Vegetables in Quantity!

bok choy

Let’s say you look up bok choy recipes, for example or recipes that use parsley, you’ll find a huge variety of course but many, if not most, will call for 2-4 cups of sliced bok choy or 2 tablespoons of parsley or maybe a full bunch if you land on tabbouleh. If you are a member of a CSA or have a vegetable garden or shop regularly at a farmers’ market these recipes, as written, may not do you much good.

If you get the CSA I do (and LOVE!) you may get 2 large heads of bok choy that would translate to 8 cups sliced, each, and 2 robust bunches of parsley. That’s how these things grow and are best distributed at certain weeks out of the year. Or cabbage, another perfect example… sauté a lot of cabbage in a huge skillet with nothing but olive oil and salt and then eat it and report back. I bet you can enjoy/devour a lot more cabbage (of any kind) than you might think in one sitting. Of course many of the vegetables, when cooked or dressed, reduce their volume several fold so you won’t necessarily be looking at a mountain of vegetables on your plate, though that’s never a bad thing for me!

I love eating vegetables in this quantity–it moves them to the center of the plate. And of course that’s how most health gurus suggest we eat but I don’t always see this reflected in recipe writing. It is changing and folks like Heidi Swanson of and Yotam Ottolenghi and Bryant Terry and many others have been leading the way on this approach for a years actually.

So today, as I create yet one more recipe for bok choy (which I have come to love because of having a CSA for years) I will let it shine with a simple dressing and find something to round it out, but it matters not much–an egg, a bowl of rice. . . . And if you’re ever at a loss for what to do with that gorgeous bouquet of parsley I just noticed that I have 40 recipes using parsley on my Seasonal Recipe Collection.

So if you get a CSA or have a garden or generally have access to produce in this quantity, thank your lucky stars and triple the quantities of vegetable or herb often noted in recipes and enjoy all that veggie goodness at the center of the plate!

bok choy dressing prep

Warm Bok Choy with Ginger Dressing

1 large head bok choy or joi choy, well washed and both stems and leaves thinly sliced crosswise
2 teaspoons coconut, peanut or other oil

Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2-3 garlic cloves, minced and mashed up a bit with the side of a chef’s knife with some salt, or pressed (the salt makes it easier to mash)
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
2 teaspoons soy sauce
A little more salt if needed
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Heat the coconut oil in a wok or large skillet until very hot. Toss in the bok choy stems and a few pinches of salt. Cook over high heat, stirring regularly, for about 2-3 minutes until the stems are softened but still have some bite. Add the leaves and cook for 30 seconds more. Put the vegetables in a bowl and mix in the dressing. A fair amount of liquid (combination of dressing and liquid from vegetables) will accumulate in the bottom of the bowl and it’s delicious and rice soaks it up well!

bok choy ginger dressing


Winter Squash, Chickpeas, Lemongrass & Coconut Milk

Marina di Chioggia Squash

Marina di Chioggia Squash

I’m not at all tired of the months of sun and warmth captured in a deep orange winter squash enjoyed in the last throes of winter. A friend gave me a gorgeous Marina di Chioggia squash last fall and we’ve been enjoying it all week in a variety of forms. It started with gingery squash muffins baked with a big dollop of apricot jam on top and it has continued with this warming but bright Indian-flavored dish.

This dish is only slightly adapted from the inimitable Nigel Slater who in the headnote describes ground turmeric as having a “dusty, old as time itself” taste which is such an apt description for this spice. The lemon grass and ginger balance the turmeric in a dish that is both light and fresh and creamy and deeply satisfying. I had it for breakfast this morning, without rice and with lots of lime juice. I have tended towards savory breakfasts for the past year and this may have been the best one yet!

Happy Cooking!

P.S. There are sill spots available in the Winter/Spring Cooking Class at Luscher Farm on March 16th. We’d love to have you!

Chickpeas, squash, lemon grass and coconut milk--a pretty winning combination when slowly cooked with cardamom and turmeric.

Chickpeas, squash, lemon grass and coconut milk–a pretty winning combination when slowly cooked with cardamom and turmeric.

Chickpeas with Winter Squash, Lemongrass & Coconut Milk
–slightly adapted from Tender by Nigel Slater

If you don’t have whole cardamom pods you can use 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom and add it when you add the ground coriander and turmeric. Whole green cardamom pods are a good thing to have in your spice drawer since they stay fresher much longer than the pre-ground spices.

1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas soaked for six or more hours, drained
2 medium-sized onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons peanut, coconut or olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
Thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled
3 large stalks of lemongrass, root end trimmed and several tough outer layers removed, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
6 green cardamom pods, crushed (or ground cardamom–see headnote)
2 Serrano chilies, finely chopped and seeds removed (or keep seeds if you want it spicier)
1 lb peeled and seeded winter squash (about 4 1/2 cups of bite-sized pieces)
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock or chickpea cooking liquid seasoned with 2 teaspoons of homemade veggie bouillon base
1 1/2 cups coconut milk (full fat if at all possible)
1 tablespoon brown or yellow mustard seeds
1 cup chopped cilantro

To serve

Cooked basmati rice
Lime wedges

Drain the chickpeas and bring them to the boil in deep, unsalted water. Let them simmer for 40 to 50 minutes till tender.

Pour the oil into a deep pot and add the onions, letting them cook over a moderate heat till soft and translucent. Meanwhile make a rough paste of the garlic ginger and lemongrass in a food processor. The lemongrass won’t break down all the way and will still seem very fibrous but process for quite a while. The fibers will soften in the stew and practically disappear. Stir the paste into the softened onion and continue to cook. Add the ground coriander and turmeric, then add the crushed cardamom pods.

Add them, together with the fresh chillies, seeded and finely chopped. Keep the heat fairly low and don’t allow to brown (though nothing dreadful will happen if you do).

Add the squash to the pan, along with cooked chickpeas and the stock or chickpea cooking liquid. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and continue to cook at a gentle simmer till the squash is tender, about 25 minutes. Stop as soon as the flesh is yielding to the point of a knife – you don’t want it to collapse.

Stir in the coconut milk and continue to simmer. Put a splash of oil into a pan and add the mustard seeds. As soon as they start to pop add them to the pot, together with the chopped cilantro. Serve with the rice and the limes wedges.