Time to Eat Your “Cabbage Family”

Time to Eat Your "Cabbage Family"

Recently we ran a Farmer and Chef South social media Facebook post on “7 Foods That Taste Better Now Than They Will All Year, so we decided to share some new ideas for cooking these two vegetables: one of them maligned at times, and the other sometimes overlooked for weeknight dinner planning.

When they are fresh in season, like now, they are never more tasty; any slightly bitter, off-putting flavor is minimal and can be balanced with the right seasonings. Siblings in the cabbage family, collards and Brussels sprouts are cruciferous, meaning they contain the bitter-flavored compounds that makes some people turn up their noses. Those same compounds are what make them dense with phytonutrients, so they are worth a second glance and another try at tasting.

Collards don’t have to be slow-cooked with fatback or hambone, though we Southerners crave them — pot likker, cornbread, and chunks of the ham. For everyday cooking, the flavor is brighter served raw in a salad or sautéed just until wilted.

To prepare them, strip off the tough stem, stack the leaves, and roll them up tightly; then thinly slice across the roll to make thin strips. Add them to green salads, or throw a handful into hot, cooked quinoa or brown rice, and toss to wilt them. To cook quickly, chop the leaves and sauté in olive oil until they are just wilted. Then toss with freshly grated lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Or Kung Pao the collards with the sauce from the following recipe. Sauté sliced or chopped leaves in a lightly oiled skillet until they are wilted, then toss with the sauce. This recipe, adapted from Bon Appetit, will make a convert out of even the most adamant cynic.

Other than the Brussels Sprouts recipe from Wicked Weed in Farmer & Chef Asheville, this recipe ranks at the top.

Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts Makes 3 servings

1 pound Brussels sprouts

Halved 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Divided 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

2 cloves garlicminced

1 tablespoon grated fresh peeled ginger

1 tablespoon hot chili paste (sambal oelek)

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon unseasoned rice vinegar

Optional: chopped unsalted roasted peanuts, minced scallions

Preheat oven to 425°. Toss Brussels sprouts with 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon oil and 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing once, until softened (but not soft) and browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside. Meanwhile, stir together cornstarch and 1 1/2 teaspoons water in a small bowl until smooth. Heat remaining 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. nAdd garlic; cook, stirring often, until browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 teaspoon sesame oil and chili paste; cook, stirring constantly, until darkened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add soy sauce, sugar, and vinegar; stir in cornstarch mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Toss with roasted Brussels sprouts and sprinkle with peanuts and scallions, if using.

minced 1 tablespoon grated fresh peeled ginger 1 tablespoon hot chili paste (sambal oelek) 1/4 cup soy sauce 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar 1 teaspoon unseasoned rice vinegar Optional: chopped unsalted roasted peanuts, minced scallions Preheat oven to 425°. Toss Brussels sprouts with 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon oil and 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing once, until softened (but not soft) and browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside. Meanwhile, stir together cornstarch and 1 1/2 teaspoons water in a small bowl until smooth. Heat remaining 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. nAdd garlic; cook, stirring often, until browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 teaspoon sesame oil and chili paste; cook, stirring constantly, until darkened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add soy sauce, sugar, and vinegar; stir in cornstarch mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Toss with roasted Brussels sprouts and sprinkle with peanuts and scallions, if using.

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