“Vegetable Surprise” recipe (or way of life)

When you work full time, and have gardens and animals to care for, plus lots of other projects, something tends to get less attention. For us that is cooking. Often we just come in at dusk and look at each other and hope the other has some great dinner idea… but rather than order out for pizza, since we do strongly believe in eating our own food as much as possible, we’ve come up with quick meals that use whatever vegetables are available.

Besides Top Ramen (which I’m embarrassed to say we do eat from time to time) the main thing we make is what I call Vegetable Surpise. (I think the name is funny, since it’s not a surprise – but no one else thinks it’s funny; just humor me). Here’s the “recipe”. You can make as much or little as you like by adding more vegetables, but when vegetables are the main part of the meal you need a surprising amount – I rarely manage to cook up enough for leftovers.

Vegetable Surprise
– onion (one small or 1/2 large)
– garlic ( as much as you like; I use a big spoonful of that canned chopped stuff, or 2-4 cloves fresh)
– oil
– vegetables (such as cabbage, kale, collards, chard, gailahn, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, beets, dried tomatoes, peppers, jerusalem artichokes, green beans, snap peas, zucchini, winter squash, kohlrabi) cut in bite size peices.

You may need to parboil beets and winter squash; it’s hard to get them soft enough in saute.

Chop onion and garlic and saute in medium hot oil. After a couple of minutes, add vegatables in order of hardness (hard to soft). Cook vegetables until done to taste (we like them undercooked, but then, we’re hungry at this point).

Serve over pasta and top with grated hard cheese such as parmesan or pecorino romano (or any cheese, really – gorgonzola is good, cheddar works)

Or serve over baked potatoes and top with cheddar.

Or add a couple of eggs with the cooking vegetables, and some soy sauce, and serve over rice.

Or add a lot of eggs, let cook for 10min, flip over and cook on the other side, and call it a frittata (we usually add sliced potates to the vegetables when we do this)

Or only cook vegetables halfway, remove from heat, add a lot of beaten eggs and a little milk, and pour into a pie crust and bake, call it a quiche.

Or you can add cream (after the end of cooking to make a cream sauce), or ricotta; but these require more sense of adventure and having some leftovers that need using up.

Fresh tomatoes don’t generally work, they release too much liquid when cooked so you get a runny, sloppy dish. However, if you add cut up small fresh tomatoes shortly before serving, so they just get barely hot, it’s particularly delicious over pasta with grated cheese.

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