The New Kale: How to Cook This Summer's 8 Most Popular Vegetables
During my last journey through the produce department at my grocery store, I noticed something odd. The kale section had shrunk. Coincidentally, I had just read a less-than-enthusiastic food writer's review of kale cupcakes. Was the magic over? Were we kale-lovers passe? (See also: Easy Kale Recipes)
Feeling curious, I did some research. What's hot these days? Cauliflower, beets, parsnips, rutabagas, sweet potatoes, radishes, and broccoli sprouts. And I have decided to be part of the "in" crowd — as least as far as vegetables are concerned. Here are some recipes for you if you'd like to join.
1. Cruciferous Cauliflower
I had been so intrigued by "cauliflower steaks" that I just had to try them, and I was sort of curious to see what my husband's reaction would be. Could I make a satisfying, "meaty" dish out of cauliflower?
There are many recipes out there. I settled on this Roasted Cauliflower Steaks method, because I found the photos to be very helpful. Then I used this Portobello Mushroom Gravy to top the "steaks." I don't think you will fool anyone's palate by pretending cauliflower is steak-like, but this is absolutely delicious and the meal was filling.
Because I had the rest of the cauliflower to use up after carving steaks from the centers, I went hunting for a side dish recipe. This Cauliflower-Goat Cheese Gratin was irresistible! It is very rich, so consider yourself warned. However, if you want to talk about comfort food, go no further. This can easily be turned into a main-dish casserole with the addition of some chopped ham or chicken breast.
Why Eat Cauliflower?
Cauliflower has lots of soluble fiber (which helps with low cholesterol and keeps blood sugar levels steady, plus potassium and folic acid.
It is a good source of vitamin C.
2. Beets, Beautiful Beets
Many of you have eaten Julia Child's wonderful Beef Bourguignon, a classic. It would never have occurred to me to leave out the meat and substitute beets, as done in this Beet Bourguignon.The lentils suggested are probably more authentically French, but I really liked it with crusty sourdough bread. I also prefer cornstarch as a thickener for broths and stews. The flavors here are true to the classic — do not leave out the thyme. (See also: Cheap Ways to Add Big Flavor)
Also, nobody told me that you could put beets in pasta. It turns out you can, and should. Check out this Creamy Pasta Bake With Beets and Smoked Ham. I used gruyere cheese, rather than cheddar, and wow… something about the combination of the cheese, beets, chives, and smoked ham was just killer. We have been avoiding cured meats so I used uncured, smoked ham, and I doubt the flavor suffered. The next time I make this, I will experiment with adding some bleu cheese crumbles, which I think would go well with the flavors, too.
Why Eat Beets?
Beets contain potassium, fiber, and folate.
Research is indicative that beets may protect against development of kidney cancer cells.
3. Radishes Rave
Honestly, I have never given much thought to radishes. Slice 'em, toss 'em into a salad. Whoop-dee, right? Did you know you can roast radishes? We are roasting all kinds of vegetables these days, and this is the best way to eat a radish, ever. OK, yes, it involves butter.
The radish excitement did not stop at roasting, though. Check out this Pesto, Radish, and Sea Salt Crostini. Not only visually appealing, the flavor combination is dazzling. It's a great appetizer, sure, but these are also delicious with a bowl of soup (roasted red pepper and tomato was good).
Why Eat Radishes?
Radishes contain potassium, folate, calcium, and minerals.
They are a good source of vitamin C.
4. Rutabagas? Really?
I don't think I had ever even purchased a rutabaga before. They weren't easy to find. And what would I do with them? Well, a little research showed that they are usually mashed, but could be roasted. Those both sounded fine. However, I could combine several trendy vegetables (rutabagas, carrots, and parsnips) and sausage, and make this delicious hearty and rooty soup. (See also: 25 Simple Recipes for 25 Veggies)
In all honesty, I was not that intrigued by rutabaga recipes, until I saw this one for Creamy, Smoky Whipped Rutabagas. Wow! I could not find smoked olive oil, but I keep a bottle of smoke flavor in my refrigerator, and just added a few drops of that. This is so good, it has a "holiday" feeling to me.
Why Eat Rutabagas?
Rutabagas are a good source of vitamin C.
They have plenty of zinc.
They are a good source of fiber.
5. One Potato, Two
It's hard to not be filled with admiration for the nutritional value of a sweet potato. I am happy to eat them with a pat of butter, but I knew we could do better. This blogger gave her Healthy Loaded Sweet Potatoes a sort of a taco treatment, which is both easy and delicious. Recipes like this are also kid-friendly — they can add their own toppings. (See also: 45 Ways to Eat Sweet Potatoes)
I don't know about you, but I am always looking for interesting things to eat for breakfast. Check out these eggs in sweet potatoes! The combination of oven plus microwave speeds things up (do not reverse the directions — I have blown up potatoes in the microwave after heating in the oven).
Why Eat Sweet Potatoes?
Sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamins C, B6, and A.
They are also rich in magnesium.
6. Perplexed by Parsnips
My entire knowledge of parsnips, prior to being educated about how trendy they are, was that they are good in lamb stew. End of story. They really threw the checker at the grocery store, too ("Are these daikon radishes?"). I wasn't smug about my vegetable knowledge because I wasn't sure what I was going to do with them.
Enter: Carrot and Parsnip Fries. Fries? Yes! Yes, they are really just roasted carrots and parsnips, but they are delicious. I roasted mine for closer to a half-hour, because the parsnips took a while to get tender-crisp. I really love the look of these, but must admit all the slicing was a bit tedious. They are very nice alongside a turkey burger.
My second parsnip experiment was a soup. Knowing that 'snips are good in soups, as mentioned earlier, I wanted to try something more interesting than a stew. I found this Parsnip and Sweet Potato Bisque, which totally fit the bill (sweet potatoes being another trendy vegetable). This is a vegan recipe, and I am not a vegan, so I modified by using olive oil, a cup of chicken broth, and 2% milk. I also put a dollop of sour cream on top. The sweet potatoes make the soup a pretty color, and because we eat first with eyes, that was important to me. This is very tasty with a toasted-cheese sandwich.
Why Eat Parsnips?
Parsnips are a good source of folate.
They have plenty of potassium.
They also provide lots of fiber.
And parsnips are a good source of vitamin C.
7. Super Sprouts
To me, broccoli sprouts taste considerably better than alfalfa sprouts. Well, for one thing, they have flavor. Some describe it as a radish-like favor. The little sprouts are also touted for their anti-cancer benefits. Broccoli sprouts' zippiness really adds to this easy vegetarian sushi. I substituted some leftover salmon to these rolls in the place of tofu. I also like to drizzle some Sriracha mayonnaise on the plate, for dipping. (See also: 20+ Ways to Use Sriracha)
Add the sprouts to your hamburger toppings, to a burrito, a salad, or a sandwich. If you cannot find them at your grocery store, check online, where you can easily find sprouting kits. The kits are fun to do with your kids, too. They grow quickly and are a great beginning gardening project.
Why Eat Broccoli Sprouts?
The are a good source of fiber.
8. I'm Not Kicking Kale
Kale, you may be soooo "yesterday," but we still love you, and I love this Massaged Kale Salad With Pepitas, Cranberries, and Goat Cheese.
And You Should Keep Eating Kale Because...
Kale is full of fiber.
It's a good source of iron.
It's also a good source of vitamins A and K.
What are your favorite "trendy" vegetables?