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Black Spanish Radish Debut and Jello Salads


Good Morning, and happy December!


Ada here. Hope you all are enjoying this sweatpants and hot toddy weather. My mom is visiting Texas for the week (yay!) and because her bag didn't make it on the airplane, we had to make a quick stop by Target before leaving the city for some basic clothes. I'm the proud new owner of a athleisure-style sweatsuit (currently wearing; wondering if it will ever come off), and all of my food wants these days fit this theme: cozy, warm, family-forward, celebratory but not too fussy. Yes, sweatpants are celebratory. Several of the recipes below (like curried tortellini soup) would be wonderful one-pot dishes to supplement or replace a traditional holiday menu. Perfect to feed a crowd of family or friends, sharing your wonderful Vrdnt produce with those you love.





And now, a roundup:

SWISS CHARD(rainbow or green or white variety) is an underrated green, if you ask me. I think people want it to be spinach, or wish it was the all-too familiar kale, but it deserves its own special attention- it's silky-sexy leaves are really unlike any other. It is my favorite green, especially early in the season when it's especially tender, to sauté with good olive oil, lots of garlic, and red pepper flakes. Here is a recipe, though you don't really need one. Depending on my mood, I either mince, grate, roughly chop, sliver, or just mash-whole cloves of garlic for greens like this. All this to say: there isn't a right or wrong way to to chop your garlics for a quick pan of sautéed greens.


Here is a RICOTTA & RICE STUFFED CHARD ROLLS recipe by the on and only, Martha Stewart.


SOUP.

Seeing as it's both soup and leafy-green weather, it's the perfect time to to make GHORMEH SABZI - Persian Herb Stew, a dish that is considered the national food of Iran. If you're unsure what to do with your herbs, make this kidney bean and herb soup; it makes use of a whole bunch of PARLSEY and CILANTRO as well as GREEN ONIONS. If you had some CHARD laying around, I'd throw that in too. Dried lime can usually be found at one of Phoenicia Grocery's 2 Austin locations. (Don't leave there without stocking up on pita + labneh, too).


I love this tortellini soup: it's bright, yet rich, and can accommodate just about any DARK LEAFY GREEN. The recipe calls for SPINACH, but BABY BEET GREENS (like you may have recently received bagged), KALE, CHARD or FINELY CHOPPED COLLARDS would do well. Do or don't overthink the tortellini bit. The brand Buitoni is pretty ubiquitous and is all they have at my local HEB; it does the trick, and because I don't' buy it often, and so when I do, it feels special... an effortless way to add something dumpling-ed to dinner. I'm sure there are better versions out there that you can find at specialty grocers or the cucinas of Italian grandmothers.


Here is another, less tomato-y and more creamy Tortellini Soup recipe which also is a home for GREENS.

Here is another VEGAN COCONUT CURRY soup recipe which can accommodate CARROTS, BROCCOLI, CAULIFLOWER, GREENS, and KOHLRABI.


Be the Salad Person.

When my family starts group-texting about holiday menu plans, I usually sit back and see what everyone else wants to contribute before filling in the gaps. Often, the gap is salad, and I'm always happy to oblige. Did you see last week's post where we shared our favorite homemade salad dressing recipes? For a holiday meal, I'll likely turn to the creamy-option, making a miso and maple based dressing that coats not only LEAFY GREENS AND BRAISING MIX, but also ROASTED CARROTS, CAULIFLOWER, and BROCCOLI. Because you've got access to such high quality produce this season, I hope you'll join me in being the salad person. It's always appreciated.


Also: Salad is a loose term in my house. Sometimes it's LETTUCE, sometimes it's grains + vegetables, sometimes it's PARSLEY and cranberries, and sometimes it's a thing that you might describe as a SLAW or a SHAVED SALAD. Denser veggies like BEETS, CARROTS, KOHLRABI, or CABBAGE, shredded w/ dressing. Crunch factor, high. If you're the salad-person this holiday season, your contribution could also be a slaw. Things like toasted nuts, dried fruit, or crumbly cheese will make your salad feel more holiday and less backyard picnic.


A few holiday-inspired salads:

Moving on. Congee, or rice porridge, is a wonderful way to fuel your body during this busy and sometimes trying season. It's got roots all across Asia, and the variations are endless. It's good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, in my opinion. Plus, it's a blank canvas, like a pot of creamy polenta, that you can paint with any Vrdnt greens... CHARD, KALE, COLLARDS, SPINACH, BABY GREENS, BRAISING MIX, PEA SHOOTS, you name it. Here is a Heidi Swanson INSTAPOT RECIPE which involves greens + lots of fun toppings (aka, Vrdnt Veggies leftover or transformed), and here is a more traditional chicken congee recipe from Made with Lau.


BLACK SPANISH RADISHES

made their peppery debut, and every year I require a reintroduction. Hello. How are you? And more plainly, what are you doing here, and what am I supposed to do with you? If you're like me, some links:




What I'm Eating:

The short answer? So much. It's truly a joy to eat at this time of year, if you ask me.


I recently ate plates and plates of dim sum at Lin Asian, including a heaping portion of garliky pea shoots which were almost as good as the soup dumplings.


The next morning, after a sleepover with girlfriends, we had garlicky Vrdnt swiss chard alongside eggs + bacon. Obviously, the chard dressed with a bit of bacon grease. My friend Marissa also kindly shared some tamales that she made with another Vrdnt CSA member, Laura, who told me something amazing: throughout the season, Laura freezes different tamale-stuffing ingredients (usually vegetarian), which she then defrosts for an annual Tamalada. The tamale I had was filled with butternut squash, kale, and fennel, and there were others filled with roasted beets, caramelized fennel, and feta. I love Laura's method here: freeze stuffing ingredients here and there as they become seasonally available, and then have 1 day to prep many delicious tamales, which can then be frozen and dolled out throughout the rest of the year. This same tactic could be used to make other stuffed things like empanadas, tortellini, or dumplings... all of which make me think of my friend Mackenzie's project, World in a Pocket.





What I'm Reading/Listening/Watching:

I recently wrote a piece on a local winery for Edible Austin, which led me to do lots of wine research. While I spend a lot of my professional career thinking about Texas agriculture, somehow all of the incredible grape growers out there dissolve into the background of my understanding of Texas ag. No longer! Making the wine is a nuanced and difficult process, yes, but growing the grapes seems just as tricky.

  • Here is a cool podcast I found called This is Texas Wine, the only of its kind (I think) to focus on Texas wine, specifically.

  • Here is my favorite wine Youtube channel I found all about wine. There are lots out there, but I just liked this host.

  • Here is where I got sidetracked and learned why different wine glasses come in different shapes.


I also listened to this Stuff You Should Know episode about weird food trends (TV dinners, Jello) and this related Huffington post bit on the crazy world of Jello salads that came about when the product was first marketed: lettuce and tuna suspended in lime Jello and cranberry sauce candles. You can't make this stuff up. All of these weird Jello foods were really a result of Jello's aggressive marketing tactics; they would create recipe books for all these delights, a fact which makes me hopeful for the impact of any local-food marketing pursuits I undertake.




This bit on how Tic Tok drove food trends this past year.

Also, this speculation on 2022 food trends. Who knows.


Till next time!

-Ada



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