Ohio CSA Week 17, photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman (click photo to see her alternate shot)

Yesterday was 92 degrees.  This morning was low sixties, with that wonderful slate sky that descends in fall and the chill wakes me up and makes me want to cook.  There’s still corn the farmers market, fat kerneled and juicy, still very sweet, still aching to be baked.  The green beans are getting big and tough and can be roasted (hot oven, chilli flakes, cumin, smashed garlic, 20 minutes).   The chillis are vivid and the jalapeno plant that Donna planted in the spring is loaded down with fat hot ones.  I got a jar of chilli’s pickling, more or less this recipe here out of this awesome book, only I’m going to let set out at room temp to get them fermenting a little before putting them in the fridge.

I’ve got a best friend coming for next weekend and I’ve promised him cassoulet, so I picked up a dozen duck legs to get them curing.  Fall really feels here when I see all those gorgeous duck legs (will post on Monday).

But I read the most disturbing page one Kim Severson story in the NYTimes today saying that people are not eating vegetables, not because they don’t like them but because you have to cook them!  I’m a serious meat eater and devote a lot of this space to my favorite stuff, but I’ve clearly got to spread a little VEGETABLE LOVE!  HELP SPREAD THE LOVE.  Stephen Colbert told congress—hilariously—that we should stop eating vegetables and fruits so that we wouldn’t have to rely on brown skinned people to pick them, and judging from recent obesity figures, he noted, much of America is embracing this movement.  Spread the VEGETABLE LOVE! (Hey, isn‘t there a great book by that title?!)

How will I use the above veg?  The butter nut squash, diced and sautéed in butter till tender (maybe dust with curry, depending on mood), served with the roast chicken I bought from the duck people at Plum Creek Farm.  The other half I’ll do the exact same thing with, two days later but instead of serving them, I’ll add two cups of chix stock (from the chix carcass on Monday), simmer, zap with hand blender and add some fresh thyme or some thyme I’ve dried.  Salt and pepper, maybe add a little cream or butter, creme fraiche yogurt mascarpone.  Sweet potatoes, could be pie but could be fried or make sweet potato hash, topped with poached egg (btw, they’re actually yams, sweet potato being a brilliant marketing device to sell the gnarly tubersI’ve been corrected; it was the sweet potato, native to South America, that was called a yam in a marketing ploy in the 1930s McGee writes; I added some, 25 to 30%, to last nights mashed potatoes and they were the best). I’ll probably fry them (I did this, too; Donna, who still suffers childhood trauma from sweet potatoes, said, THESE are REALLY good).

See those two monster green leaf lettuces?  They are deadly in a salad, I’ve tried.  Feel like a cow eating them.  So what to do?  Remove outer leaves, and poach them in heavily boiling water for two minutes till tender, drain, slather with soft butter, salt, pepper and cayenne.  Fabulous!

But wait! Tomatoes!  I’m going to salt diced tomatoes and let them sit till they’ve dropped a lot of water.  I’m going to saute this garlic till it’s aromatic, add a pinch of chilli flakes, then I’ll strain the tomato water into the pan, bring it to a boil, mount half a stick of butter into it, and use that as a sauce for the poached lettuce, topped with diced tomatoes.  That and some toasted baguette is a great vegetarian meal.  An awesome satisfying delicious meal.  (This works great with romaine lettuce as well, beautiful side for fish.)

We need to start spreading more VEGETABLE LOVE, now before winter descends!


34 Wonderful responses to “VEGETABLE LOVE! (CSA Week 17)
Fall: Butternut Squash Soup, Poached Lettuce”

  • melissa

    To get the pedantry out of the way, while “sweet potato” may have originally been a marketing name, they’re definitely NOT yams. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_potato “The sweet potato is botanically very distinct from the other vegetable called a yam.”

    Now. YES! Vegetable love. I could write so much about this, about how I think salads are part of the problem, not the solution, and how so many people just don’t know what to DO with vegetables (and have only ever had them overcooked and mushy). What I’ve discovered that is helping is just doing it, raving about it, telling people THEY can do it to, repeat.

    Me, I haven’t met a vegetable I didn’t love. And now I want some butternut squash.

  • Janet

    In winter when all the world is white, gray and black, a little ‘Vegetable Love’ will feel like spring with all its beautiful colours of the rainbow.

    I do love meat, but could not get through a day without eating vegetables. They just make me happy.

    Love your blog.

  • Charles Curran

    You forgot to tell us what you will do with those lovely ‘Peppers’? Remember to be civil,and not use profanity.

    • ruhlman

      I’m afraid most of them stay in the fridge till they’re so withered I feel nothing when i throw them out. sad but true.

      • Caroline

        Thanks, I don’t feel so bad now. That’s the fate of many of the peppers I receive from my parents’ garden– I just can’t use them in time.

      • jennifer

        I used some green peppers in a slaw from a Sheila Lukins book last week. It added a lovely color and didn’t harm the slaw in any way I could tell. Just sayin’.

  • Karen Downie Makley

    Hey! I just made butternut squash soup 2 days ago. It’s so lovely and velvety and rich and filling, no one can believe it’s lhealthy. You can even make it vegan if you have a vegan in your life. I love the idea of poached lettuce….I’ll try that soon. I am incredulous that people think they don’t like vegetables. I say “think” because people remember that they hated, say, something like spinach when they were 4 years old and have systematically refused to even try it since then…there is certainly a possibility that if they could simply motivate themselves to try again they may actually open themselves up to an enjoyable experience. So stubborn.

  • Corynne Escalante

    loved this post. great inspiration for how to cook and eat vegetables. we do a lot of steaming and never think of something as simple as some of the things you have described like adding curry powder or chile powder to liven things up. i feel inspired!

  • Rhonda

    Sweet potatoes and yams are different. ..In color mostly but also in taste.

    I make a sweet potato and yam galette as a usual dish for Thanksgiving. I use the two for a color contrast mostly.

    Taste is similar. Not a conspiracy. Not a marketing ploy.


    How dare you, Ruhlman, for declaring Fall and Butternut Squash Soup Season!

    As you know, I would rather get a raging outbreak of Herpes.

    However, it is here. It always comes along and I have never gotten herpes. Subsequently, my gripes are left with dealing with squash — for the next few months. If you post a butternut squash, carrot and ginger soup recipe, I may go postal on you.

    That reminds me… Didn’t we have a bet on a certain mushroom soup throw-down? You, with your Vita Mix and Cleveland button mushrooms that were most likely shipped from my back yard and me with — well, everything?


  • Susan

    If you want something green with that squash soup, lay a bed of baby spinach on the bottom of your bowl and pour the soup over it. Give it a minute while you butter your bread so it can wilt to perfection. Can do this with just about any soup or stew.

  • rich sims

    I love meat and fowl , but we do need sides (veggies), we need to get them in our diet as much as possible. The french laundry cook book has at least thirty recipes on how to prepare them. Sure they are a little complicated. but i think our families are worth it. I;m sure there are a few copies at yard sales or used book stores. Pick one up and read about tomatoes or asparagus, it will honestly change your view on sides.

  • Cecelia Heer

    Hi Michael:
    The only person that comes to my mind whenever I hear “butternut squash” soup is Tom Keller. I’ve made his soup many times from the Bouchon cookbook, which needs no explanation to you….the first time, several years ago, after it just came out and ever since and then again last week, although (as you would say) it wasn’t “cool” enough weatherwise, but still great…
    I love all of your books. Read them all and also love your work with the chefs (TK, MS and Tony B).

  • Barbara | VinoLuciStyle

    I love meat too and fish, but realize my diet leans more and more towards vegetables all the time. I eat a salad most nights for dinner if not going out and I can’t remember when I put lettuce, tomato, cucumber and onions all together in one. I particularly like roasting veggies on the grill and layering them with lettuce and grilled slices of meat, mostly chicken or flank steak, my two staples!

  • bill law

    you know, i understand all the taste and nutritional reasons for NOT overcooking vegetables but honestly when you talk about comfort foods i can not help but think of my “mamma’s” green beans. she would caramelize a “chunk” of fatback in the bottom of the saucepan, then add cutup green beans and some water and a little salt. then she would cook them till they were very well cooked and had really absorbed the “pork” flavor from the fatback. OMG were they good (even though they go totally against all the current thinking about how to cook vegetables)

    • Caroline

      I used to think that green beans were best almost raw– then I tried an Italian recipe where they are slowly simmered with tomatoes and olive oil. SO GOOD. I might never go back to snappy green beans again!

  • luis

    You got me again Josie….Wales… I am getting Michael Symon’s book.
    He cooks very rich but cutting the fat out is becoming easier to me anymore. There is restaurant food for the masses and there is healthy food for me. Michael you have totally inspired me to cook local and green and healthy stuff. That will never change.

  • Wilma de Soto

    I’m guilty! I confess I am a lazy vegetable cook. They’re great when they’re done, but whew!

    Perhaps you could do a video about how to sharpen one’s knives, in the inimitable Ruhlman fashion, which would go well to help me in vegetable preparation. Thank you.

  • Natalie Sztern

    Wow I just made a Mac and Cheese with Butternut Squash for dinner last nite. The sauce was one butternut squash cut in cubes and steamed soft, a sauteed onion, 2 % milk, Dijon mustard and some gorgonzola blended together until smooth and poured over cooked macaroni.

    no butter, not much fat and great taste.

    I will be posting my recipe w pictures on Friday.

  • emmy

    because of unwanted/unnecessary coarse language used often in this blog, that just does not fit the beautiful bounty we are privileged to enjoy here in America, I was about to cancel my subscription to your site BUT TODAY’S SPONTANEOUS, beautifully flowing with great, honest observative WRITINGS AND THE INCREDIBLY TEXTUREDbright with shadows PHOTO changes my mind completely; your views are well-founded, the article great and the photography, as usual, melting into my mind – and then into the oven to roast, puree, and yes, balance and nourish our flesh!!!

  • Caroline

    I don’t understand the excuse for not eating vegetables. Personally, I think meat and fish are a lot trickier to cook properly. And as I often say, vegetarian cooking is 90% prep work– washing, peeling, dicing and shopping– and 10% actual cooking time, whereas the converse could be true for non-vegetarian meals. I could certainly understand why someone who’s used to sticking a meatloaf in the oven and walking away might be intimidated by all that knife work, but the cooking part’s easy.

    • Wilma de Soto

      Yes, Caroline. It’s the knife work that gets to me, although I’ll do it. Still, if I knew how to really keep my knives sharp it would be much easier.

      People say it’s easy, but once one speaks of angles I go blank since I am innumerate.

  • Rohan

    Love this post – I don’t eat meat but I read this blog for the technique and there’s usually a great veggie idea.

    Butternut squash is great with pasta – doesn’t have to be ravioli either. Sauteed and combined with other pasta shapes with butter and sage works well too.

  • Annie

    Great post, these are some really good ways to cook your vegetables. I love all the great summer season ones but I am looking forward to the change of seasons!

  • Tom

    Michael, next time try making your butternut squash soup with corn stock. I did it the other night, added a little honey and salt. It was amazing! Thanks for the great idea about the corn stock!

  • Jonny

    am definitely enthused by the lettuce idea. I feel like most people are scared of actually cooking lettuce and only ever eat it raw, even when it’s late in the season and the outer leaves are rather tough. My mum used to make a killer lettuce soup whether they were young or old, but still discarded the outer layer, which seems wasteful somehow. Anyway, for what it’s worth, my two cents about sweet potatoes, is that they, even more so than regular potatoes, are never so good as when they are rubbed in a little curry or cayenne, as you recommend, and roasted skins on. The sweet nuttiness combo is hard to beat!