Sometimes the most satisfying of kitchen adventures is not completing a “from scratch” recipe, but reinventing another delicious meal using left-overs. Unless yesterday’s dish is prompting family races to the fridge, a little creative re-purposing can extend the life of your precious ingredients, as well as save time and energy and reduce the possibility of food waste.
Upcycling last night’s supper into a delicious breakfast is a great place to start! Lots of flavors mesh well with eggs, for example, and having already-cooked ingredients to make a healthy meal first thing in the morning can be a valuable time-saver. Curries and stirfry are wonderful examples of this and can even accomplish triple duty by using up any extra veggies in the first place. Just start with a little grapeseed oil or sesame oil in a large pan to “fry” last night’s rice. Once the rice gets a bit of a chewy texture, dump in some of the left-over curry or stirfry and let it heat to a simmer, meanwhile beating enough eggs for the number of people eating. Scrape everything over to one side of the pan, dump in the beaten eggs and scramble to the point that they are solid, but still moist, then turn off the heat and fold everything together. The eggs will dry out a bit more in the hot rice. This takes about 10-15 minutes in total and could even provide enough food to take the recycled left-overs to work for lunch. Add herbs like chopped basil or cilantro, slices of avocado, tomatoes, hot sauce, bean sprouts or any other fresh garnish you enjoy. Don’t have rice? Sub some thin sliced potatoes and/or kale!
Another satisfying way to use up left-overs is turning them into soups or stews. This is especially true with roasts or grilled meats and veggies. Adding the cooked items to broth or water with onion and garlic and tossing in some herbs such as thyme, rosemary and parsley makes a flavorful stock. Extra veggies are easy to add and cook until tender and lentils, pasta or “chewy rice” (such as wild rice), can add even more flavor and texture. Preservation tip: Make a bunch and freeze or pressure can some for a cold winter day!
Also, don’t forget about your freezer! Making a big batch of something yummy and freezing a portion or two is the simplest way to enjoy your local bounty later and give yourself a future night off from cooking!
This week in Local Choice CSA (week 8)
Winnowburrow Farm – Rosemary and Lemon Balm
Hexagon Projects Farm – Salad Mix, Rainbow Chard, Cucumbers, Summer Squash, Fresh Onions
Valley Pasture Farm – Potatoes and Lamb Chops
Essence Homestead – Green Beans and Hot Peppers
Towering Heights Farm – Kielbasa
Mary Dirty Face Farm – Black Currants and Mixed Currants
Bifrost Farms – Chevre
Meal plans this week are provided by Nick Rigger of Hexagon Projects Farm
Kielbasa with Sauteed Rainbow Chard and Green Bean & Cucumber Salad
Kielbasa with Sauteed Rainbow Chard:
1 package Kielbasa
1 bunch Rainbow Chard
2-3 Hot Peppers (Optional)
- Destem the chard and finely chop the stems, reserving the greens. Place the chopped stems into a large pan and begin to saute with olive oil for 4 minutes.
- Chop the hot peppers (if using) and depending on your level of spiciness either remove the seeds (for a more mild heat) or keep the seeds (for more heat). Place into the pan with the chard stems. Cook for another 2 minutes.
- Add the kielbasa to the pan. Either tear or roughly chop the chard greens and add. Cooking 7-8 minutes or until the kielbasa is heated thoroughly and greens have reduced. Season with salt and pepper.
Green Bean & Cucumber Salad:
1 lb Green Beans
¼ cup Rice Vinegar
2-3 T Soy Sauce
¼ cup Olive OIl
1 t Sesame Oil
- Dice the cucumber and add to a medium size bowl with a pinch of salt. Allow to sit for 10-15 min so that the salt and draw out the water.
- Lightly smash the green beans with a rolling pin either on the counter top or place into a large bag (the point being to break them open slightly to allow the dressing space to enter and tenderize them). Drain the water from the bowl with the cucumbers and then add the green beans.
- Add the rice vinegar, soy sauce, olive oil, and sesame oil to the bowl and toss. Enjoy with your kielbasa and rainbow chard!
Grilled Zucchini/Summer Squash and Potatoes with Rosemary
Grilled Zucchini/Summer Squash:
- Add zucchini and summer squash to a preheated grill set to medium high heat. Turn the zucchini/squash occasionally until the outside is charred all around. Remove and allow to cool for a few minutes. Roughly chop and add to a medium size bowl.
- Add the juice of one lemon and season with salt, pepper, and drizzle olive oil on top. Toss until coated.
Grilled Potatoes with Rosemary
- Cut potatoes in half, or if exceptionally large, three pieces. Add to a pot with salted, boiling water and cook until the potatoes are fork tender. Strain and allow the potatoes to cool to the touch.
- Toss the potatoes with a generous amount of olive oil until all surfaces are coated.
- Add potatoes to a preheated grill set to medium heat and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove and add to a large bowl.
- Toss with salt, chopped rosemary, finely diced onion (optional), and a little more olive oil. Two ‘traditional’ side dishes make for one hearty summertime meal!
Digging deeper into nutrition with Johnne Smalley of Towering Heights Farm
Kielbasa is the Polish word for sausage. What sets kielbasa apart from other members of the sausage family is its coarse texture and heady garlic flavor. It is a type of smoked sausage, although usually only lightly smoked. Kielbasa is highly flavorful in its own right, and especially so when mixed with a variety of dishes. Use kielbasa in main dish recipes, casseroles, soups, stews, sandwiches, and appetizers. Thinly sliced and fried, it even makes a delicious breakfast meat to serve with eggs, French toast or pancakes. Kielbasa also makes an excellent substitution for Andouille Sausage especially for those who prefer their foods well-seasoned but milder.
These Kielbasa are made from 100% grass-fed beef that are raised organically from Towering Heights. They are fully cooked, but they are uncured, meaning they have no added nitrates, nitrites, or other preservatives.
Hot peppers are members of the nightshade family, related to bell peppers and tomatoes. Many varieties of hot peppers exist, such as cayenne and jalapeño.
Hot peppers are a popular in many parts of the world. They are rich in various vitamins and minerals but usually eaten in small amounts — so they don’t contribute significantly to your daily micronutrient intake.
They also contain various unique plant compounds. The main bioactive plant compound in hot peppers is Capsaicin which is responsible for the unique, pungent taste. Capsaicin has been linked to several health benefits, as well as adverse effects. On one hand, it may help promote weight loss and relieve pain when consumed regularly. On the other hand, it causes a burning sensation, which is unpleasant for many people, especially those not used to eating chili peppers. It’s also linked to digestive upset.
It’s important to pay attention to your own tolerance levels when eating hot peppers. Using them as a spice may be healthy, but those who experience digestive distress should avoid them.
Despite their burning taste, chili peppers have long been considered a healthy spice.
Cucumbers are members of the gourd family. Often thought of as food without much nutrition, they actually offer many health benefits.
Cucumbers are a good source of vitamins and minerals that can help keep us healthy and well. In addition, they contain various compounds that can help with conditions ranging from diabetes to cancer. Here’s a look at some of the numerous health benefits that cucumbers have to offer.
Cucumbers are a good source of compounds like lutein, caffeic acid, cucurbitacins and fisetin. These compounds have been shown to be able to reduce the effect of cancer in its early stages. What’s more is that cucumber contains antioxidants which can help prevent cancer from occurring in the first place.
Cucumbers have been shown to be able to aid the liver in cleaning up the blood, helping with detoxification of the system. Cucumbers also have a high-water content, which further aids the liver and encourages urination. Cucumber-based beverages are a popular way to make the most of its detoxifying properties.
Cucumbers contain a compound known as lignin which has anti-inflammatory properties that help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition, they also contain magnesium and potassium that also help keep your cardiovascular system healthy. Add cucumber regularly to your diet and you are encouraging a healthy heart and cardiovascular system for many years to come.
Cucumbers help prevent cataracts while also slowing down wrinkling. They are a good source of vitamin E which also helps to promote a smooth, healthy complexion.
Cucumbers actively help reduce the bacteria in the mouth. With the bacteria gone, you can have fresh breath again and not have to be concerned about embarrassing bad breath.
Cucumbers are an excellent source of various vitamins that will help keep your bones in optimal health. They also contain compounds such as caffeic acid, ascorbic acid and silica which help to strengthen the bones, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. Make sure you have some cucumber in your diet and you will likely have a strong and healthy skeleton well into old age.
Cucumbers contain erepsin which is an enzyme that helps the stomach to digest food. It also contains plenty of fiber, which is well known to be essential for a healthy digestive system.
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