One of the best things to me about living on Kaua’i has been how much our vegetable intake has increased. We’ve always been pretty good about getting in our daily recommended servings, but the year-round availability of fresh, affordable, locally grown produce has made it even easier to get in those three to five servings per day. Even though meat appears frequently on our menu, there are usually far more vegetables on our plates than meat.
If you’ve been reading the menu plans for a while though you’ve probably noticed that cucumbers and zucchini appear more than most other vegetables. That’s because 1) we like them; 2) they’re versatile; 3) they’re available year round; and 4) they’re extremely affordable. The cucumbers here are my favorite. They’re always sweet and crisp, and delicious eaten plain or in a salad. I always scrub them well because even the peel is edible – we don’t have to worry about wax or pesticides. Eggplant and greens are available all year as well, but not as well-liked around here. I happen to love eggplant, but we most often see the Asian varieties that are long and skinny versus the more mainstream egg-shaped ones, which are more versatile for cooking. Kale is the predominant green leafy vegetable grown here, and while we like it we tire of it very quickly; the same for Swiss chard. We love spinach, but rarely can find it at the market. Bok choy, on the other hand, is easy to use in a variety of ways so we usually go with that. Beets, carrots, radishes and salad greens are also around all year, but I’m the only one who really likes beets and radishes so we don’t get them, but we buy a bunch of carrots at least once a month. I can’t eat lettuce, and the girls and Brett only like salad occasionally so we don’t buy it very often either.
Other vegetables that we love, like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, green beans, tomatoes and corn are seasonal. They’re also a bit more expensive than other choices at the market, but we snap them up when we see them. Right now we’re sadly seeing the end of the cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower season, but big, lovely beefsteak tomatoes are now in abundance. They’re be gone though for the most part by the time summer arrives. Green peppers are also seasonal, and will be gone shortly. They don’t seem to grow well here for some reason – most of them that we see are very small.
We also see lots of speciality Asian vegetables every week: long beans, Thai eggplants, and other things we don’t recognize and don’t know how to use. I feel like I should try some more of them, but so far haven’t taken the plunge.
Anyway. this week we’re having:
- Tuesday (this evening): Stir-fried beef and broccoli (using leftover flank steak); steamed rice (no rice for me)
- Wednesday: Grilled chicken and vegetable kabobs; couscous (no couscous for me)
- Thursday: Leftovers (track meet)
- Friday: Pasta with creamy red pepper alfredo sauce; meatballs; garlic bread; grilled zucchini (no bread or pasta for me)
- Saturday: Thai red curry chicken; steamed rice; sautéed bok choy (no rice for me)
- Sunday: Zucchini frittata; bread; fruit (no bread for me)
- Monday: Mabo nasu; steamed rice; cucumbers (no rice for me)
We’ll be picking up yellow zucchini this week at the farmers’ market if it’s still available, as well as cherry and beefsteak tomatoes, bok choy, Chinese eggplant, plenty of cucumbers, papayas, bananas and limes. Everything else we need we already have on hand.