mostly plants.

I mentioned recently that I've been working on making complete meals, meaning not just a main dish, but also something to the side providing complimentary flavors and nutrients. You know, vegetables. Sometimes I fall back on the standby of a quick salad or some baked french fries. But I want to have a vast repetoire of veggie dishes, and so I've been looking for tasty, simple, and cheap ways of cooking up plant life for consumption. I want recipes that bring out the natural goodness of a vegetable. One thing that I've noticed is that vegetables often have a secret sweetness, waiting to come out. Perhaps they are the introverted bassists of the food world.

In the interest of greater world knowledge, here are three things that I've found.

Vegetable 1: Roasted Carrots
After trying roasted asparagus and this recipe, I'm beginning to wonder if you can just roast any vegetable in olive oil and spices and end up with yumminess. I did not know that carrots could be this good. I think the world in general does not know that carrots can be this good, otherwise there would be a run on them. Please roast some carrots. It makes them taste like CARROTS! You know, that subtle carroty flavor in vegetable beef stew? Like that, but more CARROTY! Your tongue will thank you, your eyes will thank you by blinking out the letters in Morse code.

This recipe is so simple, it doesn't even have quantities for the ingredients!

Roasted Carrots
Ripped wholesale from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
  • carrots

  • olive oil

  • thyme

  • salt

  • pepper

Cut large carrots in half lengthwise so that all are about the same thickness. Lay them out on a sheet pan and drizzle olive oil on them. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with thyme, salt, and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Bake at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Carrots will look like they spent too long in the bathtub, but will be tender and sweet.

Vegetable 2: "Fried" Cabbage
Be honest now: how do you feel about cabbage?

Me, I'm okay with it. I don't really seek it out, but I recognize that it has its place. I like coleslaw, which is cabbage with mayo and vinegar and sugar. I enjoy reuben sandwiches, which have cabbage that has been allowed to sit out and smells bad. But mostly, I don't know what to do with cabbage. Sometimes, I buy one to make coleslaw, but I only use about half of it. So then I'm left with half a cabbage that sits in my fridge and makes me feel bad. Poor lonely little half a cabbage, every day it is more likely that your destiny involves a compost pit. And cabbages, unlike some other vegetables that I know what to do with, take a long time to go bad. Normally, this would be advantageous. To me, it's just more guilt time.

I made corned beef for Valentine's Day, because to me, a happy Valentine's Day is one spent letting the crock pot do all the work. Josh asked for cabbage to go with his corned beef. Already, we had mashed potatoes and potato rolls. I've been known to make colcannon, which is mashed potatoes with bacon and cabbage. But colcannon can be a little greasy. It's delicious bacon grease, but grease nonetheless.

So I started looking online for cabbage recipes. I found one called Fried Cabbage that seemed more like boiled or steamed cabbage. But it had high ratings, and I had all the ingredients. With huge misgivings, I made fried cabbage. I was ready for cabbage to ruin my wonderful Valentine's Day feast. I was going to rain curses down upon cabbage and wish that I had made hot dogs for the occasion, because I already know that I like coleslaw.

Dude, cabbage is yummy. This recipe has changed my whole outlook on cabbage. I'm going to buy cabbage to make this. Maybe if there is some left over, I will make coleslaw.

Fried Cabbage
adapted from Allrecipes
  • 1 head cabbage, rough chopped

  • 1 can chicken broth (1 3/4 c)

  • 2 T butter

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • red wine vinegar (optional)

Bring the butter and broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the cabbage, stir to coat, and cover. Let simmer for 20 minutes, or until cabbage is soft, but not mush.

Add salt and pepper. Serve with red wine vinegar on the side. Those who feel bold can splash on a bit of vinegar.

Vegetable 3: Kinpira
Like roasting with olive oil, you could make this with a lot of different vegetables. I've done carrots, onions, and celery, and I have a bunch of broccoli stalks in my fridge, waiting for me to figure out what to do with them. I'm going to kinpirate them. This recipe is a little spicy, and can be a lot spicy if you go nuts with the red pepper. You control your own spice destiny here.

I've reproduced the simplest recipe, but please visit the original blog post, where variations are posted. She calls it "Forgotten Vegetable Kinpira," which means I'm not the only person who has lonely vegetables.

Forgotten Vegetable Kinpira
stolen lovingly from Just Bento
  • 2 cups of chopped or matchstick vegetables (carrots, onions, broccoli, cabbage, celery, peppers, some mixture of many - lots of options!)

  • 1 T dark sesame oil

  • a pinch of red pepper flakes

  • 1 T soy sauce

  • 1 t black or white (light brown) sesame seeds

Heat sesame oil in a skillet or wok. Add the veggies. Toss until crisp-tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and toss. Add soy sauce, and toss again. Add the sesame seeds near the end.

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