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Oven Roasted Vegetables, At Work!

by | Nov 11, 2008

As I mentioned, salad season is pretty much over and I have embarked on a new era of work lunches. This week I am experimenting with roasted vegetables because they can be cooked in large batches and store very well in the refrigerator. They also reheat nicely in the microwave.

It cracks me up to say this, but my vegetable choices this week were cauliflower, golden beets and Brussels sprouts. If you would have told 8-year old me that this is what I would be having for lunch every day this week I probably would have vomited in horror. By some strange evolution that can probably be blamed on San Francisco elitism, last Saturday this unthinkable combination of vegetables just sounded brilliant.
Luckily for me, it actually worked. To make sure the Brussels sprouts were not gross, I first halved and par boiled them as usual. In retrospect, I wish I would have also steamed the cauliflower for a few minutes too; it ended up taking longer to cook than everything else.

The vegetables were delicious immediately after cooking and even when reheated at work. My only complaint is that Brussels sprouts got a little too soft because of the extra time it took the cauliflower to cook. But the texture was not too bad and the flavor was fantastic.

Oven Roasted Vegetables

  • 1 whole cauliflower
  • Brussels sprouts (3/4 lb or so)
  • 3-4 medium golden beets
  • fresh herbs (I finished off my oregano)

Preheat oven to 400 (I sometimes do 375). Bring 1 qt water to boil with a few pinches of salt. Set up steamer for cauliflower. Halve the Brussels sprouts and boil exactly 5 minutes. Cut up cauliflower into florets and steam 3-5 minutes. Peel beets and chop into bite-sized 1/2″ cubes.

Spread equal portions of vegetables into two large baking pans. Alternatively you can add all vegetables into one large bowl to make seasoning easier, then distribute them into pans. Coat vegetables liberally with olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Finely chop herbs and sprinkle into mixture, about 2-3 tbsp final volume.

Place vegetables in oven and roast for 40-50 minutes, or until they reach desired tenderness. Be sure to stir them every 10 minutes or so, and monitor them to avoid burning. When they are finished cooking, allow them to cool 10 minutes and then immediately transfer to tupper and place in the refrigerator.

To reheat, microwave on high for 2 minutes, stirring half way through.

This recipe works for almost any durable vegetable. Simply adjust cooking time to reach appropriate tenderness. Serve with brown or wild rice.

What are your favorite roasting vegetables? I will be trying different combinations each week and would love to hear your suggestions.

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Polls Close: Brussels Sprouts Win!

by | Nov 5, 2008

Voting finally closed on last week’s poll question: Do you like Brussels sprouts?

Asked whether individuals “love em!”, “hate em!”, are “skeptical, but willing to try”, or are a “recent convert,” the most votes (37%) were tallied for love em! Add to this the 25% who claim to be recent converts and another 25% who remain skeptical, but willing to give them a try, and today is an overwhelming victory for Brussels sprouts on the dinner plate.

A mere 12% of voters claim to hate em.

Voters have spoken clearly that Brussels sprouts are no longer considered second class vegetables. They can proudly sit on the dinner plate next to traditional favorites like broccoli and potatoes, without being banished to a side plate to get cold and soggy. Brussels sprouts can rest easily knowing that they will be accepted for who they are, no longer having to disguise themselves under cheese or bacon bits. The myth of separate but equal has finally been put to rest.

It remains to be seen if this verdict will prevail in state and federal courts across the nation.

In other news, for the first time in American history a beet has been elected president of the dinner plate, defeating the turnip in a landslide victory. The beet won over voters by promising to bring change to dinner, and maybe even lunch. With this victory, the culinary landscape of the United States is certainly being redefined.

Also, with the passing of Prop 2 in California yesterday, some animals that share our dinner plates also notched a victory. Despite efforts of the opposition, Salmonella outbreaks may fall to dangerously low levels by the year 2015.

Thanks to all of you who made your voices heard in this election. The final results are listed below.

Poll: Do you like Brussels sprouts?

Love em! 37%
Hate em! 12%
Skeptical, but willing to try 25%
Recent convert 25%

n = 8
(not a scientific poll)

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Cruciferous Vegetables: Did You Know?

by | Oct 28, 2008

Brussels sprouts are a member of the cruciferous or brassica vegetable family. The term cruciferous means “cross-bearing” since the four petals of their leaves resemble a cross. Popular cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cabbage and kale, but also root vegetables such as turnips and rutabaga.

Cruciferous vegetables are usually what we are talking about when we say “green leafy vegetables,” and they are thought to have anti-cancer properties.

Some people consider cruciferous vegetables to be “functional foods” or “super foods,” because they have benefits beyond basic nutrition. For instance, these vegetables are rich in compounds that have been shown to fight cancer and other diseases.

It is in your best interest to learn to love cruciferous vegetables. I eat them several times a week (preferably daily).

Other members of this vegetable family include:

  • broccoli
  • kale
  • cabbage
  • collard greens
  • bok choy
  • cauliflower
  • turnip
  • mustard greens
  • radish
  • watercress
  • arugula
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Hate Brussels Sprouts? So Did I

by | Oct 27, 2008

Kids and adults alike are often united in their hatred of Brussels sprouts. When I was young, Brussels sprouts were at the very top of my gross foods list, just barely inching out slimy spinach and chalky lima beans. Yuck!

It was not until I got to college that I learned spinach is not really slimy. Turns out it is actually a leaf and surprisingly delicious! I didn’t realize I had been eating frozen spinach my entire life. What a relief!

Over time I learned that many foods I never liked were not as bad as I thought. I grew to appreciate fennel, avocado, cilantro and even beets, but I never could develop a taste for Brussels sprouts.

A few years ago when I started getting serious about vegetables and health, I made a decision to conquer my last few food aversions. Eggplant was something I always struggled with, but I learned that a few kitchen tricks could turn it into a delicious meal. This past summer I was finally able to embrace cucumbers.

After all this, overcoming my aversion to Brussels sprouts is my proudest accomplishment.

I have found that for most foods I do not enjoy, ordering them at an expensive San Francisco restaurant is a great place to start. These people can seriously cook. And if anyone can make something taste good, it is the brilliant chefs of San Francisco.

Absinthe Brasserie was where I first tried Brussels sprouts that I didn’t just like, I loved. So warm, savory and delicious, I finally knew what Brussels sprouts could be.

It was this experience that convinced me it was possible to find a way to cook Brussels sprouts so that I like them. I spent all last winter trying different cooking techniques until I finally got it right.

The secrets?

  1. Bacon – Is there anything bacon doesn’t make better?
  2. Nuts – Walnuts or hazelnuts add a crunchy texture and earthy flavor.
  3. Butter – I don’t cook with butter often, but sometimes it is just worth it.
  4. Blanching – Cutting the sprouts in half and boiling them for 5 minutes removes their bitter flavor.
  5. Fresh herbs – I prefer oregano or marjoram on this dish.
  6. Red wine vinegar – Acid is a great counter to bitterness; it serves Brussels sprouts well.

These tricks and variations of them have convinced me and nearly all of my friends that Brussels sprouts are truly an autumn delicacy.

For those of you questioning the health value of bacon and butter, my answer is this: get over it.

Small amounts of saturated fat will not kill you or even make you fat. Besides, if it gets you to eat your Brussels sprouts it is worth it. I feel confident in saying this dish is infinitely more healthy than anything you can get at Subway.

Don’t be scared, give it a try!

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Do you hate Brussels sprouts? Why?

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