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Simple Green Suppers

By Susie Middleton | March 07, 2017
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A Fresh Strategy for One-Dish Vegetarian Meals

Life is funny. You’re busy doing one thing, focusing on the road ahead, and meanwhile something else entirely unplanned is taking shape around you. I was pretty sure that my chief job as Miss-Spread-the-Vegetable-Gospel was to share everything I knew about cooking vegetables with you and everyone else who wanted to eat more vegetables. And by everyone else, I mean not just vegetarians. I didn’t want to leave anyone stranded out there with a fennel bulb and no chef’s knife, if you know what I mean. So I wrote three vegetable cookbooks filled with useful vegetable-cooking techniques and flavorful recipes.

Meanwhile, I started growing and selling my own vegetables (dozens of different varieties), and my overall crazed enthusiasm for vegetables did not exactly wane. I went into my kitchen with fistfuls of baby kale, armloads of pattypan squash, and baskets of Sun Gold cherry tomatoes and French fingerling potatoes. I dared those vegetables to be boring, to give up trying to be so versatile, to disappoint me. And it simply didn’t happen. Not only were they star performers, but they also played so darn well with all the other kids in my pantry and larder.

Gradually, I began to eat less meat, and then … even less. (There were a few other reasons for this, and I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say that after my Winter of Pork, which followed the Summer of Raising Three Pigs, I was, I guess, meat exhausted.) One day I realized that the fence between my (metaphorical) vegetarian neighbors and me was awfully low. So I just stepped over it. And that day, I tumbled into one of the most engaging creative challenges in my cooking career: making a veggie supper every night.

For one thing, it immediately made my life simpler, as I didn’t have those agonizing moments in the grocery store, staring once again at the over-priced, under-inspiring meat selection. And now there were natural parameters for what I could cook. Yet instead of feeling limited by this challenge, I felt stimulated: How would I turn all those beautiful veggies (whether they came from my garden or the grocery) into a filling, satisfying supper tonight—and every night? I began to look forward to my time in the kitchen each evening with a new sense of pleasure and excitement.

From Simple Green Suppers by Susie Middleton © 2017 by Susie Middleton. Photographs © 2017 by Randi Baird. Reprinted in arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO.

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