Try dried or canned produce for flavor


By LISA L. BELL

With the downward shift in the economy it is becoming increasingly important to buy local. But in our area during the winter where in the world are we going to find fresh local vegetables?

According to Evelyn Wise, owner of Living Naturally, that’s not the point. She explained that people should eat the foods that are available in their own region, because they are adapted to the very same conditions.

Winter foods, she suggests, should include organic dried and canned beans, squash, potatoes and onions. These are all end-of-harvest vegetables. “Squash is harvested in late fall, so if you keep it in cool, dark conditions it can last through May,” said Wise. It can be made into delicious soups, breads and even pies.

She explained that making soup with squash is simple. “You don’t even have to add dairy products to make it creamy,” she said. “You can use ground cashews.”

To make a creamy cashew base in a food processor, add 1 cup of water to 1‚Ñ4 cup of ground cashews and grind them again. Almonds also work well. Or you can purchase prepackaged almond and rice milk. Squash also makes delicious breads and pies.

She also suggests drying the seeds from squash, pumpkins and sunflowers. “They’re a good source of energy and they taste good,” she said.

Seeds are also good in salads in place of tomatoes for the winter. Wise also likes adding dried fruit, such as cranberries, and nuts, such as pecans, to her salads.

Lettuce and other greens can be grown year-round in even a small, inexpensive, homemade greenhouse and sprouts can be grown indoors.

Sprouts are also a nice option for the winter, and they can be grown right on your kitchen counter. Wise sprouts lentils; radish seeds; sunflower seeds; broccoli; mung beans, which are the bean sprouts you find in the produce section of your local grocery store. Alfalfa, wheat and even rye can be sprouted.

According to Wise, it’s as easy as placing the sprouts in the bottom of a jar, covering them with water, and placing a lid on the jar. After the seeds haved soaked for about 8 hours, they can be misted and drained. Mist every day to prevent molding. Before long the sprouts will grow. Once grown, they can be used as an ingredient in salads and stir-fries.

Dried beans are inexpensive and very easy to prepare. Wise said that when she prepares dried beans she soaks them in water for eight hours, or overnight. She then pours the water off, covers them with fresh water and puts the pot on the stove to boil. Once they come to a full rolling boil, she then drains the water off one more time, recovers them with fresh water and cooks them until they reach their desired consistency. “That cooks out the un-digestible proteins,” she said.

Some of her favorite winter meals are organic three-bean chili; organic beef sloppy joes, texturized vegetable protein (TVP) sloppy joes and vegetable soup.

Beans can also be used in place of meat for delicious burgers. It doesn’t matter whether they are dried and cooked or canned. They can be mashed with a potato masher and you can then add egg and bread crumbs or even rice, onion, celery and chili powder.

Ground black beans also make a good dip or sandwich spread.

Lentils, she explained, also make good burgers with curry seasoning and even some ginger and garlic.

“Come spring, we’ll start our own garden again,” she said.

Dhall

11‚Ñ2 cup dried lentils or split peas

41‚Ñ2 cups vegetable stock or water

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespons vegetable oil

2 cups diced onions

1 garlic clove, minced or pressed

1‚Ñ2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon turmeric

1‚Ñ2 teaspoon black pepper, coarse-ground

1‚Ñ4 teaspoon hot chili pepper flakes or cayenne or 1 small fresh hot chili pepper, minced

1 cup coconut milk

In a large pot, cook the lentils or peas in the stock or water along with the salt and turmeric. Drain, but reserve liquid.

Saut onions, garlic and the rest of the spices in the oil, stirring continuously, until the diced onion is golden brown.

Mix drained lentils or peas with the saut ed spices and reheat gently. When hot, stir in the coconut milk. If the dhall is too dry or thick, add some of the reserved liquid.

For a lighter, less sweet version, substitute 1 cup chopped tomatoes for the coconut milk.

Serves 4 to 6.

Black Bean Filling

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon sea salt

4 cups canned or cooked beans

Heat the oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes, until soft.

Add the remaining ingredients except the black beans. Simmer for 5 minutes.

While that is cooking, pur e the black beans in a food processor or mash as smoothly as possible by hand.

Add black beans to mixture. Stir until heated through.

Serves 6.

Curried Garbanzo Filling

2 tablespoons olive oil

5 cloves garlic, crushed

1 large onion, finely diced

1 medium carrot, finely diced

1 green pepper, finely diced

2 medium hot banana chilies, minced

2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon oregano

1 tablespoon sea salt

1 tablespoon turmeric

4 cups cooked or canned chickpeas

1‚Ñ2 cup tomato paste

Note: Be careful not to touch your face after chopping the banana chilies.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and vegetables. Cook the mixture over medium heat until soft.

Toast the ground cumin in a dry pan. Add the spices and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat.

Mash the chickpeas in a food processor or by hand, and add to saucepan along with tomato paste.

Stir until heated through.

This recipe is very versatile. Use it as a filling for wraps, as topping for a rice bowl, noodle dish or a hot dip for corn chips.

Serves 6

Lentil-Walnut Burgers

11‚Ñ2 cup dry lentils, soaked and cooked until tender

1‚Ñ4 pound fresh mushrooms, diced finely

1 small green pepper, diced finely

1 stalk celery, diced finely

1 small carrot, diced finely

2 cloves garlic, diced finely

1 small onion, diced finely

1 cup walnuts, diced finely

Butter for saut ing

1 teaspoon salt

Black pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon chili powder

1‚Ñ2 teaspoon dry mustard

1‚Ñ4 cup raw rolled oat flakes

5 tablespoons tomato paste

2 beaten eggs

Dash or two of Worcestershire sauce

Saut vegetables in butter with salt, black pepper, chili powder and dry mustard.

Combine saut with lentils and raw rolled oat flakes. Mash moderately (not so much that veggie chunks are lost). Add tomato paste, eggs and Worcestershire sauce.

Mix well. Form into large flat patties. Chill one hour.

Broil on both sides or fry in butter. Try broiling some cheddar cheese on top.

Makes five large burgers.

Curried Squash and Mushroom Soup

2 medium acorn or butternut squash

21‚Ñ2 cups water or stock

1 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons butter

1‚Ñ2 cup chopped onion

1 medium clove crushed garlic

6 ounces mushrooms, sliced

1‚Ñ2 teaspoon ground cumin

1‚Ñ2 teaspoon coriander

1‚Ñ2 teaspoon cinnamon

3‚Ñ4 teaspoon ground ginger

1‚Ñ4 teaspoon dry mustard

11‚Ñ4 teaspoon salt

A few dashes cayenne

Optional: fresh lemon juice

Yogurt

Chopped, toasted almonds

Split the squash lengthwise and place face-down in an oiled tray. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until soft. Cool and scoop out the insides. You’ll need about 3 cups’ worth. Put in blender with the water or stock and pur e until smooth. Combine in a kettle or saucepan with the orange juice.

Heat the butter in a skillet and add the garlic, onion, salt and spices. Saut until the onion is very soft. (You may need to add a little water if it sticks). Add mushrooms, cover, and cook 10 minutes.

Add the saut to the squash, scraping the skillet well to salvage all the good stuff. Heat everything together very gently. Taste to correct seasoning. You may want more cayenne or salt. Since this is a fairly sweet soup, you may want to spruce it up with some fresh-squeezed lemon juice.

Serve topped with yogurt and chopped, toasted almonds.

Note: this soup need not be served immediately. It can simmer a while to allow the flavors to mature.

Makes 4-5 servings.

XSource: Wise’s favorite recipes from “The Moosewood Cookbook.”

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