Even in the bright new days of the new year, cabbages, cauliflower and rutabagas are nutritional powerhouses in need of a little PR. They can bring new and unexpected flavors to the table, but ho-hum ways of cooking them fail to inspire all but the most loyal fans.
For large cabbages like savoy, take a page from what has happened to Brussels sprouts, which are being roasted or shredded, then quickly sauteed. With similar treatment, savoy cabbage could become filling for ravioli or mashed into potatoes with caramelized onions. Stir-fried Napa cabbage pairs beautifully with shiitake mushrooms as egg roll filling or in fried rice.
Roasting yields great results for cauliflower, as does pan-steaming. Pair it with acidic ingredients such as citrus or vinegar, and don’t forget to think about using blanched or steamed bite-size pieces in mixed winter salads.
Humble, homely rutabagas tend to be overlooked altogether. They’re covered with a thin wax, which makes them hard to peel. This is the year to enjoy them without the crutches of cream and butter; try roasting chunks of rutabaga, then glamorize with a sweet-sour dressing.
Kale had quite a run in 2012, as it was worked into Caesar salads, massaged with tahini vinaigrettes and folded into casseroles. If its bitter taste or toughness is a stumbling block, a brief blanch in boiling salted water should do the trick. Or you can add baby kale to softer, sweet vegetables such as winter squashes and carrots.
Twice-baked curried potatoes with savoy cabbage
MAKE AHEAD: These can be made a day in advance. Cover with aluminum foil and reheat in a 350-degree oven until hot, about 25 minutes; remove the foil after 15 minutes.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 5 teaspoons unsalted butter, or more to taste
- 1 1/3 cups finely diced onion (about 6 ounces)
- 8 ounces savoy cabbage, cut into approximately ¾-inch dice
- 1 tablespoon sweet curry powder, or your favorite curry powder
- 2½ pounds baking or russet potatoes, baked until tender, flesh scooped out, shells discarded or reserved for another use (1 ½ pounds of cooked potatoes)
- 6 ounces plain nonfat yogurt
- 1 cup homemade or no-salt-added chicken broth, or more as needed
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Grease six 6-ounce ramekins with nonstick cooking oil spray and place them on a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Heat the oil and 3 teaspoons of the butter in a large nonstick saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and season with salt to taste. Reduce the heat to medium; cook for 6 to 7 minutes, until the onion is very soft. Add the cabbage and cook, stirring every minute or so, for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cabbage is soft. Add the curry powder; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
- Use a potato masher or large spoon to mash the baked potato flesh in a large bowl. (Small lumps are fine; just make sure to break up any large ones.) Add the cabbage mixture and the yogurt. Stir to combine well. Add the broth, sugar and cilantro. Mix well; season with salt and pepper to taste, and thin with additional broth.
- Either spoon the mixture into a piping bag or a resealable plastic freezer bag with the corner cut off, and pipe the mixture decoratively into the ramekins; or spoon the mixture directly into the ramekins. Melt the remaining 2 teaspoons of butter in a small dish in the microwave or the preheated oven. Brush the top of the potato mixture in each ramekin with the butter.
- Bake for about 20 minutes or until the potato mixture is lightly browned around the edges. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving. Serve hot.
Makes: Six 6-ounce servings
Nutrition per serving: 190 calories, 5 g protein, 31 g carbohydrates, 6 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 110 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber, 5 g sugar.
White bean, andouille and kale soup
MAKE AHEAD: This soup profits from being prepared a day in advance, covered and refrigerated; taste after reheating, and adjust the seasoning as needed. If the soup has thickened too much, add water or broth to reach the desired consistency.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¾ cup diced onion (from 1 small onion)
- ½ cup carrot, cut into approximately ¼-inch dice
- ½ cup celery, cut into approximately ¼-inch dice
- 8 ounces fresh andouille sausage, casings removed
- 3 ounces peeled, seeded winter squash, such as butternut, cut into approximately ½-inch dice
- 1 medium potato, peeled and cut into approximately ½-inch dice (6 ounces)
- ½ cup canned no-salt-added chopped Italian-style tomatoes, drained
- One 15.5-ounce can no-salt-added Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed (1 2/3 cups)
- 1/3 cup uncooked basmati or long-grain white rice
- 6 cups homemade or no-salt-added chicken broth, or more as needed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 ounces kale, baby kale or Swiss chard, thick stems removed and discarded, leaves torn into 1½-inch pieces
- Water, as needed
- Heat the oil in a 4-to-5-quart soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion; cook for about 3 minutes, until the onion starts to soften. Add the carrot, celery and salt to taste; cook, stirring, for 3 minutes.
- Add the andouille; cook for about 5 minutes, until the sausage appears to be cooked, using a spoon to break up any clumps. Add the squash, potato, tomatoes, beans, rice and broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Bring the broth to a boil, then cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for about 20 minutes, adjusting the heat so the broth maintains a very slow boil, until the rice is cooked through and the potatoes are tender.
- While the soup is cooking, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the kale and cook for 2 minutes. If you’re using baby kale or chard, cook for 1 minute. Immediately pour into a colander to drain.
- When the soup is ready, add the blanched greens and stir to combine. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed. If the soup is too thick, thin with water or additional broth.
Makes: About 9½ cups (6 to 8 servings)
Nutrition per serving (based on 8): 220 calories, 10 g protein, 24 g carbohydrates, 10 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 370 mg sodium, 5 g dietary fiber, 3 g sugar.
Roasted rutabagas with golden raisin-maple vinaigrette
Here’s something I never thought I’d say about rutabagas: Yum. The plain-looking root vegetable isn’t easy to peel or cut, but this dish is worth the effort. The rutabaga gets sweeter when roasted, and the vinaigrette adds sweet and sour flavors that finish the dish.
- One 2-pound rutabaga, peeled and cut into roughly 1-inch chunks
- 1½ tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1/3 cup golden raisins, coarsely chopped
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Toss together the rutabaga and 1 tablespoon of the oil in a nonstick roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes, turning the pieces over every 10 to 15 minutes, until the rutabaga is tender.
- Meanwhile, combine the remaining ½ tablespoon of oil with the vinegar, maple syrup and raisins. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Whisk to form an emulsified vinaigrette.
- Transfer the rutabaga to a serving dish; spoon the vinaigrette over the rutabaga. Serve warm.
NOTE: To peel the rutabaga, cut off a thin slice at the root and stem ends. Stand the rutabaga on a cutting board, with one of the cut sides down. Use a large, sharp knife to slice off the peel, cutting from top to bottom.
Makes: 4 or 5 servings
Nutrition per serving (based on 5): 160 calories, 3 g protein, 29 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 95 mg sodium, 5 g dietary fiber, 21 g sugar.
Napa cabbage, shiitake and pork fried rice
Napa cabbage, also known as Chinese cabbage, has a more delicate taste than the traditional green cabbage, and a softer texture. Those qualities make it easy to incorporate the vegetable into stir-fries and to make it palatable to the cabbage-phobic.
Here it’s an integral part of a fried rice dish that, unlike most takeout versions, features a good balance of vegetables, meat and rice. To make it vegetarian, double the amount of carrots and mushrooms and omit the pork.
I make this in a big, round braising pan, but a large saute pan, skillet or wok or even a nonstick roasting pan would work.
- 1 tablespoon mild olive or peanut oil
- 4 medium scallions, white and light-green parts, cut crosswise into slices (½ cup)
- 1 medium carrot, cut into approximately ¼-inch dice (½ cup)
- 8 ounces lean ground pork
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms (stems discarded), thinly sliced
- 8 ounces Napa cabbage, cut into strips 1-inch long and ½-inch wide
- 2 cups cooked rice, preferably sushi rice, but any brown or white variety will do
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, or to taste
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- Heat the olive or peanut oil in a large braising pan (see headnote) over medium-high heat. Add the scallions and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the carrot; cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the pork and salt; cook, stirring, until the pork just starts to lose its raw look. Add the shiitakes and cook, stirring every 30 seconds or so, for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms soften and just start to brown. Add the cabbage. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the cabbage wilts and softens. Add the cooked rice and mix well. Distribute the soy sauce and sesame oil evenly over the contents of the pan, stirring to combine.
- When everything is well mixed, move the rice and vegetables to the edges of the pan, creating a well in the center. Pour the beaten egg into the well and scramble it until cooked. Mix the egg with the rice-and-vegetable mixture, breaking up any large clumps of egg. Taste, and add soy sauce and/or sesame oil as needed. Serve warm.
Makes: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition per serving (based on 6): 290 calories, 14 g protein, 22 g carbohydrates, 16 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 70 mg cholesterol, 310 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar
Lemon garlic Israeli couscous with cauliflower
If you’re accustomed to seeing cauliflower drowning in a cheese sauce, this pilaf — light, bright and modern — will be a revelation. The cauliflower is combined with couscous and dressed with lemon, garlic and parsley. Usually I have to be careful about using lemon juice, which discolors green vegetables, but with cauliflower, that’s not a problem.
Serve with roasted or grilled chicken or salmon.
- 2 cups dried Israeli couscous
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
- 12 ounces cauliflower florets, broken or cut into small pieces about ¾-inch long at the widest point
- ½ cup homemade or no-salt-added chicken broth
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Finely grated zest and freshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons (4 to 6 teaspoons zest, 6 tablespoons juice)
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- Prepare the couscous according to the package directions, making sure to add a pinch of salt to the cooking water.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a deep 10-inch nonstick saute pan or skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook for about 8 minutes, until the garlic is soft, stirring frequently and adjusting the heat as needed to keep the garlic from browning. Add the cauliflower and stir to combine. Increase the heat to medium-high; add the broth, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cover. Cook for 7 to 9 minutes, until the cauliflower pieces are tender when pierced with a fork. Uncover and cook just until the broth has evaporated but the cauliflower still looks moist, about 1 minute.
- When the couscous is ready, transfer it to a large bowl along with the lemon zest and juice, sugar and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the cauliflower and garlic, and toss to combine.
- Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes: 7 or 8 servings
Nutrition per serving (based on 8): 210 calories, 6 g protein, 34 g carbohydrates, 6 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 60 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar