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** Not sure what to make, FoodLover?

When in doubt, keep it simple! Of course, the simplest meal is some gorgeous raw veggies with a light dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, salt & pepper. But if you feel like cooking, use one these go to methods: stir fry, roast or grill.

A quick explanation of each method:

Stir fry (also called sauté or pan fry): on the stove top in a medium or large pan, cook food quickly over medium/high heat with a small amount of oil until just done

Roast: in the oven on a sheet pan (cookie sheet), cook food at high heat until browned and cooked through

Grill: over an open flame – gas, wood or charcoal – cook food over medium heat until lightly charred and just cooked through

Why am I suggesting these methods? Well, there's an option for every season and every flavor preference. They're quick. And most importantly, they DO NOT require the use of a recipe!

Ok, in all fairness I should admit something now: I am not a recipe fan. In fact, writing my own is one of my challenges because I make things differently every time, so a recipe doesn’t seem to capture what it feels like when I cook. They also happen to be the one time interpretation of what a single person thinks is perfectly delicious or what they happen to have on hand.

Am I suggesting you stop following recipes? Not exactly, but I do think you should try to think about recipes in a new way, as a starting point or a suggestion rather than as an absolute set of rules. If you think a recipe sounds perfectly delicious, follow it. If you think you’d like it more if you changed an ingredient, change it. If you have a bunch of something you need to use and you think a recipe could work if you make the substitution, go for it. This isn’t high school chem lab and your kitchen is unlikely to blow up!

Are you concerned your meals will all suddenly be inedible? Not likely, but you may have something now and then that comes out just so-so, but that could happen following a recipe too so why not give yourself space to explore the flavors you like best and most importantly get comfortable cooking with whatever you have on hand.

So, how to begin? Again, keep it simple. This is all about making weeknight meals healthy and easy. All of these methods use just olive oil, salt and pepper. You can add other seasonings but most food tastes great with minimal seasoning, especially if it's all fresh and in season. A roasted beet, yum! A grilled zucchini, delicious. Sprinkle some chopped fresh herbs over your meal and enjoy the best this growing season has to offer!

I'm focusing on veggies here but you can add meat and starches to your meal. Boil or steam your starches (grains, pasta, etc) and serve on the side or add them in once the veggies and/or meat is done. Stir fry or grill meat in small chunks and roast larger pieces and it's likely to cook in a similar amount of time as the veggies.

For stir frying: wash, peel and chop food into bite sized pieces. Heat pan over medium/high heat, add oil just to coat bottom of the pan, add food (any amount that allows space to stir easily should work fine), add salt and pepper to taste, toss or stir until everything is coated with oil and allow to cook 4-8 minutes. Check a couple bites to see if there's a little browning, if there is then toss or stir and allow to cook for another 4-8 mins. Check doneness, veggies should be just shy of completely cooked.

For roasting: wash, peel and chop food into bite sized pieces. Preheat oven to 425º. Place veggies on sheet pan in a single layer, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss with your hands to make sure everything is coated evenly. Place on rack in middle of your oven and roast until browned and cooked through, 20-40 mins. Check every 5-10 mins after the first 20 and cook to your liking.

For grilling: wash, peel and cut into longer wedges or slices that won't fall through your grill grates, or cut bigger chunks and put everything on skewers. Place everything in a big bowl (before skewering), drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss with your hands to coat evenly. Heat grill on high, once nice and hot turn to medium, place veggies on grill and cook until lightly charred and cooked through, 10-20 mins. Make sure to flip halfway through.

You can cook almost any veggie with any of these methods but here are some suggestions. Leafy greens, like kale or chard: great in stir fry but also good roasted and very interesting grilled (just keep an eye on them so you don't burn the leaves) Summer squash, zucchini, peppers, fennel, leeks, onions and eggplant: great all ways Mushrooms: great stir fried or grilled Winter squash: great roasted so it has time to get caramelized Peas: stir fry Green or wax beans: stir fry or roast Corn: terrific grilled (leave on the husks, flip one-quarter turn every 5 mins for 20 mins and they come out perfectly Broccoli: stir fry or roasted Cauliflower: great every way

How much of each veggie should you use? As much as you have! Unless I have a couple specific meals in mind for which I want to use a certain veggie I'll just pick a method and cook it all. We eat what we want for that night's meal and any remainder becomes a ready-to-use addition to scrambled eggs, a lunch salad, a quesadilla, pasta or cooked grains, or we just eat it again as is. Whatever we haven't used after a few days gets tossed into the freezer for another time. You'd be surprised how delicious a soup of leftover grilled veggies tastes in the middle of February, mmm!

Be brave, FoodLovers, and stop being a slave to the recipe!

Here’s this week’s CSA run down, week #4: Garlic scapes Pickling cukes Lacinato kale Lettuce: salanova and red leaf varieties Spinach Scallions: New this week! In the spirit of keeping it simple, chop these up and sprinkle over whatever you make for a yummy, mild onion flavor. Carrots: New this week! These are insanely good just as is and NOTHING like those dried out little faux baby carrots at the market. These are sweet and crisp and tender, a total delight to eat! Savoy cabbage: Also new this week and it’s a good one! We like it so much that we swapped the dill that came in our share for an extra head in the Swap Box. Score!

Here’s some good info ( on cabbage varieties, including savoy. A LOT of people I’ve met say they don’t like cabbage and growing up in New England, who could blame them? So many of us were exposed to the drippy, limp, flavorless cabbage that spent way to long getting overcooked in a New England boiled dinner ( , yuck. That is not the most delicious way to eat cabbage, my friends!

We eat cabbage slaws of all persuasions at the FoodLove house: traditional deli style, creamy garlic, asian with sesame and soy, kimchi style with hot pepper, ginger and garlic (ok, the Chief Taster won't touch this one), and a super simple version dressed only in lime juice and salt that we use on fish tacos. Raw cabbage sliced thinly and eaten raw is wonderful! It’s also totally delicious cut into bite sized pieces and added to a stir fry. So darn good! Give cabbage a test drive in your next recipe and choose which ever variety looks most interesting to you. You may be surprised what you’ve been missing!

Thanks, FoodLover, for reading. Head on over to our blog ( to join the conversation and please share ( with all the FoodLovers you know! Hi! I'm Tonianne, food evangelist and creator of FoodLove. That's me happy as can be, cooking for friends on a camping trip, and sharing wonderful conversation about – yup, you guessed it! – food. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the conversation, too. PHOTO CREDIT: D. SHEA A quick note: FoodLove is on vacation next week, so no newsletter. BUT! We will be back the following week with (we hope!) lots of gorgeous photos and descriptions of all the amazing seafood we plan to eat in Prince Edward Island & Nova Scotia. Yahoo! Happy Independence Day everyone! Be safe and enjoy your holiday.

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