Every year, some of you are mystified or frustrated by some of the less familiar veggies, like spicy greens, beets and cabbage. After years of farming, these are now among my favorites, and I’ve tried a lot of different ways to eat them. Here are some ideas:
Spicy greens and bitter lettuce
Sometimes, the deer or woodchucks eat the lettuce and all we’ve got for salad greens are spicy greens. Or, in the heat of the summer, lettuce becomes a touch bitter. If you or your family members dislike these flavors, try this, my favorite approach to preparing these greens.
- Make a delicious homemade salad dressing. My favorite quick and simple dressing contains olive oil, apple cider vinegar, a touch of maple syrup, and salt to taste. The ratio of oil to vinegar that I prefer is 3:1 or even 4:1. I literally just pour everything into a little mason jar without measuring it, shake the jar, dip a piece of lettuce in to taste, and then adjust as necessary.
- Dress and toss greens about 15 minutes before serving. The vinegar in the dressing kind of “cooks” the the greens and softens their flavors. You won’t entirely get rid of the spiciness or bitterness, but it’s amazing how much pre-dressing them mellows out sharper flavors.
- Add other things to your salad. Serve with something that has a warm umami flavor–like a protein. Yesterday I ate my spicy greens salad with two fried eggs over them for breakfast. A couple of nights ago, we had a medium rare steak (thinly sliced after cooking) atop our greens. Another favorite addition of mine is spiced and roasted chickpeas. Other great veggie additions include carrots or fennel thinly sliced into ribbons (a mandoline makes this easy), toasted and salted pepitas, goat cheese, and of course thinly sliced cucumbers.
These are my favorite ways to prepare it. Also, cabbage will keep for weeks or even months, in a opened plastic bag in your fridge, and it will still taste delish.
Coleslaw is the obvious go-to here, but I love cabbage and all of its cousins (cauliflower, turnips, rutabaga, kohlrabi, even broccoli) the most when they are roasted or grilled in wedges, and thus a bit caramelized. Check out this recipe for grilled cabbage served with a spicy lime dressing. I usually grill or roast cabbage quartered, with just olive oil and salt, and wrapped in some foil (so it cooks through and gets caramelized) but I imagine the lime dressing is a delightful addition.
I am obsessed with this recipe for Marcella Hazan’s Smothered Cabbage Soup. Even though it isn’t seasonally appropriate, there are some cooler nights coming up this week, so maybe some of you will try it? The end result of is so elegant, yet comforting. The key is in the preparation of fairly humble ingredients: ultra thin slicing of the cabbage and the long cooking time. So if you do decide to cook it, don’t skip those details!
My feelings about beets have waxed and waned over the years, but all along, my favorite ways to prepare them have remained the same.
Beet Tzatsiki. This recipe from the NYT suggests it as a side dish, but I always serve this with a veggie platter as a dip option. The color is fun, and it tastes pretty yummy.
Boiled (or baked) and cooled beets, sliced over a green salad with goat cheese, walnuts, and dressing. Sometimes while I’m cooking other dishes, I’ll boil or roast a batch of beets whole, and then throw them in the fridge for later in the week. After they are cooked, you can “peel” the beets by rubbing the skins under some running water, and the skin will come right off. Then I’ll slice them into 1/4 ” discs or half-moons depending on their sizes.
I hope these ideas are helpful! Look for more recipes on our website–there are tons!
I hope those of you who are travelling or taking time off this week have a peaceful and restful break.