Roasted Vegetables = Maximum Versatility!

Roasting is probably my favorite way to prepare vegetables. It brings out a whole new level of flavor that you can’t achieve from any other cooking method. There are some vegetables, in fact, that I will ONLY eat roasted (brussels sprouts, for example). Yeah, it makes that much of a difference. In addition to the deliciousness factor, roasting carries two additional benefits: 1) You can roast just about any veggie, so it’s a great way to “clean out the fridge,” and 2) there is so much you can do with the veggies afterward! Plus, it’s pretty easy once you get everything sliced and diced; all you have to do is stir them ever so often.

Last week, I harvested piles of squash, ichiban eggplant (you know, the beautifully deep purple slender ones), and onions. They were sitting there looking so lonely, so I decided to slice them all up and pop them into the oven. I preheated the oven to 350. Meanwhile, I placed all the veggies in a gallon-size Ziploc baggie. At this point I added several whole cloves of garlic, because roasted garlic is AMAZING and takes on this exquisite sweetness. I then added 2 Tbsp of olive oil (this time I used my tuscan herb-infused one) and some sea salt and pepper. I then sealed the baggie and moved it around with my fingers to get the olive oil all over the veggies. After spreading them onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, into the oven they went! It’s best to stir them about every 15-20 minutes. Depending on the vegetables, they may take up to an hour to roast, so plan accordingly! Everything was sliced very thin, so cooking time was only about 40 minutes here. 

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The finished product

I let them cool since I wasn’t using them right away, and put them in a large container for storage. 

 

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The possibilities here are pretty much endless. You can use them to make wraps, like this one I made for lunch the next day:

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Flatout flax wrap with spinach and cashew cheese added. An easy and delicious Saturday lunch!

 

Or, you can make a really easy quinoa bowl:

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Veggies were reheated in a pan with some chickpeas and nutritional yeast while the quinoa cooked.

Other ideas:

  • Serve with your favorite pasta
  • Make PIZZA! 
  • Add cubed tofu and cashews and serve over brown rice
  • Tasty curry
  • Omelets, if you eat eggs
  • Fajitas

There is probably lots more that I’m not thinking of. Now go get in the kitchen, roast up those suckers, and get creative! 

Original Recipe: Carrot-Squash Curry Soup

I know it’s not fall yet, but that doesn’t mean I can’t start making butternut squash EVERYTHING. This past week I’ve pulled up a ton of carrots and while I love eating them raw, I wanted to get a little more creative. Soooo I made this soup! Since I have a terrible tendency to throw things together without measuring, I’ve done my very best to estimate the quantities for you. You may want to adjust the spices and heat to your liking, as well. Enjoy!

The final product!

The final product!

Carrot-Squash Curry Soup
Makes about 4 cups

Ingredients:

1 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 small apple, chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
1 can organic butternut squash puree (or 1 whole squash, cubed)
1 cup plain almond milk
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp crunchy peanut butter
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan. Saute onion 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, steam carrots and apples until soft. Add carrots/apples to onions along with the curry powder, coriander, ginger, and cayenne pepper. Stir well to coat. Add in butternut squash and almond milk. (Note: if you like your soup thinner, you can also add a cup of veggie broth or water at this point. Personally, I’m a thicker soup kind of gal.) Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Using an immersion blender, break up carrot/apple chunks. (If you don’t have one, just pour the soup into a blender and puree until smooth, then return to the pot.) Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the peanut butter and add salt & pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped cilantro. 

Trading and bartering for food – a lost practice??

I’ve always found great merit in the trade-and-barter system of old. In my opinion, money only serves as a means to an end. You don’t need money, you just need it to buy things. Everything. It has no real value. I understand its pragmatic use in modern society, mind you, but I don’t necessarily feel it’s appropriate in all cases. One such case is when it comes to food. Not until I moved to the country did I really start to get a feel for this. Neighbors would bring us huge bags of squash, okra, lettuce, or whatever else they had in surplus. Once we began raising chickens, we started giving them fresh eggs. Since they don’t raise chickens, it was a welcome trade for them! I really got to liking this system and now try to perpetuate it as much as possible.

There is a kindly older lady that lives next door. While she remains fairly independent, it’s to be expected that she’ll have difficulty with certain tasks. My husband started cutting her grass for her, particularly on very hot days where her sweet little sun hat might not cut it. She just so happens to have two enormous blueberry bushes, from which she graciously allows me to pick whenever I want. She doesn’t spray her bushes, so I know I am getting 100% fresh, organic berries, which are hard to find (and/or expensive). While she expects nothing in return, I always make sure to give her something. Whether it’s eggs, or seasonal homegrown produce like figs, cucumbers, or melons, she is so appreciative of that gesture.

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So many blueberries!

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A small segment of the prolific bushes next door!

 

 

 

Recently, a woman I play soccer with offered to bring me some of her squash, cucumbers, and jalapenos. Who was I to refuse? I happily came home from my game last week with a bag full of fresh produce. This week, she’s supposed to give me tomatoes. This is perfect, because mine aren’t ready yet. In exchange, what is she getting? Some of those amazing blueberries! See — I’m paying it forward!

You can save money this way, too. Not only are you avoiding having to buy such things at the store, you are giving AND getting back! You could almost make a club out of it — each person grows certain things, and then you trade for what your friends have. It’s kind of like having your own personal co-op. Everyone wins! Not sure how to start? Spy on your neighbors and see what they’re growing (in a legal way, of course!). Then, offer to trade them for something you’ve grown……or even trade for a service! Maybe the older gentleman next door grows tomatoes and also seems to need help with gardening. I’d bet he would be more than happy to give you some of those ‘maters if you pull some weeds for him. You never know.

Swap with everyone you know, and help me bring back the trade-and-barter movement!