Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Economical Kitchen--Veggies Everywhere!

My cup runneth over. Well, not my cup, but my vegetable crisper certainly was last week. So, time for another installment of The Economical Kitchen. I love, love my Bountiful Baskets always. However, I usually only get one every two weeks because they are so large. In January, however, I wound up with two in a row, and I had a ton of produce to figure out before it all went to mush.

First off, green beans. I had a large bag left, and it was about to head south in an unappetizing manner. So I snapped the beans, dumped them in salted, boiling water for just a few minutes and then submerged them in ice water to stop them cooking. I let them cool completely and then froze them.
I also had a really pretty bunch of carrots and some parsnips. I love roasted root veggies and hated to see them go to waste but knew I just wouldn't get to them this week. So I chopped and roasted them in a cast-iron skillet (the oven was otherwise occupied).

When they'd cooled, I bagged and froze them as well. Now all I have to do is roast a chicken breast or a bit of beef, and I'll have quick sides to accompany them. I think these veggies would also be fantastic with a thick slice of sourdough bread and a bit of butter. Mmmmm. I love a hearty veg meal every now and again. Don't forget to label your bags!
I also had a several really lovely heirloom tomatoes that I just didn't need at the moment. So I decided to dry them a bit (I'd just read about preserving tomatoes like this and it seemed fortuitous as I didn't have time to can them in my pressure canner). So I cut them about 1/4 inch thick and laid them on cookie sheets covered in non-stick foil. I roasted them at 175 degrees for about four hours. Some of them completely dried, like sun-dried tomatoes. Some were not completely dried and will be great in pasta sauces.

I layered the tomatoes in between sheets of waxed paper, put them in a Ziplock, and froze them as well. 

I'd been to the farmer's market the weekend before and picked up my order from Rehoboth Ranch. So I had a giant packet of bacon to contend with, some green and yellow squash, yet more tomato, and a bunch of pasta. Fortunately, my husband is a great fan of pretty much anything with bacon and pasta, so off I went. At my house, we have either trashcan nachos or trashcan pasta when we need to clean out the fridge. They're both great vehicles for leftover protein, vegetables, and cheeses. So, I fried the bacon. Lots of it. 
When the bacon was done and draining, I poured off half the bacon grease into my jar that I save it in and fried onions, garlic, and disks of green and yellow squash in the residual oil. When those were done, I put the tomatoes in to cook a bit as well. 
When the pasta was done, I chopped the bacon and combined all the components. I added in a cube of basil frozen in olive oil, some thyme, red pepper flakes, and garlic salt. I topped it with some chopped scallions and fresh grated parmesan. 
I love our "trashcan" meals. I know they're not very sophisticated, but they're hearty (and usually healthier when I'm not cooking it all in bacon grease for my husband). Everyone was happy, and I hadn't let a ton of produce become compost.