Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Local Eating Part Two: More Recipes

What a delicious time of year this is: many get the urge to bake, or to cook warm, hearty meals as the weather gets cooler. And there is still lots of choices for local eating. At my local farmstand (that carries only locally-grown food), there are late-season tomatoes, peppers, green beans and corn, plus potatos, lots of winter squash, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, lettuce and spinach, and maple syrup and honey. The local apple orchards are offering picking on at least five kinds of apples. Yum!

Last week, I offered recipes for foods with kale, pears, and apples. This week, I will focus on root vegetables, winter squash and spinach.

SPINACH

Spinach, either raw or cooked, can be very tasty and is very nutritious. It is a good source of Niacin and Zinc, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.

One of our favorite spinach side-dishes takes about 15 minutes, and there really is no recipe. It's just a simple fresh spinach saute: wash spinach very well, and spin mostly dry; heat a little olive oil in a saute pan, and add a few cloves of chopped garlic. Saute the garlic on low-medium heat for a minute or two until it is just starting to turn golden (not brown!). Add the spinach, stir to combine, and cover until the spinach starts to wilt & cook down. If you're cooking a lot of spinach, you may need to add the spinach in intervals so it all fits into the pan (when the first bit cooks down, add the second bit, etc.). When the spinach is wilted/sauteed how you like it, season with salt and pepper & serve. Variations include adding a little bit of red pepper flakes with the garlic; squeezing lemon, or a little of your favorite vinegar just before serving. Some people even add oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, olives, capers, golden raisins, or pine nuts.

A delicious spinach meal comes from the Everyday Food magazine:

Easy Egg Florentine with Baby Spinach and Goat Cheese

4 slices (1 inch thick) sourdough bread
3 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 pound baby spinach
1/3 cup crumbled fresh (pasteurized) goat cheese (3 ounces)
4 large eggs

Heat broiler, with rack set 4 inches from heat. Place bread on a baking sheet, and brush both sides with 2 tablespoons oil. Season with salt and pepper. Broil until golden, 1 to 3 minutes per side; set aside.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium. Add scallions and as much spinach as will fit; season with salt and pepper. Cook until wilted, tossing and adding more spinach as room becomes available, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain off excess liquid; mix in goat cheese. Transfer to a bowl; cover to keep warm. Set aside.

Wipe out skillet; heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil over medium. Gently crack eggs into skillet; season with salt and pepper. Cook until whites are almost set, about 1 minute. Cover, and remove from heat; let stand until whites are set but yolks are still soft, about 3 minutes.

Top each piece of toast with spinach mixture and 1 egg; serve immediately.


ROOT VEGETABLES

Root vegetables include potatoes, parsnips, carrots, turnips, etc. A large potato, with skin is a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Potassium and Manganese, plus has 7g of protein. Carrots are, of course, a very good source of Vitamin A, as well as Dietary Fiber, Vitamin K and Manganese. You can check out other root vegetables on this nutrition data website.

Here's a simple recipe that uses a delicious variety of root vegetables:

Roasted Root Vegetables

3 1/2 cups coarsely chopped carrot (about 1 1/2 pounds)
3 cups coarsely chopped parsnip (about 1 pound)
1 3/4 cups coarsely chopped peeled turnips (about 1/2 pound)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 medium red onions, each cut into 8 wedges
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preparation

Preheat oven to 450°.

Combine first 7 ingredients in a shallow roasting pan; toss well. Bake at 450° for 1 hour, stirring after 30 minutes. Add parsley, vinegar, and pepper, tossing to coat.

Nutritional Information
Calories:175 (26% from fat) Fat:5.1g (sat 0.7g,mono 3.4g,poly 0.6g) Protein:2.9g
Carbohydrate:31.9g Fiber:6.7g Cholesterol:0.0mg Iron:1.3mg Sodium:267mg Calcium:80mg


And here's a potato chowder that also uses fresh corn:

Corn and Fingerling Potato Chowder with Applewood-Smoked Bacon

2 slices applewood-smoked bacon (I used regular)
1 3/4 cups diced onion
3 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 7 ears)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1/2 cup half-and-half
8 ounces (1/4-inch-thick) rounds fingerling potato slices (I used red potatoes)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Thyme sprigs (optional)
Preparation

Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; crumble. Add onion to drippings in pan; cook 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add corn, chopped thyme, and garlic to pan; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in broth, milk, half-and-half, and potatoes; bring to a simmer. Cover and cook 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.

Transfer 2 cups potato mixture to a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth; return pureed mixture to pan. [Or, if you have one, use an immersion blender!!] Stir in salt and black pepper; sprinkle with crumbled bacon. Garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired.

Nutritional Information
Calories:186 (27% from fat) Fat:5.5g (sat 2.7g,mono 1.2g,poly 0.4g) Protein:7.6g
Carbohydrate:27.8g Fiber:3.4g Cholesterol:18mg Iron:1.1mg Sodium:398mg Calcium:84mg


WINTER SQUASH & PUMPKIN

There are so many interesting pumpkin recipes that go beyond pie - one of my new favorite uses for canned pumpkin is in pasta sauces, but I also have two favorite pumpkin muffin recipes, and a recipe for pumpkin butter that is especially wonderful at this time of year. These recipes call for canned pumpkin, but skinned, roasted, pureed fresh pumpkin can easily be substituted. If you roast your own, be sure to save & roast the seeds, too! Pumpkin is a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Iron and Manganese.

Winter squash can also be cooked lots of ways - my family's favorite is the winter squash puree below, but we also enjoy it roasted. Winter squash is very nutritious - to see the analysis of a particular winter squash, check out NutritionData.

Pumpkin Butter

This is good swirled in plain yogurt and granola; over cream cheese served with whole-grain crackers; in oatmeal; and on toast.

1 (29 ounce) can pumpkin puree, approx. 3 1/2 cups
3/4 cup apple juice
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Juice of half a lemon (I don't actually use this)

1. Combine pumpkin, apple juice, spices, and sugar in a large saucepan; stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened. Stir frequently. Adjust spices to taste. Stir in lemon juice, or more to taste.
2. Once cool, pumpkin butter can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge.

To preserve: Spoon hot pumpkin mixture into hot jars, filling to within 1/4 inch from top. Remove air bubbles; wipe jar rims. Cover at once with metal lids, and screw on bands. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

(I haven't canned it, but I have frozen it.)


Pumpkin Muffins

These very simple muffins are so good. They can easily be made into mini-muffins, too; mini chocolate chips are a delicious addition.

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin (from a 15-oz can)
1/3 cup vegetable oil*
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
1¼ cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar**
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Put oven in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Put liners in muffin cups.

Whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs, pumpkin-pie spice, 1¼ cups sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until smooth, then whisk in flour mixture until just combined.

Stir together cinnamon and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in another bowl.

Divide batter among muffin cups (each should be about three-fourths full), then sprinkle tops with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake until puffed and golden brown and wooden pick or skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.

Cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes, then transfer muffins from pan to rack and cool to warm or room temperature.


Ginger-Pumpkin Muffins

These muffins are a little more complicated to make, but so good.

5 1/2 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger
1/2 cup dried currants or raisins
2 tablespoons brandy

2 cups sifted unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cooked pumpkin puree or canned solid pack pumpkin
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons low-fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup unsulfured (light) molasses
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line sixteen 1/3-cup muffin cups with paper liners. Mix 2 1/2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, currants and brandy in small bowl.
Sift flour, ground ginger, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt into medium bowl.

Whisk pumpkin puree, buttermilk and vanilla in another bowl. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites and egg in large bowl until foamy. Add 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar; beat until light, about 2 minutes. Beat in molasses and oil. Beat in dry ingredients alternately with pumpkin mixture in 3 additions each. Stir in currant mixture.

Divide batter among prepared muffin cups.

Mix 3 tablespoons crystallized ginger and 1 tablespoon brown sugar in small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over muffins. (I just sprinkle with the sugar, as my kids don't like the lumps of ginger on top...)

Bake muffins until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.


Butternut Squash Puree with Orange, Ginger and Honey

This can be made with acorn squash as well.

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
5 pounds butternut squash, each cut in half lengthwise, seeded (about 2 very large)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger (I just use some powdered ginger)
1 teaspoon grated orange peel (I leave the peels out)
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (scant) ground allspice (I sprinkle some nutmeg instead)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray large baking sheet with nonstick spray. Place squash, cut side down, on prepared sheet. Bake until squash are very tender when pierced with fork, about 50 minutes. Cool slightly. Scoop out pulp from squash and place in processor. Using on/off turns, puree pulp until smooth. Transfer squash puree to bowl.

Combine butter, orange juice concentrate, honey, ginger, and orange peel in heavy small saucepan. Boil until mixture is reduced to 1/3 cup, about 3 minutes. Stir mixture into squash puree. Mix in lemon peel, cinnamon, and allspice. Season generously with salt and pepper. (I do this differently; I just add the oj concentrate, honey and spices to the squash in the food processor and puree, then serve.)

(Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium-low heat, stirring often, or cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high until heated through, about 5 minutes.)

Transfer to bowl and serve.

Happy eating!

Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine

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