Several years ago, I went to a holistic doctor, who advised me to eat 3/4 of a cup of cruciferous vegetables daily.
"Cruciferous what?" I asked. I'd never heard of this powerhouse classification of produce, which is loosely lumped into the cabbage family. It includes brussels sprouts, broccoli, broccoli rabe, cauliflower, kale, turnips, collard greens, bok choy, arugula, watercress, radish, horseradish and cabbage, along with two dozen assorted seeds and leaves.
"For multiple reasons, cruciferous vegetables are good for your health," the doctor explained.
This genre of vegetables contains phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals and fiber, all offering health benefits. The fiber, in particular, gives the body a boost. A review of research published in the October 1996 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association showed a link between cruciferous vegetables and protection against cancer.
Medicinal considerations aside, I love the variety of assertive flavors exuded in the cruciferous family. While tinkering, I've created a new crop of recipes.
Although I've found eating 3/4 of a cup of such vegetables a day to be nearly impossible, I have upped my consumption considerably, much to my husband's chagrin. Behind my back, he once slid his portion of Brussels sprouts into a vase of flowers, causing the stems to keel over. However, the feisty little cabbages survived.
When I hide cruciferous vegetables among other ingredients, my husband doesn't balk. He recently requested cabbage soup, although he insisted it was for the short ribs. He merely tolerated the cabbage. But that's OK — cabbage is healthy.
Asian-Style Baby Bok Choy
4 baby bok choys
1 piece (2-inch) of ginger root
1 bunch scallions
4 Tbsps. toasted sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. balsamic vinegar
Rinse bok choy under cold water. Shake out excess water and pat dry with paper towels.
Cut off a little of the bottom ends, so that leaves can be easily separated, but most of the white part remains. Pull off leaves and reserve.
Cut off and discard skin from ginger root. With a sharp knife, chop fine.
Cut off and discard scallions' roots and green stems. Chop white part of scallions. Reserve.
In a large skillet, warm sesame oil on a medium-low flame. Saute garlic and ginger, stirring until fragrant about 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the bok choy and stir occasionally for about 5 minutes, until leaves wilt and white ends soften a bit.
Add the scallions, soy sauce and balsamic vinegar, and mix to combine. Stir for about 2 minutes. Serve immediately.
Serves 4 to 6.
1 large bunch of radishes
2 Tbsps. olive oil
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
kosher salt to taste
2 Tbsps. dill, chopped
Cut leaves off radishes and discard. Snip off the ends. Rinse under cold water and pat dry on paper towels. Slice radishes paper thin and place on a large plate or small platter.
Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and dill. Serve immediately.
Serves 4 as a small side salad.
Cabbage Soup With Short Ribs
1 small green cabbage (2-21/2 lbs.)
3 lbs. short ribs
kosher salt to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste
2 Tbsps. vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
1 parsnip, diced
1 turnip, diced
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste dissolved in a quart of warm water
2 cups beef broth
2 Tbsps. apple cider vinegar
1 large zucchini, diced
Remove and discard the course outer leaves of the cabbage. Rinse under cold water and dry on paper towels. With a sharp knife, cut out and discard the core. Cut the cabbage into 1/2-inch-thick slices. With your fingers, separate the slices into ribbons of cabbage. Reserve.
Sprinkle the short ribs with salt and pepper. In a stock pot or large deep pot, heat the oil on a medium flame. Sear the short ribs in oil on all sides until browned. With tongs, move to a platter. Reserve.
Saute the onion in the stock pot, stirring for about 1 minute, until wilted. Add the parsnip and turnip and stir for another minute. Add the cabbage and stir occasionally for a couple of minutes.
Pour the tomato paste water into the pot, along with the broth. Add the vinegar and stir ingredients until combined. Cover the pot and simmer on a medium flame for 11/2 hours.
Add the zucchini and stir to combine. Add more salt, if needed. Simmer for another 15 to 30 minutes, or until short ribs are softened and the meat is nearly falling off the bone.
Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days before reheating and serving. Recipe freezes well.
Serves 8 to 10 as an appetizer or 4 as a main course.
Slow Roasted Cauliflower
1 large cauliflower
nonstick vegetable spray
1/4 cup olive oil, or more, if needed
kosher salt to taste
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Using a sharp knife, cut off cauliflower's outer green leaves. Turn cauliflower upside down and cut out the core. Break into florets. Rinse under cold water and pat dry on paper towels.
Coat a 9×15-inch baking pan with nonstick spray. Preheat oven to 250°.
Place the florets in the prepared pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and garlic powder. Toss florets to evenly coat. Use more olive oil if not thoroughly coated.
Place cauliflower in the oven. Using a spoon utensil, turn florets every 20 minutes, adding a little oil if they become too dry. Roast for 31/2hours, or until florets turn brown and crunchy. Serve immediately.
1 large egg
1 large head of broccoli
3 small-to-medium-sized carrots
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives
2 Tbsps. red onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
salt to taste
1/4 cup or more of your favorite vinaigrette, bottled or homemade
Place egg in boiling water and boil for 10 minutes. With the shell on, run egg under cold water and then place in bowl of cold water. Reserve.
Rinse broccoli under cold water. Break into florets and pat them dry with paper towels. Place in a large bowl.
Scrape off outer layer of carrots and rinse under cold water. Then scrape carrots into ribbon-like strips and add to the broccoli. Add the olives, onion, parsley and salt.
Crack off the egg's shell and discard. Cut egg into thin slices and add to the broccoli mixture.
Pour in the vinaigrette and toss the salad until well combined. Add more vinaigrette, if needed. Salad ingredients should be moistened but not soggy.
Cover and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours. Bring to room temperature and toss ingredients again before serving.
Linda Morel is a writer based in New York City. Email her at: [email protected]