Matthew: I wanted to make something healthy for dinner, so I went to the Willy Street Coop and just started getting good things that I thought might go together. My grocery list included 3 beets, 2 parsnips, an onion, a can of roasted tomato sauce, and French green lentils. At home I also had some vegetable stock, some red wine, and some herbs and seasonings (fennel, basil, oregano, salt, pepper). The result was strikingly scarlet and really delicious! I simmered the ingredients for about an hour, so the beets could cook and everything could meld together. This is the first time I’ve used French green lentils and they turned out to be really good. They are a bit more refined than those other lentils. I liked this dish so much that I ate it for lunch and dinner yesterday. I will definitely be making something like this again.
Katie: I like baking and freezing muffins to have available for a quick, sweet snack. Muffins are also easy to experiment with, so each time I bake them, I like to try out a different recipe. While considering what to make this time, the parsnips in my refrigerator caught my attention. I decided if zucchinis and carrots work in muffins, then maybe parsnips would too. I actually wasn’t the first one to come up with this idea. I discovered this recipe on the Eating Well website. I followed it as written, except for using brown sugar instead of white, chunky applesauce instead of apple butter, soaking the raisins in hot water to make them moister, and skipping the nuts. I was a little skeptical about using a whole tablespoon of cinnamon and vanilla extract, but the amounts were just right. The chunky applesauce helped make these really moist, without being too chewy. They are similar to carrot muffins, but have a distinct flavor from the parsnips. If you’re not a fan of parsnips, you probably wouldn’t like them. But if you’re looking to try something different or have some parsnips to use up, you might want to give these a try!
Katie: After our raclette dinner on New Year’s Eve, I had some leftover vegetables to use up. I remembered how good the shepherd’s pie was that I made a few weeks ago, but unfortunately I didn’t have any more sweet potatoes. I didn’t let that stop me, and decided to improvise a little. I still had 3 hokaido pumpkins I had been saving. I roasted one of them, producing enough puree to make some delicious and filling Pumpkin Oatmeal in the morning, pumpkin biscuits to top the pot pie, and Pumpkin Carrot Muffins the next day. Lots of pumpkin deliciousness to enjoy! I based the recipe for the pumpkin biscuits on a couple of different recipes from Cooking Light. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but it turned out really good! I would definitely make this comforting winter meal again. Even without pumpkin, regular drop biscuits would probably also work well. Here’s the recipe I used for the biscuits:
Pumpkin Drop Biscuits
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ – ¾ tsp. cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 ½ Tbsp. melted butter
- ½ cup pumpkin puree
- ½ – 1 Cup milk (I mixed a little at a time, until the batter was wet and thick, not runny, about ¾ cup)
- Mix dry ingredients with a whisk in a large bowl.
- Add wet ingredients until just mixed.
- Drop the batter into about 10-12 mounds on the pot pie vegetable base.
- Bake at 400 degrees F (200 C) for about 30 minutes, or until biscuits are light brown.
Katie: Now that pumpkin season is sadly coming to an end, I’ve moved on to another source of Vitamin A: sweet potatoes. We bought a bunch of sweet potatoes when we saw them on sale at the grocery store, and I’ve been looking for different ways of using them. I don’t think I’ve ever had shepherd’s pie before, but this recipe for Winter Vegetable Pot Pie sounded interesting. It’s basically a pot pie base made with roasted vegetables and topped with mashed sweet potatoes. I wasn’t quite sure how the apple juice would work with the other flavors, but it turned out really good! The base would probably also be good topped with a more typical pot pie biscuit topping. Here’s how I made it:
Sweet Potato Winter Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie (adapted from the McCormick website)
- 1 pound sweet potatoes (I used 3)
- 1 cup apple juice, divided
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 6-7 cups cubed winter vegetables (I used orange carrots, yellow carrots, parsnips, red potatoes, and celery), cut into 3/4 inch pieces
- olive oil
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped onions
- 1/2 pound brown mushrooms, sliced
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 1 tsp. garlic salt
- 1 tsp. ground mustard
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Pierce sweet potatoes with a fork and bake on a cooking sheet lined with parchment paper for an hour or until they are tender when pierced with a fork and are caramelizing. Remove from oven and cool. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees F.
- Toss chopped vegetables (excluding mushrooms and onions) with 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large bowl. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with black pepper. Roast for 25 minutes or until vegetables begin to brown.
- Peel sweet potatoes and mash with 1/4 cup apple juice, butter, and nutmeg until smooth. Set aside and keep warm.
- Heat 1 tsp. olive oil over medium heat and saute the chopped onions and sliced mushrooms in a skillet until soft. Set aside.
- Mix vegetable broth, remaining 3/4 cup apple juice, cornstarch, garlic salt, mustard, thyme and in large skillet with wire whisk until well blended. Bring to boil on medium heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer 2 minutes. Add roasted vegetables, onions, and mushrooms; stir gently. Pour into a glass casserole dish. Top with mashed sweet potatoes.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes or until sweet potato topping starts to brown.
Katie: Continuing on my quest to try new vegetables, I noticed parsnips in the produce section at our grocery store. I don’t know if I had ever eaten them before, but I definitely had never cooked them.
After seeing the photos for Roasted Parmesan Parsnips on Sprouted Kitchen, I knew I had to try them. They turned out pretty good! I improvised on a marinara sauce using garlic, a can of diced tomatoes, and balsamic vinegar to serve with the parsnips. It was definitely something different and might even make a good appetizer or side dish for guests.