Posts Tagged 'vegetables'

Christmas Asparagus

This was fast and a big hit. Preheat oven to 425. Roasted 2 pounds of asparagus tossed with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and a bit of sea salt for 10 minutes.

Be sure to snap off the tough ends of the asparagus before you roast them.

Sauteed 8 thinly sliced roasted  chestnuts, 5-6 thinly sliced small colored peppers and the zest from two small lemons in 1 teaspoon of olive oil until the peppers were slightly wilted, then added the juice of one lemon.

Removed the asparagus from the oven, sprinkled with the juice of the other lemon, and assembled artistically. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 6 servings at about 2 grams of fat/serving.

I neglected to take a picture until after it had been half eaten.


Pasta with Beet Greens and Raisins

Greens are not part of my culinary heritage. Mother didn’t cook greens – kale, chard, and collards were alien to her northern European Jewish background. She occasionally cooked spinach – not fresh but canned or frozen and cooked until vaguely slimy. I have fond memories of mixing slimy spinach with mashed potatoes to make it more palatable.

But I recently bought fresh beets, which were attached to, of all things, beet greens.

Now I have heard that beet greens are a delicacy, although I have never prepared them. Most of the recipes I found seemed to be for salad-y dishes.  But it’s getting a trifle cold for salad, and I wanted to use the greens for something heartier. This recipe, from Cooking Light, matched ingredients that I already had in the house (often a significant motivator for cooking a particular dish). I confess that the combination seemed a little odd: greens, raisins, pasta and nuts?  But it was surprisingly delicious, And also relatively quick to make.

Pasta with Beet Greens and Raisins

8 ounces uncooked ditalini (small pasta).  I used mini farfelle (bow ties)
¼ cup raisins
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 cups coarsely chopped trimmed beet greens
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted
½ teaspoon  salt
1/8 teaspoon  black pepper
Cracked black pepper (optional)

Cook the pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain.

While pasta cooks, place raisins in a small bowl; cover with hot water. Let stand 10 minutes. Drain.

While pasta cooks and raisins soak, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add greens and garlic (I also added the almonds here so I didn’t toast them separately); sauté 3 minutes or until greens are tender. Stir in pasta, drained raisins, almonds (unless you have added them before), salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper; toss with cooked pasta to combine. Sprinkle with cracked black pepper, if desired.  Makes 4 servings at about 9 grams of fat/serving.

Fresh Tomato Minestrone Soup

The tomatoes are still coming on strong, but the nip in the air once the sun goes down tells me that it’s soup making weather. I still have a lot of produce coming out of the garden, although the plants themselves are starting to look rather tired.

Minestrone means “big soup”. It is one of the cornerstones of Italian cuisine, and no doubt thrifty Italian housewives did as I did – used whatever vegetables were in season. Minestrone ranges from thick and dense to a more broth-like soup with large quantities of diced and lightly cooked vegetables. It typically has beans in it, and sometimes includes meat or pasta.
This soup used up all the little roma tomatoes, although I expect when I go out tomorrow morning there will be more of them.

This is not a heavy soup. It is more on the broth with vegetables side. You could easily add some pieces of chicken to the soup, or some pasta or sprinkle on a couple of tablespoons of parmesan cheese, as long as you accounted for the fat grams. I have been sprinkling 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan over the soup when I eat it – for an additional 4 grams of fat/serving.

Fresh Tomato Minestrone

1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 or 5 sprigs of mixed fresh herbs. You could use rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram – what ever you like best
4 parsley sprigs
2-3 leeks, white and light green parts only, thoroughly cleaned and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium zucchini or yellow squash (or half of each for color), diced
1 carrot, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper or to taste
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 can of cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
1 pound diced roma tomatoes
1/2 cup thinly sliced green beans

In a large pot over medium-low heat, heat the oil. Tie herbs and parsley in a bundle with kitchen string if desired (this makes it easier to fish out later). Add the herbs, leeks, garlic, zucchini or yellow squash, carrot, salt and pepper to the pot and sauté until the vegetables are golden, 10 to 15 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add broth, beans, tomatoes, green beans and 4 cups water to the pot. Simmer partly covered 45-60 minutes. Discard herbs. Thin with a little water if the soup is too thick.  Makes 6 servings at 3 grams of fat/serving.

Roasted Winter Vegetables

Winter vegetables tend to be homely. Parsnips, rutabagas, squashes, and turnips are lumpy and bumpy, and sometimes have funny shapes,

Although a bowl of them actually is quite lovely on the table

Despite their homeliness, winter vegetables have many enduring virtues. They mix well with other root vegetables, like potatoes and carrots. They also keep well, so you don’t need to fret if life interferes with your cooking plans and you put off cooking them up for a bit. Winter vegetables’ homeliness is more than made up for by their unique combination of heartiness and sweetness. Roasting winter vegetables brings out their sweetness. This recipe appeared in my local newspaper right when I was looking for an interesting vegetable to accompany roast chicken for a dinner party. And that’s another virtue of roasted winter vegetables – they make a good accompaniment to a variety of main dishes, as well as making a fine main dish themselves. I had a bit leftover, and can attest to their ability to stand up to reheating in the microwave the next day.

Roasted Winter Vegetables

Cooking Spray
1 one pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into cubes (see Hint 1)
3 red-skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
2 turnips, peeled and cut into cubes
3 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut into pieces
3 parsnips, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut into pieces
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons dried thyme
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
3 Tablespoons malt vinegar (sometimes called fish and chips vinegar)
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
2 cloves of garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat a large roasting pan (big enough to hold the vegetables in a single layer) with cooking spray. (I used a Corning Ware pan so that I could put the roasted vegetables on the table right in their cooking pan.) Put the vegetables (squash, potatoes, turnips, carrots, parsnips) into the pan. Add the oil, thyme, and pepper and toss to combine and coat the vegetables thoroughly. Roast, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are lightly browned and tender when pierced, about 45 minutes.

Stir the vinegar, parsley and garlic together in a large bowl.  Add the vegetables and toss to combine. (I mixed the vinegar, etc., in a bowl and poured them over the roasted vegetables, then tossed them so I could serve the vegetables in the roasting pan.)  Serve immediately.  This makes 6 main dish servings with 3 grams of fat/serving and about 10 side dish servings with 1.8 grams of fat/serving.
Hint 1: The vegetables roast best if all the pierces are more or less of equal size so they cook evenly.

Hint 2: When purchasing root vegetables like turnips and parsnips, it’s best to select small to medium vegetables.  Larger ones may be tough.

Au Gratin Anything

I love cheesy things – no, not that kind of cheesy.  Cheese is one of the best things that can happen to a vegetable.  So when I see the word au gratin or gratin, count me in. Technically, a gratin is a food that consists of thinly sliced potatoes or another ingredient in a cream sauce, usually topped with breadcrumbs and cheese.  Au gratin actually refers to the technique of cooking in a cheesy sauce.

The problem with most au gratin preparations, much as I love them, is that they are quite high in fat – butter, cheese, cream, and other ingredients that up the fat gram count far beyond my desire to eat cheesy vegetables with some frequency.  This preparation, derived from trial and error (oh yes, lots of error – curdled milk, mushy veggies – ugh), combines a number of techniques that make it possible to have a lovely, creamy dish that is still low in fat.  Even better, you can make it in one pan for serving at an everyday meal, or dress it up for only a few fat grams more by spooning it into a baking dish and topping it with a bit more cheese, and putting it under the broiler for a minute or two. I have made this with potatoes (naturally), cauliflower, broccoli, and green beans, and I think you could try other vegetables as well.

Speaking of cheese, you really need a good sharp cheddar to make this dish.  Most low fat cheddar doesn’t have the flavor to carry this dish without getting lost in the sauce.  I recommend Kerrygold Reduced Fat Irish cheddar.  This cheese has only 4 grams of fat/ounce and a sharp cheddary flavor that makes it great for cooking and a good snack (maybe with a nice apple), too.


Basic Au Gratin Recipe

4 cups of vegetables cut in 1 to 2 inch pieces (or ½ inch slices for potatoes)
1 ½ cups non-fat milk, divided
¼ teaspoon salt
2 ounces shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour (potatoes only need 1 Tablespoon of flour)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon white pepper (or to taste)

For the dressed up version, 2 additional ounces of shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese. You can also sprinkle it with a little paprika for color.

In a large pan bring vegetable, salt, and 1 ¼ cups milk to a boil over medium high heat.  Reduce heat, cover, and cook for 5-10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  The time will vary depending on the vegetable.  Be sure to check the vegetable while they are simmering – you don’t want mush.  In a small bowl, whisk remaining ¼ cup milk and flour.  Stir the flour mixture into the vegetables, stirring constantly until it  thickens, about 1 minute. Stir in the 2 ounces of cheese, mustard, and pepper, stirring until the cheese melts.  This makes 4 servings at about 2 grams of fat/serving.  This is cauliflower au gratin.


Variation: For the dressed up version, spoon the vegetable mixture into an oven proof pan. Sprinkle with an additional 2 ounces of shredded cheese, and paprika if you want Broil for 1-2 minutes until cheese melts (or if you’re lazy like me, stick the pan in the microwave for a minute to melt the cheese.)  This makes 4 deliciously cheesy servings at about 4 grams of fat/serving.  This is potatoes au gratin.


Curry Roasted Winter Vegetables and Apples

Winter is a great time for roasted vegetables. It’s nice to turn on the oven on a chilly day, and the vegetables that are in season in the winter are very amenable to roasting. Carrots, turnips, sweet potatoes and other winter vegetables become yet sweeter when roasted.  Now, I confess that I created this recipe to deal with my all too frequent circumstance of aging produce. The potatoes were beginning to evidence little sprouts, the apples had gone beyond crispy, and the sweet potato was beginning to show signs of middle age.  So here is a recipe to make whether you want to use up vegetables or just make something hearty for a winter meal.  You can use any combination of vegetables that will stand up to roasting.  I used carrots, turnips, sweet potato, yellow potato, and cauliflower, but you could also use parsnips, Brussels sprouts, rutabagas, or even small onions.

Curry Roasted Winter Vegetables and Apples

10 cups of assorted winter vegetables, peeled as needed, and cut into 2 inch pieces
3 medium apples, peeled, cored, quartered and sliced into 1 inch pieces
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seed (now often available in regular grocery stores)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon garam masala, homemade or purchased
½ cup of hot water

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat a large roasting pan with cooking spray. Put the cut up vegetables and apples into the pan. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.  Heat the oil in a small frying pan over medium high heat. Add the mustard and cumin seeds. Listen for the mustard seeds to begin to pop, then add the garam masala, stirring for one minute until the mixture is fragrant.  Watch the mixture carefully so it doesn’t burn.  Remove from heat.  Pour the spice mixture over the vegetables, tossing to combine and coat the vegetables thoroughly.  Bake for 50 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.  Remove from the oven.  Immediately pour ½ cup of hot water into the pan and stir the vegetables, scraping up the caramelized browned bits on the bottom of the pan and mixing them with the vegetables.  It is important to do this last step when the vegetables are right out of the oven, so that the water will steam and lift the browned bits off the pan.  This makes 4 very large servings at 4 grams/serving, or 6 side dish servings at just under 3 grams/serving.



I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

More about me.

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