A favorite staple in our fall CSA share each week is sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are a fantastic fall and winter food. They are packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, B vitamins, potassium, fiber, and more. They are healthy, delicious, and can be dressed hundreds of ways. They can be baked, boiled, added to stews, stuffed, and used in savory or sweet dishes.
A simple yet delicious way to enjoy sweet potatoes is baked with a filling in the middle. This recipe is simple and the taste is warming and rich. I often bake a bunch of sweet potatoes at once over the weekend, and then keep them in the refrigerator for daily lunches. It is easy to re-heat and top with whatever you like. Perfect "fast food" ~ yum.
Sweet Potatoes with Curried Lentils
This recipe takes advantage of the smoky sweetness of sweet potatoes by combining with lentils and curry. This is a rich and warming meal, perfect on a chilly day.
Sweet potatoes are great for autumn and winter potlucks. Try setting up a create-your-own-sweet potato bar. Roast the sweet potatoes and serve them next to an assortment of toppings and let everyone make their own.
I use sweet potatoes a few times a week in fall and then worry I won't have enough to last all winter long. I know we have a few more fall CSA shares before our season is over, so I plan to stock up!
This is the time of year when we all have a lot of veggie scraps. Peels, ends, stems, and stalks. Before you compost those perfectly fresh scraps, think about making fresh veggie stock. It is a great way to use all of the healthy fresh ends and peels and pieces. The stock can then be used for making everything from soups and stews to casseroles or even used as the pasta/rice/grains water. By using scaps, you are saving a lot of usable food from the garbage bin or compost pile and turning it into liquid nutrients for the whole family.
The easiest way to make fresh vegetable stock is to save all of your kitchen scraps as you meal prep throughout the week and store them in a jar or bag in the fridge until you are ready to use (or the freezer if not using within a few days). I tend to prep all of our CSA box on Wednesdays along with community garden picks from Tuesday, so that everything is ready to use for the rest of the week. I can easily fill a whole pot with stems, peels, and ends every Wednesday from June to November.
Veggies that are good for stock making include onion ends, scallion bits, carrot skins and tops, celery bottoms, beet greens, pea pods, swiss chard stalks, green bean tips, zucchini peels and ends, and all stems from herbs like parsley, thyme, sage, savory, rosemary, or basil. Skip the stronger cruciferous veggies, as they can add an unpleasant aroma to stock (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts). I use kale stems just fine though. The key is to use fresh scraps - nothing bad or moldy - your stock will taste like what you put in it.
So fill a 3-4 quart stockpot with your leftover veggies and herbs. Add a bay leaf or two, a few peppercorns, a teaspoon or so of pickling spices (coriander, cumin, dill, clove), and 2-3 cloves of garlic. I also like a little dried chili pepper.
If you have a lot of only one type of veggie, add a carrot, a stalk or two of celery, and an onion.
Fill with enough water to cover the veggies/herbs (don't worry if you have a few stalks sticking out, it will cook down).
Bring just to a gentle simmer on medium (not a hard boil), reduce heat, and simmer on low for 1-2 hours.
Strain all of the stock to remove vegetables, herbs, and spices.
Pour the liquid into sterilized canning jars or freezer jars. Let them cool to room temperature first, and then freeze immediately or store in the fridge if you will be using within a week or two.
Makes approximately 2 quarts/2 litres.
Of course you can save chicken bones and make chicken stock too. I find that with all of the garden and CSA bounty my husband and I eat a lot of vegan meals in the summer. The boys have a lot of poultry since there are mammal meat and dairy allergies in the house, but there is only so much bird a girl can take (and I love summer bounty!). So for me, having fresh vegetable stock which can be used for cooking anything and everything is so convenient and really adds great flavor to everything. This veggie stock + the vegetable bouillon I make is a great base staple for just about any recipe.
So don't toss the scraps! Make veggie stock!
Long ago I found a recipe for bouillon in the River Cottage Preserves Handbook. A lightbulb went off, and I have been making my own version of veggie bouillon ever since. By blending all of the freshest herbs and vegetables in peak summer and preserving them with salt, you save that crisp fresh flavor which is fantastic in winter when making soups and stews.
When you think of bouillon you probably imagine a hard dry cube - but this is more of a thick paste. You use it like you use a cube though, by stirring a spoonful into your recipe when making soups, broth, stews, or even pasta. This is very salty as bouillon should be, and the salt is what preserves the green vibrant flavors – a little goes a long way.
I call my version garden bouillon because I use many things found in my garden. I like to make several batches over the summer so that I have enough to last all winter. Keep a jar in the fridge for using now, and freeze the rest. This has a high level of salt so it will never freeze quite solid, so you can still spoon out some even fresh from the freezer. I like to freeze in 1 cup jars so that I can pull one out at a time throughout the year.
A food processor is the best tool for the job.
Homemade Garden Bouillon
The nice thing about homemade bouillon is that you use what YOU have in your garden. Just think about what flavors go well together. I love adding extras like kale, purslane, nasturtiums (leaves, flowers, capers), coriander heads going to seed, celery root, leeks, and anything else in season at the time that adds a nice punch of flavor plus lots of great vitamins and minerals. I always start with the base aromatics of onion, garlic, carrot, and celery, and then add additional flavors from there. So make your own combo - the main thing to remember is to have a 4:1 ratio of herb/veggies to salt. So for every 400 grams of herbs/veggies/flowers, use approximately 100 grams of good quality sea salt.
This is approximately 780+/- grams of veg/herb, so I blended in just under 200 grams of good quality celtic sea salt.
I will make a few more batches as the summer goes along, using what I have fresh and in season. This is a great way to preserve the fresh, vibrant summer flavors, to use long into the winter!
I am a certified aromatherapist, herbalist, organic gardener, photographer, writer, designer, artist, nature lover, whole foods maker, and mother of two unschooled boys in south central Wisconsin.