Meet The Family, Part 1: Cruciferous Vegetables
At the greenmarket this week, Tiny learned that many of her favorite cold-weather veggies have something in common… broccoli and Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower, kale and kohlrabi, radishes and rutabaga! These are some of the stars of the fall table and they are all members of the same diverse and delicious family: they are all cruciferous vegetables.
Cruciferous vegetables often have an intense sulfuric or spicy flavor, balanced by a subtle sweetness. They have been popular food crops for thousands of years… we know that the ancient Romans enjoyed broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower and that the ancient Greeks cultivated mustard for their greens and seeds. More recently, we have learned that cruciferous veggies are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Medical researchers have begun to uncover evidence that a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables could prevent and even fight certain types of cancer.
Tiny knows that cruciferous veggies can be a little bit intimidating, and that’s why she found some exciting, easy recipes to introduce you to them. Tiny thinks you will find a few that you like. In addition to the ones we already mentioned, cabbages, turnips, watercress, bok choy, collard greens, and arugula all cruciferous. So are wasabi and horseradish… finding your favorites is just a matter of tasting them all!
Do you already love steamed broccoli? Try it roasted, with tahini garlic sauce. This is a quick and easy weeknight dish. Make extra: everyone will want seconds!
Bok choy, sometimes referred to as “Chinese cabbage” is so easy to cook. Serve this easy garlicky bok choy as a side dish or drop it in your favorite Asian noodle soup.
Some cruciferous root vegetables like turnips and radishes make great salads…served with crusty wholegrain bread, this turnipand arugula salad is hearty enough for a lunch or a light dinner.
Mustard-based dressings and sauces are delicious with other members of the cruciferous family…try this crunchy winter cabbage salad from Deborah Madison. Tiny likes to add thin slices of radish and kohlrabi! There are lots of mild blue cheeses out there; if this is a new flavor for you too, try serving a little bit on the side, or substitute farmers’ cheese or crumbled feta.
These festive roasted cauliflower and Brussels sprouts from Jamie Oliver make a fabulous special occasion side dish… the saffron is a little bit pricey, but you can buy it in tiny quantities and a little bit goes a long way, or leave it out if you prefer. The pine nuts and raisins give just the right amount of sweetness and crunch!
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This post created by Kat Craddock
Photo credits: Cassie Sciortino