Winter Side Dishes

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Maybe you are dreaming about tender young shoots of asparagus, that early sign of spring, but I am digging into hearty winter vegetables with a vengeance. Here are a few of the winter vegetables that are getting a lot of play on our table now (and for the next few months).

Roasted Cauliflower with Indian Spices. I had been roasting cauliflower florets for a while—toss the florets with some olive oil, salt and pepper and roast until golden brown and tender—when my friend Monica Bhide came out with her Modern Spicecookbook and had the addition of a spice mix to the roasted cauliflower. These days using the homemade mixture is standard operating procedure whenever I’m roasting cauliflower. The whole family loves this. (Recipe here. Scroll down to Fennel Roasted Cauliflower.)

Braised Cabbage. My husband calls cabbage the king of vegetables – that is how much he likes it. I started braising cabbage after reading a recipe in Molly Wizenburg’s A Homemade Life. It was rich and satisfying, with butter and cream. In the interest of lower fat, I slice the cabbage into ribbons, sauté it with just a touch of butter, braise it in stock and finish it with about 1/4 cup of cream at the end (a head of cabbage serves 6 to 8 people, so I don’t think I’m getting too much heavy cream).

Brussels Sprouts. First, the truth. I proudly announce I LOVE Brussels sprouts at one dinner where steamed sprouts made an appearance. I popped one into my mouth and proceeded to have great difficulty choking it down. It was as bitter as anything you’d ever read about. What I based my proclamation on was an entirely different thing.Oven roasted sprouts with a tiny, teeny bit of bacon, roasted until they are dark, mahogany brown. For a pound of Brussels sprouts, cut up one piece of bacon, drizzle all very lightly with olive oil, add salt and pepper and roast in a 400F degree oven until dark brown. Enjoy. You can thank me later.

Creamed Spinach. Okay, technically, spinach is Spring. But I’m talking about hearty creamed spinach, a perfect side dish to any beef dinner. I like Julia Child’s recipe, which can be made with just some spinach, butter, flour and beef stock (the creaminess really comes from a roux, that creamy butter/flour mixture that is the base to any gravy). You can also finish it with a touch of cream, and if you want it gratineed? Add a sprinkling of shredded Parmesan to the dish and flash it under the broiler. A hit with a meal (and better and cheaper than any pre-made, frozen version of creamed spinach. (You can find Julia’s recipe here.)

Onions. Okay,  you must try the French Onion Soup Gratinee from New York Times Essential Cookbook. Go light on the butter and the cheese, and this recipe is about as healthy as you can get and one of the most satisfying and comforting dishes I can think of. You don’t dish the soup out but you bake it in a large casserole until you get this meltingly delicious blend of onion, bread and cheese.

Add these to your recipe rotation. Your family will thank you, and you will thank me. And now share YOUR winter vegetable dishes with all of us here at Laura’s Lean Beef. What’s on your table with your Laura’s Lean Beef these days?

Barb Freda Cool Weather Cooking Healthy, Delicious Recipes

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