Archive | January, 2011

Konnichiwa Kabocha– What a Surprise!

27 Jan

Post Disclaimer: It is not the size of the hot dog that matters but how it is placed it in the bun.


You know the old adages  – “ things are not always as they seem” or how about  “don’t judge a book by its cover”. Well, that about sums up my experience with a fine Japanese Veggie-Man named Kabocha. Kabocha, as you can see in the pic above has a dark green squashy like exterior. When I bought him home I fully expected to crack him open and find a honeydew like color on the inside. However, to my surprise this little guy was no regular squash, he was a Japanese Pumpkin! I found it interesting that  Japanese Americans often make pumpkin pie with this veg if they are away from pumpkin producing parts of the world during Thanksgiving time(You can thank me later when you get that Kabocha Jeopardy questions right).

Anyway, take a minute and say Konnichiwa to my little orange pumpkin-ly friend. (DO IT!!! I can’t hear you!!)

Cutting open Kabocha was like marrying  a fascinating Japanese gentlemen fully expecting to unwrap a cocktail weenie on your wedding night and instead being greeted with a huge ballpark frank (Yes, my mother reads this blog so there will be no talk of pre-marital sex, even with Mr. Ballpark Yamamoto.  Although, I have to mention cocktail weenies are typically appetizers).

Once I cracked the Kabocha open I was left with the quandary of what to do with it.  My non-Japanese husband, who reminds me more of a spicy Italian sausage then a hot dog, mentioned he was jones-ing for some soup. Since I like sausage, I figured I’d grant his wish.

For awhile I have been meaning to make the Kabocha French Lentil Soup out of Rebecca Steven’s cookbook SoupLove. However, her recipe needed a little –“I’m too busy for ovens, pots and pans” makeover. So, here is my version inspired by Chef Stevens.

Kabocha Lentil Soup


You Need:

6 cups of water.

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 cup of lentils

1 head of fennel/star anise

2 leeks (white section only)

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 large Kabocha

1 tablespoon of fennel seeds

¼ cup of julienned ginger

Red pepper flakes

Sea Salt to taste

Directions:

Get out a large crock pot.

Fill with:

6 cups of water, olive oil,

Lentils (rinsed first),Fennel/star anise chopped into small pieces

Leeks (white section only) chopped into half moons,

Yellow onion, chopped, Kabocha (as prepped below)

Fennel seeds, Ginger

A few shakes of red pepper flakes & Sea Salt

Kabocha Prep

Cleaver the Kabocha in half.

Spoon out seeds into trash

Place Kabocha flesh side down in a bowl or Pyrex of warm water.

Place in microwave for 15 minutes or until soft enough to squeeze.

Let cool to touch.

Scoop flesh out.

Chop up and add to Crockpot.

Cook on low for 7hours. Veggies should be tender.

Serve with crusty bread! Enjoy this soups spicy gingery goodness!

Until next post, Sayonara Veggie Lovers & Friends.

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The Parsnip, Bringing Sexy Back

18 Jan

After the Kohlrabi post, my old college buddy Val from VA asked about what to do with parsnips.  Although parsnips are not on my list of new and different veggies to write about Val has pictures of me that I just don’t want to get out  –  such as -me, dancing on a table with a colander on my head (don’t ask it was college and yes Mom – sadly, I was sober at time of said picture).

Anyway, back to the parsnips….Parsnips are not nearly as overwhelming as they seem. They are basically root veggies, just like a carrot, with a distinct taste. However, you may find it interesting that in many cases parsnips are used more like the carrots starchy cousin, the potato. In fact, before the “po-tater” became a western world fav the parsnip was a regular staple at the dinner table.

So, why are parsnips so sexy?  Well, it depends if you want to share a parsnip or spend some time alone with it. You will have to choose your own adventure here…. Option 1 or 2.

Option1: Share a Parsnip – Parsnips are considered an edible aphrodisiac, much like raw oysters. So, Val if you want to heat up the marriage in the bedroom then cook up some parsnippage in the kitchen, crank up the Barry White and climb into your sexiest pair of Vicky’s.

Option 2: Parsnip & You Alone At Last – In this scenario buy yourself two parsnips one for the kitchen and one for later. Cook one up for a romantic dinner alone and then take the other to your bedroom. Close the door and… -hey, I didn’t go there you did perv. – (If you don’t get this think big white carrot –if you still don’t get this please stop reading my blogs because I promise, I will offend you).

Ok, get your mind out of the gutter and back into healthy eating mode…. I generally use parsnips in soups and stews. They are a great way make a soup heartier without adding rice, pasta or a lot of extra calories. Just peel them, chop them up and throw them in as you would a run of the mill carrot. A note to you veggie-phoebes out there: in soup you will never know the difference between a parsnips and a potato, so go for it!

Soup’s not on the menu this week? Crock Pot in the attic, so stew’s out? Well, here is my favorite simple parsnip side dish recipe for you to give a try –

Sweet & Sexy Parsnip Side

You Need:

  • Non-Stick Cooking Spray
  • ¾ lb of Parsnips (about 2 medium)
  • ¾ lb of Carrots
  • 1 Medium Sweet Onion, like a Vidalia
  • 3-4 Tablespoons of Honey
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Fresh Parsley

Directions:

  • Wash, Peel and Chop Parsnips, Carrots and Onion
  • Heat fry pan at a medium heat, spray with non-stick spray
  • Place Parsnips & Carrots in pan and cook 5 minutes
  • Then, add onion and continue to cook until tender, spraying with more non-stick spray if they begin to stick
  • Add 2 tablespoons of honey to veggies and toss until honey melts a bit and coats the veg.
  • Taste test, careful not to burn your tongue. Add another 1-2 tablespoons of honey based on how sweet you like things and how naturally sweet your parsnips and carrots are.
  • Sprinkle in some salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Chop 1/8 cup of with parsley and sprinkle on top.
  • Serve, to the ones you love and don’t forget the Barry White!

I hope you enjoy the recipe. Let me know how it goes!

I’m Posting Every Week in 2011!

15 Jan

Hey All!

I’ve decided I want to blog more, ok blog period!!  Rather than just thinking about doing it, I’m starting right now.  I will be posting on VeggieNation  once a week for all of 2011.

I know it won’t be easy, but it might be fun, inspiring, awesome and veggie-fantastic. Therefore I’m promising to make use of The DailyPost, and the community of other bloggers with similar goals, to help me along the way, including asking for help when I need it and encouraging others when I can.

If you already read my blog, I hope you’ll encourage me with comments and likes, suggestions and good will along the way. I’d love for you to say, “hey have you ever tried  ______ veggie? how do you make it?”

Signed,

Veg – Gina

Bloated Turnips

15 Jan

This desire to cook wacky veggies all started one day when I was meandering through the produce section in my local ShopRite and saw Produce Pete putting  away some bloated looking turnips. Our eyes met. Pete looked straight into my eyes and said “Kohlrabi.” I answered holding his gaze, I’ll take three.

After a few days of opening and closing the refrigerator, expelling audible dramatic  sighs and thinking “what the hell and I going to do with these ugly faux turnips”!  I wielded my knife –  chopped off the stems and peeled! Raw – the Kohlrabi was rigid but tasty (for you raw foodies I could see Kohlrabi as a stable “cracker”  for you).  If you could stop for a second and imagine watercress knocking up broccoli stems under a cabbage moon –  that would  about describe the taste of Kohlrabi.

So through this journey from store to stove what did I learn about my new friend Kohlrabi:

Well, he is of German decent but loves to be featured in Asian dishes, see my Asian Kohlrabi stir-fry below.

He takes 60  days to grow but once you have him home he should be stored in the fridge and cooked within 3 weeks.

He is light on the calories (40 per serving) but loaded with vitamin C and potassium.

Kohlrabi Stir-Fry Asian Style


You Need:

  • Sesame Oil
  • 1-3 heaping teaspoons of minced garlic (depends how garlicky you like your veg)
  • 2 bulbs of kohlrabi – sliced into french-fry like pieces
  • 1 green bell pepper -chopped
  • 1 yellow onion -chopped
  • 1 cup of shiitake mushrooms -cleaned and cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons of low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons of pickled ginger – chopped
  • 2 servings of protein of choice (I used imitation crab meat cause I had it in the house – shrimp, chicken or tofu will work too).
  • 2 servings of rice cooked (I prefer brown rice)
  • Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Directions:

  • Place oil in a large fry pan. Enough so the veggies don’t stick, not so much that you need to take an additional cholesterol pill.
  • Add garlic to oil.
  • Add Kohlrabi first cooking for 5 minutes, then add the remaining veggies.
  • When veggies are tender mix in  soy and pickled ginger.
  • Add protein of choice (if using chicken or raw shrimps you will need to pre-cook these in a separate pan.
  • Once protein is warmed through top rice with stir-fry mix and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.
  • Enjoy your veggie creation!

Kohlrabi was a fun. Who knows maybe next week I’ll stuff him and server him up like a pepper?   Until then enjoy the veggie journey and let me know if you have any veg-suggestions for future posts!

Moving From a Fast Food Nation to a Veggie Nation…?!

13 Jan

Bah Dah Bah Bah Bah, I’m sick of it. Let’s face it America it is time to leave the drive thru and hit the farmer’s market.  Michele Obama is on all over it with her childhood obesity campaign and the HUGE and awesome White House garden – 55 fruits and veggies. Jennifer Hudson is sucking down zero points fruits and veggies on Weight Watchers new Points Plus Values program. Face it folks, veggies are hot and  are sprouting up all. That being said I am proposing a challenge to myself, to find, learn about and cook up a heaping serving of not only new but interesting veggies. I hope you will follow me along my journey sharing some of my favorite veggies and learning about new fruits & veg along the way. Life should not be peppered with obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease but rather sweeten with fresh fruit and veggies and overflowing with healthful years of joy and strength!