Words by James Odum
You hate vegetables; vegetables are boring and vegetables are lame. Whether it’s spinach, cabbage, carrots, or romaine, vegetables simply fail to excite. But the only reason you avoid the veg is because you’re just not doing it right. Vegetables can be delicious, you just don’t know how to take full advantage of the diverse and powerful flavors hidden in the produce aisle (and no, drenching everything in ranch does not count). I’m going to introduce you to some of my favorite underdog vegetables and teach you how to get as much flavor as possible out of those suckers. Let’s take a walk down the produce aisle and rediscover the wonderful world of veg.
I’m going to introduce you to some of my favorite underdog vegetables and teach you how to get as much flavor as possible out of those suckers. Let’s take a walk down the produce aisle and rediscover the wonderful world of veg.
- Profile: Swiss Chard is like flamboyant spinach--its dark green leaves are accented by fluorescent red, yellow, and orange stems. This guy is overflowing with a boatload of antioxidants, like vitamin C, bone-strengthening vitamin K, and includes a healthy dose of fiber and protein that help digestive health and can help regulate blood sugar.
- Recipe (adapted from Ann Burrell)
- Pull the leaves from those lovely colorful stems--a swift tug from stalk to leaf will give you a nice pile of healthful greens (but don’t throw the stems away!).
- Coat a large pan with a little bit of olive oil with some diced bacon (bacon makes everything better). Throw in a clove of garlic and sprinkle some red pepper flakes on there, too. Heat the pan to medium-high heat and stir until the garlic turns brown. Once the garlic is brown take it out. Get that bacon crispy and put the stems in the pan along with ½ a cup of stock (chicken or vegetable). When the stock has evaporated, dump the leaves in and sauté them until they wilt. Hit it with a little salt and you’re good to go.
- Profile: You hated them when you were little, but it’s time to grow up. Cabbage’s little brother can hold its own on the flavor front. It doesn’t hurt that this guy is loaded with sulforaphane, a proven cancer fighter.
- Recipe (adapted from Giada de Laurentiis.)
- Preheat your oven to 400°F.
- Wash the Brussels sprouts and cut them in half. Coat them in some olive oil and sprinkle generously with some dried oregano, dried thyme, dried basil, and dried rosemary.
- Spray a baking sheet with some non-stick spray and arrange the Brussels sprouts in a single layer. Top them off with coarse sea salt and pepper. Stick them in the oven for 45 minutes, remembering to flip them once halfway through.
- Profile: Parsnips are my newest favorite. These sweet, colorless roots are related to the carrot, but outdo its relative nutritionally in almost every way. The potassium in parsnips can help with muscle and nerve function while the high fiber content will help regulate blood sugar and cholesterol.
- Recipe (adapted from Nadia G.)
- Peel the parsnips and slice them up into thin coins.
- Coat a saucepan in olive oil, heat to medium and toss the parsnips in. Mix the parsnips around the olive oil, hit them with some coarse sea salt and arrange the wheels in an even layer. Cover the pan, let them steam and fry for 10 minutes.
- Uncover, crank up the heat, and flip the parsnips. Let them crisp up and get nice and brown and they’ll be ready to devour.
Hearts of Romaine
- Profile: What? What’s romaine lettuce doing in here? Well, I wanted to take the most boring and overused vegetable and crank it up a notch. Romaine’s wide availability and user-friendly appeal makes it easy to get that disease-fighting, eyesight-improving vitamin A into your diet.
- Recipe (family recipe)
- Coat a heart of romaine in a teaspoon or two of olive oil. Spray a pan with non-stick spray, heat on medium-high and put the whole heart in there. Sprinkle some sea salt and black pepper over it, and let fry for about 2-3 minutes. Turn the heart on its side, season, and let fry again.
- Keep flipping and seasoning until every side is nicely browned and caramelized. Remove and serve hot.
So now you have no excuse to skip those five a day. Get in that kitchen and get your green on.