Archive for the ‘Vegetables’ Category

Crazy for Crudite

December 6th, 2011

While the strict definition of crudités is a simple platter of raw vegetables for dipping, the concept is a broad and delicious one that offers plentiful options. As a rule, the vegetables are served with a vinaigrette or sauce for dipping, and the dish has long been popular as an hors d’oeuvre for parties and buffets. Crudités did not start appearing on American tables until the late 50s or early 60s, and certainly reached its heyday in those decades as well.

Crudités need not hew too closely to its origins, however, and a little creativity makes this an excellent menu addition that can be a delicious and colorful way to begin a meal. Of course one must start with your assortment of vegetables – keep it simple with slender baby carrots sliced lengthwise, sliced radish, shaved fennel, Belgian endive and some poached fingerling potatoes. Or buck tradition and offer a pickled version – not raw, but equally crisp and tasty and certainly in the spirit of a traditional crudités, with pickled beets, carrots, green beans, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

We also like a hybrid version that offers some fresh and some poached vegetables together, along with hard boiled eggs, perhaps some shrimp and a nice, garlicky aioli for dipping, in the tradition of a
grand aioli.

Whatever you choose to adorn your crudités platter, don’t forget the dip! Consider a warm bagna cauda, or a bright vinaigrette. A vibrant, subtly smoky Romesco is a good choice with the starchier vegetables, and Green Goddess dressing’s herbal punch is a nice match to veggies of all shapes and sizes. Tzatziki, blue cheese, hummus – the options are endless. Call us today for your order and start crafting your crudités platters for the holidays!

Pumpkin Fun

October 19th, 2011

The name pumpkin originated from the Greek word for “large melon” which is pepon. The French reinterpreted the word as “pompon”, and the English landed on “pumpion” or “pompion”. Fall means pumpkins, particularly in honor of the Halloween and Thanksgiving holidays. Now is the time to incorporate this tasty veggie into the menu, and to cornucopia-ize your dining rooms.

Along with pie, pumpkin lends itself well to custards and flans, or perhaps a warm bread pudding topped with bitter caramel. Consider a savory pumpkin soup made with coconut milk and a hint of Thai chiles, or a soup with chestnuts, or cider, and fried sage. A roasted pumpkin salad with lentils and goat cheese will certainly hit the seasonal spot! Pumpkin is superb in curries, or blended with mascarpone into a rich ravioli filling. Pumpkin risotto reads well on a menu and we hear is a great seller. Use hollowed-out mini pumpkins to serve savory soups and stews. And don‘t forget the pumpkin seeds – make a spicy pepita brittle for a dramatic and delicious garnish to cheesecakes and ice cream.

Sugar Pie pumpkins are the most widely used for baking.  We also have in stock for you French Red/Rouge D’etampe and Baby Bear/Soup Bowl varieties, plus for decoration, Big Macs, Fairy Tale, Mini White and Orange, in addition to Gourds, Indian Corn, and by 2-day preorder, Hay Bales and Corn Stalks. Lastly, consider Butternut, Buttercup, Sweet Dumpling or Red Kuri Squash. We also have plenty of sweet and savory spices, fresh butter and cream, olive oil and coconut milk … almost everything you might need for your fabulous fall menu. Call us today for your order!

Have a Lotta Bagna Cauda

September 14th, 2011

Piedmontese in origin, bagna cauda is a wonderfully simple yet completely satisfying intersection of basic ingredients. Meaning “hot bath”, bagna cauda or bagna caôda, is comprised of warm olive oil and/or butter, to which garlic cloves and anchovies are cooked slowly until soft and mellow. It is then served warm, with whatever fresh, crisp vegetables are available for dipping. The dish has humble origins, created as a warming snack for vineyard workers in mid-winter, and myriad variations. Some have the garlic mellowed in milk first. Some insist on only olive oil, some on a combination of butter and olive oil together. An argument could be made for walnut oil even.

The best part of the dish is that it embraces all vegetables equally. Some favorites include fennel, cabbage, peppers, carrots and cauliflower. Sticks of fresh zucchini, cucumber and squash are excellent choices as well. Kept warm over a low flame, the bagna cauda is the perfect foil to cold and crisp. Or consider just-steamed small red potatoes, halved – they’ll be just tender enough to soak up the garlicky, delicious oil.

Fall is near, so why not add something simple and warming to your arsenal which can take the chill off? GreenLeaf has everything you need on hand to add this surprisingly delicious “dip” to your menu. From exceptional olive oil to European-style butter, salted anchovies or packed in brine (salted are the preferred choice), fresh garlic and whatever vegetable captures your fancy. Call us today to place your order!

Tomato Time!

August 24th, 2011

It’s time for tomatoes. They are arriving in earnest, warm from the sun, ripe, sweet and tasting of the earth. Delicious enough to eat out of hand, but even better when combined with a pinch of this or a drizzle of that, perhaps a little heat, and always a sprinkle of salt. The beauty of a truly outstanding summer-ripe tomato is that not much prep or cooking is needed–they lend themselves well to simple preparations. The beautiful rainbow of heirloom tomatoes begs for a white porcelain platter and a drizzle of olive oil to bring out their best qualities.

Starting with appetizers, get things off to a great start with bacon wrapped cherry tomatoes on the grill. Or perhaps some diminutive tomato tarts, simple with layers of pastry, pesto and bright tomato slices. Panzanella, or bread salad, makes the most of all that delicious tomato juice that normally stays behind on the cutting board. And fried green tomatoes (ideally in bacon fat), are just right with a cold beer.

Top halved tomatoes with parm and fresh herbs for broiling, dice them into salsas and bruschetta toppings, and puree them into fresh tomato soups and gazpachos. And don’t forget the unconventional tomato: Perhaps a tomato jam for accompanying charcuterie platters, or freshly rendered tomato juice for Sunday morning Bloody Marys.

Call us today to get a full list of all the varieties of tomatoes available at GreenLeaf. From organic and conventional, heirloom and plum, to Sweet 100s and Toybox Cherry Tomatoes, you’ll have your pick of the best around. It’s time for tomatoes!

Do We Love Ratatouille!

July 26th, 2011

The quintessential summer dish, often attributed to Provence, ratatouille makes the most of an abundant summertime garden. While its birthplace is widely believed to be Nice, it’s held in some circles that its origins were Catalonian in nature. The etymology of the name, per the Merriam Webster Dictionary, points to a combination of the French verbs ratouiller, to disturb, and tatouiller, to stir. Some of the key ingredients, such as tomatoes and eggplant, were not indigenous to Europe and so the dish certainly has no history there prior to the 17th century, and possibly later.

At its heart, it is a simple, rustic vegetable stew that is slowly cooked in olive oil. The “traditional” dish is made with just eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers and onions, simmered in olive oil and seasoned with Herbes de Provence. But let’s not be bound too much by tradition. After all, this is a dish that must have been born of necessity more than technique: A summer garden full of vegetables that needed to get used promptly. A recent Google search for ratatouille recipes returned over 2 million results – so feel free to get creative.

Serve it warm, swimming in fragrant olive oil, or chilled with crusty bread. Roast your vegetables first, grill over open flame, or simply sauté them in great olive oil. (Most agree that the vegetables should be cooked individually before combining them in the finished dish; ratatouille should never be mushy). Dot it with goat cheese before a quick run through the broiler, or serve as an accompaniment to grilled whole fish. GreenLeaf has what you need to craft your version of this perfect summertime dish – fresh vegetables, gorgeous tomatoes, fine herbs, and extra virgin olive oil. Call us today for your order!


June 29th, 2011

Sweet, crunchy summer corn. Yellow or white, gently steamed or right off the cob. Really, nothing much gets better than this. But summer time is a great time to explore your options with corn, and put its sugary crunch to great use.

One excellent option fits perfectly into the summer grilling tradition: Mexican-style grilled corn. Properly browned on the grill, the ears can be slathered with a combination of sour cream and mayonnaise, then sprinkled with salty cotija cheese and chili powder. Top with a squeeze of fresh lime. Another great option is a fire-roasted corn salad. Finish kernels in a basket over an open flame, then toss with plenty of olive oil, cumin, diced red onion, cilantro, tomatoes and lime juice. The corn brings a nice sweetness and smoke that balance the spice.

Corn puddings are quick and easy comfort food, and excellent alongside fried chicken. Grate the corn and combine with fresh eggs, cream and perhaps a little cheese. Puffed and golden, and just perfect. Or a simple, summery corn chowder, with a touch of bacon and perfectly diced red pepper.

GreenLeaf is ready and waiting to help you make the most of summer corn – call us today for pricing and availability on everything you need: Spices, olive oil, cheese, herbs, and most importantly, corn!

As Cool as a …

June 22nd, 2010

Cucumbers are believed to be native to India, and some records show they have been cultivated in East Asia for some 3,000 years. Most modern cucumbers bear little resemblance to the varieties of old. Current versions, like the English hothouse and Persian varieties commonly seen today, each have characteristics that recommend them for a particular dish, like the Persian’s smaller size for pickling.

This crunchy, mild and decidedly refreshing vegetable also happens to be one of the most versatile salad ingredients in the kitchen. Cucumber salads proliferate around the world, each a unique representation of its place of origin. Here are a couple of our favorites:

Tsatziki from Greece takes advantage of thick and creamy Greek-style yogurt, peeled and thinly sliced cucumbers and plenty of fresh dill. It is the classic refreshing foil to souvlaki in Greek cuisine, but will compliment most grilled meats, spicy curries, falafel and the like. Also a great dip.

Sunomono from Japan calls for first salting the sliced cucumbers and allowing them to drain to remove excess moisture. They are then tossed with a seasoned and lightly sweetened rice vinegar dressing. The result is a fresh, crisp, pickle-like salad that served chilled, is a wonderful summer accompaniment to grilled fish.

Of course, variations on a theme are quick with cucumber salads – substitute crème fraiche for a decidedly French version of Tsatziki. Add cilantro, chili paste and a touch of fish sauce for a Thai version of Sunomono.