Vegetable Fashions

September 30th, 2015 § 0 comments

Yes, like women’s clothing, vegetables go in and out of fashion. Today, kale is very fashionable as a menu item (raw and cooked), as a chip (blech) and as juice. A few years ago, kale never appeared on restaurant menus or in the recipes of foodie magazines. Spinach ruled. A fine restaurant in a Denver suburb, 240 Union, made a specialty of spinach. The vegetable adorned almost every plate. HG took special pleasure in the sautéed or broiled fish of the day nestled on a mound of buttery spinach that had been given a slight hit of nutmeg. Brussels sprouts go in and out of fashion (they happen to be VERY in right now). Their image was destroyed by memories of mushy specimens (emitting a bad odor) boiled to death in the English manner. BSK is helping “fairy cabbages” (which is what BSK’s beloved grandmother called the vegetable) make a comeback. BSK roasts them with chestnuts or bacon; slices and sautés them with olive oil and garlic; stir fries the shredded leaves with oil, garlic, ginger, hot sauce and serves it over Chinese cellophane noodles adding dashes of soya and sesame oil. Good stuff. Chard is a staple on Paris bistro menus but rarely makes an appearance in American restaurants. Same goes for celeriac. Peasandcarrots (it seemed like one word) would always accompany meat dishes in traditional kosher Jewish restaurants. Vile. Even a pour of chicken fat couldn’t improve these pallid canned specimens. Escarole is a great leafy vegetable. BSK stews it in olive oil and garlic with sliced onions, adds chicken broth, fried pancetta. A final dusting of Parmesan and hot pepper. Sublime. Escarole is easily found at New York grocers but in Santa Fe, HG has to do much searching before sourcing escarole (rarely carried at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s). Baby bok choy and bean sprouts have, happily, become fashionable and enhance many dishes besides traditional Chinese. Cauliflower, an HG favorite, has had a very fashionable year. Roasted cauliflower is splendid. Blanched cauliflower florets sautéed with blue cheese and a bit of cream makes a sumptuous topping for pasta. Last night, BSK made a gratin of cauliflower with eggs, tomatoes, goat cheese and many herbs. A fine one dish meal accompanied by green salad and red wine.

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