Tag Archives: veggie ideas

Kitchen tip: How to use raw asparagus.

raw asparagus

It’s Summer and that means Asparagus in all its glory! Who knew?

Some of my most favorite fruits and vegetables are in season right now – beans of all types, eggplant, tomatoes, carrots, stone fruit, berries, grapes, pears – the list is long.  And right now, one of my favorites is everywhere – Asparagus!

There are many ways to serve asparagus that involve cooking or, at the minimum, blanching.  They can be added to pastas, salads, grilled or roasted and used as a simple side dish for your favorite entrée, almost any way you can think.  But, one of my favorite ways is to not cook them at all!

Raw asparagus can be very chewy and unappetizing.  The stalks can be very fibrous and almost impossible to chew.  But, ribbons that you make from raw asparagus are the best way to eat those raw spears because they are always tender.  Asparagus ribbons bring beautiful color and character to anything they are added to with just the right amount of crunch.  And the best part is they are so simple to make.

Buy medium to larger spears – save the pencil thin ones for other dishes where you want the asparagus to stay whole.  Rinse the asparagus and pat dry.  Then either snap or cut off the woody ends and simply peel the spears with a Y-peeler using a firm touch.  Y-peelers are the best for this job because you can shave the entire spear without hitting your hand on the counter or your cutting board.

If the stalk rotates or is slipping and you can’t get it to stay steady on the cutting board simply shave one side into a flat surface, place that side down on your board and shave the rounded side into ribbons.  If some of the tips fall off just add them to your ribbon pile.

The ribbons can become the salad alone tossed with a great vinaigrette and topped with some shaved parmesan. Or, add pine nuts or chopped walnuts to the salad for more texture.  Top a bowl of your favorite grains with the ribbons and then perhaps add a perfectly poached egg for an entire meal.

But, my favorite way to use raw asparagus ribbons is to add them to toast.  Here I’ve simply smashed ripe avocado onto multi-grain toast, topped it with some fresh ricotta, added a sprinkle of kosher salt, a few cracks of freshly ground pepper, the raw asparagus ribbons and then some chili flakes for a bit of heat.  Delicious!

8 Fruits and Vegetables that Don’t belong in your Refrigerator

How to keep your fruits and vegetables tasting as they should.

In a perfect world we’d shop daily and prepare what we purchased for that evening’s meal.  But, we all know it’s just not that easy to get to the market every day.  So, you go to the market and buy everything on your list making sure that you pick the freshest fruits and vegetables possible.

But, then you get home and the indecision sets in.  You begin to ask yourself – does this belong in the refrigerator or should it stay on the counter?  Will this spoil quicker if I leave it out?  Will it taste the same if I refrigerate it as it would if I just left it on the counter?

The answer is:  some produce needs to be stored in the refrigerator but some do significantly better if left out on the counter!  Here are the 8 fruits and vegetables that you should just leave out.

  1. Tomatoes – in season or out they will ripen perfectly if left on the counter. When you put them in the refrigerator their texture becomes mealy and really not very appealing.  If you’ve waited until tomato season (May through October with some differences depending on where you live) to enjoy their amazing flavor – do NOT refrigerate them!
  2. Garlic, Onions, and Shallots – these alliums do best in a cool, dry, dark place where they can breathe. Do not leave them in the plastic bag you used to bring them home from the market.  The only alliums that actually should be stored in the refrigerator are spring onions and scallions.
  3. Thick skinned squash – like Acorn, Butternut and Kabocha should stay at room temperature. Thin skinned summer squash like zucchini are the exception and should go into the refrigerator.
  4. Potatoes – of all types (including sweet potatoes) – like alliums like cool, dark, dry places. Sunlight and moisture facilitate ‘sprouting’ which is something you want to avoid.  The sprouts won’t kill you but they taste terrible and will need to be trimmed off before you use the potatoes.
  5. Fresh Corn – this one is a bit tricky. If you’re going to use the corn within a day or two then leave it on the counter and save some space in the fridge.  But, if you need to keep it longer than 2 days then it needs to be in the refrigerator to keep its freshness.
  6. Stone Fruit – like peaches, plums, cherries, apricots, etc. are in season now. Just like tomatoes their flesh will go mealy if stored in the fridge so keep them on the counter.
  7. Pineapples – a little secret – once picked they will not continue to ripen so buy one that is ripe and ready to eat the day you’re purchasing it and then just leave it on the counter until you cut it. The refrigerator will have absolutely no effect on its ripeness.
  8. Melon – this one is strictly a preference. If you keep your uncut melon on the counter at room temperature the flesh remains as soft as possible.  When you refrigerate it, the flesh become more firm or crisp, so it really depends on how you like it.

And now you know the ‘rules’ on which fruits and vegetables to refrigerate and which to just leave on the counter!

How to Slow Roast Any Veggie for the Perfect Side Dish

Delicious ‘basic recipe’ for vegetables that NEEDS to be in your bag of tricks.

Nobody has all the ‘basic recipes’ down. We all have our favorites that we return to again and again but I’ve found that there’s always room for ‘just one more’ to add to my repertoire.  And, when that ‘one more’ can be the basis for any number of variations – it’s a good one to add.

This is the easiest way to put just about any vegetable on the table – and it’s soo delicious. I’ve tried a number of twists on this one for years, but to be honest, the best idea is to keep it very simple.  It’s also such an essential preparation that it can (and is often) adjusted or grouped together with just about any main.

Read: How to pick olive oil. 

This is perfect if you love beautifully caramelized veggies. It brings in the kind of flavor and texture that only comes from tossing your favorite vegetables with a lot of extra-virgin olive oil, kosher salt, herbs and spices, and aromatics like garlic or onions and then slow roasting in your oven. When you leave them in the oven for an hour or so, they will cook down into something wonderfully soft and nicely caramelized with some crispy edges.  Always finish with an acid, like rice wine vinegar, to brighten the dish.  You can adjust this idea for any vegetable – a friend just roasted carrots, broccoli and onions and loved it.  Check out my video where I tossed trimmed scallions, garlic, ginger, and dried chilies together for a perfect side to serve with seasoned skirt steak for dinner.  Here’s how I did it:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F. This is a long and slow cook, so the low temp will deepen the flavor thorough caramelizing. This is the right temperature for a slow roast for all vegetables.
  2. Place the rack in the middle of the oven for even heating.
  3. In a shallow 2qt baking dish pour in extra-virgin olive oil, add kosher salt, your favorite vegetables, spices and aromatics and combine.
  4. One note about garlic: place the cut side down so that the oils from the garlic infuse into the olive oil for really impactful flavor. Seriously, you’ll love it this way.
  5. Roast for about an hour. Toss them two- or three-times during cooking until they’re evenly golden brown, very tender and crispy around the edges. It’s about an hour, but it could be more depending on your oven.
  6. Remove from the oven, and let cool slightly.
  7. Add rice wine vinegar, toss some more, and serve!

This preparation is perfect for steak dinners, grilled seafood or roast chicken or you may even consider it as an add-in for other dishes like a soup (Asian style) or with beans and rice (Mexican style).

Have fun!