Before we head off to our September adventures in France and Florida, I wanted to get another blog post up. Many of you have expressed interest in the way we prepare vegetable dishes, as that always seems to be a complaint. “I would eat healthier, except I just don’t have good veggie recipes!” And ain’t that the truth? Our vastly meat-eating culture has bang-up recipes for meats and starches, but not a whole lot of veggie dishes that don’t include bacon grease (although that is a good way to make any vegetable edible, see my brussels sprouts variation below)
Our household favorite veggies to eat: Roasted Carrots with Thyme
Preheat oven to 400. Peel carrots. Split them down the middle, length-wise. Arrange them on a sheet pan, toss with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves. Let bake for 20-30 min, until the small ends start to curl up and get a little charred. This is good – makes them taste like sweet potato fries!
Next: Roasted Butternut Squash with Pumpkin Pie Spice and Brown Butter
Yes, we have eaten this numerous times on weeks that we’ve lost weight. Moderation! All of these recipes require some effort. I’m sorry if you’ve come expecting to not have to chop anything. If you do, you don’t deserve how good this dish tastes (ouch! I know, but it’s true)
1-2 butternut squash – however many. 2 makes a good amount – perhaps 4-6 side dish servings. I cut the squash in half, then in half length wise, scoop out the seeds and discard, and then I get to chopping. I chop it into about 1/2 inch cubes – I cut the rind off (way easier than trying to peel those suckers) Once you get it all cubed up, put it on a baking sheet (with sides to prevent dripping) and roast in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper at 400 for 30 min till the edges start to brown and they are really really tender. You may have to cook it longer depending on your oven (if it’s like ours, it lies to you about how hot it is)
Now, the magic. Take 2 tbs unsalted butter – heat over medium heat in a skillet till it starts to froth up and turn brown and smell like caramel. Remove from heat. Take your squash, put it in a bowl big enough to have room to toss the squash around, and sprinkle liberally with pumpkin pie spice. (if you don’t have it on hand, use nutmeg, only don’t be so liberal with it) Then, drizzle the browned butter and toss to coat. HOLY CRAP this is good stuff. We eat this alongside grilled chicken breast or some other lean protein. The key is balance. This is a more decadent dish so we serve it with something really simple.
Follow this simple formula for almost all green veggies:
Get a pot of water to a rolling boil – salt it with about 4 tbs salt. Toss in one of these:
Asparagus (ends trimmed)
Green Beans (ends trimmed)
Sugar Snap Peas (ends snapped off)
Snow Peas (ends snapped off)
Brussels Sprouts (ends cut off, cut in half or quartered if they are big boys)
and boil till it’s the tenderness you like. Remove from the water and shock under cold running water. Pat dry. Toss in a bowl with olive oil (1-2tbs) and salt and pepper, maybe a squeeze of lemon juice. Perfect. No need to get fussy, it’s so easy. To jazz up a brussels sprout, cook 2 strips of bacon, and after you’ve boiled and shocked your sprouts, toss them in a hot pan that you used to cook the bacon. Let it sear off a bit, toss the chopped two pieces of bacon back in and say hello to your new favorite veggie.
We also cook a LOT of stir-fry. It was easy to use the snow peas, bell pepper, onion, and garlic, toss in with shrimp, soy sauce, fish sauce, a little ginger and a tbs of sugar. We just don’t serve things over rice, alongside potatoes, with pasta, etc. We eat those things (complex carbs) on Saturdays and Sundays with much glee and frolicking. 🙂
And never, ever, underestimate our favorite, fast, simple lunch of turkey sausage, chopped up and heated on the stove with Bush’s Grillin Beans. It’s high class around here. But hey – it’s got a lot of protein, fiber and tastiness. And it’s crazy cheap.
FYI – if you want to enter a beautiful and amazing world of cooking vegetables the way they were meant to be cooked, get an Indian cookbook. Most Indians are vegetarians and they KNOW their vegetables. And can make them taste like main courses! One of our favorite books: