A Nation of Gluttons
September 29th, 2010

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
olive oil
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.

8 Responses to “A Nation of Gluttons”

  1. TheKitchenWitch Says:

    My husband, just this past weekend, had to go into the hospital to work on a 600-pound man. He was so fat that they needed ultrasound technology to get a central line into him…I was just grossed out. And that’s not even the biggest one he’s gotten. A few years ago, there was an 850-pounder…they actually had to send the guy to the ZOO to get it done, because a normal machine couldn’t handle that much weight.

  2. Jeanna Says:

    Thanks for the recipes! I love getting new ideas to try out.

  3. Jan Says:

    I don’t suppose this is deserving of some of the comments that your more worthy topics elicit (choosing kindergartens, adoption, politics, etc.) but I would like to speak up for those of us who steam our vegetables. They taste fresher; they’re not oily; the color is better; and you don’t deplete the world’s natural gas supply by running the oven. So there.

  4. Anne@lifeinpencil.com Says:

    Jan–it all depends on whether you add butter, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. But in general, I’m with Gale…and Ina Garten, who roasts everything under the shining sun and passes it off as a new recipe.

  5. BigLittleWolf Says:

    Pumpkin soup. I’ve always wanted to try that. (Trying to figure out if I have the patience, but it sounds soooooo good.)

    As for those veggies – we love them! We eat raw spinach, very slightly steamed spinach (and I mean slightly), and also steamed broccoli and asparagus. Again – especially the broccoli – barely steamed. And it’s delish – just like that! (Or maybe we’re aliens.)

    Now I will say, it’s a treat when someone (else) grills veggies. But I’m usually too lazy.

  6. Gale Says:

    To all you advocates for steamed veggies: You are holy, devout, and pure people. I think you must walk around with halos atop your heads. I don’t know how you do it. I can eat roasted or grilled veggies all day long, but not steamed. I do steam occasionally when my britches start getting a bit snug. But only then. For me, drizzled with olive oil and roasted is the more virtuous path, because if I steam my veggies I then want nothing more than to drown the little suckers in butter and salt, which totally defeats the purpose.

    Oh, and BLW – The pumpkin soup is embarrassingly fast and easy. Except for a little sauteing at the beginning, it’s basically a “dump and stir” recipe. I’m sure you can handle it.

  7. Jane Says:

    You just listed my all-time favorite way to eat broccoli! Roasted rocks!

  8. Kate Says:

    Roasted asparagus (olive oil and some garlic, salt and pepper) converted my (veggie hating) husband. He even ate it instead of the meat. Shocking! And any green does well with a simple sauté. So quick. Sadly, most of my veggies are frozen these days. It’s too easy. And the kids eat peas and corn. But salad is my favorite. With lots of garlic in the dressing. Lots. Or lemon juice, olive oil, a bit of garlic and a tiny bit of maple syrup. Yum.