Category Archives: Vegetable dishes

The Beet Goes On! / The Health Benefits of Beets

Beets were the number one item on the list of “best foods you are not eating” which first appeared in the NY Times in 2008 ( This incredibly popular article lists eleven foods that are good for you but for some unknown reason don’t make it to the dinner table or into people’s lives. So what is it with beets? Sometimes it’s a matter of the labor involved (the long cooking time and messy peeling process), and is probably why they are so popular in our store. We’ve had beets on our daily menu since we first opened in 2007 and they continue to be a big seller. And now we understand they have become very popular in upscale restaurants too!

The Nutritional Value of Beets

Beets are related to spinach and chard; the leaves and ribs are all edible and good for you: from the New York Times article, “Dr. Bowden says, … they are a rich source of folate as well as natural red pigments that may be cancer fighters.” Mostly we boil the beets, peel and cut them, then cover with a vinaigrette/brine seasoned with star anise and clove. They are great oven roasted as well: we parboil them briefly before peeling, seasoning and roasting. Occasionally we have golden beets which are a bit milder in flavor and appeal to those who are not crazy about beets. This week we are making borscht so stop in for a warming bowl of beet soup!

And just for fun, we thought we would share a wonderful excerpt from Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume:

“The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.

Slavic peoples get their physical characteristics from potatoes, their smoldering inquietude from radishes, their seriousness from beets.

The beet is the melancholy vegetable, the one most willing to suffer. You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip…

The beet is the murderer returned to the scene of the crime. The beet is what happens when the cherry finishes with the carrot. The beet is the ancient ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized; the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma; the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies.

The beet was Rasputin’s favorite vegetable. You could see it in his eyes.”

Beet recipes: Roasted Beets / Pickled Beets / Sugar Beets / Cooking Beets!!!

And here is our favorite recipe for Borscht! Another great thing you can do with beets!

3 lg. beets, peeled and shredded
3 lg. carrots, peeled and shredded
3 medium baking
potatoes, peeled and cubed 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 lg. onion, sliced thin
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
2 qts. water or vegetable broth
1 medium head cabbage, cored and shredded

1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
3 cloves garlic
minced salt and black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon white sugar, or to taste sour cream, for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill for garnish
horseradish also makes a nice garnish with a little kick

Sweat the vegetables in the oil, (beets, onion, garlic and carrots) until they release their juices. Then add  tomato paste and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the water, salt, pepper, and diced tomato. Simmer for 1/2 hour and then add the cabbage and potato. Cook for another 20 minutes, then adjust seasoning. Garnish with the sour cream, dill and horseradish as an option. It can also be chilled and served cold.

Serves 6-8 as a first course or 4 as a meal!

Wild Mushroom Lasagna with black truffles

Some dishes are carefully planned and executed and others just seem to happen by themselves.  Yesterday was an example of the latter.  Wild mushroom and black truffle lasagna an accident!!  Let me explain.  Several days ago a salesman left some pasta samples from Italy, paper thin sheets of egg pasta, absolutely gorgeous!!  My first comment was I’d like to do a different type of lasagna with this, not really knowing what that might be.  The next day, a local forager came by with beautiful chanterelles, black trumpet mushrooms, some boletes, and one I’ve never heard of, “cinnabar”, a brilliant orange cousin of the golden chanterelle.  The wheels were starting to turn…last night after a long Friday preparing for weddings and keeping the storefront filled with food it all came together.  A quick canvas of the walk-in turned up the perfect amount of bechamel, nice fresh ricotta, and a small wheel of sublime black truffle cheese.  Some fresh thyme, Portobello stems and truffle oil and it was happening. Within minutes onion and chopped mushrooms were sweating on the stove and the ricotta was being whipped with bechamel and grated cheese.  A layer of pasta, a layer of mushroom-cheese mix, and so on…and finally a shower of the sautéed mushrooms on top and bam, in the oven!  I’ve never put together a lasagna so quickly.  There it was and here it is! Just out in the store and going fast!

Eggplant Okra Bhadji

Our friends at Gill Farms in Hurley, New York keep surprising us with beautiful, tasty, healthy vegetables. Life is too short to only eat broccoli! So come on in and try some of the wonderful vegetables we have been preparing. Expand your mind and your palate!

Today’s delivery included multicolored mini-eggplants and gorgeous okra.  There is definitely much more to do with okra than making gumbo, (which we love) so to highlight these fascinating vegetables I made an Indian inspired dish, called a “bhadji”, delicately seasoned with ginger, tamarind and chili for today’s plat du jour.

The fresh cranberry beans we cooked yesterday are another late summer treat, truly amazing!  I folded these into a clove, cardamon scented rice, sort of like an Indian version of the Cajan “dirty rice”.

To finish the dish we’ve paired  a nice cool cucumber yogurt raita, with cucumbers from Gill Farms, of course, and some fresh herbs from our garden out back. We’re loving the bounty of the harvest in August, come share it with us!

Healthy Centerpieces

Looking for a healthy appetizer that also doubles as a fabulous centerpiece? Check out these cool Garden Vegetable Crudite centerpieces I made for a pool party last weekend! I used wheat grass as the base, and skewered a fun assortment of veggies and voila! There you go! Our chefs made a yummy yogurt-fresh dill dip as an accompaniment – I delivered to the party and they were immediately put on the tables. So fun, festive, and delicious!

Carciofi alla Giudia (fried artichoke hearts)

Ready for a mouth-watering delicious crispy treat? Try one of these tantalizing fried artichoke hearts! The Italians aren’t sure how old the recipe is, saying it could date back to Imperial times when the Roman Jewish community had upwards of 50,000 members.

We started by cleaning the artichokes, cutting off the bottom of the stem and the tough outer leaves. You will end up removing about half of the leaves to get to the tender inner section and may want to trim the sharp tips of the remaining leaves, as well. Cut the remaining heart section in half, dip in lemon water, then drain on a paper towel. Mix together in a bowl some matzoh meal, salt and pepper then coat the hearts on both sides.

Heat at least 1/2″ of olive oil in a saute pan and when hot, quickly saute some chopped garlic and then scoop out so it doesn’t burn. Now gently drop your artichoke hearts into the oil, turning them so they cook evenly ( about 3-4 minutes) until they’re golden brown. Set on a paper towel to remove excess oil and enjoy!!

Gluten Free Latkes!

We loved making the traditional potato latkes during Hannukah and people gobbled them up – but we’ve noticed more and more folks requesting gluten free foods, so Richard invented a delicious vegetable quinoa latke that was a real crowd pleaser! Here’s what he has to say:

“The quinoa latkes have been such a hit this past week I thought they deserved a mention.  I absolutely love the taste of quinoa and have been making tabouli with it all summer long. However, tabouli is a warm weather dish and I’ve been brainstorming about some type of gluten-free savory patty or cake and suddenly last week when we were making potato latkes it all happened in a flash. Quinoa latkes!!

Quinoa cooks very quickly, 2 cups quinoa to 4 cups salted water. Combine the cooked quinoa with a finely minced onion, scallion, parsley, 1 grated carrot and 2 medium grated zucchini (which are salted first, then squeezed dry).  Soy flour works well as a binder or you can also use mashed potato flakes. Regular flour would be our normal binder but then it obviously would not be gluten-free.  I used a little over  half a cup for this quantity.

Mix everything together with 4 beaten eggs, season with salt and freshly ground pepper. We use an ice cream scoop to portion out the proper amount for each latke and then shape into patties. The raw latke should hold together fairly well and it will tighten up a bit once you begin to fry it.  If they do not hold together or seem too wet add more flour, too dry, add another egg.  We always test one first to see if the seasoning is correct before making the whole batch.  Don’t be discouraged if they don’t hold together at first, the ratio of vegetable, quinoa, flour, and egg just needs to be adjusted.

If you’re experienced in making regular potato latkes, the cooking technique is very similar once you begin to fry them – you want a nice golden brown color and do a test to make sure it’s cooked all the way through.

The nice nutty flavor of quinoa is delicious combined with the vegetables and fried.  These “latkes” are great with sour cream or just as an accompaniment to a luncheon or dinner dish.”

Braised Endive with lemon tarragon vinaigrette

We’ve recently been invited to contribute some recipes for cooking endive to California Endive’s website ( What an honor, as they’re the primary grower of endive in the USA. We recently posted this picture on our Facebook fan page, but today our outstanding chef, Jonathan Sheridan, gave me his recipe for this delicious dish:

Braised Endive, seared with lemon tarragon vinaigrette
Chef Jonathan Sheridan, Bistro-to-Go, Kingston, New York

10 endive
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup white wine
1 tsp sugar
pinch salt and pepper

Cooking the Endive

Trim the outer leaves and the end of the stem of the endive. Cut in half and put into a stainless steel pot with water (just enough to cover). Add the rest of the ingredients and gently stir together.

Take a clean kitchen towel and place on top of the water, then place a clean plate on top of the towel, (which will be used to keep the endive submerged while it’s cooking).

Cook the endive over a low flame, barely simmering, for 20 minutes. Test with a knife for doneness – if the knife offers no resistance, they’re perfectly cooked.

With a pair of tongs, gently remove the endive and put on a rack to drain with the open side down so all the water can drain out.

Take a heavy bottom saute pan and turn the heat up all the way, add 1/4 tsp olive oil and quickly place the endive, cut side down in the pan and sear for 3 minutes to allow them to caramelize. Remove from the pan and put on a platter to be served.

Lemon Tarragon Vinaigrette

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp agave syrup
salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon peeled, seeded and diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon
Pink peppercorns

Mix all ingredients together and spoon over endive. Dust with some crushed pink peppercorns.

Pepperonata Pleases!

This weekend we’re creating an antipasti table for a large wedding and wanted to utilize some of the fresh, local vegetables that are available and delicious right now. After taking a look at these colorful and freshly picked peppers, there was no doubt that we had to include pepperonata in the mix! If you don’t have all these amazing colors to choose from, it works just as nicely with solid red or yellow bell peppers – always best if you can purchase them from your local farm stand this time of year.

Start by cutting the peppers in half, remove the seeds and stems, lay them skin side up on a baking sheet with a little bit of water and roast in the oven at 350 degrees until you see the skins have become crinkly (approximately 20-30 minutes). We prefer to roast them in the oven instead of over a grill because the flavor stays clean and fresh – no charred taste – more of the pure taste of the peppers.

Next put them in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a sheet pan and let them steam. When cool enough to handle, peel the skins off. Cut the peppers into strips and set aside. Thinly slice red onion, garlic and cook slowly in olive oil. When the onions are transluscent add the peppers, a few capers, green olives, season with salt and pepper and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the heat, add a splash of red wine vinegar and a few basil leaves, check the seasoning, let cool and serve.

Pepperonata makes a delicious antipasti: serve with a sliced baguette or toasty bruschettas. It also makes a wonderful topping for grilled chicken or fish. Mangia!

Insalata Caprese

Turn these gorgeous beefsteak and low acid tomatoes (ours are from Gill Farms) into a simple summer favorite! Slice the tomatoes and layer with fresh mozzarella on your favorite platter. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper, freshly chopped basil and a good balsamic, red wine, or sherry wine vinegar and voila!

Somewhere over the rainbow: chard!

Summer produce is at its peak right now and this colorful, delicately delicious, and healthful “green” – rainbow chard is one of the best. I’ve grown it myself and never tire of the sweet tender flavors of chard simply prepared by steaming it with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

Today we got a delivery from our neighbors at Gill Farms and I was struck by the beauty of the colors of the stems sitting on the counter as I walked through the kitchen.

The preparation is so simple. Start by cutting the stems where they meet the leaves and then into 3″ pieces. Wash thoroughly and set to drain. Cut the leafy parts horizontally across the stem portion into 2″ strips and soak for a few minutes in water and then drain.

In a large pot, heat some olive oil and add chopped or sliced garlic.  (Don’t let the oil get too hot, as the garlic will cook very quickly and you don’t want to let it burn.) While the garlic is cooking add the stems (still wet from draining) with a little salt and pepper, cover and let steam until almost tender.  Now take big handfuls of the chard leaves, stir with tongs fully coating the leaves with the garlic oil and cooked stems. Turn the heat down low and cover letting everything cook until done.  Check seasoning for salt and pepper, platter and serve.

Chard is delicious warm or at room temperature. In Sicily and Catalonia golden raisins and pine nuts are sometimes added and are a wonderful somewhat unexpected addition.