Serving Up the Harvest:
175 Simple Recipes Celebrating the Goodness of Fresh Vegetables
Recently I received several cook books from Storey Publishing that I’ve been busy referencing for recipes and cooking inspirations. This time of the year as I harvest post-frost kale from my garden, bring home Brussels sprouts from the Old Creamery, winter squash from Williamsburg Market, and the biggest heads of cabbage I’ve ever seen from Atkin’s Farm, Andrea Chesman’s cookbook, Serving Up the Harvest: 175 Simple Recipes Celebrating the Goodness of Fresh Vegetables offers a guide to serving up a selection of seasonal produce at its peak.
The layout of Serving Up the Harvest organizes its 175 recipes into seasons, with a focus on specific crops from that season. Their seasons are broken down into four categories, or chapters, including:
- Spring into Summer
- Early to Mid-Summer
- Mid-to Late Summer
- Fall into Winter
Each chapter lists a peak harvest for that season, such as asparagus in the spring, early summer Swiss chard, chiles & peppers in the heart of the summer, and Jerusalem artichokes and parsnips in the late fall, featuring least 34 different seasonal harvest ingredients. But what’s so great about these categories isn’t that you just get a list of recipes for say fennel, you also get advice on growing, sowing, cultivating and harvesting these crops.
What really speaks to the foodie in me is the kitchen notes they add that guide you on how long to cook each vegetable, depending on your cooking method (roasting, grilling, sauteing, etc.) along with a little kitchen math that help you convert vegetable size and weight into culinary measurements. And interspersed throughout are little morsels of interesting information on the featured harvest; such as, the history of parsnips, kale nutrition notes and “Rutabaga Facts and Fictions.” Make a great holiday gift for those cooks and gardeners in your life.
This past week I needed to whip up a quick dinner for family and visiting friends and opened up Serving Up the Harvest to find inspiration on what to do with some of my kale still standing in the garden. I found a simple recipe whose main ingredients were pasta, beans, kale and Parmesan cheese. Pulling out penne rice pasta, a can of cannellini beans and cutting eight stems of Lacinato kale growing in my garden, I had dinner on the table in no time (although, after reading this article I might pre-cook beans and keep them in the freezer from now on). I’ve included the recipe here, and if you like this, you’ll love the 174 other great recipes found in the book to guide you through your crops as they peak.
Pasta with Kale and Beans (Serves 4)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 can (15oz) cannellini beans (rinsed and drained), or 1 1/2 cups cooked cannellini beans
- 1 lb kale, stems discarded and leaves shredded (@12 cups lightly packed) – (6-8 stems)
- 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 lb bowties, penne or other short pasta (we choose rice pasta for the gluten-free version)
- 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Begin heating a large pot of salted water for the pasta.
- Heat the oil over medium-low heat in a large saucepan. Saute the garlic and hot pepper flakes, if using, in the oil until the garlic is fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in the beans, kale and broth. Cover and simmer until the kale is partially wilted and almost tender, 5 to 8 minutes.
- When the water boils, cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the pasta. Return the pasta to the pot, add the kale mixture, and toss well. Add as much of the reserved water as needed to moisten the pasta. Add 1 cup of the Parmesan, season with salt and pepper, and toss well.
- Serve immediately, passing more Parmesan at the table.