How Vegetables Can Help You Find Your Joy
This recipe is an adaption from Rachel's book, Confessions of an American None, that includes several recipes. The original Believe in Love Veggies recipe is a fall-inspired dish. But new times call for new measures and perspectives.
No matter where one falls on the political spectrum, there is one thing that most Americans can agree upon today. Times are tense. Tough, even. For some, it is more harrowing than for others due to financial, health, or other circumstantial stresses that the pandemic has amplified.
How do you find your Joy when the world is closing in on you?
Pandemic or not, let's face it—life can be rough sometimes. I've been there! During one particularly challenging season, I knew that gratitude was the way out of self-consuming gloom but I didn't know how to begin. Then it hit me.
I was grateful for vegetables. I marveled at the array of bright colors—the shades of green in celery, peppers, spinach, dinosaur kale, and cucumbers, the reds and oranges of radishes, tomatoes (yes, I know that is technically a fruit!), carrots, beets, or the pale hues of baby potatoes, cabbage, and onions. And if the visual feast wasn't enough, there was the diversity of textures—tree-like broccoli, crunchy snap peas, or the silk of corn.
I experienced a meditative calm while appreciatively washing, trimming, prepping, and cooking these rich sources of nutrition. Literally the bounty of the earth fed my body and, through conscious gratitude, nourished my soul.
On a practical level, this exercise led me to further gratitude. For example, my children and I had vegetables to eat in the first place. That is not the case for millions upon millions of people on our earth. Wrapping myself in appreciation for something as simple as vegetables led me to quit complaining about what I didn't have and find the awe in what I did. (This also deepened my empathy for others who suffer, far worse than we did, and ignited my desire to help alleviate that. But that's another story!)
I had to deliberately practice this daily—and sometimes moment by moment—before eventually the heaviness and the darkness started to lighten. My circumstances had not changed yet, but I discovered that joy is the fruit from the roots of gratitude. And it doesn't matter whether the climate is stormy, cataclysmic, or 72° on the beach with a Mai Tai in hand, joy is there if we are willing to dig deep enough to access it. I suppose you could say that gratitude is the shovel—the means to get there.
Joy is the fruit from the roots of gratitude.
The Recipe: Believe in Love Veggies, Summer 2020
Vegetables harness the life force of the earth in their nutrients, vitamins, fiber, vibrant colors, and unique tastes. Rather than disguise their complex beauty with sauces, I prefer veggie dishes that allow the star ingredients to shine on their own accord. (Just like you do!)
Remember, the force is within you! Always.
Believe in Love Veggies: Summer 2020 is inspired by the current stressful cultural climate in our country. Gather what vegetables you have available and harness that gratitude. It will return to you in immeasurable, beautiful ways. The actual veggies used is not what matters. You can adjust the amount, the variety, and the accouterments to your own liking.
The most important thing about Believe in Love Veggies is the connection experienced with the food and with sharing a meal with others—even if it's by Zoom!
What you need:
● 5-8 small new potatoes
○ Peeled and cubed
○ You can substitute another starchy veggie, like corn or sweet potato
● 2 cups sugar snap peas
○. Washed and trimmed
● 1 package sliced mushrooms
○ I love baby bellas
● 2 cups zucchini or yellow squash (or both)
○ cut into slices or chunks—you choose!
● 2 carrots
○ washed, peeled if you like, and sliced
● 1 medium onion or leek
○ Halved and sliced
○. If using a leek, then cut it in half length-wise and rinse thoroughly to remove dirt. Then
cut into half-circle slices.
● 3 Mississippi drizzle of Udo’s Oil
○ Olive oil works too
○ I prefer mine w lavender
● Ground pepper
● Freshly Grated Parmesan cheese
● Salted, roasted pumpkin seeds
● Chopped flat-leaf parsley for garnish
What to do:
In a large pot, bring 2 inches of water to a boil. Add the potatoes first and cook for about 3-4 min. Next, add the sugar snap peas, mushrooms, zucchini or squash, carrots, and onions or leeks. Lightly salt the water and veggies. Put a lid on the pot and cook for an additional 5-6 minutes until all veggies are tender. The veggies should retain their vibrant colors.
Drain the veggies. Put in an ovenproof dish. Drizzle with oil and fold in the Herbs de Provence and ground pepper to your liking. You can place, covered, in a warm oven (200-250 degrees) until ready to serve. Right before serving, add the parmesan cheese, pumpkin seeds, and parsley. Toss until evenly distributed.
Even folks who don’t like their veggies love Believe in Love Veggies. Ask my kids! They will attest.
Rachel Roberts is the founder of American None. Every now and then she's known to have a deep thought, usually in the most random places– like shopping for IPA and gummy bears.