This year I signed up for the greener grocer, which I have dubbed ‘veggie bag’. This weekly bag of local, organic and fresh produce is delivered directly to work. Unlike other CSA’s, the contents each week are determined by what is in season and available. I LOVE it.
Normally you’ll find me wandering around the produce aisle stocking up on my staples, tomatoes, bib lettuce, yellow or red onions, shallots, garlic, and maybe some peppers.
I will lingering over things like leeks, beets and endive wanting to purchase, but knowing without a plan of action they’ll just rot. I’ve purchased these exotic-to-me veggies before.
They just taunt me from the fridge
“Hey lady, are you going to cook me? I could be delicious if you KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING. You don’t know what you are doing, do you?”
Mean veggies deserve to rot.
The good news is that the veggie bag has forced me out of that destructive relationship. On Monday, we get an email of the contents of the bag we receive on Wednesday. Included in that email are some recipes and tips for the ingredients. This two days also gives me valid research and planning time. I can go to the grocery and pick up the appropriate accompanying ingredients.
Since I didn’t have the time for a garden this year, this is the next best thing. Mine and Hubs goal is to make sure NONE of the veggies go bad. So far I think the radishes were the only thing we had more than we could digest. You can only use SO MANY RADISHES….
Below are some of the great recipes I’ve tried for using all the veggies. Disclaimer - I don’t put any recipe on my blog unless it’s been tried and tested in my kitchen and with the hubs or otherwise noted, i.e. this week’s recipe below.
Extra crispy roasted potatoes – The best roasted potatoes ever, crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside.
Roasted Green Bean Fries – nice and salty Hubs and I eat these like chips.
This week’s recipe, Cherry Tomato Cobbler (Not yet attempted in the littlebit test kitchen)
Additionally the veggie bag newsletter provided some nice storage and prep tips. The berries trick is a new favorite.
Tomatoes: This is probably not news to most of you, but tomatoes should not be refrigerated as the cold damages their flavor. Keep them on the counter until ready to use. If you're worried about them spoiling before you're ready to eat them, toss them (whole) into the freezer. They won't be good for slicing and eating fresh, but they will be delicious in gazpacho, sauce, or any other cooked preparation. Even better, after they defrost the skins will slip right off.
Peaches: Firm peaches will ripen on the counter and are best when they give to gentle pressure. If you need them to keep for a few extra days after they're ripe, they can be stored in the refrigerator. Be sure to allow them to come to room temperature before eating for best flavor. The same guidelines apply for melons.
Basil: Fresh basil will turn black in the refrigerator. Instead, store basil like fresh flowers. Cut the ends off the stems and put them in a glass of water on the counter. You can also do this with parsley, cilantro and mint.
Lettuce and leafy greens (kale, swiss chard, collards): Store these in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge. To extend the shelf life, add a piece of paper towel or a small cotton cloth to the bag before you seal it. This pulls excess moisture away from your veggies and keeps them fresher longer.
Berries: Conventional wisdom says that you should store unwashed berries in their original containers or a bowl lined with paper towels in the fridge. And most people will tell you that you should wait to wash berries until you're ready to eat them. This works fine for a couple of days. However, the folks at Cooks Illustrated recently discovered that a quick dip in vinegar solution and careful drying can keep those berries fresh for days, if not weeks - I haven't tried it yet so I can't vouch for it's success, but it certainly sounds interesting.
Onions and garlic: In general, onions and garlic should be stored in a cool, dry place outside the refrigerator. However, fresh onions and garlic that have not been "cured" and do not have a papery exterior (like the ones in this week's bag) should be stored in a bag in your crisper drawer.