Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The CSA may be over for the season, but the farmer's market is still going strong! Sure, it's a little bit chillier - or, a lot chillier - but the stands are still full of lovely local produce, and it seems extra important to support our local farmers now.

And it's extra extra important for me to be full of lovely local produce now, since I've jumped back on the Weight Watchers bandwagon. WW just revamped their program to put a greater emphasis on the importance of fresh fruits and vegetables for healthy diets, and I'm totally thrilled. Because, you know, I love vegetables!

Unfortunately, I also love cooking vegetables in massive quantities of fat, which is not exactly gonna help my caloric bottom line (or my actual bottom) so I've got to start learning new ways to turn the same old veggies into healthy new recipes. A good place to start? Well... Weight Watchers, apparently.

Remember this post about butternut squash pasta? I came across a WW recipe that was shockingly similar, except with whole wheat pasta instead of regular, part-skim ricotta instead of full-fat and a conservative sprinkle of toasted walnuts and really good Parmesan for flavor. Delicious! I think the changes actually wound up improving the finished dish. Parmesan shavings pump up the umami without being quite as in-your-face as bacon bits, and I liked how the ricotta stayed in creamy little pockets in the casserole. Oh, butternut squash! You're delicious even without a stick of butter. Who knew?

I plated the pasta with a seriously amazing red cabbage and apple stew. My mom used to make this cabbage dish when the weather got cold. The cinnamon and apples make the house smell so warm and cozy, and the cabbage just sort of melts into this soft, tangy purple lusciousness. I couldn't find any red cabbage at the market this week, so I picked it up from the supermarket, but the apples are crispy Granny Smiths from the greenmarket. I snuck a couple of "test slices" while cooking and wished I'd picked up more apples - even this late in the season, they were crunchy and tart.

And red cabbage stew keeps well in the fridge, too! Behold, the red cabbage leftovers topped with chicken apple sausage from Trader Joe's.

Barely any WW Points and barely any cooking? Dinner is done.


1 small head red cabbage, shredded
2 crisp, green apples (Granny Smiths are great) thinly sliced
2 T apple cider vinegar
2 t sugar
1/2 t pumpkin pie spice
1/2 t cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a medium pot. Cover and cook over low heat, 30 to 45 minutes, until everything is nice and soft. Add water, a splash or two at a time, if the pot starts getting dry. Serves: a lot of folks.