Making beautiful food with ‘ugly’ vegetables: The veggie box initiative


Produce from the veggie box

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In the Netherlands, a group called the Hague in Transition goes to various produce auctions to find organic vegetables that no one buys — not because they aren’t edible (they are!), but because they don’t look very pretty anymore. The group negotiates a price and resells these veggies for a fraction of the cost. So when I heard I could buy 10 pounds of “ugly” organic produce for about 12 bucks, I said, “Sign me up!”

Come on, how pretty is this box of ugly produce? I love an underdog.

Produce from the veggie box

The vegetable box is different every week, so thinking on your feet is pretty important. Despite the challenges that tackling different recipes may pose, it’s worth it, especially when you have pretty coeur de bouef tomatoes like this:


So you've got a cookout looming on the horizon with all these pretty ugly veggies. Whataya make? A salad, of course! All you need are tomatoes, a sweet onion sliced in slivers, organic cucumbers sliced on the bias, feta, salt, pepper, olive oil and a drizzle of balsamic syrup. Look at this! This salad can end world wars.

Closeup of salad

What to do with the leftover veggies? You don’t want them to go to waste. Grilled salad for the win! All you need is some zucchini, some eggplant and some red and yellow peppers.


Dice everything up, let the eggplant lounge in some salt, pepper and olive oil, and get thee to the grill. Look at that: Omnivores getting along and pure delicious insanity, all thanks to this box of glorious produce!

Veggies on the grill

Top that sexy grilled salad with fresh feta cheese, mint and this bad boy — a balsamic drizzle from Spain. Of course, you can use any balsamic you have on hand or prefer.

Balsamic vinegar

This salad is even heartier than the first. There are so many flavors on the plate, you may not even know where to begin. Do not omit the mint, either, because it absolutely kills in this smoky grilled salad.

Grilled salad

Will I be ordering another veggie box? Absolutely! I had enough vegetables to last until the end of the week, with some to spare. As for ugly food, I don’t know what you’re talking about. We ate beautifully all week.


Li Pleij with friend and co-bloggerLi Pleij is a silly girl from Humboldt Park, Chicago, who now lives in The Netherlands and is wonderfully insane. Follow her current delicious adventures at The Sleazy Bakeshop.