One of the issues that faced me when I first began growing my own vegetables was meal planning: whereas once I would just buy whatever was on my grocery list for the week or fortnight, now I was able to incorporate lovely fresh garden produce, but what to do with it when I wasn't sure what I would get from day to day?
Many people love cooking, have long experience in the kitchen and feel very comfortable with making up their own recipes to incorporate their fresh goodies, however I am not one of them! Cooking is definitely not my forte, and I've only begun cooking from scratch in the past few years so up until relatively recently I felt the need to follow a recipe in order to produce something edible LOL. Which has meant that incorporating the sometimes large quantities of many of our vegetables into meals with enough variety to keep my family happy has been somewhat of a challenge! Particularly when you can only find so many recipes for the red mustard threatening to take over the entire vegie bed for example.
I've come to rely on two standard 'recipes' now which not only use up lots of vegies, but can be changed up with whatever you have on hand. The first is the classic vegie stir fry, the second is the quiche and - when I'm in a hurry - the crustless quiche.
I think most people have a handle on how to cook stir fries - have everything cut up before you go and make sure that everything is cut evenly and finely so that it cooks quickly (without stewing) and make sure your pan or wok is very hot (basic instructions can be found here).
The quiche is fabulous in both winter, served hot with steamed or baked vegies, or served cool in summer with fresh salad, so it's very versatile. I used to be scared of making pastry (don't ask me why, it just seemed like something that only "real" bakers make LOL), but it isn't hard at all, especially if you have access to a food processor - I use this basic shortcrust pastry recipe (metric measurements) - it's quick and easy and I often don't bother to blind bake it first (but do prick it all over with a fork before baking).
Photo by startcooking kathy & amandine
When I'm really in a hurry though, I like to make a crustless quiche, which is very, very simple - simple enough in fact for my seven year old to make.
Crustless Quiche (also known as Impossible Pie)
Preheat your oven to 180'C/ 350'F.
Whisk together the following ingredients:
2 cups of milk
½ cup self-raising flour
½ cup grated cheese of your choice.
This is the base of your quiche. To this basic mix you can add a mixture of whatever chopped vegetables and herbs you have to hand. Having made a few now, I usually eyeball the mixture, but it would be around 2 to 2½ cups of chopped vegetables. The quiche is also a great way to use up small amounts of leftover meat such as chicken, is delicious with salmon and dill as two of the ingredients and any greens with a little garlic and bacon is always a winner.
Add the chopped herbs and vegetables (and meat) to the batter and season with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and pour into a greased pie dish. Sprinkle with more grated cheese if desired (and topping with sliced tomatoes in season is wonderful), and bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until set in the middle and nicely browned on top.
So, next time you are cleaning out your crisper and need to use up a few vegies, receive CSA box with an enormous bunch of greens you don't know what to do with or come in from the garden with a basket of fresh vegies and want to cook something simple so you can fully appreciate the flavours of your fresh produce, have a go at this :-)