Local Ingredients for the Week of 9/9/18

Shrimp & Grits featuring shrimp from Red's Best, collard greens from Harlow Farm, Monterey Jack cheese from Cabot Creamery, hot sauce from Alex's Ugly Sauce, and southwest seasoning from The Spice Mill.

Shrimp & Grits featuring shrimp from Red’s Best, collard greens from Harlow Farm, Monterey Jack cheese from Cabot Creamery, hot sauce from Alex’s Ugly Sauce, and southwest seasoning from The Spice Mill.

Each week, we strive to include as many local ingredients in our meal kits as possible. This often means we source ingredients just a few days before delivery. If you’re a regular customer, you’ve seen our lists of local ingredients in your box letters. Now, we’ll be publishing the list each week as we source. Please note: ingredient sources are subject to change due to last-minute availability!

  • Red Bell Pepper from Red Fire Farm in Granby, MA. – Andalusian Pork & Peppers
  • Cherry Tomatoes from Warner Farm in Sunderland, MA. – Greek Barley Salad
  • Collard Greens from Harlow Farm in Westminster, VT. – Shrimp & Grits
  • Green Bell Pepper from Harlow Farm in Westminster, VT. – Sloppy Joes
  • Tomatillos from Kitchen Garden Farm in Sunderland, MA. – Chicken Tinga Tacos
  • Shrimp from Red’s Best in Boston, MA. – Shrimp & Grits
  • Cage-Free Eggs from Maple Meadow Farm in Salisbury, VT. – White Bean Croquettes with Zucchini
  • Feta Cheese from Narragansett Creamery in Providence, RI. – Chicken Tinga Tacos
  • Monterey Jack Cheese from Cabot Creamery in Cabot, VT. – Shrimp & Grits
  • French Sandwich Rolls from Pain D’Avignon in Hyannis, MA. – Seared Vegetable Banh Mi
  • Hamburger Buns from Pain D’Avignon in Hyannis, MA. – Sloppy Joes
  • Smoked Paprika from The Spice Mill in Manchester, CT. – Andalusian Pork & Peppers, Sloppy Joes
  • Southwest Seasoning from The Spice Mill in Manchester, CT. – Shrimp & Grits
  • Corn Tortillas from Cinco De Mayo in Chelsea, MA. – Chicken Tinga Tacos
  • Hot Sauce from Alex’s Ugly Sauce in Boston, MA. – Shrimp & Grits
  • Sriracha from Kitchen Garden Farm in Sunderland, MA. – Seared Vegetable Banh Mi
  • Eggplant from Kitchen Garden Farm in Sunderland, MA. – Seared Vegetable Banh Mi

Easy Ideas for End of Summer Dinner Party Inspiration

Grilled Summer Salad

Grilled Summer Salad

With Labor Day Weekend on the horizon, we wanted to share some end of summer dinner party inspiration & ideas so that you can close out the season with a stylish (and delicious) bang! If you want a fancy look, menu & libation selection but don’t want to exert a large amount of effort, we’ve got you covered.

Outdoor Dining Accents:

Dress up your table with some easy accent pieces like a colorful tablecloth or runner. By infusing some vibrancy into your outdoor space, you can easily and affordably make it more inviting and appealing.

Let there be light! Add some scented candles, strung lights or decorative lanterns to your al fresco dining area for mood and ambiance enhancement.  

Hanging and potted plants make people happy. These natural accents not only add color to an outdoor atmosphere, but they also quite literally add life! Dial it up a notch by housing them in handmade macrame wall hangings from a local creator like Drifter & Bloom.

Summer Menu Ideas:

Start your soiree off with something light & refreshing like a Grilled Summer Salad. Featuring an array of seasonal vegetables, including zucchini, bell pepper & fresh corn, this dish is elevated with the addition of a simple lime vinaigrette.

Trying to think outside of the box? Create an international theme for your end of summer dining experience! Consider offering an entree like Seafood Paella to your guests. This classic Spanish meal is a filling, easy one-pot dish that typically contains ingredients like shrimp, white fish and a variety of spices for an aromatic kick.

If you prefer something aside from seafood & have the urge to fire up & take full advantage of summer-time grilling, throw some Halloumi Skewers on the barbie! Halloumi is a style of cheese from Cyprus that has a very high melting point, which makes it the perfect cheese for grilling. Our recipe pairs it up with a Greek-style couscous salad that features kalamata olives, cucumbers, and tomatoes.

Creating an Ideal Outdoor Bar Station:

Whether your outdoor bar area is a permanent structure or a simple pop-up, here are a few ways to make sure you’re utilizing your space as effectively as possible. First things first, make sure you choose a sturdy table to house all of your precious libations. Consider wind and other natural elements as you put forth your plan. Secondly, ensure water is available and plentiful. With New England heat waves becoming the norm, access to hydration is critical. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, make sure your bar is set up 15 minutes prior to guest arrival. It’s important that it’s clear to them that the libations are there for the taking, and immediately!

Now let’s get down to brass tacks. From icy blended cocktails to refreshing pitcher drinks, we can help you with what to serve at your libation station. Here are a few of our favorite summer recipes:

  • Fruity cocktails are synonymous with warm weather. Kick off your party with a batch of welcoming Watermelon Sangria or a cool, light cocktail like a Cucumber-Honeydew Freeze.
  • Need company while you’re manning the grill? How about a spicy concoction like an Amante Picante Margarita or a rum-min inspired drink like a classic mojito!
  • Want punch without the punch? You can find a library of luscious liquid recipes here!

Have a unique recipe, cocktail or outdoor accentuation tip you want to share? We’re all ears!

Our Favorite Burgers for #NationalBurgerMonth!

May is #NationalBurgerMonth, and the timing couldn’t be better as we New Englanders bust out the grills and start dining al fresco – the perfect situation for burgers! We’re rounding up some of our top burger recipes today, as well as a few expert tips for the best tasting burgers. Enjoy!

Burger Tips

  • Ensure consistent size and shape. Burgers are better with friends, so you’re most likely grilling up a bunch at the same time. If you’re creating your own patties, use a food scale or a cut-out or lid to ensure that all the burgers are the same shape and size – consistent done-ness is key!
  • Use cold to your advantage. Shape patties when the meat is cold to ensure the juiciest burgers (otherwise you run the risk of the fat and meat separating), and dip your hands in cold water before handling the patties to ensure the meat doesn’t stick.
  • Don’t squish your burger while grilling. Fight the instinct to press down on your burger. See those flames leaping up every time you do it? Those are all the fat – and flavor – leaking right out of your burger!
  • Don’t cut into that burger! It’s tempting to check the center of a burger visually to see if it’s to your liking, but the safest way to check for doneness (and to ensure that you don’t sacrifice a burger in the process) is by using a meat thermometer. Guidelines for cooking temps are as follows, though it’s important to note that the USDA temperatures under 160 degrees are not considered safe for ground beef consumption:
    • Rare: 120 to 125
    • Medium Rare: 130 to 135
    • Medium Well: 150 to 155
    • Well Done: 160 to 165
  • Pick the right bun. When testing burgers in our JAC kitchen, we always use the best, most hearty local buns. Nothing dampens the mood more than a soggy, falling apart vessel for your burger. Be sure to choose a sturdy bun to stand up to your burger and toppings.

Just Add Cooking Beef Burgers

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Classic Burgers with Oven Fries

Start dreaming of July with this American classic. These burgers come loaded with all the goodies for you and your family: lettuce, tomato, onions, and avocado. Paired with oven fries this dish screams shorts and flip-flops, even if it’s not quite summer yet.

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Black ‘n Bleu Burger

Salty blue cheese plus a perfectly spiced beef burger make this dish a fantastic treat. Cajun spices are mixed into the all beef patties and then topped with fresh tomatoes, red onions, and blue cheese. Served on the side is a batch of crispy sweet potato hash.

Vegetarian Burgers

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Eggplant Burgers with Roasted Parsnip Fries

Parsnips look like big, white carrots but they have a spicier, nuttier flavor. Once roasted they take on a sweet flavor that pairs perfectly with the chili powder. Our spiced eggplant burgers are coated in panko bread crumbs and seared on the stove top to give them a crisp crunch. Smoky, spicy, sweet, and savory, this dish has it all!

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Stuffed Portobello Burgers with Herbed Potatoes

In this vegetarian take on a stuffed hamburger, we cook hearty and earthy portobello mushroom caps filled with a tangy goat cheese stuffing. Topped with spicy arugula and juicy tomato slices, this meal is sure to please both the carnivores and vegetarians in your family.

Twists on the Classic

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Chorizo Burger with Massaged Kale Salad

Our Chorizo Burger is a Spanish twist on the American Classic. We’ve replaced the beef patty with chorizo from local meat vendor Bianco and Sons. Topping the burger are slices of fresh tomato and a quick aioli. A side salad of garlicky massaged kale rounds out the dish.

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Stuffed Turkey Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries

We decided to put a fun twist on a classic cheeseburger by turning it inside out! Creamy, delicately flavored Monterey Jack cheese is stuffed inside savory turkey patties, giving them mouthwatering, gooey centers. Sweet potato fries and a sweet, tangy sauce heighten this dish further.

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Wicked Good Pastrami Burger

Wicked Good Burgers ain’t your daddy’s patty on a bun. We love Andy Husbands’ recipe for a super tasty burger and bet you do too.

Spring Grilling Recipe Roundup

Grilling season is here! It’s been a long wait for Boston with a winter that stretched into spring, but we’re finally emerging from the snow banks. There’s no better way to celebrate spring than grilling outdoors, which is why many of our spring recipes can be made on the stove or on the outdoor grill. We’ve put together a roundup of our favorite grilling recipes and sides so you can get an early jump start on the season!

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Gourmet Hot Dogs

We’ve taken a classic hot dog and kicked it up to a new level. Top your hot dog with crunchy fried onion flakes and tangy zucchini relish, and pair it with a side of creamy horseradish slaw.

grilledportobelloandcabbage_widesmall

Grilled Portobello and Cabbage

Satisfy your grill cravings in a healthy way with this flavorful portobello burger that even meat lovers will want to sink their teeth into. Topped with sharp blue cheese and crunchy red onion this burger is satisfying in texture and flavor. Grilling the cabbage gives it deep, caramelized notes.

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Grilled Salmon & Summer Salad

This salad is a perfect summer meal. Grilling the vegetables outside lets you enjoy the summer and keep the heat out of your kitchen. The addition of lime to a simple vinaigrette takes this dish to another level. The charred taste of roasted corn, peppers, and squash work perfectly with the fresh lime juice.

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Grilled Veggie Pita Pockets

Our Grilled Vegetable Pita Pockets are a great summer grilling recipe that’s super portable too! Whether you’re playing an intense game of badminton, or relaxing by the pool you can take these pita pockets with you anywhere. The grilled veggies and marinated chickpeas are topped with briny feta cheese and cool tzatziki yogurt sauce.

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Spiced Latin Sliders & Bean Salad

These spiced sliders are a great summer treat that can be prepared easily on the grill or in a skillet. Fresh fresno chili is complemented with cumin and queso fresco in these beef sliders. A marinated black bean salad adds a cool creaminess to this spicy dish.

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Pork Chops & Potato Salad

This home-style meal is a great dish for any time of year. Juicy pork chops are topped with a delicious tart jam featuring the bounty of Massachusetts fruits made by Deborah’s Kitchen. Served with the pork chops is a warm potato salad with spicy arugula and subtle sherry vinegar.

stuffed_turkey_burgers-sweet-potatoes

Stuffed Turkey Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries

We decided to put a fun twist on a classic cheeseburger by turning it inside out! Creamy, delicately flavored Monterey Jack cheese is stuffed inside savory turkey patties, giving them mouthwatering, gooey centers. Sweet potato fries and a sweet, tangy sauce heighten this dish further. Cook on a skillet or outside on the grill, your choice!

succotash_with_lamb_kebabs

Succotash with Lamb Kabobs

Our take on succotash combines sweet corn, silky avocado, crisp cucumber and aromatic basil. Lamb kebabs are the perfect foil for the fresh flavors.

eggplant_burger_with_roasted_parsnips

Eggplant Burger with Roasted Parsnips

Parsnips look like big, white carrots but they have a spicier, nuttier flavor. Once roasted they take on a sweet flavor that pairs perfectly with the chili powder. Our spiced eggplant burgers are coated in panko bread crumbs and seared on the stove top to give them a crisp crunch, or try them on the grill for a smoky flavor! Spicy, sweet, and savory, this dish has it all!

halloumi_skewers_and_couscous_wide_small

Halloumi Skewers & Couscous 

Halloumi is a style of cheese from Cyprus that has a very high melting point, which makes it the perfect cheese for grilling. Our recipe pairs it up with a Greek-style couscous salad that features kalamata olives, cucumbers, and tomatoes.

Local Ingredients for the Week of April 1, 2018

 

chickentingatacos-wide

Each week, we strive to include as many local ingredients in our meal kits as possible. This often means we source ingredients just a few days before delivery. If you’re a regular customer, you’ve seen our lists of local ingredients in your box letters. Now, we’ll be publishing the list each week as we source. Please note: ingredient sources are subject to change due to last-minute availability!

Featured Vendor of the Week

Fazenda Coffee – Dedham, MA

We’re excited to introduce a local coffee as part of our Add-On Marketplace! Add-Ons can be found right in your meal planner and now you can buy Fazenda Coffee from Dedham and get it delivered as part of your weekly meal kit. Fazenda Coffee focuses on ethically, sustainably sourced coffee, held to the highest standards in roasting. Their roasting philosophy is to bring out specific roasted profiles for each cofee that are tested and refined over time, bringing forth the beans’ inherent flavors and aromatics.

Fazenda Coffee invests in sourcing highest quality beans and they pay a premium to ensure the growers can continue to reinvest in their families, farms and communities. They use coffees from farms using organic, bird-friendly, shade0grown, agroecological, forest conservation or polycropping agricultural methods and a direct-trade sourcing model when possible. They have also invested in environmental sustainability at their local roasting facility.

This Week’s Local Ingredients

  • Apples from Champlain Orchard in Shoreham, VT. – Pork Chops and Savoy Cabbage
  • Organic Red Onions from Heartwood Farm in Irasburg, VT. – Chicken Tinga Tacos
  • Organic Yellow Onions from Pete’s Greens in Craftsbury, VT, – Spring Vegetable Minestrone, Aloo Matar Paneer
  • Organic Potatoes from Pete’s Greens in Craftsbury, VT. – Aloo Matar Paneer
  • New England Caught Red Fish from Red’s Best in Boston, MA. – Ginger Soy Red Fish Cooked in Parchment
  • Butter from Cabot Creamery in Cabot, VT. – Pork Chops and Savoy Cabbage, Lamb and English Pea Orecchiette
  • Cage-Free Eggs from Maple Meadow Farm in Salisbury, VT. – White Bean Croquettes with Zucchini Salad
  • Feta Cheese from Narragansett Creamery in Providence, RI. – Chicken Tinga Tacos
  • Sour Cream from Cabot Creamery in Cabot, VT. – Aloo Matar Paneer
  • Corn Tortillas from Vermont Tortilla Co. in Shelburne, VT. – Chicken Tinga Tacos

How We Source New England’s Most Local Meal Kit

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If you’ve been listening in to the chatter at Just Add Cooking on our social accounts, in our emails and box letters or even at our in-person events, you’re sure to have heard about our local sourcing mission and our promises around sustainability. If you receive Just Add Cooking boxes each week, you’ve likely caught on, but for those of you who are still wondering what it all means, we wanted to pull back the curtain on our sourcing process.

Our mission is to build a local, sustainable food system for the future. In the 5+ years since Just Add Cooking was founded, this mission has come a long way, and we continue to improve on it every single week. We can attribute the increase in local ingredients that we can procure for our boxes both to the increase in our customer base and buying power, and to the incredibly vibrant local food scene in Boston, where innovations abound that allow us to get things like fresh greens in any season or local fish caught by small fishing fleets.

So, how does it all work?

Internally at Just Add Cooking, we have a sourcing team that knows New England’s food scene inside and out, and is always on the hunt for new ingredients. This team collaborates with our recipe developers to create menu lineups that they expect they’ll be able to get a maximum number of local ingredients for. It’s easy to predict local in many cases, like bread, and tougher in others, like produce, where crops and availability can vary.

In choosing partners, the sourcing team here at Just Add Cooking is very conscious about environmental practices, sustainability and quality. These are carefully examined before taking on a local partner to ensure that aside from quality, we’re delivering a product that our customers can feel good about.

Once the menu is set, the team gets to work sourcing the right number of ingredients for each box. In fact, these sources aren’t set in stone until the Tuesday before the delivery date as the team watches the order numbers come in and works with our vendors to figure out what they’ll be able to provide. As Just Add Cooking has grown, we have been able to provide a steady revenue stream for many of our partners, and work with them hand in hand to figure out what ingredients we’ll need for upcoming sources. We expect that our sourcing will be even more local and effective as we continue to grow and become a significant source of revenue for our partners!

Orders are placed, and ingredients are delivered to our local packing facility throughout the rest of the week. Eventually, they’ll be packed and shipped same-day by car or bike, which brings us to our sustainability promise. Just Add Cooking’s goal is to be as green as possible in delivering meal kits. We are constantly improving our packaging for a minimal environmental footprint, and since none of our food travels more than 40 miles from its packing facility, we have no need for the heavy duty packaging of cross-country shipping. Two recent innovations were the elimination of freezer bags and ice packs in favor of a compostable box liner and frozen water bottles, for example.

If you live in New England, you probably know that it’s tough to get local products for every single ingredient. We’re all about balancing what’s local with creative recipes, so you’ll occasionally find a non-local ingredient in your box, mostly where it isn’t available or feasible for us to get in New England, or we haven’t yet found the right local partner. We do try to work with local suppliers for these products anyways, ensuring that we are giving back to the local food economy. And chances are if it’s not local now but is eventually available as a local product, we will figure out a way to source it.

If you are receiving a weekly box, you get a newsletter each week describing the local ingredients in your recipes. We also often share these ingredients on our blog and in our weekly emails.

Feedback from our customers has been key in developing Just Add Cooking to the local product it is today. We always welcome your thoughts and ideas at customersupport@justaddcooking.com.

 

Soup Solutions!

Winter is here and with it comes cold and flu season–a particularly bad one this year. We all gravitate towards a nice hot bowl of soup or broth when we’re under the weather, but why? Well, turns out that aside from soup’s warming and comforting factors, there is some evidence out there that chicken soup helps to treat the symptoms of a cold.

Studies have suggested that chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties that help ease upper respiratory infections, while other studies have shown that the aroma, spices and heat from the soup can help clear your sinuses.

While the medicinal benefits of soup are up for debate, its health benefits aren’t. Soup provides a nutrient dense and healthful way of getting a meal in, especially when your body isn’t up for eating anything too hearty.

Not feeling great or just craving a warm bowl of soup? Just Add Cooking to the rescue!

You can check out our Add-On Marketplace, accessed via your Just Add Cooking Meal Planner, to find soup kits that make chicken or veggie soup quick and easy to throw together, along with a variety of healing bone broths from local purveyor Five Way Foods. Jonesing for a soup fix? Check out some of our favorite soup recipes!

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Avgolemono Soup

Put a little Greek into your chicken soup recipe. Avgolemono means “egg-lemon” sauce in Greek, thickened with egg and flavored with lemon. This Mediterranean take on chicken soup features chicken and orzo and is seasoned with dill.

Get the recipe here.

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

Get a little spice in your cold and flu remedy with delicious chicken tortilla soup. It’s a lovely combination of cumin, chili, coriander, garlic and Mexican oregano for a flavorful and hearty soup.

Get the Recipe Here

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Italian Wedding Soup

This comforting recipe has pork meatballs, savory chicken broth and hearty kale that’s sure to warm you up on these cold winter nights!

Get the Recipe Here

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Tomato Soup (with Grilled Cheese)

Nothing says comfort like soup and a grilled cheese! We’ve got a recipe for a delicious and simple tomato soup with a yummy grilled cheese on the side.

Get the Recipe Here

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Turkey Lion’s Head Meatball Soup

This soup’s unusual name is derived from the meatball’s shape, which resembles the head of a lion. We’ve created a recipe with lighter turkey meatballs and added earthy mushrooms and bok choy. Slightly sweet, savory and hearty, this is a perfect take on comfort food soup!

Get the Recipe Here

Winter Cooking Tips: Using Local Ingredients

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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.

 

Winter Cooking Tips: Time Savers

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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!

 

Demystifying Winter Vegetables

Credit: wikiHow

Credit: wikiHow

If you find yourself making a beeline for the butternut squash and sweet potatoes at the Winter Farmer’s Market, we’re coming to your rescue! We get it: a long day where it gets dark at 4 pm makes it easy to fall into old favorites. But winter’s produce can be just as exciting as summer’s. Let’s take a step outside your culinary comfort zone and try some of those unfamiliar foods that you usually walk right past!

Winter’s bounty is so much more than potatoes and parsnips–and there are lots of delicious options you can get locally right here in New England. Let’s demystify some of the peculiar produce you’ll see this time of year, and give you a head start with some recipes to check out. 

But first, three rules for winter food adventures:

  1. If you’ve never heard of it, try it.
  2. If it looks funky to you, definitely try it.
  3. If you can’t pronounce it, absolutely, most definitely try it right now!
Credit: MarthaStewart.com

Credit: MarthaStewart.com

Persimmon

The Latin word for this tomato-look-alike means “food of the gods.” Also a fruit, it originated in Japan where it’s actually the country’s national fruit. Generally deep-orange in color, the most common varieties are the Fuyu and the Hachiya. They can be eaten raw, cooked, or dried. Make it into a salsa, a savory tart, add it to stuffings and curries, or make it into a jam to serve alongside meat dishes. Check out this simple salsa recipe and grab the chips.

Credit: Great British Chefs

Credit: Great British Chefs

Celeriac (Celery Root)

This is the definition of don’t judge a book (or a vegetable) by its cover. Celery root, also known as celeriac, looks like it should be part of a Halloween display. It has a more concentrated celery flavor that is very appealing as it’s slightly creamier than the upfront vegetal taste of celery. We love making it into a puree with a little cream and butter (well, more than a little butter…), check out this recipe. Celery as we know it grows directly out of the celeriac root. They can be interchanged in most recipes, so stop leaving celeriac out of the winter veg party, it’s feeling neglected.

Credit: Ful-Filled

Credit: Ful-Filled

Kohlrabi

These funky vegetables look like something from another planet: hard, bumpy bulbs with long stems shooting out of the top that end in leaves. Sounds appealing right? Actually, they are, they’re delicious! This vegetable is a cross between a cabbage and a turnip, which is fitting as the word “kohlrabi” is German for “cabbage turnip.” It is a member of the brassica family (think broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage) and it can be eaten raw or cooked. It’s very versatile. Slice it and use it as a vehicle for dip, or add it to salads or slaws for some crunch. It can also be baked, boiled, steamed, roasted, or grilled. Here are two of our favorite ways to use it: one raw, and one cooked.

Credit: Karista's Kitchen

Credit: Karista’s Kitchen

The Chicories: Radicchio & Belgian Endive

These leaves get a bad rap for their bitterness, but when combined with other flavors they can be a great complement to any cooked dish or salad. Many of us know endive as a conveniently sturdy leaf to scoop up a ton of dip at a party with. While this is an excellent use for it, try chopping it finely and tossing it into a salad for added crunch or get a little fancy and braise it. Radicchio can also be served raw in a salad. It stands up especially well to the sturdiness of kale, but we love it sauteed or grilled. It’s delicious when the leaves wilt and caramelize a bit. Sauteeing it with some honey and balsamic vinegar also tones down the bitterness, check it out here.

Credit: BBC Good Food

Credit: BBC Good Food

Kumquats

While we have the more earthy flavors of root vegetables on our minds in the cold winter months, it is also citrus season! A little zest from a lemon or an orange always brightens up a dish, but let’s stop and smell the kumquats. Really though, they are wonderfully fragrant and add a lovely layer of citrus flavor to any dish. They are native to China but are also grown in Japan and the U.S. Just bigger than an olive, they look like tiny navel oranges, and fun fact – you can eat the entire thing, skin and all. They are quite tart but also a little sweet. Use them in dressings, preserves, stuffings, or any slow cooked dish to add some zing. We love this tagine recipe that incorporates them. 

Squash: Honeynut, Kabocha, Delicata

Anything you would do with a butternut or acorn squash, you can do with these unconventional squashes. Roast them, stuff them, make them into soups and purees, the oven is your oyster here.

Credit: The Martha's Vineyard Times

Credit: The Martha’s Vineyard Times

Honeynut

If Honey I Shrunk the Kids happened to butternut squash, you would essentially get honeynut squash. This mini squash is bright orange on the inside, and while visually similar to butternut, its texture is even more velvety and its flavor even sweeter. Warm spices are a great match for honeynut and we are big fans of stuffing it!

Credit: My Healthy Dish

Credit: My Healthy Dish

Kabocha

Also known as “Japanese pumpkin,” this squash variety looks lumpy and green and mysterious. But it tastes like a cross between a pumpkin and a sweet potato, so if you’re a fan of those this should be your go-to winter squash. It’s perfect for roasting, stuffing, and pureeing; and you don’t have to peel it (score!). Check out this sweet and spicy recipe.  

Credit: Spoon & Saucer

Credit: Spoon & Saucer

Delicata

Squash can get a bad rap for being high maintenance – difficult to peel and tough to chop. This striped squash is no fuss. It doesn’t require peeling and it’s smaller than most winter squash so it’s easy to handle. It’s flavor is sweet, creamy, and mild, so it pairs well with most spices. As with most other squash, it’s delicious when roasted so the edges caramelize slightly.

So before you steer clear of New England’s winter vegetable crops this year, take a moment to wake up your senses and give something new a try!