nutritional powerhouses

Healthful ingredients such as cabbage, kale, rutabagas, cauliflower can be delicious

The Washington PostJanuary 23, 2013 

Even in the bright new days of the new year, cabbages, cauliflower and rutabagas are nutritional powerhouses in need of a little PR. They can bring new and unexpected flavors to the table, but ho-hum ways of cooking them fail to inspire all but the most loyal fans.

For large cabbages like savoy, take a page from what has happened to Brussels sprouts, which are being roasted or shredded, then quickly sauteed. With similar treatment, savoy cabbage could become filling for ravioli or mashed into potatoes with caramelized onions. Stir-fried Napa cabbage pairs beautifully with shiitake mushrooms as egg roll filling or in fried rice.

Roasting yields great results for cauliflower, as does pan-steaming. Pair it with acidic ingredients such as citrus or vinegar, and don’t forget to think about using blanched or steamed bite-size pieces in mixed winter salads.

Humble, homely rutabagas tend to be overlooked altogether. They’re covered with a thin wax, which makes them hard to peel. This is the year to enjoy them without the crutches of cream and butter; try roasting chunks of rutabaga, then glamorize with a sweet-sour dressing.

Kale had quite a run in 2012, as it was worked into Caesar salads, massaged with tahini vinaigrettes and folded into casseroles. If its bitter taste or toughness is a stumbling block, a brief blanch in boiling salted water should do the trick. Or you can add baby kale to softer, sweet vegetables such as winter squashes and carrots.

Roasted Rutabagas With Golden Raisin-Maple Vinaigrette One 2-pound rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (see note)

11/2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons maple syrup

cup golden raisins, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Toss together the rutabaga and 1 tablespoon of the oil in a nonstick roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 30-35 minutes, turning the pieces over every 10 to 15 minutes, until the rutabaga is tender.

Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil with the vinegar, maple syrup and raisins. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk to form an emulsified vinaigrette.

Transfer the rutabaga to a serving dish; spoon the vinaigrette over the rutabaga. Serve warm.

Note: To peel the rutabaga, cut off a thin slice at the root and stem ends. Stand the rutabaga on a cutting board, with one of the cut sides down. Use a large, sharp knife to slice off the peel, cutting from top to bottom.

Nutritional content per serving: 160 calories, 3 g protein, 29 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 95 mg sodium, 5 g dietary fiber, 21 g sugar Napa Cabbage, Shiitake and Pork Fried Rice 1 tablespoon mild olive or peanut oil

4 medium scallions, white and light-green parts, cut crosswise into slices (1/2 cup)

1 medium carrot, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1/2 cup)

8 ounces lean ground pork

1/8 teaspoon salt

4 ounces shiitake mushrooms (stems discarded), thinly sliced

8 ounces Napa cabbage, cut into strips 1-inch long and 1/2-inch wide

2 cups cooked rice, preferably sushi rice, but any brown or white variety will do

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, or to taste

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, or to taste

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Napa cabbage, also known as Chinese cabbage, has a more delicate taste than the traditional green cabbage, and a softer texture. Those qualities make it easy to incorporate the vegetable into stir-fries and to make it palatable to the cabbage-phobic.

Here it’s an integral part of a fried rice dish that, unlike most takeout versions, features a good balance of vegetables, meat and rice. To make it vegetarian, double the amount of carrots and mushrooms and omit the pork.

Note: I make this in a big, round braising pan, but a large saute pan, skillet or wok or even a nonstick roasting pan would work.

Heat the olive or peanut oil in a large braising pan (see note) over medium-high heat. Add the scallions and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the carrot; cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the pork and salt; cook, stirring, until the pork just starts to lose its raw look. Add the shiitakes and cook, stirring every 30 seconds or so, for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms soften and just start to brown. Add the cabbage. Cook, stirring for about 5 minutes, until the cabbage wilts and softens. Add the cooked rice and mix well. Distribute the soy sauce and sesame oil evenly over the contents of the pan, stirring to combine.

When everything is well mixed, move the rice and vegetables to the edges of the pan, creating a well in the center. Pour the beaten egg into the well and scramble it until cooked. Mix the egg with the rice-and-vegetable mixture, breaking up any large clumps of egg. Taste, and add soy sauce and/or sesame oil as needed. Serve warm.

Nutritional content per serving: 290 calories, 14 g protein, 22 g carbohydrates, 16 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 70 mg cholesterol, 310 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar White Bean, Andouille and Kale Soup 2 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 cup diced onion (from 1 small onion)

1 medium carrot, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1/2 cup)

1 rib celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1/2 cup)

8 ounces fresh andouille sausage, casings removed

3 ounces peeled, seeded winter squash, such as butternut, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice (6 ounces)

1/2 cup canned no-salt-added chopped Italian-style tomatoes, drained

One 15.5-ounce can no-salt-added Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed (12/3 cups)

cup uncooked basmati or long-grain white rice

6 cups homemade or no-salt-added chicken broth, or more as needed

Freshly ground black pepper

4 ounces kale, baby kale or Swiss chard, thick stems removed and discarded, leaves torn into about 11/2-inch pieces

Water, as needed

Make ahead: This soup profits from being prepared a day in advance, covered and refrigerated; taste after reheating, and adjust the seasoning as needed. If the soup has thickened too much, add water or broth to reach the desired consistency.

Heat the oil in a 4-5-quart soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion; cook for about 3 minutes, until the onion starts to soften. Add the carrot, celery and salt to taste; cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the andouille; cook for about 5 minutes, until the sausage appears to be cooked, using a spoon to break up any clumps. Add the squash, potato, tomatoes, beans, rice and broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring the broth to a boil, then cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for about 20 minutes, adjusting the heat so the broth maintains a very slow boil, and until the rice is cooked through and the potatoes are tender.

While the soup is cooking, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the kale and cook for 2 minutes. If you’re using baby kale or chard, cook for 1 minute. Immediately pour into a colander to drain.

When soup is ready, add the blanched greens and stir to combine. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed. If the soup is too thick, thin with water or additional broth.

Nutritional content per serving: 220 calories, 10 g protein, 24 g carbohydrates, 10 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 370 mg sodium, 5 g dietary fiber, 3 g sugar

Makes 4-5 servings From Stephanie Witt Sedgwick Makes 4-6 servings From Stephanie Witt Sedgwick Makes: 91/2 cups (6-8 servings) From Stephanie Witt Sedgwick

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