Aloo Sag (Indian potatoes)

Ahh, relish the break from squash recipes! I have tons up my sleeve (and in draft form on my computer). The reality is, squash is now just a part of my every day life, and I’d have to increase my blog postings 7x to get all the ways I prepare it to you. Frankly, that sounds exhausting – its hard enough cooking all of it, much less posting! But I’m trying to be better about it, really! So instead of more squash pictures, lets enjoy some pictures of the heirloom zinnias that I’m successfully growing this year.

Something I’ve noticed about Santa Barbara is that people really like the barter system. I see it all over – the neighborhood garden exchanges. On Craigslist. In my work. And the barter that the athlete in me benefits the most from: my massage therapist. I see her every 4-6 weeks or so, and in exchange for a painful (but very effective) sports massage, I cook her food. Sometimes she’s craving something in particular, and other times she just asks for “something healthy.” Last week, she asked if I knew how to make Indian food – a chicken curry perhaps?

Fortunately, I knew that one of my friends has a beautiful Indian cookbook – complete indian cooking. I picked out a recipe, Kashmiri chicken, that seemed like it wasn’t overly challenging but looked tasty. As it was finishing up, I decided to quickly make something else to go with it. I chose Aloo Sag because it featured ingredients I had on hand (mainly freshly-dug potatoes and chard) and was fairly easy to assemble. I think this could accompany a number of things – even some fried eggs (its sort of like breakfast potatoes with an Indian twist). Oh yeah, and it would be great to go camping with!

Aloo Sag (adapted from complete indian cooking)

6 tablespoons oil

1 onion, chopped

1 inch piece of fresh ginger root, chopped

2 fresh green chiles, finely chopped (I actually just sprinkled in chile powder)

1 tsp turmeric

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 pound potatoes, cut into small pieces

1 pound fresh spinach or chard

Heat the oil in a lidded skillet, add the onion, and cook until soft. Add the ginger, chiles, turmeric, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and salt to taste, stir well, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Add chard or spinach to the potatoes and cook for about 5 minutes, until both vegetables are tender.

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Squash Fritters

Well, we’re pretty much drowning in squash over here. The winter squash plants are sending out vines in all directions and fruiting the most beautiful varieties – red turban, kabocha, blue hubbard, spaghetti squash, acorn, etc. And the summer squash grow by inches every day! In addition to plain ol’ zucchini, I also planted green scallop squash, gold zucchini, lungo bianco, round zucchini, and a few mystery varieties. I love the spread of colors and shapes, and even the slight variations in taste. It’s probably what makes eating so much squash so tolerable!

So, what do I do with all this ,you say? Eat it. Every day, usually twice a day. One day last week I had it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – in the form of green smoothie, potato/squash gratin leftovers, and then dinner of squash soup and oven-baked zucchini sticks. Oh yeah, and a leftover zucchini muffin! In addition to an abundance of squash, we have an abundance of fresh eggs. So most of what I’ve been cooking lately is high on the squash and egg content.

Last week I made these squash fritters, which we ate for dinner along with a side of squash frittata (which was interesting, as both involved essentially the same ingredients prepared differently). I like them because they are very easy to throw together, and could easily be served with a green salad, or soup. They would taste just as good without the cheese, or with different kinds of cheese. Sames goes for herbs- use whatever you have that is fresh!

Squash Fritters (adapted from Simply in Season)

1/3 c flour or whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

2 eggs, beaten

3 c summer squash, shredded

1/3 c onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 tbsp fresh herbs (parsley, lemon thyme, oregano, basil, etc)

1/4 c feta or cheddar cheese

Mix ingredients up to the squash to form a very smooth batter. Add in the squash, onion, garlic,  herbs and cheese; mix gently. Very lightly coat a frying pan with oil and heat to medium hot. Drop a large spoonful of batter onto pan. Fry until golden, turn and cook on other side until done.

I like them served with sour cream or greek yogurt, or a bit of avocado!

Veggie Quesadillas

Well… I really have no excuse for not posting for such a long time. Except that we were on a friend’s boat in French Polynesia for the month of May. And have been traveling nearly every weekend since! The closest we got to gardening on our trip was picking coconuts fresh off the tree – a lot of work for what’s inside, but I managed to make a few delicious desserts (hopefully I’ll post those soon). The most exciting surprise on our return home was discovering that our chickens had started laying. I’m pretty sure that all seven hens are laying now, as we get 5-6 eggs/day. Creative egg recipes are sure to follow in the next few months!

As is the norm for summer, the garden is also producing in abundance. Today I must have picked at least 12 summer squash – five different varieties! Plus green beans and the usual kale, broccoli, chard, carrots, potatoes, onions, etc. I know this will pass, but for now I’m pretty excited about all the squash varieties we have growing, in addition to tasting great they are beautiful to look at!

Particularly after spending an entire month on a boat, one of the things I missed the most was my garden and eating so many fresh vegetables. It is with joy that I have re-established my morning ritual of a garden stroll to harvest fresh greens for a green smoothie, as well as concocting dinners based on what is growing in the yard. I can say with confidence that this is my favorite way to cook, and inspires creativity like no other.

More evenings that not, we get home from a ride or run, starving, and need to eat something NOW. This recipe is handy for nights like that – it comes together quickly and is very filling. I have a feeling this would be a good camping recipe too (something I’m always on the lookout for). I don’t put exact proportions on vegetables, just use what you have – and if you have extra filling left over, its great for lunch the next day mixed with couscous or quinoa (or quesadillas round two).

Veggie Quesadillas

Mix of vegetables: I used baby zucchini and scallop squash, carrots, cauliflower, and onion, cut to small pieces/slices of similar size

Grated cheddar cheese

Whole wheat tortillas

Saute vegetables in olive oil, using cooking time as guide for the order (I put in onions and carrots first, then cauliflower, then squash)

Heat up a large frying pan. My quesadilla method is as follows. Take one tortilla, put cheese and vegetables on one half, and fold to make a half-moon shape. Heat up a bit of olive oil in the pan, and coat one side then the other of the half-moon with the oil. Flip when the down side is golden. Cut into wedges and serve with sour cream or avocado!