Fall Harvest Salad Dressing
Massaged Kale Dressing
Not sure how to get kale to be tender and delicious without cooking it? Try massaging it!
2 cloves of garlic (roughly chopped)
Juice of ½ a lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
Tropical Salad Dressing
Mint Greek Dressing
When New Englanders think of winter ingredients, they often can’t get too excited about their prospects. While the bounty of summer brings fresh fruits and veggies of all kinds, winter often gets a bad rap around root veggies and other hearty crops that can withstand long storage and cold weather. But it doesn’t need to be that way!
At Just Add Cooking, we believe in using what you have locally whenever you can. And thanks to some of the incredible advancements in food tech here in the Boston food and farming scene, you can get some surprising items even in these frigid winter weeks. And as for those traditional winter root veggies? It’s all in knowing what to do with them. Here are our tips for using local ingredients all winter long!
Say hello to hydroponic produce
If you’re committed to eating local, you may think that salads are out of the question. You’d be wrong! Hydroponic produce is huge in the New England area right now and is a technique used by a number of our vendors to produce fresh, delicate greens all winter long.
Hydroponic farming is done indoors, and is a method of growing plants without soil, using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent. Since hydroponic greens are not weather-dependent, they can be grown all year long. During the winter, you’ll see produce from Lef Farms, Backyard Farms and FreshBox Farms in Just Add Cooking boxes–and it’s just as fresh, natural and delicious as it is in the summertime.
We especially love the advent of hydroponic farming in New England because we’re able to get produce to our customers with fewer than 100 food miles–produce that otherwise might have to come from as far as Southern California!
Make local, seasonal ingredients interesting with global influences & spices
While there’s a lot more local food available in winter now than there’s been in New England’s past, ingredients are still more limited than they are in the bumper crop season. So, you have to be a bit more creative about using what’s in your backyard. Because we’re committed to local ingredients, when coming up with our winter recipes we take influences from around the world to use a smaller family of ingredients in new and interesting ways.
Try adding local produce to ramen noodle recipes, or local squash to a tagine for the best combination of local and international flavors. Because ingredients are more limited, get creative with your spices. Try Aleppo pepper on Brussels sprouts to change them up or give eggplant a miso glaze. Change up the flavors so your palate doesn’t get bored with what New England has to offer.
You can also re-think New England classics, which often prominently feature readily available local ingredients. Try adding cumin and poblano to your corn chowder to give it a Latin spin. Or, make chicken and dumplings with masa instead of flour for the dumplings.
Many of our customers love Just Add Cooking for this very purpose: they can be adventurous with spices and flavors without having to buy huge quantities, and receive guidance on how much spice to use or perhaps exposure to spices they’ve never heard of!
Enjoy seasonal fresh, local fish with winter recipes
New England fishermen don’t rest in the winter. There’s no need to eat frozen fish unless there’s a Nor’easter and you can’t make it to the market! Braised or roasted fish that’s available fresh at the market is a perfect option for a winter dinner.
Thanks to its quick cook time, fish is a great protein to feature in a healthy weeknight meal, and when served with winter grains like a farro or buckwheat salad, and some hearty greens, is a complete seasonal meal. You can also try making fish–both fresh and smoked–into soup like our Irish smoked haddock chowder.
A lot of us lose the motivation to cook as the winter months bear down. Gone are the pretty displays of fresh local veggies at sunny farmer’s markets and long evenings at the grill and on the patio. The idea of making soups and stews and braises – perfect options for wintertime cooking – can seem overwhelming when you’re coming home from work in the pitch black. Our resident culinary expert (and working mom) Amanda Mayo has put together three easy, doable ways to save time and cook locally with winter ingredients and recipes.
Roast Everything for Dinner on One Sheet Pan
One pan dinners mean easy cooking and cleanup, and they pair perfectly with hearty winter veggies. When you come home to that chilly house, turn on the oven when you bump up the heat and let it help warm the house. Use the pre-heat time to prep your ingredients – everything from veggies to proteins. Toss it all together on a sheet pan and throw it in the oven.
Sheet pan dinners are a hands-off way to cook dinner, the flavors meld together in the oven and you have easy cleanup. Roast your meats on top of veggies so they get naturally basted with the juices and fats from the meat.
And roasting veggies in the oven is an ideal way to prepare them. The dry heat helps to concentrate the flavors and caramelizes the natural sugars in winter veggies.
Find Shortcuts for Making Stews & Braises More Quickly
Stews and braises are perfect winter meals, but if you’ve been saving them for the weekends, you’re missing out. Amanda suggests one kitchen tool to revolutionize your stew and braise making: a pressure cooker. With a pressure cooker, chicken soup “from scratch” can be made in 20 minutes.
Homemade stock makes everything taste slow-cooked and it can be made quickly in the pressure cooker. Use a chicken carcass, onion peels, carrots, celery, mushrooms, water and bay leaves. Make a big batch and freeze it in muffin tins for quick hits later on. You can also store red or white wine from that unfinished bottle in muffin tins for half-cup portions that can be used in braises, sauces and stews anytime.
When thinking about a braise or stew, choose a fatty meat, but be aware it takes awhile to cook. (A pork shoulder not cooked long enough will taste more like pork leather.) At Just Add Cooking, to allow these slow-cooked meals to come together in 30 minutes we ensure that the meat is sliced thinly, so you can sear it quickly and braise for 20 minutes, but it tastes like it cooked for two hours.
And sneak in extra flavor to any of your stews, braises, soups or sauces by saving your Parmesan rinds or adding herbs on their last legs to the mix. (Hard stemmed herbs like rosemary and thyme should be added whole and stems pulled out when done, soft stems like parsley and cilantro can be finely chopped.)
Use a Meal Kit to Skip Winter Veggie Prep
The best and most hearty winter veggies can be the hardest to break down – especially on a weeknight. That’s why Just Add Cooking breaks down hard to prep items like squash, providing you ready to cook ingredients with no waste and little prep time. A hearty dish like a butternut squash risotto from Just Add Cooking requires almost no chopping or prepping. Brussels sprouts are cleaned for you, broccoli florets chopped, cauliflower rice processed and ready to go.
We take the things we love about winter veggies and do as much of the prep work as possible to make it easy for customers.
Now that you know more about how to save time when cooking with winter ingredients, stay tuned next week for our ideas on adding major flavor boosts to these fresh local ingredients and making them shine!
Take Advantage of Add-Ons with Just Add Cooking!
Fresh local veggies are a big part of our recipes at Just Add Cooking but it’s important to get those vitamins in for breakfast and lunch too. That’s why we’re introducing fresh produce to our Add-On marketplace in the coming weeks. We’ve got fresh, prepared veggies like broccoli florets, sweet potato fries, carrot and zucchini rice, confetti rice and more. Keep an eye on your emails and our social media for your chance to add them to your meal kit, making fresh, delicious veggies delivered conveniently right to your door!
Meet John Hopkins! He’s the founder of Five Way Foods, a local bone and veggie broth company, and our current featured vendor. His flavorful broth can be a stand-alone sipper but it also brings any dish it’s used in to new levels. He currently offers four different broths: beef bone, chicken bone, fish bone, and vegetable.
We’re featuring his broth in four of our recipes throughout January so be sure to try them out (Italian Wedding Soup, Chicken Cassoulet with Chorizo, Asparagus Risotto, and Butternut Squash Soup with Cacao Nib Crisps). We’re really excited to partner with him! Keep reading to learn more about what he does and how he does it.
JAC: Please talk to me about bone broth….for starters what is it exactly? How does it differ from stock or non-bone broth?
JH: The Five Way Foods broth is all-natural and fresh. Fresh meaning no additives or preservatives, made from real bones. There are nutrients such as collagen that are produced by slow-simmering bones. Collagen has proven health benefits including: boosting one’s immune system, improving digestive health, strengthening joints, and enhancing skin health. Non-bone broths are typically water with flavorings (beef, chicken, veggie) crafted to last on store shelves for years. We use vegetables and herbs to craft flavorful broths for cooking or drinking as a beverage. Our broths are refrigerated items, packaged in 16oz glass bottles.
JAC: Why did you start making bone broth? Who taught you how?
JH: As a home chef, I started making broths years ago. I found most broth/stocks sold on the shelf in supermarkets to be high in sodium, and weren’t healthy nor tasted very good. I wanted an all-natural product made from real bones that would complement the healthy produce and meat/seafood we ate as a family. Ideally, a broth that tasted as good as I made at home. Surprisingly, I couldn’t find such a brand.
About 3 years ago, I decided to make a career change and follow my food passion. After conducting a significant amount of market research and working with a local chef, I started Five Way Foods in November 2015. We launched the products (chicken and veggie) at local farmers markets in January 2016. I didn’t know if anyone would buy the products. To my joy, at our first farmers market we sold every bottle. Over the next six months sales continued to grow. In June 2016 I moved production to a larger facility (Commonwealth Kitchen in Boston) and got our state wholesale food permit. Over the next year and a half our sales expanded to retail stores, including Whole Foods, Roche Brothers, and other specialty food stores across New England. Our broths now include: Fish, Beef, Chicken and Vegetable.
JAC: As this is a very niche market, what is your response to the comments that bone broth might be a short-lived fad? Why should it/will it stick around?
JH: Bone broth is actually an ancient food/beverage. Humans have always used the bones from animals to make stocks/broths for soups, stews, and cooking. We don’t believe bone-broth will be a short-lived fad. Consumers want fresh, healthy foods made with real ingredients that taste good. Most shelf-stable broth/stock brands don’t taste good, aren’t made from real bones, and have limited health benefits. We’ve grown rapidly over the past two years with customers buying our broths year-round. The combination of healthy cooking and health benefits makes for a powerful offering. Another interesting fact: the market for fresh bone broth is expected to be an $800 million market segment by 2020 according to SPINS market research.
JAC: What are your thoughts on New England’s food system and how do you fit in/contribute to it?
JH: Over the past two years, we’ve really enjoyed becoming part of the New England food system. As a food producer, we source as locally as possible. Our meat bones are from Walden Local Meats, which has relationships with farms across New England. We source our fish from Red’s Best, which works with local fishermen. Our produce comes from New England farms (when in season). We produce our broths at Commonwealth Kitchen in Boston a commercial facility with 35+ other food companies. Our partnership with Just Add Cooking brings our broths to customers that value locally produced food products. In short, a great community of local food producers, providers, and consumers.
JAC: What is the significance for you of working with local vendors?
JH: Sourcing locally is one of the founding principles of Five Way Foods. We very much want to support healthy food and eating local. There is such abundance of local produce, seafood, and animal products. Sourcing locally helps with sustainability, reducing carbon footprint, and supports regional farms.
Be sure to check out the broth from Five Way Foods and help support the local food community. Happy cooking!
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