While I rarely follow vegetable recipes, when you have 200 cookbooks, as I do, you accumulate a lot of vegetable recipes. I do like to peruse them for flavor inspirations. Last night, instead of doing my standard roasted Brussels sprouts (olive oil, salt, garlic), I took a cue from my latest cookbook acquisition, Greg Atkinson’s West Coast Cooking, and substituted two parts melted coconut oil (instead of peanut oil, which I’m out of at the moment), one part dark sesame oil, salt and some red pepper flakes.
I love vegetables, sometimes raw, sometimes cooked. I’ve cooked vegetables long enough that I almost always wing it without a recipe. Basically, I’m comfortable boiling, steaming, sauteing, stir-frying, roasting, grilling (OK, Jeff does the grilling part). I know how to assess doneness without relying on a specified time given in a recipe (those times are nothing more than rough guidelines, anyway). I may make kale chips 10 times and not use the same combination of oven temperature and time twice.
That said, many people are relative newbies to the cooking game, and aren’t sure what to do with all that veggie goodness they bring home from the grocery store or farmer’s market. Here’s a nice little clip from yesterday’s Today Show in which one of my favorite guys, Mark Bittman, explains how to caramelize onions (a flavorful staple in my kitchen) and, roast potatoes (with rosemary) and, even more near and dear to my nutritious little heart, how to cook dark leafy greens (Swiss chard).
I stuck to my own preparation method (trim stem ends, cut in half* unless the sprouts are only the size of large marbles, toss in oil, spread on baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and other seasonings) instead of Atkinson’s parboil-then-roast method. I was lazy, and didn’t want to have an extra pot to wash. The flavor was great! One thing I love about roasting vegetables is that the act of roasting brings out so much natural sweet flavor in the veggies that you don’t have to add much in the way of seasoning. I don’t have kids, but I suspect that a kid who doesn’t like vegetables might like roasted vegetables. It’s worth a try, anyway.
* When you trim and halve Brussels sprouts, you often end up with a few leaves falling off. Make sure you roast those, too! They get nice and crispy, like mini kale chips. An argument could be made that they’re the best part…