Jewish World Review Jan. 23, 2008 /16 Shevat, 5768
Experience winter veggies while you can
By Steve Petusevsky
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) I dedicate this column to neglected seasonal vegetables. Most home cooks pass on these because they don't know what to do with them. It's intimidating to tackle a strange ingredient, even though most winter vegetables are simple to prepare. Leeks, turnips, rutabagas, beets, Brussels sprouts, parsnips and kohlrabi can be steamed and eaten with a sprinkle of salt and pepper or drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil or melted butter. However, here are additional ways to enjoy these and more of my favorite winter treats.
• Prep: If you've never tried fresh beets you are in for something special. Boil them in salted water about 10 minutes. Remove them and let cool or plunge into cold water to cool immediately. Rub off their skins with a kitchen towel that you don't really want as it will be dyed bright red. Or use a pan sponge that has a slightly abrasive surface. If peeling raw beets, wear plastic gloves and peel with a vegetable peeler. Then you can grate them for salads.
• Cook: After boiling and peeling, cut into wedges and place in a baking dish. Add a splash of orange juice and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup. Bake in a 375-degree oven about 20 minutes until tender. Season with salt and pepper.
• Prep: Cut the stem end off and then cut a cross into the bottom with a paring knife, which allows them to cook quickly. Remove the outer leaves from the sprouts.
• Cook: Cook in boiling water until almost tender; drain. Heat a mixture of olive oil and a bit of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Saute the par-cooked sprouts until golden. Season with salt and pepper and toss with some chopped scallions or chives.
• Prep: Peel tough outer skin with a sharp paring knife. Slice or shred the remaining tender bulb.
• Cook: Kohlrabi is sweet and can be eaten raw in salads. It is also wonderful sauteed in olive oil with fresh dill and lemon.
• Prep: They are always very sandy so the key to enjoying leeks is proper cleaning. Cut off the top 6 inches of dark green leaves and the bottom root end; discard. Either slice the remaining leek in 1/2-inch-thick discs and rinse well in several changes of water or cut in half lengthwise and rinse each layer of leaves until all the sand is removed.
• Cook: Leeks are delicious sauteed in butter or olive oil until caramelized. They can be sauteed with diced tomatoes until a thick sauce or ragu forms. This leek ragu is good over rice, pasta or grilled vegetables.
• Prep: Peel as you would a carrot and slice into 1/2-inch-thick discs or quarter lengthwise and then cut into 2-inch lengths.
• Cook: Parsnips are great boiled with potatoes and mashed with butter, salt, pepper and a pinch nutmeg. I also like them roasted along with other root vegetables. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Toss the cut parsnips with olive oil, salt, pepper and any chopped herbs. Place in a roasting pan and roast 45 minutes until tender and golden.
• Prep: Wash them well then snip off both ends and slice thinly.
• Cook: I don't cook these but find that the classic way to eat them is delicious: Put them on bread with sweet butter and a sprinkle of salt. I also like them tossed with Asian sesame oil, tamari and rice vinegar.
• Prep: Rutabagas come waxed and are difficult to peel. Cut off both ends first so the rutabaga sits flat on a cutting board. With a sharp knife, cut from top to bottom under the skin and wax. After peeling, cut into 1-inch chunks or small wedges.
• Cook: Roasting rutabagas brings out their natural sugars. Roast the chunks or wedges following the instructions for roasting parsnips.
• Prep: Peel and dice into large cubes, shred or slice thinly.
Cook: Simply boil them in salted water, drain them and add some butter to serve. But my favorite method is to cook them with an equal amount of peeled potatoes. When the turnips and potatoes are tender, drain and mash them, adding some warm milk and a pat of butter or some olive oil and a sprinkling of salt, pepper and nutmeg. They are like supercharged mashed potatoes.
RADISH, FRESH HERB, FETA AND WALNUT SALAD
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Steve Petusevsky is the author of "The Whole Foods Market Cookbook". (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) To comment, please click here.
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© 2008, South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services