We still have a lot of time left in produce season, and I’ll admit that I’m needing some creative ways to treat all these vegetables. During the season I tend to just eat fresh vegetables without much cooking or preparation. It’s too hot to do a lot of cooking, and heavy foods simply don’t suit during the heat of the summer. I’m not quite ready yet for the savory flavors of winter squash and brussels sprouts.
But I’m getting a little tired of steamed broccoli. So, I’m looking for ways to dress up vegetables to make them delicious mainstays of my meals without a lot of prep. Adding vegetables to a cooked grain makes a complete meal that is fresh and easy to prepare.
Let’s see what’s in the fridge or garden and come up with some creative combinations. Two easy ways to prepare vegetables:
I never get tired of roasted vegetables. Just about any sturdy vegetable can easily be roasted to make an entirely different taste than when fresh — asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips, beets and even garlic. Once they are roasted, either eat as a side dish by themselves or chop and add to a grain of your choice and season with Parmesan or other cheese.
Put together any combination that you like — broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, green beans, summer squash, eggplant, tomatoes. Chop and then saute in olive oil with minced garlic and sliced onions. To serve, sprinkle with cheese (Parmesan, feta, goat) and top with toasted breadcrumbs.
Cooked grains — staples
I keep a pretty good stock of grains and pastas like brown rice and bulgur, soba noodles and couscous, and I’ll cook one or two types on the weekend. That way I can easily combine them with roasted or fresh vegetables for a delicious, nutritious — but more importantly — quick dinner.
For example, combine cooked bulgur (really — it takes 30 minutes to prepare) with canned chickpeas and roasted or sauteed vegetables. Add some feta cheese, warm in the microwave and voila! You have dinner.
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Some other combinations to add to grains, couscous or rice:
Roasted summer squash, sweet peppers, asparagus with couscous.
Broccoli, sesame oil, chopped toasted peanuts with farro.
Sauteed mushrooms, snow peas and sliced water chestnuts with soba noodles.
Tomato basil pesto, artichoke hearts, sauteed zucchini and cooked and crumbled Italian sausage.
Black beans, cooked brown rice, minced red onion, chopped red pepper, cilantro and vinaigrette.
Garbanzo beans, shredded carrots, parsley, ricotta and Romano.
Cook lentils with shredded carrots, shallots, garlic. Serve over couscous mixed with feta cheese.
Kate Jerome, a Kenosha writer and teacher, holds a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin and is the former Urban Farm director at Gateway Technical College. She is the owner of the consulting business Kate Jerome’s Garden to Kitchen. Her website is www.kjerome.com.