With summer on the wane and fall around the corner, thoughts turn to hearty rib sticking foods that remind us of northern winter days when the snow swirls and the crisp cold air leaves its mark on the rosy cheeks of children and adults alike. But before we get to the time when we must buy all of our fruits and veggies in the cold, over wrapped packages and industrialized aisles of the supermarket, we have an opportunity to gather up the dwindling plant food offerings in our gardens and to visit farmers markets for the last baskets of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, squash and the like.
Recently, I was fortunate enough to receive a beauty-full bag of cherry tomatoes of various colors, shapes and sizes from my friends, Jimmy and Melanie who are veganic farmers. They were red, orange, yellow, sometimes stripe-y round and grape shaped morsels, some teeny tiny, some small and some quite large – a veritable cornucopia in a paper bag. As hard as we tried, we could not get them all eaten and I was worried about not being able to enjoy all of them in a timely fashion.
And, since it is said that necessity is the mother of invention, and since I am thinking about fall foods, I hit upon the idea of marrying the last of a summer crop with some year round food staples. And since I like to fool around in the kitchen, without being too worried about what must go with what in terms of flavor, consistency, feel and look, I came up with this rather fun and uncomplicated recipe that I think will appeal to all ages.
As I was testing it out, it occurred to me that it might be fun to share some fun factoids about some of the ingredients.
- Veggie Broth: If you are buying the tetra pack version for convenience, which is what I do, please remember that some versions contain a lot of sugar and salt, both of which we know are flavor enhancers, not health enhancers. Rowing your own boat in terms of adding in flavors as desired is, in my opinion, the way to go.
- Garlic: I love fresh garlic and always have some on hand. You can smash it, chop it, dice it, press it and it will always add bite and depth to whatever you are making. But one thing you can’t do is fry it at a high temp. It will burn, turn black and taste bitter in very short order. Make sure the heat is turned to medium low and continue stirring for no more than a minute to release that unique aroma.
- Olive Oil: There are conflicting views out there about whether or not olive oil is actually a heart healthy product, whether or not it is carcinogenic when cooked at a high heat and whether or not it (and other oils) become rancid when stored at room temp. So, I like to err on the side of caution in purchasing organic, cold pressed, unrefined olive oil. I add it if I so choose to dishes after they are cooked and store it in the fridge. Because olive oil contains both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, it remains liquid at room temp. Depending on the composition, it may become solid in the fridge. If I am not having a senior moment (LOL!), I take it out of the fridge to warm up and if I don’t remember in time,I put the bottle in a bowl of warm water.
- Pasta: There are lots of kinds, shapes and types of pasta out there from which to choose. If I am being honest, I will say that I like white wheat pasta the best. But since I try to stay away from too much white flour, I always use the whole wheat pasta unless a box of white sneaks its way into my cupboard via he who often does the groceries. For people who eat gluten free, I have tried corn and brown rice pasta, my favorite being the former.
- Basil: I have made the mistake of putting fresh basil in the fridge, which it does not like at all. It gets kinda wilt-y and slimy and does the same thing if I wash it before using. Truth be told I don’t wash fresh basil. I kinda blow on it and hope for the best. We are all still alive. LOL!
Vegan Annie’s Handy Kitchen Tips
Pick simple recipes that do not have a lot of steps and ingredients.
There might be some flops and goodness knows I have had a few, but that, as they say, is life.
Ya’ win some, ya’ lose some, but you can never go wrong with honest to goodness, whole food plant based cuisine.
Compassionate consumption is always a win – for the animals, for the planet, for human health.
May all beings be happy and free.