How Vegetarians View Their Insides

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Vegetable Man – Wow!

Eating vegetables is good for you. Wearing them, not so much.

Rutabaga Fries. Really?

rutabaga fries

Here’s all you need to make oven-roasted rutabaga fries.

My daughter says I shouldn’t call this dish “fries” because it will give people the wrong idea.  Rutabaga fries look like regular oven fries,  but they taste  more like sweet potato fries–only earthier and more intriguing.

Don’t be alarmed when you first cut open a rutabaga–it’s one of the worst-smelling vegetables around–damp, earthy, and acrid smelling.  A cross between a cabbage and a turnip, the rutabaga seems, in its raw state, to partake of the worst aspects of both.

But roast it and something magical happens–the flesh becomes meltingly tender and sweet as the sugars in the root carmelize.  Even to my vegetable-hater sensibilities, the result is as irresistibly snack-able as a heaping plate of french fries–and better for you!

Ingredients

2 lb rutabagas (I prefer the small baseball-sized ones)
Olive oil
1 teaspoon Paprika
1/4 tsp. Cayenne
Salt and black pepper to taste

STEP ONE: Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

STEP TWO: Peel the rutabagas. Slice them like french fries.

STEP THREE: Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne. Mix to coat.

STEP FOUR: Bake for 30-40 minutes. Warning: The fries will look done before they are done: first they color, then they soften, then, although they never really crisp up, they get these nice golden brown raised roasted appearance.

STEP FIVE: Serve immediately.

Oven-baked rutabaga fries -- set amidst the wisteria on my deck

Vinaigrettes by Michele Anna Jordan

Vinaigrettes_Jordan

Just published: Vinaigrette and Other Dressings by Michele Anna Jordan

Michele Anna Jordan is a wise and wonderful cook–and although she seems to know and love every vegetable in existence–I trust her taste absolutely.  I can’t wait to try these recipes!

A Solution to the Kale Crisis

THE PROBLEM: Dinosaur kale run amok in the backyard

This is what happens when you hate vegetables but like gardening:

Last year's dinosaur kale run amok

Last year’s dinosaur kale run amok

THE SOLUTION:  The Ceres Project Tuscan Kale Salad 

The Ceres Project is an amazing organization that teaches teenagers how to cook healthful food and delivers the magnificent dishes they create to people recovering from cancer.  Cancer-fighting vegetables, like kale and broccoli,  loom large in their offerings, and they are expert at making these foods palatable.

Their Tuscan Kale Salad, which is carried in the deli section at Whole Foods throughout Sonoma County,  is a case in point. The recipe below is adapted from the Ceres cookbook,  Nourishing Connections Cookbook: The Healing Power of Food and Community.  Many thanks to Margaret Howe for sharing the recipe. I’ve amped up the lemon and garlic and added pine nuts to suit the sensibilities of vegetable haters, who want all the benefits of eating kale without actually having to taste it.

The Ceres Project Tuscan Kale Salad

The Ceres Project Tuscan Kale Salad with thanks to Margaret Howe

5 cups kale, stemmed and  chopped into thin ribbons
1/4 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs
1 clove garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup parmesan
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup pine nuts

STEP ONE:  Cut the kale off the tough stems (toss the stems), chop the leaves into thin ribbons, and place kale in a large bowl.

STEP TWO:  In a small bowl, combine garlic, 1/2 of the cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and whisk until it is creamy.

STEP THREE:  Pour the dressing over the kale and toss well.

STEP FOUR:  Garnish with breadcrumbs,  additional cheese,  a final drizzle of olive oil, and pine nuts.

Yield: 6 cups

This recipe serves three people.  “What!” you say, aghast. “That’s two cups of raw kale per person! Are you nuts?” No, I am not. It’s that good, in part because, well, you can’t really taste the kale for all that lemon and garlic.  Vegetable haters unite! This will be one of your mainstay recipes.

So, anyway, does anyone need some kale?

More Brussels Sprouts Please…

Dora's No-Fail Brussels Sprouts

Dora’s No-Fail Brussels Sprouts

That’s what my teenage daughter said when she finished her first bowl of this marvelous concoction from a recipe provided by my friend Karen Gifford.

As a respondent to last week’s post pointed out, Brussels Sprouts are just little cabbages. Thinking of them that way is the key to preparing them for vegetable haters.

Turn them into a chiffonade by cutting the sprouts in half, coring them, and slicing them very finely. (Throw out the cores–that’s right, just do it. There are many people starving in the world, but they’re not going to eat your Brussels sprout cores.)

From sprout to slaw

From sprout to chiffonade

Dora’s No-Fail Brussels Sprouts

8-10 Brussels sprouts
1 onion or 2 shallots, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
handful of walnuts, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Core the sprouts and cut them into a chiffonade.

Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet, add onions and cook until soft. Add garlic and cook for one minute. Add Brussels Sprout chiffonade  and a generous amount of salt and pepper and stir for another minute. Toss in the nuts–the recipe calls for finely chopped walnuts, but I used roughly chopped hazelnuts and it was still delicious.

Brussels Sprouts — Oh, I Give Up!

Brussels Sprouts: America's Least Favorite Vegetable

Brussels Sprouts: America’s Least Favorite Vegetable

You may be wondering why I haven’t posted another tasty vegetable-hater vegetable recipe this week.  It’s because I’ve been working on Brussels sprouts–testing a dozen recipes and eating (or at least tasting) multiple variations a day–and I have yet to find one that doesn’t, on some basic level, make me gag.  The problem with Brussels sprouts is two-fold:  flavor and texture.  Think old gym socks. Now think mushy old gym socks. Or worse yet, hot mushy old gym socks. That about sums it up.

I know there are people out there who love Brussels sprouts–this column is not for you. When I was researching recipes this week,  I chanced upon a blog entry called “Revenge of the Brussels Sprouts” by my old friend Anneli Rufus on Huffington Post.  Seems Brussels sprouts are suddenly all the rage on haute cuisine menus across the U.S., which, to me, only shows the lengths to which jaded palates will go to jolt their taste buds back to life.

Weirdly, the American hatred of Brussels sprouts seems to be culturally determined.  Although Americans consistently rate Brussels sprouts  as their least favorite vegetable, celery (celery!?) holds that place of honor in England and Japan.  In America, though,  even many vegetarians react to Brussels sprouts with horror, including my daughter’s boyfriend Aidan, who has taken up the thankless task of urging my lithe little carbo-holic to eat healthier. ( I’m secretly paying him–not really,  but I should be–Aidan, see me about this.)  Anyway, this week he leaned into our refrigerator, pulled out a bowl of grilled Brussels sprouts,  then looked at my daughter.  “I’m a vegetarian, but even I don’t eat these. That’s just torture.  You need to throw these out now. ”

Actually, in all my testing, I have come up with a solution to the Brussels sprout texture problem–and even a solution to their unpleasant flavor.  But a recipe that simply masks a vegetable’s worst traits isn’t enough for inclusion  in this blog.  My promise, remember, is vegetable recipes so good even vegetable haters will love them.  That’s LOVE them, not tolerate them.  So hang in there…I will figure this out soon.