Veggie dishes don’t have to be bland

Chicago TribuneOctober 23, 2013 

The title of food writer Joe Yonan’s new cookbook seems to jump out like a scolding from your mom: “Eat Your Vegetables.”

Yet that’s not Yonan’s intent at all. In the introduction, The Washington Post food editor explains that he wants readers to try the recipes because they sound good; he’s not proselytizing. Yonan, who describes himself as mostly vegetarian, has written a vegetarian book, but he describes it as a vegetable book. His message: Think about eating vegetables; don’t focus on avoiding meat.

There is plenty to entice in “Eat Your Vegetables,” such as simple sandwiches — grilled cheese tricked out with kimchi (make Yonan’s, or use jarred) and Asian pears — and more involved recipes such as this Mediterranean flavor powerhouse: a chickpea pancake topped with broccoli, eggplant dip (or store-bought baba ghanouj) and feta. Yet even that pancake comes together quickly: Pour the easy-to-whisk-up batter into a hot skillet, then pop it into the oven — no flipping.

Yonan targets the single cook, but you can adapt the recipes upward. Then get ready to celebrate your vegetables.

CHICKPEA PANCAKE WITH BROCCOLI AND EGGPLANT

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 29 minutes

Servings: 1

1/2 cup chickpea flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 very small head broccoli or several florets broccoli, sliced

1/4 cup store-bought baba ghanouj

Freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon crumbled feta

1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Note: Look for chickpea flour in ethnic markets.

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Whisk together the chickpea flour, salt, water and 1 tablespoon olive oil until smooth.

Heat a small (8-inch) cast-iron skillet over medium heat; when hot, pour in remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. When the oil shimmers, pour in the chickpea batter. Transfer the skillet to the oven.

Bake until the pancake is golden brown on top and pulls away from the edge of the pan, 20-25 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven; turn the oven to broil. Set a rack so the skillet will be 4-5 inches from the flame.

Meanwhile, steam the broccoli in a steamer basket over an inch of simmering water in a small saucepan until crisp-tender.

When the pancake is done, smear the baba ghanouj on top. Cover with the broccoli. Season with pepper to taste; sprinkle with the cheeses. Broil until the cheese melts and broccoli browns slightly, 3-4 minutes. Remove; let cool slightly. Slide onto a plate; cut into wedges to eat.

Nutrition information per serving: 767 calories, 46 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 13 mg cholesterol, 64 g carbohydrates, 24 g protein, 1,615 mg sodium, 7 g fiber.

Source: “Eat Your Vegetables” by Joe Yonan

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