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Checking in: Eating local(ish) this winter with my Front Door Organics #FDOFreshBox

This is a sponsored post of the best kind: Front Door Organics is a company I have personally been supporting since long before I was blogging. I’m thrilled to write about their services here, highlighting recipes and different aspects of the business of local/ organic food delivery.

If you were reading here back in the fall, you’ll know I pledged to eat local as much as I could through my Front Door Organics weekly Fresh Box delivery. In the winter months, I always have great plans to seek out the winter farmers’ markets because it’s such a great way to eat seasonally (i.e. if it’s not on offer, it’s not available at that time of year), but realistically, let’s just say it doesn’t always happen! My Fresh Box delivery has been a great way to help keep us on track eating locally this winter – I’m always surprised by what is and isn’t available.  Even though I know, for example, that strawberries obviously are not available in the winter, so I am not expecting to see those on offer, it’s still quite interesting to look at what’s there each week and note the “ON” (Ontario) offerings.  I have been supplementing my “local” only with a few non-local items for the purposes of recipe development (and a little variety… also, well, I can’t live without bananas…) but for the most part, I’ll only choose what’s from Ontario each week.  It does force you, in the nicest possible way, to cook with what’s available and it’s really helped me grow my repertoire of recipes.  The boxes do include some recipe ideas for the week’s produce which has been very helpful too.

A few times this past month, I’ve forgotten to customise the box (an option that’s available for and extra $2) and that’s been, well, interesting and I’ve ended up with a few items I might not have chosen otherwise. Like the time I somehow ended up with sunchokes and cauliflower. What? All the beige vegetables…

Sunchokes are something I have worked with before, a couple of times. Also known as Jerusalem artichokes, they are actually not artichokes (no relation, either) and do not come from Jerusalem.  According the the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs it’s thought the name is a corruption of the Italian “Girasole Articiocco,” meaning sunflower artichoke. It’s also called a sunchoke or sunroot, is a member of the sunflower family and native to North America. The flowers are sunflower-like.  It grows wild along river and stream banks, and in meadows and valleys throughout Ontario. It’s been cultivated as an ornamental as well as for its edible tubers. (I mean, who even knew?!)

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs website taught me quite a bit about this ugly-looking vegetable too.   Apparently, most farmers in Ontario consider Jerusalem artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus) a nuisance though it is sold as a specialty vegetable!  Appreciated by the early settlers in North America as a readily available source of food, their gardens became an important factor in the spread of the plant.   It’s been recommended as forage plant, a feed for hogs, and as a leafy vegetable and is also a potential source for sugar and alcohol production, though the OMAFRA says it has not been cultivated widely in North America. Hence I guess why you don’t often see it on sale. But there they were in my Fresh Box…

So I did what I always do when I am not sure what I’m going to to making with vegetables – I roasted them. I chopped the cauliflower up, washed and chopped up the sunchokes, added some garlic and onion to a roasting pan and seasoned the whole lot with some olive oil, salt and pepper and some thyme. And roasted until they were tender, then blitzed with a little warm stock and milk, it made a mighty fine soup.

Roasted cauliflower and sunchoke soup by Mardi Michels eatlivetravelwrite.com

Roasted cauliflower and sunchoke soup

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 55 mins

Roast those winter vegetables to make this velvety smooth soup!

Serves 6-8     adjust servings

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower (approx 1lb/ 450g)
  • 3-4 sunchokes (approximately 250g)
  • 1 large onion (250g)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • fresh thyme leaves from approximately 3 sprigs (small branches, around 3” long)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 250mls (1 cup) chicken or vegetable stock (extra as required to achieve the consistency you prefer)
  • 250mls (1 cup) milk
  • fresh thyme to garnish

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375˚F.
  2. Wash the sunchokes.
  3. Chop the sunchokes and cauliflower into similar-sized cubes.
  4. Roughly chop the onion and garlic.
  5. Place vegetables and thyme leaves in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, tossing well to coat.
  6. Spread the vegetables in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  7. Roast at 375˚F for approximately 35-45 minutes until they are just starting to caramelize. The vegetables should be “fork mashable” at this stage.
  8. Remove from oven and cool slightly.
  9. Meanwhile, gently heat the milk and vegetable stock in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  10. Add the vegetables and simmer for around 8 minutes.
  11. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  12. Use an immersion blender to purée the soup.
  13. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh thyme.

by

Recipe shared with permission, originally published on Front Door Organics.

Not bad for ingredients that inspired a “What on earth am I going to do with these…? reaction! I’m loving how my Fresh Box deliveries are helping me get creative in the kitchen this winter!

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Disclosure: I have been compensated in kind by Front Door Organics in exchange for a monthly post and for sharing my weekly deliveries on social media (which, quite frankly, I do anyway!). I have not received financial compensation for these posts and they have not been reviewed by Front Door Organics prior to publication. All opinions are my own (and, well, I’ve been using the delivery service since around 2007 so I can vouch for it!).

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