Saturday, August 23, 2014

VEGETABLES check for more

I'm probably a borderline vegetarian. There's not one I don't like and that includes parsnips, that much maligned root. Which brings to mind a friend whose aversion to the parsnip in any form causes her to overreact, I say.

I made a buttery, creamy parsnip chowder one cold and snowy afternoon and when Pat appeared at the door shivering with cold I welcomed her warmly and suggested she stay for a light supper, mentioning the parsnip chowder, green salad, etc. Such disdain, such nose wriggling.

"Parsnips, I hate parsnips, you know that!" And indeed I had quite forgotten. She settled for a grilled cheese sandwich. I ate the chowder. It was scrumptious.

But to get back to other vegetables, I grew up looking forward to summers with corn, asparagus, green beans, peas, summer squash, tiny new new potatoes redolent of the earth all prepared on the stove within minutes of being picked. Not to mention beets, Swiss chard, spinach, carrots, peppers and on and on.

Too young was I to appreciate the fruits of my father's efforts for his idea of total relaxation was his weekend garden. And it took considerable family pressure to pry him away for weekends anywhere else.

Those were the days of the large Sunday dinner in all seasons. In summer, tho', this late afternoon meal was frequently followed by an evening of flaky, hot "raised biscuit" with pats and pats of butter to go along with a great white bowl swimming with strawberries and cream. The berries from the lower garden strawberry patch, of course.

Such garden fresh fruits and vegetables are hard to come by for many folk (as they are for me now). Next best is the produce from the proliferating farmers' markets, the long familiar roadside stands, or best of all, friends' gardens.

But you and I are going to think about creative ways with vegetables that may make not the remotest claim to garden freshness as we know it.

If I were to award four stars in this chapter for simple preparation and delicious regulars, I'd be torn between Mary's way with eggplant and the ethereal onions.

One more thought. It's about sprouts, those delectable early shoots of fresh young vegetables, so nutrition laden and so easy to grow in your own kitchen with no muss or fuss. They can be eaten as it, roasted, baked, boiled, steamed for fried and in salads, sandwiches, soups. There's a recipe using sprouts here and another in the salad section.

So let's begin with the very simplistic eggplant a la Mary.


Frankly, I thought my eggplant recipe was THE BEST until I tasted Mary's even simpler way. I used to
slice an eggplant, dip it in butter, then crumbs, drizzle more butter on top, salt and pepper the slices and bake it in a 350° oven. And it is good! But Mary, my ex-roommate did it better.

"What are you going to do with that eggplant in the refrigerator?" she asked on a recent visit? So I told her about my usual way with the purple globe.

"Like to try my way?" she asked and I did.

And all Mary did was to slice the eggplant about 3/4 of an inch thick, put it in a larger skillet where olive oil had been heating, salted, peppered and fried the slices. They were delicious and I asked why anything so simple was so good."

"It's the olive oil," she smiled. Or did she smirk? Whatever, it's the only way to go.


Corbie was my grandmother's nurse for nine years and she loved food as much as she feared snakes.
I've heard her alert an entire neighborhood with blood curdling screams when she chanced on a six-inch garter snake and I've seen her consume six strawberry shortcakes with barely a pause between forkfuls.

This is her way with potatoes and onions, which I first through was less than appetizing and found to be so good that she and I demolished a generous bowlful.

Boil at least six medium potatoes (or 8, 10, or 12 little new potatoes is they're available) in their skins.

Peel while still warm and put in a pre-warmed bowl of casserole or whatever and literally slather with butter.

Add a good quantity of raw chopped red onion which you have at the ready. Salt and pepper
and devour.


When I first encountered these super, super onions thy were diced, which is nice but a lot of work.
After begging the recipe, I decided to slice instead of dice. Easier and just as good.

Slice or dice ten smallish onions and saute gently until straw colored but NOT browned.

In a bowl combine 2 cups milk, 4 eggs beaten, 2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg, 1/8 tsp. finely ground black pepper. Stir in the onions and pour the mixture into a buttered 2 quart baking dish.

Set baking dish in a pan and fill the latter with enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides. Bake in a preheated moderate oven (359°) for 45 minutes. Stand back for recipe requests.


These have been a must for every Sunday brunch I've ever had. Not that they're limited to this,
actually they're a colorful and tasty addition to many meals. Unfailing popular, too.
  • Cherry tomatoes (4-5 per serving)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp. finely diced onion.
Put enough butter in skillet to prevent sticking, add tomatoes, finely diced onion, salt and pepper.

Cook over low heat, shaking pan often, and saute until tomatoes are heated through and their skins begin to crack.

Simple, simple, simply delicious.


This was an innovation in the parsnip world, I thought. Knowing this vegetable doesn't rank in
popularity with many others, there are still parsnip lovers out there (despite Pat, whose aversion is described elsewhere). Now for those who share my partiality for the parsnips.

Cut four 12x8 pieces of foil. Put 1 tbsp. butter, cut into bits in the center of each.

Add to each packet one parsnip, peeled and quartered or cut in bite-sized pieces. Top with one small onion sliced. Salt and pepper each and dot with more more butter (generously).

Tightly fold the foil to enclose the vegetables, crimp the edges too.

Bake on a baking sheet in a preheated, moderate oven  350° for an hour. Open foil to taste and when done transfer each potion to to a plate. If you'd like, a dollop of sour cream goes nicely.

This could well convert parsnip haters.


I wrangled this recipe from an acquaintance who had contributed it to a pot luck supper. Only much
later did I see it in the Heloise column. You may serve it as a hot vegetable, or over steaming rice, the way the Chinese allegedly do it, or as a rather sweet and sour salad when chilled and topping some crisp lettuce cups.
  • 3 cans beets
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 level tbps. cornstarch
  • 1 cup of vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 3 tbsp. catchup
  • 3 tbsp. cooking oil
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups of beet juice
This makes a lot so you may want to halve or third it, but the leftovers keep well in the refrigerator.

In a large, shallow pan put in the sugar and cornstarch and mix well. Add vinegar, cloves, catchup, oil, salt, and vanilla. stir and mix well again.

Open the beets and add only 1 1/2 cups of the juice discarding the rest. Hopefully you've been able to buy diced beets. If not, the small whole beets are a must and even these should be halved or quartered to bit size.

Add beets to the pan and cook over medium heat three minutes, storing constantly until the mixture thins. Now it's up to you--hot as a vegetable, chilled in a salad, or anything else you may choose. A real treat!


So often vegetables are overcooked which does nothing for nutrition. or taste.

Maureen Jones of the previously mentioned Sunny Green Gardens in Haverhill, MA has an answer with her method of stir frying with delicious results.

The whole family, and surely guests, too, should applaud this way with legumes (other veggies can be used).
  • 2 medium carrots cut in thin strips
  • 1 medium onion sliced thin
  • 1 bunch broccoli, cut in small pieces
  • 3 tbsp. oil
  • 1/2 cup salad sprout mix
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 small can whole mushrooms
In s skillet cook carrots, onion, broccoli, sad sprouts in hot oil, stirring quickly and frequently. About four minutes.

Add salt, sugar and mushrooms with their liquid.

Cover and cook five minutes longer until vegetables are tender crisp, stirring occasionally.

Serves six deliciously.


First of all this deals with sweet potatoes and NOT yams. YELLOW sweet potatoes, not ORANGE
yams. And these are a lovely change from the usual baked stuffed white potato.

When you try them you'll see.

Bake two good-sized sweet potatoes. (allow 1/2 to 1 serving) in a preheated 400° oven for 40 minutes or until tender.

Halve the potatoes lengthwise, scoop out the pulpe but leave the shells intact.

Rice or mash the pulp to utter smoothness and combine it while still hot with 3 tbsp. softened butter and 1/3 cup heavy cream. Add 1/2 cup finely chopped ham and salt and pepper to taste.

Pile the filling back into the four shells and put in a buttered shallow baking dish. Bake ina preheated 425° oven for  10-15 mins. until they are very lightly browned. remember . . . on half potato per person.

  • 3 cups cooked carrots cut in rounds
  •  2 cups white sauce (packaged or make your own)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt, pepper and Tabasco to taste
  • 2/3 cup buttered crumbs
Combined cooked carrots, white sauce, add seasoning and place in well-buttered casserole. Top with crumbs and bake in a preheated 375° oven.

One more word about carrots, if you cut peeled carrots in sticks before boiling, draining and buttering you will think you've never had carrots before or such delicious carrots anyway. Don't know why.

Still another last word . . . chopped freshly peeled carrots rather finely, moisten with mayonnaise, add a dash of Tabasco and serve on lettuce as a nice crunchy and different salad.


Whether they're fresh from the garden or straight from the supermarket produce department, this treatment of a trio of vegetables is a step in the right direction. The direction, of course, being to elevate your vegetables from the ordinary to the extraordinary. Makes a goodly amount but you may want to vary the quantities of any or all of the three.
  • 1 lb. fresh green beans
  • 1 lb. summer squash,
  • 1 lb. zucchni
  • 1/3 cup oilive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. oregano (or to taste)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 drops Tabasco
Trim beans and cook in boiling, salted water to cover 8-10 minutes or until tender.

Drain and reserve.

Slice both kinds of squash thinly and saute in a large fry pan in the olive oil with the two garlic cloves for about 15 minutes or until tender.

Remove the garlic cloves and add the reserved beans.

Heat the the three vegetables together and season with the oregano, salt and pepper.

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