Box Bonanza: Butternut squash, carrots, leeks, green garlic, cilantro!

Butternut Squash and Carrot Stew with Quinoa Pilaf

Having dealt so successfully with the leeks, it was time to turn my attention to the carrots. Using them up one at a time in salad was barely making a dent in the carrot logpile in my crisper. I started googling for carrot dishes. Carrot cake. Carrot soup. And… more carrot cake and carrot soup. Did you know there’s an Indian dessert made from carrots? But I didn’t want sweet, and I didn’t want wheat, and I didn’t want more soup to rot in my fridge. At last, on Epicurious, I found a recipe for roasted carrots and meyer lemons that sounded great, but I thought I would search just a little bit further. And that’s when I found it – the magic recipe that would use up almost everything still left in my fridge.

Epicurious is an interesting place to look for recipes. It has a very lively and active community of commenters – to find out more about Quinoa with Moroccan Winter Squash and Carrot Stew I was able to read through 13 pages of comments from people who’d tried the recipe. The commentary ranged from people who loved the stew so much they were determined to make it once a week and people who’d brought dinner parties to standing ovations with this single dish, to folks who found it incomparably revolting and people who made so many changes and substitutions that it no longer resembled the original recipe.

But the recipe used a lot of carrots, and I love quinoa, and one of the Epicurious commenters considerately linked to a page detailing how to peel and cube butternut squash with ease, which ultimately helped me to throw off a lifetime of butternut squash intimidation. I was able to substitute leeks for the onions in the recipe and green garlic for the garlic cloves, and I even had cilantro still green in the back of my fridge.

And so I made it. The butternut squash was no problem – I timed myself and it took 8 minutes from start to peeled and cubed finish, and that’s me with my semi-functional hands. Somehow the whole thing ended up taking 2 hours (I will admit to listening to NPR and talking on the phone and washing dishes at the same time) so I’m not sure if this recipe goes into the “worth the effort” category, but it did make a lot of very delicious, wonderfully healthy-feeling food that used up a lot of my box, so I guess the jury is still out on whether I’d make it again. It has a really great flavor to it, sweet from the carrots and savory from the quinoa pilaf. It is particularly tasty with the mint yogurt I made to go along with it, at the suggestion of one of the Epicurious reviewers.

The original recipe can be found at Epicurious, here, and my adapted and annotated version can be found beyond the Continue reading

Chard and Spinach

There was a recipe in my box newsletter for a bhaji (a simple vegetable curry) using chard and spinach, both of which came in that week’s box. It was a Madhur Jaffrey recipe, and while the fact that she seems to be universally adored by vegetarians was definitely a recommendation (I’ve never cooked any of her recipes myself), I scanned the recipe and thought it looked a little bland. I really liked the concept, though, so I decided to make a similar favorite from 5 Spices, 50 Dishes instead. It’s a versatile dish that can be made with any combination of dark leafies – I’ve also used kale and beet greens in the past – and this time my Punjabi Creamed Greens had wonderful flavor – and lovely red-flecked color – from a huge bunch of red chard and a giant bag of Polar Bear spinach.

Creamed Greens (chard and spinach)

The recipe is more involved than my usual fare, seeing as how it involves a food processor and various other implements that will of course then need to be cleaned. But it must be worth it, because these yummy, creamy, slightly gingery greens have entered standard rotation and I find myself craving them even more often than I make them, which is pretty often.

Recipe and more commentary about the dish can be found over at my post at grouprecipes.com. There was one difference between the posted recipe and this week’s preparation: I sliced up the chard stems and cooked them with the onions until tender. That’s part of what gave the dish its red and green hues.

Pea Shoots and Butternut Squash: Week of February 20th

Lucky for me that I had houseguests this week, because I was away and didn’t realize I wouldn’t be here to pick up my box until it was too late to let Eatwell know I needed to skip a week. Here’s what my guests picked up for me and lovingly put in the fridge:

Tadorna Leeks
Lettuce
Polar Bear Spinach
Butternut Squash
Red Chard
Green Garlic
Dried Serrano Chiles
Pea Shoots
Pink Lady Apples
Tangelos
Broccoli