New Veggiecurean Meal Kit + Preserving Summer Produce! (September 2020)
Veggiecurean Newsletter — Vol. 11 — September 2020
Exciting news friends: In partnership with Desi Galli Pantry, Veggiecurean is now offering Chickpea Pancake meal kits. These easy meal kits include all the ingredients you need to make these savory, gluten-free, vegan treats at home, saving you lots of time and energy when you want to make a quick but healthy meal for your family. Click below to order yours today, and continue reading for tips on how to preserve summer produce for months to come!
SAVE THE DATES & TUNE INTO INSTAGRAM LIVE!
Tuesday, September 29: At 2 p.m. ET Veggiecurean will be on Instagram Live with Dr. Rani Banik to discuss the benefits of cooking with turmeric.
Tuesday, October 6: At 12:30 p.m. ET Veggiecurean will be on Instagram live with Her Shakti talking about “Grandma’s remedies” and cooking some old favorites with a modern twist.
PRESERVING SUMMER PRODUCE
Summer comes and goes quickly, leaving behind great memories of family get-togethers, BBQs and beach time (well, maybe no beach time this year!). Fall is now officially here and for me that means it’s time to harvest and preserve all remaining fruit, vegetables, and herbs so my family can enjoy summer’s bounty for months to come!
Produce from the garden or local markets tends to be so much more delicious than the store-bought versions, but the abundance of peak-season vegetables and herbs can get a little overwhelming. When my garden is overrun with sweet, bright red tomatoes and gorgeous basil leaves, to name a few, I have no choice but to start cooking! I’ve been experimenting with ways to stretch out my summer bounty, and I want to share with you all what I’ve discovered.
DEHYDRATE, FREEZE, OR PICKLE!
Dehydrating or drying out fruits and vegetables removes moisture to slow down the spoiling process. You can use a fancy dehydrator (like the Excalibur) or just a plain old oven at the lowest temperature setting (mine goes down to 210 degrees F). With a dehydrator you’ll likely be slowly drying out at 115-118 degrees F for 12+ hours, whereas in the oven you’ll be occasionally rotating and watching for burning edges for about 1-2 hours. This is actually how you can make crispy chips out of fresh fruits and vegetables, like my yummy Kale Chips recipe. Other dehydrated produce recipe ideas include Apple Cinnamon Chips, Zucchini Paprika Crisps, and Baked Sweet Potato Chips. To make any of these, start by slicing the produce very thin and spreading them out on a baking sheet for 12+ hours, or until you notice that they’ve firmed up considerably. You can store dried fruits and vegetables in airtight containers at room temperature for 6-12 months, and you can blend fruits into a puree then let them dry out to make fruit leather!
Freezing is another effective way of preserving your fruits and veggies at the peak of their flavor and nutrient profile. Store-bought frozen produce is typically blanched ahead of bagging and freezing to deactivate the enzymes that might affect flavor and texture, so I recommend doing the same for your produce at home. Skip freezing high-water content produce such as zucchini, cabbage, celery, lettuce, and peppers, though — they’ll turn mushy the minute you defrost them! If you’re looking to store sauces and dips, make them fresh and freeze them in Mason jars, leaving 1-2 inches at the top (food expands in the freezer!) and labeling them with a date. For single-use servings, fill up a silicone ice cube tray with the sauces or dips you want to freeze, then remove individual cubes when needed and let them thaw in the refrigerator (in a container, of course!). You can also store the ice cubes in a large Ziploc bag.
Pickling or fermenting is the process of preserving or extending the shelf life of food by either anaerobic fermentation in brine or immersion in vinegar. It’s a time-honored method for preserving fruits and vegetables dating back to 4,000 years ago when ancient Mesopotamians began soaking cucumbers in acidic brine. You can pickle basically any fruits or vegetables — cranberries, radishes, carrots, beets, green beans, red onions, etc. — but first try a quick pickle as opposed to the traditional canning method, which involves boiling water to vacuum-seal a jar. To quick pickle produce that’ll be ready in just a few hours, combine boiling water, vinegar, sugar, salt, and spices, then cover your produce with that liquid, letting it soften and take on the other flavors.
PRESERVING PRODUCE AND STAPLES TO ALWAYS HAVE ON HAND
My favorite way to preserve fruits and vegetables and their respective dips and sauces is to freeze them for optimal flavor. Here are three Veggiecurean recipes that you’ll be glad to have stored in your freezer for the days when you need a quick option without compromising taste (just plan ahead and be sure to leave these in the refrigerator overnight to thaw):
A great marinara sauce should be every chef’s secret weapon. I love having it on hand so I can add it to pasta for a quick dinner during a busy work week, and store-bought marinara just doesn’t cut it! The key to a marinara with a ton of depth is to simmer it for a while, letting all the flavors blend together. My One-Pot Marinara Sauce recipe explains how to easily make your own and store it away for later use.
With mint growing wild in my garden and cilantro being so readily available at the farmers market or local grocery store, it’s a no-brainer for me — I’m making green chutney! My Mint Cilantro Chutney recipe is easy to make and requires minimal prep time. You can serve it as an accompaniment to samosas and pakoras, for example, or simply spread it on toast. Use it as a dip or spread to boost flavor in any savory meal while also giving yourself a healthy dose of greens for the day!
If you find yourself with a ton of basil on hand, look no further than my Vegan Pesto Sauce recipe. It’s easy to store and freeze so you can enjoy it the day you make it and months later — you can freeze it then quickly thaw it in the refrigerator and it’ll be good as new. The options for using pesto are endless — spread it on sandwiches or bagels, stir fry some leafy greens with dollops of it, or stir it into pasta or zucchini noodles. It’s so rich and nutty, it’ll elevate any dish immediately!
So if you’re harvesting a ton of produce in your garden this summer or you find that you have more herbs than you know what to do with, try these recipes and share them on social media (don’t forget to tag @Veggiecurean)!