There's still time over the next few weeks to make a visit to your local Farmer's Market. I've been kicking off the fall season with a bounty of fresh vegetables! Last week I returned home with my little re-usable tote bag stocked with baby bok choy, green beans, and red and white radishes.
I had an incredible time turning these fall veggie staples into a delicious dinner for me and my family. Of course, step one was laying these beauties out on the cutting board...
Step two was diving into the actual prep. As a kid, I used to spend time in the kitchen with my mom, helping her prepare dinner for my dad and my six siblings. We grew green beans in our garden each year, and they were a staple of many of my mother's dishes. I have a lot of memories of snapping beans while she handled the more major tasks. So, while we have a slightly smaller crowd to cook for, I asked my youngest son to help me out by snapping the ends off of the green beans and slicing up a few of the radishes. Making our dinners a family affair makes the prep go quicker and turns a necessary activity into a chance for us to spend time together. Plus, the kids get to learn valuable skills along the way!
Deciding what to cook was a cinch, because I knew I wanted to incorporate all the veggies we'd picked up, and to have a little protein and fresh fruit in there to boot!
After we had everything chopped and ready to go, we got to work. For me, fall is the season of skillet cooking! I started off by taking my baby bok choy and placing them in a hot skillet sprayed with sesame seed oil. The sesame seed oil gives veggies a rich, nutty flavor, without adding a lot of sodium or extra calories. I quickly pan seared my bok choy, and then placed them, along with the green beans I'd just finished steaming, together on a baking sheet. I put the oven at 375 degrees and roasted both vegetables until they were crispy and tender.
The final piece of the puzzle was my fresh fruit! To add some extra sweetness and tang to this dish, I grabbed a bag of frozen mango.
Frozen mango is like a cook's secret weapon. It's delicious on any dish, and catapults your meal to the next level. To complete this dish, I pan cooked the mango, sautéing the frozen cubes with a little bit of balsamic vinegar. This trick brings out the flavor of the mango, and creates a delicious sauce that you can drizzle over the rest of the meal for an added zing.
When this step was done, I put everything together in a bowl with some baked chicken. It was easy, fun, and absolutely delicious. Because my family is crazy for radishes, we sliced those up and munched on them raw with our meal. But, if you're a little less eccentric, those can be cooked right alongside everything else.
The whole cooking process, from tote-bag to dinner table, took about half an hour.
I hope you'll all take advantage of this seasonal chance to spice up your cooking, and add a whole bunch of fresh, locally grown vegetables. Nothing beats cooking healthy with the people you care about. Happy Fall!