Vege Box

Who doesn’t love a box of the freshest local produce delivered right to your doorstep?

When our friend Kristen told us about the Foodbox, we couldn’t think of many reasons not to take advantage of such an ingenious thing.

A Kiwi couple by the names of Peter and Jenny created as a way to help make it easier for people to get their 5+ fruits and vegetables a day.  Every week day, Peter and Jenny are out, personally hand picking the best quality New Zealand produce available.  Then they package it up and deliver it later that day to your doorstep.

What you get in the box varies from week to week, depending on what’s in season.  You can find out what will be coming ahead of time by looking on their website, or you can keep it a surprise and wait until it arrives on your doorstep.

Opening the foodbox is pretty much as exciting as Christmas.  Inside our first box were gourmet baby potatoes, baby carrots, garden lettuce, chinese cabbage, purple regular cabbage, white and shitake mushrooms, purple onion, apples, kiwis, lemon, grapefruit, and the sweetest and juiciest navel oranges ever.

We even received a special winter treat of fennel, radishes, and tamarillos for signing up.

We were really impressed with the quality, freshness, and taste of the produce.  While we don’t normally cook with all of these vegetables, it was fun having some new produce to try for the first time, and experiment cooking with it.

Since moving to NZ, we have taken on a vege-centered diet.  They say veges here, instead of veggies.  We used to buy our produce each week from Lincoln Fresh, the produce stand nearest where we used to live, but now that we have moved and have our own refrigerator, we are enjoying the box of fresh fruits and veges delivered straight to our door.

We then decide based upon what veges we get what we will eat that week.

So we mostly eat plants, with the occasional meat.  And also bread… gluten is an amazing thing.

We eat a lot of salads, load up our pizza with veges, and make soups, chilis, and currys that are full of a variety of vibrant veges.

We are really enjoying our vege-centered diet, we feel good about what we eat and try to keep things exciting with tasty, flavorful recipes.

We thought we’d share a few of our favorite vege-centered recipes with you, for those of you who would like to whip up a little NZ treat.

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin, the traditional fall flavour of North America, and the year-round versatile vege of New Zealand.  A warm, comforting dish that is a delightful treat with some hearty, fresh bread.  Perfect for those chilly days of autumn, and full of antioxidants to keep the body healthy as cold and flu season rolls around.

1kg pumpkin (can also substitute butternut squash)

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 stalks celery, sliced

2 large carrots, sliced

3 medium potatoes, diced

1Tbsp butter or margerine

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 tsp mild curry powder or moroccan seasoning

2 tsp Italian seasoning

¼ tsp paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Slice pumpkin in half.  Fill a ceramic baking dish with 1cm of water, and place pumpkin in dish, flesh side down. With a fork or knife, prick a few holes in pumpkin skin before placing in microwave to cook on high for 8-10 minutes, until pumpkin is soft enough to scoop out of its shell.  Alternatively, you can roast pumpkin in oven until it is soft enough to peel skin off.
  2. In a large pot, saute chopped onion, garlic, celery, carrots, and potato with butter or margarine for 5 minutes.
  3. Add in chicken stock and spices, and bring to a boil.
  4. When pumpkin is cooked, scoop out of shell and add to broth.
  5. Simmer on low until vegetables are soft.
  6. Blend soup until smooth, then test seasonings and add more salt and/or pepper to your liking.
  7. Pour into bowls, and top with a few cubes of your favorite cheese.  Extra old cheddar is especially good.
  8. Serve with a nice slice of hearty bread, and let the goodness of this dish nourish your body and spirit.

Pumpkin & Vege Pizza

Pizza has become a weekly favorite of ours over these past several months in NZ.  With a high veggie concentration, these pizzas are packed full of nutrients, color, and flavor.  You can make this pizza with pretty much whatever veggies you have on hand, but pumpkin is a delicious topping that is common year-round here in New Zealand.  With fall rolling around in North America, why not give this recipe a try!

3 Turkish pizza bases, or your favorite thin crust pizza base

200g pumpkin, thinly sliced

1.5 cups baby spinach leaves

1.5 cups sliced mushrooms

1 medium onion, chopped

150g feta cheese, crumbled

200g white cheddar or mozza cheese, shredded

½ cup olive oil

2 Tsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp Italian seasoning

¼ tsp salt

1/8 tsp ground pepper

1/8 tsp paprika

  1. Toast the pumpkin slices on a pan in the oven for 20 minutes or until starting to brown and crisp.
  2. Meanwhile, toss the mushrooms and onions into a frying pan and saute with a little bit of oil until onions are caramelized.
  3. Combine oil, balsamic vinegar, and spices in a small dish.  Spread evenly onto 3 pizza bases.
  4. Top bases with a generous covering of spinach, followed by the mushrooms and onions, and then the pumpkin.  Finish up with a sprinkling of crumbled feta, and the shredded white cheddar or mozza.
  5. Add another grind of pepper on top, and bake pizzas at a smeltering 400 degrees F, or as hot as your oven will go.  Cook until cheese is melted and crusts are golden and crispy.
  6. Slice and serve.

Looking for a way to use up those zucchinis that are lying around?  Why not try…

Courgette, Feta & Filo Tart

Pies and pastries are big in New Zealand.  We’re not quite sure why the savory pie hasn’t quite caught wind yet in North America, but perhaps it will make its way there.  This savory dish is a lighter version of a pie, and a great way to use up zucchinis, or as they call them here in NZ, “courgettes”.  A delicious idea for brunch, lunch, or dinner.

500g (4 medium) zucchinis or corrugates

1 red pepper, chopped

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic

1 cup plain greek yogurt

3 eggs, lightly whisked

2 Tbsp chopped dill

Zest of 1 lemon, finely chopped

150g feta, crumbled

8 sheets filo pastry

25g butter, melted

¼ cup pine nuts (optional)

  1. Coarsely grate the courgettes.  Heat oil in frying pan and cook courgettes, red pepper, and garlic for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.  Remove from heat and set aside to school.
  2. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  3. Combine yogurt, eggs, herbs, lemon, and feta in a bowl and add cooled courgettes
  4. Take 1 sheet of filo, brush with melted butter, and place in a 24 cm flan pan or casserole dish, leaving excess edges to hang over dish.  Repeat this process until 6 sheets have been used for the base and sides of the pan.
  5. Pour filling into base.  Fold loose edges of pastry inward.  Tear the remaining 2 sheets of pastry into rough pieces.  Scrunch and scatter them over the top of the tart.  Drizzle with remaining butter and sprinkle with pine nuts.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes until pastry is golden and filling is set.  If pastry or nuts become too dark, loosely cover them with foil.
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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