All you need is LUUV - and vegetables

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Killingly - posted Mon., Sep. 30, 2013
(L to r) Wendy Garosshen and Linda Wojcik made Beta Beet Burgers on Sept. 28 at the Killingly Farmers' Market. Photos by D. Coffey.
(L to r) Wendy Garosshen and Linda Wojcik made Beta Beet Burgers on Sept. 28 at the Killingly Farmers' Market. Photos by D. Coffey.

The Farmers' Market in Killingly offered special treats to customers on Sept. 28. Beta Burger sliders, complete with recipe, were handed out to all who were willing to try something new. It was all part of “Let’s Use Underused Vegetables” days at the Killingly Farmers' Market.

Sponsored by the Killingly Agriculture Commission and the Northeastern Connecticut Farmers' Market, and supported in part by matching funds from the Connecticut Dept of Agriculture through the Community Investment Act, the effort is aimed at getting consumers to use vegetables they normally pass by. “We tried to identify vegetables that people don’t have a lot of experience with,” said KAC Chair Frank Anastasio.

The trick was to find those vegetables that were never used or were underused. What they came up with were six sessions using kale, butternut squash, beets, Thai basil and rosemary to create soups, burgers, pancakes and juices.

On Sept. 7, Anastasio and his wife, Donna, made three different kinds of bruschetta using basil, Thai basil and rosemary. On the 21st, the Anastasios made butternut squash soup with cayenne pepper. Wendy Garosshen from Heirloom Food Company, and Linda Wojcik made beta beet burger sliders on the 28th. The name comes from the beta-Carotene found in beets. The red patties were made with brown rice, shredded beets, lentils, breadcrumbs and spices. 

The sliders were a hit with Lisa Clark. “They are amazing,” she said. “You can taste everything. It just pops in your mouth. It’s going to be a new family recipe.” Her daughters, Kathryn and Leona, were less enthusiastic.

“They’re pretty good considering I don’t like beets,” Leona said.

Kathryn added, “But they are nutritious. I think people should try them.”

And that is the point behind L.U.U.V. Days – getting people to try new vegetables or using them in new and creative ways. Almost every farmer in the market had a story about an underused vegetable or herb or fruit, whether it’s Asian pears, gooseberries, eggplant, kale, or Swiss chard.

Anastasio said the point was to get people beyond the barriers that held them back. Some people don’t cook butternut squash because it’s hard to peel, he said. Or they think the only way to cook beets is to steam and throw butter on them. The six fall sessions aim to break through those barriers.

“People say they like beets but don’t know how to prepare them,” said Garosshen. “This is an easy and delicious way to get beets into your diet.”  The more beets (carrots, pumpkins and sweet potatoes as well) the more vitamin A.

“Vitamin A is great for the eyes, the skin, the liver, and the heart,” Wojcik added.

Three more L.U.U.V. Day events will be held before the end of the Farmers' Market season. On Oct. 5, Heirloom Food Company will prepare “Green Lemonade” kale juice. On Oct. 12, Renee’s Working Girl Catering will prepare butternut squash pancakes. On Oct. 19, Tina Stevens and Erik Martin from Steven’s Farm will prepare sautéed kale.

For more information on the L.U.U.V. Day events or for recipes, go to

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