry pancake). I started slicing and pitting cherries, and my daughter sat on the floor at my feet gobbling down as many quartered cherries as I could hand her!
The recipe for Cherry Clafouti couldn't be easier and is as follows:
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. flour
1 c. milk
3 c. fresh, halved & pitted cherries
Preheat oven to 375. Grease a pie pan with butter.
Dump cherries into greased pie pan.
In a mixing bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and eggs. Slowly stir in the milk to make a runny pancake-like batter.
Pour the batter over the cherries (the cherries will float to the top.
Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Allow to cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm.
In France, this is a dessert, but it makes a pretty fantastic breakfast, too. ;)
3. Summer Squash. Two green and one yellow - all three were good sized and had a beatiful unmarred skin - for $1.75. My 20-month old daughter sat and watched Barney today while noshing on some raw zucchini stick. I offered her some ranch dip, but she turned up her nose. She likes her "keenie" straight, apparently.
4. Beets. I know this is going to be a tough sell to my husband, but I love beets. Unbeknown to me, beets do not grow in a can. Additionally, they come with stems and leaves attached (and are one big bunch for $1). Puzzled, I asked our friendly farmer's marketress how to cook these things. She recommended cutting off most of the stem (more on that later) and steaming the beets in about an inch of boiling water. The dunk them in some cold water and the skins will slip right off and you'll have beets that are closer to my canned favorites (but hopefully better tasting and more nutritious.
Now, back to the stems. One of my biggest goals is to reduce my waste, so I asked her if the leaves or stems were edible. Yup! She said to sautee the leaves much like you would spinach - some butter and garlic and cook until tender.
So yes, that would be TWO vegetable side dishes for $1!