Love those vegetables from the Culinary Institute of America


Last updated 2/11/2008 at Noon

There are many ways to love. Just ask the poets of yesteryear and today.

One method possibly not mentioned nor even written about by Hallmark is cooking vegetables for the person you love.

Yet, it could be true.

You could chose to demonstrate your love by your culinary offerings. Didn’t the Pillsbury doughboy say something like “nothin’ says lovin’ like something from the oven”. So, although he might have had the wrong (less healthy?) food group in mind, the action was of love.

The Culinary Institute of America’s cookbook “Vegetables” takes the possibilities to way beyond yummy. Maybe even to “Wow, I didn’t know a vegetable could taste THAT good.”

Paging through it was almost beyond my patience. I simply wanted to go shopping and run to the kitchen and cook until I dropped.

Fortunately, sanity returned and I was enabled to satisfy my longings with the column knowing that I was giving each reader a loving gift: ways to cook and serve vegetables that would, in turn, be a loving gift for others in their lives.

Funny, how that works. Giving IS loving, loving is giving and while you may give without love, you can not love without giving.

Happy Valentine Vegetable Day, Love Judy

Eat with the seasons becomes all that more of a pleasure with this medley of winter root vegetables easily prepared from a recipe created by the Culinary Institute of America. A bit of prepared hoisin sauce adds a special depth of flavor.

CIA Hoisin-Carmelized Root Vegetables

2 tbsp. peanut oil

2 tbsp. hoisin sauce

2 cups yellow turnip wedges

2 cups thickly sliced parsnips

1 fennel bulb, wedge cut

1 cup pearl onions, peeled, option

Salt and pepper

¼ cup water

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Combine oil and hoisin and heat in a roasting pan, add the vegetables and toss until coated evenly. Season generously with salt and pepper. Pour water over vegetables.

Cover the pan with a lid or foil and place in a preheated oven. Roast the vegetables until nearly tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the cover and finish roasting, turning the vegetables so that they cook evenly, another 10 to 15 minutes. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Serve at once in a heated bowl or on heated plates.

“Only beet lovers or wannabes wanted here” for portions of a tasty serving of beets flavored with citrus. Or, maybe if a person who thought they didn’t like beets tried this version, they would become a beet lover. I’d suggest it is worth the gamble. You can always eat it all yourself.

CIA Citrus Roasted Beets

6 small beets

Zest of 1 orange

1 tsp. salt, plus additional to taste

½ tsp. freshly ground pepper, add additional to taste

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. fresh orange juice

3 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro, flat-leaf parsley or mint

You know them, don’t you! Those folks who turn their noses up at turnips. Even if they never tasted a turnip, they say they don’t like them. Toss down the gauntlet. Challenge anyone not to like these turnips sweetened and glazed with maple. It’s a winning combination to be sure.

CIA Maple Glazed Turnips

2 lb. purple-top turnips

1 tbsp. unsalted butter

3 tbsp. maple syrup

¼ ground cinnamon

1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Salt and pepper as needed

1 tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley

2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Peel turnips and cut into even 1-inch cubes.

Heat 1 tbsp. butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Ad the maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Add the turnips and enough water to reach a depth of ¼-inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and pan steam until the turnips are tender, 7 to 8.

Remove the cover from the pan and continue to cook the turnips until the water has cooked away and the syrup has glazed each pieces evenly, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining butter to the pan with the parsley and lemon juice. Shake the pan until the butter is melted and turnips are evenly coated. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

This unusual recipe has been written about and requested in gourmet magazines, is zinging around the Internet and was served to me quite recently at a relative’s home. What’s so popular? It a lentil entre with attributes most of us love: an inexpensive, healthy, attractive and satisfying main dish. The contrasting flavors, colors and textures are unique yet almost homespun. What can I say other than “Try it!”

Lentils with Spinach and Goat Cheese

1 qt. chicken broth

1 tbsp. olive oil or Canola oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 medim carrots, finely chopped

2 ribs celery, finely chopped

2 bay leaves

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. black pepper

1 ½ cups (10 oz.) French green lentils

2 tbsp. mascarpone cheese, cream cheese

2 tsp. olive oil

1 lb. fresh baby spinach leaves

¼ cup crumbled feta or goat cheese

Bring stock to bare simmer in a 2 to 3-qt. saucepan.

Meantime, heat oil in a 4-qt. heavy pot over medium high until hot, but not smoking. Add onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves, salt and pepper and sauté until just golden about 4-5 minutes. Add lentils and stir to coat with oil. Add stock, bring a to boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cover and simmer until lentils are tender and most of the stock is absorbed, about 45 minutes. Discard bay leaves, stir in mascarpone and keep warm. (If you want, you can stop and refrigerate the lentils for a day or two before reheating and finishing off within a few days.

Heat oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat and sauté spinach (reserve a few leaves to chop for garnish) until just wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and scatter on top of the lentils. Crumble goat’s cheese on a platter or serving plate. Stir spinach into lentils. Place on top of cheese and served. Garnish with a bit of cheese and finely chopped spin ach.

Some meatless meals are good for all of us. This portabello sandwich created by the Culinary Institute of America and included in their book, “Vegetables” will mystify your taste buds. You will think you are eating steak! The meat-like qualities of this mushroom prepared in this manner is quite amazing.

Madeira-Glazed Portobello Steak Sandwiches

6 portobello mushrooms

¼ cup Madeira

3 tbsp. olive oil

2 cloves garlic, bruised

½ tsp. dried oregano

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. black pepper

8 onion slices

16 slices rye or pumpernickel bread

8 slices Muenster or Havarti

4 cups mixed baby greens

Preheat the broiler and place the oven rack in the upper third of the oven.

Remove the stems from the mushrooms and using a sharp paring knive, cut away the gills. Combine the Madeira, 2 tbsp. olive oil, the garlic cloves, oregano, 1 tsp. salt and ½ tsp. of pepper in a large bowl; add the mushrooms and toss to coat. Set aside for 10 minutes to marinate.

Heat the remaining tbsp. of olive oil in a saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 to6 minutes, Season with the remaining 1 tsp. salt and ½ tsp. pepper.

Place the mushrooms and onion slices on a baking sheet, brush with the marinade and broil until browned and tender, about 4 minutes on each side. When cool enough to handle, thinly sliced each mushroom. Fill the sandwich with slices of onion and mushroom and top with a slice of cheese.

Place the bottom half of each sandwich with the mushrooms, onion, and cheese on a baking pan and place under the broiler until the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes.

Top each sandwich with the greens and a second slice of bread.

Lastly, it was impossible for me to resist this fresher-than-fresh salad dressing made with a seasonal favorite: Grapefruit. You simply must make it to believe how simple it is to have a refreshing, nourishing salad dressing from scratch.

CIA Grapefruit Vinaigrette

1/3 cup fresh grapefruit juice

¼ cup white wine vinegar

Salt and pepper as needed

1 ½ cups peanut or light sesame oil

2 tsp. minced grapefruit zest, optional

Whisk together the grapefruit juice, vinegar, ½ tsp. salt and a pinch of black pepper. Gradually whisk in the oil until it is all incorporated and the vinaigrette is smooth and lightly thickened (as the vinaigrette sits, it will start to separate. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.

Just before serving, whisk vinaigrette to recombine the vinaigrette.

Check the seasoning again and add the grapefruit zest, if using.

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