Quick Cook Tips
Would you like suggestions on how to use the beautiful bounty of your LolaBee’s Harvest produce box? Below are some basic guidelines for preparing great meals:
Salads: A great salad can be the precursor to a beautiful meal or the meal itself. The base of your salad can be any lettuce, but is also good with finely chopped kale, beet greens, endive, or a blend. Pair bitter lettuces (like radicchio) with sweeter types, like Belgian endive. Spinach and romaine are great, but you can easily liven up your plate with the addition of herbs like chervil and parsley.
Dressing can be as simple as a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a few squeezes of fresh lemon or lime juice, and a dusting of a good, flaky sea salt with a crack of fresh pepper. To prepare a more intricate dressing, experiment with different vinegars (balsamic, white balsamic, red wine, cider, or rice wine vinegar) and oils (olive oil, grapeseed, walnut, or avocado) in combination. Balance out the pairing with a dash of sweetness, such as honey, agave nectar, or a pinch of sugar, or add a kick with mustard or sriracha. Don’t forget the salt and pepper, herbs, and spices if you like that little extra something. It’s very hard to make a bad dressing, as long as you remember not to be heavy-handed with any one ingredient.
Roasting: Most vegetables can be roasted for about 15–30 minutes in a 375˚ oven with a light coat of oil, a dash of sea salt, and a crack of fresh pepper. Lower heat means longer oven time, but don’t set your oven above 400˚ for vegetables, or they’ll burn before they cook. If you are roasting different vegetables, remember to cut them all into approximately the same size so they roast evenly. To make them a little fancier, dust them with zataar (a blend of sumac and spices), or coriander and cumin. When they are ready to come out of the oven, squeeze with lemon or just eat them as is.
Steaming: When it comes to food preparation, steaming is often an unsung hero. Fresh, lightly steamed vegetables taste so amazing that you don’t need to add a lot of seasoning. Just let the natural sweetness and brightness of the vegetable’s flavor shine through. Steaming also works well for roots and tubers, such as sweet potatoes, parsnips, and the like.
Sautés: The trick to a good sauté is to not overdo it. Get your oil to a good, high temperature (not burning or smoking) and slide your vegetables into the pan. Once that initial burst of heat hits your ingredients, turn down the flame and keep your eye on the pan, regularly turning the vegetables for even cooking. If you are unsure about cooking times, sauté your vegetables individually and blend them back together for a final reheat. High sugar items, such as onions and tomatoes, work best at low heat, to allow the sugar to caramelize and the flavors to meld.
Purées and Mashes: Purees can be made from vegetables that have been boiled, steamed, or roasted. Be sure that the base vegetable is soft enough to form a smooth puree. If you are going for a mash, you still want to be sure everything is properly cooked through, but you can hand mash for a fun, funky texture. Finish off purees with an addition of cream, vegetable, or chicken stock or even some of the water your veggies were boiled in. Go easy and go slow!
Grilling: Much like roasting, a light coat of oil and a smidge of salt and pepper is all that’s needed to make a grilled vegetable shine. If you are grilling items such as burgers and meats, start with those and, when you about 15 minutes away from the main dishes being ready, throw your vegetables onto the grill. Arrange the vegetables around the outer edges of the grill, away from heavy, direct flame. Once you have a good set of grill marks, turn and repeat on the other side. If you are nervous about burning your vegetables on the grill, it’s always easy to start them on the grill for a nice char-broiled flavor, and finish them in an oven at a low heat (275˚).
Soups: Soups are one of the best ways to use up the bits and ends of past meals. Leftover vegetables can easily be added to a base of stock and made even more tasteful with the addition of barley, quinoa, bulgur wheat, or rice. All of the great classic soups we love today are the result of cooks from long ago who used what was at hand, blending a little bit of this and a little bit of that.
And remember, even though we don’t sell products doused in chemicals and pesticides, you should always properly wash and clean your fruits and vegetables. Give it a nice dip and a scrub and you’re good to go!
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