It is pretty incredible that it is October, and I still have my air conditioner installed in my window. I think today might be the last day I will need it since all the trees outside my window are starting to turn yellow and the breeze at night has me considering a seasonal closet flip. Oh, also I will be going away soon! I am leaving a week from today to spend a week in Holland followed by two weeks in Italy, a trip that I have been wanting for a decade now! I am going to make a bold attempt to update from overseas, as much as I can. I am also going to make a bold attempt to eat EVERYTHING I can in that time. Because you know, the walking and stuff will cancel it out, right? Right.
Back to the green stuff. Where were we?
read like a comic strip: broccoli with red pepper flakes, red cabbage, bacon Brussels sprouts, Napa cabbage, Bok Choy, NYTimes kohlrabi home fries, sauteed collard greens with bacon, seared cauliflower, Martha’s buttered Savoy cabbage
Broccoli, Broccoli Rabe/Rapini – We are all pretty familiar with this one. The biggest challenge seems to be making broccoli that isn’t cooked to death/mushy or severely under-cooked. The trick in this case is to blanch your broccoli in boiling water until its just crunchier than you’d like, then plunging it in ice water immediately. I know what you’re thinking: “but….but….flavors?” I know. When you’re ready to serve, heat up a saute pan and melt some butter and throw in some finely minced garlic and red pepper flakes. Toss the broccoli in there just to heat and distribute the butter. Perfect broccoli every time.
Brussels Sprouts – Brussels sprouts are merely a vehicle for bacon. Well, you could probably do other stuff with them but…why would you? When prepping Brussels sprouts the most important thing to remember is size matters. In order for them to come out cooked evenly, they have to be the same size-ish. So leave the teeny ones whole, and slice the big ones in halves or even quarters if they’re beasts. It’s ok if some of them fall apart- that’s just part of the deal. Dice up some thick-cut bacon and cook it in a pan until the fat has rendered out. Saute your Brussels sprouts in the pan with some minced garlic. Finish with a drizzle of maple syrup and pop them in the oven until tender but with a little crunch. This is an excellent way to convince someone to try Brussels sprouts again if they didn’t like them to begin with.
Bok Choy, Baby Bok Choy – This one screams out for Asian mirepoix. Wait…I haven’t told you what mirepoix is yet?
SHAME. ON. ME.
- Mirepoix (meer-pwah) is a combination of aromatic vegetables intended to impart a pleasing background flavor, to support the final dish. Every cuisine has it’s own version of mirepoix, but the original French name specifically refers to carrots, onions, and celery. Even when used in small amounts, aromatic vegetables can make a huge contribution to a dish, for example: 2 cups of standard mirepoix is enough to flavor one gallon of soup stock!
- Asian “mirepoix” aromatics traditionally consists of 2 parts garlic, 1 part green onion, and 2 parts ginger. Split your bok choy down the middle and steam until crunchy but tender. Saute with asian mirepoix and finish with a little soy sauce.
- We will get more into this soon when we talk about SAUCES.
Green Cabbage – I think we all know that this one is pretty much limited to cole slaw & St. Patricks day feasts. I have never been a big fan of cabbage, to be honest with you. I think Brussels sprouts are more flavorful, more aesthetically pleasing, and easier to cook. Also the smell that cabbage emits while being steamed or boiled…pass.
Red Cabbage- See Green Cabbage. Or add bacon.
Napa Cabbage – This cabbage is a little more sturdy and flavorful than standard cabbage. I use this one in most of my slaws- and think it makes a much better filler than lettuce in tacos and burritos! It adds a great crunch to tacos and burritos, and takes on those flavors very well. It holds up to sitting in sauce for a long time, so it won’t wilt and get all sad like lettuce tends to. Excellente.
Savoy Cabbage – This is another one that is way more flavorful than standard cabbage, and I would use this variety if I wanted to make a side dish. Chop the cabbage into bite size pieces and boil in one cup of water in a shallow pan. When tender, pour out any remaining water. Add a tablespoon of butter, sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Toss to coat. Incredibly cheap, incredibly easy and really quite good as a side to any meat dish.
Cauliflower – In my experience, cauliflower loves lemon. Remember when I obsessed over lemon zest? I’m gonna do it again right now. Slice your cauliflower into large 1/2″ slabs. Heat just a touch of clarified butter or grapeseed oil in a pan, sear the slabs on both sides (make sure they get some color) drizzle with a little olive oil, zest of a lemon, salt and pepper. Let them cook until tender. That’s it. I’m telling you…I’m onto something here!
Kohlrabi – I have not worked with Kohlrabi very much but I have made these awesome home fries from the NYTimes and they were delicious!
Kale – Love me some kale. Cooked, raw, chips…all of it. Have you ever had a kale chip? Not the store-bought kind, but a homemade chip? It is so easy and the stores are practically robbing you blind if you are buying that nonsense. Heat your oven to 300F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon liner if you have one. Remove the ribs from your kale and cut into big pieces (they will shrink). Toss in a bowl with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread them out onto the sheet pan without layering. Bake until crispy and edges start to brown a little. I could eat these forever and ever without missing a real potato chip. Also don’t forget Mercato’s awesome lacinato kale salad.
Collard Greens – pair really well with smokey meats. I think that a side of collard greens is a must when having ribs. I prepare them the same way I would the Savoy cabbage, except maybe add a touch of honey or maple syrup to balance out the salt and smoke from the meat.
…Part III will finish off with cooking greens and a few more basic recipes and as always some food science and myth debunking. Tomorrow we will temporarily break from greens because Cara has been doing some research on out-of-the-ordinary fitness classes out there!