After having a share in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) for the past three years, I have developed several recipes for using up all kinds of vegetables. It is not uncommon this time of year or us to have just one or two of various kinds of vegetables to try to use for dinner. Conventional recipes can be frustrating when you are trying to match up a recipe with what you have on hand. These are some of the open-ended recipes that I have come up with to meet this challenge. I’ve heard several people lately voice their frustration about how to cook with the random assortment of vegetables one receives, so I thought I would share a few recipes that have worked for us!
Warning: These are more like skeleton recipes than conventional recipes. I am going to assume that you have cooked before and know most of the basics. I will also not use exact amounts and measurements, for the most part. The proportions will depend a little on what vegetables you are using and the amounts you have available. I encourage you to be flexible and creative with these recipes. These all happen to be very vegetarian-friendly, but you can add meat, if you like! You will enjoy the outcome most when you have made it your own.
#1 Roasted Veggies with Homemade Nacho Cheese Sauce
This recipe is inspired by a dish my Peruvian friend taught me how to make. I will say that I alter it quite a bit from the original, but I still credit my friend with the inspiration.
-Root Vegetables of Any Kind (potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, rutabega, garlic, onions, radishes) – this is a great way to use up random root vegetables – it’s no big deal to throw in that random turnip you don’t know what to do with! – peel & cube vegetables into ¼ to ½ inch cubes
-Olive Oil (2-3 tbps.)
-Salt and Pepper to taste
-Brown or White Rice
-Spicy Peppers (2-3) – jalepenos, banana peppers, or those light greenish ones are the best (I don’t even know what those are called!)
-1/4-1/2 lb. Cheese – Havarti cheese is delectable, but I often use whatever I have on hand, like mozzerella, feta, or cheddar
Roast Veggies in a baking pan with olive oil and salt and pepper at 425 degrees for 30-45 minutes, until veggies are soft on the inside and a little browned on top (Check & stir from time to time).
Meanwhile, start rice. About 10 minutes before veggies are ready, place peppers in a small pot of boiling water. Boil until softened. Using a fork and knife, take the hot peppers out of the water and cut off stems and remove seeds. DO NOT DISCARD BOIL WATER. Place one to two of the peppers into the blender with a little of the boil water; blend until smooth. Cut the cheese into smaller pieces and throw it into the blender, too. Blend quickly, so the water is still hot enough to melt the cheese. Taste and add more cheese, peppers, or boiling water to achieve the desired flavor and thickness. Add a splash of vinegar and some salt and pepper to enhance the flavor. White flour can be used in small amounts to thicken the sauce, if necessary. Serve veggies over rice and pour cheese sauce over the top. Mmmmm…my mouth waters just thinking about it. This makes a great meal with a big green salad on the side!
#2 Egg Salad with Veggies Galore!
8-10 Hard-Boiled Eggs
2-3 Cups of Chopped Veggies – celery, spinach, arugala, kale, tomatoes, basil, onions, carrots, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes – any veggies you would eat raw!
¼ cup chopped pickles or pickle relish (optional)
2-3 tbsp. mayonnaise
Homemade or bakery bread
½ Cup Grated Cheese
Chop veggies and hardboiled eggs. Mix eggs, veggies, pickles, mayo, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Serve on bread with cheese sprinkled on top. Yum! (I got the idea for this recipe from a Mothering Magazine article from several years ago.)
#3 Creamy Pesto Pasta with Assorted Veggies
This recipe is based on one from the Cookbook “Simply in Season” – which I highly recommend! It’s also inspired by a dish made by our friend Tatiana.
Here’s the Creamy Pesto Recipe from Simply in Season:
3 tbsp. butter
¼ cup flour
3 cups milk
Melt butter in large saucepan. Add flour and cook 3 minutes; do not brown. Add milk and bring to a boil. Cook gently 5 minutes.
1 cup pesto (homemade or store bought)
1 teaspoon salt
¼ tsp nutmeg.
Stir in. Remove from heat.
½ – 1 pound of pasta (your choice)
Veggies!!! – Broccoli, squash, kale, spinach, onions, bell peppers…you name it! Some of these you can boil with the pasta to cook at the same time. Or, you can sauté some of them separately and add them in after you drain the pasta and boiled veggies – ex. Onions, garlic, and chard sautéed & added in are delicious!
Either sunflower seed or pine nuts – sunflower seeds are much cheaper!
After draining pasta, toss all ingredients – variety of veggies is awesome in this dish. Toss seeds or nuts in, too. And toss it all with the creamy pesto sauce. Add salt, pepper, and a splash of vinegar to taste. Fresh chopped tomatoes on top makes it absolutely perfect!
#4 Stir Fry with Peanut Sauce
Vegetables: Broccoli, Carrots, Squash, Greens, Onions, Garlic, Sweet Potato, snow peas, sugar snap peas– again, just about anything goes!
Spice (peppers, cayenne, rooster sauce, whatever you like)
Sesame seeds, cashews, or peanuts
For omelette: ½ minced onion, 3 cloves minced garlic, 5-6 eggs – beaten
Other protein as desired (ex. Chicken, tofu, beef)
This may be the loosest recipe of all. You’ll just have to find your groove with this one. Steam longer-cooking vegetables (broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, snowpeas). In a wok or large skillet, sauté onions and garlic with butter or coconut oil, then add in medium-cooking-length veggies like squash or snow peas. You can also stir in steamed veggies when you’re ready. Then, I just start throwing in ingredients to make it saucy. This is not a classic recipe at all, but it always turns out super yummy. It gets gobbled up by every person in my family – even the littlest ones. So, I might put in a quarter cup of peanut butter, a couple teaspoons of soy sauce, ¼ cup coconut milk, a tsp. or two of honey, juice of 1 lime, a dash of somethin’ spicy…then, I taste it. Here’s what I taste for: sweet, sour, salty, and a bit of spicy, all in the same bite. Then, I add in the nuts/seeds and the quick-cooking greens. If you want meat or tofu, you might sauté that separately and then stir it into the mix.
Also, I usually make an oh-so-delicious Thai omelette (my Laotian friend taught me how to make these after we went to Thailand and got hooked on them). Simply beat 4-5 eggs with a 2-3 tsp. of soy sauce. Then sauté minced onion and garlic with oil in a skillet. When fragrant, spread the garlic and onion evenly around the skillet. Then, pour the egg mixture over it to fill the skillet. Cook until set on bottom, then flip & cook the other side. Cut into pieces, and serve with stir fry. Serve all of this with rice.
-2 Homemade or Store-bought pie crusts
-3-4 cups of veggies: spinach, asparagus, grated carrots or squash (or whatever sounds yummy to you)
-1/4 cup chopped green onions
-4 eggs (beaten)
-3/4 cup feta cheese
-1/2 cup milk
-diced ham or crumbled bacon (optional)
-1/4 cup shredded cheese of your choice
Mix beaten eggs, cheese, and milk. Stir in veggies. Add onions and meat, if desired. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour into pie crusts, then sprinkle shredded cheese on top. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes, or until set.
This is an easy one for lunches for kids.
Fresh spinach or Shredded veggies of any variety (zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, greens, etc.)
1/4 cup chopped onion
1-2 cloves minced garlic
Oil or butter (whichever you prefer)
Cheese (shredded – I used mozzerella, but whatever you have will do)
This “recipe” will not have exact amounts. I just eyeball everything and make more or less depending on how many people I am feeding or how much my kids are eating. For spinach or greens: First, in a small pot, saute the onions and garlic in oil or butter until the garlic begins to brown. Then I add the greens to them (I usually just fill my small pot to the top, since it cooks down so dramatically). Add a teaspoon or so of soy sauce, and a very small amount of water, if necessary. Cook until the greens are wilted. I’m going to assume that you know how to cook a quesadilla in a skillet. I usually cook the quesadillas in a little butter, because I think my kids need the fat & it makes it taste super-yummy. I simply put a corn tortilla in the pan, sprinkle some cheese on it, spread a little of the spinach mixture over that and then top it with a second tortilla. If I’m using other grated veggies, I just add these in with the cheese. Seriously, my kids LOVE this recipe, and I love that it gets them to eat so many veggies!
Although we are not doing a CSA this year, we are doing a partnership with a Catholic Worker farm in the area. I expect various interesting veggies to find their way into my kitchen. We are also sharing a garden plot with others from our community. Whether you garden yourself, receive excess vegetables from friends, join a CSA, or simply miscalculated what you needed from the store last week, these recipes are a great way to help you use the vegetables. And, these are all kid-tested. My kids love these dishes and gobble them down – veggies and all!