Strawberry Cucumber Salad with Lime Dill Vinaigrette

Strawberry salad with cucumbers kohlrabi and lime dill vinaigrette

Last week at the farmer’s market next to my office building, I found my first local strawberries of the season.  Oh, how I’ve impatiently waited for this day.  I loooove strawberries.  I can eat a full litre basket of them in one day.  But the strawberries that are worthy of gluttony are local ones.

Local strawberries are so different from the berries available the rest of the year at the grocery store (imported from Florida and California) as to seem to be an almost entirely different fruit.

Grocery store berries are varieties that travel well.  They aren’t necessarily fully ripe when picked, but they hold their shape well and they have a relatively long shelf life (for berries).  Flavour isn’t the major factor when choosing varieties of strawberries that will face long distance travel.

The varieties of strawberries that are grown locally, and sold locally, are all about the flavour.  They are usually a smaller berry.  What these berries lack in size they make up for in flavour.  These berries are  sweet and juicy.  They can easily be damaged when packed into containers, and because they are fully ripe when picked, they will spoil relatively quickly.  I’m not usually too worried about spoiled berries, as I tend to eat them very quickly.

I was eager to go to the farmer’s market on my lunch break on Thursday, as I was certain there would be some strawberries.  I was not disappointed.  Two vendors had some.  Score!  I bought a basket from each.  I had big plans for the berries.

local strawberries

In addition to the strawberries, there were other great finds at the market.  Aren’t the baby beets and kohlrabi cute?

fresh local vegetables, cucumbers, kohlrabi, baby beets and spring mix

Equipped with the strawberries and fresh vegetables, once home I put together this strawberry cucumber salad.  This salad has no leafy greens in it.  It’s still a salad though.  I’ve been enjoying lots of leafy green salads this spring, but thought it was the time to branch out.

In order to give the salad a bit of crunch, I added some kohlrabi.  If you don’t have kohlrabi, you could use carrots, celery or sweet peppers.  Or you could add some seeds such as pumpkin or sunflower.

One of the great things about salad is that it doesn’t need to follow a set formula.  You can throw in what seems appealing or what you have on hand.  No two salads are ever exactly alike, which is great, as it keeps things exciting.

One thing I have learnt about creating a good salad.  The choice of vinaigrette has a big impact on the final result.  I was quite selective when choosing vinaigrette for this salad.  I used dill in the vinaigrette as dill goes very well with cucumbers, and with strawberries.  I like citrus in my vinaigrette, and the citrus of the moment is lime.  The tartness of the lime is a good counterpoint to the sweetness of the berries.

strawberry and cucumber salad with lime and dill vinaigrette

You may be familiar with the current trend of mason jar salads.  You may even love mason jar salads.  I don’t.  I don’t like the idea of packing my salad so tightly into such a small space.  I also don’t want my dressing in my salad hours, or even days, before I eat it.  And the final nail in the coffin for me is that mason jars are just too darn heavy!  I take the bus to work, and I don’t need the extra weight of the glass jar when the bus is full and I have to stand the whole way home.  Give me these lightweight containers that have lots of space and keep the dressing nicely segregated from the salad until I am ready to eat it any day.

vinaigrette lime dill

All that said mason jars do have a role to play in salads.  But for the vinaigrette.  A small mason jar is the perfect vessel for making the vinaigrette and storing it.  Place or pour all your ingredients directly into the jar, put on the lid and shake the jar.  Voilà, a jar of vinaigrette.  If you have more vinaigrette than you will use during that one meal, simply put the lid back on and put it in the fridge.  You now have vinaigrette to use over the course of the upcoming week.


Recipe:  Lime Dill Vinaigrette

Makes about 1/3 cup (85 mL)

recipe for lime dill vinaigrette



  • Juice of one lime (about 1 ½ tablespoons, 22 mL)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Place all the ingredients into small mason jar (250 mL), place lid on jar and shake until well mixed.
  2. Store leftover vinaigrette in fridge for up to about one week.


Recipe:  Strawberry Cucumber Salad

lime dill vinaigrette with strawberry cucumber salad


  • Strawberries, washed, hulled and chopped into quarters
  • Cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • Kohlrabi, peeled and chopped into matchsticks


  1. Place all ingredients in large bowl and pour lime dill vinaigrette over it.

Best Ways to Store Your Vegetables and Waste Less

How to store vegetables to keep them fresh longer

We’ve been talking a lot about food waste lately, which costs Canadian households an average of $1,500 each year.   We’ve also discussed ways to reduce food waste, particularly from produce.

Do you know that one thing that can significantly impact the shelf life of vegetables is how you store them?   Keeping your vegetables fresh for longer can save you money, as you will be throwing less of them away.

Follow these tips when putting your vegetables away and you may be pleasantly surprised by how long they will last, so that you can eat them, instead of feeding them to the compost or garbage.


Get to Know Your Refrigerator

Cold air is heavier than warmer air, and sinks. This means the bottom of the fridge is the coldest area.  The bottom shelf is a great place for things that really need to stay cold, like meat and dairy.  It’s not a good spot for delicate items like berries and lettuce.

The warmest part of the fridge is the door area, as it is quickly exposed to room temperature air every time someone opens the fridge. Given that, although many fridges have a compartment for eggs in the door, that is not a good place to store them.  They should be kept on a shelf in the main part of the fridge.

An important thing to understand is the humidity settings on your crisper drawers. Crisper drawers usually have a small lever that regulates the openings of the vents at the top of the drawer.

  • High humidity: A more humid environment is great for vegetables that wilt like lettuce, spinach, and celery. Use the lever to close the vents. In many fridges, there will be an image of vegetables, or “more humid” symbols for that setting.
  • Low humidity: Some fruit, such as apples and bananas, give off ethylene gas, which speeds up the ripening process. If those are left in a drawer with closed vents, the contents will ripen so quickly that the contents of the drawer may rot. It is desirable to have open vents for fruits and vegetables that rot rather than wilt. The drawer will often have a fruit or “less humid” symbol for that setting.


How to Store Vegetables

Anything that has an elastic or tie wrap

Fresh vegetables

Many herbs and vegetables, from green onions to cilantro to carrots, have some type of tie wrap or elastic around them. When you get these items home, remove the wraps and elastics.  While convenient for keeping bunches together, those wraps place extra pressure on delicate parts and cause bruising to leaves and stems.  This bruised spot is often the first place a vegetable or herb will start to turn slimy or rot.  Getting rid of wraps and elastics takes only a few moments, but can add days to the life of the item.


Mixed salad greens

Mixed salad greens from the farmer’s market or in a CSA box often come in zip closure bags. There is often a lot of moisture in the bag, especially if the greens are washed. Remove the greens from the plastic bag and use a clean tea towel to pat dry as much as possible.  The excess water is your enemy here, as it will cause the greens to wilt and rot quickly.

I get the best results by placing the greens in a clamshell container (the kind mixed greens come in at the grocery store). I line the bottom of the clamshell with paper towel, add some greens, place another paper towel layer in the middle and add the rest of the greens.  One more paper towel goes on the top.  The paper towel will absorb some of the excess water.  The closed container can be placed in the open shelf section of the fridge.  Replace the paper towels after a few days if you still have greens.

If you don’t have clamshells, the method I have found with the second best result is to use a large size zip top bag with short slits cut into the bottom and sides of the bag. The slits let excess moisture escape.  Place a paper towel layer between the greens and the bag, again, to absorb water, and place the bag paper towel side down in the fridge.


Head lettuce and cooking greens

Swiss Chard

Head lettuces and cooking greens such as kale, chard and beet greens should also be protected from excess moisture. Choose a plastic bag that is large enough to cover the greens, all the way to the tip. I like to use thin plastic produce bags.  If the ends of the bunch of greens are exposed directly to the cold air in the fridge, they tend to wilt, so cover them well.   Place a layer of paper towel between the greens and the bag to absorb excess moisture.  Place the paper towel side down.  Replace with fresh paper towel after a few days.

If you can fit the head lettuce in the crisper drawer, do so. The cooking greens are usually too long to fit my crisper drawers, so they go in the main part of the fridge.  Try to avoid the bottom shelf if you can, as the bottom is the coldest part of the fridge.



How to store spinach

The best way to store your spinach depends on the form of spinach you have.

If your spinach comes in a bunch, treat it like a bouquet of flowers. Wash and pat dry your spinach.  If it has roots, keep them.  Add about an inch of water to a jar.  Place the spinach in the jar, with the roots or bottom of the stems in the water, and the leaves above the jar.  Place a bag loosely over the top of the spinach, and place on shelf in fridge.  This will create an environment with enough moisture to keep the spinach fresh, while also keeping the leaves dry enough to not turn slimy.

If your spinach is loose spinach, store in the same way you would mixed salad greens, with a paper towel in a plastic clamshell container or in a vented plastic bag.


Vegetables with greens still attached

Radishes with greens still attached

Root vegetables from the farmer’s market, and sometimes those from the grocery store, often have the greens still attached. Consider these to be a bonus, as most vegetable greens are edible, so you have a 2-in-1 deal here.

To keep your vegetables as great tasting as possible, remove the greens when you first bring them home, before they even go in the fridge. The green tops continue to draw moisture and sugars from the root vegetable, so if left on, you won’t get maximum flavour.

Break the greens off, remove any tie wrap, and store the greens in a plastic bag, like other cooking greens. Better yet, prepare the greens on the same day.  The greens from radishes, carrots, and beets are all edible, but they are highly perishable.  They should be eaten within two days.


Cilantro and other delicate herbs

How to store cilantro to keep it fresh for weeks

Cilantro takes a bit of extra effort up front, but once done, you will have fresh, clean cilantro that should last several weeks in your fridge.

When you first get home, thoroughly wash and pat dry your cilantro. If the roots are still present, keep them.  They will help keep your cilantro fresh even longer.  Find a container that is tall enough to accommodate the cilantro if it is upright and that has a lid.  Add about 1” of water to container, place cilantro in container keeping the leaves above the water, and put lid on container.  Place the container in the fridge. Change the water every couple of days, and pick out any pieces of cilantro that are starting to yellow.  The cilantro should stay fresh for about three to four weeks.  The bonus?  It’s already washed, so when you need cilantro, take it out of the container and you are ready to go.



How to keep asparagus fresh

Use a tall container to keep asparagus upright. It does not need a lid.  Add about one inch of water to container.  Change water every day or two.  Your asparagus can remain fresh for almost a week this way, but you will probably want to eat it within the first few days.


Potatoes, onions and garlic

Best storage for each of these is similar, but they should not be stored together. Place them in a dark, cool, dry cupboard or a dark, cool spot in the basement if you have one.  They should not go in the fridge.  Do not store them in plastic bags.  Potatoes can be placed in a paper bag that has some ventilation, but avoid exposing them to light.  Light will cause potatoes to sprout and turn soft.  Onions and garlic can be loose in a cupboard that has reasonable air flow.  Keep them away for sources of heat like the oven or the dishwasher.  If they are in the same cupboard, store the onions and garlic on different shelves.

Avoid using closed plastic onion or garlic keepers. The lack of air flow and moisture that is created will cause the onions and garlic to sprout.




Keep tomatoes in a bowl on the counter or the kitchen table unless your home is very hot. Note that storing them at room temperature means they will continue to ripen, so use them soon after buying.  Storing tomatoes in the cool refrigerator will cause them to become mealy.


Do you use any of these methods when storing your produce? Do you have other storage methods that work well?  Please share with us in the comments.


Get the Most Out of Your CSA Share: How to Waste Less Food and Save Money

Reducing Food Waste Means Saving Money Find Out How To Waste Less Food

Have you signed up for a vegetable community supported agriculture (CSA) share this year? Are you a bit worried about how you will eat through your share without wasting a lot of it?  As CSA season is just getting started, I thought it would be a great time to share some of the tips and tricks that help me keep produce waste to a minimum, which means saving money.

As I shared with you last week, food waste is significant in North American households. Several years ago, I realized my family was wasting a lot of food.  I decided we had to do better.  Then, three years ago, I signed up for a vegetable CSA share.  The CSA share meant that I would no longer be the one selecting our vegetables, or even the quantity of vegetables.  I was getting what was in season.  The farmer, and Mother Nature, was deciding for me.   At that point, I knew I really had to implement a strong strategy to minimize our food waste.

Reducing food waste is good for the planet, and good for the wallet.

Produce waste can be a problem, regardless of where you buy it (a CSA share, the grocery store or the farmer’s market). Having a CSA share can pose some particular challenges, as you don’t have control over what or how much you buy.  This strategy can help.

Make the most of your CSA vegetable share. Learn how to waste less food.

My first vegetable CSA box of the 2016 season.

When you pick up your vegetable share:

  • Ask about any unfamiliar items – The person giving you your share should be able to identify any new to you vegetables, and let you know the best way to prepare them.


  • Note what you can’t / won’t eat – There may be some items that your family doesn’t like or can’t eat. In this case, if you can’t leave it at your pickup location, make arrangements to donate the unwanted items to family, friends, or neighbours. They will likely be happy to receive these farm fresh offerings.


When you first get home with your vegetables:

  • Inventory what you have – Knowing what you have will help you meal plan for the week.


  • Post list on the fridge—You’ve taken inventory of what you have, now place the list in a prominent place where you will see it. I keep a whiteboard on my fridge. I list my vegetables on it as well as the meat in my freezer, and erase items as I use them up. This way, I can easily see what I have at all times. It has eliminated that moment of discovering an item that made its way to the back of the fridge only to be found weeks later. It also helps me decide what to make for dinner and I don’t even have to open the fridge or freezer door to hunt to see if I have a particular item.


  • Clean and put away – A bit of extra time spend at this stage can greatly extend the shelf life of your produce. Clean the excess dirt from root vegetables before putting them away. Dirt can harbour bacteria that will accelerate decomposition. Select the best storage method for each item. I shared some of these with you here.


Over the week/2 weeks between vegetable pickups:

  • Make a meal plan – A meal plan helps you map out how you will use all the fresh produce you have on hand that week. Try planning your meals around the vegetables. Yes, I said the vegetables. I know this may seem radical for North American meat centered meals, but this way, you actively think about using your vegetables, as opposed to having them be an afterthought. I find that by looking at my inventory of vegetables I see patterns of what I want to use together, and it helps to me plan my meals. For example, if I have broccoli, carrots and peppers, I might plan for a stir fry, while tomatoes, hot peppers and onions might mean some pasta sauce.


  • Eat the most perishable first – Some vegetables have a short shelf life. Eat those first. Making a meal plan can help you with this. I often use the most perishable item on the day I bring my vegetables home. On vegetable pickup day, I’m usually prepared for the possibility that I might need to grill highly perishable items like eggplant and summer squash, or I might make a salad with the various fresh greens.
    • Highly perishable, eat within a few days: eggplant, berries, corn as it turns starchy, tomatoes if very ripe, radish greens, summer squash, mixed salad greens, spinach, asparagus, peas, and surprisingly, broccoli
    • Moderately sturdy, eat within 5 to 6 days: cauliflower, head lettuce, cooking greens like kale and chard, peppers, cucumbers, beans, tomatoes if firm, rhubarb
    • Store well, eat at your leisure: onions, carrots, potatoes, beets, cabbage, radishes, leeks, kohlrabi, Brussel sprouts, winter squash


  • Eat the whole vegetable – This is one many of us can improve as we tend to discard many parts of the vegetable. In reality, many of those parts make good eating. Most green tops, for example, are edible. You can eat beet greens, radish tops and even carrot tops. But these are very perishable, so you want to do that within the first couple of days. Also, the skin on many veggies is edible. Think carrots, potatoes and even baby beets. When you get your vegetables fresh from a local farm, the skin on them in quite nice and delicate. No need to peel them. Just scrub well before preparing.


  • Freeze the extra – There may be items you are unable to eat that week. Before they spoil, freeze them. Many vegetables can be frozen, not just the obvious like beans, peas and corn.
    • Tomatoes: Yes, you can freeze tomatoes. Wash and dry the tomatoes, then place them whole in freezer bags. The texture will change due to freezing, but they are great to use in any way you would canned tomatoes – chili, tomato soup, pasta sauce. Think of how much you will enjoy using locally grown, vine-ripened tomatoes in the winter.
    • Onions: Onions are often much larger than what is needed for a recipe. Dice the entire onion, use what you need in the recipe, and freeze the rest in one cup portions. Like tomatoes, due to high water content, freezing will change the texture, so use them in dishes where they are cooked, like soups and sauces.


  • Google is your friend – Have a vegetable that you aren’t sure how to prepare? Don’t know what to do with that overabundance of cucumbers because you can only eat so many salads? Google. You will find something new.


Love Food Hate Waste

This strategy has helped my family to significantly reduce food waste. It has helped us win in many ways:

  • I feel better about wasting fewer resources;
  • My family is eating more vegetables on a daily basis;
  • We save money by planning our meals and eliminating the need to replace vegetables that have gone bad; and
  • I can happily say, my days of finding gross things in the fridge are over.


Do you have any tips for getting the most out of your CSA share? Please share in the comments.

Quick & Easy Grilled Potatoes

Quick & Easy Grilled Potatoes - potatoes on the barbecue

I don’t know what the weather is like where you are, but here, it is unseasonably hot! I am not complaining, as I love sunshine and heat.  But the extreme heat does mean I am doing lots of cooking outdoors.  Yep, I’m looking at you barbecue.  Grilling is my cooking method of choice right now.

Grilling is probably my favorite way to cook. Not only is it a great way to keep the house cool, there are no pots and pans to wash after the meal.  Add the fact that grilled food tastes great, and it’s a win-win-win (grin).

When grilling, you aren’t limited to just meat. Potatoes and vegetables prepared on the barbecue are also wonderful, and quick to prepare.

Quick? Potatoes on the barbecue are quick?  Yes, I hear your disbelief.  If you are wondering how potatoes done on the barbecue are quick, it’s probably because you are preparing them the way I did in the past.  Whole potatoes wrapped in foil.  It’s true; those types of potatoes don’t cook quickly.  Not even when you start them in the microwave first. But I promise you, yes, grilled potatoes can be done quickly.

The trick to quick and easy grilled potatoes is to slice them before putting them on the grill. This way, lots more surface area gets heated, and the cooking time is dramatically reduced.

I started grilling my potatoes this way last year, and I won’t go back. Not only do they cook quickly, but these potatoes have so much more flavour than the wrapped in foil style ones.  I wish I had figured this out years ago. No more need to start the potatoes super early.  This way, the potatoes grill in about the same amount of time as any meat you might also be grilling.

The microwave is still your friend here. I give my potatoes a head start in the microwave.  They get a few minutes on medium high, I let them cool for several minutes (to avoid burnt fingers) and then cut them into ½” thick slices.  Brush a little oil on both sides of the potato slices, add some salt, other seasoning like Italian seasoning, and then cook them on low heat directly on the grill for about 5 minutes per side.  The results are potatoes that are fully cooked, with nice grill marks, and flavour like a cross between a roasted, baked and twice baked potato.

Quick Easy Grilled Potatoes with Sour Cream and Chives

You can top these anyway you like. We are partial to sour cream and chives, but grated cheese is very tasty too.  Or you can leave them naked.  They are great that way too.

What is your favorite thing to grill?

Recipe: Quick and Easy Grilled Potatoes

Easy Grilled Potatoes Quick to prepare on barbecue



  • Medium size potatoes, 1 per person
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • ½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream per potato (optional)
  • 2 sprigs fresh chives, finely chopped (optional)


  1. Pre-heat gas barbecue.
  2. Wash and scrub potatoes, keeping skin on, but removing any eyes or other blemishes.
  3. Use a fork to poke holes all around potato. The holes will allow moisture to escape potatoes while in microwave.
  4. Microwave potatoes on medium-high for about 3 minutes (could be longer if you have lots of potatoes.
  5. Let potatoes cool for 5 to 10 minutes, and then cut into ½” thick slices.
  6. In a medium size bowl, add canola oil, Italian seasoning and salt. Add potato slices and mix well to coat potatoes evenly.
  7. Reduce heat for burners you are using to low, and place potatoes in single layer directly on grill. Cook about five minutes per side.
  8. Remove from grill and serve. Top with sour cream and chives before serving if desired.


Orange Sesame Beef Recipe

Orange Sesame Beef stir fry recipe

Stir fry is one of my go-to choices for weekday diners. It’s easy to make, relatively quick, and super flexible.  No matter what vegetables I have in the fridge, I can usually whip up a stir fry. As for meat, beef, chicken and pork have all found their way into my wok at one time or another.  Even leftover meat gets a second life in my wok.  Leftover steak, roast beef or pork tenderloin have all been transformed into stir fry in my kitchen.

Although I have my ‘usual’ stir fry, lately I’ve been branching out and trying out different flavours. I have some toasted sesame seeds in the pantry that have been catching my eye a lot lately.  So a stir fry featuring the flavour of sesame seeds seemed appropriate.  And what better to pair with sesame than orange?  The result is this orange sesame beef stir fry.

This orange sesame beef is a bit sweet, has lots of sauce, and big bites of crisp vegetables. I like to use medium width rice noodles as the base layer for this stir fry as the noodles are the perfect vehicle to pick up all the saucy goodness.

Beef Stir Fry Recipe Orange Sesame

I used round steak for this recipe, which has lots of nice beefy flavour, but many cuts of beef would work, including sirloin steak, skirt steak or flank steak.

My family doesn’t like crunchy broccoli, so I cheat a bit when making stir fry. I microwave the broccoli for two minutes on medium high heat (with a bit of water in the bowl) before adding it to the wok.  It gives the broccoli a head start, making it a bit more tender, but still keeping its shape and a nice bright green colour.

You will note that in this recipe, the sesame oil doesn’t get added until the end, and the wok gets removed from the heat right after that. Sesame oil has a high smoke point, so it is safe to stir fry in it, but it also has a very intense flavour.  Using it as the oil to fry in would bring too much sesame flavour to the dish.  A little sesame oil goes a long way to adding that rich sesame flavour to food.


Recipe: Orange Sesame Beef

Serves 4

(recipe adapted from Orange Sesame Chicken from Clean Eating Magazine Nov/Dec 2013 issue)

beef and vegetable stir fry orange sesame


  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • 5 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 lb round steak (or other steak suitable to stir frying), sliced into ¼” strips
  • Brown rice vermicelli noodles, medium
  • 1 small onion, large dice
  • 1 red pepper, chopped into 1 ½” pieces
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into small florets*
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • Toasted sesame seeds


  1. In medium bowl, whisk together orange juice, soy sauce and flour. Set aside.
  2. In large wok, heat canola oil on medium-high. Stir fry beef until almost cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. If wok too crowded, cook beef in batches. When cooked, transfer beef to a plate and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare rice noodles according to package directions.
  4. In wok used for beef, still on medium-high heat, add onion and stir fry for about 2 to 3 minutes. Add red pepper and broccoli and stir fry another 5 minutes, until vegetables are tender but still crisp.
  5. Add ginger and garlic and cook 1 minute.
  6. Add cooked beef to wok. Pour in juice mixture and cook until sauce thickens, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add sesame oil and stir entire mixture. Remove from heat.
  7. Drain rice noodles, and divide among bowls. Top each bowl with beef and vegetable mixture and sprinkle with green onions and sesame seeds.

*If you prefer your broccoli a bit more tender, place in a microwave safe bowl with a bit of water, and microwave on medium high heat for 2 minutes before adding to the wok.

Roasted Cabbage with Ginger Peanut Vinaigrette Recipe

recipe roasted cabbage Asian vinaigrette ginger peanut

This winter cabbage made frequent appearances in my vegetable CSA (community supported agriculture) box.  Green cabbage, red cabbage, Napa cabbage, Savoy cabbage, they all took turns.  I had to become resourceful and find ways to prepare cabbage other than slaw in order to not waste it.  It doesn’t actually take a lot of cabbage to make coleslaw, so one head of cabbage goes a long way in a household of two.

red cabbage in quarters

One day I decided to try roasting the cabbage.  I roast pretty much any and every vegetable, so why not cabbage?  I knew one could grill romaine hearts, so the leap to roasting cabbage seemed pretty reasonable.  I am soooo glad I roasted this vegetable.  The roasting softens the flavour (especially for red cabbage) and makes it sweeter.  The darker, crispy bits give a bit of smoky flavour.  Roasted cabbage tastes very different than raw cabbage, but retains some crunch.  Roasted cabbage is definitely a keeper in my vegetable repertoire.

A quarter of a cabbage is a pretty big vegetable portion, so even though we eat a lot of vegetables, I don’t usually serve other veggies with this.  To make it more like a wedge salad, I decided it needed some vinaigrette.  I went with Asian inspired flavours for the vinaigrette, and developed a ginger peanut sauce.  The sauce is a great complement to the roasted cabbage.

Roasted vegetables Roasted cabbage with ginger peanut sauce

A note about the oils used in this recipe.  I use light olive oil on the cabbage as it has a high smoke point (even higher than canola oil) and works well for roasting vegetables at high heat.  Don’t use extra virgin olive oil, which has a low smoke point.  If you don’t have light olive oil, canola oil works too.

Canola oil works for the vinaigrette, as it has a neutral taste that won’t clash with the Asian inspired flavours of the sauce.

The sesame oil is used in small quantity as it has a strong flavour.  It’s distinct flavour adds depth to the vinaigrette, so I highly recommend using it.  You will find many uses for it in Asian flavour inspired dishes.

If you find yourself with cabbage in the fridge, and just don’t know what to do with it but don’t want to waste it, try roasting it (or grilling it) and serving it with this vinaigrette.  It’s a quick way to eat a cabbage, and it’s pretty tasty too.


Recipe: Roasted Cabbage with Ginger Peanut Vinaigrette

Serves 4

Recipe ginger peanut sauce on roasted cabbage


  • 1 cabbage (any type), quartered
  • 1 tablespoon light olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 ½ tablespoon natural peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds (for garnish)


  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 F (400 F if convection oven).
  2. Place quartered cabbage on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Liberally coat each quarter cabbage with light olive oil, and sprinkle with salt.  Roast cabbage for 15 to 18 minutes, flipping cabbage once halfway through cook time.
  3. While cabbage is roasting, make ginger peanut vinaigrette. Place fresh ginger, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, peanut butter and sesame oil into small bowl and whisk until peanut butter is blended.  Gradually pour in canola oil while still whisking, and whisk until well blended and creamy.  Alternately, you can use an immersion blender to mix the vinaigrette, but in this case, place all ingredients in a tall container and blend until vinaigrette has a smooth consistency.
  4. To serve cabbage, place on plates, drizzle each quarter with about 1 ½ tablespoon of ginger peanut vinaigrette, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.


Grilling Vegetables – Lemon Dill Grilled Green Beans

Now that summer has arrived, have you moved your cooking out to the grill?  We certainly have.  Even though we are grilling several nights a week, we are still eating lots of vegetables, and not only salads.  We grill many vegetables, including these delicious lemon dill green beans.

Lemon Dill Grilled Green Beans

I love cooking on the barbecue because it helps us to keep the house cool on hot summer days, without having to turn on the air conditioning.  I also love the flavour it gives food.

Many of the vegetables that I roast in the cooler months are grilled in the hot summer.  There are a few different ways to do so.  You can use a grill basket and place your vegetables in it.  The basket method hasn’t worked out really well for me, but both of my sisters swear by them.

Another method is to place your vegetables inside a foil papillotte, which is sort of like an envelope, and place it on the grill.  The heat from the trapped steam cooks the contents when using this method.

My favorite method is placing the vegetables directly on the pre-heated grill plate, and turning down the heat of that burner.  This works well for larger vegetables that won’t fall through the grate.  Beans are big enough to use this method.

Lemon Dill Grilled Green Beans

My grate runs front to back, so I place the green beans side to side, going across the grate.  Try to spread out the beans in a single layer, so that they can roast evenly.

Although I love the flavour of grilled beans, I wanted to change these up and add something more.  I had some dill from my CSA box that was crying out to be used.  I created some lemon dill dressing to add to the warm green beans.

I can now tell you that dill and green beans go well together. These beans were a hit.  I made more the next day.

I made the dressing about an hour before dinner, to give it time to sit and for the flavours to meld together.

Grilling the green beans is quick and easy.  If you are grilling meat, the meat will take longer, so put the beans on when the meat is almost done, so they can finish cooking while the meat is resting.

I enjoy grilling vegetables because often the entire meal ends up being prepared on the barbecue.  It makes for a compact cooking space, it’s easy, and best of all, there are fewer dishes to wash.

Do you grill your vegetables? Which ones are your favorite on the grill?


Recipe:  Lemon Dill Grilled Green Beans – serves 4

Lemon Dill Grilled Green Beans


Lemon Dill Dressing

  • 2 green onions (scallions) finely chopped, white and light green parts only
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dill
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  • 1 pound (454 g) green beans, washed, trimmed and dried
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste



  1. Prepare dressing: In small bowl, add green onions, dill, lemon juice and vinegar. Whisk together. Slowly pour in olive oil while whisking. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  2. Pace green beans in a large bowl. Add olive oil, salt and pepper and mix until oil coats beans.
  3. Pre-heat grill to 400 F
  4. Turn one burner down to low heat. Place beans on that portion of grill. Grill beans for 6 to 8 minutes, turning several times to prevent burning. It’s okay if they get some dark spots. As long as the entire bean isn’t charred, it won’t taste burnt.
  5. When beans are done, transfer them to serving dish. Add three tablespoons dressing and toss. Drizzle a bit more dressing on top of the beans and serve.

Vegetable Recipe: Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan Cheese

Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan Cheese

It is asparagus season in Ontario.  Fresh local asparagus has been making an appearance in grocery stores, at farmers markets and in CSA boxes across the province.  Several of my family members wait for asparagus season with much anticipation each year.

When a vegetable is as loved as this, sometimes the best way to prepare it is to aim for simple and allow the full flavour to shine through.  This roasted asparagus with parmesan cheese does that.

Roasting brings out the sweet flavour of the asparagus.  It also softens the spears a bit; not enough to turn them to mush, but just enough to make them easy to eat.  Roasting needs to be done on high heat; otherwise you won’t achieve the outer crispness that makes roasted vegetables so delightful.

Storing Fresh Asparagus

Fresh asparagus is best consumed within a few days.  The best way to store asparagus is to place it standing in a container with about 1” (2.5 cm) water.  Change water each day until you eat the asparagus.   This will prolong the life of your asparagus.

Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan Recipe:  Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan Cheese

Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan Cheese


  • Asparagus spears, about 6-7 per person
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Place oven rack in highest or second highest position. Pre-heat oven to 425 F.
  2. Wash asparagus and pat dry. Snap woody bottom off each spear, about 1”.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place asparagus baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Spread asparagus out in a single layer.
  4. Roast for 6 minutes. Remove from oven and flip asparagus. Roast for an additional 6 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle parmesan cheese over asparagus. Roast for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, watching so the cheese doesn’t burn.

Recipe: Sautéed Beet Greens with Pine Nuts

Do you ever get into a vegetable rut?  You want to include vegetables with dinner every night, but you find yourself reaching for the same three or four veggies, and preparing them in the same old way?

I think food ruts happen to everyone eventually, especially with vegetables.

These sautéed beet greens with pine nuts could help shake up your vegetable routine.

Sautéed Beet Green with Pine NustWhen looking at cookbooks, recipe magazines, or blogs, or when taking in all the eye-candy on Pinterest, you might not be seeing a lot of recipes focussing on vegetable side dishes.  If contemplating what to make for dinner, main dish ideas probably grab your attention.  Or maybe you are being seduced by dessert recipes.  What about vegetable recipes?  Sadly, they don’t often get a place to shine in the sun.

Vegetable side dishes usually are not complicated.  They typically only call for a handful of ingredients, and they are easy to make.  This is great, as it allows the cook to focus on other, more time-consuming or complicated portions of the meal.  Maybe this is part of the reason vegetables don’t get a lot of attention in the recipe world.  However, many of us want to eat more vegetables, but we don’t know what to do with them.

Thanks to my CSA box, I am exploring the wide world of vegetables.  I am the recipient of vegetables that don’t usually make it to my dinner table.  Some of them are unfamiliar.  Some are vegetables I usually overlook.  I am definitely not in my same old routine with vegetables right now.  I thought it would be a good idea to share vegetable side dish recipes with you over the next couple of weeks.  Hopefully they will inspire you to try something different.

These sautéed beet greens are a great place to start.

Although I discovered beets this winter, beet greens are new to me.  In the past, I have ignored the leaves of root vegetables, discarding them as kitchen waste.  My first CSA box contained a bunch of beet greens, with small, inedible beets at the ends of them.  The greens are the portion that is intended to be eaten.

Beet Greens

My bunch of beet greens. You can see how tiny the beet roots are. They really were not edible. The but leaves were large and tender.

Beet greens can be treated in the same way as Swiss chard or other dark leafy greens.  I opted to sauté mine.  Worried the beet greens would be too bitter, I discarded most of the stems, as I find the stems tend to be the most bitter part of a leafy vegetable.  The sautéed beet greens weren’t bitter at all.  Maybe it is because these are young beet greens, picked early in the season.  These are harvested for the purposed of beet greens, and the beet root portion of the crop is lost.  Later in the season, when the beets are harvested for their roots, the greens are still attached, and while perfectly edible, I don’t imagine that they are as tender as these young ones we had.

The greens will pick up the flavours of the other ingredients they are cooked with, resulting in a tasty vegetable dish.  The pine nuts add some crunch, which makes it more interesting in the mouth, and also a smooth, buttery flavour.

My bunch of beet greens was a small one.  If you have a large bunch, just double the ingredients.

Recipe:  Sautéed Beet Greens with Pine Nuts

Sautéed Beet Greens with Pine Nuts


  • 1 bunch beet greens
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup (you could use honey if you don’t have maple syrup)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts*


  1. Thoroughly wash beet greens. Pat dry using a clean tea towel.
  2. Coarsely chop greens into pieces about 1” long, discarding stems.
  3. Heat non-stick pan on medium and add olive oil.
  4. When olive oil heated, add shallot to pan and sauté, stirring often, until golden brown but not burnt, about 5 to 8 minutes.
  5. Add vinegar and maple syrup to pan, stir, and cook one minute.
  6. Add beet greens to pan and stir constantly, until greens wilted, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper.
  7. Transfer greens to serving bowl and sprinkle pine nuts over top. Serve while still warm.

* For directions on toasting pine nuts, see this roasted green bean recipe.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Community Supported Agriculture

Are you familiar with Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)?  Until recently, I was not.  I discovered it in early May by reading about it on blogs.  I kept seeing bloggers referring to their CSA box, which seemed to be a box of vegetables, but didn’t know what it meant. Now I do.

In a community supported agriculture program, a farmer will sell shares to interested individuals.  The share provides the individual with a box of fresh farm produce on a weekly basis, for a pre-determined period of time.  The individual purchases the share before the start of the production season.  This gives the farmer some cash flow to allow him to purchase what is needed to have a productive season.

The CSA model is quite interesting.  The farms that participate usually are mixed vegetable farms, although some also have fruit and some may have meat or eggs.  These farms are typically relatively small operations that may not have very large reserves of cash.

The individuals that purchase a share get a box of vegetables each week.  The individual doesn’t select her vegetables; she gets whatever is in the box.  The vegetables are fresh, as they are usually picked that day.  They are the vegetables that are in season.  In addition to having lots of fresh vegetables each week, participants don’t have to worry about going to the store to try to find good veggies.  There is a determined day and time to pick up one’s CSA box.  Like the farmer though, participants are subject to the whims of the weather.  Crops are never guaranteed.  Depending on the weather, some crops may be more successful than others.

Here in Ottawa, there are several farms that offer a CSA program.  As they are mixed vegetable farms, they are small farms in and around the city limits.  Some of them sell at farmers markets, some of them sell at their roadside stands.  Some are very small and run just by family members; others are a little larger and also have employees.  They are members of the local community.

I was very excited when I discovered that we have CSA programs here in Ottawa.  I was even more excited when I discovered that there was still time to sign up for one.

Why did I buy into a CSA program?

  1. Guaranteed access to fresh veggies. We eat a lot of vegetables, and this is one way to ensure that we have a steady supply of fresh vegetables that are in season.
  2. To get out of my comfort zone with vegetables. We eat a lot of veggies, but it tends to be the same handful of vegetables, over and over again. The CSA box will bring more diversity to our diet.
  3. To support a local farm. I believe that farms are essential to the health of a city. We need access to fresh farm produce. There needs to be land for farms. If farmers are supported and able to earn a living, maybe less agricultural land will be sold off and converted to residential properties.
  4. It supports the local economy. If the farm is supported, the farmer is not the only one who benefits. So does everyone the farmer employs.

There were several farms to choose from when trying to select my CSA program.  In the end, three factors helped choose which one I wanted.

  1. Pick-up location. Some farms offered pick-up locations that were convenient for me; some only had locations at the other end of town.
  2. Familiarity with the farm I chose. I have often purchased fruits and vegetables from the farm I chose at one of my local farmers markets. I was familiar with what they grow and have been happy with their produce.
  3. Option for bi-weekly box. This factor was the clincher I think. My farm offers a bi-weekly option, which means that I get a box every second week instead of each week. As there are only two of us here now, I was worried about being overwhelmed with produce if I went with a weekly option. I certainly don’t want food to be wasted.

I am excited about receiving CSA boxes, because it fits very well with my goals of (mostly) eating real foods that are prepared at home, not in a factory.  I want us to eat healthy foods so that we can feel and be healthy.  Fruits and vegetables play a large part in that.

There are some aspects of the CSA boxes that are a little intimidating to me.

  • Not being able to choose my vegetables is exciting and scary all at the same time. I am a picky eater. I don’t like all vegetables. Not by a long shot. I have promised myself that I will try them all.
  • I won’t know what’s in the box until I get it. Then I need to figure out what I will do with those vegetables. I need to do that while finding a way to not waste my veggies. This means I will challenge me to be creative in the kitchen. This one is a little scary and exciting too.

Okay, okay, enough with the background.  Now time to talk about my first CSA box.

I picked up my first CSA box a week and a half ago.  Here’s what was in it.

Communitye Supported Agriculture Box 1 Contents

I was surprised at the diversity in this first box (the second week of the program with my farm).  It is still very early in the growing season here in Canada.  I just planted my herb and vegetable garden two days before picking up the box.  I had forgotten that my farm uses greenhouses for parts of its crops.

So, what are all those things in the picture? Starting at the back left:

  • cooler bag – this is what I transfer my veggies into, as they are transported to the pickup location in plastic crates. I am to bring this bag with me each time I go pick up my box. Very practical.
  • 1 bag of spring mix (lettuces and herbs) – was expecting this one and quite happy, as I usually buy it from this farm
  • Spinach
  • Rhubarb (yay, I had bought some at farmers market the week before and I wanted more)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 bunch dill (for this I had the choice of dill, sorel or arugula)
  • Cucumbers
  • Radishes (not excited about those – I don’t like radishes, and I discovered that Greg doesn’t either)
  • Beet greens
  • Tomatoes (I knew there would be tomatoes eventually, but was really not expecting them this soon. I can’t stand raw tomatoes. I’ve known from the beginning that tomatoes were going to be a challenge.)
  • asparagus

Getting the box is the easy part.  After that, I needed to do something with all those veggies.  When I buy vegetables my strategy is to use the most perishable ones first.  I applied that strategy with the contents of my CSA box.

Here are some of the results.

Roasted asparagus with parmesan

vegetables roasted garlic with parmesan

I used some dill in vinaigrettes.  Greg wanted me to make more of this orange maple vinaigrette, which was perfect as we had so many salad greens.  I still have some dill left, so need to come up with more uses for it.

Radish green soup. Did you know radish greens are edible?  When I saw those beautiful green tops, I wondered if they were, and Google provided the answer.  Yes, radish greens are edible.  So are carrot tops.  Who knew?  The soup was really good.

Radishes with their green tops

Radish Green Solup

Salad. Salad.  And more salad.  We (I) love salad, so it is a staple here.  The spring mix, spinach and cucumbers were very tasty.

Green salad made with ingredients from CSA box

Two different rhubarb crisps: strawberry rhubarb crisp and apple rhubarb crisp.  I’ve shared the recipes already here.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp


Apple Rhubarb Crisp

Sautéed beet greens with pine nuts.  Based on what I have read, I was afraid the beet greens would be bitter.  They were not and this was a very side dish.

Sauteed beet greens with pine nuts

Roasted radishes with parmesan.  Meh, we didn’t really like these.  Greg and I both tried some of the smaller radishes raw, sliced in salad.  They were not as bad as we remember them.  We dislike radishes because they have such a strong, peppery flavour.  The raw ones in thin slices were okay in salad, but we did not enjoy the roasted ones.  I was surprised because usually roasting vegetables makes them better.

Vegetables roasted radishes with parmesan

Tomato pasta sauce.  While most people probably would have used the tomatoes in the many salads I made with the other ingredients, not I.  No way.  I knew I would have to cook them in some way.  I didn’t make my usual pasta sauce, but tried a new recipe that was supposed to be quick and easy.  I did live up to that, but I didn’t love the sauce.

tomato pastas sauceOverall, I think we did pretty well with this first CSA box. I definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone.  We haven’t had any waste so far. I did have to supplement it with some additional veggies from the grocery store.  Greg and I really do eat a lot of vegetables.