How to eat winter vegetables that are so-so, and that frankly I don’t really care for… kind-of-thing.
I recall years ago when Bush Senior (RIP), was President he once jokingly said that he never liked broccoli and now that he is the POTUS he is NOT going to eat broccoli. The day after gregarious California broccoli farmers delivered a reportedly 10 tons of their product to the White House in protest. The vegetables were donated to local homeless shelters.
First Lady Barbara evidently didn’t bother much in the kitchen, because there are many creative ways to use those winter vegetables and make them inviting.
I care little for cauliflowers for example. But they fill the supermarket shelves, and we are constantly reminded about how good the Cruciferous vegetables are for us (I don’t even like the name: Cruciferous!).
So how do we eat those vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, garden cress, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and similar green leaf vegetables?
Pickled and in Aspic are two solutions.
Doesn’t remind you of a fancy ski reasort somewhere? 🙂 Instead it is this elegant way to present vegetables as apetizers. It leaves room for creativity since a lot of ingredients can be added; such as meat, eggs, fish (shrimps particularly), or simply the vegetables.
Vegetable aspic are part of a legacy of the 80s recipes, when they were brought to the table on special occasions for their great effect! It is a layered preparation held on with jelly, in some cases beer (best in summer), but a vegetable broth works just as well, especially if home-made see “All the “Preserving” done, for “Winter is Coming”. You can think of making vegetable aspic for an elegant dinner, replacing the more classic appetizers with vegetables or side dishes.
It is best done in small individual servings rather than the big one, which would look good but will be difficult to serve.
Besides the vegetales of choice you’ll need:
- 150 ml of vegetable broth
- 100 ml of water
- 20 g of gelatin
My vegetables were cauliflower, broccoli, french beans, red cabbage, carrots and red bell peppers (for color).
Peel the carrots, cut the califlors and broccoli in small pieces, cut into chunks the French beans and steam for 8-10 minutes. I seldom boil my vegetables, I always steam them using the wonderful Chinese basket—I could not live without it! For the timing I check often because a lot depends from individual preference in “crunchiness.”
Cut the red cabbage in half and then into strips, wash and dry. Same for the Red Bell Pepper.
Soften the gelatine in cold water for 10 minutes and then drain it, and add it to the hot vegetable broth.
Now prepare either an individual mold or the cups putting on the bottom of the mixture with the gelatin/broth and transfer it/them in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
Then proceed to add the vegetables according to your preference and/or color. The red cabbage, carrots, French beans, Red Bell Peppers, and all the cruciferous!
It is a preparation that requires patience more than skill, because you need to wait between layers, and keep them in the refrigerator in between. It also needs an overnight in the refrigerator in order to solidify.
It is a dish that should be prepared a day in advance. But it does look good. I also find that it is a very summery dish. Especially with an addition of shrimps and beer, or cold meat. Prosciutto also comes to mind!
Pickled (Italian way)
I like to pickle vegetables myself because it is a good way to use of vegetables when in season and avoid wasting. It often happens that we get too many of one thing when the season is right. That happens in summer for zucchini and in winter for the cruciferous! Once selected the vegetables of choice to which I always add carrots for collor, I need the following ingredients:
- 1 liter of high quality white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 glasses of dry white wine
- 1 or 2 tablespoons of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of peppercorns
While cutting the vegetables to small size to fit in your cans/jars of choice, bring the vinegar with the wine, sugar, salt, pepper and bay leaf to a boil in a non-aluminum saucepan.
When it is at boiling point, start with the vegetables that need more cooking time (e.g.; carrots, French beans, celery), boil two minutes and add califlowers and other cruciferous. Another 2 minutes, then last red bell peppers if used. Careful with the timing; it all depends on your preference in crunchiness!
Drain and let the vegetables cool slightly. Then they can be canned by either boiling the vases as explained in Nature Generosity, or by simply keeping the jars upside down. I boiled them, but kept the boiling time of the vegetables very low.
A last word on the Cruciferous
They are high in vitamin C and soluble fiber and contain multiple nutrients and phytochemicals.