Sunday, April 26, 2009

Fun With Vegetables

It's a known fact that I'm trying to eat healthier. I'm also trying to branch out, culinarily. I'm pretty confident that I've got the basics down, but there is a lot of stuff out there that I've never tried. My new mission is to cook and eat as many different types of produce as possible. You know, the vegetables that you see all the time in the grocery store, but walk right on by.

For the last few weeks I've been experimenting with the leafy greens. I like spinach, and I've used it as a jumping off point. So far I've tried chard, kale, broccoli rabe, and bok choy. While looking up recipes for these vegetables, I've noticed that they follow the same basic technique, blanching and then sauteing, preferably with garlic.

Tonight's meal was chicken with root vegetables. It was really cold and damp today, and this seemed like one of the last chances to try this recipe before next winter (I've always considered root vegetables to be a winter thing). I did a medley of onion, turnip, rutabaga, butternut squash, and parsnip. The recipe I used required everything to be peeled and cubed. That was a lot of prep. I wish to never chop a rutabaga ever again. It's big, and round, and really difficult to cut. It very nearly won the fight. The squash didn't want to cut, either. I think I may need to invest in a better knife set if I'm going to keep this up.

Aside from the prep, this meal came together really quickly. Just brown the chicken, saute the veggies, and then return the chicken to the veggies and let the whole thing simmer for twenty minutes. And bonus for only using one pan. It tasted good and looked pretty on the plate. The drawback is the excessively long prep time. However, I occasionally see cubed squash in the salad section at the grocery store. If some of the other veggies come in prepared form, this would be a good meal to put in the weekday line up. Or possibly if someone was better at cutting up veggies, the prep wouldn't take as long.

Next up to try is okra. The roommate is a Texan transplant and mentioned the other day that he was kind of craving okra, since it doesn't get served in Vermont very often. when I went shopping earlier, I happened to find some fresh okra. I'll let you know how it is.


BlueMule said...

If I could make a suggestion. Spend $100 on one good quality chef's knife. Buy something by Henkles or one of the other notable quality brands of knife. Also buy a good sharpener, unless you have a whetstone to sharpen your medieval weapons, get one of the sharpeners that has a handle with a sharpening rod on it.

You'll be amazed at the difference a good quality, well sharpened knife makes. My brother bought us a set of Henkles knives a couple of years ago and they're amazing.

Quartermaster said...

You would have laughed hysterically if you had watched me try to cut that rutabaga.

Thanks for the suggestion. I kind of figured I was going to have to invest in some decent knives eventually.

BlueMule said...

Yep, I always thought we had decent knives until my brother bought me good ones. Boy, did my knives really suck. And the sharpener is important too. Since I cut meat in large quantities for barbecue, I find I need to sharpen between each massive hunk. It makes a world of difference!

If you're going all out, get a good sized chef's knife and a smaller santoku knife. They rock.