Simply Fresh by Julie Wern

End of Season Thoughts
While it has proven to be a lot of work, I have really enjoyed writing the Simply Fresh blog for the past three years.  Needing to work up recipes has greatly challenged not only my cooking skills, but has taught me a tremendous amount about successful utilization of my CSA produce.  However, I am sad that the blog did not generate more comments, as I found myself working in the dark with almost no feedback most of the time.  I did hear through the grapevine here and there that folks were reading and enjoying the blog and recipes.  I hope that is true!
Featured Item—Rutabaga
Many folks think rutabagas are a kind of turnip. However, rutabagas are actually a genetic cross between a turnip and a cabbage, belonging technically to the Cruciferae (cabbage) family.  They have a faint cabbage taste, but can also be quite sweet, especially when young or when allowed to sweeten after a frost.  They also tend to sweeten when cooked, especially when roasted.
While they aren’t technically a turnip, they look a bit like one—same shape, but with ridges at its neck.  They are cream colored (shading into purple at the top– I think some varieties may shade into green) and they tend to have a yellowish flesh.
Like turnip greens, the greens of rutabagas are edible.  The root can be eaten either raw or cooked.  Whether or not to leave the skin on is personal preference.  Obviously, if you are looking for a smooth puree, peeling is recommended, but beyond that, it is up to you!
There are several options for preparing raw rutabagas.  Try cutting them into crudités and serving them with a dip.  Rutabaga can also be diced and added to salads, or shredded and used to make coleslaw.
Cooked, the possibilities are endless.  Rutabaga can be roasted, boiled, steamed, mashed, stir-fried, or fried.  In many countries it is traditional to mash cooked rutabaga, either by itself, or along with carrots or potatoes.  Karen recommends cutting rutabaga like French fries and baking them with a little olive oil and salt, then eating them with ketchup. Yum!!  See below for a recipe for roasted root vegetables that makes use of the rutabaga root.
Rutabaga are quite healthful.  They are a very good source of potassium, manganese, and vitamin C, and are also quite high in thiamine, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, fiber, and phosphorous.  They are very low in fat and cholesterol.  I recently heard that “cutting” your mashed potatoes with rutabaga, turnips, or parsnips can significantly lower the calories and increase the nutritional value of mashed potatoes.  Great idea, huh?
Choose rutabaga that are smooth and without significant marring.  Store in the refrigerator where they will keep for at least a month.
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This stew is hearty and delicious.  My son didn’t detect the rutabaga…he thought they were potatoes.  Perfect!
Beef and Stout Stew with Rutabaga and Carrot                              Serves  6-8
INGREDIENTS:
– 4 pounds beef stew meat pieces
– 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, or more, as needed
– 2 onions, minced
– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
– 2-3 rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
– 2 teaspoons fresh minced rosemary
– 2 cups fresh tomatoes, (or drained canned tomatoes)
– 1 6 ounce can tomato paste
– 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
– 1/3 cup all purpose flour
– 12 ounces stout beer
– 4 cups reduced sodium beef broth
– 3 cups frozen peas, optional
– 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
METHOD:
1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high until hot.  Add enough beef to make one layer without overcrowding.  Cook until brown on all sides.  Remove beef with slotted spoon to a medium bowl.  Add more olive oil to pot as needed as you continue to brown the rest of the beef in batches.
2. Once beef has been browned, return pot to burner and reduce heat to medium-low.  Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally until soft, about 8 minutes.  Add garlic, carrots, rutabaga, and rosemary.  Cook, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes.  Add tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently, until juice from tomatoes has released and mostly evaporated, about 10 minutes more.  Add tomato paste and Dijon.  Cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes, or until tomato paste has turned a deep, dark, caramelized red.  Sprinkle mixture with flour and mix well to combine.  Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
3. Add beer while stirring quickly to vegetables mixture.  Stir until all flour lumps dissolve.  Add beef broth and browned beef.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and cover.  Cook, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until beef and vegetables are tender, about 1 – 1 1/2 hours.  Add frozen peas and Worcestershire sauce and stir well to combine.  Cook until peas are warmed through, about 4 minutes.  Serve.
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You can use any combination of root vegetables you like (or have) with this recipe.  You could also throw in cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, onions, kohlrabi, etc…Just make sure to cut the vegetables to the same size so they cook evenly.  Faster cooking vegetables, like cauliflower, should be added later so they don’t overcook.

I chose to cook the beets separately from the other vegetables because they take longer to cook and I didn’t want the beets to discolor the other vegetables.  If you want, you can cook them at once, but you should give the beets a head start, since they take awhile to get soft.

Roasted Root Vegetables with Balsamic and Honey                                    Serves 6
INGREDIENTS:
– 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4″ cubes
– 3-4 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 3/4″ cubes
– 1 large rutabaga, peeled and cut into 3/4″ cubes
– 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4″ cubes
– 1 large beet  , peeled and cut into 3/4″ cubes
– 1 tablespoon fresh minced sage
– 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon
– 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus 1/4 teaspoon
– 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
– 1 tablespoon honey
– kosher salt and pepper to taste
METHOD:
1. Place oven racks on level from each other in the middle of the oven.  Preheat oven to 400℉.  Brush or spray one large and one small rimmed baking sheet with olive oil.
2. Place carrots, parsnips, rutabaga and sweet potatoes in a large bowl.  Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 tablespoon sage.  Toss to coat vegetables well.  Spread evenly on the large baking sheet.
3. Place beets into bowl used to toss the other vegetables.  Drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt.  Toss well to coat.  Spread beets evenly on the small baking sheet.  Place beets in the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes.  Stir beets well.  Switch racks and place the mixed vegetables in the oven on the top rack, and the beets on the bottom rack.  Cook all vegetables, stirring and changing racks every 15 minutes or so, until vegetables are soft and lightly caramelized, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.   Remove both pans from oven.
4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk balsamic vinegar and honey until honey is dissolved.
5. Place beets on the large baking rack with the other vegetables and stir to mix well.  Drizzle all vegetables evenly with balsamic mixture.  Stir well to coat.  Sprinkle generously with kosher salt and pepper, to taste.  Place vegetables back in oven and cook for about 10 minutes more, stirring once or twice, until balsamic vinegar evaporates and vegetables are caramelized.  Be careful to not burn the mixture.  Serve hot.
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The inspiration for this salad came from a lovely leaf peeping trip to the award winning Rabbit Hill Inn, in Lower Waterford, Vermont.  At the Inn, they served us an addictive raw kale salad with apples, walnuts, and black barley in a cumin vinaigrette.  This version uses kohlrabi and the more accessible quinoa grain, but keeps the apple, walnuts, and delicious cumin dressing.
Raw Kale, Kohlrabi and Apple Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette            Serves 4
INGREDIENTS:
– Cumin Vinaigrette:
– 1 small shallot, minced
– 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
– 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
– 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
– 2 teaspoons honey
– 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground cumin
– 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
– Salad:
– 1/4 cup uncooked red or white quinoa
– 1 bunch kale greens, washed, dried, torn into bite size pieces (about 5-6 cups)
– 1/2 crisp apple (Gala or Granny Smith), cored, peeled, cut into 1/3″ dice
– 1/2 large kohlrabi , peeled, cut into 1/3″ dice
– 1/3 cup toasted walnuts , roughly chopped
METHOD:
1. To make vinaigrette:  Place all ingredients in a blender (or use a hand blender).  Blend until shallot is smooth and mixture is emulsified.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
2. To make salad:  Place quinoa in a sieve and rinse well with water.  Place a pot of salted water on medium high heat and bring to a boil.  Add quinoa and stir once to mix well.  Reduce heat and simmer until quinoa is just cooked but still has a bite, about 12-15 minutes.  Drain well.  Shake to remove excess water.  Allow to cool.
Place dried kale leaves in a large bowl.  Rub kale leaves between fingers for several minutes until leaves soften and lose some of their volume, about 8 minutes.  Add kohlrabi, apple, and cooled quinoa.  Toss with vinaigrette to taste (you may not use all of it…it depends upon personal preference and the amount of kale leaves in your salad).  Plate salad.  Top with toasted walnuts and serve immediately.

3 thoughts on “Simply Fresh by Julie Wern”

  1. I’ve really enjoyed your recipes over the seasons, and still regularly go back to several of them (the Thai Squash Soup is in regular rotation! And your tips enabled me to finally succeed in making kale chips that aren’t burnt.) One thing that I think would make it a lot easier to go back to past recipes is if you include the featured vegetable name in the title of your posts. For example, today’s post could be titled “Simply Fresh – Rutabaga.” That would make it easier to browse the past blog posts and find a post for the vegetable I want to use. (I know I can search instead, but then I get a lot of posts that mention that vegetable but don’t necessarily include recipes.) Thanks for all the seasonal inspiration!

  2. Thank you for taking the time to send these out, I do appreciate it. We just got our winter share and are very excited. If the old adage is true that silence is golden, if people didn’t like the blog, i’m SURE you would’ve heard about it. I just wanted to let you know that there are probably a lot of people that are happy you send this out. Again, thank you!

  3. Julie, Thank you so much for your informative and inspirational food articles this and over the past seasons. They really get me in the mood for my next distribution pick up. Your time and efforts are most appreciated. Please keep up the great work.

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