News flash: Americans aren’t eating enough vegetables.
We are a nation of gluttons. We read it every day. We hear stories on food deserts. There are “special reports” about our addictions to convenience foods. There is a whole movement called Meatless Mondays sweeping health- and eco-conscious consumers who aim to reduce their carbon footprint and up their vegetable intake. And yet, as a nation, we still fail.
I am no vegetable saint. I get a decent amount of produce in my diet, but on many days I still don’t meet the federal guidelines. (Like many people, I’m better with fruit.) Nevertheless, I have some go-to vegetable recipes that keep me from turning into a French fry, and in an effort to serve the greater good (I’m so charitable!) I’m going to share them with you today.
My Favorite Salad Dressing
This is from Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris cookbook. It is our regular salad dressing and is also quite good drizzled over steamed veggies. It keeps in the fridge for 4 or 5 days, although you may need to stir it if the oil has begun to separate.
1 egg yolk
½ tsp spicy brown mustard (Grey Poupon or similar)
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2-3 Tbs white wine vinegar (depending on how much zing you like)
½ C extra virgin olive oil
Whisk all ingredients except the oil in a small bowl. Then, while whisking rapidly, add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Adjust seasonings to taste. (And don’t eat this if you’re pregnant.)
My Favorite Broccoli
Super easy and so much better than steamed broccoli. It’s not a pretty dish, but trust me, the flavor is great and this is really cozy in the winter. (You can also use this preparation for cauliflower, which actually is pretty when roasted.)
2 heads broccoli, cut into large florets
¼ to ½ C olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
Preheat oven to 400. Spread broccoli florets onto a large baking sheet. (I use a half-sheet pan.) Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Using your hands, toss to coat. Roast for 10 minutes. Then pull the pan out and flip each floret over with tongs. Put back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Ta Da! (To do sweet potatoes, cut them into thick slices and extend your roasting time to 15 minutes per side.)
My Favorite Brussels Sprouts
Deb Perelman over at Smitten Kitchen is frequently a genius. This recipe is evidence of that. I won’t re-type it here because if you go over to the SK site you’ll get all of Deb’s witty banter and stunning photos. But I will sing its praises saying that the rich, deep flavor provided by the combination of the pancetta and balsamic vinegar is just to die for. But, if you’re a vegetarian you can easily omit the pancetta and the dish won’t suffer too much. Be forewarned, though, that if you don’t like the flavor of balsamic vinegar to begin with, this recipe isn’t for you!
My Favorite Sautéed Spinach
This is more of what my grandmother would have called “a procedure” so don’t get hung up on measurements. It’s hard to mess this up. The quantities below will make about two servings.
½ bag prewashed spinach
½ small yellow onion, cut into half moons
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper
Drizzle about 3 Tbs of olive oil into a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach and turn it frequently with tongs so that it cooks evenly, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You could also top with some grated parmesan if you’re feeling fancy.
My Favorite Pumpkin Soup
This week I finally had to put on a fleece for my morning outing with our dogs. That means soup weather is just around the corner. Pumpkin is packed with beta carotene and other stuff which I’m told is good for me but I don’t really know why. So I eat it. It’s delicious in pies, but I actually like this soup better. (I prefer to eat my autumnal pie calories in the pecan format.)
2 shallots, minced
2 Tbs unsalted butter
1 can pumpkin puree
1 can low sodium chicken broth
1 Tbs brown sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
¼ to ½ cup cream
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the shallots until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add pumpkin puree and sauté for about one minute before stirring in the chicken broth. Bring to a gentle simmer and add brown sugar, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Simmer, uncovered for about 5 minutes until thickened slightly. Add cream and adjust seasonings to taste.