This Week’s Menu: Eating Our Vegetables

Broccoli and lovely purple cabbage at the market last week (yes, we bought both!

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.

8 thoughts on “This Week’s Menu: Eating Our Vegetables

  1. Laura says:

    Our landlord did give us permission to install a garden, and we talked about it at length, but it came down to two words: feral chickens. They are everywhere, and have destroyed almost everything we have planted in the yard (one pineapple and one aloe plant have survived), and putting any plants in pots on our lanai has the potential to draw them up there, which we absolutely do not want.

    We ultimately decided that we will continue enjoy our weekly visits to the farmers’ market. For many of the farmers we buy from, their income from our local market and a couple of others they sell at is their only source of income, and we are happy to support them.

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    • Laurel says:

      This sounds like our deer/rabbit problem. 🙂 I planted some lovely lettuces and veggies one year and only one lone tomato survived unscathed. So, like you, I don’t bother anymore and just hit the stores or farmer’s market.

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      • Laura says:

        The people who have successful gardens/farms here spend a lot of keeping the chickens out (also feral pigs if they live in more rural areas than we do now). We would have had to make a huge investment in chicken abatement, and we decided it just wasn’t worth it.

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  2. Nancy says:

    I love radishes, cucumbers, cabbage, and celery so much! I love the crunch. Radishes are my all time favorite snack. Have you tried Easter Egg radishes? Each radish is either white, purple, and pink. Daikon radishes are yummy too. Why is it that you can’t you eat lettuce? Is it a dietary thing, or an intestinal thing?

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    • Laura says:

      I haven’t seen the Easter Egg radishes, but we can get daikon at the farmers’ market – I love it! The regular radishes we’ve bought have been much, much spicier than the ones I remember from childhood (which I loved).

      I have a food intolerance for most lettuces – they cause a great deal of stomach upset so I’ve learned to avoid most of them (I can eat iceberg lettuce, but it’s mostly water). I thought I was the only one in the world with this, but apparently there are others who can’t tolerate lettuce.

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  3. The One in Debt says:

    your menu sounds absolutely delicious! And I would be in heaven around all those delicious vegetables. Sorry the cabbage is slowly making its way out of season. I’ve become quite fond of purple cabbage (sauteed with a little apple cider vinegar, caraway seed) – eaten hot or cold. And I love making buddha bowls – delicious and an easy way to use up veggies. the same with making veggie hash in my cast iron. Nom nom.

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    • Laura says:

      It really is something to see all the lovely produce we do every week – farmers’ markets were very different back on the mainland. There was no cabbage at the market yesterday but lots of broccoli still so we bought some more of that, even though it wasn’t on our list. We also saw our first mangos of the season – we’ve seen them on trees all over the place, but none harvested yet.

      The sauteed cabbage sounds delicious – I have some polish sausages in the freezer that the cabbage would complement perfectly. Since I’m on my own for dinner tonight I’m going to roast up a big batch of vegetables, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and call it dinner – no rice for me.

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