Nothing Says LOVE Like Veggies

Everyone wants to create that special evening on Valentine’s Day. You’ve bought a gift, perhaps some chocolate, perhaps some wine; you’ve set aside the time for a romantic meal with your partner/spouse/new fling. You know that everyone goes out for the 14th, so you’ve decided to impress with your culinary skills. But what to cook? Lucky for you, we’ve got some great veggie-forward dishes  that are sure to inspire both a love of vegetables and love of the cook.

  1. Stuffed Endive – want to knock them off their feet right at the start? These little delicacies will do just that. Crunchy endive stuffed with walnuts, dried cranberries, honey, & thyme will set the perfect mood for your meal.
  2. Sautéed Romanesco – Sure to win the heart of your dinner guests, this restaurant-worthy side brings seasonal cauliflower to perfection with shallots, almonds, and dried cherries.
  3. Mixed Greens Salad with Beets – ‘Tis the height of the season for both greens and beets, and they blend perfectly together in this light salad with goat cheese and pistachios. Plus, who can say no to a vegetable color-coordinated with the holiday?
  4. Red Penne – While pasta in a delicious red sauce may seem the focus of this main course, the seasonal Arugula is really what makes this baby shine. Slightly spicy yet beautifully fresh, it’s the perfect pairing for this highly-seasoned dish.
  5. Chocolate Avocado Pudding – We always want to finish the evening with a little something sweet. This pudding will taste as rich as any regular dessert, but won’t leave  you too weighed down for after-dinner fun. Try topping it with some freshly cut strawberries and cacao nibs for an extra-special twist.


Let us see how fancy you were! Tag your feats of culinary creativity with #vegout2019 & #vegoutrfs.

Dinner In A Minute, Please!


You’re exhausted, it’s been a busy day, and you’re tempted to just call for takeout and open a bottle of wine. We get it. But we also know how that’s going to feel tomorrow morning. The good news is, we’ve got some ideas for making your weeknights speedy, easy, and deliciously healthy!

  1. Quinoa – This ancient grain is nutritious, easy to cook, and pairs well with almost everything. It only take 10 minutes from start to finish, then you can combine it hot or cold with whatever protein and veggies you’re having for dinner, and viola!– a delicious meal in minutes.
  2. Casserole – Trust us, they don’t have to be dense, tasteless bakes. There are ways to make this easy prepare-ahead dish delicious. Try a gratin, or layer some leftovers with onions, beans, parmesan, and a few spices and throw it under the broiler.
  3. Salad – This can be a delicious fast dinner, not to mention  light and nutritious to end the day. Clean out the refrigerator and  mix whatever greens you have with a protein and any combination of vegetables and beans, or eliminate greens altogether and mix corn with your favorite Mexican flavors. 
  4. Two Pot Spot – Have some time, but don’t want to do fancy dicing, sifting, or layering? Try something like ratatouille, where you can dump a whole bunch of veggies together on a baking tray, roast them, and serve over quinoa, grits, rice, or even fold into an omelet. You’ll keep the clean up to a minimum and have a dish you can eat in multiple ways.
  5. Stir Fry – While you will need to do a bit of chopping, this delicious dish cooks in under 10 minutes. Using rice you prepared during the weekend, or grating a cauliflower to use as rice, will make dinner prep even quicker.

Chefs In The Field

A chance to sit at candlelit tables in the field, enjoying delicious food, and counting 16 veggies toward your challenge? Yes please!

On Sunday night we had our third dinner at Hope Farms, with four incredible chefs cooking veggies straight from the field. Chef Tommy from Fig & Olive cooked a pig over the coals, transformed peppers into paella, and our VegOut! October Ambassador Erin O’Leary Stewart grilled eggplant & baked cakes with root veggies. We also had the two chefs behind the upcoming restaurant Musaafer cooking intricate dishes inspired by their homeland.

We often think of going out to eat as a tax on the stomach – rich food, bread, and lots of wine – but it can be both delicious and healthy! We totaled 16 different vegetables during this farm dinner. That’s half of your challenge right there!

So next time you want to dine out, consider a farm dinner, farm to table restaurant, or a local spot that places emphasis on regional vegetables.

Many Vegetable Lasagna

The 2014 VegOut! Challenge close is right around the corner! It’s been a speedy one, no? In case you’re almost there and need a recipe to push you over the 30 veg edge, try this recipe by Francine Spiering, who writes over at Life in the Food Lane. The nine veggies in this dish will surely help you reach the finish line.

Many Vegetable Lasagna

Many Vegetable Lasagna
This recipe serves 2-3 adults

This combination of vegetables creates a lasagna that is abundant both in flavor and color. Sweetness from the yellow beet and squash, hearty flavors from the onion, kale and celeri, aromatic flavors from the garlic, eggplant and bell pepper, and acidity from the tomatoes. – Francine
Vegetable sauce:
1 medium eggplant
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow (golden) beet
1/2 acorn squash
1 cup cooked kale*
2-3 stalks celeri
1 medium onion
4-5 cloves of garlic
1 cup peeled and diced tomato
1 cup (or less) water
1 bayleaf
1 tbsp olive oil
fresh herbs: thyme, mint and basil (to taste)
spice it up to your liking: I used a tsp smoked paprika, a pinch of cumin, a pinch of dried ginger, a pinch of cayenne, and salt/pepper (my pinches are generous)

Ricotta mixture:
1 cup ricotta
2 eggs
1 “ball” mozzarella, chopped fine
1 cup grated parmesan
salt/pepper to taste
6-9 sheets lasagna (depending on the number of layers you prefer)
  • A lasagna being a flat-layered dish, I like to cut all vegetables into half-moons and/or slices. Also, lazy me, I use lasagna sheets that need no precooking.
  • Heat the olive oil in a wide casserole dish. Add the onions and cook over medium heat until soft (about 5 min).
  • Add the eggplant, beetroot, bell pepper, squash, and celeri, stir and cook for about 10 minutes, or until softened.
  • Add the tomatoes, garlic, bay leaf and half the water. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Add more water if it looks too dry. Taste, add salt/pepper, the cooked kale, and fresh thyme and shredded basil.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the ricotta mixture: Whisk the eggs until foamy, stir in the ricotta, mozzarella, and half of the parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Assemble: In an oven-safe casserole dish, spoon some of the vegetable sauce to cover the bottom. Place lasagna sheets on top of sauce, next to each other but an inch or so apart, and from the sides (the lasagna sheets expand in the oven). Spoon more vegetable sauce, cover with lasagna sheets, add another layer if you like (dividing the sauce accordingly), and finally the ricotta mixture.
  • When your layers are done, cover the entire dish with the ricotta mixture. Spread  evenly and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan. If you like, also sprinkle some fresh thyme leaves.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 350F. Remove the foil, increase the temperature to 400F and bake for another 20 minutes or until bubbling and slightly browning on the top.
  • Finish by sprinkling with fresh herbs and  small capers.
  • Serve more or less immediately.
The cooked kale was a leftover from a previous meal. You could add raw, chopped kale to the sauce to simmer along with the rest of the vegetables. It’s bitter-green taste can dominate, though. If you want to balance the flavors, “wilt” the kale first (in the microwave, for instance).

 Read more of Francine’s culinary musings and recipes at Life in the Food Lane.

Homemade Pasta + Turnip Soup


Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ students at Park Place Elementary were thrilled to make lemony pasta from scratch to add to the turnip soup, which included turnips from their Recipe Garden!

Roasted Turnip Soup
Makes 8 servings

Turnips are not terribly popular, as they have a tendency to become bitter and watery if not cooked properly. The key to cooking turnips is to roast them! Like radishes, turnips become sweet and creamy when roasted, and when paired with leeks, garlic, they produce a fantastic soup. – S2P Instructor, Chef Priti

2 pounds turnips, cut into large dice
1 tablespoon oil
2 leeks, dark green part cut off, sliced in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss turnips in oil, place on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 45 minutes.
  • In a large pot over medium-high heat, brown the butter with coriander seeds and caraway until fragrant. Add leeks, garlic and salt and cook until soft.
  • Add the turnips and stock, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to bring mixture to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Transfer the hot mixture to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.

Tip: To add a little bit of texture to the pureed soup, you can garnish with toasted walnuts or rye bread croutons.

How are YOU eating turnips during the VegOut! Challenge?