Pimp your veggies!
Every morning as the clock approaches 7 a.m. the folks in my CrossFit gym cluster in little groups to socialize for a few minutes before the workout begins. I hang out with the Fasters. We are the ones who get motivational text messages from our coach at 3:30 every morning reminding us not to eat anything for 16 hours a day and to never ever eat any sugar, dairy, grains, starchy carbohydrates or sugary fruit. When the Fasters hang out together we end up either talking about our visceral fat levels or our latest vegetable recipes. We have been modifying our behavior in the direction of eating more vegetables and less meat and we are always looking for new ways pimp our veggies. When steamed broccoli just isn’t doing it for you anymore, try some of these dishes. The recipes I’ve selected are super simple and most require fewer than five ingredients (not counting salt, pepper and oil). Everything can be found in the local grocery store. Peperonata This is a sweet, simple pepper stew that is good with meat and fish. Make this in the summer when the tables at the farmers market are piled high with multicolored peppers. In the off-season, use yellow, orange and red bell peppers or the bagged multicolored mini sweet peppers. Makes 2 cups Ingredients • 1⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil • 4 colored bell peppers, cut into 1⁄4-inch strips (or substitute mini sweet peppers) • 1 medium red onion thinly sliced • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced • Kosher salt • Freshly ground black pepper • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar Heat oil in a Dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat. Add peppers, onions, garlic, and 1⁄2 cup water. Cook, partially covered and stirring occasionally, until peppers are soft, about 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper Stir in vinegar and serve Red Cabbage with Apple This pairs nicely with pork or duck. 6 servings Ingredients • 6 strips of bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces • 1 red onion, thinly sliced • 1 small head red cabbage, cored, quartered, and thinly sliced • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and thinly sliced • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar • Kosher salt • Freshly ground pepper Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat until it just starts to brown. Add onions and cook until soft. Add cabbage, apple, vinegar and 1/4 cup water. Cook, stirring, until cabbage wilts. Season with salt and pepper. Cover. Lower heat a bit, stir occasionally, add water if it starts sticking to bottom of pan. Cook until tender. Oven-Roasted Grape Tomatoes with Chives In winter the tomatoes at the store tend to taste pretty bland. This dish elevates their flavors. Serves 4
Ingredients • 2 pints grape tomatoes, halved • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil • 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary • Coarse salt and ground pepper • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives Preparation Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a mixing bowl, toss tomatoes and rosemary with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet (cover with parchment paper for easy cleanup) Roast until tomatoes are browned on bottom and begin to collapse, about 15 minutes. Toss with chives. Roasted Squash with Red Onion, Oregano and Mint Look for long, narrow rather than fat, short squash. Serves 4 Ingredients • 1 butternut squash • Kosher salt • Freshly ground black pepper • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar • 1 red onion, thinly sliced • 1 tablespoon dried oregano • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper • 2 tablespoons torn mint leaves Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Slice the squash crosswise into 1-inch-thick rings; scrape out seeds. Arrange the squash rings on an oiled rimmed baking sheet. Coat both sides of squash rings with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until just tender. Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil with the vinegar, onion, oregano, garlic and crushed red pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over the warm squash and let stand for 20 minutes. Arrange the squash on plates, sprinkle with the mint leaves and serve. Simple Roast Carrots with Lemon Serves 2 Ingredients • 1 bunch small carrots with tops, scrubbed and tops reserved • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil • Kosher salt • Freshly ground black pepper • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the carrots with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread on rimmed baking sheets and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, turning over once, until the carrots are just tender and browned in spots. Coarsely chop 1/2 cup of the reserved carrot tops and transfer to a small bowl. Stir in the lemon juice and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season the dressing with salt and pepper. Transfer the carrots to a platter. Spoon the dressing on the carrots and serve warm. (Carrots can be refrigerated overnight and reheated in a 375-degree oven.) Broccoli Strascinati A tasty but stupidly easy to make vegetable dish. Strascinati, which means “dragged,” refers to a technique for sauteeing in olive oil with garlic and chiles. This dish pairs nicely with pork. Serves 2-4 Ingredients • 1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil • 1 bunch (about 1 lb.) broccoli, stemmed and cut into florets • 3 cloves garlic, smashed • 1⁄2 tsp. crushed red chile flakes • Kosher salt, to taste Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add broccoli; cook, turning occasionally, until lightly browned, 6–8 minutes. Sprinkle in 2 tablespoons water; add garlic; cook until golden, 2–3 minutes. Add chile flakes and cook until toasted, about 2 minutes. Season with salt. Ginger-Sesame Bok Choy This dish of healthy green vegetables brings an Asian vibe to your table. Use the side of a spoon to peel the ginger. Any unused ginger freezes nicely. 4 servings Ingredients • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar • 1 tablespoon soy sauce • 1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil • 5 thin slices peeled fresh ginger • 4 to 5 heads baby bok choy, (1 pound), each halved lengthwise In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil. Set aside. Bring 1 cup water and ginger to a boil in a large pan with a tight-fitting lid. Add the bok choy; reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until leaves are vibrant green and stems are fork-tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain well; discard ginger. Transfer bok choy to a serving platter; drizzle with the vinegar-soy mixture, and serve immediately.