March is inching closer and I’ve been talking to farmers
about planting this year’s crops. Yes, even when there are no spring greens to
be seen at the local vegetable market, farmers push full throttle ahead to get
seeds into their fields. Timing to do so depends on the relative climate of the
winter season. In the Tristate area it seems the first seeds are going to be
planted the second week of March. We are getting closer!
(edamame & corn right from the freezer)
Searching for veggies
Meanwhile we cooks are faced with the dilemma of dishing up tasty vegetable dishes. One solution for vegetables is found in a supermarket frozen food section. Bright-green peas, de-podded nibbles of edamame, neatly trimmed string beans, perfectly shucked corn, wave-cut carrots and so forth are stacked in the freezer section. Much prep work is done already and frozen veggies are offered in those cart boxes or in convenient 1-pound portions. Although the trend is going to 10 – 8 oz packages – what’s up with that? I always look for the country of origin on the vegetable package and prefer US grown, organic products. I prefer veggies that are grown from non-GMO (genetically modified organism) seeds. Not that there is evidence yet that GMOs are harmful but I still prefer a verified, wholesome source for my cooking. Altering nature and our food never seems to be a good thing.
A few points worth mentioning about frozen veggies:
Frozen veggies make for a quickly prepared
dinner at home - vegetables go from
freezer to skillet and a few minutes later they are ready to eat.
- Frozen vegetables often come in colorful “eye candy” mixes, e.g. corn, carrots, and peas make a nice looking vegetable side on a dinner plate.
- Mass produced veggie items may be more economical compared to the fresh veggie cousin flown-in from far away by the bunch.
- Storing frozen vegetables at home is a no brainer – buy frozen goods in big volume to last for several weeks - ideal for a busy life style, and also this way price volatility does not come an issue since there will be a even supply from your own freezer.
- Usually frozen vegetables are harvested at peak flavor and ripeness and then are flash frozen. This preserves nutrients and vitamins and are often superior to a far traveled so-called fresh products.
- It’s more likely you’ll eat the recommended three servings of vegetables if you have them available at home at all times – kids eat your vegetables!
- On the down side texture and flavor may be altered and undesirable because of the freezing. For example, frozen spinach is inedible in my opinion and asparagus, Brussels sprouts and broccoli are stinky and mushy compared to their fresh counterparts.
(a quickly whipped-up meal)
Minute Corn & Edamame
(recipe makes four entrée portions)
1 lb corn, frozen
1 lb edamame, frozen
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon sea salt
5 black pepper mill grindings
¼ cup or 10 pieces black pitted olives, chopped such as Kalamata
1 tablespoon fresh herbs, chopped such as thyme, parsley, tarragon
1 oz medium or hard cheese, grated freshly such as Cheddar, Parmesan, Manchego
- Put a 9-inch skillet on the stove on high heat setting. After 3 minutes add corn and edamame. Cook the vegetables for 5 minutes.
- Add olive oil, olives spices and cook for 3 minutes.
- Add the chopped herbs and spoon into four bowl plates.
- Sprinkle cheese over the vegetables.
Chef’s Tip: Cut sourdough bread into ½-inch cubes and heat with two tablespoons olive oil in a skillet. Toast bread continuously moving with a wooden spoon for 3-5 minutes or until browned on all sides. Sprinkle bread croutons over the above vegetable dish. The croutons add a welcoming crunchy contrast to the tasty-cheesy vegetables.
Chef’s Note: Good practice is to put frozen vegetables into a dry skillet, let the melting water evaporate and then add olive oil. This way splattering oil won’t burn you and will be less messy around the stove.