Going Greenling

25 Aug

We started an experiment at our house this week, and ordered a local produce box from a company called Greenling. Here’s how that works. Every week, they drop off a box of in-season, local produce that is either organic or sustainably grown.

I know in my heart that all those things are important, but you wouldn’t know that from our usual eating habits around here, as evidenced by the Sonic Route 44 cups filling our trash can. We needed an intervention. So, I signed up.

The box was apparently delivered by a ninja, since I was home and didn’t even know it had arrived until I nearly fell over it running out the door to an appointment. Fortunately, my reflexes also feature cat-like reaction time, so I did not take a face plant on the front walk. Score one for the new healthy lifestyle.

Opening a local box is a little bit like opening a Christmas present. Or would be, if you get vegetables for Christmas. (If you do, I’m sorry.) The contents on the box depend on what’s in season and being harvested at local farms.

Since we’re in the middle of the worst one-year drought in history, our box was filled with dirt and straw and a special note from Rick Perry promising he’d make it rain if I’d vote for him for president.

No, not really. That note came direct mail.

In the ACTUAL local box were some shallots, some salad mix greens, Asian pears, cute Japanese eggplants, summer peas, yellow squash, new potatoes, sweet onions and the zucchini that could double as a Little League bat.

Ok, maybe that's a slight exaggeration.

I decided to tackle the zukezilla first.

So I shredded half of it up — and made it into muffins. I started with a recipe from Mollie Katzen’s Sunlight Cafe because Mollie knows what to do with vegetables and has never even BEEN to Sonic, I am pretty sure.

She had a recipe for Carrot-Currant muffins that I used as a rough jumping-off point, and then went zuke-crazy with it.

Here’s how it ended up:

Not Mollie’s Muffins

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • OPTIONAL – 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed finely-grated zucchini and carrots
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 Tablespoons melted butter
Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Unless you live in San Antonio. Then you can just put the muffin tins out on the sidewalk. No, not really.
It’s only 300 degrees here.
Now, since we’re using zucchini instead of carrots, grate the zuke, and toss it in a colander with a little salt mixed in. Zucchini is much juicier than carrots, so if you skip this, you will get soggins instead of muffins. Let the shredded zucchini hang out with the salt for about 10 minutes which will draw some of the water out, and then squeeze the heck out of it before you put it in your muffin batter.
While the zuke’s draining, mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, spices and sugar. I didn’t use the optional sugar, but if you want sweet muffins, go right ahead. I don’t judge.
Then, in another bowl, mix the zucchini-carrot mixture, lemon zest and juice, milk, egg, vanilla and melted butter, beating with a fork to break up the egg.
Pour this into the dry mixture, and use a spatula to get everyone acquainted until the batter is moistened. Don’t go all crazy and use a mixer. Just a simple stirring to combine is fine.
You can pop this into greased muffin pans, or use cupcake liners if you feel fancy. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Then, they will look something like this.
They are dense and moist muffins, not fluffy cupcake wanna-bes. Because they are HEALTHY. Also? Pretty delicious. I might cut back on the lemon zest next time because it’s a little much. The zest of one lemon would probably be fine.
The muffins took half of the zucchini. I sliced up the rest, sautéed it with some of the shallots and a little tomato, and tossed that with whole-wheat pasta. To which the kids said “Ewww, zucchini.” And then they ate the muffins.
P.S. Hey, help a sister out? If you’ve used Japanese eggplants before for something tasty and easy? Leave a link in the comments.
P.P.S. Greenling is not a sponsor. I bought my own darn veggies.

9 Responses to “Going Greenling”

    • lettergirl August 25, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

      Those look AMAZING!

  1. Ed Harvey August 25, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    It all sounds great! I LOVE Zucchini! I’ve never tried the whole wheat pasta. How is it???

    • lettergirl August 25, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

      Ed, it’s a little nuttier tasting and chewier than regular pasta. But we like it. The kids eat it ok (after picking out the nasty offending veggies).

  2. Stacy August 25, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

    Dawn, you crack me up. I really enjoyed reading this 🙂 I have only ever heard of Greenling’s through @vampora on Twitter. I’m going to look in to this! Thanks

  3. Molly August 25, 2011 at 5:24 pm #

    That’s so funny-I just was talking to someone about Greenling yesterday! Synchronicity at work. Also, good luck with the weekly delivery. I was in a veggie coop years back (when we still had kids at home) and always had trouble using up the produce before it went bad. Can’t wait for more great recipes! Thanks!

  4. *Just Fran* August 26, 2011 at 11:20 am #

    Just saw a recipe that grilled eggplant, tomatoes (cut in half), and red bell peppers (all brushed with olive oil, S&P), then tossed with pasta in a vinaigrette made with red wine vinegar, garlic, shallots, olive oil. Added some chopped parsley for a little earthy brightness. Sounds good and easy to do on the fly.

  5. siouxzen (@siouxzen) August 26, 2011 at 2:30 pm #

    Ok, so I followed Mollie Katzen’s tweet here, and saw that you have a need for Japanese eggplants, which are like the only thing growing in Austin right now. I’ve been adapting this recipe. Bobby Flay isn’t my favorite, but this sauce is AWESOME. I just use a cast iron skillet because I don’t have a grill. I throw this over rice or any Asian noodles. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bobby-flay/grilled-eggplant-with-garlic-sauce-and-mint-recipe/index.html

    • lettergirl August 26, 2011 at 6:55 pm #

      Sioxzen, welcome! I’m in San Antonio, so we probably have eggplants from the same growers! Welcome and thanks! That looks goof *and* my mint is still alive. =)

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