Another northern dish with a funny name!
This quick stew of midsummer veggies has long been a favorite when we need to sample the new produce, but don’t want to stand over the stove too long!
Robbing a few new potatoes from the hills is a tradition around here. Pulling sweet baby carrots is also not to be resisted! Combine these little thefts with new green beans and whatever strikes your fancy and you end up with a simple but deliciously satisfying summer dish.
Out of the kitchen fast
This is meant to be quick to cook with little fuss. With temperatures in the high 90s this week, and very humid, whatever gets me out of the kitchen fast is for me. Also, we got a new puppy a few days ago, and my attention is a bit distracted…
While Hodge Podge (also, hotch potch) appears to have its beginnings in Scotland or England using mutton, it originated as a vegetable-based soup in Nova Scotia and many versions of this delightful summer dish have drifted through the northeast. There’s no sweating of aromatics, no fussy prep, just a bunch of veggies fresh from the garden boiled together to make a delightful medley of the season.
We can’t wait for the harvest!
Traditionally, the dish includes new potatoes and tender, sweet baby carrots (not the machined offerings in the grocery store), shelling peas and the first of the green and wax beans, new onions and their greens, all simmered quickly in a butter cream sauce. It is also traditional to put whatever else is nice or bountiful in your garden (or farm stand) at the time, including the last of the asparagus, probably the last of the sugar snaps, the first of the zucchini and yellow squash, turnips, radishes, and fennel. Herbs could include chives, parsley, dill, tarragon, chives, or chervil, or anything you love.
Hodgepodge – noun, (hoj’-poj) A random mixture; jumble. Also, hodge-podge, hodge podge.
My mother always included Swiss chard because it was always in our garden and the more you pick it, the more you get, so she picked lots! Beet greens, turnip greens, spinach, or any favorite green wouldwork here. I used both Swiss chard and the greens from the golden beets.
Not a boiled dinner, call it a quickly simmered one
Unlike a winter New England boiled dinner, this dish cooks quickly, just until everything is tender, but still vibrant, the broth sweet and light. It is served just slightly warm, or even room temperature.
My update to this vegetarian dish is to make it vegan as well by substituting coconut milk for the heavy cream, lightening it considerably. I also boiled the shells of the peas to give the dish a flavor boost in the form of a pea stock, very flavorful and quick too. Not necessary, but I hate composting flavor.
Lots to choose from this week at the farms and markets, so my dish includes new potatoes, new carrots, a leek, sweet onion, asparagus, sweet golden beets and their greens, Swiss chard, English peas, and new green beans, no wax beans yet. Don’t bother peeling the carrots, potatoes, or beets, the new veggies don’t need it, and you’ll save time and nutrition. Note that red beets will turn everything in the pot red, so keep this in mind if you don’t like that!
While mom would toss everything in the pot and just let it simmer until done, I prefer to add the veggies in stages so the beans and peas don’t overcook, keep their color, and nutrition.
Parsley and tarragon from the garden livened things up. Quite a Hodge Podge!
- 1 ½ lb. shelling peas
- 6 cups water (more or less)
- 1 ½ lbs. new potatoes, halved or whole
- 1 lb. carrots, roughly chopped or thick sliced
- 1 large onion, cut in wedges
- 1 leek (or additional onion), diced
- 3 golden or Chioggia beets, quartered
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- ½ to ¾ lb. green beans, trimmed, whole
- 1 lb. summer squash or zucchini, diced
- Large bunch of Swiss chard, stems included
- Beets tops if available
- 1 bunch of asparagus, chopped
- 1 can coconut milk, full fat or light
- 2 tbsp. fresh herbs of choice, chopped
Prep the vegetables by first scrubbing them. You do not need to peel.
Shell the peas and place the pods in a pot, cover with water, salt, and bring to a boil. Simmer for one-half hour or so. Set the peas aside.
Cut the potatoes and carrots into desired size. Peel the onion (put peelings in the pot with the pea pods) then cut it into eight wedges, leaving the root end intact. Chop the leek, white and light green part. Cut the greens from the beets and cut the beets into quarters or sixths, depending on size. Crush and roughly dice the garlic. Place all these in a large stock pot, except the beet greens, set those aside.
Cut the tips off the green beans, and set aside. Dice the summer squash, and set aside. Chop the stems of the Swiss chard and place them in the stock pot. Set the greens aside.
Once the pea pods have given up their flavor, strain this liquid into the stock pot and compost the pods. Add water to cover the vegetables, and season with salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, covered. The potatoes and carrots will be just about done.
Add the green beans and squash and cook for an additional five minutes, uncovered. Green vegetables retain their color much better when cooked in an uncovered pot.
Add the asparagus and peas and cook for an additional five minutes, uncovered.
Add the greens and cook just until they wilt, uncovered, but mix them into the rest of the veggies.
Add the coconut milk and the herbs. Remove from the heat. Taste and correct seasoning.
Serve warm or room temperature, and garnish with a few more herbs. Yes, you can now add some butter or vegan butter it you like!
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