By Victor S. Sierpina

Last week, I wrote about the Seeding Galveston program, which delivers freshly picked, locally grown produce weekly to your home.

You get what is in season. This will alter the way you cook and how you eat. It is healthier because fresh vegetables right from the garden retain all their nutrients and taste so good you will want to eat more of them.

One example is the large variety of greens they bring. Many folks in the South have grown up with collard and mustard greens cooked by Grandma. Other types of greens that are in season and can be used much the same way are chard, broccoli greens, and kale. These are chock full of fiber, vitamins and protein and can be steamed or boiled with traditional seasonings and a little smoked turkey leg or ham hock. Instead, lightly sauté them with olive oil and garlic. You can put a fried egg on top of some rainbow chard sautéed with garlic for a surprisingly delightful breakfast.

Historically for me, parsley was something used only as a garnish. A sprig of it on the plate added color and freshened the breath. Later in life, I discovered the joy of parsley-based tabouli salad, which I often enjoy at Mediterranean Chef in Galveston. Faced recently with the delivery of a large bunch of fresh flat Italian parsley, I decided to try making my own.

Soak 1-1 ½ cups of fine whole-wheat bulgur in salted cold or hot water for 20-30 minutes

Finely chop 2-3 cups of fresh flat-leaf parsley

Chop 2-3 cups ripe tomatoes (about 4 medium tomatoes)

Chop 1 cup fresh mint

Chop ½ cup green onions (1 bunch with green and white parts)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Toss together with the bulgur

Add basic citrus dressing (4 tablespoons lemon juice and ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and red pepper flakes) toss, and serve.

This keeps well in the fridge and is good for lunch, dinner, or even a breakfast side dish with an egg or wild game sausage on top. If you are sensitive to wheat or gluten, you could substitute quinoa for the bulgur.

Also in our weekly Seeding Galveston delivery was a small head of cabbage. Growing up as a Polish kid, golumpki were a regular meal. It is a simple peasant fare made of fried ground beef, onions and white rice stuffing wrapped in a cabbage leaf and shows up in many cultural cuisines.

My wife Michelle creatively updated the golumpki by lightly softening fresh cabbage leaves in the microwave, thus removing the complex, time consuming process of boiling it. She then mixed ground Italian sausage turkey breast, whole grain brown, black, and wild rice with onions, and Italian seasoning. Something Momma also never included was a zesty topping of basil marinara sauce just before roasting in the oven or simmering on the stovetop.

Creative cooking is one of life’s joys. Challenging ourselves to try new foods or refresh traditional family recipes with different and sometimes healthier ingredients can be a path to happier shopping, cooking, and eating.