Monday, July 13, 2015

Do You Hate Vegetables?

Sugar Snap Peas
I lived my early life thinking that vegetables were a necessary but evil part of a meal.  At my house my mother used the boil-to-death method of cooking carrots, peas, broccoli and corn on the cob.  Asparagus, spinach, mushrooms and green beans came out of a can.  Luckily she had never heard of eggplant.  Meanwhile, my grandmother’s beet-red borscht looked like a bowl of blood.

Eventually I grew up and, after tasting fresh peas right out of their pods, realized I had been misinformed.  I ate real borscht in Moscow, fried artichokes in Rome and okra in New Delhi.  I liked the spicy garlic eggplant someone ordered for me in Hong Kong.  Now I happily drive 5 miles out of my way to stock up on super-fresh vegetables—including bok choy, kale and chard.  I even tried mustard greens the other day.

I was reminded of my one-time vegetable aversion this morning when I got an email from a 40-year-old acquaintance named Eric, who is about to become a first-time father.  In answer to my request to pick out a sandwich I was getting for him, he said, “I’ll take the grilled pesto chicken breast (no lettuce or tomato, because I am a four year old).”

To Eric I dedicate this very easy recipe. 
Two-Minute Sugar Snap Peas – serves 3-4  
1/2 pound fresh sugar snap peas 
1 tablespoon olive or canola oil 

Thoroughly rinse the sugar snap peas.  Pat dry.  Very large sugar snap peas have a tough string along one edge.  To remove it before cooking, snap 1/4-inch off the pod’s stem end and pull it off.  

Add the oil to a pot, frying pan or wok and begin heating over high heat.  When the oil is hot, add the sugar snap pea pods and stir-fry for about 2 minutes, or until some of them start getting brown and blistery.  Transfer to a serving bowl.



    (a concoction which piggybacks on an earlier submitted recipe for "Mediterranean Salad")

    Hi there. I can very much relate to what you wrote in your July 13, 2015 food-blog entry which you called: Do You Hate Vegetables? For, not unlike you, I also had an unfortunate childhood history of being continually subjected to overly-cooked, bland, unexciting (and even downright repulsive) vegetables being served to me at mealtime. But whereas you regarded them as "a necessary evil" and evidently consumed them-- I often flatly refused to eat any of them. And, even if I was sent to my room without any dinner at all I never really minded very much since I had already lost my appetite anyhow after having been assaulted with such distastefully and obnoxiously prepared so-called "vegetables". And also, like you, I have since become a fresh-vegetable enthusiast and virtual fanatic.

    I have been following your blog with great cuisinery interest and gastronomical enthusiasm since you began and I have already harvested some wonderful comestibles from your own recipes as well as from your blog-readers comments. One delightful discovery was a contribution someone had offered to your June 21, 2015 "Mom Cooking Tip 6" on how to flay the pesky skins off of tomatoes which, I guess understandably, are reluctant to give them up. The recipe your comment-giver provided was for "Mediterranean Salad", a delectable creation consisting entirely of crisp, fresh (and very familiar) vegetables. This is what your reader/contributor presented:

    Speaking of tomatoes and since tomato season is beginning....I want to share my serendipitous discovery that opened a whole new world of flavor to us. A salad staple in our house was always sliced cucumber, halved cherry tomatoes, parsley and sliced scallions with a fresh lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper dressing. Then I discovered the "Mediterranean salad" made with the exact same ingredients but for one difference in the preparation......all were chopped into 1/4-1/3 inch pieces! What an amazing taste! We gobble it like it was chocolate cake! True, the chopping takes extra time, but it is soooooo worth it!

    I just loved this recipe and found that I was making it so often that I had to go to the kitchen-store to obtain a food-chopping device to speed-up the preparation time. Well, what I wanted to share with you was my modification of that recipe which transforms it into a marvelous SALSA. We were going to have a Mexican dinner and there was some of the "Mediterranean Salad" which, remarkably, had not yet been eaten. And so what I did was to drain off the existing juice (Which, incidentally, made a very refreshing vegetable-drink-- not unlike "V-8".) and added some chopped up "pepperoncini" as well as some of the juice from the bottle so as to make it more salsa-like for dipping with corn chips. And voila-- a terrific Mexican-style salsa every bit as good as the best salsa I've ever had in Mexican restaurants! Using "tamed jalapenos" should also work very nicely (with their accompanying liquids) or even stronger peppers if one is more adventurous and/or prefers more "heat" to their salsa.


  2. I, too, grew up hating vegetables because my mother cooked them too long. They were dumped onto our plates because it was a "sin" not to have a vegetable with your meat. That was a long long time ago, far far away in Fargo, ND! Now I live in Israel where the fruits and vegetables are so fresh and plentiful it is like having your own backyard garden..... that's how fresh the produce is! And I have finally, after all these years, learned how to make good stir fry. I don't know why it took me so long to learn.....I think it was the lack of inspiration. But being here and seeing the mounds of colorful fresh vegetables...... something happened to me. Suddenly something clicked in me and I was able to perfectly stir-fry my mounds of red and orange and green vegetables to a lovely al dente crispness. Once you have made and eaten a good stir-fry, you will want to make it a lot! I find myself making a huge skillet of stir-fried veggies about once a week. And they are lovely just as they don't need to have meat added to them.....just the tasty sweet and sour sauce. Served over basmati rice, I am in heaven‏.

  3. I was raised eating them raw like one eats baby carrots. A great snack.