One more post of recipes, and then I’ll get back to math, I promise!
One of my proudest accomplishments that somehow, I successfully taught my children to not just eat, but to love vegetables. I think part of that is genetic – neither of them are supertasters. But the other part of it is a combination of training and cooking.
The training side is, I think, simple. Most adults are convinced that vegetables are icky but necessary. They’re wrong. But they actively teach that to their children. They make eating vegetables, even when they’re delicious, into a chore.
The other side is that because most adults think that veggies are icky, they cook them in ways that don’t taste good.
Take one of my favorite vegetables as an example: brussel sprouts. My children will actually fight over who gets the last bite of brussel sprouts. When we’re talking about what to make for dinner, they beg me to make them! But when I mention this to most people, they act like I’m absolutely insane: brussel sprouts are gross!
If you take a bunch of brussel sprouts, and throw it into boiling water for 20 minutes, what you get is a stinky, pungent, bitter, mushy, revolting little ball of green awfulness. But, if you slice them thin, and saute them in a smoking hot pan with olive oil, salt and pepper, and a bit of garlic, until the edges start to turn brown, what you get is absolutely amazing: sweet, crisp, and wonderful.
So, what I’m going to share here is a couple of vegetable side dishes I made in the last week, which were fantastic. All of them are roasted vegetables – for some reason, people don’t think about roasting veggies, but it’s often one of the easiest and tastiest ways to cook them.
First: simple roasted brussel sprouts.
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
- Take a pound of brussel sprouts, and cut them into quarters.
- Toss them with enough olive out to coat them, but not drench them.
- Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
- Spread them out over a baking sheet.
- Put them into the hot oven, for around 10 minutes. After ten minutes, take them and and turn them. If they look really well done and brown on the edges, then they’re done; if not, put them in for up to another 10 minutes.
- Take them out, and toss them with a teaspoon or two of balsamic vinegar.
That’s it – and they’re amazing.
Next: Chili Glazed Roasted Sweet Potatoes
This one I’m particularly proud of. I absolutely love sweet potatoes. But normally, my wife won’t touch them – she thinks they’re gross. But this recipe, she actually voluntarily had multiple helpings! It’s sweet, salty, and spicy all at the same time, in a wonderful balance.
- Take a couple of pounds of sweet potatoes, peel them, and cut them into cubes about 2 inches on a side.
- Toss them with olive oil to coat.
- Mix together 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and one generous teaspoon of kochukaru (korean chili powder).
- Sprinkle it over the oiled sweet potatoes, and toss them so they’re all coated.
- Spread onto a baking sheet, and cook at 350 for about 30 minutes, turning them at least once. They’re done when the outside is nicely browned, and they’ve gotten soft.
Finally: roasted cauliflower
- Preheat your oven to 450.
- Take a whole head of cauliflower, and break it into small florets. Put them into a bowl.
- Take a half of an onion, and slice it thin. Toss the onions with the cauliflower.
- Coat the cauliflower and onions with olive oil – don’t drench them, but make sure that they’ve got a nice coat.
- Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
- Spread onto a baking sheet, and into the oven.
- After 10 minutes, take them out, and turn them, then back in for another 10 minutes.
All three of these got eaten not just by adults, but by kids. The brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes were eaten not just by my kids, but by the kids of other people too, so it’s not just the crazy Chu-Carroll’s who thought they were delicious!
Vegetables are generally thought of as the nutritional part of the meal. Boiling, especially over-boiling, has its nutritional problems, but covering them in salt and oil is heading in the direction of potato chips, which are not particularly nutritious. I can’t speak towards the actual nutritional value of these recipes but we in our society do have a habit of making palatable and nutritionally lousy at the same time.
The few sprinkles of salt, and the really minimal amount of oil, considering the quantity of vegetables is not going to harm the nutritional value at all.
Oil and salt are not bad in themselves. Excess consumption is bad. We need certain quantities of both for a complete diet. The amounts here are orders of magnitude lower than the sodium to nutrition ratio in prepared and processed foods.
I’ve heard that response before, and I completely don’t get it.
It boils down to “vegetables are thought of as nutritional, therefore they should be icky”.
When I post recipes that involve cooking some kind of meat, I’ve never had someone respond and say “Oh, horror, you used oil and salt in that recipe!”. Because when it comes to meats, no one blinks at the thought of a couple of teaspoons of oil. But veggies? The moment you suggest adding oil, you get the horrified “oh, you’re wrecking the nutrition”.
In four pounds of sweet potatoes, I used about 2 tablespoons of oil – and a substantial quantity of that stayed on the baking sheet, making sure that the sweet potatoes didn’t stick. A whole head of cauliflower took about 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil – and about half of it was on the baking sheet. The brussel sprouts only used around 1 tbs of oil. On that one, I’m pretty sure that most of it stayed in the veggies that we ate – there wasn’t much left of the baking sheet.
These are not huge quantities of oil. Likewise, they’re not huge quantities of salt – between 1/2 and 1 *teaspoon* in each recipe, split among all of the people who ate it.
Not really, because most junk food manufacturers would not venture near olive oil. If we want to package something and increase shelf-life, we need to use vegetable oils (the worst oils on earth).
Another good one for sweet potatoes is to roast them covered in caraway seeds, the flavours go together really well.
Last night my 9yr old daughter professed her love of cabbage, and regularly asks for extra brussell’s sprouts.
markcc: wonderfully simple recipes, thank you.
Any suggestions on microwaving (duration, heat settings etc.) and coming up with the same results as regular baking would be highly appreciated!
Microwaving won’t work for any of these.
Microwaving cooks things very differently from roasting. You won’t get the browning, which is really important to all the of these recipes.
I’ve heard friends talk about special cooking containers that do get browning in the microwave, but I’ve never tried one, so I have no idea if it they work.
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