Autumn has arrived. The rainy season is upon us. But, after more than 20 years of snowy seasons, I’ll take it. (Snow on Halloween. Snow on Easter. Sometimes snow on Christmas, because that’s real life. Sometimes snow drifts that were taller than me!)
We got lucky last year. It was a mild winter, and a gorgeous summer. The trade off of the subtle seasons was, unfortunately, drought and forest fires across the state. I have a feeling this year we might finally be introduced to the true Seattle rain. The I-haven’t-seen-the-sun-in-21-days kind of rain. We’ll see. Is it weird I’m kind of excited?
(Talk to me again in 4 months when I’m vitamin-D deficient and wallowing in seasonal depression.)
This week for me is all about the veggies. I’m taking a conscious step away from animal proteins for the moment, which often take center stage in our meals and on our plates while veggies, fruits, legumes and grains are secondary. I’m listening to my body (and everyone else’s ragged voices), and am trying to fill myself with meals that pack a serious nutritional punch to support my immune system and myself as we transition into the cold, wet winter.
There is an abundance of vegetable variety available on the farmers’ tables right now, which makes it easier to indulge without being bored. There were still tomatoes at the market this Sunday! I never thought I’d see heirloom tomatoes (not grown in a hothouse) in November, but there they were. Bright, vibrant peppers and fluffy greens are just as plentiful as the hardier winter veggies like carrots, cruciferous veggies and squashes.
Stoney Plains Farms still had corn on the cob! Many of the ears had silks and husks, but I treated myself to a bag of cobs that had already been shucked so I could make sure they were intact. My mind immediately went to work dreaming up something to pair with peppers and tomatillos.
This week, I went to the market with a list in hand. I usually go with a very general idea of what I’d like or need, with vague bullet points like “chicken” or “greens.” I then see what’s available and let that inspire me.
One of my goals, which I am always working to improve, is to reduce food waste. Often my eyes and my inspiration get carried away at the market and we end up losing and tossing produce that’s gone bad before I can cook it. We’re lucky to live in a city that values and provides composting, so I know our food scraps are still doing good even if they’re not edible, but I’d prefer that they fill our bellies and not the bin.
So, I went with a list. And I almost stuck to it. The great (and sometimes not-so-great) part about shopping at farmers markets is that there’s always something else, something more. Something that’s new or strange or unique. Sometimes what you really, really need isn’t there and that can be a bummer, but it’s also a great challenge to find inspiration to swap one (missing) ingredient for another that’s available.
The new thing I found this week was fava bean leaves. They look to me a little bit like dried bay leaves (same shape and light green color). Intrigued, I asked the farmer what exactly does one do with fava bean leaves.
Snap off a leaf and give it a taste, he said. So I did, tenderly pulling off a piece and chewing it while he chatted. It was lightly bean-y, nutty, and green.
So, I bought a bunch. (Chianti, anyone?)
My other fun find this weekend was romanesco. I’ve had this spiky veggie before (it tastes like a mix of broccoli and cauliflower). Since broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower were already on my list, I figured I’d go all in with the cruciferous veggies this week.
Foraged chanterelle mushrooms from Foraged and Found Edibles.
Broccoli, corn, fava bean leaves, sorrel and spinach from Stoney Plains Organic Farm.
Beans, cilantro, purple scallions, romanesco and tomatillos from Growing Washington
Brussels sprouts (on the stalk!) from Summer Run Farm.
Yellow and orange carrots (perfectly plump for spiralizing) and white and red onions from Collinwood Farm.
Fresh cranberries from Bloom Creek Cranberry Farm.
Fresh Alaskan King Salmon From Loki Fish Co.
I also grabbed the most ginormous head of cabbage and large collard green leaves but in my haste (and in the rain), I forgot to jot down the names of the farms!
My head is spinning with fun, flavorful ideas for all of this produce. After I photographed it, I spent a little bit of time prepping and organizing everything in my kitchen and fridge. I clipped the sprouts from the stalk and cut the crowns off the broccoli, reserving the stems with some others I’ve been saving for cream of broccoli soup.
Taking these moments to prep, assess and organize helped me to start my week off right.
I am planning to use what I’ve purchased efficiently (and with loads of flavor) to reduce waste and also our spending on eating out, which can sometimes be a challenge when I get home late after a very long day of work. I’m approaching our meals with an open mind, knowing that I have room and freedom to make changes or adapt new dishes as my mood, cravings and time constraints require. This week, there are also lots of recipes I want to try (or am drawing inspiration from to create my own dishes with what I have on hand).
- White Lentil Risotto from My New Roots using the foraged chanterelles (and some creminis I have leftover in the fridge). I may add some chopped sorrel to the finished risotto for a bright, lemony finish.
- Collard green burritos with a “creamy” roasted tomatillo and cranberry salsa (made creamy with pureed cauliflower), loaded with black beans, cilantro rice, onions and corn.
- Cream of broccoli soup made with leftover broccoli stems.
- Salmon with roasted romanesco and creamed fava bean leaves and spinach.
- Spiralized carrot “pasta” with a Thai basil and sorrel pesto with broccoli and toasted peanuts.
I also want to try out this recipe for cauliflower buns from My New Roots, but I’m going to try to parse it down because there’s no way I can consume 12-16 buns. I made a batch of grape jam last week and am now craving a good biscuit/bun/English muffin breakfast topped with jam and butter. I think these buns (especially if I made them a little sweet, not savory) might be the answer. (Plus, they’d make an excellent addition to go with the cream of broccoli soup.)